For all those who are following the development of the Turkish-Armenian relations, the name Basken Oran must be a familiar one. That’s the name of a political scientist who makes his bold ideas heard in public opinion panels and who is especially known for his refusal of the revisionist policies of the government. This scholar has made for himself an impressionable name that symbolizes a certain line of convictions.
Recently, Oran made a public statement in the media about the Turkish State Archives. In his criticism, Oran pointed out that he has researched the 1915 state archives twice but in both times he has never seen any indictmen’s issued against Armenian intellectuals who were arrested that year.
That statement in and of itself underlines the fact that the Armenian intellectuals were arrested and executed without any criminal accusations. This, in turn, indicates that the first and foremost purpose of the Ottoman government was to eliminate the Armenian intellectual community. Basken Oran’s statement serves, at the very least, as evidence or revelation of this hypothesis. However, how is a statement like this, which was issued through the media, received by the forces backing article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code? Or, to put it more clearly, what counter-steps is it making them take? Faced with such a revelation the revisionist machine has its reasons to immediately get into action.
It’s obvious that the respective department of the Turkish government that boasts of keeping the archives open to everyone has work to do. Alarms have been set off in the inside, and it’s imperative that the necessary steps are taken immediately. The reserved approach is not a surprising or an extraordinary one for those who have appraised the objectivity and authenticity of the Turkish State Archives. Historians who have worked and are working with the archives do not hide their conviction that the archives are “revised,” trying to use the mildest expression.
Oran’s statement on the one hand underlines the essence of the Genocide policy and on the other hand, perhaps unwillingly, hints to the necessity of performing a new revision in the Turkish Archives. Indeed, there’s no need to be surprised if in the future a foreign historian while researching about the aforementioned era comes across documen’s indicting Varoujan, Zartarian and Zohrab. This process of destroying and inventing archives undoubtedly will go on as long as the revisionist and the denial policies continue.
At this juncture, we unwillingly think of the challenging proposition of Yousouf Halachoghlu, the head of the Turkish Historian’s Committee, about the Archives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. He promised $20 million for the opening of the Boston Archives.
It’s tempting to write about this; to shed light on that “genius” idea, which wavers between ridiculous and absurd. Is it worth it? No, it’s not. The promised $20 million must remain in the budget of the overall mission of destroying/inventing archives.
Shahan Kandaharian is Editor-in-Chief of our sister publication Aztag Daily, published in Beirut