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Tag: Lobbying

Legislating History

Dr. Yılmaz ARGÜDEN Recently, various Parliaments throughout the world have gotten into the business of legislating history! As Tip O’Neill has succinctly put it, “All politics is local.” However, currently the US Congress is under pressure to consider a resolution about the events of 1915. This is being done to satisfy the requests of Armenian minorities within their electoral districts, but, such an approach is causing a serious dismay to millions of people whose voice is not heard just because they happen not to be living in these districts. More importantly, such parliamentary actions are outside their competence, in pure conflict with the principle of due process, and limiting to some basic freedoms. A case in point is last year’s French Parliament initiative that conflicts with freedom of thought and speech regarding prohibition of denying the Armenian claim of identifying the events of 1914-1916 as “genocide”, which Turkey and Turkish people vehemently oppose. The Armenian stance has gained familiarity with tremendous lobbying efforts throughout the world as well as through the publication of more than 20,000 books supporting their claims. On the other hand, the Turkish side has not been well understood due to an inadequate amount of share of voice. Less than a hundred books are available supporting the Turkish stance! Yet, in any court of justice predominant repetition of claims is not sufficient for a verdict, as repetition does not increase validity. A case should stand on its merits. To prevent injustice, it is important not to overlook these basic facts. One of the reasons for such an imbalance in the way public opinion is being formed is the totally different attitude of Armenians and Turks. There are great artists, businesspeople, politicians of Armenian descent in many countries. Unfortunately, many of them have been raised with one sided views of the tragic events at the beginning of last century. Almost a century later, they continue to reflect animosity against Turkey in their work and relationships. On the other hand, for a century Turks have been raised ignorant to these events. After establishing her independence in 1923, Turkey decided to look forward and not to dwell on the sufferings of the previous period regardless of whether the subjects were Turks, Armenians, or others in order to adopt the dictum “Peace at home, peace in the world”. History is full of tragedies. Neither Turkish history nor that of Armenians is an exception. Armenians allege Ottoman Turks committed “genocide” against them. Turks say that this is an unwarranted description of what has really transpired. Armenians accuse Turks of denying genocide. Turks accuse Armenians of defaming them. There is no doubt that what happened in 1915-16 amounts to a tragedy in which a great number of people, including a large number of Armenians perished. Arnold Toynbee said once that the most painful event in history is the dissolution of an empire, probably having witnessed the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Armenian tragedy is an integral part of that greater tragedy. The main dispute between Turks and Armenians is how to denominate the event. “Genocide” is a crime codified by the ‘Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’, signed in 1948. Article 2 of the Convention defines “genocide” as a crime committed against “national, racial, religious or ethnic groups”. Political groups are specifically excluded from the statement because they have political ends such as autonomy, independence, land or ideological revolution. During 1914-16 Armenians constituted a political group par excellence. In fact, the Russian Commander Count Varantzoff Dachkoff made a proposal in which he promised an independence covering six Ottoman provinces if the Armenians had collaborated with the Russians in war. The Armenians responded by preventing the access of Ottoman troops to Baku oil reserves and by delaying the entrance of Enver Pasha to the Sarıkamış front where the harsh weather conditions, caused the death of 30,000 Turkish soldiers. During the Paris Peace Conference, the head of the Armenian National Delegation, Boghos Nubar Pasha, clearly stated their aspiration to independence on one fourth of the Turkish territory where Armenians constituted only 17 % of the population. This is a clear indication of the attitude of the Armenians against the majority Turkish population, whose demise was clearly targeted. Without such an action, this Armenian goal would be unachievable. Prof. William Shabas, a renowned jurist, says: “Genocide is, by nature, a collective crime… The organizers and planners must necessarily have a racist or discriminatory motive, genocidal motive… Where this is lacking, the crime cannot be genocide.” Motive of genocide is to extinguish a race for what that group is and not what that group is doing. Armenians claimed genocide predominantly because, the tremendous attention this claim has on world public opinion seemed a feasible way to legitimize their cause for a political end. In none of the extensive studies relying on the historical archives, any authentic documentation indicating intent to destroy the Armenians has been unearthed. Ottoman archives in Turkey are open for any historian for research. By contrast, Armenian archives still are not. Furthermore, the Turkish Government has formally called for a joint commission of Turkish, Armenian and independent researchers to go through the Ottoman, Armenian, and best price levitra online third country archives to conduct an independent research for the tragic events of 1914-1916. At the end of World War I, when the victorious British had access to all Ottoman archives, 144 Turks who were called to war crimes court and the British Crown Prosecutor was asked to try them in Malta. However, the British Prosecutor General discharged all the allegations due to lack of evidence, despite the fact that the British diplomats had the authority to investigate all Ottoman archives. He specifically said in his report dated 29 July 1921 that he “… does not feel that he is in a position to express any opinion as to the prospects of success in any of the cases submitted for his consideration”. Armenians wish to characterize the fact that they […]