Part – I
The reader seems to have read all of the 700 pages, more than 1500 verbatim excerpts in less than 2 weeks and could write his book review based “NOT ON THE EXCERPTS” themselves, but “my opinions”- presumed by him.
I thank for the compliment of “mammoth compilation of quotations and documents” but reject the annexation of the word “polemics” because I left the appreciation and judgment to the reader’s choice. I would prefer criticism for the few notes and explanations “I did write” and not for what others wrote or said! The sources are all promptly given and the responsibility lies with those who wrote them, and not me! This research was made in person, trying to get behind this historic incident, which, in my personal idea, is a huge distortion of a human brutality, as a result of opposing aspirations. It is a reaction to the shallow studies made by several scholars. This research was not delegated on to me; I could have been an Eskimo, or Tanzanian or . . else, but I do happen to have a Turkish ID, which makes the difference to the reader and not to me. Hence, the essence is to be “objective and digestive for whatever we read” and does not give us the right to be “selective on what we read”, nor “accepting everything that has been written”, as the only truth! It is because of this concern and desire of neutrality that, certain events were quoted from diverse sources, leaving judgment to the reader!
I could not understand why my birth year is worth mentioning, unless I should expect some flowers on my birth date. Am I too old, too young, impaired, what?
The date 24th April 1915 is important for Armenian diaspora only; it has no historic significance because:
- a- Armenian Revolutionary Volunteers had taken Kars in mid April 1915! 80.000 Moslems died; only 1.500 was left alive. This conquest is evidenced also by photo from Pastirmadjian’s book. (my book’s page 529)
- b- It is known that Enver Pasha gave a verbal warning to Istanbul Patriarch after the Van conquest, to quiet down, or else! This was taken as a bluff! On April 20th (see annex) the Military Order signed by General Bronsart followed, asking “immediate evacuation of War zones”. Since the Patriarchate had not assured cooperation, the same evening 235 notable persons, (some ringleaders or persons believed to be behind the revolution) were arrested! According to this posting # 2441 and speech of Ara Sarafian, they were taken by train to Ayas near Ankara (70) and (150) sent to Cankiri by carts, where they were set free inside the city, reporting to the police in the evening. Six weeks later, some 20 of them came back to Istanbul (may be Protestants and Catholics). None of the 235 was condemned to death! Innocents could have been rounded up alongside guilty ones; it happens! Wet wood burns alongside the dry wood… Worse dramas happen in peacetime!
- c- If the critic indeed had read my book, he should have noticed the excerpt ref. #5, on page 268, with my explicatory note on page 298 which referred to the arrest of the 235 persons. The day is significant, just because it was on the eve of Dardanelle landing by Anzacs on 25th April.
- d- Regarding alleged 1.5 million victims, it becomes clear that the reader has not seen Chapter 15, page 303, line (l) report of French-Armenian land distribution Committee dated March 1st 1914, showing total Armenian population as 1.280.000 and only 542.421 in East Anatolia. Those who disagree may object to those who prepared this report “just before two inspectors arrived in May 1914 for two autonomous areas”!
- e- Readers can also refer to the joint US Congress/Senate report # 192, dated 22.4.1922, and inquire how come that those who prepared this audited monumental report, declared that a total of 1.414.000 Armenians were alive on Dec. 31, 1921! (# 2335 on this free library)
- f- I am not any judge to decide about the responsibility of bilateral crimes. Chapter 29, includes various solid newspapers as evidence. As regards who killed first or more (like if the hen or egg) on page 652, the Dutch Newspaper of 25.5.1920 gives a good idea as regards how and why reciprocal brutalities happened. The Swedish paper of 23.4.1917 with the article of Swedish Officer Pravitz (page 127) and German paper on page 657, as well as a sack of U.S. newspapers gives quite an idea, and readers are independent to decide the way they see and evaluate. I do not remember any statement of mine claiming that the Ottoman State cannot be held responsible for the crimes, when they were fighting a war of “life or death” on three fronts, with Armenian revolts and 5th column activities in the rear! Plenty photos can be seen in Pastirmadjian and other books. Remembering that the Americans of Japanese ethnicity were interned in prison camps or that the Jews were rounded up for death when they had not revolted, or that the Americans took no war prisoners in Okinawa but killed all, the decision of “relocation for military needs” is the most lenient measure that was possible. This of course, does not release the State from the responsibility of proper protection or feeding (when their 80.000 soldiers had just perished at Sarikamish because of the resistance of Armenian volunteers and lack of food and clothing). The Moslem deaths much in excess, do not originate from my comments, but what was reported at that time! One pyramidal truth is that the Dashnakist-Hunchakist Armenians from Russia, instigated REVOLTS all over Anatolia, collaborated in full with the enemies (Russians, French, British) were in actual internal war as traitors to their own country, who had provided best existing opportunities in the past 600 years! Armenian diaspora have hundreds of books on their heroism with photos, but now forget them all!
- g- Regarding failing reporting properties: I can be responsible only for the truth of what I saw and quoted! Further responsibility belongs to the genuine author or source! I am no advocate of the Turkish State or any office or authority!. No one delegated any such authority or duty, or paid me one cent or promised to print my work! Unfortunately the naivety of most Turkish correspondents and officials continues. There are very few aware of my compilation or updated like Turkish Armenians! Although there is no doubt that many emigrants sold their properties at low prices and buyers used day’s advantage , we also have evidence (Pastirmadjian’s book) that the bundles packed and stored in the Erzerum Cathedral were untouched and protected, until the Russian Army occupied the city and General Kalendine was the first to loot the carpets and properties. Needless to guess, that every one robbed the other party for whatever they could get! I have quoted some sections relative to the lootings of Kurds and Turks and Armenians vice versa! However, the Ottomans court martial more than 1670 persons, hanged 67 found guilty, and punished the rest, other than some 400 found innocent. Whether justice could be done in full, is questionable but at least the leaders did not endorse such banditry. However, there is not even one Armenian ever found guilty by any Armenian authority and terrorist criminals are honored with medals. Worse cases persist even in our modern days! Yet, the tunes whistled by the humpbates, “to kill, loot and walk freely over the mountains” is unique! In the excerpts I quoted, there are plenty references to Turkish butchery, but also with Armenians’ as well, to exceed in most cases! I have not portrayed Turks as angels; the same way the Armenian diaspora portrays their heroes, to be “angels but with rifles, daggers and ammunition” (replacing wings) from head to teeth! Plenty photos exist in Pastirmadjian’s book plus other examples before the war started. For more photos, please refer to “The History of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutiun 1890-1924” ISBN 88-85822-11-8 in the E-library. (Abandoned land and real estate properties were promptly returned to all applicants, who applied within two years after the Lausanne Treaty!)
Regarding the drama examples given in the last paragraph, the critic can be sure that similar ones and may be much more in excess, exist in the past of the Moslem families in the area, but still there are few examples of humanity on both sides. Since we do not have the concept of “blood purity” (which was the unfortunate words of Hrant Dink) we really do not care, who was the grandfather or mother, or relative. I have “no record that the Sultans married any Turkish women”, since their beautiful wives were mostly, later converts. Rumors are that even Abdulhamid had some Armenian blood in his past! Turkish community never had any ambitions on purity of race or ethnicity. This life-understanding common with most Turks, differs with many other nations claiming to be of pure Arian or other noble races. Inter-family marriages, give unfortunate results. May be we should be thankful for being bastards in some way or another. I absolutely agree with the statement about jackals and hyenas, and I will be pleased if the critic outlines “my statement” which concluded him to such a slander about my evaluation, amidst my efforts to show that none of us is angels and this NONSENSE BETTER STOPS!
Regarding Arnold Toynbee, there are nearly 30 references of this important writer, whose assignment was to write propaganda book blaming the enemy, which he did perfectly. Yet found documentation shows that he did not enjoy the lack of sources of the documents he had to use. He later admitted that all was “war propaganda”. If anything that I quoted from Toynbee is false, it better be shown and proven. Otherwise, we all can read!.
Let me conclude this section with the last sentence of the study of Edward J. Erickson (T-Armenians # 2438) in which he concluded: “However, a case can be made that the Ottomans judged the Armenians to be a great threat to the 3rd and 4th Armies and that the genuine intelligence and security concerns drove that decision. It may be also stated that the Ottoman reaction was escalatory and responsive rather than premeditated and pre-planned. In this context the Ottoman relocation decision becomes more understandable as a military solution to a military problem. While political and ideological imperatives perhaps drove the decision equally, if not harder, these do not negate the fact that the Armenians were a great military danger”.
If this, does not suit the critic’s ideology, he can object the writer and claim that he is just “another denialist”!
I do not agree with critic’s remarks about our personal past, involving dramas and the “ease to blame others for the consequences”, be mishaps of war tragedies and in this particular case, there was considerable risk of some adventurous leaders, who “gambled with the lives of their own nation!” I am surprised to see that the critic, who is fully aware of the rotten part of the apple, fails to confess or admit these naked realities!
I think that the critic’s approach to the subject of “genocide” is much different from my approach: There is no doubt that some or most of the stories of grandmothers may have considerable essence of truth. On the other hand, the very same in worse excesses is true for the Moslems. Almost all mass graves opened show Moslem victims, some burned inside mosques, others stacked inside water wells with stones on top. International witnesses abstain from attending any mass-grave openings! These butcheries are confessed in the writings of Armenian historians. These are “all individual cases” of bilateral brutality, which I admit, but the critic claims that “ all Armenians were maiden angels”. This is not what the books or Pastirmadjian or other heroes have said or written! In order that any crime can be called “genocide” it must be premeditated, planned in advance and carried in all stages without any exceptions. (Even Mr. Erickson just endorsed my opinion!)
The critic goes out of the line of common sense, by labeling all of the sources I have used as “denialist”, a term, invented to excuse and smear all others who do not speak or write up to their imagination! Who are the persons deserved to be denialists? Cyrus Hamlin (the father of Armenians), Khatchaznuni (Prime Minister), Nassibian and Lalaian (Historian), Pastermadjian (war activist and hero), James Grabill (Protestant Missionary and expert on all Armenian Churches), Margaret McMillan (granddaughter of Lloyd George) or the original documents in archives? I shall appreciate to be quoted “where I accused all Armenians” of being intolerant of dissent? This research has been made because of my attraction to several Armenian friends I have, and I feel sorry for the critic that “puts words I never said or written” in my mouth. Frankly, such distortions reduce my advance confidence in the neutrality, “personality and objectivity of the critic as a human of sincerity and decency!”
Regarding Orhan Pamuk (a novelist who was rewarded after he advertised the Armenian view, which paved his way to the Nobel prize (thanks to Maureen Freely who translated his books in English, being the daughter of a prominent literature teacher at Bogazici University, Prof. John Freely, who authored ISBN-975-08-0255-1, two volumes of “A History of Robert College”). Whilst Mr. Pamuk’s literary fame is controversial in Turkey, plus his proficiency in English writing (which should have improved by now), there is no doubt that he did not read even one percent of the sources given in my book! His grasp of history, may equal his knowledge of medicine! Regarding Taner Akcam, who was a sentenced terrorist – communist fugitive from prison but found his way to Germany where he was taken under the wings of Tessa Savidis Hoffmann, he was later transferred to USA where he became his Master’s Voice Dadrian’s and the Zorian Institute to which he owes all. I cannot compare my ethics and independence with his writings as a “sociologist on historical subjects”, nor his obligations! So far he did not show a single document to confirm his scenarios. He is the pipe blower of the Genocide Fanfare! I am amazed that the critic shows these two turncoats as witness or testimony, to suit their paymasters! Regarding archives, I have quoted what others have written and said. I have not used thousands of Ottoman documents, not to be subject to such objections. Here again, the critic puts the words I have quoted as words I have spoken or written myself. I have not used Ottoman archival material, which the critic claims to be selected, doctored manipulated, and edited. These are serious accusations, and unless they are proven they become as empty as the Genocide Fanfare! I regret to experiment such baseless aggressiveness employed in arguments from a person I had a high admiration. I do not want to believe that I was mistaken so badly!
Regarding added slanders such as “Choir and Allawa akbar”, I am amazed that a person for which I had a high respect, found the necessity of smearing such religious tar on me, in spite of my several excerpts against faiths.
Anyone who walks in a Turkish bookstore can find a multitude of books, and some translations advocating the Genocide fanfare, and almost none for the opposite view. My book does not sell in any bookstore. When I will have the Turkish shorter version printed (if I can find the voluntary publisher), it will be one of the few in response to the Genocide fanfare played loud in Turkey. I kindly ask the critic to read this posting # 2441 about the panel presentation at Bilgi University and posting # 2442 giving the speech of Ara Sarafian, which I responded separately. These two postings already prove that the critic could not rid himself of “Armenianism” when commenting. I do not think that you can find “any other person” who has put so many years of strenuous research to discover the truth (within existing contexts) and prove the uselessness of this Genocide fanfare, which has become a belief within the Armenian community of diaspora, equal or stronger than Christ!
I was “hoping” that the critic Ara bey would understand the sincerity of mine, and contribute to normalization. I hope that at least one of the two Ara-s (better be two) will stop this stupid quarrel -like two pans, blaming each as regards which bottom is blacker-! If the critic would admit that, the Dashnakist Armenians were in open revolt and full cooperation with the enemy, this may help to understand, how and why the eggs were broken! I think that people of logic should stop blaming each other in person or nationality, ethnicity etc. and get over with “what has happened has happened” and look forward for the future, built on compassion instead of grudge and hatred.
The book has no aims of any polarization, other than laying down some facts as written by anti-Turkish or neutral observers, in reaction to landslides of propaganda and monuments, to convert a myth into a reality. Don’t I have the right to put down, opposite views and documentation? If they are fabricated, this must be declared and proven! This topic cannot be resolved unless both sides stand on facts, and not on scenarios!
In reply to the questions, which the critic concluded, I would have preferred that these were based on “my own words, in the introductions of each chapter or added to the reference notes”. Yet, since every reader has a point, I would reply the critic’s friendly questions, in the same spirit, thanking him again for his compliments of “magnum opus”, which I hope he will have more time to penetrate the pages, instead of hopscotch touching! My work is a compilation of thousands of broken (chinaware like) mosaic pieces. Each piece individually may not tell much, but when all put together within the frame of realities, logic and chronology, it becomes quite visible! My “own personal conclusion” is that: There was no cause, no premeditation, no plans, no time, no means, no clear dates, no places, no murder tools, no reliable eye witnesses (other than individual or reported cases), no documentation, no solid evidence, no legal procedure, no court, no defense, no verdict… but a gigantic conclusion about the criminality of a nation, based on UNPROVEN PRESUMPTIONS! Bilateral brutalities, treasons, fights, killings etc. are on individual or tribal bases, where responsibilities can be laid on too many persons! It was the “Armenian brutalities” which was pardoned in the Gumru Treaty (Dec.3,1920)
- 1- The first question is unique and patent of Armenian nationalism after 1965s. Until that time, there was no word of Genocide. The critic overlooks the reality that the short lived (Dashnakist) Armenian Republic was founded in May 1919 as an Ottoman Protectorate, and the legation sent to Istanbul to pay respects to Sultan Vahdettin, cabled back on Sept. 9th, compliments and good wishes! Why there was no word of genocide and why did the young Armenian Government searched for the protection of the Ottoman Empire, which had sent the Hamidiye troops some 20-30 years ago to put down the sporadic revolts and tribal wars? The Turkish State Archives, after the Oct.30,1918 Mudros Treaty, were placed by British under the charge of Armenian experts who combed every paper trying to find evidence to charge the 144 Ottoman dignitaries, taken to Malta for trial where they were held for two and a half years. The “documents of the Blue Book” or “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story”, the “Andonian papers”, “fake telegrams” etc. were not found of any legal value, and the five neutral countries (Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland) when asked by the puppet Ottoman government in Feb. 1919 to appoint two judges for the international tribunal, abstained from sending any legal witnesses!
- 2- I am not defending anything but TRUTH that I have discovered. This can be changed, but when opposing evidence is laid down. Until such time, it is my duty as a decent human (forgetting my nationality and faith or ancestry) to defend and delegate what I believe to be true. The Empire could have been rotten, there could have been lots of criminals and innocents! Don’t they deserve the right to be heard or defended?
Genocide is a very serious crime and unless it is proven any such accusations are of even higher ethical crime for something that did not happen in that context, but is a distortion of certain dramas to qualify for certain rewards by later generations! If we are to sooth and settle such imaginations or mythology of the “monster in the attic who killed your father/mother and ate them” etc., it means that we are wasting time in the wrong directions. The critic says that the “Armenian Way” is the only correct way! What I did, was to follow the Armenian footsteps and material and arrive at the very same conclusion, none of us are angels, we are all alike in benevolence or criminality!
- 3- Ottoman Imperialism (despite her lack to cope with modern changes) has not destroyed the national and religious inspirations or assimilated any one in the countries they occupied! All these new states live, because they were majority in those lands and were untouched. The number of Moslems, which had to evacuate those lands, is over 5 million and we know that 2.7 millions died in those years. Armenia was too far away, had no true value for the Allied Countries which provoked her! The population was only a minority under 20% in the area. The rebellion had no chance in a serious evaluation. It was a very bad gambling not counting the results; they did and lost!
- 4- Kemalism or last time “objectivism and realism” was the last string which saved an Empire of over 600 years and people who accept to be called Turks regardless of their origins, and I think that this is more of a virtue instead of a sin. Which man with minimal level of intelligence said that Armenianism is a capital offense? Who? Regarding Armenian irredentism, it is definite that the Dashkanist leaders turned down the offer of autonomy in August 1914, openly sided with the enemy, risked the lives of their own community, gambled on their own power and lost a WAR. If they decided not to return and make their claims, that was their choice! Regarding “claiming back the ship that was abandoned”, this has no logical or legal basis, nor any possibility of becoming true, more than an anecdote like the one of the critic about the fly and the elephant.
These dreams of consolation of being right but victimized, and hope for restitution some day, brings no bettering to the lives of the suppressed Armenians in Armenia, or the poor ones who came to a country they were told is their enemy; but where they work to support their families in Armenia. As one them had said when asked: “There can be no bad or good nation, but there are good or bad persons”.
I am not concerned about the diaspora Armenians who live in comfort and security within their offered liberties, who pay and employ a certain choir to propagate this myth and make their livings by investing these donations in monuments and museums of hatred (which no other nation ever thought or invented). Only in April 2008, Ken Hachikian sent his third letter asking donations! My concern is for the Turkish Armenian community, 95% Gregorian Christians with their own Patriarchate, versus a minority of about 5% Protestants exporting troubles from USA and Catholics from France, doing the same thing! It all takes one or two idiot Turkish fanatics to set fire to the existing peace and harmony of the Turkish Armenians, with whom we (at least I) feel as close as fingers and nails. Ottoman Imperialism offered all positions, titles, rights to the Armenian community as the “loyal millet”, whereas all other Western Imperialists injected and used Armenian aspirations for their own good, and then abandoned in full. I have been several times in Las Vegas, and I do not remember any slot machine that pays “jackpots to the loser!” (Gambling is very bad, especially when done on others’ lives!)
If I have left any point unanswered, my E-mail is inside the book. I am open to answer readers’ questions, but responsible only for what I have said or written, and not what I have quoted, showing the source!
Sukru S. Aya
Please also see
Regarding book review by a certain Macreau, who apparently has not read the book from this E-library but comments to keep company in the choir of the tune he does not know, please note that:
I will answer this impolite approach only once and forever! I have no desire to deal with fanatics or those who jump into conclusions based on assumptions without respect to the personalities they charge like Don Quxiote!
- a- What does my being born in 1930 or 1920 or 1980 has to do with the subject? Never mind what my age!; Just read what I have presented and answer those written facts! My “personality” or being product of what system has nothing to do with the essence. I strongly recommend the critic to read this posting # 1647, and understand “my total ignorance on the tactics of how to kill other persons, like they are teaching nowadays Elementary schools in Armenia”.
- b- Regarding the “betting habit of this person”, I am afraid that he messes up “betting on documented facts” with horse or hound races! Of course I cannot read or write any foreign languages ! (I have used translators and interpreters to read and scan some 30.000 pages to pick up the excerpts! Any objections? I am not curious to learn his level of Armenian language proficiency, since we are corresponding in English. This compilation is not from the “glorified Turkish History”, but on the contrary, is from Glorified Armenian History and books! Of course, this person speaks in the air, because he just saw a review but not a line of my book! I wrote my bibliography! Had I known that I would be asked “how many foreign languages” I speak , I could have added a “fair level of Rumanian, Italian and French” as well, not counting my English which I could not learn in an American missionary College! They gave me a BA in Literature for walking around with interpreters! My research covers, Swedish, Dutch, German and a sack of U.S.A. papers. All references are given. If any can prove one to be doctored, I will declare myself a LIAR! He may start with the “Reno Evening Gazette” of Oct.14,1915 available in this library or my book pages 662-663. If he has any objections, he better protest the paper or the writer!
- “ Armenian Genocide?” Sure, every one is free to sing the song he likes! (It needs not to be true!)
- * Bask under the sun? Sorry, doctors do not recommend!
- * Turkish masters? I have no masters, never had or tried to have one, except my own conscience!
- * Spinmeisters? I spin no one, and none could ever dare touch or spin me; I am too heavy and hard on fingers!
- * Coffin and nails? Turks use shrouds for burials!
(P.S: I sincerely thank my shadowed interpreter-translator who composed these replies for me, since the critic knows that I can speak no other foreign languages!)
Sukru S. Aya
24 Apr 2008 -0700 (PDT), From: Ara Baliozian, April 24, 2008
BOOK REVIEW (PART I)
THE GENOCIDE OF TRUTH. By Sukru Server Aya. 702 pages. Illustrated. Index. Bibliography. Istanbul: Commerce University Publications. 2008.
This mammoth compilation of quotations, documents, and polemics sets out to prove once and for all that the Armenian genocide is a figment of imagination, but it succeeds only in proving that the Turks take this figment very seriously.
In his introduction, the author (born in 1930) admits that he first heard of the Genocide in the 1970s when Armenians unleashed a campaign of terror by assassinating more than forty innocent Turkish diplomats. What he fails to mention is that on April 24, 1915, at least four times as many Armenian intellectual leaders in Istanbul, among them some of the most beloved names in modern Armenian literature, were arrested, declared guilty on grounds of their Armenian identity, condemned to death, and executed. He further maintains that the so-called “million and a half” were victims not of a state-sponsored policy of extermination but of badly executed deportations, war, atrocities committed by Kurdish and Circassians bandits, starvation, and disease, all of which claimed many more Turkish victims. It follows, if the Turkish state cannot be held responsible for these crimes, the Armenians have no case. Again, he fails to mention the fact that the properties of the deported Armenians are now in the hands of the Turkish state. Even if not guilty of factors beyond their control, the Turks are guilty of occupying properties that rightly belong to their original owners.
Considerable space is devoted to the discussion of Toynbee’s youthful anti-Turkish stance. What is not mentioned is that even after he acquired Turkish friends and adopted a pro-Turkish stance, Toynbee at no time denied the reality of the Genocide, which he equated with the Jewish holocaust during World War II.
If like me you were born and raised in an alien ghetto populated by Armenian survivors, this book will fail to convince you that everything you were told as a child by your parents, grandparents, schoolteachers, and community leaders was propaganda. But if you are a Turk born and raised in an environment where even uttering the words “Armenian genocide” is considered a criminal offense, the book will succeed in reinforcing your conviction that as a morally upright people, Turks cannot be held guilty of any crime against humanity, let alone genocide, and that all their accusers are no better than misguided and brainwashed dupes, fanatics, charlatans, and profiteers. To which I can only say, all nations produce their share of jackals and hyenas and I doubt very much if Turks are immune to these universal aberration. (More to follow.)
Re: book review:Posted by: Macreau, Apr 24, 2008 11:01 am (PDT)
In a message dated 4/24/2008 10:31:22 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Ara Baliozian writes:
BOOK REVIEW (PART I)
THE GENOCIDE OF TRUTH. By Sukru Server Aya. 702 pages. Illustrated.
Index. Bibliography. Istanbul: Commerce University Publications. 2008.
This book's contents are not surprising at all. Just consider the following : The author is born in 1930 and is the product of Turkish educational system ( read as glorified Turkish history). I even bet that he does not read or write any foreign languages so that he could consult foreign sources dealing
with the events of 1915.
As a matter of fact another nail was nailed to the coffin of Turkish spinmeisters. Until today we all talked about Austrian, German sources, and NOW we have found Swedish sources in Swedish archives dealing with what we all
know.....the Armenian genocide perpetrated by Ottomans.
Let Mr. Aya bask under the sun of is Turkish masters.....
From: Ara Baliozian , 25 Apr 2008 -0700 (PDT), April 24, 2008
BOOK REVIEW (PART II)
THE GENOCIDE OF TRUTH. By Sukru Server Aya. 702 pages. Illustrated. Index. Bibliography. Istanbul: Commerce University Publications. 2008.
At one point Aya suggests that the Genocide may well boil down to stories told by grandmothers, implying they could hardly qualify as admissible evidence. Which raises the question: If you had a choice between believing the eyewitness account of a grandmother and the hearsay evidence of a politician with an ax to grind, whom would you choose to believe – especially if the grandmother’s stories were supported by countless articles in the international press some of which have now been collected and published in book form.
Aya writes: “Armenians are among the most monolithically acting people in the world today.” This assertion is contradicted by the fact that some of his most important denialist sources are of Armenian descent. He further accuses Armenians of being intolerant of dissent. As a result, he writes, the extremists are heard ad nauseam and the moderates are silenced. But isn’t that the case with Turks too? If Turks, unlike Armenians, are tolerant of dissent, why is it that Orhan Pamuk (a Nobel-prize winning novelist and essayist) and Taner Akcam (a distinguished academic), both of whom have dared to write about the taboo subject of the Armenian genocide, now live in self-imposed exile?
The Turks have made their state archives available to scholars, Aya informs us elsewhere, but the Armenians have consistently refused to do so. Speaking of Ottoman documents that support the reality of the Genocide, he dismisses all of them as forgeries, implying the documents in the Ottoman archives supporting his thesis have not been selected, manipulated, edited, and doctored in any way.
Genocide books (both pro and con) change no one’s mind. They only preach to the choir and the Allawa akbar corner.
If there is a moral to be drawn here, it is this: politics is a filthy business, writing history a complex operation, and propaganda the universal medium of all power structures, especially those that view themselves as morally superior.
Both Armenians and Turks are unanimous in asserting that the truth must be established and the controversy surrounding the Genocide must be resolved once and for all, even as one side continues to criminalize all mention of the Genocide, and the other to build monuments and museums, produce documentaries and movies, organize demonstrations and symposia, and publish an endless stream of books, editorials, commentaries, and polemics. As a result, both sides continue to be polarized with no end in sight. I regret to say the book under review succeeds only in contributing to this unfortunate process of polarization thus making the prospect of a resolution unlikely, perhaps even impossible. (To be continued.)
From: Ara Baliozian 26 Apr 2008 -0700 (PDT), April 26, 2008
BOOK REVIEW (PART III)
THE GENOCIDE OF TRUTH. By Sukru Server Aya. 702 pages. Illustrated. Index. Bibliography. Istanbul: Commerce University Publications. 2008.
Finally, here are some questions that Aya’s magnum opus raises:
Is there a single nation in the history of mankind that has fabricated a genocide and believed in it for almost a century? – more than a century, as a matter of fact, if one includes the Hamidian massacres at the turn of the last century.
Why is defending the borders of a disintegrating and rotten empire (perceived as such even by Turks) with every means at one’s disposal politically justifiable and Armenian desire for self-determination a crime against humanity? – unless of course one subscribes to the principle of might is right or what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine also.
Who in his right mind would dare to assert that Ottoman imperialism or Kemalist nationalism is right or acceptable but Armenian irredentism a capital offense?