By Jasmeet Sidhu, Toronto Star Blog, May 27 2010
The first thing I immediately noticed when I arrived in Turkey, was the price to get into the country. While British and American VISAs were only about $20, Canadians had to pay a whopping $60 for a VISA to enter the country. I never really thought about why, until we met with members of the Turkish foreign ministry in Ankara, Turkey.
Here in Turkey with my Peace and Conflict studies class to learn more about this dynamic and culturally rich country in the face of today's changing geopolitics, one topic that inevitably came up time and time again in our various meetings with Turkish officials was the Armenian genocide. And the discussions certainly took a more interesting turn when we revealed to people that we were Canadian . . .
Thus far, Canada's parliament is the only one in the world that has formally recognized the killing of Armenians in Turkey during the First World War as genocide.
Meeting at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, Turkey
At the time in 2004, the Turkish foreign ministry released a statement, declaring "Some narrow-minded Canadian politicians were not able to understand that such decisions based on ... prejudiced information, will awaken feelings of hatred among people of different [ethnic] roots and disturb social harmony."
So when we met with members of the Turkish foreign ministry in the capital, Ankara, we weren't sure what to expect. Though we hadn't told them that this was a topic that we specifically wanted to discuss, as if reading our minds, an Armenian historian who had once worked in Canada joined our meetings, and the discussion inevitably went towards the Armenian genocide for the majority of the meeting. It was a fairly amicable and pleasant meeting, however, with an obvious agenda on their side to get their story across to Canadian students who would inevitably be discussing their thoughts with other Canadians (like I am right now).
The narrative that the foreign ministry put forward was emphasizing a lack of intent, and relying on the legal definition of the genocide to put into question "the events of 1915" as they were referred to in the meeting. Indeed, "genocide" was not even a legal term back in 1915 and the convention on genocide did not exist until 1948, so how can one declare a genocide to have happened?
Also, genocide needs intent to eliminate an entire groups of people. This, one member of the Turkish foreign ministry declared, did not exist. As well, they argued, Turkey has always been open about this issue and has argued for a joint historical investigation with Armenia to discover what really happened in 1915, but Turkey claims that Armenia are not open to the process or willing to open its private records on the event. Probably the most fascinating part of the discussion was when the foreign ministry urged us to be "Canadian" and live up to "Canadian values" by having an open mind and listening to both sides of the story. They argued that they were being accused of the most heinous crime and urged a proper historical investigation before parliaments pass judgments on controversial aspects of history, for which they have no role.
I walked away from the meeting not necessarily sure what to believe, but feeling compelled to read and research more about this dark aspect of Turkish history. And I suppose that was the real purpose of this meeting, whether we had just heard propaganda or the "memory record of another people" as it was called -- to not depend on simply just one side of the story, and to be your own critic of events and issues by doing the research yourself and coming to the best possible conclusion you can.
Jasmeet Sidhu is a graduate of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto. She worked for the Star in the radio room last summer, and writes a blog for the Star on climate change, where she covered the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen. In mid-June she will join the Star's summer intern program. Follow Jasmeet on Twitter.
Keghart.com Editors welcomes Jasmeet Sidhu's article, but encourages its readers to respond to gross misconceptions that have appeared in her piece, such as Canada being the only country that has recognized the Genocide of Armenians, the Armenian archives not being open for studies, etc.
Armenian Genocide Resource Center Editors do not need to "encourage you on what to do since for the majority of the Turks = "Ignorance is Always Bliss"
Jurist Dr. Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent, and Holocaust survivor coined the word "genocide" in 1933 specifically to describe the destruction of Armenians and the barbarity that befell upon them at the hands of the Turkish State.
Prior to coining the word genocide, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and world leaders referred to the race extermination of Armenians as "the Armenian holocaust".
Genocide denial is not just the simple negation of an act; it is much more the consequent continuation of the very act itself. Genocide should not only physically destroy a community; it should likewise dictate the prerogative of interpretation in regard to history, culture, territory and memory. As the victims, Armenians never existed.
Now more than ever the denial of the Armenian genocide must be responded to, for denial is intrinsic to the methodology of genocide. Genocide is denied even as it is practiced - as in Darfur.
From the beginning, the perpetrator seeks pretexts and justifications to conceal the real intentions. Thus, the extermination is referred to as 'transporting,' as 'deportation' or 'resettlement' - 'moving to secure places' or even as the 'final solution.' A verbal code is used to camouflage and thus deny the annihilation, even as it is being committed. Genocide without simultaneous denial is unthinkable - yes, even impossible.
The Turkish have not only murdered humans , destroyed an ancient culture and civilization, and rewritten history, but they continue to legitimize the act as well as the racist ideology that led to the act. This includes the legitimization of any and all stereotyping of the Armenian people as a dangerous enemy, as a deadly bogeyman in the closet. Denial is the final step in the completion of a mass extermination - and the first step towards the next genocide.
If genocide is committed in Ruanda or Sudan, it is done with the knowledge that the rest of the world will only watch and then forget. They look to Turkey and think themselves safe in the assumption that their actions will likewise remain unpunished!
The accountable powers-that-be rhetorically ask - as Hitler did just before invading Poland - 'Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?'
Engraved on a the wall at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hitler_Armenian_Quote.JPG
The Turkish state must be held accountable for its crimes of genocide - the UN convention on prevention and punishment for the crime of genocide (which references the Armenian genocide) fully applies on Turkey.
The Armenian genocide like the Jewish genocide both occurred before the 1948 UN Convention (which references the Armenian genocide).
Posted by: Berge Jololian | 05/27/2010 at 12:04 AM
Contrarily to what members of the Turkish foreign ministry were saying in that meeting, the Armenian genocide was indeed a premeditated and calculated act carried out by the Turkish government at that time.
Armenians from all over Anatolia, from Constantinople (Istanbul) to the most isolated Armenian village in historic Armenia, were taken to the desert and were killed in some of the most brutal ways possible, or were starved to death. 1.5 million Armenians out of a pre-war population of 2 million were systematically massacred in 1915... The intent was indeed there, such a considerable population cannot be eliminated simply "by accident".
This greatly inspired Hitler, who rallied his colleagues towards his genocidal cause by saying "who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians"? Thankfully, Canada is among the many countries that do remember.
Posted by: David Kojah-Oghlanian | 05/27/2010 at 12:16 AM
Dear Jasmeet Sidhu,
Canada is not the only nation in the world recognized the genocide.. There are over 20 nations, including the EU and many other trade unions.. not to mention over 40 US states.. and countless number of genocide scholars.. Stating otherwise that a genocide has never occurred is going against the years of research and work done by these scholars who have without any bias or political motives concluded that it was a genocide against Armenians.
Intent of genocide is widely documented, evidence can be found in archives, newspapers, eye-witness accounts, pictures, videos, including skulls and bones. There is no arguing about that.
Just because the term genocide didn’t exist at the time, doesn’t mean something like a genocide couldn’t of happen. In fact, back in September 10, 1895 before Armenian Genocide memorial day of April 24, 1915, the New York Times published an article calling the events against the Armenians, not a genocide, but rather a Holocaust, and this is exactly 50 years before WW2.. This archived article is free for the public download..
Posted by: Ari | 05/27/2010 at 02:19 AM
I would suggest that you read The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, by Robert Fisk. There is a great chapetr there on the Armenian Genocide. It is always a great idea to do your research and find out the truth for yourself.
Posted by: Arin Gharakhanian | 05/27/2010 at 04:20 PM
Could you please tell us how much Canada is asking for visa for Turkish people and how difficult is to get it.
Posted by: Just asking | 05/27/2010 at 05:09 PM
- The writer's age and time of "selective reading", shows that she read only a few sources "she was directed to read". She should be the fourh of the Young Scholars I have written my short reply: Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2010/05/3094-question-to-all-of-young-hasty.html If she and the ignorant Canadian Govenment and Parliament cannot prove that my evidences are fictitous or wrong, then it must be THEM doing wrong. I wish to make no reference to Ankara Government and their members, who are equally ignorant and have no depth of knowledge under their positions.
- There is a "mountain of authentic knowledge, articles, books" in this blog site, and unless you read the other side, you cannot be a decent scholar or peace defender!
- I strongly suggest that she further at least reads posting Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/10/2610-genocide-lies-need-no-archives.html and distribute copies with my compliements to Canadian Government and parties who have been brainwashed to believe fabrications of myths.
- For years NO ONE COULD refute my statements and evidences I have provided. She is free to enjoy the applause and togetherness of the lynching mob, or the loneliness and satisfaction for defending truth and decency. I am afraid she is not even aware of over 2000 excerpts in my books "The Genocide of Truth" just a click away....but she find herself qualified to give big talks... SO EASILY?