Akcam: Genocide Recognition is about Justice, Not Freedom of Thought

The following interview with Prof. Taner Akcam, the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marion Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University, appeared in Le Monde on Jan. 7. The interview was conducted by Guillaume Perrier. Below is the interview in English.

Taner Akcam

Q. What is your opinion, not about the genocide denial law itself, but about the effects it can have on the debate among intellectuals and civil society in Turkey?

A. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Although, in the short run, the French law has been very negatively received in Turkey, I believe that in the long run, the effect will be positive. Within its own borders, Turkey can try and continue to suppress, and muzzle, and deny the truth, but internationally there will be continual reminders (such as the French law) of an issue that Turkey must confront and ultimately resolve.

Even if one opposes this legal initiative, it shows that Turkey cannot escape by sticking its head in the sand. For this reason, the French initiative cannot be considered as a simple “law” in the technical sense of the term for France. For better or worse, it has become part of the international campaign to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey’s hysteria, and anger, and temper tantrums will pass and some of the negative developments that have occurred will be quickly forgotten. What will remain is the heavy reality of a very serious unresolved problem. Such an outcome will, I expect, support the position of those intellectuals who assert that confronting and remembering history is strongly connected to the creation of a democratic society.

Regardless of France’s ultimate aims or intentions, Turkish society and its educated classes are once again reminded that we need to resolve this very fundamental issue. Some may object that “this should have happened some other way,” but if you don’t solve your problems on your own, often enough someone else will force a solution on you. That’s the way it’s always been in this world.

Everyone has to realize this basic fact: On the subject of 1915, Turkey has followed a politics of purposeful amnesia and delaying tactics. Turkey has swept the issue under the rug, buried it and pretended it didn’t exist, all in the hopes that everyone’s memory would be short and the whole thing would be forgotten. This is what they’ve been doing for about a hundred years.

Every year after April 24th, the commentary in most of the daily newspapers is something along the lines of “Whew, great, we got through another year of this.” With 2015 approaching, the tactic is the same. They know the subject is going to be brought up, especially abroad, and everything is geared towards getting through 2015 with the least amount of damage. That’s why there’s so much anger towards France’s law. Turkey is angry at being reminded. Such memory is a ghost that has haunted them for decades.

I’ve been dealing with the Armenian Genocide topic for many years now, but when it comes up with other Turkish intellectuals, I’ve always sensed a certain lack of interest, as if to say, “Where’d you come up with this problem, anyway? Don’t we have enough issues to deal with?” For them the subject has always seemed a bit unreal, inauthentic, and imposed from the outside.

My international colleagues speak of my “courage” to pursue this subject in the face of “threats and dangers” from Turkey. However, that has never really been my problem. My biggest challenge was loneliness. I have had a hard time trying to explain the significance of 1915 even to my closest friends in Turkey. In 1997, I wrote an essay titled, “Walking around like a leper in my own country.” That’s how I felt—like a leper, a pariah. It wasn’t a matter of “fear” and “courage.” What bothered me the most was their indifference, their lack of interest, and the resulting alienation and loneliness I felt.

When I’d depart from Turkey, since my flight usually took off at around 5 a.m., I would stay up all night talking with Hrant Dink. Every one of those conversations revolved around our loneliness. We felt that no one seemed really interested in understanding and listening to us. The question that we most often struggled with was, “How can we reach our friends and acquaintances so that they see just how important this subject really is?” One of Hrant’s biggest challenges was isolation. In the end, his alienation by and from us, Turkish intellectuals, was a contributing factor in his murder.

Hrant’s death was a turning point. Turkish intellectuals took more interest in the events of 1915. We began to understand that 1915 has even more to do with today than with the past. Gradually, the connection between democracy-building and human rights, on the one hand, and remembering and confronting history, on the other, became clearer and more acceptable across a broader swath of Turkish society.

The civil-democratic activism that coalesced after Hrant’s death played an important role in this change. However, this emergent opposition is still lacking in strength. I believe that we still need much more external pressure. That is where the French law comes in.


Q. Do you think international pressure is positive or negative on Turkey? Don’t you fear it will lead Turkey to a more nationalist, defensive approach? 

A. I am reminded of an incident on Jan. 4 or 5, 2007. The prosecutor’s office at Sisli, in an effort to put pressure on Hrant’s legal defense, had targeted me for investigation because of an article in which I’d used the word “genocide.” After giving the prosecutor my statement, I headed over to the Agos newspaper office. Hrant and I were chatting. As in the past, he was criticizing France’s initiatives.

“Stop, Hrant,” I told him. “If France weren’t taking this initiative, no one here would be holding a microphone to your mouth. Don’t forget,” I added, “the only reason people know who you are is because France keeps up this business with the law. If people outside the country weren’t doing this you’d have a lot of trouble finding anyone willing to listen to you.”

“You’re right,” he admitted. “The only time it’s remembered is when there is outside pressure.”

This is something that the West needs to realize. It just isn’t possible to change Turkey’s position regarding the subject of 1915 based solely on internal democratic opposition. Turkish democratic and civil society activists don’t possess that kind of strength. The assassination of Hrant Dink is evidence of this weakness. Today, there’s a very genuine activist movement that goes by the name “Friends of Hrant” that has gained significant public support in Turkey, yet Hrant’s real murderers still roam the country freely.

Those countries that condone and enable Turkey’s politics of denial for their own economic, political, and strategic advantage should understand one thing: “Denial” is a structure. To understand why Turkey continues to deny what happened in 1915, you should compare it with the racist regime of South Africa. The institutions, system, and mindset of apartheid were established upon racial differences, and the denial of genocide is similar. By denying what happened in 1915, Turkey reproduces the institutions, social relations, and mindset that created 1915.

Genocide denial goes beyond the defense of a former regime whose institutions and mindset were realized as genocide in the past. Denial also fuels a politics of continuing aggression, both inside and outside Turkey, against anyone who opposes the denialist mentality. This is why Hrant Dink’s actual murderers are still at large. This is why attacks are organized against Armenians and their memorials in Europe. This is why in America campaigns of hate and hostility are organized against me and other intellectuals.

What should be clear to everyone is this: In Turkey, genocide denial is an industry. It is also a state policy of primary importance. The National Security Council, Turkey’s highest constitutional authority, established in 2001 a Coordinating Committee for the Fight Against Baseless Claims of Genocide. All of the important ministries, including the Armed Forces, are represented on this committee, which is chaired by the vice prime minister. I repeat: Denying the genocide is one of the most important national policies of the Turkish state. You need to realize that you aren’t just confronting a simple “denial,” but you’re up against a “denialist regime.”

As long as Turkey continues this state policy of genocide denial through its institutions, relations, and mentality, Ankara will be sensitive to external pressure. In fact, this pressure should be increased. What happened in Libya and Syria needs to happen in Turkey also, with regard to genocide denial, even if the content and scope of the pressure are different.

If the West is serious about democracy in the Middle East, it cannot build democracy by supporting a denialist regime. Historical denial, both as institution and mindset, is probably the greatest stumbling block to peace and democracy in the Middle East. Why do Christians, Kurds, and Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq feel intimidated by Turkey? Why aren’t they keen on Turkey’s intervention for democracy and human rights? Because they see, in today’s denialist regime of Turkey, the Unionists’ mentality that committed crimes against them in the past.

The South African regime didn’t collapse from internal pressure alone. The support of international public opinion was also very important. As long as the West allows Turkey’s denialist politics to continue, genocide denial will go on.

We are faced with the huge issue of how to prevent mass murders and genocides in today’s global community. To that end, the space for genocide denial in the international arena must be narrowed and ultimately eliminated. Turkey’s denial policy should be reconsidered within this perspective of prevention of genocide in the global world.

Yes, it’s always possible that external pressure may have negative consequences. History provides examples of this. We must remember not to go to extremes. If we take the position that external pressure is always bad, we play into the hands of dictators who would like nothing better than to perpetuate their crimes with impunity. The apartheid regime of South Africa, Latin American dictatorships, and the repressive Arab regimes have all taken this attitude. On the other hand, if we say, “It doesn’t matter what’s going on internally, we’re going to impose change from the outside,” the most disgraceful example is the invasion of Iraq. So we need to stay away from either extreme. Instead of asking, “Yes or no to external pressure?”, we should be asking, “What kind of external pressure?”

The refusal to exert pressure is another position to be avoided. For example, the West (especially the U.S. and UK) have created their own kind of “external pressure” model based on their own calculations. For the sake of perceived economic, political, and military strategic interests, they turn a blind eye to a denialist regime. Their refusal enables Turkey to swagger, bully, and threaten other countries. This must stop. Turkey will not give up its denial policy without external pressure.

Actually, what I want is in Turkey’s best interest. In the end, what outcome could be better than the creation of a society that respects democracy and human rights and that confronts its history without shame? I have a hard time understanding what could possibly be negative about creating external pressure towards this end.

Opponents will counter that external pressure is not motivated by a desire to bring democracy to Turkey. They will say that the West exerts pressure in order to limit Turkey’s power. Is there a grain of truth in this outlook? Of course there is, but the remedy is simple: Don’t let others limit you. If you don’t want them to use your faults against you, then correct those faults so they can’t. Do your homework. No country has ever been hurt by democracy or respect for human rights.

I’m pushing 60 years of age, and by now, I’m sick and tired of these “external pressure” arguments. In the 1980’s, Turkey’s military regime was supported for the same reason and thousands of people were killed, tortured, or thrown in jail. Turkish generals were like the West’s spoiled brats, killing as they pleased. They hated any kind of pressure, didn’t want anyone “meddling in their internal affairs.” The same game is being played over the “denial of history.”

Moreover, the really important question isn’t even “What kind of external pressure?” We must ask how this external pressure will establish a healthy and positive relationship with the internal democratization process. The biggest problem right now is incompatibility and lack of harmony. Positive communication channels must be created between Turkey’s domestic, democratic opposition and the world beyond its borders. Real dialogue has yet to be established between internal and external activist groups that must unite in order to change the denialist regime. Looking at France, I can say that what we have here is a dialogue of the deaf.

I can’t say whether France’s indifference to Turkey’s democratic opposition has anything to do with it, but the nationalist leanings of Turkish intellectuals definitely play a role in this futile dialogue between parties who cannot hear each other. A very significant majority of Turkish intellectuals still views any foreign initiative with a great deal of suspicion and doubt. This attitude feels so natural to them that unfortunately they have no idea that it springs from a deep well of nationalist tendencies.

Turkish national identity has from the beginning been defined in opposition to the “terrible West that wants to meddle with our internal affairs from outside.” Undoubtedly, when one looks at the history of Ottoman Turks, one can hardly claim that the West played a positive role. However, the damage done by the West was not limited to meddling with the Ottomans for colonialist self-interest. On the contrary, the West committed a great error in not having interfered enough. A whole series of Western interventions against the Ottomans throughout the 19th century were critically important in the formulation of what we now call international law. In other words, we need to re-examine the idea that “all external pressure is wrong.”

During Turkey’s bid for European Union membership, Turkish intellectuals and the society, in general, softened their stance against “foreign interference.” Turkish society understood that outside pressure, especially by the European Greens or some of the other left wing parties, was not motivated solely by malice. In fact, it was accepted as a positive influence. The same kind of acceptance must be generated towards the concept of genocide recognition.

In today’s globally connected world, the whole idea of “external” and “internal” is very problematic. We must create a global awareness of genocides and their prevention without making these distinctions of “external” and “internal.” Genocide denial and the struggle against it are part of global democracy and human rights. You can’t speak of it as “external.” Recognition is an issue relevant to all of humanity.


Q. Since you published a Shameful Act, it opened a door in Turkey, there’s been an evolution on the 1915 issue in Turkey. How do you see the debate in Turkey? What’s your opinion about the different initiatives that have appeared recently [April 24 commemorations, the ozur diliyoruz campaign, the conference in Diyarbakir]? Do you hope for eventual recognition of the genocide from Turkey? 

A. Turkey’s domestic opposition should be taken more seriously. A group of individuals are in the thick of an honorable struggle that truly deserves more respect. Although Hrant Dink’s death was a turning point of sorts, they still don’t receive enough international support or interest. No one’s asking them, “How are you doing? What do you need?”

Even if the draft bill in France came to be as the product of differing interests, even if it is disregarded, I wish those working for the law in France would ask Turkish grassroots activists what they think of such an initiative. I would like to see this as a starting point for dialogue. This channel of communication hasn’t been opened and should be built as soon as possible.

A major reason the “bridge” hasn’t been built is the complete lack of interest outside of Turkey, particularly by the Armenian Diaspora, in Turkey’s growing democratization. Indeed, despite the pro-democracy movement’s positive aspects and successes, the struggle within Turkey will get nowhere on its own. The “denial coalition and industry” can’t be changed by domestic pressure alone, but it can be defeated if—and only if—the internal opposition joins forces with a harmonious and balanced external pressure.

Dialogue between Turkey’s civil activists and the worldwide struggle for “genocide recognition” is urgently needed. One reason it has yet to be initiated is the decades-old mutual prejudices about ethno-religious and other social attributes. Also, Turkey’s civil activists have yet to appreciate the significance of genocide recognition within their own democracy struggles. While Turkish activists perceive international demands for genocide recognition as distractions or obstacles to their own agenda, a large portion of the diaspora fails to appreciate the strong bond between genocide recognition and democracy-building in Turkey. If anything, they tend to belittle and underestimate this process.

However, I don’t want to lay too much blame on either side. In truth, the issue goes beyond mutual perceptions of malice or benevolence. An even deeper problem is actually that the sides are struggling for disparate goals.

Genocide recognition, in essence, is about justice, not freedom of expression or thought. A democratic or free society, such as France or the U.S., may still have unresolved historical injustices, for example towards Algeria or Native Americans. Turkish civil society still believes that its own problems are due to limitations on the freedom of thought. Other goals, such as justice and confronting history, are dismissed as unaffordable luxuries or deferred to some imaginary future. Hence the negative reaction to demands for simple truth and justice.

This is the dilemma that must be surmounted. Justice and confronting history can be achieved only with the establishment of a free and democratic society. The campaign for “truth and justice” and the movement for “freedom and democracy” are not mutually exclusive, nor should they result in confrontation. Quite the contrary, they are, and ought to be, inseparable goals. The demands of the diaspora and Turkish society must be brought together. The duty to build bridges between foreign and domestic civil activism is the most urgent thing right now.


Taner Akcam

Taner Akcam is the Robert Aram, Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marion Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University.


    • J the Turk— prepare yourselves because that is next… you are going to bite your own tongue one day…

  1. I like every human to read this article
    and to read with open eyes and feel with heart
    and analyze with astrocytes
    and many times…
    Because it analysis his keens’ mentality…
    Which we can never see…
    and because of that mentality
    we were punished by them…
    As they find reasons to kill…
    scimitar-ate the innocents
    something in their genes
    which no-one can detect
    and Ackam analyzed it very well …
    Accept his analysis…

    There is phrase which says …
    “understand your enemy”


    • Sylva:

      although “scimitar-ate …genes” clearly refers to the Ottoman period (e.g. scimitar), the expression can also be stretched to read as having transmitted the character via genes to today’s Turks. Although the Turkish nationalist power structure clearly shares the mores of those scimitar wielding murderers – witness their veneration and protection of Hrand Dink’s murderer(s) – Turks like Prof. Taner Akcam are unambiguous proof that genes are not destiny.

      Aside from famous righteous Turks, such as Ms. Ayse Gunaysu, there certainly are millions of ordinary Turks today who are nothing like their ancestors (character wise).

    • Sylva, German generals planed the armenian relocation/ genocide process. do you also think that something is wrong with german genes ? have a nice they

  2. The best analysis I ever read in regards to realities in play in XXI century struggle about the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. I do not know any other scholar who understands the defining lines of the genocide recognition/denial struggle as good as Prof. Akcam does. As a scholar he knows the history inside out, understands what 1915 is from historical and legal point of view-after all he is the first Turkish scholar who called the 1915 events “genocide”- and understands what the Armenian struggle for its recognition is for. On the other hand as a Turkish scholar , he understands his native country ,its politics, her shortcomings and strengths as well, and foremost he reads and understands how John the Turk types try to manipulate history as well. But most importantly, Taner knows what it takes to fight against these manipulators who change their “version of the story” of 1915 events every decade depending on the direction of the political wind. Professor Akcam also puts his finger right on the solution when he says “Dialogue between Turkey’s civil activists and the worldwide struggle for “genocide recognition” is urgently needed.” After all at the end of the day, the recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey, will be possible by the outcry of the internal forces which will finally eco what outside forces have been saying all along.

  3. “As they find reasons to kill…
    slay… scimitar-ate the innocents,
    something in their genes”. I’m pretty sure that Akcam didn’t make this interview in order to make Armenian racists happy. There are main differences between racism and supporting the justice.

  4. Its pretty tough to change a Turkish society that was created by the majority of Unionists who weren’t punished and who only took their fezzes off to create modern turkey. They are decedents of the same actors that have committed genocide and who thought of themselves and still do as a master race..Also, the greatest reason the Turks fear ‘the label of Genocide” is the fact that that label brings with it COMPENSATION AND RESTITUTION. Tell me, when in Turkish history have the Turks ever given anything to anyone other the oppression, rape and murder and theft? You are asking them to be something they are not: decent humans..of course not all, but a good majority..

    • RVDV,
      I still feel like and believe that the Turks are murdering the Armenians. Maybe not physically anymore. But tell me how am i to embrace a society who stole everything my family had for thousands of years through rape and murder who still teaches its children that somehow i deserved it? Who treats the murderer of a Turkish Armenian, Hrant Dink, who tried to extend his hand in friendship, as a national hero? Turks do…

    • John: I do not blame you for having Ill feelings. As a Turkish citizen, and an Alevi, there have bern times when I also have wholeheartedly hated Turks- see Sivas Massacre. But at the same time I think it’s wrong to make sweeping statements about Turks even though a majority are denialists, and some proud of it. But there are many people who are not, but can’t speak out due to fear of imprisonment. And my racism comment goes both ways, I wasn’t singling you out.

    • RVDV, same here as an armenian citizen i hate Germans a lot. even today , germans deny that armenian genocide was not a german plan. german are always hiding themselves somewhere and blaming the turkey for genocide . it is time for germany to tell the truth and stop denying .

  5. Akcam wrote;

    “Justice and confronting history can be achieved only with the establishment of a free and democratic society. ”

    To create a free and democratic society, you just tape the mouths of people so they would express themselves with your words, just as France did. Then, you got a perfect democratic and free society. France is leading ahead of Turkey now in this sense.

    As far as I know, even Armenia doesn’t penalize someone speaking against the genocide. If someone has information about it, please share.

    • I am sorry Resoman.. when it comes to denialism shutting someone’s mouth is the best way.. and thank GOD to France for showing some balls to stand up and carry out such an act..

      Turkey has no balls in such that they try to close everyone’s mouth for insulting Turkishness.. WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN??? with the infameous Article 301… something to feel inferior knowing they have this law that they can manipulate in any way possible to serve their needs.. and that is to punish those who speak of Genocide.. now that is sad…

    • Again, if you live in Europe, go to France and start working to repeal the Gayssot Act first, passed in 1990 (Jewish Holocaust Denial Law): after you have succeeded in doing so, you can devote you boundless energies to the Armenian Genocide Bill.
      Also visit Germany and publicly deny the Jewish Holocaust: you might get lucky; you may have the dubious honor of being jailed in the same cell as Ernst Zündel.

      If you live in USA, publicly deny the Jewish Holocaust: see what happens.
      Or if you and some friends commit a crime, use your freedom of speech to conspire to cover up that crime: see how quickly you end up in the Federal slammer for Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice. [Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice Act – 42 USC Section 1985]

      And if you live in Turkey, after Article 301 has been successfully repealed due to your tireless efforts, you can advise Europeans on free speech and such.

      Regarding Armenia: your question is a non sequitur. Armenia does not have such a law, because it is absurd for RoA: it is like passing a law in Armenia that says denying that Armenia exists is against the law. Armenia also has not passed a law recognizing the AG: what do you think – Armenia does not recognize the Armenian Genocide ?

      The pursuit of international recognition of Armenian Genocide is enshrined in Armenia’s Declaration of Independence. No more fundamental declaration for Nation’s intent than her Declaration of Independence.

  6. Good for the Honorable Mr. Taner Akcam. To me he is one of the most Honorable creatures amongst humans. See? to deny the Armenian Genocide he says, an industry of denialist society has been created in Turkey as well as the military. Thus the 1915 Armenian Genocide is continuing to exist. It has never stopped. Why else the gov’t of Turkey would allocate and pay millions of dollars to the US congressmen and senators not to pass the Genocide Bill in Congress? Like the Honorale Mr. Akcam says, because of the leniancy of the United States and the United Kingdom for their own political agendas and interests, Turkey’s undemocratic based industry of Genocide denialist machine is continuing now for close to 97 years. The west must be man enough to step in and say NO to all Genocides, if they are honestly pursuing to establish Democracy and Justice throughout the world and have Turkey to come clean with their past and accept the Armenian Genocide.

    • I agree, he is a most honorable man and the US is the enabler of denial.
      We should all send this article to Hillary and Obama with a small note; “can you spare some change, Mr President”? i’m sorry, but any American -Armenian organization which contributes money to his re-election after his promises are broken again on April 24 deserves exactly what they get-0. Recognition of a Genocide trumps any national election including ours. We are obligated to recognize injustice as Americans not perpetuate denial.
      It took our US Govt 100 years also to recognize the injustices done to both our Native peoples and African Americans-times up, Uncle Sam, you’re inhibiting
      Turkey’s accession as a free and Democratic country- Isn’t that what this distinguished Turkish gentleman was too polite to say?

  7. 25 June 2007, Akcam wrote to Hurriyet newspaper as a response to a news about him: “As far as I know, expressing ideas is not a guilt”

  8. I don’t know in which movie, the hero utters these words… “Everyone dies, but not eveyone lives!” … It could have been Braveheart!

    Mr. Ackam, you are what legends are made of… thousands decide to go with the flow of being fake, hiding the truth, following bullies.. they are just numbers, puppets with no face …. only some break out and decide to live free of others’ manipulations, free as God created them, free to speak the truth, and reveal an unpopular fact because someone has to …. Free to fight for what is right… Free to stand and uphold the dignity of human beings…

    May you be blessed… may France be blessed for having some integrity amongst these spineless so called leading countries…. Sometimes it feels like the only place they are leading the world is hell…

  9. Bravo Professor Akcam! You and Hrant Dink may have felt lonely in Turkey discussing the Armenian genocide given the apathy of your countrymen, but you both stood on the side of justice and morality, and this is all that matters for decent people everywhere.

  10. mr. Akcam, you dodge the real issue regarding freedom of speech. “Any publicity is good publicity” you say. My goodness, what an argument! — And he writes:Quote: The French are simply applying the same limits on genocide deniers that would be applied to you or I if we were trying to obstruct justice. This bill has to do with preventing negationism (lying) which has dangerous consequences for all. Where on earth does freedom of speech guarantee the right to lie in order to cover up a crime or to avoid punishment? unquote. No, Mr. Akcam, you speak like the nobility and the clerics on the 1600- and 1700-hundreds who wanted to hold on to a monopoly of thought. For how is one to decide on the truth? The Enlightenment gave the answer: by free discussion. Your text does not touch on this. And then you write:
    quote: Some may object that “this should have happened some other way,” but if you don’t solve your problems on your own, often enough someone else will force a solution on you. That’s the way it’s always been in this world.unquote. No, mr. Akcam, the story of the multiparty parliamentary systems is that you take every important issue to a free and informed public discussion and then you decide. — What a lack of historical and democratic perspective….otherwise sensible people blinded by an apparent but in the end illusory victory in the French senate…

    • Ragnar, the non academic:

      To the degree they can be penetrated, your arguments fail to deal with the situation before us. And, as usual you play the pedant by alluding to scholars for your own prestige.

      The French authorities put Jewish children on trains to Auschwitz. They stained the honor of France in a way that can never be cleansed or forgotten. When in 1990 Neo-Nazis rose in France and Germany, France enacted laws to deter Genocide again. Voltaire and Spinoza never visited Auschwitz.

      A society that murdered its children is entitled to view preventing Genocide as paramount. Reasonable people can make this judgment.

      Your arguments are years overdue. The only philosophical idea in play now is consistency: should denial of the Armenian and other Genocides be treated differently than the JG? France says Non! So do we.

      Please take your great erudition and pedantry to Trabzon. Wear a prominent pectoral Cross. Let us know what happens.

    • Someone who has called Armenian posters @AW “inbreds” and whose disdain for Armenian victims is amply exhibited by his use of the term “dispose of” when referring to murdered Armenians of AG;

      Someone who justifies the AG, in so many words, by writing this: ““what the ittihadists did by deporting close to one million Armenians before they could support the Russian army…….”

      does not have the moral authority to criticize Prof. Taner Akcam.

  11. Thank you Mr. Akcam for defending the truth, AG is absolute truth that must not be denied by anyone, denying it benefits the criminals only, may God bless you and multiply the people think like you, so the world become a better livable place for all of us.

  12. jda
    I am afraid I cannot participate in any debate on the intrinsic merits of participants here. But I understand and empathise with the support many Armenians give to the French law because Armenians have been waiting for so many decades for Turkey to apologize for the crime committed to their ancestors. Please receive my empathy even if I do not agree on everything the majority of Armenians and many historians hold as true! But to answer you in a few words. It is a mistake – or rather highy doubtful, almost uncertainly mistaken – that you achieve anything regarding the repetition of crimes by outlawing those who deny that a given crime took place. This only protects the hurt feelings of those who cannot stand the situation when people who deny their beliefs are allowed to express their opinions publicly. These hurt people will feel a transitory relief when there is a law that says that the Others are wrong, and not only wrong, but criminal by force of their views. But the victory is illusory. It may as well be a pillow to sleep on – “Now it has become a law, we can at least relax!” – and it will cement the resistance of the mainstream Turks – it is a gift to reactionary Turks who until today have problems in legitimating para 301 – it is moreover a gross misunderstanding of the forces at play in the world today , Turkey’s main trading partners – partners like Russia, Iran and now the upcoming China and India – dont give a whit about the Armenian Genocide – and – I am afraid – the Armenian enthusiasm for the law is a new example of outsiders using the Armenians for their own benefit. Excuse me for saying so.
    But such a legislation will not stop any new genocide. This is a fundamental mistake. When there was talk about a possible new genocide in middle Sudan, increased weight on the AG in the world press would have had no effect whatsover. For me it is incredible that people might honestly believe that the French Bill will have any effect on the prevention of possible coming genocides. The factors that produce genocide are of another kind and must be adressed in another way.

    then you say that the only philosophical idea in play now is consistency: should the AG be treated differently from the Holocaust? The ONLY? Is that your trump card? Well, I believe it is good law practice to reconsider every time you make a new law apply. the overwhelming majority of countries today do not have any laws against denial of the Holocaust. So I recomment that moves to outlaw denial of other genocides than the Holocaust be considered on their iown merits. The “consistency” you speak about may well be a straightjacket. This is plain common sense. Some parents want to be “consistent” in dealing with children by allotting the same punishment to the same misdemeanour every time. But children are different, situations differ, the “same” reaction may have different results in different situations. To insist on “consistency” is often a symtom of a rigid personality, or, the symptom of the desperate, but inadequate reaction of people who have been deeply hurt, who are deeply traumatized. Excuse me for saying so.
    Aboiut going to Trabzon. Yes, I may go. I went to Siirt in 1990 whem the war between the PKK and the Turkish security forces was at its top, I visited the local branch of the human rights association, I collected papers on human rights abuses and took them with me (but I was arrested in Diyarbakir and they took the papers away from me). I was in Van in 1988 and quarrelled with the guards at the Van museum, because the museum management had the audacity to present a “Museum of Van” and “the history of Van Vilayeti” WITHOUT ONE WORD ON THE ARMENIANS AND THE NESTORIANS! I remember their faces. I knew they were lying – and they themselves knew they were lying…..but I went there with my own conviction I had struggled to establish – not bolstered by any law which would have been inoperative anyhow… So I will go to Turkey again and ask the Turks and Kurds about what happened to the Armenians. I have done it before. But many will shrug their shoulders and say: yes, we outlaw certain opinions as also Europe does. And because it is a law i will not dispute it. Because it is a law I will not answer your arguments…”.

  13. ragnar naess
    The law addresses denialist expressions which aim at inciting hatred and hurting the feelings of the survivors. Also, it is not meant only for the Armenian Genocide, but all genocides which have been acknowledged by French legislation. There is even no mention of the Armenian Genocide in the text of the law.
    Despite your stated empathy for the Armenian feelings, you still make some disturbing statements. As for your psychological analysis of “insisting on consistency”, I regret to say that it is not worthy of a response. According to your criteria, the French are all deeply traumatized, because they insisted on consistency.
    Your other statement that “the Armenian enthusiasm for the law is a new example of outsiders using the Armenians for their own benefit” is the same commonplace, cheap argument of the frustrated Turkish leaders who are desparate to find faults with the Armenians rather that with their own performance.
    Among the countries which you named as “giving no whit to Armenian Genocide”, well, the Russian Duma has already recongnized the fact of AG, years ago. As of Iran there are also dramtic developments concerning the AG issue. The new generation of the Iranians are now more informed about it compared to, let’s say a decade or two before, and aknowledge the fact overwhelmingly. Recurrent votings on internet show that. Besides, Iranian officials bring repeated visits to Tzitzernakabert, the memorial to the martyrs of the AG in Yerevan. As for an Islamic country, those gestures are quite siginificant.
    As of China and India, well we don’t claim that the whole world gives a “whit” to it, as you put it. The time may come that they too will pay attention to the issue and make the right decision.

    • Arshag.. Ragnar’s empathy toward Armenians is nothing but a smoke screen to what he is trying to accomplish which is still a mystery to us.. it has been few years now that he has been posting on our pages and to this day we are unsure of his motives..

      Sorry Ragnar.. and if you try to justify the reason you are here and how hurtful it is to hear that we dont’ believe you… won’t work.. it is what it is…

    • Murat says….Selective justice is not justice.. it is something else.. start justice at home first.. set an example…

      Very true statement.. except I don’t see any of it in Turkey…why don’t you say this to your Turkish govt who definintely don’t know what justice is in the word’s truest sense… but are very proud of Article 301…

      let me know how it goes…

  14. In summary, though I agree with some of his points, his total avoidance of the fact that those guilty of atrocities in Karabag for example are walking freely among you today makes a mockery of his premise of justice claim. Obviously that is not what is important to him. The question is then what is.

    If justice is the important premise here, how is a ban on discussion of the topic helps the cause of justice? Our academician fails to explain.

    More importantly, is there a certain time limit on historical injustices that we are not aware of? Why not seek justice for the victims of Romans, Napoleon or Dikran?

    There are more points of course but this will suffice I think.

    • “his total avoidance of the fact that those guilty of atrocities in Karabag for example are walking freely among you”

      What atrocities (plural) are you talking about ? There is only one incident involving Armenians: the tragedy at Khojali. No atrocity: a tragedy.

      And those guilty of the following massacres, war crimes, and atrocities are walking freely among Azeris, Turk-oglu Murat.

      1988 Sumgait massacre of Armenians.
      1988 Kirovabad massacre of Armenians.
      1990 Baku massacre of Armenians.
      1991 “Operation Koltso” (combined Azeri OMON & Soviet operation)
      1992 Maragha massacre of Armenians.
      1992 Stepanakert: months long terror bombardment by Grads and artillery.
      City leveled. Estimated 2000 Armenian civilians killed.
      Thousands more wounded.

      And of course the military invasion of Nagorno Karabagh Republic by Azeris which cost thousands of Armenian lives.

      When you guys have arrested those responsible for murdering Armenians and delivered them to RoA authorities, we can sit down and discuss what happened at Khojali.

    • My post did not come through to Murat where I asked the same thing Avery jan..

      What autrocities Murat Bey is talking about is mystery to me and I asked him to enlighten us..

      I am glad you provided the information Murat was sooo conveniently dismissed to include in his post …


  15. Murat,

    You are the one who is dodging the elephant that has been sitting in the middle of the room for the last almost 100 years.
    You come up with all sorts of tangents…. and you avoid the one question that is the subject of the topic here…. The Turks killed half the population of my people, they robbed me of my ancestors, the homes, businesses and land that were meant for me… where is my justice?

    You are the one who is avoiding the truth when it comes to Karabagh also… Why don’t you acknowledge that Karabagh was Armenian land given illegally to Azerbaijan by Stalin in the 1920s. Why don’t you admit that right when Azerbaijan broke away from Russia it attempted its own Armenian ethnic cleansing. It committed progroms in Baku… Armenian civilians were thrown out of balconies and burned alive…. and then the Azeris marched on Karabagh with the intention of cleansing it from Armenians… HAD THEY SUCCEEDED WOULD YOU HAVE CONDEMNED THEM? And yet you take the liberty of condemning what the Karabagh people did in self defense and maybe in retaliation for the war that was enleashed on them by Azerbaijan for their forefathers’ land that they have been wanting to liberate since the Divide and Conquer policy of Stalin?

    Who’s the one avoiding the facts here!!! It is not enough for you that we have been asking for justice for the Genocide for the past 100 years of AVOIDANCE, MANIPULATION, DISTRACTION AND THREATS BY TURKEY?

    If you are so just and so clear of mind, maybe you can attempt to look the elephant in the eye, and acknowledge it for sitting there for 100 years!!!!!

    • Katia jan.. people like Murat and denialists in denial like Ragnar do not have the capability to look beyond their blind love of self interest OR they just act stupid on purpose.. it is either or. i dont’ know. but asking them a question that any normal person with their right mind would know and understand is like shooting in pitch dark forest… it is sad i know…

  16. arshag
    you write:

    The law addresses denialist expressions which aim at inciting hatred and hurting the feelings of the survivors. unquote.

    Comment: I have tried to contact the French Embassy in Norway to get hold of the exact text of the law. If it does not target the simple denial, couched in polite and emphatic language, then the criticism of the law should be modified.I agree to have laws against hate speech, but we must have some latiude regarding the expression of feelings in disagreements. But as I have understood, the law deals with examples of people simply saying: “I dont believe that the deportations and massacres of Armenians in 1915 constitute genocide.” That is that people like Gilles Veinstein of the College de France or Norman Stone or Justin McCarthy – who never use hate speech to my mind – would be punished by the law. Or have I misunderstood?
    you write:

    Also, it is not meant only for the Armenian Genocide, but all genocides which have been acknowledged by French legislation. There is even no mention of the Armenian Genocide in the text of the law.

    I cannot see that the above makes so much of a difference.

    you write:
    Despite your stated empathy for the Armenian feelings, you still make some disturbing statements. As for your psychological analysis of “insisting on consistency”, I regret to say that it is not worthy of a response. According to your criteria, the French are all deeply traumatized, because they insisted on consistency.

    Well, I said that The “consistency” you speak about MAY WELL be a straightjacket. This is plain common sense.unquote. I have nothing against consistency as such, to be consistent is a vaue, but in this case I am afraid the question is another. There may be reasons for outlawing the denial of one genocide, and not another. (I will not outlaw opinions properly expressed) A number of considerations enter that may contribute to nuances in the question of “consistency”. For instance, if a worker works illegal overtime, the employer is punished, but in some cases the worker will not be punished, because the matter is another one for the worker. But strict adherents of “consistency” might insist that both should be punished. This is how “consistency” often appears in concrete settings. As rigidity. Bt of course not always. Personally I believe the prohibition of hate sepeech is enough, the outlawing of neutrally expressed opinions is another thing. I generally dont support it. I believe Bernard Lewis was fined a symbolic fine for saying something like “The Armenian Genocide? That is nothing but the Armenian version of the events of 1915”

    In this remark, Lewis i belittling all the Armenian testimonies as “nothing but…”. I agree that Lewis showed bad judgement here, if I refer him correctly. But this is something else that expressing empathy with the Armenian suffering in 1915, (something all sensible human being who know anything about the matter should do), expressing outrage at the massacres, criticizing the Turkish official response, but still holding that the events do not constitute genocide. If this last type of statement is not proscribed by the law, the picture given in the papers have been misleading.

    You write
    Your other statement that “the Armenian enthusiasm for the law is a new example of outsiders using the Armenians for their own benefit” is the same commonplace, cheap argument of the frustrated Turkish leaders who are desparate to find faults with the Armenians rather that with their own performance.

    comment: I am a Norwegian, I lecture on the late Ottoman violence and the Armenian genocide at the University of Oslo. I agree that my assertion – that Armenians who support and show enthusiasm for the law – are being used, is a provocative statement, but to my mind it is obvious that the law will hurt the case for making Turks go into the matter in a more adequate way than today, or more honestly, to be blunt. The law supports the traiditional Turkish “thought laws”.

    you write:
    Among the countries which you named as “giving no whit to Armenian Genocide”, well, the Russian Duma has already recongnized the fact of AG, years ago. As of Iran there are also dramtic developments concerning the AG issue. The new generation of the Iranians are now more informed about it compared to, let’s say a decade or two before, and aknowledge the fact overwhelmingly. Recurrent votings on internet show that. Besides, Iranian officials bring repeated visits to Tzitzernakabert, the memorial to the martyrs of the AG in Yerevan. As for an Islamic country, those gestures are quite siginificant.
    It is interesting that there are such developments in Iran. I did not know it.
    We also have the Kurdish exile parliament passing a resolution several years ago. I am primarily cioncerned with the outlawing opinion, and as far as I know Russia has never outlawed the denial. As one who is interested in the issue and who believes the Armenians have a just cause, I welcome any expressed interest in the issue, but I believe the up front insistence on the term/characterization “genocide” is a blind alley and hurts the Armenian cause, creates an impasse in actual practice. Apart from that, it would of course be positive if India and China expressed interest, but I am also afraid that Turkey with some justification would answer that they must start in their own back yard. When this is said I add that I am critical of the official Turkish reactions.

    • Ragnar and his circle of love friends.. Justin McCarthy being one of them notorious denialists.. come on Ragnar.. stop this please.. it is getting old already..

      Please spare us you trying to help Armenians with your “so-called” attempts.. your attempts will fail or won’t benefit sir.. you know why?? because YOU DON”T BELIEVE .. YOU DON”T HAVE CONVINCTION that your friends (Turkish govt) commited the GEnocide and it happened. You do not have the slightest idea what Armenians truly went through or feel because all you care about is your scientific research and findings… you have not spent enough time to research Armenian hitory like you did with Turks.. come on.. stop your academic posts.. they mean nothing because you have not shown us anything for us to believe in your posts/information…


    • Գայան ջան,

      իմ գլուխը կը մխէ, ամեն անգամ, երբ կարդում եմ այս պատմաբան րագնարի սիրո պատմությունները!!

      հիմա մի լավ ծիծաղե!!!!!

    • Ragnar.. i am very touched that you are critical of the official Turkish reactions.. how generous of you.. would not you be so kind as to go talk to your beloved Turkish govt and ask why they are acting like spoiled brats and why such tantrums??? are they validating that Genocide indeed happen by jumping at every opportunity to destroy, threaten, and manipulate anything that relates to the subject matter???

      You are critical of Turkish reactions.. guess we should be very thankful that you show a bit of dissapointement but yet you simply deny Genocide did not occur.. oh sorry.. you don’t believe in the WORD Genocide..

  17. Ragnar,Genocide is a crime,you can discuss as much as you want but you should not deny.The corpses are there.Please read again Ara Papian’s article.

  18. For all the Armenians saying ICJ is next … where have you guys been for the last 100 years! Anyway… looking forward to that and I´m really hoping you guys keep that promise … I wonder what you´ll say if you lose haha, ether way I hope you go to the ICJ your self

    • This statement is an example of an uninformed person misreading the facts. Armenia has only been independent for the last 20 years of the 97 years since the genocide, primarily because of agreements between Turkey and the Bolsheviks/Soviets to carve it up. When did she have the power to pursue justice as a sovereign nation before this?

    • Suleyman, if we do go to Court it won’t be alone. We’ll be bringing our Assyrian, Greek, Kurdish, Chaldean, Maronite and Zaza friends etc. along as witnesses. Are you sure you want a Trial and how do you think you’ll look when you call all of us “liars” in front of a stern European Judge shuffling through about 100,000 pages of evidence ? But thanks for joining the discussion anyway.

  19. There is of course no justice without certain freedoms. Let us not pretend anymore that any of this is about justice. Practice justice by practicing it at home first.

    • Oh so with your statement you are to your own state Murat Bey??? ohhhhhhhhh.. how sweet and very understanding of you.. who could have thought you grew some intelligent cells?? aweeeeee.. very happy about it…

      it is sooo nice to see you FINALLY realize that there is no justice in Turkey.. good job.. keep it up..

      soon you will start fighting for justice by pushing your country to recognize the autrocities your ancestors did to my ancestors and start repaying everything back.. one lira at a time…

      de ov vor indz giti..arten imatsav vor kataki em veratsrel im posta… of course..

    • Honestly, Murat, if someone murdered your family and stole all your property and wealth, your heritage, would you not seek justice? How long is long enough? Would you quit after a couple of years? And if those who murdered your family denied it and suggested that your family brought it on themselves, would you accept this without question? Would you easily forget, if the murderers did this while standing on the front porch of your ancestral home sipping tea from your great grandmother’s china? Could you look the other way when the church your grandparents were baptized in becomes a sheephold because all your neighbors were also murdered and there is no one left to worship in the church?

      How can you say this is not about justice? Does ice water run through your veins?

      And please stop being so cryptic.

  20. (please consider this version with 2 extra sentences at the end and without the typo errors; thanks)
    Well said. I like the comparison of Turkey with the old racist apartheid regime in South Africa and the way it was dismantled and destroyed through external pressure. However I would simply add that Nazi Germany would provide a better comparison with Turkey. It (the Nazi regime) was, like Turkey, completely incapable of changing and reforming itself from within and it HAD TO be destroyed from WITHOUT. After all 97 years (if not 150 or 600 for that matter) is long enough and as can be seen very clearly from at least some of the Turkish contributors here (who still behave very much like ostriches with their heads deep in the sand) Turkey and Turkish society as a whole is still very much stuck in Midnight Express mode. The Deep State and its ideology is still in control, even after 10 years of AKP. The essence is the same and will remain the same. Turkey is certainly closer to Nazi Germany than Aparthied South Africa. And yes intevention Libya (or even Iraq) style is probably the only way to change it as internally there is no dynamism, despite the courageous but very weak and feeble efforts of Turkish democrats and as for AKP and those who still entertain any illusions about its agenda just look at the treatment of the Kurds, which can only be described as genocide in progress. The outside intervention indeed could come to prevent this ongoing genocide if the Anglo-American world chose to take it on. Russia as usual (1921!) could be the problem.

  21. It is nice to read articles like this one, and also some of the positive comments full of hope from the people above. However, there is one thing missing from this debate, and that is the rise of Islam in Arabic and non-Arabic countries. As Catholicos Aram I has said in one of the interviews, Armenians have been thankful for the warm hospitality they received in Arabic countries following the Genocide of 1915. But the tide is quickly changing for people of Christian faith living in Arabic countries. The cases of Iraq and Egypt are the most recent examples. Some would label what is happening recently as a Zionist-American plan to depopulate Arab countries of their Christian populations, to make these countries easier to control or to destabilize. During the Lebanon civil war, the US 6th fleet in the Mediterranean was ready to evacuate Christians from Lebanon, but Gemayel who was the President then, refused. A few months later; he was blown up.

    Islam is also on the rise in Turkey, and Erdogan’s government is Islamic, but so-called moderate. The Islamic trend in Erdogan’s government affecting foreign policy, its turning to the East, was also referred to in published Wikileaks documents. At the origin the Turkish-Armenian problem was a religious one. As rightfully stated by Taner Akcam, before modern day Turkey was born, Ottoman Turks called themselves “Muslims”, and the Armenians and Greeks were labeled as “Christians”. Erdogan has repeatedly stated that the term “Genocide” cannot fit into Islam. However, it is common knowledge that Islam classifies people into 3 categories; 1) Believers. 2) Unbelievers (who could be tolerated, but should be taxed and controlled, and live as second-class citizens). 3) Those who obstruct the “path of truth” must be eliminated. Did the Young Turks perceive Armenians as people obstructing the path of truth to be slaughtered en masse in the name of God, something which is tantamount to Genocide?

    I am less optimistic that a dialog can ever happen between “peoples” of good will, because we have only one Taner Akcam and 77 million Turks (minus the Kurds of course). Taner Akcam himself admits having a hard time finding people in Turkey interested in the Armenian topic. Let me explain why;

    Generally speaking, Muslim countries think as one block, and vote as one block at the UN. Turkey has done a very good job of selling the idea that the so-called 1915 atrocities happened because Armenians helped Russians to invade Eastern Anatolia and murdered approximately 300,000 Ottoman citizens. (Even though Russians and Armenians occupied the Armenian eastern provinces only after the Genocide had been perpetrated, to find only ruined cities and burnt houses filled with corpses). All Arab countries support the Turkish position, and in particular Algerians, who have stated to me on several occasions that Turkey should never apologize or admit guilt for the events of 1915, unless France admitted to having committed genocide in Algeria.

    However, the Algerian independence war, which Algerians call the war of 1 million martyrs, was a resistance movement against an outside colonial power. France did not try to eradicate the Algerian people from the face of the earth; it did not round up all able men, take them out of town and eliminate them; it did not order the women, children and the elderly out of houses and have them walk thousands of kilometers, so that they would die of hunger disease or get raped and killed by criminal mobs. And the irony is that, even today, Algerians admire France as a country and Algerian men dream of marrying French women. If France opened the flood gates, Algeria’s population which has an average age of 22, would immigrate en masse to France. This is quite different from the situation between Armenia and Turkey. Should the border open, Armenians will not move en masse to Turkey. The opposite will happen. 77 million Turks will invade Armenia. It will be the biggest Boxing Day sale of whatever was so preciously saved from the Genocide of 1915 and built upon in the last 20 years of independence. Modern day Turkish economic and social genocide will wipe Armenia off the world map in a generation or two.

    To my Algerian friends; No, the Armenian case is not comparable to the Algerian case and it has no resemblance to it whatsoever, and we, Armenians worldwide, shall not allow modern day Turkey to perpetrate final genocide upon the Armenian people.

    • Sarkis , i am an Armenian but i can easy tell that you are not an armenian .
      yes we have problems with turkey but you should understand that turkey is not a
      racist country like Germany. hundreds of thousands armenians are working in turkey today. only one armenian person died in turkey in last 40 years due to violence but in germany a “foreigner ” dies due to racism almost every week.

      i have been in germany and turkey .
      please do not mix the two . turkey is bad but not as bad as racist germany .

      hope this comment helps to other commenters

  22. If the ICJ said that there was indeed an Armenian genocide Turks would still say: “leave it to the historians”. (I’m not sure what such a trial would look like given that both the perpetrators and the victims of 1915 are all dead).

    But just as Taner Akcam says, this is not an historical issue, it’s a contemporary one: Turkey and Turks are still BULLYING Armenia.

    PS. Khojaly is a lie and Azerbaijan shall pay for Budapest.

    • True Txamard jan.. Khojaly was not what TURKS and AZERIS LOVE TO MAKE IT.. and Azerbajian has alot ofpaying to do for ALL THE INNOCENT LIVES they took …

  23. Both Turkey and Germany needs to accept the genocide . Turkey denies it .saying that it was a relocation. Germany runs away saying that “i don’t know what happen”.
    its time for german to realize that armenian genocide was a german plan. germans and turks need to face with reality . as an armenian i am tried of germans and turks .

  24. I just read 4 new posts from today on this 3 month old article, all saying Germany was the mastermind behind the Armenian Genocide. Now why would a Christian nation make out a plan for, and help a Muslim nation in the genocide of another Christian nation? Ottoman-German alliance was based primarily on hatred of Russians, not due to centuries of affection and love.

    2: So you’re trying to tell me that Germany can come to terms with a genocide they planned AND committed yet they can’t just apologize to Armenia?

    3: GERMANY has already recognized the Armenian Genocide, so my second point is essentially voided.

    4: “only one armenian person died in turkey in last 40 years due to violence”

    Not even going to dignify that comment with a full response, but after killing Armenians for a 100+ years- there are like what, a few thousand left in Turkey? You can’t kill a people if they’re not there anymore- low number of deaths is a default.

    5: Real Alevi: Really dude? You want me to believe there are Armenian Alevis? Are you for real right now? As an Armenian you think Germany unfairly puts the blame of genocide on Turkey? Okay (*WINK*).

    6: 4 posters who I have never seen, just come out of no where, and comment on the same issue on the same OLD article? Okay….. (*WINK*)

    I appreciate the effort guys, but not buying it.

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