Sassounian: Who Won Akhtamar Propaganda War: Armenians or Turks?

The Turkish government failed to attract the expected crowd of thousands of worshipers from around the world to the first Mass in almost a century, held at the Holy Cross Church in Akhtamar Island on Sept. 19. Only a few hundred Armenians showed up, mostly from Istanbul.

Drawing by Tatul Sonentz, The Armenian Weekly

Turkey failed miserably in trying to deceive world opinion into believing that it is tolerant towards Armenians. Eventually, it became obvious that Turkish leaders were more interested in putting on a political show than allowing a religious ceremony in a thousand-year-old Armenian house of worship.

I wrote a column three years ago criticizing the Turkish government for converting the Holy Cross Church into a state museum. At the time, I urged Turkish officials to 1) place a cross on the church’s dome; 2) designate it as a church rather than a museum, and allow regular celebration of Divine Liturgy; and 3) revert ownership of the church to the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul instead of placing it under the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Earlier this year, the Turkish government promised to place a cross on the dome of the church and allow services to be performed there on Sept. 19. I urged Armenians not to participate, knowing that Turkish officials’ true intent was to stage a political show under the guise of religious ceremonies.

An intense debate ensued among Armenians on whether to boycott or attend the church services. Articles exposing Turkey’s sinister plans did little to settle the controversy. Making matters worse, the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced plans to send representatives to the Akhtamar church, although the Catholicosate of Cilicia declined to participate.

Finally, a lucky break! The Turkish government came to the rescue. A few weeks before the scheduled ceremony, a Turkish official announced that it would not be possible to place the promised cross atop the church, making the ridiculous excuse of “technical difficulties.”

Prime Minister Erdogan was caught in a dilemma. Had he allowed the cross to be placed on the dome, he would have scored points with world public opinion, but would have lost crucial votes in the hotly contested Sept. 12 referendum on constitutional reforms.

The cross finally saved the day! The Holy See of Etchmiadzin canceled its plans to send representatives to Akhtamar. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem did likewise. Tour operators called off their arrangements to take large numbers of Armenian worshipers to Lake Van. As a result, Turkey lost the propaganda campaign and considerable income.

In a last ditch effort to increase attendance, a few days before Sept. 19, Erdogan’s office sent invitations to the Armenia media, offering all-expenses-paid visits to Akhtamar, including free round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals. Another 50 Armenian commentators and analysts received similar invitations, all of whom refused to go because of Turkey’s refusal to install the cross.

Inadvertently, the Turks forced most Armenians to do the right thing and cancel their visits to the Holy Cross Church. Interestingly, the Turkish government behaved similarly when it declined to ratify the Armenia-Turkey protocols, thereby safeguarding Armenia’s interests.

While the Armenian public, civic groups, and some political parties opposed the Turkish plans at Akhtamar, the Armenian government remained remarkably silent. For unknown reasons, Turkey did not invite Armenian officials to the Holy Cross ceremonies. In view of the embarrassing games Ankara played with the Armenia-Turkey protocols and the subsequent collapse of “soccer diplomacy,” it appears that Armenia’s leaders were not too eager to join Turks in yet another ploy.

Regrettably, Armenians wasted far too much time and energy arguing with each other about going to Akhtamar. This distraction prevented them from organizing protests in major capitals to inform the world about the long history of Turkish atrocities, destruction of thousands of churches, and occupation of historic Armenian lands.

However, the boycott of the ceremonies because of the missing cross caught the attention of the international media. Ironically, Turkish officials helped further undermine their own cause by placing the cross on the ground next to the Holy Cross Church, in full view of the public and TV cameras.

The Turkish government has now promised to place the cross atop the church in six weeks. Regardless of what Turkey decides to do with the cross, Armenians should pursue their own course of action, rather than simply react to the petty games of Turkish officials.

At this point, the only announcement Armenians are interested in hearing from Ankara is the return of the Holy Cross Church to the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. Judging by the press and video clips I’ve seen, the Turks DID NOT fare well in the publicity scoreboard on this matter. Every news outlet mentioned that the Armenians were driven out of their ancestral lands and were “massacred” . The term “genocide” was always mentioned with the trailer that the Turks denied it. I think we came out far ahead with the coverage here.

  2. I personally believe that Turkish state should do its best to make its Armenian citizens live and sustain their culture and religion freely as they wish.
    I also personally believe that Turkish state should turn over all the churches and appurtenant buildings that once served as churches for the Armenians of Turkey. It has been 95 years since the tragic days were lived by Turke s and Armenians, and we are already delayed in remedying the damages inflicted onto so many genarations of both communities during this 95 years.
    Without any prejudice on this issue, may I kindly request you to inform me (and your readers in general) the present status of the mosques that existed in Yerevan before its occupation by Tzarist Russia?
    How many are demolished, how many are staying but in ruins, how many were converted into museum, and how many are serving still as mosques for moslems (if any) resident in Armenia and for moslem tourists to Yerevan?

  3. There is a very large functioning mosque in Yerevan, the Blue Mosque. Many religious monuments of Christianity and Islam were destroyed by the Soviet authorities; Stalin was particularly brutal in this regard. Generally only the very historic and ancients church structures (this goes for Georgia and Azerbaijan as well) survived but they were not permitted to be improved, refurbished, fixed, etc. until independence. One of the arguments Turks/Azeris often make it that Armenians destroyed their mosques. Actually, in each Caucasian Republic, only a handful or the more well-known, historical, and ancients pre-Soviet churches, cemeteries, monuments survived after the early 1920’s.

  4. Mr. Sassounian,
    Sorry but I am very dissapointed with your analysis. You address the situation as if it is a competition between Armenians and Turks, and Armenians won. Can you tell me what exactly did you win? Or as a Turk, what did I lose? If much more Armenians had attended to liturgy, what would have you lost?
    In the third paraghraph, you state three requirements that Turkish government shall fulfill. I agree with them. However, I have an intuition that even if these obligations are fulfilled, you will still find something to protest the event (I hope, I’m wrong). This time regretably there was no cross and you opposed to the Armenian presence at the litugry harshly; perhaps (and hopefully) next time there will be one. I am pretty sure that your stance won’t be different from this one because in your last 2-3 articles, instead of evaluating the situation, you constantly seek reasons why Armenians shall not attend the event. SO I think you lost your objectivity on this issue; you support the protest like supporting a football team.
    I hope next time there will be a cross over the church, the patriarchy gets its right, much more Armenians visit their home/church and

  5. Oh Bayram… you broke my heart and ran out of gas…. I was hoping you will go all the way by saying “And return all those occupied lands; that is Van and all other places that 1.5 Million Armenians got massacred; to its owners; that is to Armenians” but of course being a Turk you won’t have courage to go that far.

    See; you too like all Turks are lacking any rational logic, and between the lines are talking about “Both communities”; Let me tell you this; more than 99% of Turkish population were happily enjoying those massacres by taking vacated houses, lands, belongings,  businesses and raping women and children of both sexes; there were just a fraction of 1% of local Turks which were suffering from agony of seeing their neighbors getting killed or kicked out of their houses; and that doesn’t constitute “Both Communities” at all.
    In regards of USSR occupying Armenia why should Armenians who even couldn’t practice their own religion must be responsible? 
    Since when the oppressed people are responsible for the deeds of their oppressors?
    You instead of looking at how these days Armenians are dealing with their other neighboring “Muslim” country Iran; you are referring to some events that Armenians had no saying in it.

     one day Turkey comes to its senses and accepts their ancestor’s wrong doings by recognizing the Armenian Genocide then you can go to Armenia and see Iranians not only have their own mosques in Yerevan and are freely exercising their religion; thousands of Iranians are freely enjoying their lives in Armenia; something that they can’t do in Turkey and /or Azerbaijan these days. 


  6. Bayram –

    May I in turn kindly request that you specify what tragic days were lived by the Turks 95 years ago? We know and the world knows what tragic years the Armenians lived at the hands of the Turks, but I’d love to know what tragic days were lived by the Turks at the hands of the Armenians. I’d also like to know what damages were inflicted onto the Turkish community, sinece we, as genocide victims, know what damages have been done to us, but would love to hear as to what damages have been done to genocide perpetrators. Because you also think that all the churches need to be given back to the Armenians of Turkey, I’d also like to know as to what you think had happened to up to 2.5 millions of Ottoman Armenians residing on their own lands, because in Turkey you only have some 60-70,000 Armenians left, according to your prime minister’s statement.
    As for status of the mosques that existed in Yerevan before its occupation by Tsarist Russia, I must first tell you that Tsarist Russia acquired Eastern part of Armenia from Persia in 1828, while Armenia’s bigger Western part was under the Ottoman occupation. Yerevan was not even a city back then. It and the surrounding lands slowly developed into a guberniya (district, similar to vilayet). But at the time, Yerevan was not the center of the Armenian culture, Tiflis was (modern-day capital of Georgia). I don’t know how many mosques there were in Yerevan because the Eastern part of Armenia never was an ancestral land of the Turks or Persians, whereas eastern provinces in the Ottoman empire were indigenous Armenian lands for roughly 4000 years. Therefore, the comparison with the number of mosques in Yerevan and the number of churches throughout Western Armenia that you tacitly suggest is very irrelevant.

    During the Soviet times, most of the dozens of churches and a few mosques were demolished by the Bolsheviks as part of their atheist ideology, not as part of genocidal extermination of local population. I don’t remember that houses of worship were converted into museums during the Soviet times. They just stayed dysfunctional. In the downtown modern-day Yerevan, I know, there is an Iranian Blue Mosque that in the 1990s was renovated fully (both inside and outside) based on the decision of the government of Armenia. Iranian specialists were invited to lead the renovation efforts because it was built by them. There is a minaret beside the mosque and no one in Armenia has religious intolerance toward that, in contrast to the cross that the Turkish government couldn’t lift in three years atop Holy Cross on Akhtamar island — one of some 3000 churches and monasteries that Armenians had in eastern provinces.
    Blue Mosque in Yerevan serves the needs of diplomatic personnel from Muslim countries, as well as tourists from those countries.
    Generally, Armenians never had problems with Islam or Muslim people. Armenians have problems with the Turks. Wherever you travel in the Middle East, ask any Muslim—an Iranian or an Arab—about the Armenians, and you’ll see what high respect they hold us.


  7. Bayram Durmus, Whatever the number of a few mosques that were in Tsarist or pre-Tsarist Armenia, they never were converted into churches by Armenians, intentionally blown up by Armenians (ezcept for Bolsheviks), or transformed into a sheepcot by Armenians. On the Internet you can find, if you’re interested, what Turks did to thousands of our cultural monuments. Many such sites show the structure before 1915 and in modern-day Turkey. If not cultural genocide, then what is it?!

  8. Osik, abrees, your message was exceptionally well stated.
    Teonman, read Osik’s message – and too, Armenians are also continue to be allowed to have  a ONE DAY, ONCE A YEAR use of our ancient Armenian church (without our Chrisitian symbol of our Armenian cross)??
    Another PLOY by the Turkish leaders – Ottoman mentality stiil today – 2010.  Turks have yet to be able to become and join the civilized nations! For that ‘civilization’ to occur shall take many many centuries… obviously.
    Are mosques the world over allowing Turks to enter their mosques – ONE DAY, ONCE A YEAR… Too,  the mosque ‘slated’ to be built in New York City… near the site of the September 11th (could be built anywhere else) the Muslim slaughters of the USA innocents as an IN YOUR FACE AMERICA – thus for Muslims to memorialize these deaths and the  devastation caused by the 9/11 crime –  by Muslims. Manooshag

  9. Istanbul (historically known as Constantinople until Turks renamed the ancient Christian Byzantine capital) — Of course there are many types of Turks, Armenians, Christians and Muslims, but there is ONE type of government that distorts history of their own nation and denies the crimes of their predecessors against their Christian minorities. The name of this government is Turkey.

  10. Teoman,
    I think Harout Sassounian didn’t address a competition between Armenians and Turks, he addressed the propaganda war unleashed by the Turks. Indeed, what competition per se should there be between a murderer and a victim? From the start it was clear that Turks needed the event for propaganda purposes not out of repentance for what they’ve done to the thousands of Armenian churches and monasteries in former Armenian vilayets of the Ottoman empire. Everyone understood this, even the world media reports touched upon this point.
    You ask: “If much more Armenians had attended to liturgy, what would have you lost?” I think we’d lose in terms of supporting your PR stunt with the Holy Cross church, which we chose not to do for several reasons. One, transforming a house of worship into a museum is a sin. I’d repeat this had any mosque in any Christian country been transformed into a museum. Two, “allowing” Armenians, who built the church in the 10th century AD, when Turks were non-existent on the world map, to have a Mass for one day is an insult. Why should the owners of the church not be able to worship freely in a country that considers itself “democratic,” “secular,” and “religiously tolerant”? Three, your government had three long years after it made a decision to do cosmetic renovation of the façade of the church (but not the desecrated frescos and the image of our Lord Jesus Christ inside the church) to mount a cross atop, but only several days before the event, in the best Turkish tradition, backed off from their promise. Cross makes the church a church. And fourth, all magnificent churches and monasteries in Western Armenia, most of which have been blown up, transformed into mosques and sheepcots or just a pile of stones, must be transferred under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople and be allowed to function freely as houses of worship. This is not only the logical move that you government would need to do, but also a legal obligation that bears your government’s signature under the Treaty of Lausanne.
    I agree, one may get an impression from the article that even if these obligations are fulfilled, something to protest may still be found. You know why? Because the major issue that’d bring solution to all these secondary issues (cross, jurisdiction, etc.) has not been addressed. Your government did not admit the guilt for committing physical and cultural genocide against my people. Hence our indignation, distrust, and utter suspicion of whatever the Turks do.

    I think you’re right, if the cross is mounted atop and all our cultural heritage in the form of churches and monasteries are placed under the Patriarchate, more Armenians will visit their homeland. But, still, we will never cease our efforts to demand recognition of genocide from your government. When it happens, then we’ll win at the same time, both Turks who washed off the stigma of genocide perpetrating nation and Armenians who relived themselves from a victim complex.

  11. Hye, I know and hear, and see only of the Muslim Turks who have devastated the Armenians via the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians and to this date, in their Ottoman mentality (which shall take many centuries for Turks to overcome) whose leaders are of the hordes of the Asian mountains who came to take/steal the lands of the Armenians by ‘eliminating’ the Armenian peoples to gain all their lands, properties, culture, and wealths to claim as their own –  upon which the wealthy Turks of today have built.   Too, killings, tortures too vile as only the Turk mentality can devise, kidnappings, rapes and worse… all these, historically,  are what the Turk has foisted upon the Christian Armenian nation.  Armenians are and have been an ancient and advanced peoples, civilized and worthy of their own lands, worthy of all their advances they shared with the civilized nations of the world.  I know a Turkey is a nation whose leaders lie, unceasingly.  Turkey today is still perpetrating Genocides – today still against the Kurds – and a Turkey that is incapable of admitting their guilt of the slaughter of my people, my forbears.  Even more – today will grant ONLY ONE DAY EACH YEAR to observe my own Christian rites in our own ancient Armenian church of Soorp Khatch – what an uncivilized leadership you Turks allow – even your own citizens suffer their leaderships… Too, the use of the Muslim religion – to gain their goals for the New York City location of a mosque – which can be located elsewhere – but  Muslim chooses the site near to the September 11th killings of innocents – an IN YOUR FACE to the USA – using a mosque when the nation’s pain is so great for the lives lost by the actions of Muslims!!  There must be Turks, many of them the children of the Armenian women who were forced to become their grandmothers – who have in them the genes it takes to have feelings of compassion, of considerations of others, which they shall have passed on to their grandchildren and great grandchildren… these shall be the compassionate Turks.
    From the 1890s, the 19th, 20th, and now the 21st centuries of Turkish domination and ill treatments of the Armenians and second class humans – continues/ongoing –  as though it was the Armenians who had committed a genocide against the Turks! Would that we had!  Manooshag

  12. Teoman hold it right there….

    In your dreams…  there is no WE anymore unless you can bring those 1.5 Million Armenians back or recognize The Armenian Genocide and return those lands to US.

  13. My reseach shows that Yerevan boasted 16 mosques, pre-1920, of which the Blue Mosque was the most prominent and important. The population of the city at that time was around 30,000, of which probably half were Muslim. As genocide survivors and refugees poured in, the city became increasingly Armenian, with a heavy Soviet Russian overlay. It was they who closed both mosques and churches. The Blue Mosque was renovated with Iranian funding.

  14. Mr Sassounian,
    Today, when i read daily news, i coincidently saw an article which directly cites your name. The writer Baskın Oran, who is one of the most popular leftist academician in Turkey, interviews with Aziz Aykaç (a Kurdish inhabitant of Van, who found the idea that Armenian visitors should be guested in houses if they can’t find a room in hotels).
    In the last part of the interview, the writer mentions your previous article, quotes your words in turkish: “A clear indication of Turkish disinterest in preserving Armenian churches is the interrogation by the secret police of several thousand families who have offered to host Armenian visitors in the nearby city of Van on Sept. 19, due to a shortage of hotel rooms”. And then ask Aytaç whether he experienced this traetment or not.
    The answer is this: “No, there was no such thing. Conversely: the mayor encouraged us to host the guests. Even, the major prevent the nationalist protest for the liturgy”.
    There is no english version of the article so i give the link in turkish:
    Now, Mr Sassounian, you have give me your reference: where did you find the information that turkish police acted like “gestapo”?

  15. Karekin,
    I think it’s worth mentioning that pre-1918-1920 town of Yerevan (Erivan) was just a town in a guberbiya (province) of the Russian empire. Therefore all policies, including those with regard to ethnic and religious minorities and their edifices, were carried out by the Tsar and his General Governor for the Transcaucasia stationed in Tiflis.
    The Blue Mosque was renovated with Iranian funding, but it was the government of Armenia that made a decision to fully renovate the mosque and make it functional as a house of Muslim worship, and not transform it into a sheepcot or detonate the structure as Turks did with the most of Armenians churches and monasteries in Western Armenia.

  16. Teoman, is the only thing that you question in this whole vile Turkish ‘project’ this whole fiasco currently which the Turks perpetrated – still – against the Christian Armenians – just one more of the PLOYS Turks pursues against their Armenian victims of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation?
    As you said:   “that the Turkish police acted like ‘gestapo”?
    Turkey, shall never be able to join the civilized nations of the world… your citizens have all been programmed by your leaderships very well – and there is no hope that you shall ever change – for you are not aware of your own history – which you are deliberately not being taught – which the world knows and recognizes:
    Turkey is a nation that exists, persists, via the Genocides of peoples, stealing other nations to collect all that is of their culture, their wealths, their women/children, and more.  Unless you, and Turks like you, endeavor to seek and find the truths about your own nation, your own leaderships who lie to you – lying to the world – lying to themselves, lying to your Turkish nation. Sadly,your people are ignorant of the truths of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians.  Except in the further villages… some may still be alive who can remember (or were told) of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians – the slaughters, the kidnappings, rapes, tortures so vile as only the Turk mentality devised…. horse shoes hammered to the victims feet, pregnant womens bodies sliced to seek the embryo to toss aloft to land upon the brave Turks swords… this is and more is how the Turks got their ‘jollies’. Sadly, much of such mentality – of Armenians being second class peoples is still how Turk leaderships addresses their victim nation – today our church – or do you know latest fiasco of Turks at the ancient Armenian church – which Turks only allow Armenians to ‘use’ ONE DAY/ONCE A YEAR – though Turks rebuilt it – as Turk museum, for Turk tourism!
    Imagine, the Turk leaderships behave, still, in a strange and even ignorant manner.  Turkish leaderships, even today, act towards the Armenians as if, as though, it were the Armenians who had committed Genocide against the Turks!!  Turks leaderships cannot, will not, are incapable of the humanity it takes to recognize their own history – a nation that has commited Genocides and is still a nation that uses Genocides (today the Kurds) to gain their misguided goals via killings…
    Until the Turk recognizes their guilt of ‘elimination’ of the Armenians from their own lands of nearly four thousand years (4,000) the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation is not ended… for this Genocide continues until the Turk leaderships admit their guilt, too, pay the reparations due and owing to the Armenians… Genocides began in the 1890s – the 19th,20th,and now into the 21st centuries… from 1890 – 2010, and still the Turks continue their actions against their victims, the Armenians and still maintain that Turks/Muslims do not commit any Genocides! Lies.
    Teoman, and your question…?   Manooshag

  17. Mr.Sassounian, you are living in denial. I think you just realized that you wasted too much time and enegy by writing and talking on armenian channels.Why are you accusing us now ?You are manupulating our media and political parties and so on.More armenians now thinking differently than you. I think you need to find a new way to solve the problems.You need to educate yourself about what is going on in Turkey right now. By the way who told you that armenians in Istanbul can not talk and express themselves.Please read Taraf newspaper where there are two intellectuals who can help you to understand the real situation there. One more thing, like Buddha says, there is no fire greater than greedy and hatred.

  18. Manooshag
    I agree with you: unfortunately we, the Turks, are an uncivilized nation. We live in tents instead of houses. We ride horses instead of driving cars, we go to riverside once a month to clean ourselves. I personally have four wifes, none of them are literate. Finally I guess I have 16 children (i’m not sure about that, i have to count)
    However i don’t believe that we will stay uncivilized forever. For example, 2 weeks ago, my wise grandfather found the wheel. It is such an honour for me and my family. Among the all 70million idiot minds, it was my grandfather who found it (Woow)!! Moreover, in another clan, the wise old men are working on the fire thing. However, this fire thing, i suppose, is an unnecessary thing. Eating uncooked meat is also very delicious.
    About the Kurdish issue, i also agree with you. I don’t like them. I don’t like their way of life. But don’t worry, we are harsh enough. For example, three days ago, when me and my closest “hunter gatherer friend” were walking in the jungle, a kurd dared to speak. (yes its true). Can you imagine that: she dared to speak. It was such an insulting action for my turkishness. Hence we raped and slaughtered her right there.
    It’s also an uncivilized action, I know. However what can I do, i can’t prevent myself from killing kurds. Indeed it’s my favorite daily action. At the end Me and my bronze age nation commit suicide for 300 years and old habits die hard.
    Manooshag, defending your right is one thing, blethering is another. Of course you should try to make Turkish government accept your cause. However, when you say Turkey shall never join the civilized nations, i don’t think any turkish persons reaction will be different from mine, if he deign to respond.
    In another article, people decided to follw turkish news, and explain their thoughts to turkish people via commenting on these news. I think you shall join them. Yet instead of explaining yourselves, firstly you shall  learn “a little bit more” about Turkey.

  19. I am not sure the debate among Armenians about attending the Akhtamar mass was negative.  Same with the protocols.  It was more of an education.  Armenians will be better in dealing with the Turks and as time goes on Armenians will be more united as a result of these events and the debate.

  20. Sorry arx, but it is YOU who is in denial! Do you really believe all of us are making this stuff up? Stop blindly defending your country because you believe what your heavily censored Turkish textbooks have told you. Read about your history from another source —try some textbooks from several other countries. Wake up already! You can’t defend the impossible.

    As for Mr. Sassounian, he can speak for me anytime! He has articulated my thoughts and feelings more than any writer has before him! Keep it up Harout, God bless you, Asdvadz orrered shadsineh!

    You forgot some recent events; let me remind you:
    You assassinate people in day light by shooting behind the head; your “Civilized Police” proudly takes pictures with You and puts in public media, your government sweeps everything under the carpet and presents BS to international court and when was found guilty; tries to buy out the family of the victim with some “Ghooroosh” and 

    I put the “and” followed by blank bringing you to current events and I’m sure you can continue your sarcastic story of the “Turkish Civilization” from Armenian number 1,500,002 and on.


  22. Armenians in the 21st C. diaspora tend to forget that they have lived either side by side, or under the rule of Turks for a thousand years.  Now, it may not have been what we in modern day Europe or America think of as being ideal, but guess what?  Armenians were living under the protection of a huge empire and in many ways, flourished with that protection.  In most other parts of the world, most humans were living lives are complete and total slaves. Whether you believe it or not, Armenians were not slaves. Yes, they may have had a second class status legally – which is no picnic –  but we must realize that we are talking about the state of the world at that point in time, and cannot use today’s modern standards as a gauge.  Personally, I would much prefer to have been an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire than to be a serf in Russia or China.  (and before that, 300 years under the Arabs, and before that, hundreds of years under the Greeks and Persians).  For 99% of that history, Armenians were, more or less, fine. It was not until the last few years of the Ottoman Empire that the entire saga went downhill.  As the sultans became more and more crazy, fought more and more wars, taxed their subjects to death a new crowd came to power who sought to place blame for the empire’s ills on their oldest and most loyal citizens, the Armenians. They placed that blame, pointed fingers and mounted an anti-Armenian propaganda campaign that demonized them and created an internal enemy to boost their aims at total control of Turkey.  Armenians contributed greatly to making the Ottoman Empire great, but their contributions were targeted and stolen in the process of ethnic cleansing known as the genocide. The point is, Armenians were not the enemies of Turkey, the ruling elite of the CUP were, because they destroyed the multicultural, cosmopolitan Turkey of old. Today’s Turkey is a huge departure from what it was just 10 years ago, and appears to be on the road to much better things. Armenians should encourage it and if possible, participate in the process. Many of us have our roots are in Turkey and are in many ways, more ‘Anatolian’ by DNA and culture than alot of people living in Turkey today, who relocated there only after WWI from the periphery of the empire. That gives us a tie to that land that is genetic and believe me, you can truly feel it when you’re there.  

  23. Teoman,
    Don’t take so sarcastically on our victim complex that generations of Armenians suffer from 1915 onwards because the murderer never repented. Our indignation is not directed against ordinary Turks like you, it’s directed against your denialist, unrepentant state. The way your state behaves, unfortunately, gives us no hope at the moment that Turkey can ever join the community of civilized nations. This is not to say that things can gradually change, but as they stand now, we’re utterly suspicious about such a development in the future. Your state continues to deny the fact that the Ottoman Turkish government has annihilated particular racial, ethnic, national, and religious groups of Armenians (who faced the cruelest fate), Greeks, Alewis, and Assyrians. This is not a civilized behavior. Your state continues the same policies in regard to its Kurdish population. This is not a civilized behavior. Your state suppresses by means of Article 301 of the Penal Code any expression of discontent with regard to treatment of ethnic minorities and those intellectuals who dare to speak the truth about the genocide of Armenians or other peoples and the need to admit the guilt and apologize. This is not a civilized behavior. Your state continues to try, deport, and kill those activists who raise their voices in support of the historical truth. This is not a civilized behavior. Your state continues to follow the ideology of great falsificator and history distorter Mustafa Kemal and your military stands ready to suppress any expression of historical truth, liberalism, religious tolerance, or xenophilia. This is not a civilized behavior. Your state desecrated, blew up, transformed into mosques or sheepcots thousands of Armenian cultural heritage edifices and artifacts. This is not a civilized behavior. Your state transforms houses of worship of other, nobler and more ancient peoples, that miraculously survived detonation or desecration, into museums and “allows” one of them to function as a house of worship just one day a year and with no relics that are characteristic of them. This is not a civilized behavior. I can continue the list. Believe me, it’ll be very long.

    All unpleasant comments that you get here have one reason, Teoman: your state must admit the guilt and apologize to massacred, mutilated, raped, burnt and buried alive, starved to death, and forcibly expelled millions of innocent Ottoman Armenians.

  24. Dear Karekin,

    I’m not a racist person but after carefully reading your last lengthy comment; with deep sorrow I must use a racist phrase which immediately popped up in my mind because if you know what it means and with my apologies to my fellow African Americans; my friend now you more sound like a “Home N.”.
    If you are not already there please go there and enjoy the rest of your life as a “Second Class Anatolian” you are a rare commodity for Turks and I’m sure they will accept you with open arms.
    Good luck to you.

  25. Karekin – Armenians have not lived either side by side, or under the rule of Turks for a thousand years. Armenians were colonized by Ottoman Turks during the 16th century AD. It’s almost 500 years. Not a thousand. Check your history books. You claim that “Armenians were living under the protection of a huge empire and in many ways, flourished with that protection.” But no Armenian requested that “protection.” Armenians, who lived in Eastern Asia Minor for several thousands of years, were colonized by newly-emerged Ottoman Turks. Call things by their names. Besides, if you think that 80% of the Armenian population “flourished” in the centuries of Turkish colonization, you must have misread your history books. Mainly the Constantinople intelligentsia “flourished” so to speak because of Armenian wit and industriousness, but most of the population was rural, living in miserable conditions, heavily taxed, barred from any basic civil rights, unprotected because their witness testimonies were disregarded, unrepresented because they were not allowed to elect or run for the office, and utterly insecure in the face of constant pogroms, pillages, massacres, and abductions by the Turkish, Circassian, and Kurdish bands. Hardly would such a “life” be characterized as “flourishing.” It was a classic slavery, maybe in other parts of the world slavery could be worse, but nevertheless it was slavery. Would you prefer to have been an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire than to be a serf in Russia or China? That’s your choice. But the vast majority of Armenians suffered and their few revolutionaries witnessed the suffering and when the wave of national liberation struggle started in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, they aspired to free their nation from the shackles of Turkish colonizers. Please don’t turn history topsy-turvy: it is not sedentary, indigenous Armenians who have roots in Turkey, but nomadic Turks who later invaded the area have roots in ancient Armenia, Pontian Greece, and Assyria. Almost 2 mln Eastern Armenians living in the Russian empire would never say that they feel more “Anatolian” by DNA and culture, because, first of all, Anatolia is a Turkish creation, the region is known as Eastern Asia Minor, Armenian Plateau; and second, Armenian culture has existed long before nomads appeared from Altay mountains and steppes of Mongolia. So, whose culture was appropriated, do you think? The sedentary peoples’ or that of new-comer nomad destroyers’? Also, those people who were relocated to Turkey after WWI from the periphery of the empire, were relocated exactly to the lands and properties emptied from Armenians by means of barbarous extermination. Lastly, our genetic memory, affinity to the lands of our forefathers and to our cultural heritage gives me a tie to those lands, but not anything or anyone else.

  26. Mr. Mirakian, text books are for the kids. If you want I can give the name of the books that  you can read. By the way have you read ” The First World War and Western Armenians” by Jon Giragossian? You can find many useful ideas and interpretations.Open your eyes and learn more and more. I am always awake and watchful.Thanks for your answer.

  27. arx – Whatever secluded “ideas and interpretations” can be found in this or that scholarly account, the prevailing majority of genocide scholars and historians agree that no national liberation aspirations, proclamations, or isolated actions of a few Armenian revolutionaries could justify mass annihilation of one of the most ancient civilizations inhabiting the Earth by the Ottoman Turkish government. Armenians were colonized by the Ottomans, and their few revolutionaries’ activities were directed at freeing their nation from the foreign yoke. A typical freedom fighting case, just like those of the Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, Greeks, Romanians in the Balkans, and your fellow Muslim Arabs in the Middle East. However, none of those nations faced annihilation of a race in its unimaginable, indescribable Turkish barbarity. Millions of unarmed, largely peasant, scattered, and intermingled with Muslims Armenian men, women, children and the elders, most of whom resided in provinces far removed from the frontlines could not possibly pose a threat to the Ottoman empire. They were exterminated en masse because losing Armenian vilayets in addition to other parts of the empire meant dissolution of a Turkish state formation. You poured all your revenge and spite for your losses in the Balkans on Christian Armenians who were in no way instigators or participants of expulsions and killings of the Turks in the occupied Balkan lands. The world already knows that what your grandparents did to my people constitutes a classical definition of genocide. In fact, the term “genocide” was coined by a Polish Jew, international lawyer Raphael Lemkin based on his study of the Armenian and Jewish cases. If you so wish, I can give the names of books that you can read.

  28. Arm_K and Osik
    Why are you trying to explain my country to me? I’m a Turk, and most probably, i know bad things about Turkey as twice as you do, because i experience them.
    To Osik: My childhood passed by listening how the police treated against kurds assyrians and turks with different ideologies. So I CANNOT forget anything about the turkish police, don’t worry.
    To Arm_K: I learned my best friend is not a turk but Zaza after 15 years of friendship. He hid his origin even from me because of the pressure he faced and fear. Finally,  he could openly declare that last summer. So reminding me about Article 301 and all other bad stuff is not necessary, believe me.
    Yet what you cannot see is that Turkey in 2010 is much better than Turkey in the 1980s and  90s. I am sure that Turkey in 2020 will also be much better than this one. This is not only for Turkey-Armenian relations but for the most aspects of politics (for example, if you follow turkish domestic politics, you can see the recent referanda demolished the idelogic orientation of judiciary).
    I sincerely believe that the liturgy is one indicator of the change (Even the name of island is still Akdamar instead of Ahtamar, and there was no cross at the top of the church). Some commentators argued that the only expectation of inhabitants of Van and Turkish government is getting your money via turism. This is not true. I was not there but I read that there was a huge community from Van and other parts of Turkey who wanted to embrace you. Sassonuian asserted that turkish police acted like gestapo before the event, i also found that it is wrong.
    I think that you cannot realize the change in turkey because of the attitude of the armenian media. I follow three different armenian news for more than six months. The editors give huge importance to turkish events and politics. However, they ALWAYS choose the news among the bad ones or interpret them negatively. Even in one site (and i can give its name if its not seen as an advertisement) the editors put traffic accident news. TRAFFIC ACCIDENT NEWS! Even I don’t follow turkish car accident news because they are ordinary. But the editor choose to broadcast them. You know why? Because they are bad, negative events about turkey. Hence i appreciate that people here decide to follw turkish sites as well. I don’t claim that they are more objective than armenian ones. However, i believe that the ones who read the both sides of the story can have a more objective view.
    P.S: I tried to share my humble observation, i hope you and the editor here don’t take them as an offence.

  29. It is clear who the winners are from this article by Vercihan Ziflioglu from HDN:

    The historic religious ceremony held Sept. 19 at an Armenian church in eastern Turkey will have long-lasting effects, according to Armenians who anticipate more churches being restored and more people reclaiming their ethnic identities.
    “Families from all corners of Turkey are coming to us in search of the roots of their families. Members of my own family have changed their identity cards to be listed as Christian,” Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, deputy patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “Many people who had ‘Muslim’ written in their identity cards are confessing that they are hidden Armenians.”
    Following the killings of Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, many of those remaining in the area changed their names and assumed identities as Kurdish Muslims. According to Ateşyan, the current process of democratization in Turkey is slowly eliminating the fears that led people to take such measures.
    That process had perhaps its most dramatic manifestation to date in the rite at the Surp Haç Church on Akdamar Island near the eastern province of Van, the first such service to be held there in 95 years. Though that church has been the subject of intense media focus, it is only one of several Armenian monasteries and churches in the province, where a number of villages are still known by their Armenian names. Local residents say many of the buildings have been demolished, especially since the mid-1990s.

    ‘There is big change,’ says local journalist

    As hotels in Van struggled to accommodate the thousands who attended the rite at Surp Haç Church observed on Sept. 19, some visitors stayed in the houses of the local residents.

    The idea of accommodating visitors in local houses belonged to Aziz Aykaç, owner of the two daily local newspapers, one of which is Van Times, published in Turkish, English, Kurdish and Persian. He said more than a thousand families applied to host visitors in their homes. “Well, obviously we expelled them (Armenians), that is why they were welcomed warmly.”

    “I am a Kurd. But all of my father’s neighbors used to be Armenian,” he told academic Baskın Oran, who wrote his impressions of their interview in daily Radikal. “Here there are many families that have Armenian members. They know, everyone knows, but no-one talks about it. They will only talk about it when the circumstances are right,” he said.

    Aykaç believes people in the region have a kind of bruise on their subconscious. “We massacred, we expelled. Everyone should know the name of their village by its Armenian name,” he said.

    Aykaç said there has been a huge change. “There is a transformation (happening at the moment). I don’t know how to describe it,” he said.

    Aykaç said he has visited the governor of Van with two additional proposals to expand local consciousness of the Armenian cultural heritage of the area: to hold marriage and baptism ceremonies in the church. “He approached it with a positive view,” Aykaç said.

    In the village of Nareg, 40 kilometers north of Van, only a few stones remain of the Naregevank Monastery complex, which a man who identified himself only as Mahmet said the village people were ordered to demolish in the 1990s. Homes have been built on the former site in Nareg, a village named for the 10th-century philosopher Krikor Naregatzi, considered the greatest poet of the Armenian nation. Mahmet, 95, who said he is of Kurdish origin, also claimed the governor’s building in the center of Van was built from the stones taken from the Naregevank Monastery.
    Varakavank Monastery to be restored
    The Varakavank Monastery in the village of Yukarı Bakraçlı, also known as “seven churches,” is little better off than its counterpart in Nareg. Only one floor is left of the once-impressive monastery, built in 1003 by the Armenian King Senekerim. All of the invaluable manuscripts once held in its library have been lost.
    The Van Governor’s Office told the Daily News in August that the monastery will soon be restored, as will the Ktuts Monastery on Lake Van’s Çarpanak Island, part of efforts to turn Van into the culture and tourism center of Turkey’s East.
    The owner and guardian of the now-defunct Varakavank Monastery is an Armenian who hides his ethnic identity. Kerim avoided revealing his family name and introduced himself as a Kurdish Muslim. Kerim said when his father died he left the monastery’s land to him and said he should protect the church at any cost, in the name of Christ.
    “His wish surprised me. We were Muslim and I did not understand why he wanted me to protect the church in the name of Christ,” Kerim said, adding that he only learned upon insistent questioning of older relatives that the family was in fact Armenian.
    Kerim said he worked as the village imam for all his life and lived as a pious Muslim. He keeps the monastery locked and maintains strict control over the visitors who are allowed to enter. He cleaned the interior on his own and laid all the stones in a corner, in numerical order, in hopes that it will one day be restored. Because he is influential in the village, no one interferes with his efforts, but Kerim said he has experienced a lot of difficulties in his life.
    “It was not that easy to protect this place,” he said.
    Fears and hopes of finds
    The small steps toward reclaiming Van’s Armenian past have aroused some controversy and speculation. Mehmet Tuncel Ağa, the guide who accompanied the Daily News to the villages in the area, said the lands Armenians left in 1915 are now under the control of his Büriki clan, one of the biggest in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. The son of Fariz Ağa, the head of the clan, Tuncel Ağa said members of the Turkmen tribes who settled in the homes abandoned by the Armenians feared their houses would be reclaimed by Armenians who came to attend the Akdamar rite.
    According to Tuncel Ağa, there was considerable uneasiness among them before the ceremony, and many people came to share their fears with the leaders of the tribe. “We said the fears are groundless and that the Armenians were just coming for the ceremony,” he said, adding that he made every effort to host the Armenians from Istanbul who came to Van for the event.
    Tuncel Ağa also said Victor Bedoyan, an Armenian-American entrepreneur who tried to set up a business in Van in 2002, was treated unjustly. “He opened a hotel here with the name Vartan, but some did not want to see an Armenian managing a hotel. It was closed by the Culture Ministry. We did not object to it. We made a mistake. We did not foresee the current situation,” Tuncel Ağa said.
    If the opportunity to open the hotel had not been taken from Bedoyan, then the region would see more tourists today, he added.
    There is also a pervasive belief in some villages that the Armenians must have hidden their valuables before fleeing the region, sparking interest in recent excavations near cemeteries. Arşo Ağa, a villager who is a member of the Büriki clan, said he is working on the excavation in hopes of finding treasure.

  30. Dear Arm-k….I know my history quite well, but just in case, I checked my books once again, and whether you know it or not, the first Turks to arrive at the doors of Armenia were the Seljuks. They were later usurped by the Osmalis/Ottomans, but that does not negate the fact these facts; Alp Arslan was the son of Çağrı Beg and expanded significantly upon Toğrül’s holdings by adding Armenia and Georgia in 1064 and invading the Byzantine Empire in 1068, from which he annexed almost all of Anatolia; Arslan’s decisive victory at the Battle of Manzikert (in 1071) effectively neutralized the Byzantine threat.[24] He authorized his Turkmen generals to carve their own principalities out of formerly Byzantine Anatolia, as atabegs loyal to him. Within two years the Turkmens had established control as far as the Aegean Sea under numerous “beghliks” (modern Turkish beyliks): the Saltuklus in Northeastern Anatolia, Mengujeqs in Eastern Anatolia, Artuqids in Southeastern Anatolia, Danishmendis in Central Anatolia, Rum Seljuks (Beghlik ofSuleyman, which later moved to Central Anatolia) in Western Anatolia and the Beghlik of Çaka Beg in İzmir (Smyrna).  And, within a few generations, due to intermarriage with the local population, most ‘Seljuks’ were in fact, partially Armenian.
    On other fronts, the Kingdom of Georgia began to become a regional power and extended its borders at the expense of Great Seljuk. The same was true during the revival of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia under Leo II of Armenia in Anatolia. The Abbassid caliph An-Nasir also began to reassert the authority of the caliph and allied himself with the Khwarezmshah Takash.
    For a brief period, Togrul III was the Sultan of all Seljuk except for Anatolia. In 1194, however, Togrul was defeated by Takash, the Shah of Khwarezmid Empire, and the Seljuk finally collapsed. Of the former Seljuk Empire, only the Sultanate of Rûm in Anatolia remained. As the dynasty declined in the middle of the thirteenth century, the Mongols invaded Anatolia in the 1260s and divided it into small emirates called the Anatolian beyliks. Eventually one of these, the Ottoman, would rise to power and conquer the rest.

  31. Teoman,
    Thank you for your clarification on Turkish domestic policies. However, from our point of view noting essential has been done by your state to address the issue of genocide or to liberalize your society to the extent when could see real changes. Sorry. Since no consecutive Turkish government attempted to admit the guilt for the crime throughout 95 past years, it doesn’t essentially matters for us whether “Turkey in 2010 [will be] much better than Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s.” We’ve waited for a very long time, and to wait until Turkey becomes better off in 2020 just doesn’t make any sense.
    Your perception is also incorrect in that it is a new Turkey on which recognition of genocide should depend. Not quite so. Genocide is a crime against humanity and when the bulk of the international community—including such major players as the US, Israel, and the UK—accepts the fact, the issue can be taken to international courts based on the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. It is our firm belief that the fear for international recognition of genocide motivates Turkish politicians to make insignificant steps towards rapprochement towards Armenians, not the repentance for guilt or compassion for millions of innocent Christian lives taken from God. You may cite various referenda, but nonetheless we know who controls your country. It’s not the people who vote in referenda, but the military safeguarding the Kemalist ideology of your state, ideology based on distorted history, falsification of policies carried out by the CUP, Kemalist, and all consecutive Republican administrations, Turkification of the whole nation in which large segments of non-Turks and non-Muslims reside, and many more.
    In addition, killings, harassment, and deportation of the bravest Turkish intellectuals or Christian priests who raise their voices in support of the truth are a very serious indicator that a Turkey of 2000s is basically the same Turkey of 1980s and 1990s. If Turks now adopted a policy of delaying justice by giving us a sleeping pill in the form of “wait to see how Turkey becomes better in 10, 20, or another 95 years from now,” it simply won’t work. Tell me what can possibly prevent your government to place all Armenian churches and monasteries—or whatever is left of them as a result of detonation and desecration which is called “religious tolerance” in Turkey—under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate? Enlighten us. Why does this harmless move on the part of your government need to wait for another 10 or more years? Don’t these cultural monuments, edifices, and artifacts exist? Akhtamar is just one of some 3000 churches that were built by Armenians in the course of their long presence on their ancestral lands. Go to Kars, Ani, Mush, Kharbert, Van, Tigranakert (Diyarbekir), Constantinople (Istanbul) and see with your own eyes. Who built those churches and monasteries? Turks? If your state can’t return the status of house of worship to Hagia Sophia, a monumental Christian Byzantine cathedral, a world heritage, what can we expect from your government with regard to the thousands of Armenian churches?
    I welcome reading the both sides of the story to have a more objective view, however, NOTHING can justify mass extermination of the whole race and the consecutive denial of crime. This is non-negotiable, teoman, however hard we try to have a “more objective view.” NOTHING can explain slaughtering innocent people en masse, taking their lives from God who created and brought them to Earth to live.

  32. Well, Karekin, it appears from your post that your history books resemble strikingly the Wikipedia or other online publication that you’ve copied and pasted. You also misread my post that was in response to your false claim that, I quote, “Armenians have lived […] under the rule of [a huge empire of] Turks for a thousand years.” I brought you a historical fact, that can be verified by any history book, that Ottoman empire colonized Armenian lands only in the 16th century AD until 1915 when Armenians were subjected to genocide, which makes it 500 not 1000 years. Had you mentioned Seljuks, then Mongols, and then Ottoman Turks who invaded and destroyed Armenia one after another, than I’d agree, it makes it roughly 900 years (Seljuk nomads invaded Asia Minor in the 11th century AD, followed by Mongol nomads who scorched our lands until the 13th century AD). The amalgamation of these nomadic, tent-living destroyer tribes created the Turkish nation. However, you forget (and I’d still advise you to check your history books not Wikipedia) that even under Seljuks and Mongols many independent Armenian principalities existed and, and, of course the Kingdom of Cilicia existed up until the end of the 14th century AD. Therefore, to state that for “one thousand years” Armenians were under the rule of Turks is a sheer distortion of history, a method so darling to the modern Turkish state.

  33. “Tell me what can possibly prevent your government to place all Armenian churches and monasteries—or whatever is left of them as a result of detonation and desecration which is called “religious tolerance” in Turkey—under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate? Enlighten us.”

    Is it possible that the fact that the Armenian Church (not too different than Greek church by the way), being the hot bed of Armenian nationalism, and where brainwashing and Turkophobia is one of the main activities, may have something to do with all the hesitation and foot dragging?  After all, any government would be sensitive to the sentiment of its people.  These churches were weapons depots, they were centers of armed strugle against the government, do not take my word for it, look at Armenian proapaganda sources.  Yes, Armenian Church in Turkey is not involved as far we know in any such activities today, but can you blame Turks painting with a broad brush?  Just look at the sentiments voiced here.  Minority issues had been ruthlessly exploited in recent past by Great Powers which cost gretaly to all involved.  Armenian and Greek churches were the main tools of manipulation.  Besides, today, Turks see nothing but animosity coming from Armenian corners.  It is a commendable that the government took such a political risk in taking these steps, and more will be forthcoming if Armenians do not torpedo it.

    You can not be so naive to think all this is not the least related.

  34. Arm-K, it is a pleasure to read your well-reasoned responses to Teoman.  I agree with you in pointing out to Teoman, that though there are some positive changes happening in Turkey today, it is quite insufficient to suggest that good things lie ahead for us if we only wait ten more years.  Armenians and the rest of civilized society has waited too long already for Turkey to do the right thing.   I also appreciate your clarification to Karekin regarding Armenian history of Turkish domination.  It is important to be specific about these facts and not simply submit to the Turkish myth regarding their primacy in Asia Minor.

  35. Murat, you write:  “These churches were weapons depots, they were centers of armed strugle against the government, do not take my word for it, look at Armenian proapaganda sources.  Yes, Armenian Church in Turkey is not involved as far we know in any such activities today, but can you blame Turks painting with a broad brush?”

    Murat, take the time to think about what societal conditions would force a church to take on the functions of a government, defending its national security, in addition to defending its faith and cultural heritage.  Your statement above indicts the Ottomans for creating an inhospitable environment for those Christian ethnic groups it conquered and suppressed.  How much better have recent Turkish governments been?

  36. Murat – The major flaw in your comments is that you portray things as if it were Armenians who slaughtered, mutilated, raped, buried and burnt alive, and starved to death almost your entire nation and then stole three-quarters of your ancestral lands in Mongolian steppes. Amazing! But I don’t blame you for your sheer xenophobia and anti-Armenianism, after all, what can we expect from Turks like you, who for decades were brainwashed by the school curricula and state propaganda? There’s also an element of post-imperial “grandeur” and ethnic exclusiveness that’s evident in your comments. And, without doubt, there’s also a tacit symptom of a guilt complex, because accepting the truth that many of modern-day Turks’ grandparents were mass murderers, mutilators, and rapists should be painful. Thus fierce attempts to put the blame on the victims in order to somehow justify the barbarity of your predecessors. Well, it can’t be justified. Nationalism—Armenian or other—has many definitions, several of them being related to national spirit or aspirations; devotion and loyalty to one’s own nation; patriotism; and the desire for national advancement or independence. These three definitions is how Armenians view the aspirations and actions of the suppressed Armenian millet in the Ottoman empire. And here are the definitions of nationalism that the Turks like you would embrace when discussing the Armenian Question: excessive patriotism; chauvinism; the doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations. But think for a moment. Who colonized whom? Or, let me put it in a different way: how did Armenians happen to be in the Ottoman empire? Has the empire already existed and the Armenians just walked in? Or maybe the Armenians inhabited those lands for millennia and first the Seljuk and then Ottoman Turks have conquered it resulting in colonization and enslavement of indigenous peoples? If only you could look at things from our perspective, you’d, I’m sure, avoid making false accusations about “hotbed of Armenian nationalism”, “Turkophobia,” etc. You say: “After all, any government would be sensitive to the sentiment of its people.” But Armenians didn’t choose Ottoman governments to rule over us. Armenians were subdued by these governments. If you admit this historical fact, why wouldn’t you admit that sentiment of Ottoman Armenians might have been Turkophobic because this egment of the Ottoman citizenry was treated as second-class millet, with no rights, no representation, no security provision, heavily taxed and constantly pillaged and murdered? You tend to look at things from the Ottoman government’s angle, now use your intellect and try to look at things from Ottoman Armenians’ perspective. Put yourself in our place as much as possible. You say: “Minority issues had been ruthlessly exploited in recent past by Great Powers which cost greatly to all involved.” Well, if you admit that minority issues had been exploited, is it so hard to see that it means there were actually minority issues. Big issues. Had there not been such issues, how on Earth the most manipulative Great Power would have exploited them? Just think for a moment. Would it be possible to manipulate a minority if the minority enjoyed equal rights with the majoritarian segment of the population? The whole world knew the Ottoman empire as a “sick man of Europe.” Why was that? Have you ever asked this question to you? The empire was seriously ill, and one of the major symptoms of illness was the maltreatment of indigenous peoples. You say: “…today, Turks see nothing but animosity coming from Armenian corners.” Well, what would you expect? Almost all of Armenian race in Ottoman Turkey has been wiped out from the face of the Earth; our lands stolen; our houses, pastures, and properties appropriated; our bank accounts and insurance indemnities sequestered; our cultural heritage desecrated or transformed to mosques and sheepcots. Are you surprised at animosity given all this? Try to put yourself in our place. Yet, it is not modern-day Turks that we blame. It’s your denialist and distortive government that we abhor. And we’ll never stop until your state admits the guilt and apologize to us.

  37. Even though I usually do not respond to questions from anonymous persons hiding under fake names, I would like to let “toeman” and everyone else, including Baskin Oran who questioned my sources regarding the Van residents being investigated by the Turkish police, see one of the many articles that served as my source for this information:
    Turkey bans Van residents to host Armenians

    BY TIMES.AM AT 6 AUGUST, 2010, 3:39 PM

    The upcoming opening of St. Cross Armenian church on Akhtamar island has brought about lots of rumor and concerns.
    Though Turkey is making every possible effort to draw the attention of the international community to the circumstance that they are expressing their good will and do their best to conduct the holy mass in the church duly, however, their actions point just the opposite, reported siting Yerkramas paper.
    According to the source, thousands of Diaspora Armenians have voiced a wish to participate in the festive event, and around 6 thousand residents of Van have expressed readiness to host the guests. This has made Turkish special services feel suspicious and currently they are conducting investigation to find out whether these are not the Armenian generations of Van, ready to host Diaspora Armenians.
    Yerkramas paper also reportes that some families have been banned to host Armenians in their homes.
    Remind that the opening of the church is due September 19.

  38. Dear Arm_k,
    First of all, in Turkey lots of places’ names has changed, my village where i born is a Turkish village in Yozgat, its name is also change about 50 years ago, it is such a stupid politics.
    In Turkey lots of city’s and town’s name never changed for 2000 tousand years, for example, Sinop (ancient Greek Sinope), Ankara (ancient Roman Ankyra), Trabzon(ancient Greek Trapezeus) etc. there are only little change as phonoticly for lots of places, it is same for Istanbul. it has turned from Istanpoli (istanpoli comes from Constantinapole, and used by Greek people in istanbul at 19.century ).
    Finally Istanbul has no meaning in Turkish, it is Greek(changed by greek people actually not changed, used differently in hundred years.
    Best wishes from Constantinapole or Istanpoli or istanbul.

  39. Dear friends, when i read most of comments which begins with Turks, i think there are racist. What you think about them.
    Also i think most of people who writes this web site are citezen of United States. For example, 50 years later, People of Irak, writes to a web site lets say Irak weekly, and says always, Americans killed 100 000 innocent people, all Americans killer, all americans uncivilied, animals, they dont feel like a human etc. what will you feel.
    Dear friends not only Turkish racism is bad, Armenian racism is also bad. Lets say RACİSM is bad and most dangerous think for world.
    Best wishes from an ‘other’

  40. Dear Istanbul-historically known as Constantinople:
    Your comment is so-o-o Turkish. If 50 years from now Iraqis would say American government or state killed 100,000 Arab Iraqi people, they’d probably be right. But if Iraqis would say modern-day American citizens killed 100,000 Arab Iraqi people, they’d be dead wrong. Likewise, the Armenians, whom you stigmatize as “racist”: if we say modern-Turks are all murderers, mutilators, rapists, and animals, it’d be dead wrong and unacceptable. But based on historical facts, we can definitely say that your modern-day state is denilaist of its crimes and that your Ittihadist Ottoman forefathers were, without doubt, heartless, soulless animals. Try to understand the difference and not give us this “racist” crap next time. Even if you get such an impression—which is incorrect—our “racism,” as you dubbed it, or rightful indignation, as we and the world know it, has historical grounds and justification. Armenian “racism,” as you call it, has not resulted in the annihilation of almost entire Turkish people and the loss of a Turkish historical homeland. Turkish racism resulted in this for Armenians. Besides, Americans waged a war against Iraqis, whereas Armenians were slaughtered in millions by their own Ottoman government. Try to understand this next time you write on these pages.
    As for changing historical names in the best Turkish tradition, you’re wrong: it is not stupid politics, it is a very shrewd and sly politics aimed at Turkification of everything that belonged to other, more ancient peoples inhabiting their lands long before the world came to know what the Turks are. It’s not just a little phonetical change, it’s a clear policy of Turkifying the toponyms (Agri Dag instead of Biblical Mount of Ararat) or creating new ones (Anatolia instead of historical Eastern Asia Minor or Armenian Plateau). Open any history book until the creation of your Republic and look for Constantinople. Are you seeing any “Istanbul” there? Istanpoli is derived from Constantinople in Greek which was their city until Ottomans sieged and destroyed it in the 15th century. Armenians to this day call it Constandupolis or Polis for short, derived from original Byzantine name: Constantinople. It has nothing to do with the Turkified “Istanbul” that was invented to make the world forget about its original name and whom the city belonged to. The name comes from Roman Emperor Constantine who adopted Christianity as official religion of the Byzantine empire. As such, it will never be forgotten.

  41. Mr Sassounian,
    Please do not speak sarcastically of me by claiming that i’m hiding under a fake name. What would i do? Do i have to fax you my identity card in order to comment under your post?
    You state that you used another second hand source which does not detail the action or specify how the writer reached the information. Then my same questions apply to the writer of “Yerkramas Paper”. What is his source? Why does the police interrogate some people but not the one that found this idea and people around him? Why does Aykaç assert the reverse? etc etc. Yet you are not addressee to these quetsions anymore, so thank you.
    Even though i have some objections to your post, i’m exhausted. I’m done for a period of time. So congrulations,
    good luck

  42. “Murat, take the time to think about what societal conditions would force a church to take on the functions of a government, defending its national security, in addition to defending its faith and cultural heritage.”  One can also imagine the conditions and desperation that forced the Ottomans to take the most severe actions against the bloody and brutal Armenian insurection and terrorism in the middle of World War. 

  43. Murat, how sad that you can defend the murder  of 1.5 million Armenians.  How sad that you believe the lies you have been taught.  How foolish that you could think that a minority group within a minority population, expressing aspirations for self-determination, had the power to drive the Ottoman empire to such barbaric acts, but thanks for admitting it!
    Please provide me with references that show that Armenians committed bloody and brutal insurrections that warranted the destruction of the Ottoman Armenian population and elimination from their traditional homeland.  Can you provide the legal codes that dictate this within the Ottoman justice system.

  44. Murat – You know what’s appalling in you? The way you spit venom on these pages and then, after you get an offer to elaborate on whatever crap you’ve mumbled, turning your tail until you re-surface at another time with another crap. You stated: “the bloody and brutal Armenian insurrection and terrorism in the middle of World War.” Are you ready–if you’re a man and have balls–to provide evidence of “bloody and brutal Armenian insurrection and terrorism in the middle of World War”? Enumerate these insurrections. Itemize terrorist acts. Show that they were “bloody and brutal” by providing the number of Turkish lives these insurrections and terrorist acts have taken. Note: I’d even accept Turkish sources if you choose to cite them. Enlighten us also as to where geographically most of Armenian vilayets situated in the Ottoman empire so Armenians could in any way affect Turkey’s engagement in the war? Open our eyes as to how many armed-to-the-teeth, organized, and tidily mobilized military regiments Ottoman Armenians had when carrying out their “insurrections and terrorism.” And, finally, explain to the best of your Turkish intellectual abilities as to what role millions of innocent men, women, children, the elders, and even unborns slit off their mothers’ wombs had played in those “insurrections and terrorism.” Are you ready? Go…

  45. Wait, teoman, don’t leave so soon. Many Turks and even some Armenians invite both sides to a dialogue. We just started one. You stated your position and I stated mine with no offense or a hint of derogation whatsoever. Why are you exhausted so early? If you genuinely seek the truth, not just obsessively defend your nation or your government’s actions, why can’t you go on?

  46. Actually, Murat the conditions that “forced the Ottomans” were not required by the Turkish government because history before and since the genocide has shown that oppression and rithless behavior is quite a natural act. If the “Armenian insurrection” was the reson, what about the oppression of the previous 30 years. What about the post-war campaign againt the Greeks in Anatolia? What about the Kurds the last 70 years?
            Your rationale is that their was disloyal and rebellious actions and the Turks were forced to respond. So the answer was to kill or expel everyone… Armenian , Greek, Assyrian and deny the cultural freedom of the Kurds.
            We all know that what you call “insurrection” was in fact self defense in the face of murder , looting , rape, kidnapping and the INABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT ITS OWN CITIZENS. You have the audacity to call that rebellion and say that justifies genocide. We all know that the Turkish government has been consistent in its intolerance of others. It’s what destroyed the Ottoman Empire and limits your people today. Very consistent…. Hamidian massacres, Adana(where my grandmother is from), genocide, Smyrna, Pontic greeks, Assyrians, ignoring Sevres, ignoring Lausanne, decades of Kurdish oppression , your sesire to mediate Karabagh, the protocols and now the insult of our museumized beloved Soorp Khatch. The pattern is clear. Change your ways and the truth will set you free. Take your place in the civilized world!!!

  47. For Turks, any minority, especially a Christian one, that actually had the “audacity” to defend themselves from murder, robbery, rape, forced eviction, conversion, etc is considered “rebellious”. To even raise your voice is considered reason enough to get killed and have an entire community attacked.  It stems from the institution of “dhimmitude” inherent in islam as well as the Turkic mentality to subjugate, appropriate, and control others. There is/there was no such concept of equal rights in O.E. and Turkey …how noble. Well, despite recent proclamations and moves by the current regime in Turkey, I don’t see the Kurdish situation getting any better, in fact, it is growing worse. Are the Turks going to continue to kill those who will not be coerced into integration and “turkified”? And if they are somehow successful in destroying the Kurds, who will be the next victims? the leftists? Alevis? the islamists? What happens when the run out of minorities to kill, will they turn on each other? Perhaps. And the while most of the world might be surprised about such an outcome, I don’t think Armenians, Assyrians, Nestorians, Arabs, Persians, Kurds, Yezdis, etc will.

  48. The fight for Anatolia was/is like a fight by two (perhaps more) dogs over the same bone. While the Ottomans lost Greece, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria when it came to east Anatolia, the ancient homeland of the Armenians, the Ottomans – financially desperate and backed into a corner, acted out against their most loyal and useful subjects. It wasn’t the first time in history that an empire acted out in such a bloody way; the Spanish conquistadors were equally brutal in the Americas. The point is, it didn’t have to end this way, but it did. Bad decisions and choices were made by people on all sides, yet other than the largely unarmed Armenians themselves, no one worked on their behalf, so they were doomed. Trapped in Turkey, they were sitting ducks for the brutality of the CUP megalomaniacs.  If anyone had actually lifted a finger to help the Armenians, and many had the chance to do so, perhaps the outcome would have been very different. I might still be living on a farm in Anatolia and Turkey would have become even more cosmopolitan and diverse, and would have prospered many years ago as a result.  When war, revolution, greed, power, religion and racism come together the results are often disasterous for almost everyone involved. That is the sad fact of human existence.   

  49. The Spanish conquistadors were not equally brutal in the Americas. They were outsiders converting Native Americans and profiteering at the same time often in brutal ways, whereas Ottoman Armenians have been wiped out by their own government at the time represented by the CUP megalomaniacs.

    But CUP is long gone. What prevents modern-day “tolerant” and “democratic” Turkish governments to admit the crime of their predecessors?

  50. Karo – An apology will undoubtedly happen if/when the proper atmosphere is created wherein the apology can survive the test of time. Little by little, this is happening right now, as we speak. No one is suggesting that an apology should not happen, of course, it would be appropriate and is absolutely necessary, but the conditions must be right and to a degree, we need to be participants in helping to foster such conditions. We need to ask ourselves, once that does happen, then what?  Will Armenians be able to receive such an apology graciously? After so much noise making, can our compatriots calm down and shift their focus? Will they be open to commemorating the genocide with Turks, rather than encouraging an adversarial relationship forever?  Will they be able to replace demands with the same kind of tolerance they expect from the other side?  In the face of an official apology, will they be able to move on?

  51. Dear Karekin, I wish all Armenians can think little bit more deeply and understand this issue from other aspects. It seems to me that we are all having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with deep resentment,anger, and, unfortunately hate ruling our thoughts and behaviors. When are we going to start our healing process?I think some leaders are doing this impossible with their psychological problems. First of all they need to have very strong personality with perfect judgement, and spiritual awakening. When are we going to have very bright and intellectual leaders who are able to lead us, instead repeat the same old songs over and over again.This is a new era. we need new ideas and leaders.

  52. Karekin – Are you suggesting that it is the victims who should create the proper atmosphere for apology? This is unheard of. Many people asked but you never elaborated: HOW? If after 1915 until the present time ordinary Turks’ brains have been stuffed with historically distortive and Armenophobic schemes, how can we, the victims, being in a disproportional ratio in terms of population, “foster conditions” for their apology? Haven’t you come across comments posted here by the Turks? Sheer denialism, government propaganda elevated to the level of distortion of history that’s being taught at schools and universities. How do you change that? Or even if you miraculously can, how many more decades do you need for that? Don’t you think it’s the prerogative of their government, not us, to create an atmosphere for apology? You agree that “little by little this is happening right now,” but our demands for justice haven’t subsided, on the contrary, they’ve become stronger. Then why is it happening little by little as we speak? I’ll tell you why. Because it is exactly these demands that are being recognized as just by the increasing number of foreign governments, international organizations, professional organizations, advocacy groups, scholars, and Nobel Prize laureates, and the possibility of such players as the US, UK, and Israel to recognize the genocide that influence the Turks to make insignificant, essentially superficial, gestures. In other words, when Turks apologize they’ll do it not out of humanism, compassion, or remorse. They’ll do it out of inevitability imposed on them by the international community. Noone knows the Turks better than the Armenians. As for “once that apology does happen, then what?” I’m pretty sure it’ll be easier for Armenians to move on knowing that the murderer has repented. It’ll also relieve us from the victim complex from which almost all of us suffer.

  53. Well, arx, and I wish that all Turks can think little bit deeper and understand the issue from aspects other than their denialist, distortionist government have been stuffing their brains for decades. I can understand why Armenians would have “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” after all we lost 1.5 million human beings, a million of others forcibly expelled from or fled their ancestral homeland, three-quarters of our lands now occupied, most of our cultural edifices desecrated, our properties stolen, our houses given to Balkan Turks and Kurds, our bank accounts and insurance indemnities appropriated, and the crime of genocide never admitted and apologized for. What “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” the Turks are having at the hands of Armenians? Please enlighten me. “When are we going to start our healing process,” you ask? Whenever your state admits the guilt for committing genocide and apologizes to Armenians.

  54. Hello.
    It breaks my heart to read this article which is quite demeaning to the Turks– as if we are not human, our ‘otherness’ is so complete. I myself am a descendant of the genocide of Tatars in Crimea, our historical homeland, by means of eastern Europe. Muslim names had to be changed, our identities hidden. Unlike my parents, I was incredibly fortunate to grow up in Istanbul, in freedom. We focused on our future, not our past victimization. Of families broken. Relatives lost. Gone. We decided to survive. It was not allowed in my family to talk about the past– I only learned the details and pain of it slowly, from bits and pieces, growing up. I never thought of hating the Russians; thinking them as the ‘other’. What use was it..
    Growing up in Istanbul our next door neighbor was an Armenian family, and still is, and the wife is best friends with my mom. My boyfriend was an Istanbul Greek. Most of the kids I went to highschool with were Jewish. I had such wonderful memories with them, of love and affection. They are still my family.
    Only after I came to United States and approached my fellow Armenians that I received so much animosity, if not outright hatred.  The irony was that a majority of these people had never met a Turk before; such strong was their racism. I don’t carry such hatred towards Russians. We Tatars decided to move on, not let our pain and suffering define who we are. I am personally grateful to the Turkish government to accept my family, and help me grow up, not with hatred in my heart, but with love and an open heart for fellow humans. Maybe one day you will go to Istanbul; or extend kindness to a Turk you meet on the streets of LA or Yerivan; perhaps it is someone like me; who is more like you than you’d think in terms of family history.

  55. Some people here need to learn the lessons of positive reinforcement. Let’s ask a few questions:  Do you have kids?  If you do, are they perfect, or have they broken a vase or dropped a bottle of milk, or do they have a mental or physical problem?  Have you tried demanding that they do this or that?  Have you chastised them on a daily basis for not being perfect or what you want them to be?  Have you threatened them?  Have you hit them?  Screamed at them? Demeaned them publicly?  Insulted them and their grandparents?  Have you attempted to cause them pain to get your demands met?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, I’d like to know if you were able to change your kid, or, did you meet some resistance?  Did your wife encourage you or did you do this alone?  The fact is that the more hurt you attempt to inflict the less likely it is that you will see positive change in the direction you want.  Sadly, if you don’t realize this fact with your own children, you will not be able to understand how to change the dynamic that currently exists between Armenians and Turks.  Then again, maybe some of us don’t really want to see a change take place…maybe, just maybe, the status quo is alot more comfortable than change.


  56. It started out with the theme,”who won..” i.e., the Akhtamar Pilgrimage issue..
    Actually ,we did the Armenians.More ab out this further below,now to Karo ,karekin Arx et al.
    The comparison between the Spanish Conquistadores and the ottoman turks is erroneous of course .Latter were  with an origin of -in short- uneducated wild plunderers,whereas the Conquistadores and or the future Anglo-French portuguese,Dutch and other such were DISCOVERERS,let us say NOT  with intention of committing Genocide!!! so no comparison possible.
    As to why I believe we won,at the very least  the millions who watched the “Show” did realize a bit  that this was occurring  in a land (not Zululand) that some call Anatolia,but better informed  West Armenia.Moreover latter know quite well that the turks are  not Christians ,so if those  who not quite acquainted with the Armenian CASE/Cause, or call it issue  whatever, would learn that these are not turks who came there as Pilgrims,but Chrisitians…what christians/if they delved further into issue/ Armenians!!!!
    Thence,it was a no charge propaganda for our Cause and the turks did  not win with their \@SHOW…
    Next  _ they are to perform the 2nd act at Ani, so they anounced yesterday on T.V. celebrating a @NAMAZ@  wait  and see…

  57. Whether the victims were native Americans or native Anatolians, the result is the same….the conquerors conquered, established their empires, pllaged the land and vanquished the conquered. In both cases, the conqueror sat like an octopus on its victim.  the Americas, Spain eventually lost political control, but culturally their legacy remains in a big way: language, culture, religion, architecture.  The natives are still there, speaking the language of their conquerors.  In Turkey, the loss of empire resulted in Turkey for the Turks and a fascist regime determined to suppress any expression of ‘non-Turkish’ culture.  I agree w/ Gaytzag that we gained alot w/ the Akhtamar badarak, in that a huge amount of publicity was brought to Armenian culture, architecture and history thru photos, interviews and the press. When the sun shines, you must make hay –  because if you wait, you may just get another rainy day.  

  58. Again, Karekin – Look deeper at what you wrote: “Whether the victims were native Americans or native Anatolians, the result is the same….” No, the result is not the same. Native Americans continue to live on their lands and they’ve been harassed by the conquerors, i.e. outsiders. In Asia Minor which you erroneously call “Anatolia” no indigenous Armenians or other Christians remain and they were wiped out by their own, not some foreign, government in 1915. Big difference.

  59. Zeynep – We’re not discussing here social relationships that may form between different ethnic and religious groups. Of course, there may be good neighborly relations between an individual Turk and an individual Armenian, or an individual Turkish family and an individual Greek family, as you described. But what does this have to do with the crime that the Ottoman Turkish government has committed against their own citizens of Armenian descent and with our demand for justice? The whole Armenian population and their ancestral lands in the Ottoman empire were wiped out from the face of the earth in what the increasing number of foreign governments, international organizations, scholars, and groups recognize as genocide, i.e. deliberate annihilation of a particular ethnic, national, racial, and religious group.
    I re-read the article trying to locate where you saw any demeaning words addressed to the modern-day Turks. Sorry, but you’ll have to refer me to those parts in the text when it says that Turks are “not human.” But we’d for sure say that Turkey’s Ittihadist forefathers were not human. To exterminate in millions innocent women, children and the elders in the most barbarous forms is not human.
    As a victim of the genocide by the Turks, I sympathize with the pain of Crimean Tatars. However, Crimean Tatars, as well as some other peoples in the former Soviet Union, were mostly forcibly deported from Crimea under the Stalin regime and relocated elsewhere, they were not exterminated and their case hardly fall under the definition of genocide as given by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. Whereas Armenians were not only forcibly deported from their ancestral lands but regularly massacred en route. In contrast to the Tatars, Armenians’ deportations did not result in their relocation elsewhere. They resulted in near-total death for the most of them. Annihilation of the Armenians was a part of the government policy Ottomanization of the empire, not a part of Stalinist crazy nationality policy of relocating minorities or placing them under the jurisdiction of majority populations.
    On an individual level, you may claim that you were “fortunate to grow up in Istanbul, in freedom.” After all, it’s your fellow Muslim country and you were not harassed in Turkey as all Christian minorities – Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians – were, none of them now exists in Turkey. On an individual level, you can be grateful to Turkey to accept your family and help you grow up. Just like us, we’re proud and grateful citizens of the United States, but we’re also proud Armenians. But in contrast to you, we’ve become a Diaspora scattered all over the world not by our own choice. Why wouldn’t we continue to live on the lands of our ancestors who inhabited them for 4000 years?
    Please understand: Armenians don’t carry hatred towards modern-day ordinary Turks. We abhor Turkish governments that after 1915 deny the crime of their predecessor Ittihadist government that committed the crime of genocide and for 95 years had no courage to apologize to us. We’d like to move on, but how can you move on knowing that the murderer-state hasn’t repented? How can you build relationship with your neighbor next-door “with love and open heart” knowing that he continues to deny that he killed your mother, raped your sister, beheaded your brother, and slit off an unborn from his mother’s womb, just like Turks did to Armenians in 1915?
    I also hope that one day we would go Constantinople and exchange kindness with Turks, one day after their government showed humanity to the Armenian nation by apologizing for the crime.
    P.S. By the way, the capital of Armenia is Yerevan, a name derived from 5000 year-old Urartian Armenian city of Erebuni. It’s not “Yerivan.” Cheers.

  60. Karekin laments: “I might still be living on a farm in Anatolia and Turkey would have become even more cosmopolitan and diverse, and would have prospered many years ago as a result.”

    Wishful thinking at best.  Take a look at the map of Sevres and what was to be left for Turks if the story had ended some other way.  Anatolia would have been left as a cocophony of small “princehoods”, fighting for resources, for access, for alliences…  surely a fertile ground for WWIII.  Oh, yes in that utopic land, the majority of the population, Muslims that is, would have to be eliminated one way or another to make room for a Greater Armenia.  Non-Kurds would have to cleansed of Kurdistan, non-Greeks out of Western Anatolia.  I seriously doubt if Karekin would have any opportunity to enjoy anything there.

    In hindsight, a lot of things could have been done differently.  Ottomans paid a heavy price for their mistakes.  Ottomans are history, but Dashnaks are still here.  Armenians could have thrown their lot with their own countrymen, not with Czar’s Russia for example.  Not a single Armenian revolutionary faced the music for their crimes against humanity, including their own. 

    People who demand of others to face their past, should start doing the same in their home now.

  61. By the way, though I would love to be able to respond to some of the comments and questions specifically, most such attempts, specific references etc. are routinely filtered out.  When 3 out of 4 are censored, then one tends to keep it short.  I suppose some facts are too harsh for many sensitive ears and eyes here.  In any case, suffice it to say, and as I had also mentioned many times before, I have never made any statement I could not back up with facts, you know the real ones.  In fact, and ironically, much of what I have presented is supported in Armenian propaganda sources themselves. 

  62. Dear Karo,
    I am a Turk. When i read most of comments in this web site, i feel bad like Zeynep.
    In istanbul i have been living with Armenian and Greek neighboors, when i’ve lived in London my boss and my roommate was Armenian, Turks and Armenian has no problem, as you think, in istanbul.
    “with love and open heart” knowing that he continues to deny that he killed your mother, raped your sister, beheaded your brother, and slit off an unborn from his mother’s womb, just like Turks did to Armenians in 1915?
    ….just like Turks.
    This is racism my friend, lots of Turks who visit this web site, they come here for share to your pains memories, and they try to emhpaty with you. I am one of them. But what we see mostly, amazing rasist words, like your comment, in Turkey Armenians are hopefull for the new realations between Armenia and Turkey, they sport protocols.
    And if you really sensetive for the motherlands and human rights, how can you live in the Usa as an honored person.
    I beilive that, Turkish and Armenian people worth the peace and a better future.
    Regards to all.

  63. Dear Karo,
    Not only Armenian people saw genocide in their history, Turkish people had genocide in Greece, in Bulgaria, in Russia , if you visit Turkey, please ask the people where are they from originally, you will see. But nobody talk this kind of things in Turkey. This is past my friend, of course we will not forget it. But we must look the future. You can not built future with hate.

  64. Istanbul,
    I am astonished. So what that on individual level you lived with Armenian and Greek neighbors and that your boss and roommate in London was an Armenian? What are we discussing here? That ordinary Armenians and ordinary Turks can’t have friendly individual relationships? Who denies this? Wasn’t I referring to the crime that your Ittihadist forefathers committed? What does this have to do with you having good relations with an Armenian friend? Why are you giving me this “racist” crap for a documented historical event of what Ottomans did to Armenians in 1915? Are you denying that in 1915 Ottoman Turks killed innocent Armenians? If you’re denying, then explain where did 2-2.5 million of Ottoman citizens of Armenian decent disappear? Are you hiding them in Turkey? What is “racist” about stating a historical fact that’s being recognized as genocide by the world governments? Are these governments also “racist”? Are foreign missionaries who witnessed slaughters of the Armenians in 1915-1923 also “racists”? Or according to you whoever says anything bad about a Turk is a “racist”? Finally, who, in your view, is more racist: a nation that demands justice for being victimized or a state that continues to deny that its predecessor government annihilated almost entire Armenian race?
    I also believe that Turkish and Armenian people deserve a peace and a better future and for that a mere apology for annihilating the race is needed. It’s been 95 years and the apology is long overdue. And you’re dead wrong from the historical perspective in that Turkish people had “genocide” in Greece, in Bulgaria, and in Russia. How cynical this sounds… Were those lands originally Turkish? Or Ottomans conquered and enslaved indigenous Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Albanians, Serbs, Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians? These peoples’ fight against the Ottomans was a freedom fighting aimed at liberating their lands from the Turkish yoke. Turks engaged in wars (as with Russians and Greeks) or tried to suppress national liberation struggles (as in the case of Bulgarians) but it was not “genocide” of the Turks. How cunycal one must be… Turks didn’t live as millet in their own Ottoman empire and thus were not subjected to government orders to annihilate them. Armenians suffered immensely from such orders.
    The past is the past but it needs to be acknowledged in the present. Whenever your government apologizes to the Armenians for committing a government-planned crime of genocide, then we’ll look to the future. Future is built on admitting mistakes and repentance, Istanbul. If you wish not to see hate towards your government on these pages, you’ll need to work to have it apologize to us. In the meantime nothing can stop ordinary Turks and Armenians to have friendly relations on an individual level.

  65. Murat,
    The world does not revolve around Turks. In fact, Turks are relatively new nation from the historical perspective, a callous nomadic nation that secured its place in Asia Minor by means of waves of invasions and destruction brought upon indigenous nations from the steppes of Mongolia and Altay mountains. Knowing this you dare to advise us to “take a look at the map of Sevres and what was to be left for Turks if the story had ended some other way”? Well, how about the fact that there were never any Turks in sight on those lands before Seljuk and Mongol invasions? You occupied the lands of other peoples, enslaved them as millets in the Ottoman empire and now you’re worried about “what was to be left for Turks?” What a self-centered mentality! A total disregard for the historical rights of more sedentary, nobler, and more civilized ancient inhabitants of those lands. You only concern yourself with what might or might not happen to Muslims had the Treaty of Serves been materialized for indigenous peoples. What a narrow-minded, self-centered, self-aggrandizing mentality. You don’t bother asking yourself as to where those Muslims were at the times when such ancient nations as Assyrians, Greeks, and Armenians inhabited those lands, because your Turkish mental aptitude only allows you to focus on what’s yours not what could be a fairer scenario for all, doesn’t it? What an arrogance to say that had ancient people gotten their lands back it’d be “surely a fertile ground for WWIII.” What a striking acumen of a predicting capacity! How can a person that considers himself “civilized” be concerned with a hypothetical war but disregard a crime against humanity, such as genocide, that his nation has actually committed? “Ottomans paid a heavy price for their mistakes.” What an utterly cynical statement! Paid a heavy price like what? Lost three quarters of their ancestral lands in Mongolian steppes? Had 1.5 million innocent people slaughtered, mutilated, raped, burnt and buried alive, starved to death as a result of their government’s premeditated genocide? Had all their cultural heritage in the Altay mountains desecrated, transformed into churches, sheepfolds, or simply detonated? Had their houses, properties, bank accounts, valuables, insurance indemnities appropriated? What heavy price?
    In the Ottoman Turkey Armenians were treated as a second class, a millet, constantly pillaged, massacred, abducted by the Turkish countrymen. With no rights, no representation, heavily and unjustly taxed. Nevertheless they managed to be trusted millet, fighting for Ottomans in the fronts more bravely than anyone else, even supporting the CUP initially in the hope that their rights will be respected. Nothing of the kind happened because Ottomans wanted to preserve superiority over their minorities. Just like other oppressed minorities: Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks, Albanians, Montenegrins, Romanians, and Arabs, Armenians were no exception in their aspirations to throw off the loathed Ottoman yoke. However, they never organized, nor were they able or willing to organize, revolts aimed at overthrowing the government or mass murdering the Turks. A few revolutionaries tried to bring freedom and relief to their oppressed nation. Look at this from the Armenian perspective if you consider yourself a person with a wide worldview. Your nation is a genocide-perpetrator nation and your cheap tricks like using the term “crimes against humanity” in relation to the freedom-fighting activities of a few Armenian revolutionaries won’t change the reality. A few revolutionaries never organized extermination of your whole nation, forcible deportations, death marches, and wholesale starvation for women, children, and the elders. How cynical one should be to blame other nation for a never-committed crime, a crime that his own nation has committed!
    Ottomans are history, but their crime against humanity was never recognized neither by them nor by all consecutive Turkish governments. On the contrary, the truth about the genocide of Armenians is hidden, distorted, misrepresented. That’s why we have cynical, heartless, and uncompassionate Turks like you on these pages. Armenians have nothing to be ashamed of our past to face it. Armenians didn’t slaughter your nation, starved them to death in millions. Armenians didn’t forcibly expel hundreds of thousands of Turks. Armenians didn’t steal their properties, convert their mosques into churches or just blow them up. We don’t deserve having a cynic like you on these pages advising us to face our 4000 year-long proud past. What a typically Turkish, cunning way of putting the blame on the victims in order to whitewash the barbarity of his own nation!

  66. Ooh, wow! I guess we owe the Turks gratitude based on Murat’s predictions a la Nostradamus in that by wiping out millions of Armenians and other native Christian peoples of Asia Minor they saved the world from the World War III. I think we should also be indebted to Murat for making a prediction for us that civilized Christian Armenians would have acted in the same savage, barbarous ways as Ottoman Turks had they been given their ancestral lands in Asia Minor and just wipe the hell out all the Muslims living there. What an obtuse extrapolation of the self destructive mentality and behavior on the mentality and behavior of other, nobler peoples…

  67. There is a little article in Turkish Daily Sabah, dated 2010/06/16, titled “Ermeni çeteleri diri diri yakmış”.  It is about an actual mass grave.  I have tried to give a link here or summarize it a few times, but to no avail.  So I will just menton it here one more time, it is not that difficult to look up.  I can give a much longer list of mass graves occasionally found in Eastern Anatolia, pictures and all, almost always filled with the remains of Muslim Turks who met their horrible end in the hands of Armenian fedayi.  I mention this in regard to the earlier comments made about the “suprior” civilization of Armenians, and those “barbaric” Turks.  Of course, one does not need to go all the way back a century, Karabag mass killings and ethnic cleansing provide plenty of opportunity for self-reflection.

  68. Murat,
    Have decency, if you know what the notion stands for. What the Hell are you talking about? Do you mean to say that Ottoman Armenians, being largely peasant, impoverished, suppressed millet, barred from representation in legislatures, whose witness testimonies were disregarded in courts, who were prohibited to bear arms, could inflict similar destruction on Turks who made themselves a “superior” majority on the lands of other peoples? Who represented the government apparatus, Murat? Who possessed authority, law-enforcement, and military might in the Ottoman empire? Armenians or Turks? Doesn’t this fact already tell you which side was more capable of bringing destruction on the other? In which history book or a witness account have you come across a fact that Armenians planned and then executed a premeditated mass extermination of the Turks? Don’t make yourself the laughingstock of the whole community of nations. Were there interethnic, intercommunal clashes that resulted in the deaths of the Turks. Noone denies it. The life of Armenians, especially in the countryside was miserable, highly insecure. Throughout centuries they experienced non-stop pillages, abductions, murders, and thefts from the Turkish, Kurdish, and Circassian bands. So men organized the fedayi resistance  because constant appeals of the Armenian intelligentsia and social groups to the Sultans resulted in no protective action on their part. Do you have any idea that the term “fedayi” is not even Armenian. In Arabic fidaiyin means “self-sacrificers.” The term fedayee was first used by Armenians in the Ottoman empire who formed guerrilla organizations and armed bands in reaction to the unchecked murder of Armenians and the pillage of Armenian villages by criminals, tribal Kurdish forces, and Hamidian Turkish guards during the reign of Bloody Sultan Abdul Hamid II and afterwards. Most of the fedayee leaders were members of the Armenian national liberation movement. What would you expect Armenians to do in the face of constant pillages and massacres? Be silent, act like sheep, and calmly follow the maraudering Turkish guards to a slaughterhouse? Where does this unreserved hatred originate in you, Murat, when it comes to the simple truth that other peoples are human beings, too, and many of them might have invested much more into the human civilization in literature, arts, architecture, sciences, business, trade and commerce? Does this spite surface in you because you know you won’t be able to compete with others in these fields?
    Yes, Murat, extermination of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was a barbaric act, a “shameful act,” as even you own Mustafa Kemal admitted. The whole civilized world knows Ottoman Turks as barbaric because one can go insane if he or she visualizes what fiendish tortures, suffering, indescribable   humiliation, and refined methods of death your forefathers have put to while exterminating Armenians. Are you able to embrace wider worldview and look at issues from both side, or you just don’t bother because no matter what, you think, you must defend Turks and Azeris because this is yours, right? Who’s right and who’s wrong doesn’t matter, the Hell with it. Your ethnic affinity and blood call are more important, right? Same with Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). Don’t you even try to compare Turkish crime against humanity with the war over self-determination in Artsakh. Killings were on both sides simply because it was a full-scale war unleashed, by the way, by your beloved next-of-kins Azeris, nor Armenians. First, pogroms and massacres in Sumgait and Baku. Then ethnic cleansing in all Armenian villages surrounding Karabakh. And then constant shelling of towns and villages in Karabakh proper.
    Regardless spite and intolerance that you spit on these pages, make no mistake: justice will be served. You may find unbelievable, but your government will apologize to Armenians for wiping out one of the most ancient civilizations inhabiting the Earth. Make no mistake.

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