1915: HEROES AND MURDERERS
Cihan News Agency (CNA)
November 2, 2012 Friday
ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- “Heroes are totalitarian.” It has been a long
time since I first read the book “Cehenneme Ovgu, Gundelik Hayatta
Totalitarizm” (Prisoners of Ourselves: Totalitarianism in Everyday
Life) by Gunduz Vassaf, but I still remember this sentence from it.
Whenever I hear the word “hero,” I cannot help but affix “totalitarian”
Vassaf narrates how we escape from freedom via heroes and recreate
the order again and again. Heroes are presented to us as men of
sacrifice who show courage and no human weakness. They are leaders,
military servicemen, religious clerics, revolutionaries, freedom
fighters and others.
Every group of people has their own heroes. As we try to become like
these heroes, we turn into men which the order we are in desires. I
recently explored a hero who is not totalitarian. This hero does not
look like the others. And we, the people of Turkey, do not know him
because knowing him requires going through an unusual cognitive and
spiritual process, remorse and a huge confrontation.
There is a huge paradox there. If we get to know him, we will become
richer and our souls will become more at ease. However, to become
familiar with him, we first have to go through a spiritual turbulence
and a state of discomfort. We know that he exists thanks to foreign
movies. Watching “Schindler’s List” by Steven Spielberg or “Hotel
Rwanda” by Terry George, we actually witness his life. However, the
culture we grew up in prevents us from getting to know him better. We
do not know the meaning of rejecting to participate in a campaign of
murder based on individual remorse and conscience while society and
the state were committing a huge crime and that crime was becoming
a part of daily life and the symbol of a new status quo.
We have Hollywood Schindlers, but movies have not been made for
them in this country. Their names are not in history books. From
the perspective of our formal history, they are traitors. I believe
that one of the big losses associated with our failure to confront
the 1915 tragedy is being deprived of not knowing them. In fact,
we hold a sense of guilt in our subconscious. But we do not know the
stories of those people who did not participate in heinous acts while
the entire community was being involved, who refused to comply with
orders and harbored their Armenian neighbors in their houses.
We do not know them. We are not aware of how Urfali Haci Halil, who
hid his Armenian neighbors in his home for one year, bought bread for
eight extra people, what he felt about the outer world when he closed
the doors of his home, how his relations with the community changed or
how he was afraid of the death decrees for those who harbored Armenians
in their homes. For us to know and feel all these, we should first
address the lies in our history and feel the atmosphere of massacre
and tragedies in this country.
If we could pass these stages, we will know about not only Haci
Halil but also the Ottoman bureaucrats who did not obey orders to
deport Armenians and were executed or exiled for non-compliance. Konya
Governor Celal, Ankara Governor Hasan Mazhar, Kastamonu Governor Resit
Pasa, Basra Governor Ferit, Yozgat Governor Mehmet Cemal Bey, Kutahya
Governor Faik Ali Ozansoy, Muntefek Governor Bedii Nuri, Lice District
Governor Huseyin Nesimi Bey and Batman District Governor Sabit Bey will
all guide us on the path towards spiritual purification and serenity.
If we could bear the anguish and look at our history honestly, the
religious people of this country will promote the honorable tradition
of Muslims who strongly opposed the murder of Armenians in Bogazlayan,
stressing that there is no killing of innocent people in the Quran. If
we could look at 1915 honestly and talk openly about everything, we
will start to meet the real heroes. Of course, this will come after
huge pain and mourning. They will be our real heroes.
After so many years, we have made some progress towards confronting
the past but there is still a long way to go. I think that these
heroes will guide us on this journey. I bow to them with great respect.
ORHAN KEMAL CENGIZ (Cihan/Today’s Zaman) CIHAN