15 January 2008

2285) ''TDSB's Grade 11 Course "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications'' by Yuksel Oktay

To: Toronto Star, Toronto Times,
Toronto District School Board Members,

Dear Editor,
As a frequent visitor to Canada, I would like to provide the following comments on the ''TDSB's Grade 11 Course "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications'' for consideration by the the readers of Toronto Times, Toronto District School Board, Director of Education Gerry Connelly, Chair Sheila Ward, Trustees and others:

1. The title of the course should read: . . ''The Real and Alleged Genocides throughout History - Historical and Contemporary Implications".

It is true that there has been many instances throughout the history where massacres and death of innocent people have been characterized as ''genocide'' and in the case of the killing of Jews, ''Holocaust.'' However, the death of Armenians that occurred during their re-location in 1915 can not and should not be labeled as ''genocide.'' The attempt by many Armenians and their supporters through propaganda to hide the facts that go back to the late 19th century and the truth about the uprisings of Armenians in Eastern Anatolia that resulted in the massacre of Turks during the early 20th century, has led people to believe that there was an Armenian genocide, and the way the course is structured could perpetuate this belief.

2.The Alleged genocide accusations impact the lives of Turkish-Canadians and Turkish - Americans as well as ordinary Canadian citizens who are bombarded with mis-information on what really happened during the First World War. This is a politicized issue which goes back to the creation of the Eastern Question in late 19th Century for breaking up the Ottoman Empire, which persists even today. The Canadian students should be given a chance to learn the truth, not through the hundreds and thousands of publications issued by some Armenians and their supporters, but through books such as those written by Prof. Dr. Guenter Levy, Prof. Dr. Turkkaya Ataov, Prof. Dr. Justin McCharty and others, who care about the impact of genocide lies.

3. There are some Turks as well, such as Taner Akcam, who have written books supporting the alleged Armenian genocide out of vengeance, but if reviewed carefully, the falsification, distortions, omissions and one-sided explanations can easily be seen. As an example of Armenian propaganda, a review of Taner Akcam's book is given below.

I trust the readers of your newspaper and the Trustees will consider looking at the history of genocide truthfully, and not through the eyes of those who have misled the people around the world on the alleged Armenian issue for their personal gains.

Yuksel Oktay
New Jersey, 15 Jan 2008

Book Review

A Shameful Act, The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, By Taner Akcam, 2006

Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY

The author, Taner Akcam, is a Turkish and a German citizen. He was born in Ardahan in 1953, in eastern Anatolia, whose father was a very respected educator and writer, Dursun Akcam, who died several years ago and buried without Taner Akcam being present at his funeral. A Cultural Center established in Dursun Akcam's name in Ardahan was also inaugurated a few years ago, again without Taner Akcam being present during the ceremonies. So much for the author's relation with his family. He studied at the respected Middle East Technical University in Ankara but fled Turkey while in prison due to his subversive activities. So much for his love of his country. After getting a PhD in Germany, he was hired by the University of Minnesota where he still teaches at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies together with other self declared genocide scholars, to the surprise of many who know the background of Taner Akcam.

In the acknowledgments section of the book, Taner Akcam states that the origin of his book go back to his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Hanover in Germany in 1995. He gives special thanks to his mentors, Professor Vahan Dadrian and Professor Peter Gleichmann and much of the material referenced in the book has been put at his disposal by Professor Dadrian, who is known for the misinformation on the subject. The author states that the English version is a revised edition of his book published in 1999, Insan Haklari ve Ermeni Sorunu (Human Rights and the Armenian Question), which the author states is a revised and expanded version of his thesis. And what is his thesis: The Ottoman Turks deliberately committed genocide, which is disputed by many scholars from different countries and Turkey and the case has never been proved in a court. Therefore, Akcam's thesis is nothing more than his personal vendetta which meets Zoryan Institute's goals, the organization responsible for the English translation and probably free distribution to libraries across America, where I also borrowed the 480 page book, surprised that a library in a small town, Flemington, but famous for the "Lindberg Kidnapping Trial", has a copy.

The book consists of basically 3 sections, with each section heading referring to the Armenian genocide and 10 chapters. There are long explanations on the state of the Ottoman Empire and its non-muslim populations, going back to 1829 when Greece gained their independence. One of his main goals is to discredit those who have argued that most Armenians lived in peace wherever they were without stating that the conflict arose when Armenian committees began their revolt to establish a state of their own on lands where they were not the majority. Akcam mentions the battles that the Ottoman Empire fought in the Caucusus, the Middle East and Gallipoli, but reciting never ending explanation as if the fight was only against the Armenians with the purpose of their total annihilation, for no purpose other than cleansing Anatolia of all Christians as a result of the Balkan wars.

The book is essentially about the party in power during the war, the Committee of Union and Progress (the CUP), with incredible stories on who said what to who, and when, with reference to over 1809 notes for the 10 chapters, a difficult task to follow and cumbersome to read. Akcam makes reference to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk several times, even noting that the British called him "Blondie", something this writer never heard of before. Akcam also makes references to the trials and execution of those who did not took proper care of the people during the relocation who are described as being responsible for the genocide. There is also a map of Turkey which is noted as being based on a map of the Armenian genocide by Ara Sarafin, Gomidas institute, 2005. There is no separate List of References.

There is very little about the uprisings of the Armenians, but claims of organized massacre of Armenians carried out in Zeytun, Trabzon, Erzurum, Bitlis, Van, Harput, Diyarbakir, Sivas and Cukurova. On the Van uprisings, Akcam states that it deserves to be examined separately and what really happened has yet to be researched throughly. For the benefit of the readers, a review of a book "The Armenian Rebellion at Van," by Prof. Dr. Justin McCarthy, an American professor, is given below. In close to 100 pages of notes for the 10 chapters of the book, there is not a single reference to Justin McCarty, who has written many books and articles on the Armenian issue, including "The First Shot" that provides information on who started the killings and who is responsible for the tragedy.

Akcam makes reference to Hovhannes Kachaznuni only once (p.198), the first president of independent Armenia and several times the leader of the Dashnak Party, who states that "despite the Dashnak congress's decision to support the Ottoman regime, inevitabley some Armenians would refuse." That is all. Again, for the benefit of their readers, an excerpt from www.tallarmeniantale.com on Katchaznouni, and his book, "Dashnagzoutiun Has Nothing to do Anymore", as reported by Mehmet Perincek, is provided below. Among the many reader reviews in the amazon.com, the one from "Booklist - a publication of American Library Association" states that Akcam's book is a companion to Peter Balakian's Burning Tigris (2003), which is debatable since Balakian's book is full of distorted and fabricated stories, some of which are attributed to Consular reports, just like the Akcam book which makes extensive references to Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, a not so reliable source as has been shown by many researchers.

Nothing that the Turks and their supporters write, publish or state will ever change the Armenian's view of the conflict as a mythical genocide which they believe took place by reading hundreds and thousands of books with falsified and fabricated information, including the consular reports that found its way into Ambassadorial books. This book will also serve their purposes very well. Therefore, Turks and their supporters everywhere should make every effort to disseminate the truth to Americans by every means and perhaps call on to the United Nations to hold a conference on the Armenian issue to enlighten everyone involved.

Yuksel Oktay
New Jersey, 24 November 2007

The Armenian Rebellion at Van

A new book based on years of study and documents from the archives of many nations by Justin McCarthy, Esat Arslan, Cemalettin Taskiran and Omer Turan, published in 2006. Utah Series in Turkish and Islamic Studies, The Universty of Utah Press, Salt Lake City

Very few books mention the true version of the Van incidents, among them Prof. Dr. Stanford Shaw's `'History of Ottoman Empire and Turkey.'' For years, the world learned about the Van incident through the one sided books, such as `'An American Physician in Turkey'' by Clarence Ussher, which was also made into a movie with the title, `'Ararat'' (1). `'The Armenian Rebellion at Van'' negates the false tales told in these books and movies, which is summarized in the back cover by Prof. Dr. Justin McCarthy with the following statement:

`'The Armenian Rebellion at Van'' presents a long-overdue examination of Van from 1870s to 1919. As the authors state, `'The Armenian revolt was an integral part of the great disaster that overcame the people of the Ottoman East. The slaughter of Muslims that accompanied the Armenian revolt in the Van province inexorably led first to Kurdish reprisals on the Armenians, then to a general and mutual massacre of the people of the East.'' The actions at Van offer a window into the far reaching events that soon followed in other parts of Anatolia.

The book has ten chapters, many maps of the region and appendices, including the Armenians in the Van Government, Armenian Refugees, and An Example of Attacks on Villagers. The first chapter opens with a presentation on the ruins of Van and makes reference to the visit of two Americans, Captain Emory H. Niles and Arthur E. Sutherland, Jr on July 24, 1919. Notes are provided at the end of each chapter, referencing the original documents and providing additional information on the incidents. The first note at the end of first chapter states that `'the report of Niles and Sutherland was deliberately suppressed by those who did not wish their account to be seen.'' The note further states that a draft copy of this report, `'American Commissions to Anatolia and the Report of Niles and Sutherland is found among the detritus of the American Harbord Mission'' (2).

The book tells the story of Armenian uprisings and revolt against their own government. The following is from the first chapter: `'The Armenians of Van had revolted against the Ottoman government, putting their trust in the Russians, who betrayed them. They and the Russians had driven the Muslims from the province. The Armenians were in turn had been driven out. Theirs was the final exodus. Surviving Muslims returned. Neither side, however, can truly be said to have won the war. More than half of Van's Armenians had died, as had almost two-thirds of its Muslims.'' Table 2.2 on Page 10 gives a figure of 509,7007 as the total population of Van province in 1912, with 313,322 as Muslims and 130,500 as Armenians.

Chapter four gives the details of the `'Rebellion in 1896'', followed by the `'Development of Revolution, 1897 - 1908'', all before 1915, the year that the Armenians and their supporters would like to begin, completely ignoring the events that brought about the re-location of Armenians in Eastern Anatolia. Chapter seven explains the events on `'Kurdish Revolt and the Inspectorates, 1912 - 1914'' while the Ottoman government was in an impossible situation in Eastern Anatolia during the brief alliance between the Committee of Union and Progress and the Dashnaks and the military events, especially in the Balkans (3).

Chapter eight, `'World War I and the Armenian Revolt in Van'' clearly shows that the incidents portrayed as Armenian self-defense was actually Armenian rebellions with the support of the Russians who had already invaded Iran in 1908, occupying northwestern Iran by 1914. Men and arms were routinely smuggled into Eastern Anatolia and Van from the Russian occupied regions for the Armenian revolutionaries.

Chapter nine describes the `'Destruction and Murder in Van'', with many references to the torture, rape and murder of Muslims by the Armenian revolutionaries, without giving any details purposely, except the testimony of Ibrahim Sargin (Note 1, p. 251). Note 20 (p.252) states that `'American missionaries Mrs. G.C. Reynolds and Clarence Ussher made some small admission of murders of Muslims'', followed by a brief testimony of Ussher, even stating that `'The flaws in Ussher's work are also an indictment of missionary reports in general.'' On Ussher's motives, the authors state that `'Ussher plays upon all prejudices of the time. According to him the Germans were responsible for the Armenian troubles; Muslims hated Christians and routinely beat and persecuted Armenians; once defeated, the Muslims would convert to Christianity.'' This book tells otherwise.

Van rebellions, which is one of many rebellions in Eastern Anatolia, such as the Sasun-Zeytun incidents and also mentioned in the book, forced the Ottoman government to re-locate the Armenians to Syria. There is a comprehensive Bibliography (close to 150 books and articles) that includes those by Armenians as well. The book mentions that, among the organizations which made the study possible are the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the Istanbul Chamber of Industry, the Istanbul and Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean and Black Sea Chamber of Shipping. Fugen Camlidere, Melih Berk, Caitlin McCarthy and Carolyn McCarthy are among the individuals who aided the authors. Our thanks to everyone for making this book a reality, which should be read by everyone interested in the resolution of the Armenian issue and copies sent to every US congressmen and others.


(1) For a review of the movie `'Ararat'', please see `'Ararat - A Propaganda Film of Imagination and Distorted History.''

(2). For a brief desription of the Harbord Mission, please see the article, `'Harbord Mission Documentary on TV8, 28 March 2004.'' Although US Chairman of Joint Chiefs was sent to eastern Anatolia by president Wilson who also met with Mustafa Kemal and Kazim Karabekir, and issued a Report but not presented to the US Congress.

(3) There has been a surge of articles on the activities of the Kurdish tribes during those years, latest in 15 - 21 February issue of Nokta magazine, `'Nokta Tartismaya Aciyor - 1915 Felaketinde Kurtlerin Rolu 'Nokta Opens for Debate - The Role of Kurds During the Catastrophe of 1915.''

Yuksel Oktay, PE
19 February 2007

Who is Katchaznouni?

Hovannes Katchaznouni is the first prime-minister of the Armenian state founded in July 1918. He was in power as the head of government until August 1919, for thirteen months. He was among the founders of the Dashnagzoutiun Party and one of its top leaders. He was the prime authority of Armenia and the Dashnagzoutiun Party.

He was born in 1867 in the Akhaltsikhe (Ahıska) region of Georgia. Having studied architecture, he worked as an architect in Baku. He joined the Dashnag organization there. He became a member of the Armenian National Council in 1917 and was the Dashnag representative in the Seym (the Caucasian Parliament) until 1918. He was on the Armenian committee, conducting the peace talks with the Turks in Trabzon and Batoum. After the dissolution of the Caucasian State, he became the first prime-minister of the independent Armenian State in 1918. He held this position until August 1919. He was arrested after Bolsheviks came to power in Armenia in 1920. He left the country after the counter-revolutionary revolt against the Bolshevik rule was suppressed in 1921. Years later, he returned to the Soviet Armenia to work there as an architect until his death in 1938.

Publication of the Report

Katchaznouni voices a self-criticism of the past in this conference report. This self-criticism is actually a confession. Katchaznouni honestly and sincerely resolves that the Dashnagzoutiun Party is responsible for the past agonies. He concludes, at the end of the report, that the Dashnagzoutiun Party should dissolve itself and leave the political arena. His last words are significant: "Yes, I propose suicide, the party should commit suicide," he says.

Katchaznouni publishes his report very urgently, that same year. The title he uses once more emphasizes his proposal of suicide: "Dashnagzoutiun Has Nothing to do Anymore"

Katchaznouni omitted some three or four pages concerning his proposals about the inner organizational issues of the party when he first published this report as a book. However, he included in the book a letter he wrote to a fellow party member who had criticized his report in his letter.

What is interesting but what seems natural when the content of the book is taken into consideration, is the fact that this historical report by the first Armenian prime minister was banned in Armenia. It is also a fact that all the copies were collected from the libraries in Europe by Dashnags. All the copies in all the languages were collected from European libraries. The book is included in the catalogues but no copies can be found in the racks.

I (Mehmet Perincek) discovered a copy of the Russian edition in the Lenin Library in Moscow, during my research on the Armenian issue. The book was translated into Turkish by Arif Acaloglu with utmost care and precision and I would like to extend my thanks to him here for his worthy contribution.