BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Turkish officials have been misrepresenting the facts of the Armenian Genocide for years. Even though this is saddening and even sickening, it is not surprising. Wrongdoers usually cover up their guilt and proclaim their innocence.
What is truly surprising is that the descendants of victims of the Armenian Genocide, having been accustomed to such Turkish distortions, no longer see the need to put up a vigorous fight against denialist “historians,” politicians, diplomats, and reporters.
Why is it that descendants of the Jewish Holocaust go to great lengths to counter denialist historians, neo-Nazis, and other revisionists, while Armenians seem to be oblivious to those who distort their own tragedy? Is it because they are simply tired of hearing the same old Turkish lies year after year or do they feel powerless to put an end to these distortions?
Earlier this year, the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution on the Armenian Genocide by a slim 23-22 majority. Regardless of what excuses the 22 members came up with for voting against this resolution, the fact is that when the time came to stand up and acknowledge the truth, they did not have the moral fortitude to be counted among the righteous! Instead they chose to side with the liars, deniers, and mass murderers!
And what has been the Armenian reaction to the despicable behavior of these 22 members of Congress? No outrage was expressed by Armenians! Not a single Armenian official condemned these scoundrels in Congress. Where is the organized effort by Armenian-Americans to target for defeat the Congressmen who voted against the Armenian Genocide resolution and are running for reelection on November 2nd?
Imagine what would have happened if a single member of Congress had voted against a resolution on the Holocaust! Would Israel’s leaders and Jewish-Americans have remained silent? They would have rightly done everything in their power to ensure that such a member of Congress is not reelected!
The question is not whether the Armenian-American community is as influential or powerful as the Jewish-American community. Regardless of its actual political prowess, the Armenian community must mount a vigorous campaign to defeat its political opponents. Once word spreads in Congress that anyone who votes against the Armenian Genocide would be targeted for defeat, those immoral and spineless members of Congress would quickly conclude that denying the Genocide for a fistful of Turkish Liras is not in their own best interest!
Here is another blatant example of genocide denial that has gone unnoticed and unchallenged by Armenians and the international community. The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s website includes countless distorted statements on the Armenian Genocide. The website provides deceptive responses to innocently-worded questions, such as: “What happened in 1915? What is the total number of the Armenian deportees? Did all the Armenian deportees die? Is it a crime to describe the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ in Turkey and are the ones whom (sic) argue this exposed to legal investigation?”
On its website, the Turkish Foreign Ministry goes to absurd lengths in a vain attempt to make Turkey look good by claiming that “Turkey is the only country where the events of 1915 can be discussed in a free manner!”
The website also makes the false claim that “there is no one in Turkey now who has been tried or prosecuted due to the reason that he/she described the events of 1915 as ‘genocide.’” The Turkish Foreign Ministry conveniently forgets that Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was tried and found guilty for using the word “genocide” in an interview. He met a worse fate than serving a jail term. He was shot and killed! Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk was also charged under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (“Insulting Turkishness”) for stating that one million Armenians were killed! After intense international pressure, however, the charges against Pamuk were dropped, and subsequently reinstated! Many other Turkish journalists and writers have been taken to court for writing about the Armenian Genocide.
There should be a concerted effort by Armenian officials, Diaspora Armenians, and the international community, demanding that the Turkish government immediately remove those insulting lies from the Foreign Ministry’s website and issue an apology to Armenians.
Until then, no Armenian official should have any contact or meetings with Turkish leaders. Just imagine if the German Foreign Ministry’s website stated that the Holocaust never happened! Would Israel’s leaders have carried on business as usual with Germany?