BY HENRY D. ASTARJIAN M.D.
Without batting a lash and without being ashamed, Receb Tayib Erdoghan, the Prime Minister of Turkey answered thus to Charlie Rose, in a visible defiant facial and body language: “Tamamiyle yalandr!”
Charlie had asked him about the Armenian Genocide on his show, which was televised a week or so ago. “Tamamiyle yalandr”! The translator relayed verbatim “It is completely a lie” he said, “the Genocide never happened”. Charlie Rose’s face became mummified instantaneously with disbelief. His eyebrows rose as if questioning, he skillfully introduced another topic to discuss, in order to save the embarrassing moment.
That is what the Prime Minister of Turkey had to say, after his government affixed its signature on the ill fated Armeno-Turkish Protocol, agreeing to look into the matter by a fact finding committee, a concept which all Armenians, except a corrupt Armenian clique, oppose. But now that is not the issue, the issue is Turk’s dishonorable tradition of not respecting their signature.
Deception on the spot! The man didn’t have to think for a moment to distort the undisputed historic fact, in which his ancestors’ hand was awash with Armenian blood. Turks and Kurds committed the Genocide! Period! It is a fact: my father said so, my grandmother said so, Arnold Toynbee said so, Ambassador Morgenthau said so, front pages of the New York Times said so, and the State Department documents say so. They all said that there was a German designed, premeditated, preplanned, meticulously executed Genocide to free Turkey of its Armenian citizenry. Turks can not get away with it! All the motives to this crime were there. The Genocide which started in 1915, did not materialize overnight; It was breeding for decades. It was the product of 1. the Turk’s fanatic Islamism, xenophobia, feeling of Uber Alles, and chauvinism, and 2. the Kurd’s tribal order of looting, and killing in order to survive.
The pogroms of Adana are a solid testimony to this fact: in April 1909 the civilian Turks, NOT the Ottoman Government, massacred some 30,000 Armenians for no reasons other than hatred, jealousy, and religious fanaticism; Armenians were the well to do, civilized Infidels. Children’s flesh was brutally macerated using cotton picking tools and making them die a slow painful death. The Armenian civil population was torched en-masse while the English, French, Italian, Russian, Austrian, German and the United States navy, moored at Adana’s Mersin harbor watched without interfering and rescuing the collective drowning. The same happened in Izmir (Smyrna) when Ataturk’s forces tightened the noose around the city from the north, the south, and the east, then set fire to the city forcing the Greek and Armenian population to jump into the Mediterranean while the English naval officers were sipping four o’clock tea and eating crumpets and “Samwiches” in deference to the tragedy which was taking place, right before their eyes; His Majesty’s Navy did not raise a finger to rescue the drowning men, women, and children. To add insult to injury, the navy violinists were playing a musical score to that horrendous screen play, which, four decades later was repeated in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
These are the Turks! In 1956 Ataturk’s “Modern, Layik, Democratic” government killed and deported thousands of Greeks from Istanbul, and set fire to their shops in the famous Kapali Charshi. Bazaar. I met two Turkish Greeks, separately, in Athens: one a sea food restaurateur, and the other a barber, they both told me identical stories about the brutality of the individual Istanbulli, and the manner with which they were forced, at gun point, to close shop and get out of town. They had started a new life in exile, thanking God that their lives were spared.
The crimes which the Turks perpetrated in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th against innocent people in Hijaz, Allepo, Cairo, Iraq, and North Africa could not be told in a few words. They killed and raped and robbed the wealth of an individual Arab and the country. Reading about their historic personal and public conduct in a land which did not belong to them, reminds me of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” of the Thousand and One Nights.
Turks have not changed since their occupation of Asia Minor in the 15th century. Ataturk who tried to Europeanize them, could do so only superficially. The Turk today is as European as the Mao Mao of Kenya. Unless there is a genetic mutation, there can be no change in the instincts and the character of a person, no matter the circumstances; science says so. Ataturk himself was a chauvinist; He felt that he is Ubermensch and the Turk Uber Alles. His logo was “Ne mutlu Turkum diyene” (Kudos to the one who says I am a Turk).
It is accurate to say that Kemalizm led to a negative reaction amongst the Turkish population. Today, like yesterday, it is countered, even rejected by a sizeable majority of Turks who have maintained their religious fanaticism. They have shrouded themselves with a thin veil of modernity functioning under Necmettin Erbakan’s and his protégé Rajap Tayip Erdogan’s Islamic party (AK). They have already dominated the political scene much to the opposition of the military, which considers itself the protector of Kemalizm. In reality these Generals are holding vigil to a dying regime which is hell bent on joining Europe, even as a cadaver.
There is a tiny group of intellectuals like Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Tanner Akcam, even Hasan Cemal, who are void of prejudice and deception, but their survival in Turkey as a group, a movement, an entity is next to impossible.
Imposing restrictive laws, which punishes anyone who remotely criticizes the regime as insulting Turkishness, is proof positive to Turkey’s chauvinism. Men like these, and dozens like them stand persecuted, Hrant Dink gave his life!
Article 13 of the Turkish Penal Code prescribes punishment to all those who praises Islamic values and lifestyle; hence the animosity between the chauvinist Islamji Turk, and the chauvinist followers of Ataturk.
This is the truth, and to all this, Erdoghan can not look into my eyes, like he did to Charlie Rose, and say “Tamamiyle Yalandr”.