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Examining ‘the Denialist Habitus in Post-Genocidal Turkey’

An Interview with Talin Suciyan

The forced eradication of the Armenians from their homeland in 1915 has generated a unique scholarship that closely examines the genocidal policies from 1915 to 1923. One aspect, however, has remained blurred: the post-genocidal period and the repercussions of the genocide on the remaining Armenian population in Turkey. In this interview with the Armenian Weekly, Talin Suciyan shows the consistency of state policies and internalization of these policies on the level of everyday life by the larger parts of the society. According to Suciyan, the normalization of denial both by the state and the society created a denialist habitus. She also presents tangible examples of how the Armenians had to become part of the denial as there was no other way of existence for them in the public sphere.

Talin Suciyan (Photo by Lara Aharonian)

Talin Suciyan (Photo by Lara Aharonian)

 

Suciyan was born in Istanbul, Turkey. She attended the Armenian elementary school in her town and the Sahakyan Nunyan Armenian High School in Samatya. She graduated from Istanbul University’s radio, TV, and cinema department and continued her studies in Germany, South Africa, and India, receiving her master’s degree in social sciences. For 10 years, she worked in the field of journalism, producing and co-directing documentaries. From 2007-08, she reported from Armenia for Agos Weekly. In October 2008, she began to work at Ludwig Maximilian University’s (LMU) Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies as a teaching fellow, and as a doctoral student at the university’s Chair of Turkish studies. Currently, Suciyan teaches the history of late Ottoman Turkey, Republican Turkey, and Western Armenian. Since 2010, she has organized lecture series at LMU aimed at bridging the gap between Armenian and Ottoman studies. She successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in June 2013.

 

Varak Ketsemanian: In the introduction of your dissertation, you discuss the concept of denialist habitus. What were the mechanisms of denial in the post-genocide Republic of Turkey?

Talin Suciyan: Perhaps it would be good to start with an explanation of what I mean by “post-genocide habitus of denial.” This concept encompasses all of the officially organized policies, such as the 20 Classes, Wealth Tax, Citizen Speak Turkish Campaigns, prohibitions of professions for non-Muslims, etc., and the social support provided to these policies. These have mostly been against non-Muslims or others who for some reason became the target of state. Denialist habitus constitutes our daily life with its various forms. For instance, the Talat Pasha Elementary School, Ergenekon Avenue, and all the streets named after CUP leaders are very ordinary part of our lives. These examples become striking when you imagine having a school named after Hitler in Germany. Normalized hatred in the public sphere, in the media and press against the Kurds, Armenians, Alewites, or other non-Muslim groups are all part of this habitus. Juridical system is also not exempt from it. The cases of “denigrating Turkishness” and the atmosphere created through these cases in the society—involving the confiscation of properties of non-Muslims, kidnapping Armenians girls, systematic attacks on Armenians remaining in Asia Minor and northern Mesopotamia, changing the names of the villages where non-Muslims used to live, destroying their cultural heritage in the provinces, or using their churches or monasteries as stables—are all part of the post-genocide denialist habitus in Turkey.

The front page of the 20 July 1946 issue of Nor Lur.

The front page of the 20 July 1946 issue of Nor Lur.

With all of these practices, not only is the annihilation of these people denied, but also their very existence and history. As a result, the feeling of justice in the society could not be established. In this atmosphere, racism on a daily basis becomes ordinary. This racism, both in the provinces and in Istanbul, can easily be traced in the oral histories I’ve conducted. Through their personal histories, we see how they experienced it while playing on the streets, attending funerals, weddings, Sunday masses, or gatherings in their houses—in other words, their very existence in the provinces easily turned into a reason to be attacked. Of course, this was not only against Armenians. For instance, Jews in Tokat also had to deal with racist attacks on a daily basis. In Agop Aslanyan’s book, Adım Agop Memleketim Tokat, he refers to the racist attacks against Jews on the street, where they were equated with lice. [1]

The victims had no one, no institution to count on, they were absolutely alone in the struggle for their very existence and the denial of that existence. Their complaints were not heard. The assailants consequently knew that by attacking non-Muslims, verbally and physically, there would no punitive consequences. Official state policies during the first decades of the republican era in Turkey and also later enabled and supported the establishment and normalization of this habitus.

In other words, the republican state institutionalized this habitus of denial with its official policies both on the national and local levels, and supported its internalization on the societal level. Therefore, societal peace, a feeling of justice and freedom, cannot be established unless Turkey recognizes what happened between 1915 and 1923.

 

V.K.: On p. 4, you write, “Armenian Sources themselves become part of the Denial.” How?

T.S.: Yes, in this habitus of denial, the Armenian press was required to write certain things in certain ways. For instance, according to the memoirs of Ara Koçunyan, the editor-in-chief of the “Aztarar” daily, Manuk Aslanyan was called by the governor Muhittin Üstündağ to his office because he failed to cover the news of the annexation of Sanjak (Hatay). Although Aslanyan published an editorial two days after this conversation, his newspaper was nevertheless closed. There are various other examples of prohibiting or closing Armenian newspapers without any reason. “Nor Or” and “Hay Gin” are just two other examples from the republican era. These newspapers were apparently not good enough in internalizing the denialist habitus.. For instance, the “Marmara” newspaper, in its reporting on the destruction of an Armenian church in Sivas in the 1940’s, put the responsibility of locum tenens on Kevork Arch. Aslanyan, although the church was dynamited by Turkish officials.

Another example could be given in the context of relations with the diaspora: Armenian intellectuals and the press in Istanbul were expected to distance themselves from diaspora communities. So, they too had to use hostile language when describing other Armenian communities in the diaspora, denying the fact that those people in other parts of the world were their relatives. This continues to be an issue even today. However, I should point out that diaspora hatred is one of the oldest and deepest components of Kemalism, which can be traced in the republican archives in Turkey. The state prepared detailed reports on the Armenian newspapers and their editors-in-chief in the 1930’s and 1940’s–and, most probably, in later periods as well. In these reports, one of the most important criteria was the relation to other communities in the diaspora. In other words, for an Armenian newspaper to be regarded as “state friendly,” the first question was whether it was reporting news from other communities or not, and whether it had a network with other communities. It was in this atmosphere that the post-genocide habitus of denial was partly internalized by some Armenian community members, public opinion makers. The book-burning ceremony undertaken by Armenian community leaders of The 40 Days of Musa Dagh can be read in this context, too. [2] It is also important to emphasize that by being part of this habitus, the editors of the newspapers were hoping to have some more bargaining power with the state on other communal issues, such as the confiscation of properties or laws regulating the communal life. We can trace this very clearly in the editorials. However, this hope never turned into a reality.

The front page of the 21 July 1945 issue of Nor Or.

The front page of the 21 July 1945 issue of Nor Or.

It is important to underline, that I am not blaming anyone for what they did, or what they could not do, I only point out the sword of Democles that has been hanging over their heads.

 

V.K.: What role did the Armenian newspapers play in the re-construction of the community’s image in post-genocide Istanbul?

T.S.: Armenian newspapers had some very difficult tasks to accomplish. In the absence of Armenian history classes and an atmosphere of absolute prohibition of all books related to Armenian history, the newspapers were trying to provide historical knowledge by publishing biographies, and series on Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the history of Armenian Church, etc.

Secondly, they had to react to anti-Armenian campaigns in the absence of representative bodies. Turkish editors, many of whom were parliamentarians at the same time, referred to Armenian editors and journalist as the representatives of their community, although there was no notion of representation. This very political task often put their existence in danger. Armenian newspapers were translating almost all news items related to Armenians from Turkish newspapers, and they were following the Armenian press in other countries. Thus, reading Armenian newspapers meant both following the agenda of Turkey and partly the agenda of Armenians in other parts of the world. Furthermore, Armenian newspapers were following the court cases opened against the pious foundations that mostly ended up with confiscated properties, such as in the case of Sanasaryan Han, Yusufyan Han, the cemetery of Pangalti, and many others. Cases of “denigrating Turkishness,” which have been filed almost exclusively against non-Muslims, were also followed closely. One can also find information about Armenian life in the provinces in the papers. Important primary sources, such as official documents, decisions of the Patriarchate or Catholicosates were all published in the newspapers. I should add that there were tens of newspapers and journals in the first decades of the republic, and that they all had different priorities. Therefore, Armenian newspapers and yearbooks are very good sources of republican history, like the memoirs of the patriarchs and public intellectuals, minutes and reports of the General (Armenian) National Assembly, the letters of the Catholicoses, among others.

 

V.K.: What were the repercussions of this denialist habitus? What was its social, political, cultural, and economic impact on the writing of the history of the community?

T.S.: We cannot talk about a historiography on Armenians during the republican years. Non-Muslims only appear in historical research when it concerns attacks, such as the pogroms of Sept. 6-7 1955, the Wealth Tax, 20 Classes, and others. Of course, the literature in these fields helps us a lot, but these are peak moments. One should look at the practices of daily life to understand how these tax policies, pogroms, or organized attacks affected them. How did the circumstances enable these attacks or policies against which there was no opposition? The denialist habitus as a concept helps us understand everyday life, which kept the society ready for provocations and reproductions of racism. I should perhaps add that republican elite, from 1923 onwards, was trying to “solve the problem” of the non-Muslims remaining in the country. In the memoirs of Patriarch Zaven Der Yeghiayan, we can see the process of negotiations with Refet Pasha [Bele] on this issue. This was also discussed during the deliberations prior to the signing of the Lausanne Treaty. In the minutes of secret parliament hearings we read how the presence of non-Muslims has been problematized. [3] Consequently, through the absolute prohibition of opening Armenian schools, the kidnapping Armenian girls throughout the republican period, the raiding of homes, the dynamiting or confiscation of cultural monuments, republican governments wanted to push the remaining Armenians out of Asia Minor and northern Mesopotamia, while at the same time, imagining Istanbul as a panopticon, a strict zone of control where all non-Muslims should be concentrated. A similar policy was implemented on the island of Imroz, where Greeks were allowed to remain after 1923. First, in the 1960s, an open-air prison was established there: criminals were brought to the island with their families. Consequently, the crime rate increased considerably. Then, Muslim settlers from the Black Sea region were brought to the island. Constant demographic engineering attempts were made in order to push the remaining Greeks out of the island. The consequences of these policies were disastrous. Both in Imroz and in the provinces republican governments pursued the same aim: Creating a society without non-Muslims, breaking the link between the people and the geography they lived in, and in the long run, eradicating the memory of their existence.

Suciyan working in the archives of the Sourp Prgich Armenian Hospital in Istanbul.

Suciyan working in the archives of the Sourp Prgich Armenian Hospital in Istanbul.

 

V.K.: How did the first post-genocide generation of intellectuals reflect on the image of the Armenian community of Istanbul in the 1930’s and 1940’s?

T.S.: It is difficult to talk about one image. However, there was one very important characteristic about the “Nor Or” generation: They were the first generation of intellectuals who were born right after 1915 and were mostly active in leftist politics in Turkey. Why did they feel the need to publish an Armenian language newspaper? I think this is an important question to ask. It is quite clear that they had no other place to bring up the issues that were related to the community. They were urging for a more democratic community administration, with more participation and, on the other hand, they were very expressive about the anti-Armenian state policies and anti-Armenian campaigns reproduced by the public opinion-makers. Avedis Aliksanyan, Aram Pehlivanyan, Zaven Biberyan, Vartan and Jak Ihmalyan brothers, and others were pointing out the changing conjuncture after World War II and the need for equality for non-Muslims, in particular for Armenians in Turkey. “Nor Or” was one of the most outspoken and courageous newspapers in the republican history of Turkey. For instance, Zaven Biberyan advocated the right to immigrate to Soviet Armenia for Armenians in Turkey, which was quite dangerous; or he drew parallels between Jews and Armenians while responding to the anti-Armenian campaigns in the Turkish press. Most likely, these were the reasons behind the prohibition of “Nor Or” in December 1946, by Martial Law. Although there were other newspapers that were banned for a certain period, “Nor Or” was the only Armenian newspaper that was prohibited for good. The editors were imprisoned, and later left the country. Zaven Biberyan returned in the mid-1950’s, but all the others lost their contact with the society they were born and raised in.

 

V.K.: In your dissertation, you write that “Another international crisis parallel to the issue of Patriarchal election crisis was the territorial claim of  the Armenian political organizations at the San Francisco Conference. This claim was pushed further by the USSR government.” How did Turkey deal with the territorial claims presented by the Armenian political organizations?

T.S.: This was one of the most challenging issues for the Armenian community in Turkey. Turkey had sent a group of editors to San Francisco, and they remained there for quite long, around three months. Their task was to lobby for Turkey. The territorial claims presented by the Armenian organizations in the San Francisco Conference had a shocking impact on the Turkish delegation, especially when this claim was coupled with the call for immigration to Soviet Armenia by Stalin. With the call for immigration to Soviet Armenia, it was quite easy to blame all Armenians for being communists, especially the ones in Turkey, since they were queued in front of the USSR Embassy in Istanbul to register for immigration. At the end, Armenians from Turkey only waved to the ships passing through the Bosporus, and none of them were able to go to Soviet Armenia in 1946. The reason is not yet clear to me, there was always a question mark in the minds of Soviet officials regarding the Armenians in Turkey. After World War II, hatred against communism in Turkey was heightened to a great extent as a result of the territorial claims and immigration call for Armenians.

Suciyan with Varujan Köseyan.

Suciyan with Varujan Köseyan.

The anti-Armenian campaign in Turkey was launched by the editors who reported from San Francisco. The newspapers “Yeni Sabah,” [4] “Gece Postası,” [5] “Vatan,” [6] “Cumhuriyet,” [7] “Akşam,” [8] “Tasvir,” [9] the abovementioned daily from Adana, “Keloğlan,” [10] “Son Telgraf,” [11] and “Tanin” all used quite a bit of racist language against Armenians. Asım Us, for instance, in his editorial for “Vakıt” asked Armenian intellectuals “to be conscientious and fulfill their duties.” [12] However, this was not typical to that period only. Throughout the year, after the San Francisco numerous conference articles were published along the same lines. In September 1945, Peyami Safa called the Armenians of Turkey to duty with an article entitled, “Armenians of Turkey, where are you?” published in “Tasvir” in September 1945. [13] The editors of the Armenian newspapers tried to respond to all these attacks. Aram Pehlivanyan, who penned a Turkish editorial published in “Nor Or,” in order to be heard by Turkish public opinion makers, thus explained the situation: “We are witnessing attacks of some of the Turkish newspapers against Armenians. The Armenian press is trying to respond to these attacks as much as it can. However, we have to admit that Armenian newspapers can have only a little impact on Turkish public opinion. Therefore, this self-defense is as ridiculous as fighting with a pin as opposed to a sword.” [14]

 

V.K.: How did the Patriarchal Election Crisis of 1944-1950 discuss the changing power relations on the post-World War II international scene?

T.S.: With the sudden death of Patriarch Mesrob Naroyan in 1944, Kevork Arch. Arslanyan was appointed as locum tenens. First, this was the period when a conflict turned into a court case between Arch. Arslanyan and the Armenian Hospital Sourp Prgich over the inheritance of Patriarch Naroyan. Second, the Turkish government was hindering the gatherings of the General (Armenian) National Assembly (GNA) and this was paralyzing the whole community administration, for the patriarchal elections could only take place with the GNA meeting. This had already been a problem starting in the 1930’s, when the whole community administration, (i.e., Nizamname of Armenian millet) had started to be undermined systematically. Kemalist secularism of the new Turkish state had targeted the administrations of non-Muslim communities, since they had the right to administer their communities based on Nizamnames, and the republican state had nothing to offer instead of these communal rights. In the last analysis, this policy was enabling the state to create de facto regulations according to its own will and interest. Coming back to the topic of patriarchal elections, not being able to organize the elections resulted in a split in the community: those who were for and those who were against Arch. Arslanyan. Almost every week, attacks and quarrels between the two groups took place in various churches.

Thirdly, the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin, which was becoming active in the diaspora with Stalin’s immigration call, was also involved in this crisis, as well as the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, and other communities in the diaspora. This was the first communal crisis that turned into an international one during the republican years, leaving the Armenian community in Turkey in a very fragile position, since there were no mechanisms of representation and no real mechanisms of solving the problem. In other words, this crisis was a result of the eradication of the community’s legal basis, which had continued after 1915 and taken a systematic character with the republican policies. If the Ottoman state until 1915 had some kind of responsibility towards its non-Muslim millets, citizens or subjects, there was a complete evaporation of this responsibility during the republican period. Communities were told to no longer be communities, but equal citizens of the republic, like any other citizen of Turkey, which in reality did not apply and, more importantly, meant that Armenians no longer had the rights stemming from Nizamname. Thus, the legal basis of the communities, gained during the 19th century, was first problematized by the republican governments and then systematically eradicated, leaving the communities alone with the problems created as a result of this eradication.

Armenian newspapers, public opinion-makers, and the reports prepared by the GNA, eventually gathered by December 1950, are very rich sources to understand this very problematic period. The following comment was made in the report prepared by the investigative committee:

“This is not a history of a period, since it does not include all the incidents with their reasons and results. This is not a biographical account of someone. This is only 1 page of the overall crisis that our community has been going through for the last 30 years.” [15]

Last but not least, it is important to emphasize that this is not only the history of the Armenian community, but the history of Turkey during the first decades of the republican period. Single-party years and also decades that followed should be re-read in light of these sources, which would eventually radically change the historiography.

 

V.K.: Why did you dedicate your dissertation to the memory of Varujan Köseyan?

T.S.: Most of the Armenian newspapers that I referenced in my dissertation (“Nor Lur,” “Aysor,” “Tebi Luys,” “Marmara,” “Ngar,” “Panper,” and others) were located in the archives of the Sourp Prgich Armenian Hospital in Istanbul. This archive was put together by the late Varujan Köseyan (1920-2011), who rescued hundreds of volumes of Armenian newspapers from recycling. I spent quite a bit of time with him during the last two years of his life conducting interviews, and I was honored to enjoy his friendship. The room that I was working in, was like a storage room. Thanks to the efforts of the hospital administration, especially of Arsen Yarman and Zakarya Mildanoğlu, the archive room has been recently renovated and is now waiting for its researchers. Unfortunately, Köseyan could not see it. Yet, without his efforts, this research could not have been done by using such a wide range of sources, nor could the archive have been established. We owe our history to Köseyan.

Notes

 

[1] “Yahudi illeti, yutar bütün milleti–Yahudi yaka biti, bizim sokağın iti.” See Agop Aslanyan, Adım Agop Memleketim Tokat (Istanbul: Aras Publ.), 88.

[2] See Erbal and Suciyan, “One Hundred Year of Abandonment,” The Armenian Weekly, April 2011.

[3] See TBMM-Gizli Celse Zabıtları, 1934: vol. 4. 7-8

[4] Yeni Sabah, quoted in Marmara Dec. 18, 1945, no. 1133.

[5] Gece Postası, quoted in Marmara Dec. 17, 1945, no. 1132. The editor-in-chief of Gece Postası, Ethem İzzet Benice, a former representative of Kars, wrote an article on the issue entitled, “Armenians of Turkey and the Invitation of Soviets.” In that article, he said that the ones who would like to go, should go, and “good bye.”

[6] Vatan, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 18, 1945, no. 1133. The editor-in-chief of Vatan, Ahmet Emin Yalman, wrote that any decision that went against the honor and the interests of Turkey should take people’s opposition into consideration. His statement referred to the issue of the eastern borders.

[7] Cumhuriyet, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 18, 1945, no. 1133. According to the translation in Marmara, Cumhuriyet described the crowd in front of the Soviet Embassy in Istanbul, trying to make a social analysis of the applicants regarding their ages—whether they seemed to be unemployed or not, or whether their existence was purposeful at all, etc. In Marmara (Dec. 26, 1945, no. 1141), Suren Şamlıyan mentioned an article written by Ahmed Halil in Cumhuriyet the day before, entitled “İkinci Dünya Harbinde Ermeni Meselesi (The Armenian Question During the Second World War). Aram Pehlivanyan responded to this same article with a Turkish editorial in Nor Or on Jan. 26, 1946.

[8] Akşam, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 18, 1945, no. 1133. The editor-in-chief of Akşam, Necmeddin Sadak, who was at the same time a representative of Sivas, wrote: “Whoever would like to go, should go, and whoever would like to stay, should stay.” He wrote his column under the penname, “Democrat.” Sadak stated that Armenians preferred to remain as minorities, speaking their own language, and attending their own schools, and thus, they chose to be foreigners.

[9] Tasvir, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 24, 1945, no. 1139, where the translation was: “We have a right to be suspicious of the entire Armenian community… Armenians stabbed the Turkish Army in the back, which found its most legitimate response.”

[10] Keloğlan, quoted in Marmara, June 24, 1945, no. 700 (written in Armeno-Turkish). According to Marmara, Keloğlan published this piece on Dec. 20, 1945: “Bazı kopuk Ermeniler İstanbul’daki Moskof elçiliğine başvurup, Moskof büyükelçiliğine gitmek istediklerini bildirmişler. Bu haber bizleri mutlu etti. İster oynayarak, ister gülerek gitsinler, yeter ki gitsinler.” Keloğlan, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 24, 1945, no. 1139.

[11] Son Telgraf, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 25, 1945, no. 1140. Son Telgraf had interviewed some Armenians who had reportedly said, “We are Turks. What business do we have in Russia? It is a stupidity to go there.”

[12] Vakıt, quoted in Marmara, Dec. 25, 1945, no. 1140.

[13] Tasvir, quoted in Marmara, Sept. 22, 1945, no. 1046.

[14] Aram Pehlivanyan, “Hakikat,” Nor Or, Jan. 26, 1946.

[15] Deghegakir Ĕnthanur Zhoghovo K‘nnich‘ Hantsnazhoghovi (Istanbul: Foti Basımevi, 1951), 94.

25 Comments on Examining ‘the Denialist Habitus in Post-Genocidal Turkey’

  1. Thank you so much for this interview. I’ve been reading Talin Suciyan’s articles and this was the most revealing text of hers. I’m bolsahye/tajkahye as well and the Turkish Armenian community has been increasingly more interesting since visiting. I’m so grateful to have read this and I think this will allow others to understand the bolsahye community much better and allow Turkish citizens to understand their political history and state policies.

  2. This is a great article and an eye opener. The revelations described here are further testaments to the preplanned and state-sponsored genocide of the Armenians. As if for these Turkish criminals, with wolf-like appetites, the extermination of 1,500,000 Armenians and the complete destruction of their communities in occupied Western Armenia was not enough, they had to put in place specific racist methods and resort to further anti-Christian and anti-Armenian fascist policies to do “cleanup” operations once they had accomplished the first phase of the genocide, the physical destruction of their intended and targeted victims.

    You would think for a people that claims labeling their blood-thirsty murderous ancestors as genocidal is disrespectful to the Turkish nation, the steps they would take, after eliminating all Armenian presence from their ancestral homeland, would be to show compassion to what few Armenians were left by miracle and help them recover from total extinction. Instead, like a criminal murderer who returns to the sight of the crime to eliminate all evidence of his crime, they tried to make sure there were no sign of their existence left whatsoever by destroying their houses of worship, confiscating their belongings using bogus ad-hoc laws, and by making sure there were no witnesses left to their crimes by threats and intimidation tactics and other despicable methods to silence them.

    A crime of this magnitude and enormous scale can only be committed by full intention, preplanning and coordination from the government. After carving out a fascist and illegal Turkey on the corpses of the murdered indigenous Armenians and other Christians, making this racist nation secular and changing its alphabet was also planned and intentional. It was a way to disconnect the new generations of this nation from their genocidal past and instead brainwash them, through their corrupt educational system as evident by their adulterated bias and lack of depth and knowledge in the subject matter, into believing they belong to a noble nation with glorious past.

    If glory and nobility are achieved at the expense of the destruction of other nations, they sure have accomplished their goals.

    • “Faschist and illegal Turkey”. This just prooves that Armenians are unwilling to normalize ties with Turkey. There has to be a normalization plan where Turkey exists and Armenia exists. Period. This is why most people in Turkey are not willing to make any sacrifices concerning the Armenian question. You must probably be I bet a future ASALA/JCAG member. Am I right, Ararat?

    • @Rifat, there is no need for me to respond to the question you asked of me. @GB has already answered your question. I completely agree with his response. I could not have said any better myself. I would also add to his remark the restoration and the full liberation of Armenian provinces in occupied Western Armenia, today falsely known as Eastern Turkey.

      You highlighted the fascist and illegal Turkey from my remarks to make your point. These words are facts. Turkey is a fascist state because even to this day it is actively trying to suppress its so-called minorities, the murdered indigenous former majorities in reality, and devising all sorts of haphazard laws to force out what little is left of these native people from their occupied homeland. Turkey is an illegal state because its borders are not real but artificial. The borders of Turkey have been established through invasion, occupation, mass murder and genocide. In fact, Turkey was the only defeated country in the world in WWI that, instead of concessions, acquired even more lands at the expense of what was left of the Armenians. As if the complete extermination of the Armenians and the confiscation of Western Armenia were not enough, they had to move in and invade what was left of Eastern Armenia in attempts to attain their long-awaited Pan-Turkic goals. Ironically, this was accomplished by your “hero” Ataturk while trying and convicting in absentia the leaders of the Young Turk regime of the crime of mass extermination of the Armenians.

      I don’t have any problem with level-headed Turks who, slowly but surely realizing what their murderous ancestors have done, want to make amends with the Armenians but they have to realize that the Armenian Genocide and the confiscation of Armenian provinces as a result of the genocide are tied together and they can’t be separated. I do have major problem with racist Turks who want to continue to deny their crimes so they can keep their ill-gotten Armenian treasures.

      I say live and let live but the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide are still treated as great Turkish leaders and heroes in Turkey with schools and streets named after them. One among these celebrated masterminds of the Armenian Genocide is the Ottoman Interior Minister Talat Pasha who ordered and oversaw the deportation and mass extermination of Armenian women and children. Some years ago I read a book on how this blood-thirsty coward was traced and discovered hiding in Berlin Germany living his merry life while millions of Armenians lay dead at his orders. According to the book, horrified he let out a strange frightful sound when he faced his Armenian avenger who shot him dead at point blank range for his crimes against the Armenian nation. He was a monster and an evil man, he got away easy, he deserved far worse I thought. A sense of justice came over me with only one regret: I was not around at the time to pull the trigger myself.

  3. Rifat, as long as fascist, deep state, illegal Turkey exist and deny Christian Genocide of Ottoman Turkey, then consider entire Armenian nation as ASALA members!

    • avatar dsfsdfsdfsdfsdfdf // November 19, 2013 at 9:29 am //

      @RIFAT

      Turkey is fascist. A few months ago Yusuf Halacoglu told in Zaman newspaper that Armenians should not be allowed to restitution of stolen confiscated property because states (devletler) “iyi niyetle yönetilmez”. Now, is this guy a historian or a Machiavellian ideologist? This is FASCISM. And you KNOW it. You even have your own fascist finger salute in Turkey. Turkish society – not only the state – is fascist to the core and you know it. http://www.zaman.com.tr/pazar_ermeni-tehcirinde-soykirim-oldu-mu_2080729.html

  4. Rifat, trying to disqualify Ararat’s criticism of Turkey by suggesting that he is an ASALA member is meaningless and juvenile. Can you show evidence that Turkey was not fascistic and did not use illegal and immoral methods to rid itself of it’s Christian minorities? Can you show evidence of efforts initiated by the Turkish government to promote equality among muslims and non-muslims? Can you refute the impact that the imposed change of alphabet had on the people’s ability to know it’s own history? Fear of Armenian demands for justice does not permit you to label as ‘terrorist’ every Armenian who speaks strongly against the racist actions of the Turkish nation.

    How should Armenians normalize ties with a nation that does not respect Armenia’s right justice, to it’s historic homeland or the right of Artsakhtsi to self-determination? Turkey doesn’t want normalization! It prefers to hide behind genocide denial, while supporting the xenophobic actions of their axe-murderer-glorifying cousins to the east.

  5. There seems to be a deep misunderstanding of fascism. A democratic state with democratic institutions in place cannot be fascist. That would be like saying a communist state can also be a democracy. No it can’t. Many authoritarian states share some characteristics with fascist states. This does not make them fascist states. Unless you can prove Turkey embraces things like state capitalism, you can’t say it is a fascist state.

    • Sadly, Turkey’s democracy has often been very fickle and only skin-deep. Beneath the surface many ‘fascistic elements exist.

    • R2D2, you honestly believe Turkey is a democracy? How many times has Turkey’s military removed the elected leaders just because they did not fit their version of Kemalism? What do you call a state where the military can do this?

      Didn’t Turkey tightly control its economy under Kemal? Didn’t this (along with its genocidal policies and the other good stuff) complete the full picture of Turkey as a fascist state?

    • Boyajian: there is a difference in what you say and others say. You say “fascistic elements”- which does not make it a “fascist state”, and I agree with you. “Fascist” state implies something totally different. And I’m still not sure how any state can be “illegal”. Turkey and Armenia are hardly the only nations with claims to the same territory, a bloody history, and in a situation where there has been a miscarriage of justice (our situation is just more complicated with genocide and the applicability of international law). Throwing out words like fascist and illegal state do nothing meaningful, and only succeed in getting under the skin of Turks who are as irrational as the Armenians who contribute nothing on these pages but trashing Turkey and intentionally misspelling Azerbaijan.

    • RVDV:

      You are correct about Fascism, if you take the original , classic definition as propounded by Mussolini et, al .
      However, since then, the labels ‘Fascist, Fascism’ have acquired additional, wider meanings.
      Wiki has a long entry on Fascism.
      I think this one fits Turkey well: [Roger Griffin describes fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism”.]
      There are other characteristics of neo-Fascism described therein that aptly apply to modern Turkey.

      Yes Turkey is far more Democratic after democratic elections of AKP, but its State policy of the denial of the Armenian Genocide and its active, worldwide campaign of denial and intimidation of uninvolved 3rd parties in that regard clearly warrants a label of Fascism, does it not ?
      What about its State policy of attempting to snuff out the 3rd Republic of RoA since its birth: what do you call that ?
      Why would Turkey get involved in the NKR war ?
      Why would Turkey mass an invasion army at the border of
      RoA in 1993 ?
      By no stretch of anyone’s imagination could RoA or NKR threaten Turkey’s security.
      On the contrary, had Turkey recognized NKR, it would have divided Armenians’ united front regarding AG, and benefited Turkey greatly by weakening our demands from Turkey: self interest would dictate Turkey recognize NKR.
      Gas and oil can be gotten from Russia and Iran, for example.
      What other country can help Turkey with its AG Sword of Damocles than Armenia and Armenians ?

      What else motivated Turkey other than base, ultranationalist, racist, visceral hatred of Armenians ?
      What else motivated Turkey other than the goal of the final solution – elimination of indigenous Armenians from Caucasus (after their spectacular success of exterminating Armenians in Western Armenia).

      What do we call that: Nazism ?

    • RVDV, your comments are more those of an apologist for Turkey, than an analytic and truthful observation. It is not easy to separate the fascist elements of Turkey from the ‘nation’ when they are done in the name of the nation and Turkish honor?

    • Vahagn:
      1. The military’s power has been taken from them. Almost completely.
      2. Regardless of point 1, there are several different factors we can observe to try and make a point about how democratic a state is. Take voting and universal suffrage. The US truly had full enfranchisement of minority voters with the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Turkey, meanwhile, had full enfranchisement in 1934. By that lame standard, I can argue that Turkey was fully democratic before the US under that lame, single variable analysis of “democracy.” Turkey is not a perfect democracy, it has its problems, and we have had 4 military coups. But every time, sooner or later, we went back to democracy. We have had peaceful transitions of power, we have liberals, religious conservatives, secular nationalists, and Kurds in parliament. We don’t come close to matching up with the West, but we’ve kept at democracy since 1950. To me, that’s something.
      .
      3.As to the economy under Ataturk. Say what you want about the man, he took Turkish society kicking and screaming into the 20th century and made us, basically by force, embrace modernity. I would call him a benevolent dictator, I am not sure how you can call someone who is responsible for instilling democracy in a nation as a fascist. You may wish to check your definition. Also, there really is no hard evidence to suggest he played a significant role in the Armenian genocide.

  6. Could someone please explain what “20 Classes” refers to? My search engine didn’t reveal anything under that phrase.

  7. [‘Nagorno-Karabakh is Turkey’s problem too,’ says Erdoğan]
    {13 November 2013 /TODAYSZAMAN.COM, İSTANBUL
    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated Ankara’s commitment to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, saying that “Karabakh is not just Azerbaijan’s problem, but also Turkey’s problem.”}

    “…but also Turkey’s problem”: say what ?

    There was no Armenian Genocide according to democratically elected PM Erdogan. (Charlie Rose show)
    Nagorno-Karabagh is supposedly Turkey’s problem too. (how so ?)
    The problem being the failed attempt by AzeriTatarTurks to exterminate and ethnically cleanse the remaining 150,000 native Armenians, after the Turkic policy of slow-motion ethnic cleansing had reduced NKAO’s ethnic composition from 95% Armenian to 75% Armenian (1920s to 1980s).
    Same policy had reduced Nakhichevan from 50% Armenian to 0% Armenian.

    A fair minded Armenian is confronted with those facts, and has a very hard time convincing himself that Turkey is not a…..what State ?

    Wonder how Turks would react if Pres Sargsyan declared that Cyprus problem is also Armenia’s problem.

    • It is natural for Turkey to involve itself in the NKR issue, for two reasons. 1: Precedent. NKR is, legally, a separatist entity ruled by Armenians occupying internationally recognized Azeri lands. Seperatist groups in Turkey- the PKK, no doubt view Armenian success in NKR (where I believe Armenians were outnumbered and had fewer resources during the war) with a degree of envy. States like Turkey, China, Russia, etc., with ethno-secessionist movements in their own borders, do not like things like the NKR. They don’t like when these movements succeed. Why else would China not recognize Kosovo (China being removed from the region, as Turkey and Russia have different stakes in Kosovo)?
      2: You stick with your ally, especially if you share extensive ethnic, historical, religious (more or less), and linguistic bonds, and that nation is your number one ally. I have certain misgivings about Azerbaijan but they are our closest ally, and you are kidding yourself if you think those bonds are only as deep as Azerbaijan’s oil reserves. For Armenians, belonging to a nation basically isolated in its region, where its neighbors (even your “brothers in religion”) actively work to deepen that isolation, it may not be very clear why Turkey would consider Azerbaijan’s problem our problem as well.
      .
      A fair minded Armenian is confronted with those facts, and has a very hard time convincing himself that Turkey is not a…..what State ?
      .
      Turkey is an illiberal democracy with socially ingrained prejudices and hatreds against certain groups.
      http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm
      This website has a good list of 14 characteristics of fascist nations. I think it’s a good list. I also think Turkey fully fits 3 of the 14 categories, and depending on internal circumstances (Gezi park protests for example) can partially fit 4, possibly 5 more categories (again, only partially). I’m sorry but there are plenty of racist, hate filled nations in the world. They throw bananas at black soccer players and politicians in Italy for example. That doesn’t mean the world is full of fascists and fascist states.
      .
      Regarding your population and ethnic cleansing stats. First you mention NKAO- whose population had reduced from 95% Armenian to 75%. Question 1- was this the result of ethnic cleansing or simply Azeris moving to the region since it was a part of the Azerbaijani SSR?Question 2- Ok so,the Armenian population declined there from 95% to 75%, then what do can we make of the Armenian population rising from 75% back to 95% AFTER the war? Were Azeris ethnically cleansed too? Was it simply a consequence of war? Do the two things go hand in hand?
      .
      Finally, Nakhichevan. According to the records I saw, the Armenian population there was less than 50 percent, even in 1828. In 1926, Armenians were only 10% of the population, or 11,000 people. The majority of the ethnic cleansing, if it was that, took place between 1917 and 1926. I would argue Russia and Turkey are more to blame for that than Azerbaijan.

    • avatar wellistenow // November 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm //

      Northern occupied Cyprus is Armenia’s problem too, not just Cyprus’. We must officially demand that Turkey leaves occupied northern part of Cyprus!

  8. avatar Talin Suciyan // November 15, 2013 at 6:20 am // Reply

    For Massis : A year before the Wealth Tax, the Twenty Classes/ Amele Taburu (20 Kura Askerlik) labour battalions were put into practice, which literally meant the random draft of non-Muslim men into the military. Sources have differences regarding the exact age of the men who were drafted: Dilek Güven gave the age span between 25 and 45; Ayşe Hür stated birth dates (non-Muslim men born between 1896 and 1913); Rıfat N. Bali indicated birth dates between 1894 and 1913. My grandfather, who was born in 1895, was also drafted. However, and more importantly, these men were drafted regardless of whether they had ever served in the military; thus, sometimes their military service amounted to three to four years in the form of forced labour. This practice was very well known from World War I years.

    • Thanks Talin; I assume your dissertation is in German. Are you going to come up with an English version of it that would be accessible to English speaking general public in the future?

  9. This message is for RVDV! Exactly who are you trying to fool by attempting to depict your Islamic Crescent nation of Turkey, as being a democratic state with democratic institutions? Were you sent here by your Turkish government, with the intention of trying to convince us Armenians that Turkey is not as rotten as we believe it is? Or, are you just not paying attention to what’s going on in Turkey nowadays? Because if you did, you would notice the enormous effort put forth by the Turkish government in suppressing their citizens’ rights. I guess that explains the reason why out of all the countries in the world today, Turkey happens to have the highest number of journalists in prison. By now, it’s already well known by Europe and the United States, how Turkey persistently violates the human rights of its Armenian inhabitants, as well as its other Christian inhabitants. What about Turkey’s treatment of its Kurdish population? Turkey’s Kurds, who also happen to be Muslim just like the Turks, have been victims of abuse by the Turkish government for many years now. But what’s even more interesting, is that as time goes by, the actual number of Turks, whose rights are being trampled upon by the Turkish government, is also increasing in number. It really seems that Turkey’s problems are getting bigger nowadays. On one side, you’ve got a huge number of Turkish citizens who are disgusted with the oppressive policies of their extremist Islamic government, who tries so desperately to disguise itself as being a hard core democracy, and then on the other side, you’ve got a population of twenty million unhappy Kurds in southeast Turkey, who are already making noise of wanting to seek their independence. Can you imagine if southeast Turkey’s overwhelming majority Kurdish population suddenly decides to revolt? They can easily turn the Islamic Crescent nation of Turkey into a pile of mash potatoes and gravy, and in the process, break off the whole entire southeast region of the country. That is indeed a huge nightmare for the government of Turkey. And then, of course, there’s that Armenian Genocide issue which follows them everywhere they go. Turkey just can’t find a way to escape from that Armenian Genocide issue. It’s all a matter of time, before Turkey ends up having no choice but to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and will therefore be forced to pay billions of dollars in reparations, as well as returning stolen properties and stolen lands. This will happen after the Armenian government eventually files its lawsuit against Turkey, for its role in committing the Armenian Genocide, either in the European Court of Human Rights, or the International Court of Justice, or perhaps a combination of both. The Treaty of Sevres, and specifically “Wilsonian Armenia”, will enable the Western Armenian provinces of Erzurum, Bitlis, Van, and Trebizond, to finally be attached to the Republic of Armenia. And hopefully around that period of time, the Greeks and Assyrians will also file lawsuits against Turkey for committing genocides against their peoples. Even though extremely long overdue, Turkey will be punished, and justice will be served.

  10. RVDV, I give you credit for attempting to be ‘positive’ regarding the development of democracy in Turkey, but I don’t buy it. In my opinion, no matter how long Turkey “has been at it” (i.e.: developing democracy), they will never come close to it’s optimum realization without first recognizing the Armenian Genocide (AND the massacres against the other Christian minorities). The essential tenet of democracy is equality, and as long as some segments within a society are denigrated and deemed disposable or unequal in the eyes of justice, then you don’t have a democratic society. Turkey may have some of the trappings of democracy, but it is only skin deep. The birth of the state was built on the extermination/deportation of the indigenous inhabitants of Asia Minor. This state has done virtually nothing to take responsibility for its criminal past. Are you familiar with ‘Pollyanna?’

  11. Calling Turkey “post-genocidal” is incorrect given that its genocidal policies remain intact.

  12. R5D5 you may find this analysis useful: http://www.ardarutyun.org/?p=4140&lang=en (Republic of Turkey – the First Fascist State in History). There’s an Iranian proverb which says “just by repeating ‘halva-halva’ even a million times you don’t get sweet taste in your mouth”! Just having (some of) the formal prerequisites of democracy (multi party, elections, peaceful transfer of power etc.) doesn’t make a system democratic – otherwise apartheid South Africa (with its inherently racist-fascist state system) could also be counted as ‘democratic’. I think Boyajian’s and Avery’s descriptions of Turkey are far closer to the mark as its “democracy” is less than skin deep with real poser still lying substantially in the Deep (Fascist) State. Turkey historically has not gone through any of the stages associated with the development and establishment of civil society and democracy. On the contrary its history is replete with centuries of imperial-Islamic-Turkic conquest and domination and formal-legalised oppression of non-Muslim non-Turkic societies as second class “rayas”. The Republican Kemalist period did not establish democracy or even modernism – not beyond the two or three large cities anyway with the countryside remaining essentially and deeply pre-modern/Islamic – but a formal racist nationalist proto fascist state system dominated by the army and the security organs which tightly controlled the entire organs of government (ministries) as well as the bureaucracy, judiciary and even formal religion. In this system which has continued for decades original owners of the land (non-Muslim Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians) were treated at best as non-persons and at worst explicitly as enemies and millions of MUSLIM Kurds as “mountain Turks” – under the “mildly Islamic democratic” AKP government they’re still being persecuted including imprisonment of hundreds of their ELECTED officials. I believe Turkey has, along with Axerbaijan (the Khanate-Sultanate of Baku), proportionally the highest number of journalists in jail, which is hardly an index for democracy. Reverting to Islamic religious values, in some respects not far different from other Sunni-Wahabist values, and constant references to “glories of Ottoman Turkey” does not and will not make democracy but is a recipe for disaster for the Turkey’s Kurds and minorities in particular but also for the region (Turkey’s Ottoman bitten neighbours whose memory of “Ottoman glory” is as different as the former colonial peoples is of, e.g. the British Empire.
    Finally, Talin I’m slightly puzzled as to why you completely omit the Lausanne Treaty (LT) and its “arrangements” for Kemalist turkey’s non Turkic/Christian minorities. The “Nizamname’s” may still have been in force but the Republican period used – or more properly ABUSED – the provisions of the LT to limit more and more the meagre “rights” that it (LT) had formally secured for them.

  13. avatar Talin Suciyan // December 4, 2013 at 5:55 am // Reply

    Dear Massis, I wrote the dissertation in English, hopefully it will be published in 2014.
    Dear Wellistenow: “Post-genocidal” means exactly what you are saying.

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