By Harut Sassounian
FILE - Huge crowds of Armenian Americans march during an annual commemoration of the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, in Los Angeles, April 24, 2019. ©VOA2022
The Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide is as futile as a man who repeatedly hits his head against the wall, hoping the wall will give way.
For more than a century, successive Turkish governments have done everything in their power to cover up the heinous crime of the Armenian Genocide committed by their predecessors. No Turkish leader has had the courage and honesty to admit the truth. Instead, Turkey has wasted huge sums of money to deny the undeniable. It has bribed questionable scholars and crooked politicians around the world to distort the historical facts. Ankara has published hundreds of deceptive books and made several trashy movies to cover up its crimes. Over several decades, Turkey has spent tens of millions of dollars to hire American lobbying firms to pressure the US Congress not to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. All of these efforts failed miserably. The US House of Representatives recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1975, 1984 and 2019. The US Senate unanimously recognized it in 2019. Moreover, two US Presidents acknowledged it: Pres. Ronald Reagan in a Presidential Proclamation in 1981 and Pres. Joe Biden in his commemorative statements on April 24, 2021 and 2022. The most authoritative American acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide took place on May 28, 1951, when the US government submitted an official report to the World Court, stating that the Armenian Genocide was one of the “outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
Despite all Turkish pressures, threats and bribes, over 30 countries have formally acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. This is in addition to acknowledgments by the United Nations War Crimes Commission in 1948, the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in 1985 and the European Parliament repeatedly since 1987.
Most of these acknowledgments took place at a time when the Republic of Armenia did not exist as an independent state. The Armenian Diaspora, in a David versus Goliath battle, was able to counter the denials of the powerful Turkish government, supported by its NATO allies and scores of Islamic states.
All of these denialist efforts are based on the simple misconception that should the Turkish government acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, it would then be obligated to pay restitution to surviving Armenians. Regrettably, many Armenians have the same misconception. The fact is that the Turkish government is liable to pay reparations and return confiscated Armenian properties and territories, regardless of whether Turkish leaders acknowledge their guilt or not. Political statements by government leaders are of no value in a court of law. Courts deal with facts and documents. No matter how many times Turkey denies the Genocide, the Republic of Armenia has the right to take its demands for restitution and return of territories to the International Court of Justice (World Court), where only governments have such jurisdiction.
After an entire century of denial, the Turkish government announced last week its latest desperate attempt to counter the facts of the Armenian Genocide by forming the TEKAR Foundation (Turkish Armenian Issue Research Foundation). This is a coalition of three Turkish groups: Educational Friends Foundation, Baskent (Capital City) Strategic Research Center, and Center for Countering Fanatic Armenian Lies. The new Foundation held its inaugural assembly on June 25.
TEKAR plans to republish a Turkish denialist book written by Esat Uras (1882-1957) titled: “The Armenians in history and the Armenian question.” As a member of the Committee of Union and Progress (Young Turks), Uras played a key role in planning and executing the Armenian Genocide. His book is replete with gross misrepresentations.
The Turkish Foundation also stated that it will “print Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s views, thoughts and statements on Armenians, Armenian activities and Armenian relations.” I hope the Foundation will not forget to quote from Ataturk’s interview published by the Los Angeles Examiner on August 1, 1926, in which he said: “These leftovers from the former Young Turk Party, who should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects, who were ruthlessly driven en masse from their homes and massacred… They have hitherto lived on plunder, robbery and bribery.”
The TEKAR Foundation has 23 members on its board of trustees. The chairman of the board is Mehmet Arif Demirer, a chemical engineer, not a historian! Incomprehensibly, the board is composed of six military officers, three engineers, two economists, one gastronomist, one student and several others of miscellaneous backgrounds. It looks like the real purpose of the TEKAR Foundation is to provide jobs to Pres. Erdogan’s circle of friends. While it is a good thing that these Turks want to study the Armenian Genocide, their intention is not seeking the truth!
Turkish denialists have never understood that the more they deny the Armenian Genocide and the longer they talk about it, the more the world becomes aware of the Armenian Genocide. In other words, Turkey foolishly keeps publicizing the Armenian Genocide to new generations while trying to deny it.
Additionally, Turkish leaders have never understood that the sooner they acknowledge the crimes of their predecessors, the sooner they will gain the respect of international public opinion. When a Turkish leader eventually acknowledges the truth, he will be praised worldwide and may even be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. By their denials, Turkish leaders are doing a major disservice to their own reputations, not to mention the huge sums of money they are wasting at a time when the Turkish economy is bankrupt!
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