Turkish Parliament Request for Retraction of British Parliament Armenian Genocide Document

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The Turkish Parliament wrote a letter to the British Parliament signed by all of it's members asking for a document written during WWI documenting the Armenian Genocide to be declared false. The Gomidas Institute helped the British Parliament look into the matter and prepared it's response accordingly.

Turkish Parliament's Petition Presented to the Houses of Parliament

Appendix I to “A Response to the Turkish Parliament’s Letter Contesting the Veracity of the 1916 British Parliamentary Blue Book, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916,” Gomidas Institute (UK)


Honorable Members of the British House of Commons and House of Lords:

We, the Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, express our highest compliments and submit for your consideration a matter of great concern to the people of Turkey and people of Turkish heritage worldwide, regarding the Ottoman-Armenian Tragedy of 1915.

The undersigned members of the Turkish Parliament request that the British Parliament as well as the British Government inform the public that the British Parliament Blue Book Series, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916, was a propaganda tool of the British War Propaganda Bureau (1914) at “Wellington House” and is an unreliable account of the Ottoman Armenians’ revolt and the Ottoman Government’s subsequent response.

As you are probably aware, during World War I (hereafter, “WWI”) the British War Propaganda Bureau (1914), later the Department of Information (1916) and later the Ministry of Information (1918), all referred to as the “Wellington House”,1 planned and executed a public disinformation campaign aimed against Germany and the Ottoman Empire to ensure support for the war among the citizens of the Allied states, particularly America, and to bring about the participation of America in the war. “Wellington House” produced two significant reports, one regarding “German Atrocities” and the other “Turkish Atrocities” (the latter entitled, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916,2 hereinafter, the “Blue Book”), both of which were drafted by Bureau Resident Expert, Arnold Toynbee,3 and published under the name of the famed British Ambassador to the United States, Viscount Bryce. On December 2, 1925, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Sir Austen Chamberlain appearing before the House of Lords, declared the Bryce “German Atrocities” report to be factually baseless war propaganda.4 However, no retraction followed with respect to Bryce’s Blue Book, although it suffered from the same defects. Arnold Toynbee himself admitted that the Blue Book was indeed a “war propaganda”.5

While all of the Bureau’s records on the Blue Book were destroyed in a fire, many important records had survived in the archives of other divisions of the British bureaucracy. Recently, independent researchers in the British Archives discovered these records. The records in question prove that:6

  1. The War Propaganda Bureau determined to portray the destruction of the Ottoman Empire as a major purpose of WWI. The project was dubbed, “The Turk Must Go.” (Meaning that the Turks as a nation must be driven out of Europe and Anatolia and sent away to Central Asia). The campaign mainly targeted the American public and aimed to render British colonialism in Anatolia and Mesopotamia palatable, provide cover for Russian anti-Semitic violence, as Russia was an important ally, and ultimately cause sufficient public outrage in the United States to induce Washington to enter the war.
  2. Prime Minister Lloyd George ordered the Director of Information Services, Colonel John Buchan, to designate and execute “The Turk Must Go” program.7 Buchan appointed Stephen Gaselee, a Foreign Office official, to facilitate the production, publication and dissemination of material aimed to create and reinforce:8 (1) popular affinity between the West and the pre-Turkish ancient heritage of Anatolia and Mesopotamia; (2) a belief that Turks prevented progress, commerce and social development in the region; (3) a conviction that Turkish society is incapable of integrating the Ottoman State’s constituent peoples, particularly Armenians, in an equitable manner; (4) a belief that Turkish people, by their nature, are incapable of reform and civil self-government; (5) an understanding that a reactionary and incompetent nation, as Prime Minister Lloyd George had determined the Turkish nation to be, could not be permitted to control the land bridge between Europe and Asia, or be permitted to be a satellite of Germany; and (6) a consensus that toleration in the Ottoman system of permitting each religious community to govern themselves (“a museum of religions,” according to Buchan) did not harmonize with Western systems of majority rule and minority rights.
  3. Stephen Gaselee invited War Propaganda Bureau Resident Expert and historian, Arnold Toynbee, to designate names of possible authors for the anti-Turkish campaign. Toynbee provided a detailed list, including himself, writers like Mark Sykes9 who had worked on the Middle East, American missionary leaders and other persons who enthusiastically espouse the Armenian cause. The clandestine campaign portrayed selected individuals as private citizens engaging in personal activities to report on the situation of the Armenians, using information devised by the War Propaganda Bureau. While a team of 54 authors wrote information pieces, Sir Gilbert Parker and Geoffrey Butler, who enjoyed excellent access to President Woodrow Wilson and major American newspapers, served as transatlantic operations liaisons and information conduits.
  4. The War Propaganda Bureau was the sole source for all information regarding the situation in the Ottoman Empire. The Gaselee-Toynbee team produced over seven million copies of 37 publications, including the Blue Book. Given that Great Britain destroyed the German transatlantic communication cables, the War Propaganda Bureau was able to censor and control reports that were submitted by independent correspondents on the only alternative—the British cables. In 1915, the Associated Press estimated that Britain destroyed 75% of the dispatches of American correspondents in Europe.
  5. Viscount Bryce’s Blue Book purported to be based on 150 eyewitness accounts of massacres and other violence committed by Ottoman soldiers and private citizen against Ottoman Armenians. The Blue Book referred to the “eyewitnesses” by codes, apparently to “protect the persons from reprisals”. A War Propaganda Bureau document recently discovered from the British archives containing the code keys made possible the identification of the 150 eyewitnesses, of whom 59 were missionaries, 52 were Armenian activists, 7 were Armenian Dashnak rebel leaders, and the remaining 32 either fictitious or duplicate listings of individuals under different categories.10 Arnold Toynbee himself was unhappy to work with the statements of unknown authors. Once he wrote to Viscount Bryce “I do not know the real authorship of the thirty-four, twenty-three percent of the documents. But the unknown writers appeared in the book, in exactly the same way as the known.”11

As will be seen Bryce’s Blue Book suffers from the same defects that had caused the official British retraction of Bryce’s report regarding “German Atrocities.” As a matter of fact: (1) the Blue Book is the product of the “Turks Must Go” program of the war Propaganda Bureau, consequently it is a propaganda material; (2) the War Propaganda Bureau’s resident experts relied on “eyewitnesses” whodid not have personal knowledge of the incidents to which they attested; (3) the authors of the Blue Book did not attempt to corroborate the “eyewitness” accounts by accounts reported by other foreign missions and military officials; (4) other accounts that impeached the “eyewitness” accounts were excluded; (5) the eyewitnesses were interested parties and biased by the particular religious and political mandates they were executing; (6) “eyewitness” accounts were cleansed of any mention of Armenian revolts and massacres of hundred of thousands of Muslims, in Eastern Anatolia: (7) while the Blue Book contains all the condemnations and criticisms heaped on the policies of the Ottoman State by “eyewitnesses”, it says nothing of the impact of these policies on thousands of Armenians living outside of the war zones, who continued to live in peace and stability, and; (8) Buchan’s work must be seen, at least in part, as a product of his racism and anti-Semitism, which are widely evident in his novels and other writings.

As it will be seen, although the Blue Book represents a masterly propaganda activity of Great Britain during WWI, it is not a reliable historical account of the Ottoman Armenian’s revolt and the Ottoman government’s subsequent response. It is a fraud based on fabrications, half truths and biased reports against the Ottoman army, of murders of Ottoman officials, of cutting of Ottoman supply and communication lines, of attempts to capture Ottoman cities, of mass murder of Turks in Van, of the forced migration of more than a million Muslims forced to flee by the Russian and Armenians.12 Later Toynbee was described as having come to feel that this lopsidedness was a betrayal of historical truth.13 However, the Blue Book’s destructive and wicked influence is still effective and continues to be used by Armenian activists for deceiving international media, politicians, opinion leaders and academicians and thus propagate feelings of hate and aversion against Turkey.

The British government, though never directly retracting the Blue Book, indirectly impeached the Blue Book through the verdict of the British tribunal set up to prosecute the “Malta prisoners”. As it will be recalled in 1920, 144 Ottoman statesmen and officials accused of charges and atrocities and massacres against Armenians were arrested by the British occupation forces and were exiled to Malta for prosecution. After an exhaustive two-year investigation in the Ottoman, British and American records by an Ottoman Armenian investigator appointed by the tribunal, the Royal Attorney General determined on July 29, 1921, that insufficient evidence existed to proceed with the prosecutions and ordered the release of the “Malta prisoners”.14

At this point the following critical questions have to be answered: Why the evidence contained in the Blue Book published in 1916 wasn’t used to convict the Turkish deportees to Malta? Though the sources upon which Toynbee had relied in drafting the Blue Book were readily available why were they not taken into consideration by the tribunal?

The answer to these questions is brief and clear: The Blue Book was not used because the assertions and the documents it contained were baseless and unfounded. . . Although all the sources that Toynbee had relied upon in writing the Blue Book were readily available, they were not used, because these evidences, documents and “eyewitnesses” were deemed unworthy of even attempting to pass admissibility in a British court of law.15

British governments continued to discard the Blue Book. In the British House of Lords on 14 April 1999 Foreign Office Minister Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, on behalf of the British Government, stated that “. . . but in the absence of unequivocal evidence to show that the Ottoman administration took a specific decision to eliminate the Armenians under their control at the time, British governments have not recognized the events of 1915 and 1916 as genocide.”

As no corrective action had been taken by the British government similar to the retraction of Bryce’s “German Atrocities” report, the Blue Book continues to harm scholarship and research on the Ottoman Armenian case and mobilize hatred against people of Turkish heritage in line with the six “The Turk Must Go” objectives outlined by Colonel Buchan and the War Propaganda Bureau almost one hundred years ago.

The Blue Book continues to serve as a primary source for scholars and policy makers, having been cited thousands of times in works as diverse as textbooks and governmental proclamations in support of the allegation that the Ottoman Armenian experience constitutes the crime of genocide. It portrays the existence of the key element that renders a killing genocide, that is to say the specific intent to kill with express malice. In other words the Blue Book paints the Ottoman policy, particularly the decision to separate the Ottoman Armenian civilians from the Armenian rebels and Russian army by relocating them out of the war zones, as a façade for racist killing.

The Blue Book continues to reinforce misunderstanding of and hatred against people of Turkish heritage. Colonel Buchan, who created the six objectives of the “The Turk Must Go” campaign was proudly racist. In the novel, Greenmantle,16 he wrote, “The truth is that we (English) are the only race on earth that can produce men capable of getting inside the skin of remote peoples.” Buchan referred to the Young Turks as “a collection of Jews and Gypsies.” In the novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps,17 Buchan wrote, “Away behind all the governments and armies there was a big subterranean movement going on, engineered by a very dangerous people. . . the Jew was behind it. . . the Jew is everywhere. . . with an eye like a rattlesnake. . .”

The six Buchan objectives that serve as the foundation of the Blue Book continue to legitimate a racist attitude that the people of Turkey are unworthy of respect and dignity, of equality and sovereignty, and of the right to exist in Anatolia at peace as they have been doing for nearly one thousand years. In extreme cases, the Blue Book has been utilized to provide a moral justification for terrorism by the Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA).18 These terrorists killed more than 75 innocent people, wounded over 700 people, took more than 100 hostages, and caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Australia.

As a masterpiece of propaganda and tool of deception that to date has not been retracted, the Blue Book continues to influence peoples’ minds and soul. Today the books of Wellington House are still recommended to American school children and university students. As historian Arthur Ponsonby who has also dealt with the wicked and lasting effects of the war propaganda that continues for generations in his book Falsehood in Wartime19 has observed:

“The injection of the poison of hatred into men’s minds by means of falsehood is a greater evil in wartime than the actual loss of life. The defilement of the human soul is worse than the destruction of the human body.”

The validity of his cogent conception of Lord Ponsonby cannot be disputed either today or in the future. In fact, what we need today, more than ever, is an international environment that we can hand over to our children and to the future generations to build a world where tolerance, friendship and good will shall reign, instead of prejudices, hatred and sense of revenge.

The onus is upon all participants of WWI to support an ethical and objective approach to understanding this ambiguous part of our mutual history relating to the Ottoman State – Armenian conflict, and to facilitate the healing of the human soul.

It is with this belief and understanding as well as with the greatest respect and appreciation for the longstanding alliance and relationship Turkey shares with Great Britain and since Your Parliament asked in 1916 that the work of Toynbee be published as a “command book” we submit for your consideration this opportunity to bring clarity to this important part of our mutual history by retracting the Blue Book as a historical document.


  1. M. L. Saunders and Philip M. Taylor, British Propaganda During the First World War, 1914-18, London, 1982.
  2. Arnold Joseph Toynbee, ed., The Treatment of the Armeniansby the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon Secretary for Foreign Affairs, by Viscount Bryce, London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1916.
  3. Sanders & Taylor, pp. 40-41.
  4. Hansard, 5th Session, Vol. 188, October 24, 1925.
  5. Arnold J. Toynbee, The Western Question in Greece and Turkey., First Publication 19?2, p. 50
  6. F.O. 394/40/179902, “Documents relating to the treatment of Armenians and Assyrian Christians in the Ottoman Empire; Key to names of places and persons withheld from publication, September 11, 1916.”
  7. F.O. 395/139/42320, February 24, 1917.
  8. F.O. 395/139/64927, “Anti-Turk Propaganda.”
  9. An article of Mark Sykes that was placed by Wellington House in The Times of February 20, 1917 is mentioned here as it is an exemplar of propaganda. In the article “The Turk” was described as a “merciless oppressor”, “a remorseless bully”, “pure barbarians”, “degenerate”, “one who has strewn the earth with ruins”. In this article just for the sake of humiliating the Turks, the Mongols who have destroyed what is today Iraq were falsely described as Turks. This article was published later as a brochure and widely distributed with a letter of Lloyd George. Out of 100,000 copies printed, 32,000 were distributed in the United States. FO395/139/51086 and FO 395/139/47048.
  10. F.O. 394/40/179902, “Documents relating to the treatment of Armenian and Assyrian Christians in the Ottoman Empire and N.W. Persia: Key to names of places and persons withheld from publication”, September 11, 1916. See also the following documents: 10, 13, 23, 77, 79, 85, 91, 102, 103, 104, 108, 110, 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, 120, 123, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 137.
  11. Article by Justin McCarthy. “Wellington House and the Turks.”
  12. Article by Justin McCarthy. “Wellington House and the Turks.”
  13. William H. McNeil, Arnold Toynbee a life (Oxford University Press, 1989) p. 74.
  14. F.O. 371/6102/E-5845: L. Olipant (F.O.) to Mr. Woods (Prosecutor-General’s Department) 5445/132/44 of May 31, 1921.
  15. F.O. 371/6504/E8745;Woods (Prosecutor-General’s Department) to the Under Secretary of State for F.O., of July 29, 1921.
  16. John Buchan, The Greenmantle, New York, Grosset and Dunlap, 1916.
  17. John Buchan, The Thirty Nine Steps, Edinburg, London, William Blackwood and Sons, 1915.
  18. Michael Gunther, Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People, Greenwood Press. Inc, New York 1986.
  19. Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime, London, Kimble and Bradford, 1928.

Gomidas Institute response to the Turkish Parliament

A Response to the Turkish Parliament’s Letter Contesting the Veracity of the 1916 British Parliamentary Blue Book, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-161

Any account of the 1916 British Parliamentary Blue Book, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16, should start from the Toynbee Papers at the British National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) at Kew. This is because Arnold Toynbee was the compiler and editor of this parliamentary report and the Toynbee Papers at the National Archives include the complete copy of the Blue Book, information about the eyewitness accounts he collected on the Armenian Genocide when compiling the Blue Book, as well as his further correspondence with his communicants forwarding such materials.2 According to the Toynbee Papers, we can make the following categorical statements:

  • The Blue Book was substantially based on eyewitness accounts from Ottoman Turkey describing the mass destruction of Armenians in 1915.
  • The core of these accounts were written and communicated by United States diplomats, consuls, and nationals throughout Ottoman Turkey, until the United States entered World War I in April 1917.3
  • Despite United States neutrality, by October 1915, the United States Department of State in Washington D.C. leaked reports on the Armenian Genocide into the public domain through such intermediaries as the “Committee on Armenian Atrocities” and the “American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief” based in New York.4
  • Arnold Toynbee corresponded with these organisations in order to collect and ensure the accuracy of each eyewitness account.5 He discussed some of the more problematic reports with James Bryce, his supervisor on this project.
  • The information collected by Toynbee was not biased, and an examination of the relevant materials today bears this point out.


Any examination of the Toynbee Papers points to the United States State Department and its papers at the American National Archives in Washington D.C. This is because Toynbee’s informants had direct access to the State Department and its consular materials from the interior of Ottoman Turkey.

Today, the original eyewitness accounts on the Armenian Genocide leaked by the State Department can still be found at the American National Archives in Washington D.C. An examination of these materials shows that the eyewitness accounts which ended up in the British Blue Book on Armenians were communicated and reproduced with fidelity to the original records.6 The American National Archives also show that the materials leaked by the State Department into the public domain in 1915-16 was a fair representation of its wider body of documents on the genocide of Armenians, and the addition of further State Department records on the treatment of Ottoman Armenians would only strengthen the Armenian Genocide thesis today.


Despite clear archival and published records attesting to the integrity of the British Parliamentary Blue Book, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16, as well as the veracity of the Armenian Genocide thesis itself, successive Turkish governments and their proxies have denied the Armenian Genocide by either denying the existence of material evidence related to the systematic destruction of Armenians in 1915, or trying to obfuscate the content of such archival records when forced to acknowledge them. Their modus operandi echoes the work of Holocaust deniers who deny pertinent records and scholarship related to the Holocaust and who argue their case through misinformation and contrived conjecture.7

Most significantly, the Turkish Parliament’s letter denies the existence of:

  • The Toynbee Papers, even thought this collection has been in the public domain for decades, including the confidential key which listed all of the names withheld in the original publication.8
  • Several façimile editions of the Blue Book with the confidential key as an appendix.9
  • An “uncensored edition” of the Blue Book, incorporating the confidential key into its main text and giving full archival citations for original reports in United States archives.10
  • United States consular and diplomatic records related to Turkey 1910-1929, including the key files on Armenians 1915-16.11 These files have been available in their original forms as well as on microfilm for decades.12 They have also been frequently cited in academic works related to the Armenian Genocide.13
  • A comprehensive documentary publication reproducing core United States documents related to the Armenian Genocide from the United States National Archives in Washington D.C., including eyewitness accounts appearing in the 1916 British Parliamentary Blue Book.14

The Turkish Parliament’s letter attempts to misinform British MPs when it states that:

  • Certain researchers have only just “discovered” the confidential key to the 1916 Blue Book, and that the key proves that the eye-witnesses were unreliable.15 In actual fact, the confidential key has been readily available for decades and shows that the main eyewitness accounts underpinning the Blue Book were written by US consuls, as well as private individuals from the USA, Switzerland, Norway, Germany and Denmark. Many were United States consuls reporting to their government in Washington D.C. The attempt to block off these sources as biased because they were “Christians” is most objectionable.16
  • It is also not true, as stated by Turkish Parliamentarians, that the compiler and editor of the Blue Book, Arnold Toynbee, confessed that the Blue Book was part of a contrived British propaganda effort during World War I. In actual fact, Toynbee always maintained the integrity of the Blue Book as an intellectual exercise, as well as his assessment regarding the Armenian Genocide thesis. The fact that British authorities used the Blue Book for propaganda purposes after Toynbee had finished his report had no bearing on the integrity of the report itself. Toynbee’s position on the Blue Book and the Armenian Genocide can be clearly seen in three of his later published works touching on the Armenian issue, The Western Question in Turkey and Greece (1921), Acquaintances (OUP, 1967) and Reminiscences (OUP, 1969). The Turkish Parliament simply gives a false assessment of Toynbee’s position.
  • “The Turks Must Go Campaign” was organised in 1917, after the publication of the Blue Book on Armenians. John Buchan, the author of “The Turks Must Go Campaign,” was also not involved with the War Propaganda Bureau until the end of 1916, after the Blue Book was printed. Furthermore, the “The Turks Must Go Campaign” did not seek to supplant modern Turks from their European and Anatolian homelands, as claimed by the Turkish letter, but sought to change the positive image of Turks in Great Britain even in 1917. This was a matter of concern because, despite being wartime enemies, Turks, as a rule, were seen with some favour amongst the British populace.
  • It is also not true, as stated by Turkish Parliamentarians, that Armenians were simply deported from war zones during World War I. Ottoman Armenians were “deported” throughout Ottoman Turkey, including from towns and villages in central and western Anatolia, as well as European Turkey. Furthermore, most deportees were killed in outright massacres or through privations. Around 2,000 individual towns and villages were emptied of their Armenian population between 1915-17.
  • The proceedings against individual Ottoman officials for the persecution of Armenians was initiated by Turkish authorities after the capitulation of Ottoman Turkey at the end of WWI. These trials were effectively abandoned because of Turkish revanchism and the ascendancy of Turkish Nationalists under Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) after 1919. While the British had taken a number of indicted criminals to Malta, British authorities were not in a position to put them on trial. Some of their difficulties included the need to secure evidence against the accused in Turkey without the active cooperation of the new Turkish authorities (Kemalists); the lack of a legal framework to try such individuals for crimes against Armenians (after all, it was not illegal for governments to massacre their own populations at that time); as well as the lack of political will by the Allied Powers to enforce such trials. By 1921, the Allies themselves were vying against each other for influence with the new Turkish forces in Istanbul and Ankara.
  • Regarding securing United States documents for the proposed trial of alleged Turkish war criminals, the British could not secure such records because they were withheld by United States authorities themselves. Secretary of State Lansing was personally against these trials or any retroactive legislation to facilitate such trials. Nevertheless, the materials that were withheld from the British in 1920 are freely accessible to scholars today, and their existence can not be simply denied. In fact, muchof this material has been published.
  • There is no comparison between the Parliamentary Blue Book on German atrocities and the Blue Book on Armenians. The former was produced by committee and has been criticised for faults which do not apply to the Blue Book on Armenians.
  • It is also not true that the Blue Book on German atrocities was withdrawn by the British Parliament in 1925.


The Turkish State has long striven to consolidate the legacy of the Armenian Genocide by denying that the event ever took place and by evading any action that might mitigate the consequences of 1915. Instead, over the past 90 years, the Turkish state has remained belligerent and continued to erase traces of the crime committed against Armenians by destroying hundreds of ancient Armenian churches and monasteries, striking down cultural artefacts, rewriting history, changing toponyms, and more. The denial of Armenian history in modern Turkey today is part of the same calculus.

The Turkish letter to the British Houses of Parliament suggests that the present Turkish government remains on the same trajectory as its predecessors and has embarked on a forward policy to deny the Armenian Genocide, outside, as well as inside, of Turkey.

The letter presented to the British parliamentarians is demonstrably false and should raise serious questions about the integrity and judgement of Turkish Parliamentarians themselves. British parliamentarians should formally reject the Turkish letter and request its withdrawal by their Turkish counterparts.

Ara Sarafian
Gomidas Institute (UK)
September 2005

The Gomidas Institute is an independent academic organisation dedicated to modern Armenian studies.


  1. This position paper is a response to a letter (petition) presented to the British Houses of Parliament by the Turkish Grand National Assembly ( see Appendix 1).
  2. British National Archives (formerly Public Record Office), Toynbee Papers, FO 96, file nos. 205-12.
  3. The Blue Book relied on a number of “core accounts” which provided the fundamental basis for its thesis. Neither the authorship of these reports, nor the integrity of their intermediaries, were in question. These “core accounts” became the yard-stick of assessing other materials which might otherwise have been questioned, such as “native sources.” See James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee (Ara Sarafian ed., intro. and annotations), The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon by Viscount Bryce [Uncensored Edition], Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, (2nd ed) 2005, p. 22. Gomidas Institute
  4. Ara Sarafian and Eric Avebury, British Parliamentary Debates on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918, Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, 2003, Appendix II.
  5. FO 96/205-07.
  6. See The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16 [Uncensored Edition], pp. XXX.
  7. See Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, N.Y.: Free Press, 1993.
  8. The confidential key included the names of informants whose identities could not be divulged because the informants were still in the Ottoman Empire in 1916. The main body of the Blue Book gives an explanation for withholding such names and states the existence of such a confidential key in its introduction. The confidential key was published and distributed amongst public notables in 1916, who vouched for the authenticity of the reports themselves. The confidential key is readily available today.
  9. Façimile edition of The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16 and Key to Names of Persons and Places Withheld from the Publication in the Otiginal Edition of “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16”, Beirut: G. Doniguian and Sons, 1979 (2nd edition), 1968 (3rd editon).
  10. James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee (Ara Sarafian ed., intro. and annotations), The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon by Viscount Bryce [Uncensored Edition], Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, (2nd ed) 2005, (1st ed) 2000). Related to this volume reflecting British Parliamentary interest in the Armenian issue is: Ara Sarafian (ed.) and Eric Avebury (foreword), British Parliamentary Debates on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918, Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, 2003.
  11. The following files have long been cited in connection with the Armenian Genocide: “Race Problems”, “Natural Calamities and Disasters” and “Political”.
  12. “Race Problems” “Political” and “Natural Calamities and Disasters” files, in Internal Affairs of Turkey 1910-1925, Record Group 59, National Archives, Washington DC.
  13. Ara Sarafian (ed.and intro.), United States Official Documents on the Armenian Genocide, Watertown, Mass.: Armenian Review Books, 1994-95. Susan K. Blair, ed., The Slaughterhouse Province, New Rochelle, N.Y.: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1989; Armen Hairapetian, “Race Problems and the Armenian Genocide: The State Department Files,” Armenian Review, 37, no. 1-145 (Spring, 1984), pp. 41-145; Armen K. Hovannisian, “The United States Inquiry and the Armenian Question, 1917-1919. The Archival papers,” ibid., pp. 146-202.
  14. Ara Sarafian (comp., ed. and intro.), United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917, with a preface by U. S. Congressmen Pallone and Knollenberg, Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, 2004. Also related to these American materials are the diaries of the US ambassador to Ottoman Turkey 1913-16, Henry Morgenthau (Ara Sarafian, comp. and intro.), United States Diplomacy on the Bosphorus: The Diaries of Ambassador Morgenthau, 1913-1916, Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, 2004.
  15. Indeed, a month after a critical edition of the Blue Book was released at the House of Lords in April 2000, Turkish authorities organised their own event also at the House of Lords for the denial of the Blue Book as “wartime propaganda” without actually discussing the new work and its content. The Turkish meeting included the architects of the latest denialist bout in London, Justin McCarthy (University of Louivlle) and Sukru Elekdag (former Turkish ambassador to the United States and currently a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly). The event was hosted by Lord Ahmed, attended by Keith Vaz, and sponsored by Turkish business interests.
  16. For a complete list of communicants, as well as neutral, belligerent and other sources, see The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire ... [Uncensored Edition], pp. xix-xxii.

British House of Lords Responds To Turkish Denial of Genocide

By Nora Vosbigian

LONDON - A special meeting chaired by Lord Avebury and Lord Archer of Sandwell QC was held at the British House of Lords on October 12 to discuss the Armenian Genocide. The initiative was spurred by a formal letter signed by all members of the Turkish Parliament denying the veracity of the 1916 British Parliamentary Blue Book The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16, as well as denying the Armenian Genocide itself. The letter was addressed to every member of the British Houses of Parliament. The meeting was attended by Members of Parliament, academics, journalists, lawyers, members of advocacy groups, and private individuals. It was also reported by BBC World Service and various Turkish daily newspapers. Thanking the Gomidas Institute for its written response, Avebury and Archer agreed that the Turkish petition deserved an answer because of the official nature of the letter from Ankara; the gravity of the charges leveled against the British by Turkish parliamentarians; and conversely, the gravity of the charges leveled against Turkish parliamentarians by the Gomidas Institute.

"This is a black and white issue," said Lord Archer. "Either the charges leveled by Turkish Parliamentarians are true or they are not." He concluded, based on the evidence presented, that the Turkish position was clearly in error.

Lord Avebury stressed the need to address the Armenian Genocide before Turkey joined the European Union. He pointed out that the resolution of the Armenian issue was part of the liberalization process in Turkey, where Turkish intellectuals themselves were challenging the official Turkish line on the destruction of Armenians by holding conferences, speaking out at public events, and expressing their views in newspapers. Avebury also acknowledged that there was a great deal of opposition to any discussion of Armenians. The question remained whether the Turkish state will allow the expression of such differing views, or whether it will clamp down on dissent.

The main speaker of the day, Ara Sarafian, argued that one may raise legitimate questions about the Armenian Genocide, but the Turkish parliament's position in its letter was contrived. Sarafian maintained that Turkish parliamentarians deliberately avoided addressing questions they themselves raised as a strategic ploy. This was most evident from the letter sent to the British parliamentarians. The Turkish stance was akin to Holocaust deniers. This was why Sarafian called Turkish Parliamentarians "deniers."

Sarafian continued to speak about his written report which refuted the Turkish position. He repeated the main points in his report, especially the fact that the Turkish letter on the Blue Book purported to be well considered and based on archival research at the British National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office at Kew). Yet, the Turkish letter deliberately left out discussion of the core records from British archives (such as the Toynbee Papers), and introduced outright falsehoods, such as the claim that Arnold Toynbee (who had compiled the 1916 volume) had confessed that his work had been a fabrication. "Absolute rubbish" said Sarafian. "Toynbee maintained, until the end of his life, that Armenians were subjected to the crime of genocide. In fact, several times Toynbee used the 'G' word to describe the fate of Ottoman Armenians in 1915." Turkish authorities and other deniers, Sarafian argued, also avoided any acknowledgement of the archival trail associated with the 1916 Blue Book for other reasons too. This was because that trail would have pointed to United States archival records on the Armenian Genocide, something which would also have complicated the denialist agenda. After all, the United States government, like the British government, chooses to deny the reality of the Armenian Genocide.

Sarafian also pointed out the irony that the current Blue Book issue left the deniers at their most vulnerable. "All the relevant records are in the UK. The Turkish authorities cannot manipulate these records, as they can manipulate Turkish archives. For once the playing field is equal. And the Turkish Parliament's integrity and competence are on the line. Let others judge who is right and who is wrong."

Indeed, Sarafian has already published most of his argument against the Turkish position in his much acclaimed critical edition of the 1916 Blue Book, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16 [uncensored edition] (Gomidas Institute, 2005), as well as associated documentary publications, most notably United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917 (Gomidas Institute, 2004), United States Diplomacy on the Bosphorus: The Diaries of Ambassador Morgenthau, 1913-1916 (Gomidas Institute, 2004), and British Parliamentary Debates on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1918 (Gomidas Institute, 2003). These demonstrable sources are the key source against the Turkish parliamentarians and their advisers.

In the ensuing question and answer session, Sarafian identified the key architects of the Turkish position as Justin McCarthy (University of Louisville, Kentucky) and Sukru Elekdag (former Turkish ambassador to Washington DC and currently a member of the Turkish Parliament). Sarafian also stated that the British historian Andrew Mango (SOAS) played a support role to the Turkish denialist position in Great Britain.

Following this meeting, a group of British Parliamentarians began collecting signatures from their colleagues requesting the withdrawal of the Turkish letter to London and offering to meet with Turkish parliamentarians should the latter wish to further discuss the 1916 parliamentary Blue Book and other materials related to the Armenian Genocide.

For a copy of the Turkish parliament's letter and the Gomidas Institute's response, please contact info@gomidas.org.uk To order copies of the 1916 Blue Book and other published archival records on the Armenian Genocide, please visit www.garodbooks.com