20 December 2008

2678) "Study Armenian Genocide With Confidence " by Sarafian / "Darling Of Denialist Turkish Media: Sarafian" By Jabarian

  1. "Study The Armenian Genocide With Confidence" by Ara Sarafian
  2. Sarafian: Focus On The Diaspora
  3. "Ara Sarafian: The Darling Of Denialist Turkish Media" By Appo Jabarian

Study The Armenian Genocide With Confidence by Ara Sarafian, December 18, 2008

Sir:
On November 26, 2008, Hurriyet Daily News published an article based on an interview titled, "Sarafian: Focus on the Diaspora." This interview followed a conference I participated in organized by the International Hrant Dink Foundation at Bosphorus University, Istanbul, on Adana in the late Ottoman period.

The Hurriyet Daily News article caused anxiety in some Armenian circles because of the apparent harshness of my statements as they had been rendered in the Turkish press. The most forceful response came from my detractors in Internet chat . .
groups.

Given the interest created by the Hurriyet Daily News article in some Armenian circles, I would like to disclose the substance of my interview for your information. Below are the key points:

1. Context: Turkey today

Turkey is going through a period of change. It is true that many of the old anti-Armenian voices are still around, and one can still see restrictions on free speech in Turkey. However, there are also significant alternative voices being heard from academics, journalists, lawyers, diplomats, and ordinary people. This multiplicity of voices seems to be part of the democratization process of Turkey.

Twenty years ago Turkish state intellectuals were denying the Armenian Genocide by saying that nothing happened in 1915; if there were killings, they were Turks killed by Armenians; that Armenian Genocide allegations were the product of Armenian terrorism or a Soviet conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The official Turkish thesis on the Armenian Genocide was prescribed by the state with no alternative voices or dissent allowed.

Today, the Armenian Genocide debate has already shifted inside Turkey. It is now quite normal to hear that "terrible things happened to Armenians in 1915", that Armenians were poorly treated, that there were massacres, etc. Turkish citizens are also more and more aware of the contribution of Armenians to Ottoman-Turkish identity and culture. Most of the protagonists making a case for the gradual rehabilitation of Armenians are Turkish liberal intellectuals. This change has been part of a process that is still in progress.

Armenian intellectuals can play a positive role in engaging Turkish-Armenian debates as they open up by setting the tone for better understanding of a shared past, including practical ways to address the legacy of 1915. A sensitive Armenian approach can foster a positive outcome in Turkey, while a coarse response will close minds and play into the hands of Turkish chauvinists.

2. Diaspora-Armenia scholarship

Over the past 25 years, practically all cutting-edge scholarship on the Armenian Genocide has taken place outside of Armenia. A good part of this work was done by diaspora Armenians, and many non-Armenians were nurtured or benefited by the efforts of diaspora Armenians. The diaspora is at the core of the Armenian Genocide debate. If Prime Minister Erdogan's government is looking for an engaging strategy to resolve the Armenian Genocide issue, it has to address the diaspora as much as the Armenian government.

3. Partisan scholarship, prosecutorial approach

Our understanding of the Armenian Genocide has been influenced by partisan scholarship because a number of academic institutions and political parties in Armenian communities, such as in the United States or Great Britain, have nurtured a prosecutorial approach to the subject. Consequently, some important elements of the events of 1915 have been distorted. The main thrust of the prosecutorial approach has been the assertion that the genocide of Armenians was executed with the thoroughness of the Nazi Holocaust, and that all Turks and Kurds were involved in the genocidal process. This approach is best exemplified by Vahakn Dadrian's The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus.

4. The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust

The Armenian Genocide is not the same as the Holocaust. The Young Turks did not have the apparatus to carry out a genocide on par with the Holocaust. It is also a fact that many Ottoman officials, including governors, sub-governors, military personnel, police chiefs, and gendarmes saved thousands of Armenians during the Genocide. Most Armenians from the province of Adana, for example, were not killed. This very basic fact is elided in the works of prominent Armenian historians. There are other examples too. The "Holocaust model" of the Armenian Genocide is fundamentally flawed.

5. Archives

Key "Armenian archives" on the Armenian Genocide remain closed to critical scholars. This matter concerns all scholars and should be subject to scrutiny. The most important examples are the archives of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, which include materials from Ottoman Turkey related to the Genocide. Partisan scholars have used these archives in their work, though their assertions can not be checked. In the 1980s the Zoryan Institute collected the private papers of individuals in the diaspora, yet the materials have remained under lock and key. Such standards should not be acceptable within our communities. We should object to them as we object to any manipulation of Ottoman archives in Turkey today.

6. Diaspora and Turkey

As Turkey continues to examine various taboos, more and more Turks are discovering their human, material, and historical ties to Armenians. If Turkey continues to develop in this direction, with freedom of thought and expression, there is no reason why diaspora Armenians cannot be brought into public and academic debates in Turkey. The Armenian diaspora is historically rooted in Turkey.

7. Playing the victims of the Armenian Genocide

The present generation of Armenians cannot assume the victim role when discussing Turkish-Armenian relations. Given the seriousness of the subject, academics and community activists should be expected to be well informed about their subject matter and give fair consideration to all parties. The Genocide issue is not a simple question of justice for Armenians, but a case of justice for everyone. This attitude is essential for the peaceful resolution of past differences. There is no room for ignorance and bigotry.

8. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression in Armenia

Recent events have shown once more that freedom of expression is not something that is universally respected in Armenia. In the past weeks we have heard of the brutal beating of Edik Baghdasaryan, chief editor of Hetq and the president of the Investigative Journalists' Association of Armenia. His beating was preceded by attempts to harass and intimidate him with impunity. This is not the first time that people have been intimidated and beaten for their critical views in Armenia. In my opinion this lack of freedom has restricted critical research in Armenia on the Armenian Genocide.

9. Joint commission

Prime Minister Erdogan has suggested that a commission of historians should be formed by the Turkish and Armenian governments to examine the events of 1915. I would propose an alternative as follows: (1) Relevant archives in Turkey should be open to researchers, with special procedures to allow them ready access to records; (2) Independent groups of specialists from different disciplines should be funded to collaborate on specific projects related to 1915; (3) The work of such groups should be open to the scrutiny of third parties; (4) Academic excellence should be the governing criteria in putting research teams together, not ethnicity, citizenship, or horse-trading among Turkish and Armenian bureaucrats; (5) The examination of archival records should not be limited to Ottoman records but include other archives outside of Turkey.

Very truly yours,
Ara Sarafian
London

(c) 2008 Armenian Reporter


Sarafian: Focus On The Diaspora By Vercihan Ziflioğlu
ISTANBUL - Multilateral efforts to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey is the wrong way to resolve the Armenian issue, says respected historian Ara Sarafian, arguing that the solution lies in the huge and influential diaspora.

Sarafian: Focus on the diaspora Sarafian, the head of the London-based Gomidas Institute, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s offer to Armenia to establish a commission of historians to resolve the Armenian issue was positive, but Armenia was the wrong address.

Armenians argue that the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 constituted genocide while Turkey says many Turks also died in the wartime circumstances and denies there was a state-enforced policy to kill Armenians.

Sarafian was invited to Turkey by the Boğaziçi, Bilkent and Sabancı Universities and the Hrant Dink Foundation to attend a history conference in the Mediterranean province of Adana.

Sarafian said there were two problems that would arise out of any effort to improve relations with Armenians through closer ties with Armenia. "Freedom of expression for historians in Armenia is limited and the genocide issue has become a political tool," he said.

He said Turkey should continue with its plan to form a commission of historians who would discuss the matter, but suggested Turkish historians to meet with moderate Armenian historians in the diaspora rather than Armenia. "The solution should start from the diaspora," he said.

"The members of the diaspora who still have Anatolia in their hearts should not be ignored," he said, adding that the diaspora was not part of Armenia but part of Anatolia. He also said Turkey needed to fund the commission of independent historians. "I believe Turkey is not how it used to be. It has a modern perception and wants solutions to the problems," said Sarafian.

Armenian archives
Prime Minister Erdoğan’s suggestion to form a commission also involves the opening of the state archives of both Armenia and Turkey. Sarafian said the archives in Armenia were inadequate. "The real documents on the genocide are in the Zoryan archives in Boston and the Armenian Patriarchy archives in Jerusalem," he said.

He said the most important question was whether Armenians wanted to overcome this chronic problem. He asked, "Will we be able to free ourselves from this instinct of revenge and share our grief?" Armenians should stop seeing themselves as the victims, said the historian.

"We cannot compare the Armenian genocide with the Holocaust. Those who were banished from their land suffered a lot but survived," he said.

He also said Turkish society could not be blamed for what happened in the past. "No one can deny the genocide but the entire Turkish nation cannot be held responsible. Moreover, many Turks rescued Armenians from death," he said.

The lobbies had turned the issue into a political tool, said Sarafian. "They want to control everything and fear historians opening a brand new page," he said. He said a language of peace should be created between Turks and Armenians.

He still had to be careful when he undertook research in Turkey and added, "I, as a historian, try not to display a wrong stance and create tension. I know I need to be objective. Additionally, Turkey is being constructive and it would be wrong to miss this chance."

He said the restoration of the Armenian Akdamar Church in the recent past could have created an environment of dialogue but had become a missed chance. "Armenians did not want to take that chance because it did not suit their interests," he said.

The Armenian response, both from the diaspora and Armenia, to Turkish calls to work together was complete silence, he said. "The diaspora boycotted any cooperation with Turkey because it only wants to blame and lay accusations against Turkey. Unfortunately, radical groups within the diaspora have turned a sensitive issue, like genocide, into a political tool.

He said it was important for future generations to free themselves from the victim psychology, concluding his remarks by saying, "We need to ensure our children live in peace. The revenge instinct will do no one any good."

© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet



Ara Sarafian: The Darling Of Denialist Turkish Media By Appo Jabarian
Noyan Tapan, Dec 15, 2008

Ara Sarafian, the head of the London-based Gomidas Institute, has become the darling of the denialist Turkish media. The November 24 issue of Hurriyet ("Liberty"), a Turkish secular, conservative-nationalist broadsheet daily newspaper, and notorious for its Armenian genocide denialism, has made a headline of Mr. Sarafian's anti-Armenian comment: "We cannot compare the Armenian genocide with the Holocaust. Those who were banished from their land suffered a lot but survived."

Mr. Sarafian sounds more like a denialist than an Armenian that is devoted to the pursuit of justice for his people. In reality, the Armenian Genocide does differ from the Jewish Holocaust. While Jews were killed en masse in foreign lands -- Germany and Vichy France --Armenians were systematically annihilated in their ancestral lands in Western Armenia and Cilicia. But sadly, that's not what Mr. Sarafian is pointing out. He is effectively saying that no Genocide occured in Turkish-occupied Western Armenia and Cilicia.

If this is the result of his numerous Ankara-funded trips to the Turkish archives, one can tell what's in store for Armenians through the Turkish-promoted joint commission of Armenian and Turkish historians that Sarafian, a self-proclaimed reconciliator, so enthusiastically proposes in the Hurriyet article.

Mr. Sarrafian and his likes need to be reminded that Ankara has long been willing to recognize the Armenian Genocide provided that the Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora do not demand the return of the Turkish-occupied Armenian territories.

By "offering" to form a "joint commission" of historians, Turkey is effectively plotting to undermine the political gains achieved in the Diaspora and to reduce the international recognition of the genocide to "he said, she said" type of political dead-end which can reverse all the achievements by the Diaspora to the benefit of denialist Ankara. And I am sorry to remark that Sarafian seems to be all too willing to become a tool in the hands of these denialists.

Sarafian also said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's offer to Armenia to establish a commission of historians to resolve the Armenian issue was positive, but Armenia was the wrong address. The solution should start from the diaspora.

Denialist Turkish Officialdom knew that, but what they didn't know and were pleasantly surprised to know that there is a member of that "huge and influential diaspora" who would be willing to sell out his people's Cause.

For some time, Ankara has been working diligently to recruit certain elements of the diaspora that are willing to trade their own lands for a 'horse.'

A few days ago, just before I left for France, I visited with an Armenian beef jerky ("abukhd" or "basturma") manufacturer in Hollywood, California.

The " abukhd" ("basturma") maker joyfully said how proud he was because the Consul General of Turkey in Los Angeles had visited his store and bought some beef jerkys and "kissed" his hand. I told him: "If things continue the way they've been evolving in the diaspora, and the Armenians continue to consolidate their political and economic power, he would one day kiss other parts of your body as well. "

It seems like Ara Sarafian has already become one of the few Diaspora recipients of these "kisses."

In contrast to Sarafian's and his denialist handlers' actions, just recently, notable Turkish conservative historians and other professors have publicly apologized for the Armenian genocide of 1915 but have fallen short of calling on the state to do the same.

Even then, righteous historian Ayse Hur said apologizing is the duty of those who were responsible for the act or for those who share their arguments. "It seems that a very elite group discussed that petition, because I learnt about this petition from the media and I was surprised, ...

I approach these types of events as a scientist, as a historian, not as a member of the Turkish nation. For me, all these events were the fault of Turkish nationalism flourishing at that time, and personally, I don't identify with it, so I do not feel the need to apologize personally." (Daily Zaman, Dec 9).

She also pointed out that the petitioners are concentrating only on 1915; however, she says there were events after and before. "There is a state tradition which legitimizes all these events and prevents any discussion about them. Firstly, the state has to ensure a suitable atmosphere to discuss all these things; then it has to apologize on behalf of the perpetrators and for itself, because it has legitimized their actions through the years."

That is why, first and foremost, Turkey needs to form a joint Turkish-Turkish commission formed by Turkish academicians who already recognize the genocide and by those that deny it. It is after the Turks come to a consensus on the genocide that an Armenian-Turkish joint commission becomes warranted in order to formulate various settlement options regarding the reparation for the immense real and personal losses inflicted on the victims and the return of the lands of Western Armenia by Turkey in compliance with the Treaty of Sevres.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This write up by Mr. Sarafian was intended to explain his visit to Turkey and his statements to press. This write-up does not exonerate Mr. Sarafian. He is just digging himself deeper. I am sure some academicians will come to his rescue and try to white-wash his opinions and wrap them in current spin. However, what he writes is not in the best interest of Armenians and weakens the Armenian government’s position to negotiate the resolution of the Armenian Genocide internationally and its consequences for Turkey .

I have commented all of Mr. Sarafian’s points in the following passages. I am afraid it is a shameful article about a shameful act.

1. Context: Turkey today

Turkey is going through a period of change. It is true that many of the old anti-Armenian voices are still around, and one can still see restrictions on free speech in Turkey . However, there are also significant alternative voices being heard from academics, journalists, lawyers, diplomats, and ordinary people. This multiplicity of voices seems to be part of the democratization process of Turkey .

It is good to see that Turkey is going through a change. However, this change was not brought about by sympathy for Armenians and good will of Turkish government. It was brought about by the Turkish economic interest to join the EU. Turkey is still a Muslim country driven by Islamic principals. It was theses principals that brought seven hundred years of misery on the Armenian nation.

Twenty years ago Turkish state intellectuals were denying the Armenian Genocide by saying that nothing happened in 1915; if there were killings, they were Turks killed by Armenians; that Armenian Genocide allegations were the product of Armenian terrorism or a Soviet conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The official Turkish thesis on the Armenian Genocide was prescribed by the state with no alternative voices or dissent allowed.

They are still denying the Armenian Genocide. Unless Mr. Sarafian is talking about another country !

Today, the Armenian Genocide debate has already shifted inside Turkey . It is now quite normal to hear that "terrible things happened to Armenians in 1915", that Armenians were poorly treated, that there were massacres, etc. Turkish citizens are also more and more aware of the contribution of Armenians to Ottoman-Turkish identity and culture. Most of the protagonists making a case for the gradual rehabilitation of Armenians are Turkish liberal intellectuals. This change has been part of a process that is still in progress.

This is a good step in the right direction. But we are far from having a proper social discussion of the treatment of Armenians during the rein of the Ottoman Empire . The first step would be the repeal of article 301 which led to Hrant Dink’s murder.

Armenian intellectuals can play a positive role in engaging Turkish-Armenian debates as they open up by setting the tone for better understanding of a shared past, including practical ways to address the legacy of 1915. A sensitive Armenian approach can foster a positive outcome in Turkey , while a coarse response will close minds and play into the hands of Turkish chauvinists.

There is no debate necessary. However, I could understand academicians and intellectuals being interested in a debate and analysis, since this is how they make a living.

2. Diaspora-Armenia scholarship

Over the past 25 years, practically all cutting-edge scholarship on the Armenian Genocide has taken place outside of Armenia . A good part of this work was done by diaspora Armenians, and many non-Armenians were nurtured or benefited by the efforts of diaspora Armenians. The diaspora is at the core of the Armenian Genocide debate. If Prime Minister Erdogan's government is looking for an engaging strategy to resolve the Armenian Genocide issue, it has to address the diaspora as much as the Armenian government.

I totally disagree with this approach. It is directly aimed at weakening Armenia and Armenian government. I am not a big fan of the Armenian government, but I believe the Armenians have to speak with one voice. I strongly believe that the Diaspora should work through the Armenian government and make sure the Armenian government is adding its wishes to their dialogue regarding the Armenian genocide. Again, I believe this is designed to get the intellectuals and the academicians of the both side to capitalize on the issue and make money on the lecture circuits.

3. Partisan scholarship, prosecutorial approach

Our understanding of the Armenian Genocide has been influenced by partisan scholarship because a number of academic institutions and political parties in Armenian communities, such as in the United States or Great Britain , have nurtured a prosecutorial approach to the subject. Consequently, some important elements of the events of 1915 have been distorted. The main thrust of the prosecutorial approach has been the assertion that the genocide of Armenians was executed with the thoroughness of the Nazi Holocaust, and that all Turks and Kurds were involved in the genocidal process. This approach is best exemplified by Vahakn Dadrian's The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus .

This is a terribly dehumanizing way of looking at the Armenian Genocide. A crime has been committed against a nation. How else would one need to look at it? Just a case study!! These were real people who died. The reason they died was because they were Christians and were not converting to Islam. Throughout the 700 years the fight was over conversion of the Armenians to Islam. Armenians were considered sub human because they were Christian. Is this, such a tough concept to grasp? With all due respect to Vahakn Dadrian, calling it an Ethnic Conflict hides the real reason behind the Genocide. Armenians once became Muslim were not discriminated against and were left alone.

4. The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust

The Armenian Genocide is not the same as the Holocaust. The Young Turks did not have the apparatus to carry out a genocide on par with the Holocaust. It is also a fact that many Ottoman officials, including governors, sub-governors, military personnel, police chiefs, and gendarmes saved thousands of Armenians during the Genocide. Most Armenians from the province of Adana , for example, were not killed. This very basic fact is elided in the works of prominent Armenian historians. There are other examples too. The "Holocaust model" of the Armenian Genocide is fundamentally flawed.

This is another funny one. Just because the Turks did it on shoe string and did not have the budget to construct concentration camps and gas chambers, then this makes it less than a Holocaust! I am ashamed to even make the comparison. If you look at the percentages, a higher percentage of the Armenian nation perished in the Armenian Genocide than the Jewish Genocide. Some Germans also saved their Jewish neighbors so what? Germany still paid for their crime and continues to pay for it. Whose side is this guy on?

5. Archives

Key "Armenian archives" on the Armenian Genocide remain closed to critical scholars. This matter concerns all scholars and should be subject to scrutiny. The most important examples are the archives of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, which include materials from Ottoman Turkey related to the Genocide. Partisan scholars have used these archives in their work, though their assertions can not be checked. In the 1980s the Zoryan Institute collected the private papers of individuals in the diaspora, yet the materials have remained under lock and key. Such standards should not be acceptable within our communities. We should object to them as we object to any manipulation of Ottoman archives in Turkey today.

This is again reiteration of the Turkish claims. It is a shame that an Armenian is repeating the Turkish line for the denial of the Armenian Genocide. This is a shameful line.

6. Diaspora and Turkey

As Turkey continues to examine various taboos, more and more Turks are discovering their human, material, and historical ties to Armenians. If Turkey continues to develop in this direction, with freedom of thought and expression, there is no reason why diaspora Armenians cannot be brought into public and academic debates in Turkey . The Armenian diaspora is historically rooted in Turkey .

First of all Armenian Diaspora is rooted in Historic Armenia and not Turkey . Therefore the Armenian Diaspora is actually Armenian and not Turkish!! The reason we have a strong Diaspora is the persecution of the Christian Armenians by the Islamic Turks and other Islamic countries in the area. The question of Turkey ’s ability to develop in this direction is not guaranteed. The fundamental base of Turkey is Islamic. If you look at Iran as an example, it had developed into a modern society during the Shah and it was very close and at times in advance of the western countries. How quickly they went back to the dark ages is amazing.

7. Playing the victims of the Armenian Genocide

The present generation of Armenians cannot assume the victim role when discussing Turkish-Armenian relations. Given the seriousness of the subject, academics and community activists should be expected to be well informed about their subject matter and give fair consideration to all parties. The Genocide issue is not a simple question of justice for Armenians, but a case of justice for everyone. This attitude is essential for the peaceful resolution of past differences. There is no room for ignorance and bigotry.

He is completely diluting the case for the Genocide with this paragraph. Actually it is very simple. Armenians lived on their ancestral lands and the Turks killed and deported them, pure and simple. Now if some academicians and intellectuals want to create a different scenario to make a living that is another story. It is a shame that some people will sell anything to make a buck. Shrouding it in claims of intellectuality and scholarship doesn’t cover the stench.

8. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression in Armenia

Recent events have shown once more that freedom of expression is not something that is universally respected in Armenia . In the past weeks we have heard of the brutal beating of Edik Baghdasaryan, chief editor of Hetq and the president of the Investigative Journalists' Association of Armenia. His beating was preceded by attempts to harass and intimidate him with impunity. This is not the first time that people have been intimidated and beaten for their critical views in Armenia . In my opinion this lack of freedom has restricted critical research in Armenia on the Armenian Genocide.

This is absurd. Mr. Sarafian is using any opportunity to attack the Armenian government to weaken the Armenians. Turkey killed Hrant Dink, by their anti Armenian propaganda and instigations. We all know the details of the March 1st events and LTP’s role in it. This is such an old shoe to throw! In addition this is not even related to the topic under discussion. There are no restrictions in Armenia regarding the study of the Genocide.

9. Joint commission

Prime Minister Erdogan has suggested that a commission of historians should be formed by the Turkish and Armenian governments to examine the events of 1915. I would propose an alternative as follows: (1) Relevant archives in Turkey should be open to researchers, with special procedures to allow them ready access to records; (2) Independent groups of specialists from different disciplines should be funded to collaborate on specific projects related to 1915; (3) The work of such groups should be open to the scrutiny of third parties; (4) Academic excellence should be the governing criteria in putting research teams together, not ethnicity, citizenship, or horse-trading among Turkish and Armenian bureaucrats; (5) The examination of archival records should not be limited to Ottoman records but include other archives outside of Turkey.

This is the official line of the Turkish government regardless of how Mr. Sarafian dresses it. His conclusion has proven all the discussions we have had on his biases and direction!


(IP Address Logged)

Onr said...

"This is the official line of the Turkish government regardless of how Mr. Sarafian dresses it. His conclusion has proven all the discussions we have had on his biases and direction! "

dear anonymous, you say that `this is official line of the turkish government` but you do not provide evidence proving the contrary. please post the link to those open archives so we can study on them.

(IP Address Logged)

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