Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Armenian Genocide: Facts, Players, Two Documentaries, The Truth With Obama, and ADL vs. The City of Watertown, Massachusetts

�SThe Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, the Great Calamity - refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterised by the use of massacres, and the use of deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of Armenian deaths generally held to have been between one and one-and-a-half million.⬝


�STo date, only 21 countries have officially recognized the massacres of Armenians committed by Ottoman Empire between 1915-1923 as genocide.⬝


�SCountries officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide include⬝: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Lebanon, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela.


In addition, the following international organizations also officially recognize the Armenian Genocide: UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, European Parliament, World Council of Churches, Turkish Human Rights Association, European Alliance of YMCAs, and The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal.


The major opponents of recognizing the extermination of the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as genocide are the UK, US, Israel, and of course Turkey.


For two reasons, this denial should not last much longer - at least for the US anyway.


First, in the United States, during the presidential elections, Obama was asked to comment on the Armenian Genocide and clarify his stance on the subject. His reply was:



�SSenator Biden and I, I think both acknowledge that, for those who aren�"t aware, there was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people. It is one of the situations where we have seen a constant denial on part of the Turkish government and others that this occurred. It has become a swore spot diplomatically.


�SI have to check with my staff to find out what has gone on in our office that has resulted in us not signing onto it yet and I will be happy to get back to you on it.⬝







Personally, I hold Obama accountable to his words, my hope is that he does not do an about-face the way he has done regarding warrantless wiretapping and FISA. When the United States does acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as genocide, then a major obstacle would have been overcome and official global recognition should soon follow.


The second reason why the United States will most likely officially recognize the Armenian Genocide is due to the information in a book published in 2008 entitled �SBlack Book⬝, edited by Murat Bardakci, �Sa Turkish journalist with particular focus on Ottoman history and Turkish music history⬝. The book documents the disappearance of 972,000 Ottoman Armenians from official population records from 1915 through 1916.


�STalat Pasha's Black Book refers to the handwritten notes printed in a personal notebook form by the Ottoman Minister of Interior (later grand vizier) on the relocations of both Turkish-Muslim and Armenian Ottoman citizens during the World War I.⬝


This information was first disclosed in 2005:



�SThe book was handed over to him by Talat Pasha's widow, Hayriye Talat Bafrali. Along with a batch of other documents comprising letters he had sent her and telegrammes exchanged between Committee of Union and Progress members. In April 2006, Bardakci re-edited the black book in full, adding parts that were missing in the first publication with the name ��Talat Pasa�"nin Evrak-i Metrukesi�".


�SThe 1915-1916 resettlements cited in Talat Pasha Black Book of 702,905 Turks from regions under threat of occupation by Russian forces and of 924,158 Armenians. The cited figures do not fall in discordance with a 29 February 1916 letter sent to the US Secretary of State from the embassy in Istanbul reporting upon the number of Armenian immigrants (for Syria only).⬝


In January 2009, further information was revealed regarding the genocide when Bardakci released "The Remaining Documents of Talat Pasha". The International Herald Tribune reported on the significance of these revelations in an article entitled �SA devastating document is met with silence in Turkey⬝.


For those interested in further information, excerpts from this article are provided below. In addition three videos have been embedded. First is the documentary �SArmenia: The Betrayed⬝ produced for the BBC by five time Emmy Awards winner James Miller who was killed in 2003 by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza. Second is a documentary by Emmy Award-winning producer and director Andrew Goldberg entitled �SThe Armenian Genocide⬝. The third video is of the Watertown, Massachusetts Town Council meeting where they unanimously voted to sever ties with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for their continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.


What follows are the videos and the excerpts from the International Herald Tribune article:



For Turkey, the number should have been a bombshell.


According to a long-hidden document that belonged to the interior minister of the Ottoman Empire, 972,000 Ottoman Armenians disappeared from official population records from 1915 through 1916.


In Turkey, any discussion of what happened to the Ottoman Armenians can bring a storm of public outrage. But since its publication in a book in January, the number - and its Ottoman source - has gone virtually unmentioned. Newspapers hardly wrote about it. Television shows have not discussed it.


BBC Documentary, January 2003 - ARMENIA: THE BETRAYED (42:56)




For generations, most Turks knew nothing of the details of the Armenian genocide from 1915 to 1918, when more than a million Armenians were killed as the Ottoman Turk government purged the population.


Turkey locked the ugliest parts of its past out of sight, Soviet-style, keeping any mention of the events out of schoolbooks and official narratives in an aggressive campaign of forgetting.


But in the past 10 years, as civil society has flourished here, some parts of Turkish society are now openly questioning the state's version of events. In December, a group of intellectuals circulated a petition that apologized for the denial of the massacres. Some 29,000 people have signed it.


With his book, "The Remaining Documents of Talat Pasha," Bardakci (pronounced bard-AK-chuh) has become, rather unwillingly, part of this ferment. The book is a collection of documents and records that once belonged to Mehmed Talat, known as Talat Pasha, the primary architect of the Armenian deportations.


The documents, given to Bardakci by Talat's widow, Hayriye, before she died in 1983, include lists of population figures. Before 1915, 1,256,000 Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire, according to the documents. The number plunged to 284,157 two years later, Bardakci said.


Genocide of the Armenians (55:21)




Turkey has never acknowledged a specific number of deportees or deaths. On Sunday, the Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan, warned that President Barack Obama might set back relations if he recognized the massacre of Armenians as genocide ahead of his visit to Turkey next month.


The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was bloody, the Turkish argument goes, and those who died were victims of that chaos.


Bardakci subscribes to that view. The figures, he said, do not indicate the number of dead, only the result of the decline in the Armenian population after deportation. He strongly disagrees that the massacres amounted to a genocide, and says that Turkey was obliged to take action against Armenians because they were openly supporting Russia in its war against the Ottoman Empire.


The City of Watertown In Massachusetts Severs Ties With The ADL For Denying the Armenian Genocide (1:11:34)




Bardakci is a history buff who learned to read and write Ottoman script from his grandmother, allowing him to navigate Turkey's written past, something that most Turks are unable to do. He plays the tanbur, a traditional string instrument. His grandfather was a member of the same political party as Talat, and his family knew many of the important political figures in Turkey's founding.


"We had a huge library at home," he said. "They were always talking about history and the past." Though Bardacki clearly wanted the numbers to be known, he stubbornly refuses to interpret them. He offers no analysis in the book, and aside from an interview with Talat's widow, there is virtually no text beside the original documents.


"I didn't want to interpret," he said. "I want the reader to decide."


The best way to do that, he argues, is by using cold, hard facts, which can cut through the layers of emotional rhetoric that have clouded the issue for years⬦


Bardakci said he had held the documents for so long - 27 years - because he was waiting for Turkey to reach the point when their publication would not cause a frenzy.


Even now, the state feels the need to defend itself. Last summer, a propaganda film about the Armenians made by the Turkish military was distributed to primary schools. After a public outcry, it was stopped.


"I could never have published this book 10 years ago," Bardakci said. "I would have been called a traitor."


He added, "The mentality has changed."




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