Sunday, May 14, 2006


"I refer to those awful massacres. They are the greatest stain that has ever disgraced our nation and race. They were entirely the work of Talat and Enver. I heard some days before they began that they were intended. I went to Istanbul and insisted on seeing Enver. I asked him if it was true that they intended to recommence the massacres which had been our shame and disgrace under Abdul Hamid. The only reply I could get from him was: 'It is decided. It is the program.'” ~ Prince Abdul Mecid, Heir-Apparent to the Ottoman Throne.

KurdishMedia has posted their interview with Andrew Goldberg, the creator of The Armenian Genocide, which aired last month on the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). I would like to point out something in the interview that, although not news to me, may be news to others:

Did you face any difficulties doing firsthand research in Turkey? What, if any precautions did you staff take?

We generally traveled undercover. Still, our “tourist” camera crews were stopped several times by the army and police. It was very frustrating. We also hired a Kurdish cameraman and producer to travel to eastern Turkey and Kurdistan. He went there *very* undercover and asked that we not disclose his name for fear of Turkish reprisal.

We know that you conducted a few Kurdish-language interviews for this film. Was it easy traveling through Kurdistan and finding people able and willing to speak on the Armenian Genocide? Was there anything unique about the Kurdish perspective on these events?

See above question for the first half of this and yes, it is Kurdistan and must be called that! The Kurdish voice is tremendously important because they tell the truth about the events and are not wrapped up the nationalism of many Turkish people – a nationalism that prevents them from telling the truth. Kurds do not suffer from denial, which I believe is a psychological issue for many Turks, and not just an issue of what people “say in public.”

Did you catch that? The Kurdish voice tells the truth about the genocide, Kurds don't suffer from denial, Kurds asking for anonymity in case of Turkish reprisal? Goldberg's crew spoke to ordinary Kurds in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan but the issue has been a public one as well. At Armeniapedia there is a list of those countries that recognize the genocide. If you check about halfway down the list, you will see a link to Kurdistan's recognition. There is a statement from the Kurdistan Parliament-in-Exile, the forerunner to the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), a letter from Abdullah Ocalan to the President of Armenia with his remarks about the genocide and a short piece of news about Ozgur Gundem's apology for Kurdish "silence and complicity in the Armenian Genocide."

A great thing about that page is that the Armenians created it themselves. They felt it was important enough to post recognitions of their Genocide from a place called Kurdistan.

Kurds both in Kurdistan and in Diaspora have no trouble in the denial department. Why? Because it makes no sense to engage in denial. It makes no sense to resurrect the dubious enmity between Armenians and Kurds that the Ottomans instigated. However, it does make sense to imagine a free, open, normalized, peaceful border between Armenia and Kurdistan which would permit the flow of travel and commerce, facilitate Armenian-Kurdish cooperation to solve similar social problems, and permit Armenians to travel back and forth between Armenia and Armenian villages in South Kurdistan.

Besides, Kurdish identity is more than strong enough to admit Kurdish complicity in the genocide, and more than noble enough to apologize for it, with a firm resolution never to allow such a thing to happen again. I cannot imagine a Kurd uttering such a whiny, self-serving, piss-poor excuse as that which came from Turkey's president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, last year:

Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer said the accusations are baseless and "upset and hurt the feelings of the Turkish nation." It is wrong, he added, for our European friends to press Turkey on this issue."

Nor can I imagine Kurds doing something so stupid as the renaming of animals in an effort to deny the existence of other peoples.

In the last week there has been a panic in the Turkish media about a proposed French law that would make denial of the Armenian Genocide illegal, and now, in a political tit-for-tat, an ANAVATAN deputy has proposed a bill in the TMMB calling for prison terms of up to three years for anyone who claims Turkey genocided Armenians. Even the Turkish government's puppet state, Azerbaijan, has rushed to helpless Turkey's defense against all the insensitive people worlwide who insist upon "hurt[ing] the feelings of the Turkish nation" in this matter. Meanwhile, with the Turkish lira doing so fabulously well against the US dollar, Erdogan threatens trade sanctions against France, while Islamist ragsheet, Zaman, reports that French companies are conveying the proper messages to their government. Since France has never been mistaken for a country that would actually stand and fight, there will be no shock here if they end up caving to the latest Turkish temper tantrum.

On the other hand, recently there have been Turkish scholars who have tried to bring about a public discussion of the Armenian Genocide. Last September, these brave Turks persevered in their efforts to hold a conference on the Genocide in spite of a court ban against it. Taner Akcam, Halil Berktay, Elif Shafak, Fatma Muge Gocek are Turks who have the courage to speak the truth, and there are Turk human rights activists who also speak the truth and these people do so under the gun, literally putting their lives in harm's way for truth.

As for the controversy surrounding the airing of the discussion panel after The Armenian Genocide (and by extension, the whole question of the usefulness of denial laws), I have not quite made up my mind but I think I'm leaning toward allowing the deniers to speak for this reason: If the evidence of the deniers amounts to a scholarly house of cards, it doesn't take much to destroy their arguments. Although Peter Balakian opposed a discussion panel, he felt that his boycott of it "would have jeopardized the broadcast of the documentary."

In the opinion of an Armenian friend, both Balakian and Akcam demolished the weak arguments of the deniers, McCarthy and Turan, during The Armenian Genocide's discussion panel and this is the reason why I would permit the deniers to go on. The refutation of the deniers' arguments only strengthens the Armenian position.

But that's something the Armenian community has to decide for itself.

A perusal of Justin McCarthy's works show that he is enamoured with the Ottoman Turks. Take a look at his Who Are the Turks? workbook for American teachers to get an idea of what lessons he wants young Americans to take home with them. He also penned a manual about the Armenian Genocide published by the Committee on Education, Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA). The ATAA is a lobby group whose purpose is to propagandize Americans "in government, the media and the public at large about Turkey and issues that concern us as Turkish-Americans." That's from their About page on their website. You'll have to google it yourself, though, because I'm not making a link to it.

As Andrew Golberg remarks in the KM interview:

Seeing PBS get so incredibly assaulted by the whole world – justified or not -- was very upsetting to watch. Seeing congressmen try to stop PBS from showing either the film or the panel, regardless of the value of either, reminded me of Turkey where government controls the media.

That's exactly why the ATAA and ATC (American Turkish Council) exist--to manipulate everything in order to silence the truth, and they like to keep congressmen in their pockets. Just ask Dennis Hastert or Brent Scowcroft. Hastert has also been involved with the Turkish-US Business Council (Türk-Amerikan Iş Konseyi--TAIK), which, in turn, is heavily involved with the ATC. Scowcroft is the head of the ATC.

Were the acts perpetrated against the Armenian people from 1915 to 1917 (not to mention the massacres of Armenians from 1894 to 1897 under Abdul Hamid II), acts of genocide? According to Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the legal definition of genocide includes "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:"

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

If it sounds like genocide, looks like genocide and smells like genocide, then it's genocide.

WARNING: I just came across an entry on Kurds on the Daily Kos. It is totally LAME. Take a look and see how many inaccuracies and stupid remarks you can find. What I found hilarious was the implication that Kurds suddenly reproduced 17-20 million more Kurds and took over Turkish-occupied Kurdistan in the time frame 2002-2006. Hey, baggy pants are supposed to increase fertility, but this is ridiculous!

OOPS! That's what happens when you think only South Kurdistan is Kurdistan.

The other hilarious thing is the question about whether or not PKK operations are being done with the permission of the KRG.

Man. . . I am laughing so hard. . .


philip said...

An Armenia-Kurdistan alliance..."From your mouth to God's ears, boychik!"

I only hope Israel survives until that date.

Anonymous said...

Happy to find this excellent blog, Mizgin! It's so hard to get solid news about Northern Kurdistan from any Western media outlet - virtually all of them mindlessly repeat the sickening lie about Turkey being a "modern, Western, progressive state" that is fighting "violent Marxist rebels."

Keep up the great work!

By the way, the Kos diarist referred to Turkey's capital as "Istanbul." (occupied Constantinople) He really knows the region well...


philip said...

And you know Kos is considered the future growth wing of the US Democratic Party...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Mizgîn said...

The Daily Kos is the future growth wing of the Democrats?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! The future is looking pretty dim.

An Armenia-Kurdistan alliance would be someone's worst nightmare. But if it happened, would Israel still ally with Turkey?

Thank you, Sephiroth. Yeah, I noticed that Istanbul had suddenly become the new Turkish capital. I wonder if these people know where Turkey is? The comparison of the two maps of Kurdistan was hilarious, because one was a map of South Kurdistan, while the other was a map of Greater Kurdistan. Truly amazing.

Anonymous said...

How are you doing Bira? This is your Armenian friend, Yerevan. Excellent blog indeed. There was a link for Andrew Goldberg I belive 55 minute documentary called "Armenian Genocide" but unfortunately it has been removed. Although many Armenians opposed the discussion panel to be aired, I watched the discussion panel and I firmly belive it should of been aired in every station. McCarthy and his Turkish counterpart, Omer Turan made complete fools out of themselves. Peter Balakian and Taner Akcam did well and picked Mr. McCarthy's points apart. I have found a link for the discussion panel but unfortunatly it is not the complete show.Only about 9 minutes long.As the discussion panel continued McCarthy and his counterpart looked more and more stupid but unfortunatly you won't be able to see that. I will try to find the complete documentary and the discussion panel if anybody is interested. Once again thanks for your blog, you have done a excellent job.
Here is the link, sorry it's not the complete one, but still you will get a little taste of it.

Mizgîn said...

Welcome, Yerevan, and thank you!

From your comments, you seem to feel that it was definitely worthwhile to have the opposition's arguments challenged in public on the discussion panel. Do you feel that the debate strengthened the Armenian position?

Aside from the obvious concern that Armenians have about the denial of the Genocide, do you think that such debates, as the one that followed The Armenian Genocide, might be a good way of airing the entire problem of denial, so that it might be addressed by a wider public? I mean, I think that if there were a wider debate in which the deniers had to face those who can demonstrate the fact of the Genocide, then it would be more difficult for others (like certain congressmen) to sit on the fence, trying to be FAIR.

A few things I noticed about the link you provided here, of the first part of the discussion panel.

1. Justin McCarthy mentions that Armenian sources say that the Balkan countries didn't exist before they threw off Ottoman rule. But did those countries exist AS countries under the Ottomans, or were they considered to be simply another part of the Ottoman Empire? In that vein, would Justin McCarthy, as a propagandist of the Turkish state, make the same critique about those who say Kurdistan never existed?

2. Peter Balakian points out that Justin McCarthy works for the Turkish state on this issue, after JM starts his comments with the charge of "propaganda" against the Armenian side. But we know JM's involved with the ATAA, right?

3. The mention of Raphael Lemkin, a guy who lost his family in the Jewish Holocaust, using the Armenian Genocide as part of his formulation of the idea of genocide, as well as its legal definition. What that means, to me, is that genocide does not have to be on the same level as the Jewish Holocaust, in order to be defined as genocide.

4. Taner Akcam continues with #3, by saying the issue is INTENT. Did the Ottoman government INTEND to wipe out a specific ethnic/religious group, the Armenians? THAT is the key point in any genocide determination.

If you find the documentary and discussion links, I will post them here for people to see, and if I have any comments, I will post them with the links.

Anonymous said...

What's up Bira. This is Yerevan. I feel that the debate strengthened the Armenian position. What do you think?

btw your mailbox on MEIC is disabled or full. I tried to leave you a PM yesturday, but was unable. Take care.

Anonymous said...

My mom is armenian and my grandparents escaped the genocide when they were little. They lived in a French orphanage one for boys and of course one for girls. My grand- parents met at a get together between the two and later got married. I know it is true. I am writing cause I guess I am reaching out it is only recently I am researching because I want to do something for my mom. When I heard they were going to deny the geneocide and I heard some are trying to demy what happen to the Jews during WWII. I was very upset. It is easier now to began the lies because no one in the generation has gone through it. It is not good. I would like to say I do not know much as of right now but I know it is true and I am concerned for the truth. I know it is real because of what my mom told me. My mom told me also that they help hide some Jews during WWII. I am upset that they are trying to destroy the truth. I hope a miracle will happen and it will be proven. I ask that it will be soon. I pray that it will because I know it is true.

Monique Genevieve Mardirosian Weisel