Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Accession of Genocide denying Turkey in EU would be equal to Holocaust denial

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ It is a cause of concern that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt hesitates to recognize the genocide of Christians during the First World War by Ottoman Turks, writes Pierre A. Karatzian, the media spokesperson for the Union of Armenian Associations of Sweden.As the author of the article told PanARMENIAN.Net, he also describes a new study from Uppsala University showing that, very early on, Swedish authorities had information about the occurring genocide.“In the shadow of the First World War the Christian population of Ottoman Turkey and its surrounding regions, which then included parts of Northern Iraq and Syria, became the victims of a holocaust. The genocide was carried out through deportations, with death as the conclusion and veritable massacres. In eastern Turkey, the historical Armenian Highlands, the territories where drained of the Armenian populations. There were even a large number of Assyrians, Syriancs and Chaldeans murdered, or expelled, as a result of the genocidal wave that swept in over the country. In this territory there were a number of Swedes who witnessed these assaults. Amongst them we find the missionary Alma Johansson and reports from the official representatives of Sweden. A brand new study at Uppsala University of the Swedish archive, written by Vahagn Avedian, reveals a genuine Swedish reporting from Constantinople (Istanbul). Within these we find ambassador Cosswa Anckarsvard’s writings to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those of military attaché Einar af Wirsen to the general staff. Both of them sent detailed reports about the occurring genocide. The rest are merely occasional quotations from the material found in the Swedish archive:– Anckarsvard, 6 July 1915: “Mr. Minister, persecutions of the Armenians have assumed hair raising proportions and everything points to that the young Turks wish to use the opportunity, as for different reasons no effective external pressure needs to be feared, to end the Armenian question once and for all. The means hereby are quite simple and comprise the elimination of the Armenian nation.”– Anckarsvard, 6 July 1915: “It does not seem to be the Turkish population who voluntarily initiates [it], but the entire movement emanates from the authorities and the Young Turkish committee which stands behind them…”– Wirsen, 13 May 1916: “Health conditions in Iraq are horrifying. The Typhus claims numerous victims. The persecutions of Armenians have contributed to the spread of the disease to a high degree, since hundreds of thousands of the deported have died of hunger and hardship along the way.”Wrisen: “Annihilation of the Armenian nation in Asia Minor must upset all human feelings. It belongs without a doubt to the biggest crimes that have been committed during recent centuries. The way by which the Armenian problem was resolved was hair raising.”During modern times the genocide has received a very bitter consequence. The murder of the Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, Hrant Dink, is an example. There have even been murders and attacks on many Christian priests in Turkey during the ensuing years. Those assaults, coupled with severe restrictions on religion and freedom of speech, as well as the fact that Turkey is characterized by a widespread extreme nationalism, results in that numerous minorities find themselves in a vulnerable position. The genocide during the First World War, even the massacres that happened at the end of the 19th century has never been recognized by Turkey. Instead, through large amounts of effort, it has been denied, distorted and targeted disrespect mostly towards Armenians. One depicts Armenians in governmental campaigns as Fifth Columnists and by this indirectly legitimatizing the genocide that is simultaneously denied. The recognition of the genocide is one of the keys to the democratization process of the Turkish republic. Germany underwent a similar process, which Turkey needs today, after the Second World War and Adolf Hitler. Germany and Europe came to terms with the aftermath of the Holocaust and created a protective-net for ethnic minorities. The rest of Europe started to gradually condemn and enlighten about Nazi driven veritable assaults of European Jews and any other groups that were undesirable. Today there is multitude of books and we are constantly fed with information about the suffering that took place in the heart of Europe. The Holocaust provided an insight to the necessity of having laws which punished those who express disrespect towards a specific group. Turkey is in urgent need for such laws, and not the kind that criminalizes recognition of the genocide. Turkey has never undergone the process that Europe has undergone. After the Turkish republic was founded in 1923 on the remains of the Ottoman Empire where the territories that were part of Armenia, as well as those that were Kurdish and Assyrian became incorporated. The Turkish put the lid on and has since confiscated churches and extensively limited the human rights of minority groups. In the republic of Turkey there was no space for minorities and everyone was supposed to be a Turk. The politics of assimilation was a fact.Recognition of the genocide reinforces both religious freedom and the democratization process in Turkey. It is not a question that the Turks decide about, but rather the external forces must pressure Turkey, just like they have done with Nazi Germany, into coming to terms with its past. To have a Turkey in EU which denies the genocide is the same as denying the genocide of the 6 million Jews. At the same time as one legitimizes the concentration camps by claiming that the Jews were conspiring, and that they needed to be controlled.At the same time as one legitimizes the concentration camps by claiming that the Jews were conspiring, and that they needed to be controlled. Regrettably, this is exactly what the ethnic groups which were affected by the genocide in Ottoman Turkey got to consistently experience through official Turkish state propaganda. This is not and can never be acceptable. The hesitation of Carl Bildt, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, concerning the truth and his recalcitrance to recognize the genocide with the motivation that politicians should not be writing history is meaningless and alarming. Is Bildt avoiding to call what happened to European Jews during the Second World War a genocide? This, as well as the situation of the Kurds in present day Turkey and the attack of Iraq are, perhaps, a series of “incidents” for the Minister of Foreign Affairs? There is a strong need for clear sight and precision in Swedish ‘Turkeypolitics’,” the article says.

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