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Who Publicizes the Genocide More? Armenians or Turks?
by Harut Sassounian
The Foreign Minister of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, announced this week that the Turkish government is planning to launch in 2007 a new comprehensive propaganda campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide. All previous Turkish government attempts to bury the facts of the Armenian Genocide have ended in failure, after wasting millions of dollars on lobbying firms and books by phony "scholars."
Ironically, the more the Turks try to deny the crime committed by Ottoman Turkey in 1915, the greater the number of countries, international organizations and individuals that recognize it.
In recent weeks, after the Argentinean Parliament recognized the Armenian Genocide, Ankara warned that country's Senate not to follow suit. Despite the Turkish warning, and maybe because of it, the Argentinean Senate adopted the Armenian Genocide resolution unanimously! A couple of months ago, when the French Parliament adopted a bill that would make it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish government gave a similar warning to the French Senate. If the Turks continue to irritate the French by their threats and obnoxious insults, I have no doubt that the Senate would reciprocate by adopting this new law by an overwhelming majority!
Here are a few other items of interest to our readers:
- Several Turkish newspapers reported last week that the Armenian American lobby scored a major victory when Pres. Bush could not get the Senate to confirm Richard Hoagland, the Ambassador-designate for Armenia. The Turkish press quoted an analyst as saying that the blocking of Hoagland's nomination was a major success for Armenians: "The Armenian lobby has never been this strong."
- The Canadian Jewish News reported on December 14 that Israel has developed "a rich friendship" with Shiite Muslim Azerbaijan. "The relationship was born in 1992 when Israel supported Azerbaijan against Armenia in the Karabagh War," the Jewish publication stated. Since then, Israel has continued "to provide intelligence, security and military training to Azerbaijan.... Israel's Backcell is the second-largest cell phone operator" in Azerbaijan and is "one of many Israeli businesses doing brisk trade" in Baku.
- The Turkish Culture Minister announced last week that the official opening ceremonies for the renovated Aghtamar Armenian Church would take place on April 24. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop Mesrob Moutafian, issued an uncharacteristically bold statement, saying that holding the ceremony on that date would be exploiting Armenian people's suffering for political gain. He said that neither he nor any other Armenian would participate in such a ceremony on April 24. It has been obvious to me from the very beginning that Turkish officials were planning to exploit the renovation of Aghtamar for political purposes, independently of the date of the ceremony. Maybe the Patriarch, instead of objecting, should have accepted that date and turned the ceremony planned for April 24 into a commemoration of the Armenian Genocide -- which would have been a first in Turkey since 1915.
- Sylvester Stallone announced last week that he is interested in making Franz Werfel's famous novel, "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," into a blockbuster movie. Turks went into total panic and organized a worldwide e-mail campaign urging Stallone not to be "an instrument of Armenian lobbies." Armenians onthe other hand were so excited that they started celebrating as if the movie was already made. Surprisingly, neither Turks nor Armenians seem to remember that Stallone has made this same announcement several times in the past with nothing to show for. However, should Stallone end up making this movie someday, he can count on the Turks to provide a lot of free publicity, ensuring its success!
- Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, told the editors of the New York Times last week that they had become "a tool in the hands of the Armenians." He was unhappy that the N.Y. Times had decided that the newspaper would refer to the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact. This is the second time that the Turkish Prime Minister has personally complained to the N.Y. Times on this issue in the past couple of years. Maybe it's about time that Erdogan realized that the N.Y. Times, true to its noble calling, is a tool for the truth andnot a tool for Turkish denialism.
- Father Serop Azarian, the Pastor of the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in Granite City/St. Louis, sent me an e-mail describing his encounter with Turkish novelist and Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, at a lecture sponsored by the Washington University in St. Louis on Nov. 27. Fr. Azarian said in his e-mail: "Although in his speech Pamuk came close to mentioning the Armenians, denounced the criminal regime of the Young Turks and the delusional Turkish leaders of today, and spoke about the need for Turkey to be more open and responsible, he did not say one word about Armenians or the Genocide. He was cautious and, I think, rather cowardly in not telling the truth. While signing his books,I approached him and asked him if he would write a novel about prominent Armenian Genocide victims, such as novelist and Parliament member Krikor Zohrab.
Initially, he warmly said (in a very low voice): 'I live there [Turkey]. I cannot do it.' Then in a louder and more blunt tone he said: 'As a novelist, I choose what I write.' " Later on, in December, while in Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, when asked about the Armenian Genocide, Pamuk replied: "No comment!" It appears that Turkish denialists have succeeded in scaring this great writer into silence with their threats.
Let's see what 2007 has in store for the Armenian Cause. One thing is certain: Armenians can count on Turkish denialists to continue publicizing the Armenian Genocide by their extremist actions.