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      Turkish Writer Shames Ankara

Turkish Writer Shames Ankara   19/05/2005

Turkish Writer Shames Ankara For Denial of Armenian Genocide

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

An increasing number of Turks have been acknowledging recently the facts of
the Armenian Genocide and openly expressing their sympathy toward the
survivors of the horrible crime committed by their ancestors.

However, no one should jump to the conclusion that the Turkish government is
getting close to recognizing the Genocide. The Turkish leaders are becoming
more, not less, recalcitrant in their refusal to face the facts of their
bloody history. Not only are they denying that their ancestors committed
genocide, but, incredibly, they are blaming the Armenians for killing
millions of Turks! Furthermore, Prime Minister Erdogan is shamelessly
calling on those countries that have already acknowledged the Armenian
Genocide to apologize to Turkey! The Turkish parliament has even adopted new
laws that criminalize the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

There is a simple explanation for this wide divide between the Turkish
people and their government. Turkey is not a democracy. The citizens of
Turkey have very little influence on the policies of their government.

The following very touching article by Ahmet Altan, a righteous Turkish
writer, reflects how much Turkey must evolve before it can be classified
among the ranks of civilized European nations. This article, translated into
English, is simply titled “Genocide.” It was posted in Turkish on
www.gazetem.net on May 9:

                        *        *        *        *        *

I would like to ask you a very simple, ordinary question. Would you wish to
have been an Armenian in 1915? No, you wouldn't. Because you now know that
you would have been killed.

Please stop arguing about the number of murdered or the denials or the
attempts to replace pain with statistics. No one is denying that Armenians
were murdered, right? It may be 300,000, or 500,000, or 1 million, or 1.5
million. I don't know which number is the truth, or whether anyone knows the
exact number.

What I do know is that there are dead people and suffering behind these
numbers. We forget that we are really talking about human beings when we are
passionately debating the numbers. Those numbers cannot make us understand
the murdered babies, women, the elderly, the teenage boys and girls.

If we leave these numbers aside, and if we allow ourselves to hear the story
of only one of these murders, I am sure that even those of us who get
enraged when they hear the words "Armenian Genocide" will feel the suffering
and have tears in their eyes. Because they will then realize that we are
talking about human beings.

When we hear about a baby snatched from a mother's lap and killed by being
smashed against the rocks, or a youth shot to death beside a hill, or an old
woman strangled by her tender neck, even the most cold- hearted among us
will be ashamed to say, "Yes, but they killed Turks too."

Most of these people killed no one. These people became the innocent victims
of a crazed government -- established on murder -- whose ruthlessness is
only matched by its incompetence. This bloody insanity was so barbaric that
we can neither take pride in nor be a part of. This was a slaughter that we
should be ashamed of, and, if possible, share in the pain.

I understand that the word "genocide" has a damningly critical importance,
based on the fact that the Armenians, leaving aside the tragedy of their
ancestors, continuously exclaim, "Accept the Genocide," and similarly, the
Turks, while acknowledging that hundreds of thousands were killed, say "No,
it was not at all a genocide."

And yet, this word is not that important for me, no matter how significant
it is in politics and diplomacy. What is more important for me is the fact
that many innocent people were killed so barbarically.

When I see the shadow that this great tragedy casts on our times, I see
another great injustice done to the Armenians.

Our guilt today is, not allowing the Armenians even to grieve for their cruelly
killed relatives and parents. Which Armenian living in Turkey today can
openly grieve and commemorate a murdered grandmother, grandfather or uncle?

I have no part in the terrible sin committed by the Ittihadists, but the sin
of not allowing grief for the dead belongs to all of us today. Do you really
want to commit this sin?

Is there anyone among us who would not shed tears for a family attacked and
killed at home in the middle of the night, or for a little girl having lost
her mother is left all alone in the hell called "deportation," or for her
white-bearded Armenian grandfather shot to death?

Whether you call it genocide or not, hundreds of thousands of human beings
were murdered. Hundreds of thousands of lives were extinguished.

The fact that some Armenian fighters also killed some Turks cannot be an
excuse to mask the truth from our eyes.

Every human being of conscience is capable of grieving for the murdered
Armenians, Turks, and Kurds. If you ask me, we all should. Babies died;
women and old people died. They died tormented, crying and horrified.

Is it really so important for you what religion or race these murdered
people had?

Even in these terrifying times there were Turks who risked their lives
trying to rescue Armenian children. We are as much the children of these
rescuers as the children of the murderers.

Instead of siding with the barbarism of the murderers, why don't we side
with the rescuers' compassion, honesty, and courage? There are no more
victims left to be rescued today, but there is grief to be shared and
supported. What's the use of a bloody, warmongering dance around a deep
pain?

Forget the numbers, forget the Armenians, forget the Turks. Just think of
the babies, teenagers, women and the elderly with broken necks, slashed
bellies, and mutilated bodies. Think about these people, one by one.

If nothing moves in you when you hear a baby wail as her mother is murdered,
I have nothing to say to you. Add my name then to the list of "traitors."

Because I am ready to share with the Armenians the grief of so many people
killed. Because I believe there is something yet to be rescued from all
these meaningless and callous arguments. That something is called
"humanity."


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