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Can Turkey Learn Tolerance?

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  • Originally posted by Zane View Post
    From The Turkish Daily News on the "Open Ottoman Archives" Turkey is constantly braying about. I still cannot fathom why so many countries, including the US, believe that Turkey is sincere even as it lies so conspicuously.

    Interior Ministry finds traitor through intuition

    The Interior Ministry decided to ban German citizen of Turkish origins, Sait Uluışık, from entering Turkey because he was conducting research in the Ottoman archives of the Prime Ministry, daily Taraf reported yesterday. The ministry said it took the decision to ban Uluışık based on “hearsay” and “intuition” that is envisaged in Article 5682 of the Passport Law. Uluışık filed a case for the annulment of his ban and the ministry sent a notice defending its decision to the court. “Since Uluışık did not apply to become a Turkish citizen, he did not put his good intention forward,” said the ministry in its notice and added this evaluation to the reasons for the entry ban. Writer and publisher Uluışık left Turkey following the coup d'etat on Sept. 12, 1980 and his Turkish citizenship was revoked in 1991 because he did not perform his military service. He then became a German citizen in 1997. Uluışık has visited Turkey several times due to his research in the Ottoman Archives of the Prime Ministry since 2005. In the same notice, the ministry also argued he was conducting this research because he was trying to find evidence not only to prove Armenian genocide claims but was also trying to find evidence for the thesis that the Ottoman administration was involved in a Circassian genocide as well, said the daily.
    The Ottoman archives are open...if you are Justin McCarthy, Heath Lowry, and one of their ilk.
    General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”



      Monday March 17, 2008

      In spite of EU pressure, revision of Article 301 appears at a standstill.

      SILIVRI, Turkey, March 17 (Compass Direct News) – In an effort to prolong the trial of two Turkish converts to Christianity accused of “denigrating Islam and Turkishness,” three gendarme soldiers on Thursday (March 13) were summoned to testify before the Silivri Criminal Court in northwestern Turkey as witnesses for the prosecution – which has yet to provide any evidence for its case.

      Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan, who were searched, detained and then charged in October 2006 under Turkey’s controversial Article 301 restricting freedom of speech, have been on trial for 18 months. The case was further delayed Thursday when two witnesses summoned to testify failed to show up, although at least one of them had been in the corridor of the courthouse just before the session started.

      Accordingly, the judge ordered that prosecution witnesses Kemal Kalyoncu and Emin Demirci be brought “forcibly” to the next hearing, set for June 24.

      Testimony is also expected at the June hearing from an additional three gendarme soldiers in Silivri, as well as three from the Istanbul Gendarme Headquarters.

      “From our side, we can say that the outcome of the hearing was positive,” defense lawyer Haydar Polat told Compass. “The witnesses simply confirmed what happened in their investigation, without producing any evidence whatever of the charges against my clients.”

      But on the negative side, Polat said, “All these new witnesses are unnecessary.”

      The state prosecutor had called for the Christians’ acquittal last July, noting that the youthful plaintiffs in the case had given contradictory testimonies and no credible evidence had been produced to prove the charges. But the new judge assigned to the case in November accepted prosecution lawyer demands to call another dozen witnesses to testify.

      “Of course our clients are distressed by this,” Polat told Compass, noting that the two Christians are being required to attend and hear the new prosecution witnesses, some of whom deliberately fail to appear in court. “All these extra witnesses are being called simply for the purpose of prolonging the case. There is no other purpose.”

      The three soldiers from the Silivri Gendarme Headquarters testified separately to their involvement in searching the defendants’ homes and office on October 11, 2006, when they said they found a large number of Bibles and Christian documents, as well as several computers.

      One of the soldiers said that at the time of their court-ordered investigation, military intelligence officers had shown them an organizational chart, listing names of alleged leaders of the detained Christians’ group, which is accused of conducting illegal religious activities.

      Although the Christians’ trial in Silivri is officially held in “open” court, the current judge has refused to admit any Turkish or international press to observe the last two hearings.

      Divine Delay

      Defendant Topal told Compass that as he drank tea with several police officers on duty at the courthouse during the hour-long delay for yesterday’s hearing to begin, they asked him why he had left Islam and become a Christian.

      “They insisted that I was being ‘used’ by Christian missionaries, that they were paying me lots of money to do this,” Topal said. “I explained that I came to faith 17 years ago all by myself, reading the New Testament, without knowing any other Christian in Turkey.”

      Topal told them that he was not getting rich, and that if they believed otherwise they could visit him in his one-room flat in Istanbul.

      “Of course, they think I have somehow broken the law,” Topal said. “So I just told them that I am not doing anything that is illegal, because under the democratic laws of Turkey, everyone is free to practice and witness about his personal faith.”

      Prosecution Lawyer Jailed

      Although six local attorneys for the prosecution were present at the March 13 hearing, the ultranationalist lawyer leading their team since the case opened in November 2006 was notably absent.

      Prosecution attorney Kemal Kerincsiz has been jailed since mid-January on charges of direct involvement in the criminal “Ergenekon” gang suspected of instigating a string of unsolved murders over the past two decades.

      Another jailed Ergenekon suspect, Sevgi Erenerol, had accompanied Kerincsiz to all the previous Silivri hearings against Topal and Tastan. Erenerol was the spokesperson for the so-called Turkish Orthodox Church, a bogus institution which reportedly became a front for laundering the cash for assassination hits engineered by Ergenekon.

      According to Turkish media reports, the Ergenekon gang had a direct hand in the murder of three Christians in Malatya last April, as well as the assassinations of an Italian priest in Trabzon in February 2006 and an Armenian editor in January 2007.

      Kerincsiz had gained national notoriety since May 2005, when he began to open cases against well-known Turkish academics, journalists and intellectuals under Article 301 provisions.

      301 Changes ‘Shelved Indefinitely’

      A senior member of the European Parliament declared last month that the European Union was losing patience with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over its failure to change the restrictive Article 301.

      “We’re preparing a report for the European Parliament which will be voted on in April,” Joost Lagendijk told the British Broadcasting Corporation on February 11. “If nothing has moved by then on freedom of expression, the report will be negative.”

      Turkey’s prime minister, justice minister and president have declared repeatedly over the past two years that amending the law was both needful and “high on their agenda.”

      But last week AKP deputy Nihat Ergun admitted that although a revised draft of Article 301 was completed, it had been shelved indefinitely.

      “I don’t know exactly when it will be brought up [in Parliament],” Ergun told Today’s Zaman newspaper last Tuesday (March 11).

      Reportedly this reflects accommodations to the opposition Nationalist Movement Party, which supported the AKP’s recent constitutional amendment to allow headscarves on university campuses but opposes making any changes to Article 301.

      Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan claimed on Channel 7 television yesterday that “in a very short time” the AKP government’s proposed amendments to Article 301 would be brought before the Turkish Parliament.

      Babacan said that after the Foundations Law, Article 301 was the second most important package of political reforms now pending in Turkey.

      Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek and other senior AKP members have insisted that there is nothing wrong with the current law. Instead, they say, the state simply needs to educate its prosecutors and judges regarding free speech issues.

      Angered by ongoing criticism of his stance, Cicek claimed in a January 10 interview, “Article 301 is not my personal issue. And 301 is not a problem for anyone in Turkey.”

      “Tell that to Rakel’s face!” shouted a banner headline in Taraf newspaper the next morning. Rakel Dink’s husband, Armenian Christian journalist Hrant Dink, was assassinated in January 2007 while under trial for several alleged violations of Article 301.

      Proposed AKP changes in Article 301, such as reducing the maximum sentence from three to two years in prison and requiring prosecutors to get the Justice Minister’s permission to file charges, have been labeled “cosmetic” by their critics, who demand the law be abolished completely.

      “What the AKP is proposing as ‘reform’ in that contentious article is not reform at all, but an attempt to deceive,” Turkish Daily News editor Yusuf Kanli wrote in a January 9 editorial.

      “Hrant was killed and scores of other Turkish intellectuals were harassed and made targets under that Penal Code clause,” Kanli said. “We would prefer to see this contentious article erased … all together.”
      General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


      • Originally posted by Joseph View Post
        This is insane

        NTV, Turkey
        Jan 14 2008

        Turkish general criticized for backing students drawing flag with own

        "Examination Launched into the 'Flag Drawn With Blood'"

        "The flag that has been drawn by high school students with their own
        blood" that Chief of Staff General Buyukanit showed the press the day
        before yesterday [10 January] has led to controversy. The specialists
        criticized Buyukanit for praising the present.

        According to Taraf newspaper, the fact that a group of high school
        students in Kirsehir sent the chief of staff a Turkish flag that they
        drew with their own blood and the fact that Chief of Staff Yasar
        Buyukanit approved this by saying "This is the kind of nation we are"
        have led to controversy. The Kirsehir Governor's Office has launched
        an examination into the incident.

        Kazim Kaya, Kirsehir Province national education deputy manager, told
        Taraf that both their office and the Governor's Office have begun to
        examine the matter, adding: "We have immediately taken up and
        examined the incident. Currently we have a report on this issue. The
        students have reportedly done this outside the school. We have
        listened to the principals of both schools. Both principals were
        asked why the high-level administration did not know anything about
        the incident. Both principals noted that they did not know anything
        about this incident. The honourable governor is in Ankara, but he has
        been briefed on the issue and he has spoken on the phone with the
        principals of both schools."

        Has Anyone Guided Them?

        In answer to a question on "whether the testimonies of the students
        have been taken" National Education Deputy Manager Kaya answered:
        "Not yet. Nonetheless we are not merely talking about these two
        schools. Reportedly children from other schools are also involved.
        However it is important to know whether these children have acted on
        the basis of their own will or whether they have been guided by
        anyone. All this will be clarified as of the beginning of the week."

        Prof Oran: Grave Incident

        Reacting to the flag that has been drawn with blood and especially to
        the stand adopted by the chief of staff, Prof Dr Baskin Oran said the

        "The fact that these children have done something like this by making
        their bodies bleed is irritating. Nonetheless the fact that the chief
        of staff views a flag made with blood worthy is even graver. After
        all, the blood issue had been repeatedly put on the agenda on every
        opportunity and they continue to do so now.

        "This incident also brings to mind whether the thing that we define
        as the 'Turkish nation' is based on blood. You do not stand trial on
        the basis of Article 301 when you insult a Kurd, an Armenian, or a
        Jew. This most recent incident is the clearest indicator of this.
        This grave stand adopted by the chief of staff shows that nationalism
        conditioning has spread to primary school children."

        They Framed It and They Sent It to Buyukanit

        Students from the Anatolia Teacher High School and Haci Fatma Erdemir
        Anatolia High School who came together on 28 November drew a Turkish
        flag using the blood from their fingers. The students prepared the
        flag with the aim of reacting against the terrorist actions in
        Turkey. Later the youths framed the Turkish flag that they had drawn
        with their own blood and they sent it to Chief of Staff General Yasar

        In a speech he delivered during the finals of the "Campaign for the
        Support of Counterterrorism Heroes" that was organized by a
        television channel, Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit mentioned
        the Turkish flag that has been drawn by the students with their own
        blood. General Buyukanit said the following in order to express his

        "Look what I will show you now. This is a Turkish flag. It is a
        unique flag. It was drawn with the blood of a group of youths. We are
        a great nation. And our martyrs have truly become martyrs for a
        sacred cause - with the aim of safeguarding the unity and the
        solidarity of the country we live in. Their families have been
        entrusted with us. We should take care of them because they are our
        most valuable assets."
        Reading fest with war theme performance

        Many schools held events for reading fest. Students organized a demonstration and wore commando suits, blue berets and pointed play guns at each other at a private elementary school in Kırıkkale. The performance was interesting as the students were holding guns instead of holding books to celebrate the reading fest. The district governor Tandoğan handed the reading certificates to the children and congratulated them on the performance.

        Publish Date: 29.03.2008
        General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”



          Turkish Daily News
          April 3 2008

          Warnings against missionary activities, that have been considered
          responsible for an atmosphere that has led to the murders of
          non-Muslims in Turkey, were echoed once again by a mufti in the Black
          Sea province of Samsun, daily Taraf reported yesterday.

          Osman Sahin called on Turkish society "to be cautious against
          missionary activities," urging all parties "to act against these works
          immediately." He stressed that missionary activities occasionally
          intensified in Turkey and the Islamic world. "We should do our best to
          prevent our children from falling into this trap," he said. "Any sign
          of distraction and negligence would have disastrous consequences. We
          should take care of our children and be careful against such threats,"
          he was quoted as saying by the daily.

          Cases of politically or religiously motivated violence in Turkey have
          increased dramatically in recent years. The murder of Italian priest
          Andrea Santoro in 2006 was followed by the murder of Turkish-Armenian
          journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. Also last year, three people were
          murdered for their Christian missionary activities by a gang of
          nationalists at the Zirve publishing house in southeastern Malatya
          province. In all cases non-Muslims and missionaries were presented
          as targets and "internal enemies."

          Copyright 2007, Turkish Daily News. This article is redistributed with
          permission for personal use of Groong readers. No part of this article
          may be reproduced, further distributed or archived without the prior
          permission of the publisher. Contact Turkish Daily News Online at
 for details.
          General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


          • Ragip Zarakolu

            BBC World Service

            Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 12:00 UK

            Fighting for free speech in Turkey

            Hundreds of writers have been prosecuted in Turkey for "insulting Turkishness", but Sarah Rainsford discovers that there are still some people willing to publish controversial books.

            It is a very difficult time to be a writer in Turkey.

            Last year the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered. This year, an ultra-nationalist gang allegedly had the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk on its hit list.

            Both men had been prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness".

            Today, many writers once known for their forthright views have fallen silent. But one man is still putting himself on the line in a fight for free speech.

            I found Ragip Zarakolu in one of the dimly-lit corridors of the Sultanahmet courthouse waiting to be called for his latest trial.

            A small man with grey curls and crinkled kindly eyes, Mr Zarakolu is a publisher on a mission to shatter every taboo in Turkey.

            As a result, he once admitted to me with characteristic chuckle he is now the most prosecuted publisher in the country.

            This time he is also accused of "insulting Turkishness" under article 301 of the penal code.

            The case was opened after he published the work of a British writer. It was the story of the writer's family in 1915, when hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians were deported as traitors during World War I.

            Turkey's taboos

            Ragip Zarakolu is one of very few Turks to challenge the official line, but it comes at a cost.

            Shortly before his trial I visited his office just across the tram lines from Grand Bazaar. In a basement beneath McDonalds I discovered an Aladdin's cave of Turkey's taboos.

            Crammed on to shelves and piled high on tables and on the floor were books on every controversial topic in Turkey, and an American ambassador's memoir of the Armenian massacres side by side with books on Kurdish nationalism.

            "My late wife and I began by publishing the history of the Turkish Communist Party. That was the first taboo," Ragip Zarakolu explained, a pretty unlikely looking subversive in his woollen overcoat and brown moccasins.

            The book came out in 1982, in the wake of a military coup. It was banned and later burned by the generals as a threat to social order and Ragip's wife was brought to trial.

            A decade later the pair shifted focus to the plight of Turkey's Kurds. It was the height of the separatist insurgency and the mainly Kurdish south-east was under martial law.

            Undaunted by yet another court case, they then published texts about the fate of the Ottoman Armenians.

            "We decided it was time to confront our past and discuss it," Ragip explained.

            But in 1993 that approach was not welcome. Ragip's wife was sentenced to two years in jail - under anti-terror legislation - for publishing the work of a French scholar about the Armenian massacres.

            EU accession efforts

            Turkey has changed enormously since then, working towards membership of the European Union. But the trials of writers and publishers continue.

            Ironically, the book Mr Zarakolu is currently being prosecuted for is among his least controversial. It tells how a Turkish official protected the author's Armenian grandmother in 1915 - a Turkish Oskar Schindler.

            But the insult charge was brought as nationalist feeling began to soar here, partly linked to Turkey's EU accession efforts.

            The Justice Ministry recently revealed that 1,700 people were tried under Article 301 in 2006 alone. The best-known cases have all involved comments on the Armenian massacres.

            "If you believe you are great, clean, and honest it is hard to face something like 1915," Ragip Zarakolu explained.

            "Our society has traumas that we are avoiding.

            "Really, we should see a therapist!"

            Fuelling discussion

            What Turkey has instead is Ragip Zarakolu relentlessly publishing books that delve into the darkest chapters of the past. And, despite the nationalist backlash, he is sure he is making a difference.

            His books are read mainly by students and academics, but they have helped fuel a cautious discussion on topics that were once utterly off-limits.

            And now the law may be changing too, to protect people's freedom to do just that.

            Under immense pressure from the EU, the Turkish government has proposed softening Article 301 on "insulting Turkishness".

            Nationalist politicians are outraged, but for Ragip Zarakolu it was a well-timed move.

            His trial was postponed until parliament decides whether the crime he is accused of should actually exist.

            As we filed out of the courthouse into the sunshine, the veteran publisher was pleased. But he believes even a "reformed" Article 301 is dangerous, so his fight goes on.

            "My wife went to prison for publishing the first book here on the Armenian genocide. Now I plan to print that book again and to include the notes from her trial," Ragip Zarakolu confided.

            "Fifteen years later we'll see what happens!" he said.

            Then, chuckling as usual, he wandered away from the court and down the street.

            From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday 12 April, 2008 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check the programme schedules for World Service transmission times.


            • WHAT A COUNTRY
              Turkish Daily News
              April 16, 2008 Wednesday

              Since the discovery of her body, the rape and murder of the Italian
              artist became the subject of almost all top stories in Turkey.

              Radikal's headline was also the following: "What kind of a country
              is this?" A right question.

              Dreadful, disgusting A young person, who dedicated herself to a certain
              aim and embarked on a journey to make it real; a worldview that made
              her a volunteer for such an act; an endless love for humanity; and
              a unique understanding of ethicsAnd given all these, alas, the very
              "understanding" of that creature who murdered her.

              Relatives of the murdered person, too, do share, and definitely, live
              similar values. And that's why they say, "this is just an individually
              committed act by a wretched' psycho. Blaming Turkey only through
              looking at such an individual incident would be wrong." This is
              certainly true. But is it 100 percent pure truth? Isn't that famous
              "individual case," a cliche that we'd love to utter whenever we
              encounter such situations, anything but a pure camouflage of the very
              "non-individual cases" most of the time?

              Not long ago, Alanya became famous for its rape cases. And the
              victims were generally the Dutch. Then appeared some of our "citizens"
              that applauded the crap men who committed those acts. Now, I recall
              that, on one of those days, upon the quick release of one of those
              "individual psychos" after being held in custody as short as two days,
              the Dutch prince, or princess-whoever I forgot-canceled his (or her)
              visit to Turkey.

              Weird enough, we act, most of the time, quite fast and highly carefully
              in arresting and heavily punishing those who attack foreigners in
              such ways. Perhaps this is because we do not want the whole world to
              remember us with such cases (oh yes, this is what we have always cared
              about). But here, too, there is this type of correlation resembling
              the one between killing the mosquito and drying the marsh: Because
              the roots of the attack committed by those "individual psychos"
              lie in the very general ideology. Such attacks are mostly committed
              against the "ecnebi" or "ajnabee," the foreigner, and the "gavur,"
              the infidel, and hence, just because this is so, they do not even
              seem like indictable offenses to the eyes of a considerably large
              group living in this country. The psycho of the last case does have
              a criminal record. But this guy definitely does not attempt "raping"
              others in a perpetual manner. Such instincts in him are stimulated
              only when he finds someone "Italian." Because a "gavur" is already a
              "prostitute" by birth.

              Persons who are products of that type of mentality (!) do not
              necessarily have to have an inclination for a "sexual" crime only.

              Can one tell me how much different is this last incident from
              the Santoro murder, the Malatya case, the episode in which the
              pure-hearted patriotic son of the motherland burst into elation and
              cried, "I have killed the Armenian!" and again the same episode,
              in which some officials were having their photographs taken with the
              young hero killing the Armenian.

              Parents of the youngster that murdered priest Santoro were recorded
              in history with their words that can be interpreted as, "If our child
              had murdered an imam, everyone would keep their strict silence, but
              just because he murdered a priest, they have raised the devil." So,
              one wonders, were these people more "individual Turks" while they
              were uttering such words.

              Okay, they were the mother and the father of the one who committed
              the murder. And it is something expectable that they try to protect
              their "baby" in someway or another. But still, all these "babies"
              are, somehow, given the red carpet treatment and are taken to the
              bosoms by some masses at the very moment they appear at the jail door
              when set free. Ah yes, we are used to such chorus, aren't we. Let me
              remind you of one more. "He was born in Malatya and he shot the Pope!"

              Yet, there might not be anyone who goes to greet our latest folk
              hero in front of the prison since he went behind the bars for he
              committed a disgraceful, "infamous crime" not a successful act, a
              "source of pride" that others have committed so far. But as long as
              that general ideology continues to exist and its existence continues
              to be supported, it will not be an epitome, and ones akin to it will
              surely rise until history comes to an end. If this solid instigation
              of nationalism and the blatant xenophobia will keep going on in an
              escalating way, then, it would not be any surprise if one rises to
              congratulate him and even present him a "plaque." As an "award for
              ridding the world of one Italian".

              Murat Belge's article was published in Radikal daily and was translated
              by TDN staff
              General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”



                [ANKARA, Turkey] History surrounds the newly refurbished park where old men sit and smoke and stray dogs bark on the slopes beneath Ankara Castle. There are the massive medieval walls of the citadel, the Museum of Anatolian Civilization at the park’s southern end, and across the valley stands a column erected by the Romans in the fourth century.

                But there is nothing in Hisar Park that reveals its own history, what happened there before it became a park.

                Photographs of the area taken in the early 1900s, such as those published in Ankara Magazine in November 2005, show a densely built district called Hisaronu, which means “in front of the castle.”

                The houses were posh – three stories high with balconies and flagpoles – and the men in the street were smartly dressed in black coats and fezzes. After all, Hisaronu was home to the city’s mohair merchants, doctors and lawyers. It was also known as the Armenian Quarter.

                Two events destroyed Hisaronu in the decade 1910–1920. The first came in 1915 when the Ottoman authorities applied the policy of “deporting” Armenians to remote parts of the empire. But this did not empty the district, as Greeks and Muslims lived there as well. Then in 1917 an accidental fire sped through the wooden-clad buildings of Hisaronu and razed it.

                Curiously, Hisaronu’s inhabitants never rebuilt their homes. Many of them had second homes, with gardens, on the outskirts of the city, and they may have lived there in the hard times that followed World War One. The Greek residents may have left Turkey in the exchange of populations that accompanied the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.

                But what became of the Armenians?

                The census of 1914 said there were 11,646 Armenians in Ankara, but the census of 1927 recorded only 705; “so we can conclude that more than 10,000 Armenians were forced to leave Ankara in 1915,” the journalist Seden Bayat wrote in an Ankara magazine article.

                Thursday (April 24) is the 93rd anniversary of what is regarded as the start of the crackdown on the Armenians. On the night of 24 April, 1915 police arrested 235 leading members of the Armenian community in Istanbul, then the capital of the Ottoman empire.

                During the next seven years up to 1.5 million Armenians died, either through massacres or deprivation in forced marches, according to Armenians. Turkey denies this, saying that 300,000 Armenians died in civil strife that emerged after Armenians in eastern Anatolia sided with invading Russian troops.

                But there was no local strife or collusion with the enemy to justify the deportation of Armenians in Ankara and Istanbul. And it is the persistence of such questions, or the failure to answer them, that burdens Turkey like a ball and chain.

                Last year Ankara had to exert all its diplomatic and military weight to stop the U.S. Congress from passing a resolution that declared 1915–1922 to be genocide. Ultimately Turkey succeeded, but everyone knows the resolution will return after the U.S. electoral season. Democrat candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have pledged to support a genocide resolution should either become president (Republican candidate John McCain has not).

                Inside Turkey Armenian-related events continue to unfold and embarrass thinking Turks. Last month the little-known eastern town of Askale, , hit the front pages when its municipality staged a re-enactment of a massacre committed by Armenian militants in 1918. Mainstream newspapers condemned it as “shocking” and a “disgrace,” arguing that such plays would encourage children to emulate the teenagers who killed an Italian priest in Trabzon in 2006 and the Armenian editor Hrant Dink last year.

                The two trials of those allegedly involved in Dink’s murder have revealed a series of blunders, and worse. Officials in the security services were pre-warned of the plot to kill Dink but took no action and, in two cases, forged documents after his death to cover their negligence. The suspicion is that the state was careless of Dink’s life because it despised him for challenging the official line on 1915–1922.

                Turkey has to re-address 1915–1922. As former diplomat Mehmet Ogutcu wrote in the Turkish press last year: “We do not want the Armenian question to top our national and international agenda as it impairs Turkey (from) becoming an effective regional power and opens Turkey to the whims of international pressure.”

                The question is how to revisit the issue. Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan, whose penchant for problem solving has led his government to break ground on many fronts, surprised many Turks when he invited Armenia to set up a joint commission of historians that would delve into the Ottoman archives and report on what happened to the Armenians.

                Turks were dismayed when Armenia did not seize this offer. Instead the Yerevan government replied it wanted Turkey to establish diplomatic relations, and then such a commission would be one of several items on the bilateral agenda. Ankara-Yerevan ties have been stalled for years by the Nagorno-KarabakhWHAT IS IT? dispute.

                Mehmet Ali Birand, Turkey’s equivalent of Walter Cronkite, has proposed that Turkey invite a third country, such as a Britain, to chair a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians to look into the issue. Birand, who does not believe genocide occurred, made his suggestion in a column, which stressed that while Turkey won last year’s battle in Congress, it may not win the next.

                Gerard Libaridian, a former adviser to the Armenian president, now teaching Armenian history at Michigan University, told this correspondent that while a joint commission was worth pursuing, it would be difficult to create. He predicts a lot of argument over the appointment of commissioners, terms of reference and the evaluation of evidence.

                Moreover, Libaridian adds, the commission’s findings would create a political problem for at least one of the governments that appointed it.

                “Accepting a commission that will make a determination means that you are open to the possibility that it wasn’t genocide, just as Turkey might be open to the possibility that it was,” he says.

                Even if such hurdles could be cleared, it is doubtful how influential the commission’s finding would be. Turks and Armenians have been weaned on inflexible views of 1915–1922.

                “It’s impossible to get Turks to admit that their forefathers were committers of genocide. It’s a very strong accusation,” Tayyibe Gulek, a politician and deputy chairwoman of the Democratic Left Party, said in an interview.

                For Gulek, the way forward is “to have historians look at the archives,” and she is utterly confident these will vindicate Turkey.

                The Turkish Armenian talk-show host Hayko Bagdat says there is something to be said for a Turk who cannot admit the possibility of genocide: “That he takes this line shows he has moral values.”

                The views of Hayko, as he was known to listeners of the Istanbul radio station Yasam, conflict with those of U.S. Armenians, who see people such as Gulek as proof that Turkey has not changed since 1915. In fact, the 60,000 Armenians in Turkey and the 1 million Armenians in America have very different ideas on how to push Turkey to change on 1915–1922.

                U.S. Armenians seek a Congressional acknowledgement of genocide, which would add the United States to the list of 19 countries whose parliaments have passed such declarations. They see such resolutions as due recognition of a massive injustice, and they believe ultimately these motions will produce change in Ankara.

                But that is not all that is going on. The U.S. Armenian Libaridian has said the demand for “genocide recognition” has become a rallying cry, “a principle of community organization,” for diaspora Armenians.

                American Armenians need “April 24” as a means of retaining their identity and values in a foreign country, Hayko says.

                “There is a unity built on common pain, hatred and reaction. But that isn’t present among Armenians of Turkey because we haven’t left our land, and we kept our identity,” says Hayko, whose talk show Unkept Promises focused on Turkish Armenian issues.

                What Hayko wants to see is not Congressional resolutions, or even recognition by Ankara. He wants a change of heart by people in the street.

                “It would not satisfy me if (Prime Minister) Erdogan were to say, ‘I’ve been thinking about 1915–1922 – so many Armenians were killed,’” Hayko says. “This would not change my daily life.

                “What I would like is for Turkish people to empathize with what happened then. That would make me more confident about the future for my child in Turkey.”

                Leading the way to such a change, he adds, were the 100,000 Turks who walked behind Dink’s hearse in his January 2007 funeral, the like of which the country had never seen before for an Armenian.

                Etyen Mahcupyan, who replaced Dink as chief of Agos newspaper, also argues against resolutions in foreign parliaments, saying that Turks must change their views for “moral reasons” and not because of external pressure.

                Hayko and Mahcupyan seek the slower route to change, that which comes about through the gradual accumulation of evidence and opinion, in private as well as public debate.

                And it is not only Turkish conservatives who must take part in this opening up. There are Armenians in Turkey who have closed the door.

                A case in point is Sultan Onkun, a member of Ankara’s small Armenian community whom this correspondent met at the French Consulate church in Ulus, which now functions as the only Armenian church in the city.

                “My attitude is that 1915–1922 is past and no good can come from digging into it,” says Onkun, a mother in her mid-forties, who manages a store selling top quality cutlery and crockery. Her great grandfather served in the Ottoman army during World War One, and her relatives never told her that Armenians were singled out, let alone massacred.

                Onkun criticizes the controversial 2005 conference in Istanbul in which liberal and conservative Turks debated whether genocide occurred.

                “Instead of spending time on this sort of thing,” Onkun says, “people should look forward and think about how to maintain the unity of Turkey. People should focus on maintaining that unity rather than digging up the past and disturbing things.”

                While Onkun has chosen to assimilate the mainstream of Turkish thinking, other Turks are trying to change that thinking. Two examples deserve mention.

                The writer Elif Shafak created a stir in 2006 when she published The Bastard of Istanbul, a novel that deals with an Armenian woman whose family members were massacred in 1915–1922. Educated abroad, Shafak first encountered the Armenian issue when she read about the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, a terrorist group that was targetting people such as her mother, a Turkish diplomat.

                Turks are discussing 1915–1922 as never before, Shafak said in an interview with the Boston-based Armenian journalist Khatchig Mouradian: “The problem is that the bigger the change, the deeper the panic of those who want to preserve the status quo.”

                Another trailblazer is Taner Akcam, one of a handful of Turkish academics, who have courageously said that the evidence remaining of the events of 1915–1922 shows Armenians were systematically killed.

                His 2006 book A Shameful Act takes its title from a remark by the legendary Turkish leader Ataturk about the killings of 1915-22. Drawing heavily from Ottoman, German and Austrian archives, Akcam tells the story of Mazhar Bey, the governor of Ankara province who was sacked for resisting the orders about the Armenians.

                “One day Atif Bey came to me and orally conveyed the interior minister’s orders that the Armenians were to be murdered during the deportation,” Mazhar testified at a post-WW1 trial. “’No, Atif Bey,’ I said, ‘I am a governor, not a bandit, I cannot do this.’’’

                Akcam, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, has been castigated in the mainstream Turkish press and has received death threats by email. But his book is freely available in mainstream bookshops in Istanbul and Ankara.

                Twenty-five years ago Akcam’s book would have been banned, and a coffee-table publication such as Ankara Magazine would not have delved into the city’s Armenian history. We still do not know what happened to the Armenians who lived where Hisar Parki stands today, but Turkey is moving down the right road.

                By Jasper Mortimer on Thursday, April 24, 2008
                General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


                • Turkey’s Dark Past and Uncertain Future

                  By Ulf Gartzke Published

                  on April 11, 2006
                  The American Enterprise Online (

                  “You are Talaat, you are Ataturk, take your flag and come demonstrate.” With this rallying cry, the Talaat Pasha Committee—named after Turkey’s mastermind of the Armenian genocide who was assassinated in Berlin in 1921—planned to kick off a mass demonstration in the German capital several days ago to denounce the “genocide lie” about the murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.

                  Amid wide-spread public condemnation of the planned negationistgathering, German police sought to ban the demonstration based on Article 189 of Germany’s penal code, which prohibits offensive acts against the deceased. While the Turkish organizers managed to overturn the ban by virtue of their right to freedom of assembly, Berlin’s highest court allowed the demonstration to go ahead only on the strict condition that there would be no written ororal denial of the Armenian genocide. By then, several Turkish organizations had already withdrawn their public support from the demonstration’s organizers, who had earlier distributed leaflets in Berlin threatening “Europeans to abandon their false, unjustified, and unscrupulous accusations against Turkey to prevent that their capitals are burning like Paris.” In the end, only 1,700 people, a number of them flown in from Turkey, bothered to show up in Berlin.

                  During the demonstration, however, Dogu Perincek, leader of Turkey’s radical left-wing Workers’ Party, denied the Armenian genocide—an act that will most likely lead German authorities to completely ban any such Turkish demonstrations in the future and to bar Perincek from re-entering Germany again. The Talaat Pasha Committee, headed by Rauf Denktash, former leader of the Turkish-occupiednorthern Cyprus, is an umbrella organization founded in Turkey in January 2006. It is supported by, among others, Islamist M.P.s from Turkey’s ruling AKP party of Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan, as well as Turkish ultra-nationalist and radical leftist parties.

                  This coalition of rather strange bedfellows has joined forces to counter Germany’s official recognition of the Armenian genocide in July 2005, to protest the teaching of this crime in some German and European schools, and to absolve Talaat Pasha of his historic guilt. In sharp contrast to Germany’s atonement for the Holocaust, Turkey has so far failed to come to terms with this dark chapter of its national history. To this day, Ankara has not recognized that the Armenian genocide ever happened—let alone apologized for it. Commenting on this unholy political alliance, Turkish-born analyst Zeyno Baran observes in the current issue of The National Interest that “the one issue that unites the Islamistsand the nationalists is the perceived threat from the [Christian] missionaries.” This negationist sentiment is not only prevalent among Turkish Islamists and nationalist/ left-wing radicals, but even among the country’s Western-educated intellectuals. When I discussed this issue with a Turkish friend a few days ago, he argued that the jury was still out on whether the killings of

                  Armenians in 1915 really constituted genocide. “We don’t know what really happened. You see lots of different figures, ranging from 100,000 to 1.5 million victims.” Interestingly enough, he lamented the West’s double standards, drawing an immediate parallel between the Danish cartoons scandal and the banned Turkish demonstration in Berlin: “Why is it O.K. to draw cartoons that insult the Islamic faith, while at the same time it is not allowed to hold a protest challenging whether or not something actually occurred in the past?”Turkey’s growing nationalist backlash—also illustrated by the stunning success of the anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic Turkish blockbuster movie “Valley of the Wolves”—casts a long shadow on the country’s aspirations to join the European Union.

                  Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who, along with President Bush, ranks among Turkey’s most unpopular foreign leaders) and Nicholas Sarkozy, France’s leading 2007 presidential contender, areopposed to Turkey’s full E.U. membership and are favoring a “privileged partnership” instead. Europeans are also increasingly concerned about the creeping Islamization engineered by Prime Minister Erdogan’s Islamist AKP party, which targets, in particular, the country’s educational system. Finally, Turkey’s foreign policy has also gone off track recently. The AKP’s invitation to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to come to Ankara in February for talks with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, purportedly only at the “party-to-party level,” has sent political shockwaves throughout Europe and the United States. In sum, Turkey’s entry into the E.U. would be a serious political and economic liability for a Europe that is already reaching the limits of integration.

                  Even relations between Ankara and Washington—so far the chief advocate of Turkish E.U. membership—have hit new all-time lows. Turkey’s key geostrategic location straddling Europe and the troubled Middle East, along with its explosive domestic political mix, make it a pivotal country with an uncertain future. Ulf Gartzke is Director of the Washington Office of the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation, a German political non-profit foundation affiliated with Germany’s ruling CSU party.
                  General Antranik (1865-1927): “I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.”


                  • Perverted WarLords ideology

                    It amazes me that Male Islamist's claim to Love their mothers, and yet by the words of a "Perverted War Lord", who conned uneducated tribesmen into believing that the Word of God was given to him by the Angel Gabriel, they believe that their mother would be worth only half of themselves. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

                    Petition to BAN the Criminal Organization called "ISLAM".


                    Activated by "Guardians of Democracy";



                    • Petition to BAN the Criminal Organization, "ISLAM";


                      By Guardians of Democracy:


                      Re: Perverted War Lord.