The arguments that have fluttered of late out of the worlds media outlets, as to whether or not the Turk’s committed Genocide in 1915 against the Armenian communities who lived within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, brought Stalin’s callous words to mind, “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.” Sadly this statement by the grave digger of the Russian revolution is as true today as when he first uttered these words. The Armenian émigré community in the USA, have long been active lobbying members of the United States Congress and Senate on this issue. At every opportunity they have attempted to brand into the consciousness of the American people that the suffering of the Armenian people in 1915 was a conscious act of Genocide, that today’s Republic of Turkey must accept responsibility for.
Recently they succeeded in getting the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives to pass a motion in support of this proposition and according to the leader of that House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, she intends to put the proposition to the floor of the House. It should not be over looked that Ms Pelosi represents California’s Eighth District and has a large and vocal Armenian émigré community within her own and neighboring Constituencies. Whether this has any relevancy I know not, but being a very astute politician she is unlikely to over look, nor rile her home base.
Most commentators have concentrated on the damage done to US-Turkish relationships by the passing of this House committee resolution. Undoubtedly the Turk’s who live in the Republic of Turkey have taken great offense, but I feel they would do well to pull back, not least because the criminal Genocide that was committed against these unfortunate Armenians was carried out by the multi-nationality Ottoman Empire, almost seven years before the modern Turkish Republic was brought into being.
When the the modern Turkish Republic was created out of the Anatolian ruins of the Ottoman Empire, its founders made a point of barring all those from citizenship in the new State who had held senior positions in the Empire; and went to the lengths of getting the International community to endorse this act before they signed The Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Their purpose was to ensure the new Turkish Republic was not a continuation of the old Empire under another name, thus the 600 name list they submitted for approval at Lausanne served as public proof that the administration and ideologists of the Empire were not being transferred to the new Republic.
This is far from a minor debating point, for I doubt many people today would blame the current Russian Federation for the genocide that Stalin’s USSR inflicted on almost a million people from the North Caucasus plus the Crimean Tartars, when the Stalinist bureaucracy had them deported from their ancestral homelands and trekked across thousands of kilometers, much as the Armenians had been by the Ottoman Empire. Indeed Stalin like the bureaucrats of the Ottoman Empire before him when they ordered the deportation of the Armenians, used the same pretext of disloyalty in war time to justify his Genocide.
Yet the Armenian émigré community in the USA and now members of the US Senate are doing just this when they refuse to recognize there are only tenuous links between the modern Turkish Republic and the Ottoman Empire.. It seems now that the Armenian émigré community in the USA has become a powerful force in US politics, when they come knocking on Washington’s door and say jump to the politicos on Capital Hill, the politicians reply how high, without thought or question.
Whilst it is perfectly understandable that the Armenian émigré community want justice and recognition for their forebears suffering, their continuos claims that it is the people of the Republic of Turkey who must shoulder the guilt for this crime is disingenuous and counter-productive. Increasingly Turkish people are coming to terms with the great injustice that was committed against their one time neighbors the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire, but understandably they believe that the Turkish Republic bears no direct responsibility for this crime. They wonder why their nation has been singled out to shoulder this particular blame when sadly history is littered with such crimes where the antecedent’s can be tracked to a modern State , not least the genocide committed against the Native Americans.
Which was carried out over a century and more by various US administrations. Confiscation of property and land, mass deportations, death marches, concentration camps, shoot on sight, mass starvation, murder and child theft, all were common practices inflicted against native Americans on the orders of the United States government; and these crimes persisted into the early part of the 20th Century. But it seems the members of the House of Representatives are less keen to look into their own Nations history and place blame than they are to look else where.
Perhaps it is time that such crimes came under a new internationally approved Special Commission for Genocide, for it is clear that political motives which have their roots in the present geo-political world lay behind this and other investigations into historical acts of genocide. It is time people stopped scoring political points and centered on the victims. When the Ottoman Empire rounded up its Armenian citizens and sent them on a death march into the deserts of Syria they were committing Genocide by any fair minded persons calculations. The crime was all the greater as these people had lived in comparatively harmony with their Turkish and Greek neighbors for centuries. It was only when the geo-political madness that was World War One seeped across the borders of the Ottoman Empire that this wicked act was brought about.
Thus far from the modern Turkish Republic shouldering the entire guilt of this genocide, all the nations who entered as combatants into that unnecessary and bloody conflagration need to come together and recognize there equal responsibility for the Armenian Genocide. For when our politicians sing the battle anthem to take us to war, we should be aware that the legacy of such stupidity will not only result in death and mayhem for our own generation, but will leave ripples of hate for future generations to endure.