Armenia: Genocide Or Carelessness?


Oxford Analytica
April 17 2008

Armenians around the world mark this Thursday as ‘Armenian Genocide
Day’. On this day in 1915, a pogrom began of the Armenians in
Constantinople. Armenians say 1.5 million were deliberately
exterminated during the First World War.

Turks, who celebrate National Sovereignty Day on Wednesday, do not
deny ‘events’, but say many of their own people died too amid general
mayhem. If Armenians succumbed to harsh conditions while being moved
(as a ‘fifth column’ suspected of siding with the Russian enemy)
from northeastern Anatolia to Syria, it was because the authorities
were not interested in treating them properly.

Whether the proper term is genocide is still a live political

Armenia and the Armenian diaspora — mostly descended from Ottoman
refugees — insist on spreading their version in order to be revenged
on a racial enemy.

Turks, as a matter of honour, deny it – "the national character does
not allow it to commit such crimes", Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan said recently.

Others align themselves with one or the other side. In Bulgaria,
anti-Turkish ultra-nationalists recently sponsored a genocide
recognition bill; in Denmark, it was the far-right Danish People’s
Party. Israel, an ally of Turkey, withholds recognition — as long
as Ankara behaves itself.

Turkey’s international weight has prevented all but a few countries
taking the Armenian line, although they include France, which has
made genocide denial a criminal offence. A move to recognise it lies
before the US Congress, but President George Bush managed to stall
it after Ankara threatened to restrict aerial access to Iraq.

Presidential candidate John McCain opposes Resolution 106, valuing
Turkey as a US ally. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both support it
— although her husband dodged the issue for his eight years in office.

In 2007, Turkey proposed a joint historical commission to establish the
truth — in itself, a step forward. Whether the commission succeeds
in reaching agreement on the terminology hardly matters — a lot of
people died at a time of war because other people hated them for who
they were.

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