Tag Archives: Armenians

Plight Of Illegal Armenians In Turkey

The historic conflict between Armenians and Turks continues in darkened basements of offices and apartment building in Turkey where children of illegal Armenians cluster together in order to learn how to read and write. They are prevented by Lausanne Treaty provisions which restrict education for minorities to legal inhabitants, and by Turkey’s Special Education Law which forbids entry of children whose parents are illegal immigrants to attend public school. There only hope is attending a private school, but for most who work in low paying occupations, the cost prohibits their children from attending. This results in organizing illegal schools where children read from textbooks smuggled into the country from Armenia.

Certainly, allowing Armenian children to attend school would be a positive step in forging new relations between Armenia and Turkey.

Prejudice In Turkey Alive And Well

A study of prejudice in Turkey conducted by the Frekans Research Filed and Data Processing Co. revealed deep seated prejudices among Turks regarding other cultural and religious groups. About 54% said the Alevis who belong to more liberal Muslim beliefs were not regarded as deeply attached the Turkish nation. Only 16% thought Greeks were and 15% thought Armenians and Jews had a deep feeling of belonging to Turkey. When asked where these people should be or not be allowed to work, 55% said they should be kept out of the judiciary, police and the military, 57% said out of any national security agency, and half did not wish them to occupy important government positions.

When asked who they would not like as a neighbor, 57% said an atheist family, 42% did not want Jews in the neighborhood and Christians followed at 35%. The figures reveal that Turkey which seeks entry into the European Union has yet to grapple with the prejudices in their own homeland which might lead to trouble if immigrants could freely enter their land as members of EU nations. An interesting figure is that 76% admitted having no knowledge of Jews but they didn’t want them as neighbors. This suggests ignorance is a major factor in prejudice in Turkey.

A Common Sense Turkish View Of The Congressional Resolution

Mehmet Ali Birand, writing in the Turkish Daily News offered a common sense approach for the Turkish people in handling resolutions about Armenia. “We are stuck with the Armenian genocide allegations now. The Armenians worked hard at it, while we remained indifferent. In the end, we were branded by international public opinion. Since we can’t be at odds with everyone, we must make a new beginning.”

“We must bring out the truth about what really happened and refrain from hiding anything. A second important step will be to replace the term ‘genocide’ with a new word or a sentence that really qualifies the events and insist on using it. We must organize conferences and seminars directed at western universities. In internal politics, the change must b by the creation of a millieu where we can discuss the events of 1915 without complexes. Turkish society must get rid of article 301(this law makes illegal insulting the Turkish nation and mentioning the genocide of 1915 is considered an insult) in order to be able to discuss that period in detail without fear. Turkish society must no longer be threatened by beatings or protests for thinking differently. We must really open all our archives. If we have nothing to hide, we must stop playing small games and we should encourage transparency. If Turkey can do all that, its international credibility will rise.”

Bush Might Appease Turkey To Soften Resolution Bite

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives passed by a 27-21 vote the resolution which condemns Turkey for its genocidal policies toward Armenians in the early years of the 20th century. The vote came amidst growing tension inside Turkey over murder of 15 soldiers by Kurdish soldiers who retreated into the sanctuary of Iraq after the attack. Pesident Abdullah Gul of Turkey said the vote “ignored appeals for commen sense and once again moved to sacrifice big issues to petty games of domestic politics.” There is talk of Turkish retaliation such as expelling thousands of Armenians who work in Turkey or impairing American military over flights of Turkey. Turkish politicians are also hinting at retaliating against Israel which for some reason is being blamed despite opposition to the resolution by prominent Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League. There are reports President Bush, who opposed the resolution, might try some way to appease Turkish anger.

Most probably Turkish political leaders don’t grasp by retaliating against Armenian workers they are demonstrating the validity of charges that Turkey has committed hostile acts on Armenians. Leaders like Gul claim America is engaged in petty politics, but why does Turkey refuse to acknowledge the massacre of thousands of Armenians except for Turkish petty politics?

Bush Confronts Congress On Armenian Resolution

The United States Congress and President Bush are on a collision course over the proposed resolution known as “Affirmation of the United States Recording the armenian Genocide” which expresses the feeling of the American people toward Turkey’s genocidal policies against Armenians at the beginning of the twentieth century. As the resolution is being discussed, relations between the United States and Turkey are tense. The Turkish government is preparing possible military action against Kurdish rebels who operate from the sanctuary of Iraq. Bush expressed his opposition to the resolution which he claimed would inflict “a great harm o our relations with a key ally in NATO in the global war on terror.” Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos who has personal connections with the Holocaust argued “this is a choice between condemning genocide and endangering our troops in Iraq.”

The Turkish government continues to fight against any mention of its historic genocidal actions against Armenians living in Turkey. Members of the so-called “Jewish Lobby” have been persuaded to fight against the resolution because of Turkish pressure. The resolution is undoubtedly a symbolic action, but it arises because the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the horror of what happened ninety years ago. President Bush is always ready to trot out the argument about this or that action which “threatens” the “war against terror.” He ignores how his own actions in the invasion of Iraq helped create the present tensions between Turkey and the United States. It is somewhat ironic the so-called powerful “Israel Lobby” is unable to persuade Congress due to pressure from the Armenian Lobby. One can only wonder how Congressman Tom Lantos would react if the resolution dealt with the Holocaust.

Turkish Military Kept Tabs On Armenians

The current trial of a Turkish student who murdered an Armenian activist, and Turkish anger toward the US Congress which will most probably pass a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide, has renewed interest in the situation of Armenians in Turkey. A crusading newspaper was able to uncover a secret document from September 8, 1982 in which leaders of the military coup which overthrew the Turkish government ordered police to keep tabs on Armenians. The Turkish military regarded Armenians as “separatists” who somehow posed a threat to military rule. Police were encouraged to visit neighborhoods, gather names and information about every single Armenian in a two or region, and draw upon information from neighbors. At least 1,500,000 people had tabs kept on them and 500,000 were arrested at one time or another.

A Turkish modern tragedy is inability to come to grips with the atrocious genocide perpetrated upon Armenians in the early 1900s. The Turkish solution is to pretend nothing happened and anyone who dares utter a single truth about it faces beating, jail or death. Perhaps, Turkish leaders should discuss past evils with German leaders since Germany has done a remarkable job of confronting past evil and bringing it to the consciousness of modern youth.