Thursday, January 07, 2010


"I write upon Kurdish-Armenian relations with a mingled feeling of regret and of gratitude. That, through the sinister influence of the Turk and the ignorance of the Kurd, the Armenian, in certain localities and at certain periods, has suffered is a cause for deep regret. That we have already buried the past is cause for congratulation and gratitude . . . "
~ Sureya Bedirxan, The Case of Kurdistan Against Turkey, 1928.

In the past I have said that unless Turkey acknowledges the Armenian Genocide and settles its situation with the Armenian people, the survivors of that genocide, then there will be no precedent for Turkey to acknowledge the atrocities it has carried out and continues to carry out against the Kurdish people.

I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Taner Akçam spoke in just this same way on 4 January in Lebanon. There's a video below and a partial transcript, which begins at about the 3:50 minute in the video:

"The main flaw of this concept [the Turkish national security concept] is its perception that the promotion of basic democratic rights such as equality, and social reforms and freedom of speech are a threat to national security. So, this is very important. In the past, the emergence of the so-called Armenian Question was the result of Armenian demands for equality and for social reforms which arguably would have led to a better Ottoman society. Their demands and the Armenians themselves were considered as a security threat by the Ottomans, which led to them being targeted for massacres and deportations. Today the demand for an honest account of history is being handled in the same way--as a security problem.

"The irony is that criminalizing historical injustices for national security reasons is not only a huge obstacle on the path to democracy, but also is counterproductive and leads directly to real security problems for the Turkish state. The self-fulfilling prophecy, as it's called, can be shown not only in the Armenian Genocide of the past but in the Kurdish problem of today. Just as the Armenians and their social and political demands for a more just society were considered a threat in the past, a democratic future for Kurds today is also considered a threat to security

"So, instead of solving the Kurdish problem by seeking solutions that would lead to a more democratic society, the old--I would argue now useless security concept--has been resurrected and and has declared that the Kurdish demands are essentially a security problem for the Turkish nation. [ . . . ] As long as Turkey continues to regard moral principles, one of which is facing historic injustices with honesty, and national security as two opposing foes that are mutually exclusive, and refuses to come to terms with the past for national security reasons, indeed as long as Turkey's national security is defined in opposition to an honest historical recounting, further problems will be created in Turkey.

"So, there is a security aspect for the Middle East. A non-democratic, authoritarian Turkey creates more security problems than it solves when it makes the consistent denial of historical injustices an integral part of its security policy. It is exactly this attitude that delays not only democratization in the region [ . . . ] You cannot solve any problem in the Middle East today without addressing historic wrongdoings because history is not something in the past; it is the present in the Middle East today.

"So, my conclusion is that Turkey should stop going around and threatening other countries who wants to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and only acknowledge historic wrongdoings, acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, pave the way for Turkey for a democratic, secure future for the region."

Now who does he sound like?

Many thanks to the friend who sent the link to the video.

On a related item, someone else sent a link to this interesting article at Here's a teaser:

I was given a seat in the front row. There was an empty chair to my left; I thought it might have been planted there deliberately, because Kurds, all from Turkey, came to shake my hand, and sit on that chair to share thoughts and “Secrets” with the “Representative of the Armenian People”, which I was not, nor did I claimed to be. A few of them posed a rhetorical question: “Why are the Kurds Muslims, what have we gained by being Muslims?” at least a dozen or so told me, on promise of anonymity, that their grandmother is Armenian. I was not shocked. A few years later I heard the Kurdish explanation of kidnapping our girls, which I will discuss later.

[ . . . ]

I said my word, loud and clear, from the podium, the gist of which was: yes we have the same cause, yes we have a common enemy, yes there should be an alliance between us, but each party has its own interests and rights for which to struggle. There should be no dispute between our two Nations, we are partners in destiny, our rights were spelled out, in detail, in the provisions of the Sevres Treaty, which was then refined and mapped by President Woodrow Wilson. It is to our advantage, and in detriment to Turkey, to stick to this map and the provisions of the Sevres Treaty.

I got standing ovation all three times, but not necessarily as endorsement of my expressed ideas. They were, I believe, happy for my exposing Turkey for what it is: an occupier, an oppressor of other nations, and a violator of human rights.

[ . . . ]

Our relationship with the Kurds is a complex one:

1. We are allies by necessity; the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

2. They definitely look up to us, yet we look down upon them. We are wrong; Kurds have advanced in every imaginable field beyond anyones imagination, certainly beyond mine.

3. Whether we like it or not, they are our neighbors, we better understand them.

4. Other than Western Armenia, there is, for them, the issue of the “Red Kurdistan”-Lachin, Kelbajar, Fizuli. For us the case is closed!

So, are the Kurds friends or foe? Probably both! Smart approach to this seemingly impossible situation will make them, in my opinion, our friends, much more than our foes.

Food for thought and the basis for dialog, my friends.


Anonymous said...

surprised you haven't reported on this yet. first time this docs are being searched.

Anonymous said...

The article on unsettled me. I already knew Armenians didn't trust the Kurds and looked down upon them, and yet, to see it in print, and written in such a condescending manner, was something else. Good grief, I didn't know it was so surprising to see a Kurd become a doctor or an engineer! The comments to the article are even worse.

The thing that troubles me is that if the Armenians are so disparaging of the Kurds because it was the Kurds who carried out the Genocide, then why the heck doesn't their apology and acknowledgment mean anything? Isn't that what they are asking from Turkey -- for officially acknowledging the Genocide? I can only imagine what the reaction would have been had an apology come from a Turk.

If the Armenians acknowledge that "the Kurds" were merely pawns, then why the hate and desire for revenge (it was the Armenians who carried out ethnic cleansing in Red Kurdistan) rather than "Never Again!"? Why the politics of division in Armenia with all the academia trying to prove how the Yezidis and Zazas are not Kurds?

This makes me mistrustful of the purpose of any dialogue. And I must thank the speaker for reminding me that the Armenians are not friends simply because they are our enemy's enemy, but are capable of being both friend AND enemy.

I see no reason why the Kurds must push Turkey to accept the Armenian Genocide. We acknowledged it, we apologized for it, and it has bred further contempt for us. Why further anger the Turks and deepen their mistrust of us?