590) Let's do away with falsehoods of both Turks and Armenians

Today is the day some Armenians claim as "the commemoration day of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians during 1915-23." The date has been chosen deliberately. On the night of April 24, 1915 the Ottoman government arrested 200 leaders of the Armenian community in Istanbul. They and some others were sent to Anatolian prisons. According to the Armenian scholars' claim, after that imprisonment the Ottoman government started to implement its plans to liquidate Armenians all over Turkey..

I don't want to go into details of the atrocities committed by Turks and Armenians in history. It was a bloody and disgusting part of history. I personally spent quite a long time (some 20 years) studying this issue. It would take almost a whole book to explain or discuss the events and claims one by one.

What bothers me is some lies both sides use to present their thesis. For example: The Armenian side always claims that "1.5 million Armenians died in 1915-23." There are two falsehoods in that sentence.

The first is the number. Some could argue that the number isn't important. Of course killing 10 or 10,000 doesn't make any difference, if the act is aimed at extinguishing a nation. But why say this lie? Why do they exaggerate the number?


I can give some records about the Armenian population and losses in the 1900s:

"The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire before World War I amounted to between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000. The Armenian Patriarchate gave the figure as 1,845,450. Of these about 250,000 managed to escape to Russia … Of the remaining 1,600,000 about 1,000,000 were killed … Of the surviving 600,000 about 200,000 were forcibly Islamised …" (Christopher J. Walker, Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, New York, second ed. 1990, p. 230; available online at www.armenia-survival.50megs.com). The statistic given by Tournebize in 1900 of the Armenian population in Turkey is 1,300,000 (Tournebize F., Histoire Politique et Religieuse de L'Armenie, Paris 1916). According to 1917 English Yearbook, the total Armenian population in Turkey was 1,056,000.

The French yellow book 1893-1897 (Paris 1897, p. 2-8) says that the Armenian population in Turkey is 1,475,011 According to Ottoman statistics, the Armenian population in 1914 was 1,294,851.

I can supply more such figures.
Now, how they came up with this figure of 1.5 million I don't understand.

...End Opt .............

The second thing that bothers me is the historical period in the sentence "1.5 million Armenians died in 1915-23." Why do they include the period of the Turkish War of Independence in the so called-genocide claim?

The famous pro-Armenian writer Christopher J. Walker explains that a "figure between 50,000 and 100,000 were killed off during the Turkish invasion of the Caucasus in May-September 1918" (Walker, Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, p. 230). He mentions the Turco-Armenian war of 1918-1920.

Have you ever heard such a claim anywhere? This historian adds the number of people who died in war to the number of what they call "the number of genocide victims." Besides, the new Armenian republic started the war for revenge. It was not the Turks' fault.

On the Turkish side there are also many falsehoods.
First of all, we are trying to deny the massacres perpetrated in 1915, as if the Armenians died due to disease. Another lie is that the Turkish government has opened the Ottoman archives up the public. We have not done so. No catalog has been properly published yet for the Emniyet-i umumiye (General Security Administration) or Birinci Sube (bureau of political crimes) archives of the Ottoman Empire. Personally, I'm not afraid of the Ottoman archive records.

I don't understand why the Archives Administration doesn't release them. There are a lot of falsehoods, as I said in the beginning, in both sides' claims. Like the Andonian documents on the Armenian side, or some Turks' claim that in history there was never an Armenian state.

If we erase the lies from our thesis, the picture will at least be more realistic. Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II last week urged both sides to get rid of narrow understandings based on racism. I cordially support him. That should be the way.

Whatever the U.S. public network PBS says in their documentary on the Armenian case isn't important. Instead of ill-fated attempts to deal with the Armenian diaspora, the Turkish government should deal with the Armenian Republic even if its Constitution claims "genocide." Our government should try to solve the problems faced by Armenian foundations in Turkey. In truth, there are good signs in both cases. This is the warm atmosphere we need.

As for what happened in 1915, I would like to conclude today's column with the words of Ahmet Refik Altinay. Whoever let those inhuman, brutal crimes occur in 1915 "upon them is God's curse, and the curse of angels and of mankind" (Ahmet Refik, Iki Komite Iki Kital. Kebikec yayinlari, Ankara 1994).

Recep Guvelioglu

24 April 2006



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