Seluk Tezgul

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An American Turk wishes to acknowlege the Armenian Genocide


The Las Vegas Review-Journal Copyright 1996

Sunday, April 28, 1996

Longing to stop the bleeding Seicuk Tezgul

Seluk Tezgul is a native of Turkey and has lived in Las Vegas for 14 months.

By Seluk Tezgul

Special to the Review-Journal

Longing to stop the bleeding

This month, Armenians mark the 81st anniversary of the massacre of 1.5 million of their people in Turkey, but not all Turks want to forget.

The souls of 1.5 million Armenian victims are, after 81 years, still longing for acknowledgment and an apology from Turkey.

Recently, when I was assisting in my friend's Las Vegas retail shop, a lovely elderly couple came in. While they were looking around, they asked me my national origin. Trying to guess their origin first, I responded hesitatingly that I was Turkish. "We are Armenian!" said the husband, looking at my eyes painfully and meaningfully.

I then realized what I was afraid of. Yes, they were Armenians, two members of a big nation that had attained high cultural and social values in human history in the east of Asia Minor many centuries ago. Two members of a noble nation whose 1.5 million innocent grandparents were massacred 81 years ago through the brutal and treacherous methods used by the Turks - my own ancestors. Imagine the emotional situation experienced by the three of us, who had met by coincidence.

Whenever I meet Armenians, I feel shame and pain because of my Turkish identity, and I wish to disappear at once or to hide myself in a hole in the ground. Usually after a brief talk, however, they realize that I am not one of the 60 million Turks who was cheated for decades by his own government's chauvinistic, illogical, unfair and nonsensical official state ideology and history into believing the crooked "facts" intended to suppress knowledge of the brutal genocide. On the contrary, they usually realize that I am one of the handful of Turks who is aware of that horrible genocide and acknowledges it. And this time, too, it took very little time for the couple to understand me.

I've never trusted and believed in the official history and ideology of my country. And when I researched and studied the reliable and honest foreign historians, I came face to face with the blood-chilling truth. The biggest Armenian genocide of the last century was horrible: Yes, indeed, 1.5 million innocent, highly civilized people - in comparison with their nomadic barbarian executioners - were slaughtered like poultry by the Turkish soldiers and people, with whom they had lived side-by-side for centuries.

In addition, I've listened to the chilling details of the massacres from the mouths of the living Turkish witnesses. The awful details of the genocide, which was completed insidiously within a year, can easily fill a small bookcase with tens of bloody-paged books. And today, I'm still hated by my own relatives and friends because of my acknowledgment of the genocide.

Unfortunately, their brains are washed by the lies and suppression of the truth by the Turkish government and army.

What could be the underlying reasons for this horrible injustice? If we study the history carefully, we'll see that the Armenian people settled down in the northeast region of Asia Minor around 900 B.C. - almost two millennia before the Turks and others invaded not only that region but, step by step, the whole of Asia Minor. (The Armenians' home country is still occupied by the Turks today.)

The agriculturalist Armenians had built a rather advanced civilization, especially famous for accomplishments in architecture and art. They were an honest, lovely, noble, humanistic and peaceful people. Their capital, Ani, was so beautiful it was called "the twin sister of Constantinople" by Roman historians. Armenians didn't know how to fight; therefore they built ceramic pots, jars and metallic handicrafts and jewlry instead of swords, arrows and shields.

On the other side, the Turks were a pastoralist, nomadic, quarrelsome, totalitarian people, without artistic and architectural talents like the other nomadic tribes of Central Asia. Their lives were mainly based on hunting, fighting, war and plundering. Therefore, they built powerful and effective weapons instead of handicrafts.

Naturally, when the invasion of the pastoralist nomads began in the early 11th century, the Armenians quickly fell under the barbarians' hegemony, like the other agriculturist civilized peoples of Asia Minor. Many thousands of their men were mutilated and massacred. The women were raped; pregnant women were stabbed; and their cities and towns were burned down by the invaders.

The Christian Armenian people lived under the merciless barbarian hegemony of the Islamic Turkish Ottoman Empire for several centuries, and they suffered indescribable sorrows as slaves until the genocide of 1915, which is commemorated on April 24.

The Ottoman Empire, which reigned tyrannically for more than 600 years, collapsed in 1918. Unfortunately its corrupt wreckage fell on a civilized nation three years before its death, crushing 1.5 million innocent Armenians.

Toward the end of World War I, the Turks were defeated on all fronts, but especially heavily on the eastern front by the Russians, and they blamed this on their minority people, namely Armenians, living in the Russian border area.

Thus began one of the most treacherous and insidious and genocides of history. It was planned entirely by Turkish statesmen and leaders and was carried out by Turkish soldiers hand-in-hand with their people - sadly, even by the Armenians' Turkish neighbors - and systematically completed within a year. Armenians were annihilated in front of the eyes of Western diplomats in Turkey. Some of the victims were rescued by those diplomats and survived. The best historical records of this genocide are those held by various foreign embassies.

That horrible genocide has never been forgotten, must never be forgotten and will never be forgotten.

Alas, still today the Turkish government and its leaders are deaf and dumb, and they remain silent about their country's bloody past. They are still denying history's clear and solid truths. Its 60 million people are still not completely aware of the genocide committed by their ancestors, because of the official state policy to suppress history. Of course, grandchildren should not be judged responsible for their grandparents' crimes, but the grandchildren should not endorse their ancestors' brutality either.

History is waiting for that honest, dignified, fair and noble Turkish leader who will acknowledge his ancestors' biggest crime ever, who will apologize to the Armenian people, and who will do his best to indemnify them, materially and morally, in the eyes of the entire world.

Yes, history is longing - and the Armenian people are longing - for that person who will break the dim and tragic taciturnity of 81 years between the two nations, the person who will stop the bleeding from that deep wound.

Everybody is longing, but - of greatest importance - the souls of those innocent 1.5 million victims, including bayoneted infants and raped women with their mutilated bodies, have longed for that noble leader for 81 years.



This article was printed in the California Courier shortly after the above was printed in Las Vegas.

Death Threats Stalks Turkish Author of April 24 Article in Nevada Acknowledging 1915 Genocide

By Serge L. Samoniantz
California Courier Editor

LAS VEGAS - Selcuk Tezgul, a native of Turkey residing in Las Vegas, is now living under the shadow of death threats from fellow Turks after authoring an article in the April 24 issue of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he decried the Turkish government's silence over the 1915 genocide, and called for an official acknowledgment of their ancestor's biggest crime ever. Tezgul told The California Courier that he wished to make a favor to the Armenian people by writing the truthful article, and was not expecting this flood of negative reaction from some of his closest friends and associates. A storm of phone calls, some originating from Turkey itself, have threatened to burn down his house, and get rid of him. His own business partner, he said, swore at him on the phone and threatened to kill him with his own bare hands for writing such an article. They are reluctant to acknowledge reality, Tezgul surmised. The souls of 1.5 million Armenian victims are, after 81 years, still longing for acknowledgment and an apology from Turkey, his April 24 article begins. After describing an encounter with an Armenian elderly couple at his Las Vegas shop where I felt shame and pain because of my Turkish identity, Tezgul goes on to explain that he is not one of the 60 million Turks who was cheated for decades by his own government's chauvinistic, illogical, unfair and nonsensical official state ideology and history. On the contrary...I am one of the handful of Turks who is aware of that horrible genocide and acknowledges too, Tezgul readily admits. I've never trusted and believed in the official history and ideology of my country, he adds, and when I researched and studied the reliable and honest foreign historians, I came face to face with the blood-chilling truth. In addition, I've listened to the chilling details of the massacres from the mouths of the living Turkish witnesses, he continued. And today, I'm still hated by my own relatives and friends because of my acknowledgment of the genocide. Unfortunately, their brains are washed by the lies and suppression of the truth by the Turkish government and army. Tezgul writes that the agriculturist Armenians had settled in Asia Minor almost two millennia before the Turks invaded the region. The Armenians' home country is still occupied by the Turks today, he wrote. Observing that the agriculturist Armenians had built a rather advanced civilization, especially famous for accomplishments in architecture and art. They were an honest, lovely, noble, humanistic, and peaceful people, Tezgul write flatteringly. On the other side, the Turks were a pastoralist, nomadic, quarrelsome, totalitarian people, without artistic and architectural talents like the other nomadic tribes of Central Asia, the Turkish author harshly notes. He goes on to explain that the Ottoman Empire collapsed at the end of World War I, but not before it had blamed its Eastern Front defeats on the Armenians and began its genocide. It was planned entirely by Turkish statesmen and leaders and was carried out by Turkish soldiers -- sadly even by the Armenians' Turkish neighbors, Tezgul wrote. That horrible genocide has never been forgotten, must never be forgotten, and will never be forgotten, he asserts. Alas, still today the Turkish government and its leaders are deaf and dumb, and they remain silent about their country's bloody past. They are still denying history's clear and solid truths. Its 60 million people are still not completely aware of the genocide committed by their ancestors, because of the official state policy to suppress history. Of course, grandchildren should not be judged responsible for their grandparents' crimes, but the grandchildren should not endorse their ancestors' brutality either. History is waiting for that honest, dignified, fair and noble Turkish leader who will acknowledge his ancestors' biggest crime ever, who will apologize to the Armenian people, and who will do his best to indemnify them, materially and morally, in the eyes of the entire world. Besides the threatening phone calls which brand him a traitor, Tezgul said, his own close friends have now shunned him because of the lengthy article. This is disturbing me emotionally, he frankly acknowledged. A graduate of Istanbul's Bosphorus University, Tezgul came to the United States 15 months ago on a B-2 visa. Seeking freedom and new opportunities in these shores, he invested $50,000 - his life savings - in a gift shop in Las Vegas, which he operates jointly with a partner, Nevzet Baguis. That investment is in jeopardy now, because of the article he wrote, he said. Furthermore, his visa is due for renewal because of the nature of the business investment. But, now with his life in danger, he does not dare to go to the store, where his wife works. In addition, his legal status in the U.S. is at risk, unless his visa is renewed or upgraded. Extremely reluctant to talk to The Courier, Tezgul, in a very subdued voice, nonetheless asked that this story not be taken further, and wished that the matter would settle down quickly. I am sure the Turkish authorities in the United States have already faxed these details to Ankara, he said. I will probably need a new identity and new passport if I wish to return to Turkey, he said, understandably not too thrilled at the prospect. As of May 6, he had not yet notified the FBI about the nature of the phone calls and threats he had received, but the federal agency was aware of the reason for Tezgul's distress. Plans were not yet in place to begin an investigation, according to Las Vegas FBI office spokesperson Debbie Calhoun. She suggested that Tezgul contact the local authorities and tell them of his concerns. Tezgul told The Courier he had received sympathetic calls from Las Vegas Armenians congratulating him for his courage, but he was more interested in putting this matter behind him, and resume a normal life. Unfortunately, history shows us that honest, dignified, fair and noble Turks are not given much rest by their own. The novelty of speaking the truth -- even if it exposes one's own myths -- is still equated in too many cultures as comforting the enemy, rather than freeing future generations of Armenians and Turks of the burden of the past. On a personal level, Tezgul's attempt to make a favor to the Armenians has perhaps backfired. But, whether the Turks like it or not, in the long run, his is the shot heard round the world.




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