Tag Archives: genocide

No Evidence Of “Genocide” In South Ossetia

The Russian government justified its intervention in South Ossetia on grounds Georgian military forces had committed “genocide” in that region. President Medvedev has asked the Prosecutor general office to open an investigation that could lead to genocide charges being filed against Georgian leaders, but so far no evidence has been uncovered to justify the claim. South Ossetia’s top police official, Mikhair Mandzayev told reporters on Saturday about 2,100 people were killed and Russian officials have thrown around figures anywhere from 1,600 to 2,100. A fact finding mission for Human Rights Watch has so far only been able to find about 60 bodies. The head of its Moscow bureau, Anna Neistat said the group had only been able to find 44 bodies in the Tskhinvali hospital. “The numbers we are getting is dozens of civilians rather than thousands.” She reported hospital officials said they had treated about 273 civilians for injuries.

However, Alexander Brod of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights who visited South Ossetia on Friday as part of a team with the Public Chamber says a higher figure of 1,600 is likely. “I saw there that a lot of people klled during the first two days of fighting were buried on the spot, right in their own yards because the intense fire did not allow other options.”

The death of a single person in the fighting is a tragedy, but to employ expressions such as “genocide” is misleading and inappropriate. There was no systematic killing of people, those who died undoubtedly were caught in the firing between opposing forces.

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.”

Will Turkey Shoot Itself In The Foot?

Turkey’s consideration of a cross border incursion into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels and its threat to retaliate against a US House of Representative Resolution on the Armenian genocide may well turn out to be a case of shooting oneself in the foot. According to a diplomat quoted in Zaman, these decisions ‘will in the long run affect Turkey’s political and economic reforms, isolating itself from the world.” Prime Minister Erdogan is threatening to retaliate if the Resolution passes, and states “if such an action is chosen, whatever the price, it will be paid” while Chief of the Army, General Buyukrant says America’s action will cause damage “that cannot be repaired.”

Perhaps, it is time for the Turkish government and people to examine long term consequences of hasty actions. An invasion of northern Iraq would result in a dramatic rise in oil prices which will probably infuriate members of the European Union and threaten an invitation to become a member. The United States is quite capable of finding alternative ways to supply its forces in Iraq. IN 1947, the people of France and Great Britain put away their hatred of Germany(a nation that killed thirty million people) and joined with them in peaceful solutions to economic recovery. Making prideful boasts sounds wonderful on Monday, but what happens on Friday when consequences of one’s threats result in action by others? What if Turkey turned the tables on everyone by indicating its desire to appoint a joint Turkish/Armenian committee to investigate past events and develop new educational programs for people in Turkey and Armenia geared towards ending hatred?

The Innocence of Turkey?

It is apparent my comments concerning the Armenian resolution before Congress have aroused the ire of many readers. Most of the comments accuse Armenians of engaging in a “massacre” of Turks. One can only assume these writers refer to Armenians who served in the Russian army which fought against Turkey in World War I. There certainly is a difference between soldiers fighting against other soldiers other than soldiers shooting civilians. Certainly, for the most part, the initial years of World War I did not entail mass killing of civilians by either side despite extensive British propaganda concerning Germans killing thousands of Belgians. Belgian civilians were killed, but there was no sanction by the German government for the killings. To those who claim Armenians engaged in a “massacre” of Turks, it would be helpful if they (a) identified the Armenian government authority that authorized such killings; (b) presented evidence of any order from an Armenian military authority authorizing such killing, (c) presented information as to the dates of the alleged killings.

I still believe Germany’s method of confronting the Holocaust has value for people in Turkey. German education does not focus on “blaming” Germans of today who had nothing to do with the Holocaust. It examines the Holocaust to ensure people are sensitive to brutality and committed to ensure it never again will happen. I do not believe there is responsibility on the part of a person living in 2007 for the actions of ancestors. The House Resolution does not blame any contemporary citizen of Turkey for what happened in another country at another time. Do contemporary Turks believe nothing happened to the Armenians? Why not join with Armenian organizations to create a joint Armenian/Turkish Committee devoted to peace education? In that way, focus is away from the past and deals with the present.

An American Turk Defends Turkey

Vural Cengiz, a Turkish American offered a vigorous defense of Turkey and condemned House Resolution 106 which deals with Turkish genocidal policies toward Armenians. He argues “How could two million people be collected when only one million existed” in 1915. He then goes on to blame America for many problems impacting Turkey including the Bush I Gulf War which cost Turkey “billions of petro dollars.” Cengiz points out there is evidence Kurdish rebels who are attacking Turkish forces possess American made weapons. “Now Turks are not only called national enemies, but enemies of humanity?” He argues under the Ottoman Empire all nationalities lived in peace and were able to keep “their religious beliefs and values.” Armenians, he claims, aided Russia which was an enemy of the Ottomans and “were punished for their killings and betrayal.”

We print this harangue because it illustrates the emotional and distorted feelings of those in Turkey who are upset at H.R. 106. The Resolution places the onus of killing Armenians on the Ottoman government, not the subsequent Turkish government. It is interesting Mr. Cengiz claims Armenians gave “aid” to Russia and were then “punished for their killings and betrayal.” Ordinarily, if people in a nation offer aid to enemies, those engaged in such activities are punished, not others. He actually admits Armenians were “punished.” There is not a single word of explanation regarding pictures which have been published of dead men, women, and children whose bodies lie in pits. It is time for the people of Turkey to take a history lesson from Germany. The German people have admitted responsibility for the Holocaust, offer wonderful programs about the horror to children in school to ensure the past is honestly confronted, and have provided compensation to Holocaust victims. If Germany could confront its past, why not Turkey?