06 December 2006

1261) Open letter to Mr Romano, PhillyNews

Dear Mr. Romano
cromano@phillynews.com

I have read your article and the comments about Taner Akcam’s last book, and in view of the “too many wrongs in the critic” I should like to make the following comments. If you are open to absorb more information to balance your prejudice and bigotry, I will be most pleased to send by e-mail, although I guess that it will make no difference. . .

1. The “genocide fanfaronade” is a colossal lie, despite “historical evidences which prove, that there was NO cause, time, means and possibility for any “intended annihilation”. If you want more details with references, I will be pleased to send you a speech of mine in English, of a past symposium. (of course with references)

2. Taner Akcam is not a historian, he is an ex-communist terrorist convict which escaped from prison, went to Germany, where he was sheltered by Tessa Hoffman and later transferred to USA, where he is faithfully serving the Zorian Institute, and repaying the “safety, comfort and cause” of the Diaspora. Regretfully, these book writers do not go through the records of even anti-Turkish or neutral Missionaries or writers, and base their arguments not on “realities” but “probabilities” which mostly are out of existing possibilities of that time. There are too many undeniable historic records of the treason, revolt and sabotages of the Armenian revolutionists and their siding with the enemy. Just ask for evidence and I can send more than 100 pages of book excerpts in English.
(Akcam can now be named an Armenian hero, but this does not alter his past terrorist record.)

3. You mention that hundreds of thousands of Turkey’s Greek Christians had been expelled or killed in 1914. This is a gross mistake, Hundreds of thousands of Greeks had come to Turkey to find jobs and settled in Izmir area.in 1800s.When Greek forces landed on May 17th, 1919 in Izmir, they were cheered with shouts of “Zito Venizelos” and local Greeks (who were a minority) acted as scouts for the Greek Armies, who had advanced almost to Ankara but were later defeated in Sept. 1922 and pushed into the sea, evacuated by Allied Ships. Many Greeks who were living for long time in Turkey, left with the Greek army. Remaining Greek Christians, were exchanged with Turks in West Thracia in 1924, by an agreement between the new republic and Greece. Many Turks who were of Christian faith, were also exiled despite their desire, because the exchange was based on “religion”. English translation of a Dutch paper dated 25.05.1920, may give a glimpse of past bilateral butcheries! (# 1)

4. The “genocide” charge is a serious accusation which must be proven by an authorized international tribunal. There is no such verdict, not even a scholarly confrontation on the subject, since the Armenian side and supporters claims “that there is no need for such a verdict or investigation.” There is no proven crime, and no suspect dever put on trial. There is an “alleged criminal” to be lynched with hysteria based on hearsays only. Please observe a typical shameful slander committed at UCLA university! There are too many, to reply! (# 2)

5. Regarding the visit of the POPE, please find attached an open letter in reply to an editorial in the American Magazine, which is self explanatory and replies your comments as well. In year 2007, I find it very unwise to base arguments on religion (or unproven story books) instead of intelligence and facts. Both Christians and Muslims suffered and are still suffering dramas, butcheries etc. because of differences in race, language and faith… Regretfully, columnists, novelists or politicians are scared to speak of the “untouchables”. (# 3)

6. Regarding the statement attributed to “Hitler”, this is again a tall lie, never proven that has been said. It was refused by the Nurenberg court, but still circulates in the U.S. Congress and Press. If you are willing to read and learn the truth behind this clever maneuver, which converted Nazist Armenians into innocent Russian Armenians and provided “admittance quotas into USA”, I will be most pleased to E-mail you a whole chapter, with supporting references of my book draft. I named this chapter “Paradoxical Dedications of Dashnaks to Tsarist Russia (Britain & France) > Soviet Russia > Nazist Germany > Soviet Russia > USA” Please just ask this information, about 22 pages and based on Armenian records, if you are open to learn!

I hope that this preliminary explanation meets with your interest and you grant the privilege of providing additional information. I am 77 years of age, had and have too many friends of Armenian ethnicity, did and doing quite a bit of traveling and reading for my own satisfaction and understanding. Frankly, I am sorry to observe that “good hearted persons” can be so easily misguided, dragged into adventures of antagonism, and turning this short life into a drama, in expectation of a paradise and reincarnation written on sand.

Best Regards

Sukru S. Aya
Istanbul, Dec 6, 2006

*********************************


From: TurkishForum Advisory Board
Subject: [ADVISORYBOARD] BYT ARMENIA GENOCIDE IN BRAVE DETAIL
To: BelcikadayasayanTurkler@yahoogroups.com

Armenia genocide in brave detail http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/entertainment/books/16149522.htm
A Turkish historian has mined and synthesized the Ottoman Empire's
internal documents and memoirs for moral clarity. By Carlin Romano
Inquirer Book Critic
A Shameful Act

The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility By Taner Akcam. Translated
by Paul Bessemer.

Metropolitan Books. 483 pp. $30

Pope Benedict XVI's just-ended magical military tour of Turkey - with helicopters overhead and riot police bristling on every flank lest he be plugged on his first visit to a Muslim land - revealed a profound truth: Those who forget the past sometimes simply want to forget it.

The pope didn't utter a peep about arriving in a country whose predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, committed the largest genocide in history against Christians. Of course, it may be that the always-diplomatic Vatican Curia took possession of Benedict's mind and body, having exorcised the former Cardinal Ratzinger's well-known views about Turkey and Islam.

It may also be that the murder of more than one million non-Catholic Christians in the Armenian genocide is a non-homefield matter in the Vatican's current damage-control foreign policy toward Turkey and Islam.

But the upshot - a spectacle of supposed reconciliation between the Papacy and Islam last week that operated without moral memory or judgment - proved embarrassing to anyone who thinks there is no God but truth. Thankfully, we have Taner Akcam's magnificently researched study, A Shameful Act, as rebuke and counterlesson.

Why, as the world press endlessly repeated this last week, is Turkey "99 percent Muslim"? One reason is that Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who regarded Armenians as a "degenerate community," ordered the massacre of 200,000 Turkish Armenian Christians in 1894-96.

Another is that a nucleus of future nationalist leaders of the Turkish Republic - known as the "Young Turk" government - embarked in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire (1915-16) on horrific acts of genocide and "ethnic cleansing" to rid Turkey of Christians.

To put it bluntly: In those dying days, Ottoman leaders killed most of Turkey's Christians, just as Nazi Germany would kill most of its Jews.

Hundreds of thousands of Turkey's Greek Christians had already been expelled or killed in 1914. But in 1915, as World War I raged and provided a smokescreen, the Young Turk leaders implemented a "final solution," murdering an estimated one million to 1.3 million Turkish Armenian Christians - two-thirds of the remaining Armenian population of Turkey - through starvation, death marches and execution.

That the Armenian genocide remains little-known in the United States amounts to amnesia about our own history. As powerfully recounted in Peter Balakian's The Burning Tigris (2003), the campaign by prominent Americans from 1892 to 1920 to prevent genocide in Armenia formed the first international human-rights movement in our history, the template for today's struggle over Darfur.

Feminist leader Julia Ward Howe railed against the sultan's massacres. Clara Barton led an 1896 American Red Cross mission to save Armenians. Congress passed a resolution condemning the sultan. Americans donated more than $100 million to Armenian relief aid.

In light of how things ended, the force of American outrage astonishes. Theodore Roosevelt called the Armenian massacres "the greatest crime" of World War I. The American ambassador to Istanbul labeled Turkey "a place of horror."

Despite that, by the early 1920s, the United States abandoned its intent to establish an Armenian homeland and convict Turkish leaders. The military success of Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk) in establishing the Turkish Republic in 1922 against the wishes of the Great Powers, along with the U.S. decision to let oil politics trump human rights, pushed the Armenian holocaust off center stage.

Ever since, the Turkish Republic has rejected charges of genocide. It describes the Armenian deaths as collateral damage, World War I-style. That's despite postwar Ottoman courts-martial in which officials confessed to a genocidal policy. Turkey still mandates criminal penalties for those who accuse the state of slaughter.

One wishes that all involved in this last week's stagecraft between the Vatican and Turkey had been forced to read Akcam's A Shameful Act and to comment on it. Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk calls Akcam's work "the definitive account of the organized destruction of the Ottoman Armenians" by "a brave Turkish scholar."

Some fine earlier books in English have delivered the grim tale. But no scholar has mined and synthesized the Ottoman Empire's internal documents and memoirs with Akcam's assiduous skill. Like Raul Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews, A Shameful Act is destined to become a touchstone for other studies.

Akcam, 56, a Turkish sociologist and historian, obtained political asylum in Germany after receiving a 10-year prison sentence at home for working on a student journal. He now teaches at the University of Minnesota. Hardly anti-Turkish, he dedicates his book to Haji Halil, a righteous Turk who, at the risk of being hanged, protected eight members of an Armenian family in his home during the genocide.

As you might expect from an author of such courage, Akcam pulls no punches. Ottoman Turkish leaders "did deliberately attempt to destroy the Armenian population." Turkey continues to deny the genocide because many of the leaders involved in it "later became central figures in the Turkish government" and "admitted openly that the republic could only have been established by eliminating the Armenians and removing their demand for self-determination in Anatolia."

The most striking achievement of A Shameful Act is its depth of detail. Akcam documents every twist of the story - from the political and racist origins of Turkish nationalism to the insistence of Muslims that they had to rule over inferior "infidel" Christians - with multiple sources and shocking quotations.

How, though, to explain the disappearance of such crucial history during the pope's visit? This honesty gap left his visit a moral mess, a pageant of hypocrisies. Turkish newspapers, for instance, kept asking whether the pope would offer yet another, fuller "apology" for remarks on Islam during a recent lecture that had provoked Muslim outrage.

Moral clarity, on the contrary, would suggest that it is Turkey that still owes the pope, Armenians, Christians, and the rest of the world an apology for acts far more heinous than provocative citation. Turkish nationalism, as Akcam shows, took its racist spine partly from Germany and partly from Islamic jihadism. Turkey could do worse than look to 21st-century Germany for instruction on decency, honesty and redemption.

At the same time, the pope won himself no credit by honoring the Vatican tradition of Pius XII - resisted by both John XXIII and John Paul II - of failing to speak truth to power when in the latter's presence. One couldn't help thinking of Hitler's famous question to his generals eight days before invading Poland in 1939. "Who today," he asked, "speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Not Pope Benedict XVI. Be grateful instead for Taner Akcam. He doesn't wear pretty white vestments, but he speaks the holy truth.

Contact book critic Carlin Romano at 215-854-5615 or cromano@phillynews.com .
Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/carlinromano


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