Thursday, June 26, 2008

Armenian Genocide Monument in Boston

I thought I'd take a moment to digress from my usual ramblings and discuss a bit of local news. Today, the Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) approved the Armenian Heritage Foundation's request to build a monument paying homage to the 1.5 million Armenians killed during the first genocide of the 20th century. But of course, it hasn't been without debate and controversy.

The monument, which is set to be constructed on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, was proposed eight years ago with Mayor Thomas M. Menino opposing it, noting that it would open a floodgate of other requests for monuments on the Greenway.

Pish Posh!

The Bostonist was kind enough to point out in a 2006 article that there are plenty of monuments throughout Boston (such as the Holocaust memorial in Faneuil Hall) yet the request for monuments seems to be under control. And what about the Soldiers and Sailors monument on Flagstaff Hill in the Commons or the Leif Erikson monument on Comm Ave?

The article drew a valid and unfortunate conclusion:
"...the Armenian Genocide, like the Holocaust, has its naysayers, foremost among whom is the government of Turkey. Perhaps because the Armenian Genocide took place from 1915 to 1922, its deniers have had more success than those who would deny the Holocaust - the matter is a hot enough topic that the Wikipedia page on the event is closed to comments. Nevertheless, the consensus among historians seems to be that the Ottoman Empire really did kill as many as a million Armenians just because they were Armenians. That hasn't stopped a local teacher, with the aide of a Turkish-American organization, from suing the Massachusetts Department of Education to require the teaching of the Turkish version of events (i.e., no massacre, just lots of inadvertent death, and the Armenians aren't nice anyway) alongside the more historically accepted version."
President Bush's refusal to recognize the mass killings as genocide last October is bound to cause some political tensions when raising the topic of a monument commemorating a genocide. But regardless, all political jargon aside, it is what it is. One and a half million people murdered over the fact that they were Armenian is no different than the murder of six million Jews during WWII. If we recognize one, we need to recognize the other.

The sad thing is, this isn't a matter of recognition. It happened. Perhaps it's time we faced the facts.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention (1948), genocide is --as the highest stage of racial hatred—the act of destroying the members of a national, racial or religious group merely because they are members of that group. This convention is not a criminal law document. It is simply an international agreement that imposes on the Signatory States the obligation to ensure that their laws and regulations include the aforementioned act as a crime and to prevent and investigate such crimes, if any. These are the limits of the Signatory States’ responsibility – under the law of treaties. The convention, which went into effect on Jan. 12, 1951, does not cover the tort law issues.

The UN Convention (dated 1968) involving the statutory limitations, meanwhile, says that there will be no statutory limitations for the investigation and prosecution of the acts of genocide. Like the previous one, this convention also is not retroactive as to the date on which the 1948 Convention took effect.
In essence, what happened in 1915 was a process of mutual killings and that very process was the result of Armenian atrocities committed by the Armenian armed bandits who operated in collaboration with the enemy in the course of a World War in which the Ottoman state was already on the verge of total collapse. The Ottoman state tried to counter the insurgency and these massacres and, as an administrative measure, decided to relocate the Armenians due to vital and legitimate security concerns. In this context, even if the treaty law were applicable, this could not be deemed as a genocidal act. The Armenian allegations are based on an ill-intentioned and distorted presentation of carefully selected parts of numerous cases to the eyes of the international public. This is a misleading approach and is neither legally nor ethically acceptable.

Furthermore, the Armenians are trying to silence up all opposition to their allegations, resorting to pressure, intimidation and terror. Still fresh in minds is the case of a group of academics who issued a joint declaration against the repeated attempts to put on the agenda a motion in favor of the Armenian genocide allegations. These academics included professors Dankwart Rustow, Tibor Halasi-Kun, J. C. Hurewitz, Halil İnalcık, Avigdor Levy, Stanford Shaw, Frank Tachau, Pierre Oberling, Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Justin McCarthy, Alan Fischer and Roderick Davison. As a result of the campaign of attrition waged by fanatic Armenians a considerable part of these persons have been successfully “silenced”.

Turks have nothing to hide as regards their national history. Also, Turks urge the international community to probe, with the same humanitarian interest, the massacres staged against the Muslim peoples in the Caucasus, Crimea, the Balkans and, especially, Greece in 1821 and in its aftermath. The international community should be concerned also about the way some 300,000 Turks-Muslims that were killed by the Russian Army and the Bulgarian gangs in 1877-1878 and over one million Turks-Muslims that were exiled at that time. It should not forget the Turkish diplomats assassinated by the ASALA terror organization. It should focus on the current incidents before focusing on historical events: the massacre the Armenians committed in Hocalı, Azerbaijan constitutes only one such case. Armenia continues to occupy a significant part of the Azerbaijani territories and it makes territorial claims against Turkey. Yet, there are those who find the Armenian policies justified and choose to criticize Turkey rather than Armenia, in parallel with the Armenian demands. That criticism and these demands should be reviewed and corrected. These Armenian policies are not compatible with the aims and principles of either the Charter of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

It is obvious that the Armenian question is a political dispute rather than a legal one. It can be resolved with political and diplomatic methods. This issue brings to mind the term “political football” commonly used in politics. Turkey must be able to implement the concepts, principles and methods such as “reciprocity”, “retaliation” and “reprisal” whenever needed in its relations with Armenia and the rest of the members of the international community.

John said...

Armenian Question in a Psychological Context

The Psychological Dimension of the Armenian Problem

This article will explain the unnoticed psychological dimension of the Armenian problem in order to facilitate the study of the subject.

Armenians are claiming that they have been victims of a genocide. As oppose to this, the Turks are stating that there is no "genocide" as the result of a premeditated policy. During World War I, a civil war had occurred as the Armenians collaborated with the enemy and fought against state forces. The displacement policy has been adopted as a measure to overcome that situation.

The Armenians at present are full of hatred towards the Turks. After World War I, they have murdered the leaders of the Union and Progress Party and much later on assassinated Turkish diplomats during the years 1970 and 1980.

Besides terrorism, the main activity of the Armenian diaspora is concentrated on the recognition of the Armenian "genocide". The recent increase of the Western countries’ recognition of that "genocide" is due to the activities financially supported by the diaspora Armenians. Every decision that has been adopted on that subject causes great tension between the concerned country and Turkey, also negatively affecting Turkey-Armenia relations. On the other hand, the claims on compensation and territorial demands could cause dangerous tensions between the two countries.

Caucasia’s jeo-stratejic and geo-economic importance plays a great role for putting forward the Armenian issue on today’s agenda. Apart from this, there is the psychological dimension of the issue that has been unnoticed until now.

The Jewish holocaust constitutes the frame of this issue. This holocaust has caused for generations a victimization and a sense of guilt among Western Christian countries and especially among the Germans. Some try to take advantage of victimization since it is accepted to be a positive condition by the public opinion. This pseudo-victimization should be prevented, otherwise the parliaments and the international law courts of justice will be full of "genocide" claims.

Under the victimisation psychology lies the "excuse psychology". To claim that Hitler learned to commit genocide from the Turks is equivalent to saying that "We do not do such things, we have learned this from the Turks". That kind of thoughts leads to excuse himself and to get rid of his own sins. In such a situation it is the real victims who will suffer. The Israelis who support the Armenian "genocide" could be a good example in this case.

Saying that Hitler is not a first degree culprit, supports the thesis that Armenians founded the first Christian state. This is in fact the Western Christian conscience which takes advantage of the Armenians to absolve himself.

The Armenian diaspora is in a real identity crises and is trying to cure this by a victimization psychology and by hostility towards the Turks. The second and the following generations of the diaspora Armenians have never seen Turkey. Consequently their hostility is based on imagination rather than reality thus this leads to deeper feelings of enmity. The first Armenian generation who had suffered is not so deeply opposed to Turks.

The Turks and the Armenians should realize that by emphasizing their respective negativeness, they are kept in constant conflicting status.