Turkish Scholars Acknowledge Armenian Genocide on TV Program

I just found a video in which two Turkish scholars are advocating for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Republic of Turkey. The discussion took place in 2015 on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The conversation between Erdogan Aydin and Aydin Chubukchu is in Turkish with English subtitles on the video. The name of the one hour and 37 minute-long program is Tower of Babel (“Babil Kulesi”). The title of this particular segment was “Facing the Genocide.”

The unnamed Turkish moderator started the program with the following questions: “What really happened in 1915? What people lived through? Was it a genocide? Was it a deportation?”

Here are excerpts from that discussion:

Erdogan Aydin: “Let’s remember that the deportation in 1915, when one focuses on the details, means the same thing as the genocide of 1948…. If the deportation is not carried out by the consent of the people who are exiled for their own security—by the way, deportations are not carried out for this [reason]. It is done to enlarge sovereignty of states, punish society, settle others if the land is productive. So, if it is done against the will of the people, if all of them, including women, children and the elderly are sent away, then this is a Crime Against Humanity.”

Moderator: “Davutoglu (former Prime Minister of Turkey) says so. He says, he repeats everywhere that deportation is a Crime Against Humanity. He accepts it as such.”

Aydin Chubukchu: “…But when we examine the articles of the 1948 Genocide Convention, we see that they in fact define this practice….”

Erdogan Aydin: “The documents that historians examine are not so important. What is important is the way of interpretation of those documents and how a final report would be penned and to serve which policy. The historian is not someone like a physician in a laboratory. History is not definite or closed to interpretation. It cannot be explained by strict cause and effect relations. All those who have studied the documents and made claims until today are already historians. Ultimately, those who will settle the question under the light of facts that historians present are the politicians. Of course, it is political. When it comes to politics, what historians say is not so important. Documents, statistics, laws showing the state practice on the abandoned properties have already showed that the Armenian people have reached the zero point as they had consisted of a large population in this country. Where did this people go? Where did this pedigree go to? The question is so simple. If they were not massacred then what happened to them? They did not vaporize, did they? As very well-known facts show, war and the Russian invasion in the region of Van, Bitlis, etc., until Erzincan were a pretext to exile Armenians from those lands. How? By being deported. Yes, villages were emptied. People, including children on foot, bare and hungry, were forced to walk to Syria. They were deported from Erzurum, Kars, Erzincan and Van to Syria under the transportation conditions of the time. They could not reach [Syria] because, according to the plan, unarmed miserable, naked, hungry civilians, women with their babies, as we see in the photos behind us, were also attacked by gangs along the way. They were robbed on the way, held as captives, massacred. Eventually, only one fourth of the Armenians who were deported from Turkey reached Syria. Three fourths died on the way. Ottoman documents also accept these deaths due to epidemics or assaults, [but] they say they had nothing to do with it. Historical documents are clear. The critical point is how the state politically will handle and what it will infer from them. Historians have already done what they should do. Telegram sent from someone to someone – thousands of documents like this. Thousands of documents are exposed. No secret document remains. If there is any secret document, it is a part of the documents transferred from the Ottoman Empire to Turkey. The documents that prove the genocide by saying ‘massacre them on the roads while deporting’ are being hidden of course. We can never see them. As [Turkish journalist] Veysi Sansozen said yesterday, we demand the evidence of the murder from the murderer. Does he give? No, he does not. It will never show up. Documents that Armenians have are rather based on testimonies and reports prepared by clergy, foreign diplomats, and journalists. Most of them obviously reflect the entire tragedy. There are photos and films shot at that time despite very limited opportunities. The annihilation of the Armenian people is doubtless. They were annihilated. This is the point.”

Aydin Chubukchu: “Let me add this. This was not done by historians, but by politicians. Cleaning it is also their job. Secondly, as my brother Aydin mentioned, the perpetrators of these kinds of jobs usually delete the documents, use expressions that are not possible to decipher. So, when a felon oppresses, he tries to fabricate a cover for it. In fact, the most important document is the actual and physical eradication of a people from their historical land.”

Erdogan Aydin: “After 100 years have passed from the event, the 100th anniversary of the genocide should be a turning point. This is how world public opinion looks at it. Why couldn’t this question be solved for 100 years? This is a problem. On the other hand, considering Turkey’s foreign policy and its relations with the West and the US, we can talk about cornering Turkey. Undoubtedly, this issue is now a political card. It also has that aspect. But this does not change the fact that Armenians were annihilated. When one says that the French, Germans, the Pope want this [recognition], our domestic public opinion perceives it as if all Christians of the world, all ‘giavours’ [infidels] have united and attacked us. It is obvious that as long as this crime sticks on them, all Turkish governments and the state will have trouble. That part interests the state, but the same thing is also a shame for us and a shame for the Turkish people. We want to get rid of this. Whoever wants this. But we want it. We are all today guilty and responsible for the ignominious murder against the Armenian people. We should feel this. So we want to get rid of this. Undoubtedly, there is another aspect. Facing the genocide is an important chapter of our struggle for democracy. If we defend the ideals of fraternity of peoples and peaceful cohabitation, we should perform our duties retrospectively too. Additionally, the Armenian Question is a topic that continuously nurtures fascism and bigotry. Animosity against Armenians is an essential part of fascist propaganda. Therefore, in the struggle for democracy, this question should be settled; genocide should be recognized to break and bury the arms of fascism, bigotry and chauvinism.”

(Part II to follow next week)


Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

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