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Turkish Professor Cengiz Aktar Condemns Turkey’s Denial of the Armenian Genocide, Calls for Reparations

On Dec. 30, 2017, Cengiz Aktar, a prominent Turkish political scientist, journalist, and writer, published a candid and compassionate article about the Armenian Genocide. Aktar’s article, titled “Confronting past violence with more violence,” is posted on Ahvalnews.com, an independent overseas website beyond the reach of the Turkish government’s oppressive regime.

Cengiz Aktar (Photo: VOA)

Professor Aktar begins his article with a stern warning to Turkish denialists: “Unless we, as a society confront a massive crime in our past like the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and unless we commit due reparations to the descendants of innocent victims, impunity will haunt us, and even more evil will follow. This is a century-old ethical predicament with remarkably deep roots.” Aktar not only demands recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but more significantly, he demands reparations.

Aktar says the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government is at the root of all vile events that have occurred in Turkey since 1915: “Considering that genocide is a substantially massive crime than any of the public, individual or collective infractions, or the incessant evils of today, if the public consciousness can stomach genocide, it can easily stomach any lawlessness. And thus, evil begets evil. We as a society have constantly refused to bring up the events of 1915 due to the intensity of the transgressions that followed suit—directly correlated to the impunity of genocide—as well as voluntary or forced dementia.”

Indeed, violence and injustice have become routine in Turkey due to the reluctance of dealing with the mass crimes of the Armenian Genocide: “Collective dementia, collective violence, and collective depravity that were imposed after the transgressions of 1915 became our lifestyle. Now we have unlimited violence and depravity everywhere, inside our homes, barracks, workplaces, hospitals—in every arena, from politics to the media—against everything from humans, to animals, nature, cities, and culture. But lawlessness, impunity, injustice, and indifference are everywhere as well.”

Aktar describes the denial of the Armenian Genocide as an ongoing “curse” upon Turkey that has led to many of today’s evils in Turkish society: “Some kind of schizophrenia that immediately forces one to forget and try to make others forget the violence it just inflicted. This is a collective sickness that transgresses the delusions of banal everyday politics. However, the suppressed memories of the past violence keep themselves alive in the public subconsciousness by creating more violence, testing the confines of our dementia. So much so that while trying to forget an evil, we beget a new one! Maybe this is the curse of a society that refuses to face voluntarily its past violence through involuntary confrontation with daily violence with all its sinister consequences.”

At the end of his graciously humanistic article, Aktar reposts another powerful article he had written just before 2015, on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, in Taraf newspaper, which was deleted from the website by the Turkish authorities.

In his earlier article, Aktar also blamed all the evils occurring in Turkey today due to the curse inflicted upon Turkish society by the victims of the Armenian Genocide: “Who knows, all the evil haunting us, endless mass killings, and our inability to recover from afflictions may be due to a century-old curse and a century-old lie. What do you think? This is perhaps the malediction uttered by Armenians, children, civilian women and men alike who died moaning, and buried without a coffin. It may be the storms created in our souls by the still agonizing specters of all our ill-fated citizens including Greeks and Syriacs and later Alevis and Kurds. Perhaps, the massacres which have not been accounted for since 1915 and the charge which have remained unpaid are now being paid back in different venues by the grandchildren. The curses uttered in return for the lives taken, the lives stolen, the homes plundered, the churches destroyed, the schools confiscated, and the property extorted…. ‘May God make you pay for it for all your offspring to come…’ Are we paying back the price of all the injustice done so far? Does repayment manifest itself in the form of an audacity of not being able to confront with our past sins or in the form of indecency that has become our habit due to our chronic indulgence in unfairness? It seems as if our society has been decaying for a century, with festering all around.”

When Turkish leaders accept the mass crimes committed by their ancestors and make amends for them, as Aktar suggests, Armenia and Turkey can establish normal diplomatic relations, and only then can they put the past behind them.

5 Comments on Turkish Professor Cengiz Aktar Condemns Turkey’s Denial of the Armenian Genocide, Calls for Reparations

  1. He is right. Turkey will never be an enlightened country until its honestly confronts its past crimes and pays just reparations. It will continue to suffer injustice, massive human rights abuses, internal conflict and be despised by many neighboring countries. I would even dare say a similar affliction is affecting those states, like the US, UK, and Israel, who are complicit in this crime by supporting Turkey’s denial. These states are also rotting in many ways from the inside. Recognizing the Armenian genocide would be a big first step in bringing these countries into a new enlightened era – guaranteed.

  2. I think turkey will destroy itself on the path that she is going she will not correct the wrongdoing the wrong will get her I think it’s for the best

  3. avatar Prof. Emeritus Krikor // January 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm // Reply

    Kudos to Prof. Aktar! AG denialists can deny all they want, but they can never escape the extremely well documented, empirical fact of the AG. Turkey will never be a genuine democracy until it confronts its evil past under its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, and until it pays reparations to the descendants of the AG. So much for the charade of “Turkish pride”.

  4. Cengiz Aktar is echoing the sentiments of many people over the years, including the Armenians. My poem from the 1970s talks about this, as well.

    ANATHEMA
    by CK Garabed

    Hey Turk!
    Did you think you disposed of me?
    That your conscience was clear because you erased your memory?
    That you could wash your mind of its historic bloody stains?
    Did you think you could eradicate my name as you did the inscriptions on the old stone churches in your midst?
    Did you think you could teach your children lies and then have them repeat your words and make them sound like truths because they came out of the mouths of babes?
    Did you think Time would heal your self-inflicted wounds?
    That your sins would not be visited upon your sons?
    Did you really think that by ignoring me you could stop me from gnawing away at your vitals?
    Did you really believe that you could sleep the sleep of the just?
    Ha!
    I creep into your dreams at night. I make you shudder in the dark. I inflame your guilt by magnitudes. I send a shiver down your spine. I show you pictures of your deeds: BUTCHERY AND MORTIFICATION.
    You called me “Kardash;” therefore I trusted you.
    We lived together, side by side.
    I shared my ancient and historic homeland with you.
    I tilled the soil for both of us.
    I fashioned handicrafts for our mutual use.
    I infused your language and song with grace and finesse.
    I told myself that Christian love would bridge the gap between our worlds.
    I upheld the laws of the land.
    I fought in your army as a trustworthy subject.
    Too late did I discover your treachery.

    History required that I play Abel to your Cain.
    But Abel’s story can be read and acknowledged.
    Not so with me.
    I must live with a truth that goes untrusted, unbelieved.
    Only I can be found telling the story and therefore am vilified for being self-serving.

    “They say” I hate you.
    But my role is to point the accusing finger at your hatred of me.
    And your hatred is like a sickness that grows with self-awareness.
    As you strive to be equal with the civilized world, you repress more and more that which you cannot face.
    And the sickness continues to grow.
    Your aberrations will not cease.
    They will haunt you to spiritual death.
    And my curse will be upon you and your children. Never to be released.
    Damnation of the spirit is your rightful inheritance.
    And then will my revenge be complete.

    THE ARMENIAN

  5. avatar VAHE ZEITOUN // January 23, 2018 at 11:39 am // Reply

    NOT ALL TURKS ARE DENIALS….BUT SOME HAVE THE DECENCY AND THE GUTS TO EXPRESS THE TRUTH

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