19 October 2006

1152) The Other Side of the Story: The Truth behind the Armenian Crisis of 1915

Since 1915, Armenian activists have deceived many people into believing that there was unquestionably a genocide that occurred against them within the former Ottoman Empire. However, history demonstrates that there is another side to what happened in Anatolia during the First World War, a view that has been expounded upon by prominent historians such as Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University and Professor Stanford Shaw of the University of California. . .

According to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, there must be a clear intent to destroy an entire nation, race, ethnicity, or religion in order to be classified as genocide ("Convention on the Prevention"). Going by this internationally recognized definition, the Armenian case is not genocide, for there is no proof that the Ottoman Turks intended to annihilate the Armenian people.

Genocide is not a word that should be tossed around lightly. It is true that there have been genocides, such as the Jewish Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, and East Timor, which have occurred throughout the 20th century. Some cases of genocide, like that of the Sudan, are going on as we speak. In each of these cases, the goal of annihilation of an entire group of people has been on the agenda of the ruling government. For this reason, they are genocides and should be classified as such.

However, other cases, such as that of the Armenians, are unfortunate tragedies that have taken place in times of extremely brutal wars, but they are not genocides because the intent of the annihilation of an entire people has been lacking from the situation. All suffering that occurred during the First World War should be recognized, but it would be criminal to belittle the suffering that occurs during actual genocides by equating the natural consequences from an exceedingly bloody war with the unique crime of genocide. As Professor Bernard Lewis once said, "My loyalties are to the truth." Throughout this entire essay, my goal is not to deny an indisputable genocide, but to demonstrate that an unfortunate incident has been labeled unjustly as genocide to the depreciation of incidents that the United Nations defines as actual genocides.

Americans and Europeans have heard many lies about Turkey from powerful Armenian lobbyist organizations. For instance, some Armenians allege that over 1.5 million Armenians died in Eastern Anatolia. However, Turkish demographic statistics taken prior to World War One prove that fewer than 1.5 million Armenians lived throughout the entire Ottoman Empire, which included all of Anatolia, significant parts of Europe, North Africa, the Caucasus, and the Middle East ("Turkey"). Even the Armenian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1920 noted the large portions of Armenians who survived the war. In sum, 280,000 Armenians remained in Anatolia, while 700,000 had immigrated to other countries. If 1.5 million Armenians had been slaughtered by Turks, given the demographics, there would not have been a single Armenian who survived the war.

It is true that many Armenians were killed: "Historian and demographer, Dr. Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville, calculates the actual losses as slightly less than 600,000. This figure agrees with those provided by the British historian Arnold Toynbee, by most early editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and approximates the number given by Monseigneur Touchet, a French missionary" ("Turkey"). All of these deaths are tragic and should be recognized in the history books. However, it is also important to remember that many Turkish, Russian, French, British, German, Canadian, and American citizens also died during the exact same time period. It was a brutal era in human history with many peoples from many nations dying. Armenians were not unique in this aspect.

Nevertheless, in order to gain statehood from land carved out of the former Ottoman Empire, Armenian activists needed to prove that the crime of genocide had occurred so that they would have foreign support. Given their unfriendly relations with their neighbors, they needed powerful allies in order to become a state. Once Armenia became a state, they knew that they would need foreign aid to survive. Armenian activists knew that foreign powers would not support them unless they could provide evidence that a Christian people had been sought after for extermination. In order to prove an Armenian Genocide, they found it necessary to commit outright intellectual fraud. Without this fabricated support, there is no proof that such a genocide took place.

The infamous Talat Pasha Telegrams, which have been used as pivotal supporting evidence for all Armenian arguments against Turks, were an invention. The originals of the papers copied by the Armenian author Aram Andonian were never seen by the British War Office. When the British Foreign Office enquired about them to General Allenby, it was discovered that these documents were not found by the British during their occupation of Istanbul, but were produced by an unidentified Armenian political organization in Paris (Delen). However, without the originals, it is still quite evident that the Talat Pasha documents were a scam. When Andonian dated a memo in his book, he claimed that Mustafa Abdulhalik Bey was the Governor of Aleppo, while the actual Governor of Aleppo on the date noted was Bekir Sami Bey. Andonian lacks the proper knowledge of the Rumi calendar (the lunar calendar of the Ottoman Empire) that would be necessary in order to create a believable forgery of an Ottoman document (Delen).

The Armenian lobbyists often distribute a photograph of human skulls with their publications, claiming that this was an example of Turkish savagery. In reality, this supposed photograph was a painting entitled "The Apotheosis of War" that was created in 1872 by the Russian master Vassili Vereshchagin. This painting was made forty-three years before the alleged genocide and can be seen today in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (Delen).

Armenian political activists have been notorious for playing off of the emotions of the Jewish Holocaust, so that people will associate Jewish suffering with the supposed Armenian Genocide. Many advocates of the Armenian cause refer to a quote by Hitler that states, "Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?" By referring to this quote, Turks are deceptively portrayed as Nazis; an unfair tactic given that there is no proof that Hitler ever made such a statement. Exhibit US-28, as the Armenians called it, was never presented by the prosecution as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials. William L. Shirer, author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, states that this record was "embellished by persons who were not present at the meeting at Berghof," where Hitler supposedly made the above statement on Armenia (Delen). Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres stated on behalf of the Jewish people, "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide."

After all, the Jewish people were law-abiding citizens who were murdered ruthlessly throughout German-Occupied Europe. There was a clear intent on the part of the Nazis to annihilate the entire Jewish people. To the contrary, only in Eastern Anatolia, where Armenians were rioting and the Ottoman Empire was losing ground, did relocations and abuses against Armenians occur. The Ottoman Empire did not seek the massacre of all Armenians as one of its priorities. If they had such a goal, they would have attacked Armenians in Ottoman strongholds, such as Istanbul and Izmir, just as much as they did in Eastern Anatolia. The Nazis sought to exterminate all Jews, resulting in Jewish deaths occurring throughout the entire Nazis Empire without discrimination. To the contrary of the Ottoman situation, Jews were most safe in places such as the South of France, where the Nazis had the least amount of authority.

Clearly, the world has some serious misconceptions about what happened in the Ottoman Empire during World War One, for the truth is that the majority of Turks had a desire to live in peace within their own land. Turkey had no desire to randomly slaughter their neighbors. When Turks invaded a country, they did not force the population to convert to Islam or impose their culture on the natives. Tolerance was Ottoman policy. It is a fact that both Christians and Jews prospered as merchants, bankers, doctors, philosophers, educators, religious figures and even as politicians in the former Ottoman Empire.

The Armenians significantly contributed to ruining the peace and stability that once existed within the lands of the former Ottoman Empire. They were the ones that destroyed their once favored minority status by slaughtering their Turkish neighbors. The Armenian political factions were the ones who massacred the entire Muslim population in the province of Van in 1914, in anticipation of the arrival of invading Russian forces (Shaw 314). In Turkey, I learned from a former Turkish naval officer that during the First World War, while the men were away fighting in the war, the Armenians would go into Turkish villages and kill all of the women and children in cold blood. It was Armenian policy to kill as many Turks as possible, just so that they could claim a majority in enough of the land to have an independent state. As Stanford Shaw wrote in his book, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey,

Knowing their numbers would never justify their territorial ambitions, Armenians looked to Russia and Europe for the fulfillment of their aims. Armenian treachery in this regard culminated at the beginning of the First World War with the decision of the revolutionary organizations to refuse to serve their state, the Ottoman Empire, and to assist instead other invading Russian armies. Their hope was their participating in the Russian success would be rewarded with an independent Armenian state carved out of the Ottoman territories. Armenian political leaders, army officers, and common soldiers began deserting in droves. (314)

This policy resulted in a Turkish assault on Armenian villages in Eastern Anatolia, the collapse of an empire, and an Armenian republic that was part of the Soviet Union; it did not give Armenians the independence that they desired until the Soviet Union collapsed.

What happened to the Armenians is sad, but they really have no one to blame for their causalities but themselves: "Their violent political aims, not their race, ethnicity, or religion, rendered them subject to relocation" ("Turkey"). This is not genocide, but rather an example of a weak state fighting for its self-defense against invading forces who were siding with once favored minority groups inside of the country. Both Turks and Armenians suffered immensely from such internal strife. "The conditions that obtained in Eastern Turkey were hospitable neither for Turks, nor for other people living in the region. Poverty, cold, epidemics were claiming lives" (Tashan). The world should look at what happened in 1915 as a heartbreaking example of what can happen to a country in the midst of war, not as Armenians suffering as the direct result of a genocide orchestrated by Turks.

by Rachel Salomon

Work Cited

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Art. 2.

Delen, Demir. "Armenian Forgeries and Falsifications." Assembly of Turkish American Associations. 12 March 2005. http://www.ataa.org/ataa/ref/arm2_fcta.html

Lewis, Prof. Bernard. Interview. Dalia Karpel. Haaretz Daily, Jerusalem. 23 Jan. 1998.

Peres, Shimon. "Quote by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres." Turkish Daily News. 11 April 2001. 12 March 2005. http://www.ataa.org/ataa/ref/peres.html&...

Shaw, Prof. Stanford. "History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey." Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 29 October 1976.

Tashan, Seyfi. "Armenian Question and the Western Powers." Turkish Daily News. April 2002. 12 March 2005. http://www.theturkishtimes.com/archive/0...

Turkey. Embassy of the Republic of Turkey. Armenian Allegations of Genocide: The Issues and the Facts. 24 April 2002. 12 March 2005. http://www.turkishembassy.org/government...

From: Ataman Atlas
Subject:Paper on Turkish Armenian issues

I commend the author Ms Rachel Salomon of the below report and congratulate her on her efforts. However, I feel I need to point out an error in her report. That is in the definition of Genocide in accordance with International Law. The definition is reproduced below. It does not mention the word “Entire” population in fact it specifically states “in whole or in part” .
I point this out only to make sure that what we put forward is not attacked and we end up with egg on our faces.

Ataman Atlas

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

Article 1
The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article 2
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Article 3
The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.
Article 4
Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.

Article 5
The Contracting Parties undertake to enact, in accordance with their respective Constitutions, the necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions of the present Convention and, in particular, to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3.

Article 6
Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.

Article 7
Genocide and the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall not be considered as political crimes for the purpose of extradition.
The Contracting Parties pledge themselves in such cases to grant extradition in accordance with their laws and treaties in force.

Article 8
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3.

Article 9
Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.

Article 10
The present Convention, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall bear the date of 9 December 1948.

Article 11
The present Convention shall be open until 31 December 1949 for signature on behalf of any Member of the United Nations and of any non-member State to which an invitation to sign has been addressed by the General Assembly.
The present Convention shall be ratified, and the instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

After 1 January 1950, the present Convention may be acceded to on behalf of any Member of the United Nations and of any non-member State which has received an invitation as aforesaid.

Instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 12
Any Contracting Party may at any time, by notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, extend the application of the present Convention to all or any of the territories for the conduct of whose foreign relations that Contracting Party is responsible.

Article 13
On the day when the first twenty instruments of ratification or accession have been deposited, the Secretary-General shall draw up a proces-verbal and transmit a copy of it to each Member of the United Nations and to each of the non-member States contemplated in Article 11.
The present Convention shall come into force on the ninetieth day following the date of deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession.

Any ratification or accession effected subsequent to the latter date shall become effective on the ninetieth day following the deposit of the instrument of ratification or accession.

Article 14
The present Convention shall remain in effect for a period of ten years as from the date of its coming into force.
It shall thereafter remain in force for successive periods of five years for such Contracting Parties as have not denounced it at least six months before the expiration of the current period.

Denunciation shall be effected by a written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 15
If, as a result of denunciations, the number of Parties to the present Convention should become less than sixteen, the Convention shall cease to be in force as from the date on which the last of these denunciations shall become effective.

Article 16
A request for the revision of the present Convention may be made at any time by any Contracting Party by means of a notification in writing addressed to the Secretary-General.
The General Assembly shall decide upon the steps, if any, to be taken in respect of such request.

Article 17
The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall notify all Members of the United Nations and the non-member States contemplated in Article 11 of the following:

(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions received in accordance with Article 11;
(b) Notifications received in accordance with Article 12;
(c) The date upon which the present Convention comes into force in accordance with Article 13;
(d) Denunciations received in accordance with Article 14;
(e) The abrogation of the Convention in accordance with Article 15;
(f) Notifications received in accordance with Article 16.

Article 18
The original of the present Convention shall be deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
A certified copy of the Convention shall be transmitted to all Members of the United Nations and to the non-member States contemplated in Article 11.

Article 19
The present Convention shall be registered by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the date of its coming into force.


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