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Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

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    Noyan Tapan [a news agency in Armenia]
    Aug 20, 2007

    KESARIA, AUGUST 20, NOYAN TAPAN. The "Kurdish Workers Party" movement
    is not a Kurdish one, as most of his members are Armenians, who have
    become Kurds.

    This statement was made by Dr. Professor Yusuf Halacoglu, the Chairman
    of the Turkish Historical Society, at the conference titled "Avshars
    in the Turkish history and culture," the Turkish press reports.

    During the press conference Halacoglu mentioned that a number of ethnic
    groups live in Turkey, most of whom do not know anything about their
    origin: "As a result of out researches, it became clear that Kurds
    have "Turkmenian origin", and the Alev Kurds "Armenian. Most of the
    members included in the PKK, which wants to split the country, and the
    "Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army" (TIKKO) terroristic
    organizations are Armenians, who have become Kurds. And the movements
    we know are not Kurdish ones," the Chairman of the Turkish Historical
    Society declared.

    KESARIA, AUGUST 20, NOYAN TAPAN. The "Kurdish Workers Party" movement
    is not a Kurdish one, as most of his members are Armenians, who have
    become Kurds.

    This statement was made by Dr. Professor Yusuf Halacoglu, the Chairman
    of the Turkish Historical Society, at the conference titled "Avshars
    in the Turkish history and culture," the Turkish press reports.

    During the press conference Halacoglu mentioned that a number of ethnic
    groups live in Turkey, most of whom do not know anything about their
    origin: "As a result of out researches, it became clear that Kurds
    have "Turkmenian origin", and the Alev Kurds "Armenian. Most of the
    members included in the PKK, which wants to split the country, and the
    "Turkish Workers' and Peasants' Liberation Army" (TIKKO) terroristic
    organizations are Armenians, who have become Kurds. And the movements
    we know are not Kurdish ones," the Chairman of the Turkish Historical
    Society declared.
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


    • An Armenian Family from Istanbul, now in Watertown

      One Watertown family remembers the Armenian Genocide

      Photo by David Gordon
      As an Armenian family living in Watertown, Tatoul Badalian, his wife, Varteni, and daughter Narini, are actively involved in speaking out and supporting their community in recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

      By Jillian Fennimore, Staff Writer
      GateHouse News Service
      Thu Aug 23, 2007, 12:29 PM EDT

      Narini Badalian, 25, represents the next generation of Armenians and local residents who stand proud to speak out about their history and the reality of what they know as the Armenian Genocide.
      Her parents, Tatoul and Varteni, are sure to stand by her side, their own lives representing a long history of pain and emotion.
      Born and raised in Watertown, Narini said her community is in the middle of a historical moment as they break away from a “No Place for Hate” controversy.
      Just one week ago, she took the podium moments before the town dissolved its “No Place for Hate” committee and severed ties with the program’s sponsor, the Anti-Defamation League, for the ADL stance on the mass deaths of Armenians from 1915-1923. Many historians agree it was a campaign of extermination waged against ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman government. As many as 1.5 million Armenians died.
      The attention on the ADL’s stance was first sparked from a letter published in the TAB & Press. And now, ever since Watertown took a stand and claimed independence from the organization, many other communities are looking to follow.
      Over the past week, the ADL fired Regional Director Andrew Tarsey after he publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. Then the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement that the tragic events of more than 90 years ago were “tantamount to genocide.”
      Narini said her community is heading in the right direction.
      “I’m very proud with what has been happening in Watertown,” she said. “At a certain point, people have to say enough is enough.”
      As residents of the East End, Narini and her parents, along with brother, Shirvan, live among close to 8,000 other Armenians in town. After leaving her home in Istanbul, Turkey, her mother, Varteni, came to the United States to “escape racism” and focus energies on her art as a painter.
      Just on her maternal side, Varteni said more than 200 people perished in the Armenian Genocide. Her grandparents where exiled and “lucky to survive,” but their brothers were not so fortunate.
      “[They died] only because they called themselves Armenians,” she said. “What pains me is that we were silenced in Turkey. I came to this country to breathe.”
      Inside their Walnut Street home, photographs, books and artwork cover the walls and fill the shelves. Stirring a pot of strong, Armenian-style coffee, Varteni pours it into cups and waits for the last sip to read fortunes and predict people’s futures from the grinds.
      Tatoul said the future is in their hands now. He came to this country from Iran “in search of liberty.”
      “Here I am, in the strongest country in the world, a part of the world where we can do something about it,” he said about taking a stand against the ADL. “I’m the energy that makes it move.”
      When the word “controversy” comes up, he says what’s happening now shouldn’t be classified as such.
      “It’s been part of our struggle … a dialogue going on for years,” he said. “I’m now discovering why I’m here. You can actually feel it in this country … I can still feel it.”
      In January, Varteni said she felt like she lost a relative when Armenian journalist and activist Hrant Dink was assassinated. Dink, 52, was shot outside his office on a busy Istanbul street, simply because he spoke out about the freedom of expression regarding the Armenian Genocide.
      Now Varteni feels the need to fight and seek justice for human rights in his honor.
      “This is something that is touching our life chord,” she said.
      Narini said both tolerance and activism should continue in town. Regardless of the ADL coming out in apparent recognition of the genocide, the key is whether the ADL will support the Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Foxman has come out with a statement saying that the legislation is a “counterproductive diversion” that may “put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States.”
      “It’s not going to end here,” said Narini. “The denial is very real. It’s now.”
      Hitler’s infamous invocation
      Narini Badalian read the following infamous quote from Adolph Hitler during her presentation to Town Council on Aug. 14. Hitler was speaking to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland in 1939:
      “I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women and children of Polish derivation and language.
      Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


      • Source:

        Chief Turkish Historian Under Fire for Racism
        Posted on August 24th, 2007 by Blogian.
        Categories: Denial, Armenian Genocide.
        You thought he was a denier, but did you know he was also an urologist?
        Turkey’s official chief historian Yusuf Halacoglu, who has made news at Blogian for his role in covering up the discovery and the destruction of a possible Armenian Genocide mass grave, is under fire now for what many in Turkey see as racist comments against both Armenians and Kurds.

        Photo: Halacoglu
        Halacoglu, the head of the governmental Turkish Historical Society, has now ridiculed himself by proclaiming at a conference that there are no Kurds in Turkey: “Kurds are converted Turkmen and Kurdish Alevis are converted Armenians.” (Halacoglu is quoted as saying in the Turkish Daily News)
        Apparently, after going through the penises of PKK (a militant Kurdish group deemed as terrorist by the West) members, Halacoglu has once again discovered there has been no Armenian Genocide. He is quoted in the Turkish press as saying, “For example when some PKK members are arrested it becomes apparent that they are not circumcised.”
        If a Kurd is not circumcised then he must be Armenian, thinks Halacoglu. If there are so many covert Armenians in Turkey then there has been no Armenian Genocide, thinks - or should I say hallucinates - Halacoglu. I wonder what Halacoglu could find out by looking at my penis.
        It is difficult to say what is the most shocking aspect about Halacoglu’s new hallucination - denying the Kurdish identity, propagating conspiracy theories about Armenians, denying the Armenian Genocide or trying to even more dehumanize Kurds by calling them Armenians?
        Kenan Ercel, a native of Turkey now at the Economics Department at the University of Massachusetts, says that the motivations behind Halacoglu’s statements are ignored.
        There is much talk and outcry around Halacoglu’s latest statements but
        what gets surprisingly little attention in the midst of all the hubbub is
        the motivation behind those statements, which is not so much to deny Kurds
        a separate ethnic identity (he already backpedaled on that) but to
        downplay the scale of the 1915 deportations. As Halacoglu stated in a TV interview yesterday (on SkyTurk), if it can be shown that hundreds of thousands of Armenians who were believed to have disappeared from Anatolia were actually still there under the guise of a different ethnicity (Alevi Kurds), then it can be proven that the deportations were no where near as widespread as they are claimed to be. In the said interview he argued that if this hidden population was accounted for, the number of Armenians living in Turkey as of 1920 would turn out to be 1.3 million! Hence, not only was there no genocide, but even the “tehcir” was very limited in scope.
        As to how such a sizeable Christian population managed to meld in
        (almost en masse) with a Muslim sect without being noticed by the CUP authorities and their collaborators, I’m sure Halacoglu has other fairy tales to tell.
        General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


        • SAHIN ALPAY
          [email protected]

          Halaço?lu is practicing racism

          Turkish Historical Society President Yusuf Halaço?lu was reported by the media to have stated in a conference that Kurds living in Turkey are of Turkmen origin and that Alevi Kurds are “unfortunately of Armenian origin.”
          Halaço?lu claimed his statements were distorted by the media and provided corrections in a press conference. Let’s take a look at his true statements.
          It was, of course, impossible to say there were no Kurds in Turkey. Only 30 percent of those who called themselves Kurds were of Turkmen origin. Not all but only a part of Alevi Kurds were Armenians who had pretended to be Kurdish and Alevi in order to escape deportation in 1915-16. This was indicated by the fact that some Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists were discovered to be “uncircumcised.” This was the reason why he had said that some Alevi Kurds are “unfortunately of Armenian origin.” Many of these “converts” were not even sincere, since they were known to try to establish churches. The state had in the years 1936-37 used a “house by house” method to identify these converts. He too had “a list of Armenian converts” he was never to disclose. He was involved in nothing other than “scientific research,” and his aim was simply to show to what an extent the Turks and Kurds had merged in a country where there were efforts to provoke clashes between the two groups. He believed that “everyone has the right to find out about his or her origins” and that “everyone’s identity is whatever he or she feels it to be.”

          The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party and Alevi associations are absolutely right to declare that Halaço?lu’s statements are “racist and divisive,” and to demand that he is removed from office and prosecuted. If Halaço?lu sincerely believed in the scientific and democratic principle that “everyone’s identity is whatever he or she feels it to be,” he would never have engaged in the kind of research he has, and never made the kind of statements he has made. In a democratic society, citizens’ ethnic and/or religious identities are determined only by “whatever they feel to it be.” They are, of course, individually entitled to investigate their origins, but the state has no right whatsoever to investigate citizens’ ethnic and religious identities; it is absolutely obliged to respect all ethnic and religious identities and to treat them equally. It is only Nazi or fascist regimes with their racist ideologies that investigate the ethnic and religious origins of their citizens.

          Halaço?lu’s claim that some Alevi Kurds are of Armenian origin as indicated by the fact that some PKK members are found to be “uncircumcised” is related to the notorious claim that the separatist, terrorist PKK is in fact an Armenian and not a Kurdish organization. Halaço?lu’s logic is clearly that “the PKK is evil because it is Armenian and all Armenians are evil.” There is no doubt that his claims are of a racist character and denigrate all Armenians, among them all Turkish citizens of Armenian origin.

          ?smet Berkan, in a column titled “What did the Minorities Auxiliary Commission do?” commented on the most serious and dangerous aspect of Halaço?lu’s claims. I quote: “Minorities Auxiliary Commission was the name until recently of a commission composed of representatives from the National Intelligence Organization, the Ministry of Interior, the General Directorate of Foundations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its main function was to make life difficult for minorities and encourage them to leave the country. This commission did a good job, and the numbers of non-Muslim minorities have shrunk significantly. … It is perhaps the case that our state has continued to pursue Armenian families who adopted Islam in order to escape deportation and death. … Halaço?lu claims that the state conducted a survey of these ‘converts’ in 1936 and that he has himself updated that study. … Can it be the case that the list he claims to possess is used as a ‘guide’ in the recruitment and promotion of state and armed forces personnel? ... The discourse of ‘reliable’ and ‘unreliable’ ethnic origins in state offices is one of well known secrets of Ankara. … We will only be able to discover the truth behind all this when this country becomes a true democracy, and when the state becomes accountable.” (Radikal, Aug. 23, 2007)

          It is high time that someone who is committed to democratic principles and is a qualified and respected historian is appointed to the presidency of the Turkish Historical Society. This will be a test case for the new government soon to assume office.

          Comments | Send to Print | Send to My Friend
          General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”



            Sept 4 2007

            Arsonist Semih Sahin shooting into the air. Via Compass Direct
            News ISTANBUL, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)-- There were fresh concerns
            Tuesday, September 4, about hardships faced by Orthodox believers and
            other minority Christians in mainly Muslim Turkey amid pressure by
            authorities on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and reports of an arson
            attack against a church.

            In a letter, obtained by BosNewsLife, the World Council of Churches
            (WCC) said it was concerned about the situation of Christians in
            Turkey. "The Greek Orthodox are not the only religious minority
            facing hardships in Turkey," said the WCC, which links Protestant,
            Orthodox and other churches representing some 560 million Christians
            in 110 countries.

            It came as news emerged that police in Turkey's western city of
            Izmit arrested a man who set a fire early Monday, September 3, at the
            entrance of the local Protestant church and then shot off his pistol
            several times.

            The church's pastor is the brother-in-law of one of the converts
            to Christianity murdered in the town of Malatya in April and has
            been targeted by Islamic extremists, claimed Compass Direct News,
            a Christian news agency investigating reports of persecution.

            The suspect, identified as Semih Sahin, set fire to the church
            entrance, allegedly to protest against the Izmit Protestant Church
            activities. Although no one was injured and the fire did not damage
            the church's construction, the latest incident underscored anxiety
            expressed by WCC members and human rights groups.


            WCC said that even key leaders such as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch
            is "facing growing hardships imposed by the decisions of the
            Turkish judiciary" whose Court of Appeals ruled in June that use
            of the title "ecumenical", or "universal" was illegal. The WCC said
            however it strongly backs the Istanbul-based Greek Orthodox Patriarch
            Bartholomew in a legal battle with Turkish courts over the right to
            the 14 centuries-old title.

            "The title 'Ecumenical' is given only to the Patriarchate of
            Constantinople as 'first among equals' among world Orthodox leaders.

            In consequence and over many centuries, it has become the name by
            which the Patriarchate is known throughout the world," the WCC said.

            "Although the number of Greek Orthodox Christians in Turkey is
            relatively small, the faithful under the Patriarch's direct ecclesial
            authority are about five million worldwide. Additionally, albeit in a
            non jurisdictional sense, he is widely recognized as spiritual leader
            of the world's 300 million Orthodox" Christians, the group added.

            WCC Secretary General Samuel Kobia said it was crucial that the
            Council expresses its "whole-hearted appreciation of the authenticity
            and importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as an institution and
            the Ecumenical Patriarch as an office within the wider church world".

            CHURCH GROUPS

            The pressure on Orthodox and Protestant Christians from authorities
            and militants come at a time of concern among church groups and other
            organizations about the future direction of Turkey following the
            election last week of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, a devout Muslim,
            as the country's new president.

            Islamic extremism has been on the rise, church groups say. The
            Legal Committee of the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey has
            reportedly said that the past year saw "scores of threats or attacks
            on congregations and church buildings."

            In one of the most serious incidents this year in April a German man
            and two Turks, all former Muslims, were found with their hands and
            legs tied and their throats slit at the Zirve publishing house in
            the town of Malatya.


            45-year old German interpreter Tilman Ekkehart Geske, had been
            living in Malatya since 2003 and worked closely with two other
            Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin, 35, and Ugur Yuksel 32. In January,
            journalist Hrant Dink, one of the most prominent voices of Turkey's
            shrinking Armenian community, was killed by a an Islamic militant
            gunman entrance to his newspaper's offices.

            Dink, a 53-year-old Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, had gone
            on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of
            Armenians by Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. He had also
            received threats from nationalists, who viewed him as a traitor.

            Last year Catholic Priest Andrea Santano was shot in the back at his
            church in the town Trabzon, by a Muslim militant. The World Council of
            Churches (WCC) has urged Turkish authorities to improve protection
            of Turkey's Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Christians. (With
            BosNewsLife Research and reporting from Turkey).
            General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


            • Way to go Turkey! Keep it up and keep making friends.


              Xenophobia on the rise among Turks, say experts

              Saturday, September 8, 2007

              A recent survey says Turks are going cold toward Europe, the United States, NATO and Israel but the feelings have worsened toward Iran too, a finding which beefs up the old Turkish saying ‘Turks have no friends other than Turks’

              FULYA ÖZERKAN
              ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

              A day after a major survey showed Turkey was cooling toward both the West and the East, local experts argued this is a clear indicator of growing xenophobia among Turks.

              “Turks are growing suspicious of outsiders,” said ?lter Turan, a political scientist at Istanbul's Bilgi University. “They do not trust foreigners and rather believe aliens have hidden intentions.”

              The annual Transatlantic Trends study by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and four European foundations revealed Thursday that feelings of Turkish people toward the United States, European Union and NATO cooled significantly in the past year.

              This sentiment, however, is not restricted to the West. The survey found that the Turkish mood toward Iran had also cooled. Israel inspired the coldest feelings.

              The survey results can hardly be explained in rational terms but with emotions, said Turan.

              Ersin Kalayc?o?lu of I??k University described the outcome as nothing new and said past surveys disclosed similar findings illustrating Turkish sentiments of isolation from the East and the West.

              He further added that Turks began to look at all its neighbors with suspicion since the 1990s when the Soviet Union dissolved, amid fears that its borders would change.

              “The belief that the EU and the United States support Armenians and Greeks against Turkey is widely accepted among Turks at a time when the Lausanne Treaty, the founding document of the republic, is opened to discussion and the Sevres syndrome has re-emerged,” said Kalayc?o?lu.

              He added Turks have tended to believe that foreigners want to divide Turkey amid rising attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq.

              Religion an indicator

              Kalayc?o?lu said religion also played a significant role in the survey as it showed Turks were more benevolent toward Muslim countries than other countries with different religions.

              “Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are extensions of the United States in the Middle East but Turks are warmer toward Saudi Arabia. Religion seems to be a reason for this,” he said. But Iran, a Muslim Shiite country, stands as an exception in this case.

              Sabri Sayar? of Sabanc? University said the attitude of Turks toward Europe and the United States was understandable.

              “But the results about Iran are quite surprising because Iranians pursue non-contradictory policies to Turkey on terrorism,” he added.

              Role of globalization

              The survey findings opened up to debate Turkey's approach toward globalization.

              “Turks' distance from the East and the West is actually a product of globalization,” said Turan. “Turkey is under pressure from a rapid transformation process and the Turks are cooling toward outsiders as they are unable to control this ongoing change.”

              “Turks are becoming introverted,” said Sayar?. “But this does not mean they are shutting all their windows and doors to the outside world. Turkey is doing business with foreigners and there are foreign companies operating at home.”


              The methodology of the annual Transatlantic Trends study created controversy over the reliability of the results. The respondents were interviewed during face-to-face interviews or by telephone.

              Turan said there might be a reflection of different representation in the survey due to the fact that some of the selected respondents refused to reply to questions on the phone, a development that prompted conductors to resort to other alternative interviewees.

              But the interviews in Turkey were conducted face-to-face and involved random samples of about 1,000 Turkish men and women aged 18 and over from June 4-23.

              There is a margin of error in every survey, said Sayar?, adding that he did not believe the margin of error in the recent poll was high because similar questions are posed in that regular survey, which gives an opportunity to compare the results with those of the previous years.
              General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


              • Turks becomming MORE xenophobic? Is that possible?
                Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
                Adolf Hitler (22 August 1939)


                • Turkish MP

                  This is a brave stance and a good sign but will he may now be prosecuted by the authorities

                  For the first time in history Turkish MP speaks of Armenian Genocide recognition

                  08.09.2007 14:45 GMT+04:00
                  /PanARMENIAN.Net/ For the first time in history a member of the Turkish parliament recognized the Armenian Genocide and spoke of restitution of the despoiled property, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.

                  In an interview with journalist Raffí Arax recently, Turkish MP Mehmet Ufuk Uras said, "We committed a terrible massacre against Armenians and Turkey must recognize it. It’s not important how we name this calamity: genocide, ethnic purification, etc. The most important thing is that a terrible massacre was committed and it is undeniable.”

                  “We must face up to the history, bandage the wounds, develop the relations with Armenia, defend our Armenian compatriots and restore what was the property of their ancestors. I come from the area of Durig close to Sebastia where I heard the truth from my parents,” he said.

                  “We are confident that with the negationism will drive to nothing,” he resumed.

                  The Armenian community of Istanbul endorsed Uras at the recent parliamentary elections.
                  General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


                  • !!!!

                    Turkey again threatens to exile Armenians if H. Res.106 is passed

                    10.09.2007 17:43 GMT+04:00

                    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenian Genocide resolution passage by the U.S. Congress will harm Armenia, since the Turkish government can exile some 60 thousand Armenian citizens during 72 hours, said AKP member Erol Aslan Cebeci.

                    The issues referring to the bill are again raised in the House of Representatives and Senate, he said.

                    “September 24, the Turkish Prime Minister will be in New York to discuss the matter. We are concerned about the change of position by the Anti-Defamation League. However, our proofs are so convincing that change of any organization’s position is of little importance,” Cebeci said, CihanNews reports.
                    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


                    • So, Erol, you a**wipe, when you were a boy accused of breaking a neighbours's window, you shouted that if they persisted in their accusation that you'd break all their other windows too.

                      Lord give me strength with this.