NKR: Turkey Refuses To Recognize The Genocide

TURKEY REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE THE GENOCIDE

Azat Artsakh – Nagorno Karabakh Republic [NKR]
29 April 05

Despite the fact of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by
progressive mankind, a number of countries and numerous organization,
Turkey keeps to the refusing attitude this time using the factor of
archives. Following the recent TV programmes and analyses of the
Turkish – Armenian relationships it becomes clear that, in fact, great
attention is paid to the problem of archives. InTurkey they have been
insisting that the Turk historians and journalists do not have access
to the materials on the genocide kept in the archives of Armenia. The
director of the State Archive of Armenia, member of the state
committee setup for the 90th anniversary of the genocide, Doctor
Amatuni Virabian was invited to Artsakh by the NKR Ministry of
Education, Culture and Sport to take part in the scientific conference
at Artsakh State University devoted to the 90th anniversary of the
Genocide. He provided interesting information about the archival files
on the genocide. According to Dr. Virabian, in the Soviet years there
were secret files in all the republics of the Soviet Union. However,
these files referred to the repressions against people and the church,
the national problem, the problem of Nagorno Karabakh, the Turkish –
Armenian border. The files on the genocide have always been accessible
and were studied even in the Soviet times. A. Virabian said when he
was appointed to the position of director of the RA State Archive in
2001 he announced in his very first interviews that he was willing to
receive Turkish historians and journalists whenever they wished to
study the archives. However, so far there have been no such
initiatives on their part. This year, 90 years after the Genocide,
this question was again put forward, and what is more, even the
Turkish prime minister complained that they are refused access to the
archives of Armenia. The Armenian side again stated through the mass
media that the archives of Armenia are open to everybody. According to
A. Virabian, these are diplomatic steps on the partof Turkey aimed at
postponing the recognition of the genocide for some more time. When
they realized that there is no problem of restricted access to
archives, they announced that there is a large number of files in
Turkish archives testifying that in 1912 – 1920 in Ottoman Turkey the
Armenians killed 541 500 Muslims – Turks, Kurds and
Circassians. Several days ago such documents in different languages
were placed in the web site of the National Archive of Turkey. Thus,
Turkey carries on intensive struggle to postpone the recognition of
the genocide for several more decades and for this reason it makes use
of the factor of archives. And what do we do in this direction?
A. Virabian mentioned that the state archives of Armenia publish
archive documents conveying them to the international community
through the Internet and other possible means. Recently more attention
is paid to this. At present about 12 thousand official documents on
the genocide are kept at the state archive of Armenia. These are
diplomatic documents, documents drawn up in 1918 – 1920 on the
genocide perpetrated several years before. The personal files of 13
500 orphans who lost their parents due to the genocide are kept in the
archive. These interesting documents contain he names of the orphan
children, the names of their parents, if they remember whether their
parents are alive or not. In the beginning the government tried to
take care of them but failed to because Armenia had become a country
of immigrants. The American Benevolent Committee founded orphanages in
Alexandrapol, Gharakilisa, Dilijan, Jalaloghli. The American
missioners wrote that these were clever children of prospects who
could be taken to America for they could be the potential of the
American nation in the future. Among the archive files the memoirs of
witnesses are of special value. The memoirs were written as long ago
as in 1916 when the term `genocide’ had not been coined yet, and even
the Armenians did not know yet what had happened in Turkey in reality
and there was no question of propaganda. Owing to the resistance there
were people from three states of West Armenia Van, Bitlis, Erzrum who
were saved. Others who were prisoners of Turks and Kurds were saved by
Armenian volunteers. On the whole 250 – 260 thousand people were
saved. In the framework ofan undertaking in 1916 there were people who
went around the places where emigrants lived and put down the memoirs
of eyewitnesses. The witnesses were people aged from 12 to 70. They
told interesting facts how the massacres were perpetrated. The
witnesses were mostly illiterate peasants but there were also literate
people among them. They told that the Turkish government had made a
plan to exterminate all the males aged from 12 years to grown-ups,
take beautiful girls and young boys to them and bring them up by the
Muslim spirit. The others (women, children) would be taken to
Mesopotamia, as it happened in the states of Diarbekir, Sebastia,
Kharbert and other places in Turkey. It is also notable that in all
the villages the handwriting of Turkish actions was the same. In the
beginning they mobilized men of 25 – 30 to the army. Others who were
advanced in years were concentrated in a place as if for spring
farming and killed. Then they began to kill women and
children. A. Virabian mentioned that in the aforementioned three
vilayets there were about a thousand villages, and thearchive contains
files on seven hundred. Memoirs of witnesses about 170 of these
villages have been published. The director of the state archive of
Armenia pointed out the fact the monstrous plan instigated by the
Turkish government was implemented in the three vilayets through Kurds
and Circassians. A. Virabian also said that there are interesting
files on Artsakh. In 1918 the Turkish troops deployed in
Transcaucasia, seized Baku and perpetrated massacres which lasted for
three days. About 30 thousand Armenians were killed. Then the troops
moved to other places inhabited by Armenians – Nukhi-Aresh, Shamakhi,
Gyokcha, Artsakh and killed the Armenian population. Files on
massacres in these places, as well as the massacres in Shushi in March
1920 are also kept in the state archive. 715 documents were published
in a book headlined `Massacres of Armenians in the Regions of Baku and
Elizavetpol in 1918-1920′. In 1919 H. Tumanian set up a committee
which estimated the material damage of the Armenians in World WarI.
The files in 7 volumes were presented to the peace conference in
Paris, however the problem remained unsettled. The interesting thing
is that people had mentioned not only the material damage they had
suffered but also the number and names of their lost
relatives. According to Dr. Virabian, these are extremely important
documents because when the question of 1.5 million slaughtered
Armenians is under consideration, they often ask from where the number
1.5 million was taken and demand documents. A. Virabian also touched
upon the documents on how the 50th anniversary of the Genocide was
commemorated in 1965. In 1920 on the initiative of Vrtanes Papazian
April 24th was adopted the Day of the Armenian Genocide and until 1927
church bells tolled for the victims of the genocide. After that it was
even forbidden to sound the bells and only in 1965 was it officially
allowed to commemorate the Day of the Genocide. In reference to
acquiring new archive files A. Virabian said that after his each
address onTV 10 – 15 people give the documents and photos they possess
to the archive. Besides, the archive buys documents. In this way a
great number of documents on the genocide were acquired from
individuals and different countries. In addition, there are valuable
materials in a number of European countries, particularly in the
archives of Spain and Bulgaria containing indirect mentions and
documents on the Great Calamity, which have not been studied
yet. Several among the thirty books on the genocide published in one
year are collections of documents. Among them is the German archive
document. `However, there is still a great deal of work to be done,’
said A. Virabian. As to the Turkisharchives, there is no need to take
them seriously because the Turkish archive on the Great Calamity are
controlled by the president of Turkey and only Turkish historians have
access to them, and only those selected through a strict interview
with the authorities. The rest of the archive documents, including the
archives of the government and the army headquarters are closed to
everyone, and especially to the Armenians. `And generally, the fact of
accessibility of Turkish archives should be treated with humour,’ said
A. Virabian, `Bbecause, first of all, the Turks would not like to
show the documents on the massacres, and besides, it should be
ascertained whether they have preserved them or not.’

SVETLANA KHACHATRIAN.
29-04-2005

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