BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
In case the ongoing, periodic, massacres of Armenians in and/or by the Ottoman Empire and its willing and eager collaborators weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the 1905 massacres of Armenians by “Tatars” (which were reciprocated), as Azerbaijanis were referred to back then, weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the Armenian Genocide wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the simultaneous genocide of Assyrians and Greeks wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the 1918 Baku massacres by locals and Enver Pasha’s “Army of Islam” weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the 1920 sacking of Shushi, a vibrant Armenian cultural center, and its accompanying massacres weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the 1937 massacres of Alevi Kurds, (or the Zazas, a term that no longer seems to be in use) weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the depopulation/expulsion of Armenians from Nakhichevan during the Soviet era by Azerbaijani authorities wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case discriminatory practices in Azerbaijani controlled Artsakh during the Soviet era wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the discriminatory Varlik Vergisi (a tax invented by Ankara in 1942 to impoverish and drive out Armenians, Greeks, and Jews) wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the 1955 (premeditated and “fake-news” instigated) pogroms of Greeks (with some spillover on to Armenians) in Constantinople weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the mutilation of Greeks during Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus wasn’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
In case the 1989 February and later pogroms in Baku, Gandsak (Ganja as Turkified), Sumgait, and elsewhere weren’t enough proof of Turkish racism;
Then let’s look to this century for… more of the same!
How about Victor Bedoian’s septennial sojourn in Van as he tried to open “Hotel Vartan” and was blocked at every turn from the vali (governor) who boasted that no Armenian would start a business in Van on his watch to the Turkish Supreme court that shut down his final appeal?
How about Hrant Dink’s 2007 murder?
How about Turkey’s sealing of its border with Syria at Kobane, blocking assistance and escape for the Kurds of that area in their life-and-death struggle against Daesh/ISIS?
How about the mutilation of civilians and beheadings by Azerbaijan’s forces during the April 2016 Four Day War??
How about Erdoğan feigning outrage at being called an Armenian (which is a really bad slur in Turkey, it turns out)?
How about the hatred spewed against Jews from all corners of Turkey’s polity?
How about the episodic appearance of hate graffiti on Armenian institutions in Turkey?
How about the ongoing desecration of Armenian cemeteries and churches in Turkey?
How about the recent video from Azerbaijan with children expressing their hatred of Armenians?
How about the comment that “Raping Kurdish women is a moral obligation. No one should abstain” by a leader of a Turkish group in Holland?
How about the Estonian citizen who was Armenian being denied entry into Azerbaijan, just days ago, because of her ancestry, despite having travelled to Baku with a properly issued visa?
It’s not only unfortunate, but utterly tragic, that current Turkish identity (including Azerbaijan, less its persecuted minority populations- Avars, Jews, Lesghis, Tats, Talysh) is unimaginable without this all-encompassing racism, The only glimmer of light in that darkness is the small portion of the population which constitutes civil society and its efforts to defend human rights, in the broadest sense of the term.
This reality must permeate the halls of (at least) Western governments so their foreign policy for Azerbaijan and Turkey is more rational and effective. The above can serve as talking points during any encounter with our elected representatives. Use them.
And just in case anyone you’re speaking with has doubt as to whether there exists a significant difference between Ankara’s and Baku’s ethos, ideals, and morals, here’s a joke to help convey this reality:
“What’s the difference between an Azeri and a Turk?”