Before I am accused of being a-Denialist An appeal to Historians who recognize the 1915-Incidents as a Genocide (Tuncay Yılmazer )

Tarih: 25/04/2015   /   Toplam Yorum 1   / Yazar Adı:      /   Okunma 6308

I am not a historian , only an ordinary Turkish citizen. All my life , I always condemned massacres, killings, seizure or torture of civilians, innocent people regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity etc. Therefore, I deeply regret the way my (some) forefathers' treated innocent, civilian Armenians who were Ottoman citizens and where most of them were children, women or old people. They persecuted, killed, seized their properties during 1915 fateful months. I personally believe that “this was crime against humanity


You use the term “genocide” while describing these events. I wonder why you use a legal term for the 1915 events, you don't mark as “genocide” the nearly same events took place at the same decades, at the beginning of 20th century... You don't name Germany's treating Namibians in 1910 as a “Genocide”. Furthermore, Germany refused a simply “apology” You don't say Belgium Kingdom was responsible for massacres in Congo in 1905 , and committed “Genocide” I have been asking these questions at different times but nobody, explained what the differences are. Why and how do these events differ? (T.Y)

 

 

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Dear Historians who recognize 1915 incidents as a genocide,

 I am not a historian , only an ordinary Turkish citizen.

 All my life , I always condemned massacres, killings, seizure or torture of civilians, innocent people regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity etc.

 Therefore, I deeply regret the way my (some) forefathers' treated innocent, civilian Armenians who were Ottoman citizens and most of them were children, women or old people. They persecuted, killed, seized their properties during 1915 fateful months. I personally believe that “this was crime against humanity”

 There are no possible excuses to commit such acts against innocent people...

 It should be appreciated that some Turkish governors, imams, citizens resisted and defied the government's orders and tried to save innocent  Armenian people.

 I also have some questions that I want to raise with you, before  accusing me of being a “denialist”. I am quite prepared to accept all criticisms , providing that it is reasonable and in good faith.

 First of all, I am not a denialist.

 As I said before Ottoman Armenians were persecuted, deported and killed, their properties seized during 1915 fateful months. I accept that Turkish goverments have tried to ignore such criminal acts , and refuse to face off her past so far...

 You use the term “genocide” while describing these events.

 “Genocide” is a “legal” term introduced  after the Second World War...

 You say that Raphael Lempkin, who was of a Polonian Jews origin advocate offered the term “genocide” to describe the “Holocaust” events in 1948 after he took an example from Ottoman Armenians Deportation.

 

You don't question why did he select only one example...

 Therefore, “Armenian Genocide” is a unquestionable term for you.

 And you insist that Turkey must recognize “genocide”

 I don't want to mention that Bulgarian or Serbs committed massacres against Muslim populations during the Balkan Wars or Russian Army's with Armenian bands killed, persecuted many innocent muslims in the First World War. You don't take into account this event because you argue that this events are not consistent with “Genocide” term.

 

I wonder why you use a legal term for the 1915 events, you don't mark as “genocide” the nearly same events took place at the same decades, at the beginning of 20th century...

You don't name Germany's treating Namibians in 1910 as a “Genocide”. Furthermore, Germany refused a simply “apology”

 You don't say Belgium Kingdom was responsible for massacres in Congo in 1905 , and committed “Genocide”

 I have been asking these questions at different times but nobody, explained what the differences are. Why and how do these events differ?

Recently , on twitter I tried to discuss this matter with Prof. Peter Stanley , famous Australian historian and had lots of books, articles on Anzacs and The First World War including Gallipoli. He refused to answer and despised me. Most of ( Especiallly ) American Armenian historians language against Turks are abusive, insulting

 You seem to forget that one of Britain and France's main ally was the Russia,  it was a far more authoritarian and brutal regime than the Kaiser's Germany as historians Richard Evans stated last year.1 You avoid saying “genocide” for Tsarist Russia's treating millions her “own” citizens, Jews , who lived in Eastern Europa during the First World War. Russian Easten European Jews were persecuted, deported ,killed by Tsarist Russia . The heinous act that took place nearly at the same time Ottoman Armenians Deportation.

Could you tell me what is the main difference among the nearly same events are?

 I am looking forward to your explanation of how similar events are recognzied differently.

 If we use a “legal terminology” we can not be “selective” on what applies to it, its definition should be set.

 But It seems that , as historians, you use “legal terminology” and you use it for the past and you are selective.

 It is unfair, unjust act against Turkey

11http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/06/richard-evans-michael-gove-history-education

 


  6308 defa Görüntülendi.

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Makaleye Yorum Ekle

 

YORUMLAR

5616_Erkan 22-04-2015, 11:50:41
I believe Turkish citizens do not know all the details that led to the events that Armenians today claim to be a genocide. Nothing happens without a cause and Turks are not fully informed of the massacres by the Armenians and of the size and the brutality of it. This is because there are still peacefully living 70 thousand Armenains in Turkey. As a result there has never been a Turkish government policy to create any hostility within cohabiting societies by emphasizing these facts. We inherit actually this way of cohabition from the "Millet System" of the Ottoman Empire which allowed for centuries different populations belonging to different religions to live in the same areas, villages, cities. Louis de Bernieres' novel Birds Without Wings is a genuine testimony to how Turks, Jews, Armenians, all the Balkan populations, Arabs lived together for centuries under Ottoman Empire.

Therefore before Turks fear of being accused for "Denialists" they should remember more than 2.5 million muslim Turks who died in WW1 and the Independence war led by Atatürk and of which the 600 thousand+ killed by the Armenians who joined the Russian army.

Below links (in Turkish) give the dates and the number of muslim Turks killed by Armenians. The description of ugliest torture methods made me feel sick to be honest.

http://www.atukad.org.tr/kimkimesoykirim.html
http://www.atukad.org.tr/katliamharita.html

 
8530_Vicken 23-05-2016, 00:00:26
Dear Tuncay Yilmazer

Thank you for expressing your view on the subject of the terminology used to describe the Armenian massacres and deportations of 1915. Your question is a good topic for an academic paper but I’m happy to provide you with a brief summary of my opinion on the subject.

It is indeed true that what occurred to the Armenians was a ‘crime against humanity’ as that legal term - affirmed by the U.N general Assembly - was derived and adopted from a declaration made by the Allies on 24 May 1915 with respect to the initiation of the wartime Armenian massacres, which they branded as a ‘crime against humanity.’

The first time that the 1948 United Nations Genocide Law was enforced occurred in September 1998 when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of a small town in Rwanda, guilty of nine counts of genocide. Jean Kambanda became the first head of government to be convicted of genocide. However, genocide is not only a legal term but a historical and political term. Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the word ‘genocide’ in 1944 said that it had happened many times throughout history. Many people today use the genocide label to describe the massacres in Congo, Namibia and the destruction of Jews during World War Two (WW2) even though they occurred before the UN Genocide law. The word ‘pedophile’ appeared in the French language in the 1960s (and probably around the same time in English). Yet you find it in scholarly books and articles describing the ‘tastes’ of ancient Romans, for example, or crimes committed before 1969.

Some of the reasons why the Armenian massacres and deportations of 1915-16 are referred to as genocide are the following:

1) It is the most accurate one-word term we have in the English language to describe what occurred. It was common for contemporary American and German observers to describe the World War One (WW1) Armenian massacres and deportations as ‘race extermination’ or ‘race murder’. In fact, Raphael Lemkin combined the two words ‘genos’ (Greek word for ‘race or tribe’) and ‘cide’ (Latin word for ‘to exterminate or to kill’) to create the one word ‘genocide’. Lemkin repeatedly stated (even on public television) that the Armenians had suffered genocide during WW1. The Armenian experience arguably forms part of the etymology of the word genocide. See https://vimeo.com/125514772

Although Lemkin coined the English word ‘genocide’ in the 1940s, Swedish, Norwegian and German observers had already used a similar word in their respective languages to describe the extermination of Armenians during the First World War. Future prime minister of Sweden Hjalmar Branting, at the time opposition leader, said in a speech in Stockholm on 27 March 1917 that the world had witnessed in Armenia a fully organised folkmord [genocide]. The Norwegian author and linguist Arne Garborg used the term Folkemord in his diaries that same year for the same purpose, as did the German politician Matthias Erzberger, who described it as Völkermord.

2) Atrocities against civilians have sadly been a by-product of all wars throughout history. During the Balkan Wars for example, terrible atrocities were committed by all sides. As you know, over 350,000 Muslims were forced to flee the Balkans and many found refuge in Anatolia. There’s no excuse for these atrocities and the suffering of the victims are the same regardless of what we call them – massacres, atrocities, ethnic cleansing etc.

The empire-wide Armenian massacres and deportations which began in May 1915 differed in nature and scale to the usual war-time atrocity. The CUP Ottoman government employed modern technology such as the telegraph and the railway to carry out its policy of annihilating the Armenian population throughout the empire. The telegraph allowed for orders to be sent simultaneously throughout a vast geographic area (in areas far from the war zones) and the railway allowed the efficient deportation of a mass number of people towards destruction. The majority of the Armenians who were deported did not make it to the supposed resettlement zones of Syria and Mesopotamia. And a large portion of those who did died of starvation, disease and death during a second round of massacres in mid 1916. The Germans (Ottoman empire’s wartime allies) and Americans (neutral until 1917) observed the distinctive nature of the Armenian deportations.

The United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, cabled the US secretary of state in June 1915 that the persecution of Armenians had now assumed ‘unprecedented proportions’. Reports from ‘widely scattered districts’ indicated a systematic attempt
to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary arrests, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage, and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.
These measures, Morgenthau emphasised, were ‘not in response to popular or fanatical demand’ but purely arbitrary and directed from ‘Constantinople in the name of military necessity, often in districts where no military operations are likely to take place’.

The German ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1915, Hans von Wangenheim, also noticed the extension of the deportations to areas far from war zones. In a letter to the imperial chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg on 7 July 1915, Wangenheim wrote that the ‘expulsion and relocation of the Armenian people’, previously limited to the eastern theatre of war and Cilicia, had reached parts of the country ‘not threatened by any enemy invasion for the time being’. The ‘situation and the way in which the relocation is being carried,’ he concluded, ‘shows that the government is indeed pursuing its purpose of eradicating the Armenian race from the Turkish Empire.’

For further information see my book with Professor Peter Stanley ‘Armenia, Australia and the Great War’ available from https://www.amazon.com/Armenia-Australia-Great-Peter-Stanley-ebook/dp/B01D0XYLLW?ie=UTF8&keywords=babkenian&qid=1463960093&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

3) The WW1 Armenian persecutions became one of the first cases in history where the leading perpetrators were tried and convicted for ‘the organization and execution of the crime of massacre’ against their own subjects. The Trials in Constantinople between April and June 1919 placed on public record an important collection of confessions by former Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) leaders and secret state and party papers concerning the tactics of deportation and mass murder. On 5 July 1919 the key verdict determined that four senior CUP leaders, including Talaat, Enver and Djemal, all of them cabinet ministers (at the time of the Armenian deportations), were guilty of ‘paramount crimes’. The central theme of the verdict was the ‘crime of mass murder’ and they were all condemned to death in absentia. See Judgement at Istanbul by Taner Akcam and Vahakn Dadrian http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=DadrianJudgment

The human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has observed that the trials in 1919 were genuine proceedings carried out according to contemporary Turkish law, which although deficient by our standards (particularly when conducted in absentia) were nonetheless legitimate and brought former leaders and officials to account under domestic laws at a time when international law offered no way to punish officials for mass murder of their own people. See Prof. Peter Balakian’s article http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/geoffrey-robertson/who-now-remembers-the-armenians-9780857986337.aspx

Some further notes
The legal UN definition of Genocide does not include all the elements which Raphael Lemkin believed constituted acts of genocide such as cultural destruction or the enslavement of women (including rape) - both of which loom largely in the Armenian case. However, the UN genocide definition did include ‘the forceful transfer of children from one group to another’ which featured in the Armenian case but not in the Jewish case. See http://muse.jhu.edu/article/508215/pdf

I agree with you that establishing an agreement on the legal definition of genocide—and distinguishing it from genocidal massacres, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity—is indeed problematic. A recent book by Prof. Colin Tatz and Winton Higgins titled the Magnitude of Genocide aims to help readers understand the essential ingredients of genocide, from antiquity to the present, and grasp the extent of the crime across human history. A unique and crucial feature of the book is that it gives as much attention to the differences among genocides—for example, between a large-scale genocide like the Holocaust and the extermination of a 500-person Amazonian tribe—while still treating both within a single conceptual framework of genocide, without ‘discounting’ the smaller case. http://www.abc-clio.com/Praeger/product.aspx?pc=A4316C

Conclusion
The individuals who organised and carried out the Armenian massacres and deportations in 1915 can never be prosecuted under the UN Genocide Convention (as they’re all dead) but the Armenian case is widely recognised as being genocide by the overwhelming majority of the international scholarly community including the man who coined the word. If we’re not going to use the word genocide to describe what happened to the Armenians, then surely it’s going to be a word which describes something much worse.

Vicken Babkenian
Historian
Author of the "Armenia, Australia and Great War" (with Peter Stanley)

 

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