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Yesterday, the United Nations dismantled an exhibit for their visitors center about the 1994 Rwandan genocide of its Tutsi inhabitants, and cancelled a planned ceremony for its opening to be led by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  They did so due to objections by the Turkish government over a single phrase in the exhibit’s display, describing how the word ‘genocide’ was coined by Raphael Lemkin, "Following World War I, during which one million Armenians were murdered in Turkey."

There is no doubt among any serious scholars about the truth of that statement.  Some excellent organizations provide scaths of information about the Armenian Genocide of 1915, such as the Armenian National Institute and the Zoryan Institute.  Naturally, there is an active movement whose purpose is the denial   of the Armenian genocide.  To call for the recognition of the Armenian genocide in Turkey is a crime, for which many writers and journalists have been prosecuted.

Recently, the denial of the German Shoah against the Jews by the government of Iran drew widespread anger, condemnation, and derision by the world community.  Yet, the longstanding denial of of the Armenian genocide, which took place over twenty years before the Shoah, is permitted by a nation which is ostensibly an ally and which is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  And now, the inclusion of a single phrase acknowledging it has proven enough to grind the United Nations belated efforts to recognize and teach about the Rwandan genocide to a halt.

It seems long past time for us all to recognize that the denial of one genocide is no different from the denial of another.  To deny the Armenian genocide is to deny that of the Jews in Europe, the Tutsis in Rwanda, or that in Darfur today.  It is just as intolerable for decent people wishing to live in a world without mass murder.  Therefore, I ask that you call the Turkish Consulate in New York City, as well as the United Nations, and let them know that Holocaust denial by anyone is something to revile and abhor.

Turkish Consulate
Phone :(212) 949-0160 (4)
Fax :(212) 983-1293
You may call the consular call-center (1-888-566-7656) between 8.30am-5.30pm central time from anywhere in the U.S.  
contact@turkishembassy.org

United Nations
Inquiries@un.org
(I am unable to find a telephone contact for the UN – if anyone has one, please let me know.)

Originally posted to Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:21 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for reading (36+ / 0-)

    I know that there is lots of other news (IMUS!) going on today, but I think it is a damn shame if genocide denial is getting stuffed no matter what genocide we're talking about.

    Never Forget is supposed to mean more.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:18:51 PM PDT

    •  I'm Curious, Jay, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bustacap, Jay Elias, sailmaker, jhritz

      and you seem a little more intuned to the situation there...is it that the Turks are afraid of facing reparation demands upon admission, or demand to cede some of Turkey to the Armenian-Turks (with the Kurds waiting in the shadows), or do you just see a stubborn refusal to admit what is by now evident to anyone who cares to look?

      Is it time to Impeach yet? Just checking...

      by TheManWithNoPoint on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:27:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Turkish position seems to be... (5+ / 0-)

        ...that yes, many Armenians died, but that it was "ethnic strife" which went both ways.

        Honestly, I don't understand it well.  I can't fathom why denial of Ottoman-era atrocities are important to modern Turkey, but it seems they are.

        The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

        by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:29:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, You're Right About That, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapantsula, Boreal Ecologist

          the only thing I've ever heard about the issue is Turkey's near-schizophrenic denials of anything "untoward" ever having happened to the Armenians...but with every denial, I always seem to recall more than adequate rebuttals from all sides...

          Oy...the older I get, the less I like our species...

          Thanks...

          Is it time to Impeach yet? Just checking...

          by TheManWithNoPoint on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:34:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's not just the Ottoman era though (4+ / 0-)

          the genocide continued in the 1920s as the national state was consolidated. Hence Attaturk is linked to the Young Turk atrocities as willing inheritor.

        •  It's not Ottoman-era. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jay Elias, esquimaux

          It was part of the modernization campaign that ultimately led to the modern state of Turkey. Like the holocaust, it was an attempt to homogenize the population in order to rationalize the state. Therefore, the tactics used in that process bring into question modernization itself.

          The model of these tactics were the settlement of the colonial British Empire - Ireland, North America, New Zealand and Australia. In all those cases, the elimination of native communities was seen as essential for the creation of a modern society. Both the Turks and the Germans attempted to take that British model and implement it locally, in order to fully modernize.

          •  I am under the impression... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TheManWithNoPoint

            ...that the Armenian genocide commenced on April 24, 1915, which does put it in the era of the Ottomans.  If this is in error, let me know, but while the genocide continued afterwards, I am of the belief that it commenced under Ottoman rule.

            The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

            by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:41:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A Purge Is a Purge Is a Purge... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              litho

              my wife's parents fled Haifa in '48, never to return...Christian Arab...and the funny thing is, her mother's maiden name is an old Biblical Jewish name...go figure...seems the more things change, the more they stay the same...

              Is it time to Impeach yet? Just checking...

              by TheManWithNoPoint on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:45:05 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  It started under the Ottomans (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jay Elias

              but it appears to have been part of the modernization campaign that led to the modern state. The Ottoman empire was in the process of secularizing, and the Young Turks were in power - predecessors to modern Turkey.

              So it's not Ottoman era in the sense that the Ottoman Empire had existed for 500 years, but in the transition to the modern state, where the Ottoman system had already been rejected by much of the intelligentsia and bureaucracy. It's like calling events in the colonies between 1776 and 1781 as "colonial era." Legally, Britain hadn't yet recognized independence, but yet the colonies were no longer functioning as imperial possessions.

        •  It's about money (0+ / 0-)

          If the Armenian massacre is termed a genocide, then the Armenians are legally entitled to reparations.

      •  It's part of the national mythos. (7+ / 0-)

        Ataturk is the Turkish Washington. To bloody his hands with genocide brings into question the national mythology of modernization.

        It's like the response you get from many Americans when you point out the Native American Genocide - that it wasn't really a genocide, just a whole bunch of unconnected events without any intention of elimination.

      •  It's part of the ideology (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bustacap, sofia, TheManWithNoPoint

        of a Turkish national state. To admit that modern Turkey was built on the genocide of other nationalities within the Ottoman Empire, especially in Anatolia, casts the legitimacy of the national project in doubt, at least as it is presently constructed.

        Compare with the debate about Israel and the Nakba -- imagine if there had been a comparable slaughter in the late 1940s in Israel/Palestine to that which occured in 1915 and the 1920s, Zionism would not have much to say for itself.*

        *This is a hypothetical analogy, not an invitation to discuss what actually happened at that time.

    •  will do. (0+ / 0-)

      good diary.

  •  What Is It About (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, erhan04, Treg

    mass-murdering societies that they can not even admit the atrocities they committed?

    I'm flabbergasted by the cognitive dissonance...nahh, those people killed themselves, I imagine...

    Come clean, Turkey...you owe it to them...at the very least...

    Is it time to Impeach yet? Just checking...

    by TheManWithNoPoint on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:20:11 PM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary Jay! (5+ / 0-)

    This is an issue that really gets too little attention.  Do you know if there are any efforts in the EU to make it an issue for Turkish accession?  I know Greece is raising complaints because of Cyprus, but perhaps the EU could instead use their leverage to get Turkey to accept responsibility.

    •  The thing is (5+ / 0-)

      The EU will never admit Turkey and both sides know it. There is only a dance around the possibility of its happening. So there is no real leverage there.

    •  One would hope, but I doubt it (4+ / 0-)

      The EU doesn't really have much leverage with Turkey anymore, now that member nations have voted to reject Turkish membership for what were perceived to be largely anti-Muslim reasons.

      And frankly, several EU nations have their own explaining to do.

      •  No one voted to reject Turkey (0+ / 0-)

        What are you referring to?

        They are still in accession talks.

        Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

        by upstate NY on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:10:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Supposedly... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, TheManWithNoPoint, jessical

      ...the requirement for recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey is an 'unofficial' requirement.

      The recent banning by France of denial of the Armenian genocide was a big issue in Turkey.  Of course, Great Britain (along with the US) does not formally refer to the Armenian holocaust as genocide, so the EU is probably divided internally as well.

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:33:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheManWithNoPoint, jessical

        Thanks Jay (and wiscmass and mapantsula).  I really don't know enough about this.  I had an Armenian roomate my sophmore year of college and it was the first time I had ever heard of it.  Here's hoping that more people become educated on this.

      •  more of an excuse (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        litho

        I find that for the EU their supposed "reasons" for dragging their feet on admitting Turkey are all a bunch of excuses.  I have heard numerous Europeans flat out say they don't want Turkey because their muslim.

        •  No, they are not excuses. (0+ / 0-)

          The EU has a set of principles which Turkey is nowhere near adopting, and on several occasions, they have come to loggerheads over them. The fact that "some" Europeans say they don't want Muslims isn't entirely relevant. It's what's going on during the meetings of heads of state that counts, and so far only Austria has spoken out against Turkey. But Austria is not a powerful enough country to put a dent in Turkey's hopes.

          Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

          by upstate NY on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:13:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I was under the assumption that recognition of (0+ / 0-)

        the genocide would never be required for Turkey to join. I've beenr eading a lot about Turkey's EU prospects.

        Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

        by upstate NY on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:11:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is outrageous (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheManWithNoPoint, goon 01, tiztiq

    You would think the United Nations of all organisations would have learned enough by now that on questions of genocide compromise is not in order. And this was for a Rwanda exhibit?? Just another insult to the hundreds of thousands of people the UN* left for dead.

    *With the willing connivance of all the powers, of course, save Dallaire and his few.

  •  And my nation has lost its own credibility (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jay Elias, TheManWithNoPoint

    to be able to speak out about such horrors because we are now Torture Inc.  Sorry Jay.  Thanks for your writing.  Haven't been here much but always enjoy your diaries when I come across them.

    In the Pajamahadeen I'm Scooby-Doo!

    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:36:54 PM PDT

    •  We lost our credibility on this issue about 200 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diaries

      years ago. We never had any.

      If anything, we have more credibility today, with at least some public recognition of the Native American genocide.

      Read Mein Kampf. Hitler credits us with the idea of concentration camps (reservations) and the elimination of the Jews (Manifest Destiny). In his mind, he was recreating the American model of creating a continental state, with of course a few additions of his own (such as the Fuhrer-Principle).

      •  I haven't read Mein Kampf (0+ / 0-)

        but I've always thought the "concentration camp" was a Spanish invention.

        General Valeriano Weyler, sent to Cuba to suppress Jose Marti's pro-independence uprising in 1895, decided the best way to defeat a stubborn peasant-based guerrilla movement was to separate the guerrillas from the peasants.  His solution was to create what he called "campos de reconcentración," armed camps that the peasants were forced to move into, and where they died by the hundreds of disease and bad living conditions.

        I don't know if Weyler directly influenced Hitler, but you certainly can see his influence in the US's strategic hamlet program in Vietnam, which basically attempted the same solution to a very similar problem...

        •  The name may have been... (0+ / 0-)

          But the concept of taking a spread out population and concentrating them near a military installation is the same concept as the reservation, and credited as such by Hitler to the US. I assume the method had been previously used by the British, Spanish and French to subjugate colonial populations - It seems an obvious technique, but sometimes the obvious takes a while to be invented.

          •  Those Spanish camps in Cuba were (0+ / 0-)

            surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by troops using machine guns.

            The resemblance to Nazi concentration camps is more than just linguistic.

            •  And so were the POW camps (0+ / 0-)

              in the American civil war. Advancing technology leads to improved methods. What was done before by soldiers regularly traveling the perimeter of the region can be done more efficiently with barbed wire and machine guns.

              The question is how old is the concept of grabbing a population and condensing them in a small region in order to subjugate/eliminate them? Obviously, Hitler saw a passing resemblance between American deportations across large distances to small impoverished regions that were dominated by a military installation, and the succeeding "improvements" to the practice. He particularly recognized the goal of creating a fairly homogenous state that can be more easily controlled across a vast territory with deep ethnic and cultural divisions.

              •  This all seems more than a little... (0+ / 0-)

                ...pointless to me (who was more inspiring?  The Spaniards or the Americans?) but to this point, I must object a bit.

                It certainly seems like if anything, Hitler's knowledge in this particular area would have been honed by the First World War, where massive numbers of people were moved by rail to distant fronts where they were mostly killed in huge numbers and their bodies disposed of.  But, of course, history gets in the way as well, since Hitler merely ordered the Shoah, but did not personally manage its planning much less its logistics.

                The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 05:48:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The point is that (0+ / 0-)

                  the Shoah did not occur in a vacuum. It had historical precedents, multiple ones, going back hundreds of years that the Nazi's were well aware of, and which they combined for their own program.

                  You're quite right that the underlying mental model was that of WWI's trench warfare, were the fighting powers knew that death rates ahead of time, understood that they were fighting a war of attrition were each side threw their young men to intentionally catch bullets in order to count which side had the most young men.

                  But that WWI model itself was built on the earlier history. The very goal of exterminating indigenous populations in order to create a homogeneous society goes back to the English attempts to eradicate "Irishness" from it's islands. The US was an example of how successful such a program could be.

                  The monstrosity of Hitler was just a perfection of the entire colonial project, this time applied internally to continental populations.

                  •  I would think... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that it goes back long before that, from the Babylonians and Persian empires, as well as from the Chinese wars of unification.  At the very least; of course, one can hardly rule out the notion that Babylon itself was a form of colonialism under the auspices of Ur.

                    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

                    by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 06:41:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, no. (0+ / 0-)

                      Generally, in earlier "colonial" attempts, the population at large wasn't razed, just the city - but most of the population were in the countryside, and just accepted whatever was the current aristocracy.

                      For example, when Jerusalem was emptied by the Babylonians, most of the population surrounding it didn't disappear; they stayed worshiping whatever Gods they did before with little change as they had done for millenia. The population moved was the urban population. That's partly evidenced by the conflicts they had on returning regarding theology, and the still extant dissidents (such as the Samaritans).

                      There's something new in modern imperialism, where even the agricultural people, the salt of the earth, are removed and replaced. Before, when the major tool of power was man-power itself, an attempt to eradicate the population at large would have been insane - that is the very engine of production, not easily replaceable. Yes, you enslave the economic leaders, but you simply can't ship farmers great distances and expect them to be economically successful.

                      Now, we've actually replaced the entire society from top to bottom. Something new.

                  •  Not 'colonial period' but human (0+ / 0-)

                    Humans seem to have a need to kill the 'other' and it's been happening all over the world, and all across time.

                    The Nazis were more efficient, they combined it with an attempt to take over the world, and they kept records.  But genocide's been going on a long long time

                    Republicans believe government is the enemy. When they're in charge, they're right

                    by plf515 on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 06:56:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  Actually the USA doesn't want to talk about this (0+ / 0-)

      because Turkey is an ally.

      Republicans believe government is the enemy. When they're in charge, they're right

      by plf515 on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 06:53:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No surprise, considering (4+ / 0-)

    that even the U.S. will not officially refer to it as a genocide.  

    This is from a February interview with the Turkish foreign minister:

    what will we tell the Turkish people? Of course, what happened those years, it was sad, it was a tragedy, in fact. But when you call it "genocide," you have to find another terminology for the Jews that were killed in Germany before and during World War II. For the Ottomans it was different. In World War I, the army was at war, and in fact some Armenians were given arms by Russians to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and they started to kill civilians in Anatolia. When all this was happening, the foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire was an Armenian! And, Armenians held senior state posts then, churches were functioning in many parts of the country. If they (Ottoman rulers) had hostile feelings against their Armenian subjects, why should they wait until they were at their weakest throughout their history? Hitler acted only when he was strong. So, these genocide claims offend us. This was a tragedy, many people lost their lives; Turks, Armenians, Muslims, non-Muslims... Our offer is, if you are so interested in the truth, let us open all archives and initiate a committee of historians. Let's study these events. But unfortunately the Armenian side is not forthcoming. We ask also the French and the US to join these efforts.

    The real heroes in this whole discussion, believe it or not, are the French.  Back in October I diaried about the mixed feelings I had about the then-newly passed French law that made denial of the Armenian genocide a crime, but to their credit they are sticking to their guns on this issue, and causing problems for Turkish admission into the EU.  Here's an older article, but the French have been consistent about this.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:44:15 PM PDT

  •  They are also punishing France (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jay Elias, jessical

    I think there was some story about an oil/gas project and the French had serious problems with that. Yes, it was in Turkey and it was payback.

    There was something good in the news, the local police (here in Finland) arrested a man who was suspected of having a role on the genocide in Rwanda. He is officially a refugee, but some human rights organizations did complain and now (i do not know if there was a link between the quick arrest of the guy, and the outcry from these organizations) he is under arrest.

    "I have a dream" King Jr.

    "I have a book deal" Perves Musharraf

    by allmost liberal european on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:51:18 PM PDT

    •  Yeah... (4+ / 0-)

      ...well, the French are doing well on this issue (although they continue to do their best to conceal their role in the Rwandan genocide) but for me, the point is to object to all holocaust denial.

      The time has long since passed when Jews like myself who are deeply aware of the holocaust denial of those who wish to pretend there was no Shoah stood up for the other victims of genocide throughout the world.  That is my message here.

      The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

      by Jay Elias on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:57:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just a passing comment (0+ / 0-)

    According to the account of the Armenian genocide in Fisk's "Great War for Civilization" the Turkish authorities who planned and ordered it used the Kurds to do the bulk of the dirty work.

    we're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression

    by Lepanto on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 03:06:39 PM PDT

  •  Didn't Serbia attempt genocide? (0+ / 0-)

    It's easy to start a war, but very hard to stop one.

    by mattes on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 03:55:12 PM PDT

  •  You have a balanced and constructive view of the (0+ / 0-)

    world.  Consistent and honest.

    Thanks for the diary.

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