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Armenian Genocide denial
| Not just a river in Egypt|
|♫ We're not listening ♫|
“”Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
Armenian Genocide denial refers to the denial of the genocide against (already systematically discriminated) Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire under the rule of the Young Turks from 1915 to 1918. Turkey denies that the Ottomans were responsible for the killing of one million Armenians during World War I, arguing that:
- The death toll has been inflated;
- Ethnic violence killed Turks as well;
- Deportations and death marches were simply "temporarily relocation" of Armenians for "security reasons" (i.e. the pesky Armenians were being overtly "rebellious," "hostile," or pro-Russian); and
- The Ottoman leadership didn't intend to exterminate the Armenians, so it can't be called a "genocide."
World War I and aftermath
As early as 1915, Britain, France, and Russia issued a statement that the Armenians were the victims of crimes against humanity and civilization (the term "genocide" didn't exist then). The Treaty of Sevres signed in 1920 created an Armenian state. However, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first then-president of the Great National Assembly, refused to abide by the treaty and occupied the Armenian Republic by the Treaties of Kars and Moskova, signed with the Armenians and the Soviet Russians respectively. The Armenian Republic collapsed and was subsumed by Turkey and the Soviet Union by said treaties, with many more deportations of Armenians taking place in the process. Turkey escaped being held responsible by the international community.
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a thorny issue since Turkey occupies a very strategic position in the world. Currently, 43 nations provide some level of recognition of the event. Historically, Turkey has leveraged its position as an important ally in the Middle East to keep the United States from recognizing the genocide. The United States has recently joined the group of nations that recognize what the Ottomans did. Another holdout is Israel, which has only tepidly recognized the genocide. This is largely because the Israelis are in-between a rock and a hard place; Turkey is one of the few predominantly Muslim nations in their region which maintains some level of diplomatic ties with them.
The Turks are probably the most outspoken objecters to the term "genocide." In fact, a Turk, in Turkey, can even be arrested for acknowledging that one took place (a strange inversion of laws that criminalize Holocaust denial). This falls under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which makes it a crime to "insult Turkishness" (regardless of whether it's true). Prosecutors brought such a case in 2005 against writer Orhan Pamuk, who later won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
There are Turks outside of the Armenian community who recognize the Armenian Genocide. This includes scholars like Orhan Pamuk, Fatma Muge Cocek, and Taner Akçam. This has not gone over well with much of the Turkish public, especially nationalists.
Certain bigots have accused Jews of deliberately not giving the Armenian Genocide (as well as other genocides) enough attention in the media (as they supposedly run it) in order to focus solely on the Holocaust. This conveniently overlooks the fact that unlike the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust had the benefit of the occupation of the Allies who made sure to scrupulously document, photograph, and film as much of it as they could, as well as put as many perpetrators as they could find on trial, thus creating a lot more historical material to study. But who needs things like logic when you can blame the Jews for everything?
That said, Israel (as opposed to the nebulous group of Joooz!!!11!) has been rather loath to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and careful about not drawing parallels with the Holocaust so as not to offend Turkish officialdom, a fact eagerly snapped up by the aforementioned bigots. This has less to do with any anti-Armenianism and more to do with Turkey being pretty much the only country in the region not hostile to Israel.
As if the above wasn't enough, the infamous conservative tabloid Breitbart launched an article on the 100th anniversary of the genocide claiming that the world refused to recognize the genocide out of fear of offending Muslims. The article also claims that the genocide which was committed by the secular Young Turks, was doing so out of Islamism. The article conveniently ignores that Syria, Lebanon and Iran all recognize the genocide and that Armenian Christians often live closely with the Arab Muslims in many of the countries they reside in.
Needless to say, Armenians are probably not too thrilled about either bigoted inversion listed above, as they're primarily meant to detract focus on the genocide itself onto other bigoted conspiracies.
- See the Wikipedia article on Armenian Genocide.
- See the Wikipedia article on Armenian Genocide recognition.
- Armenian National Institute genocide research library
- State of Denial by Peter Balakian
- The Centennial of the Armenian Genocide
- Adolf Hitler, Statement on the Armenian Genocide
- France, Great Britain and Russia joint declaration, May 24, 1915
- What you don't know Turkish?!
- "Why the world ignores the Islamist Armenian Genocide"