October 27, 2006

Grandson of Sheikh Said, Kurdish Tribal Leader, Declares "Palestine is True Armenian Homeland"

(Zaman Online; 26,10,06)

Abdulilah Firat, grandson of the infamous Kurdish chieftain Sheikh Said of Piran, is quoted as making a series of outrageous statements regarding Armenians and the events of 1915.

Most notable are his claims that:

1)The homeland of the Armenians is Palestine. They were exiled by the Byzantines to Anatolia.

2) The Hamidiye Kurdish Calvary units were formed by Sultan Hamid to "protect the Muslims from the Armenians."

3)Armenians began slaughtering Turks without provocation and were armed by Europe.

These and other ridiculous distortions are to be found at Zaman

What are we to make of Mr. Firat's statements. Are his views shared by other Kurds of his stature who should know better?? We would urge Mr. Firat to reacquaint himself with a more objective history of the time. The book "People Without A Country:The Kurds And Kurdistan", edited by Gerard Chaliand, would be a good start.

(Pokr Mher: Sheikh Said of Piran led a Kurdish uprising in and around Kharpert in the mid 1920's. The forces under his leadership soon had "liberated" huge areas in eastern Anatolia. Ankara sent 80,ooo troops to quash the revolt and, with the help of the French, used the Northern Syrian railroad to encircle the Kurdish partisans who were besieging the city of Diyarbekir. On September 4, 1925, Sheikh Said and 52 of his followers were hung in Diyarbekir. Turkish repression was brutal. Thousands of Kurdish peasants were massacred and hundreds of Kurdish villages were burnt to the ground. In the autumn of 1925 some 400 Kurdish patriots were hung in Kharpert and 100 more in Hinis..)

October 16, 2006


"DENIAL IS KILLING THEM TWICE" (Artist: Ruben Malayan)



Amidst all the hysteria, hyperbole and handwringing regarding the passage of the bill outlawing the denial of the Armenian Genocide by France's National Assembly, we would just state the following:

1) Europe and Turkey will continue "Business As Usual" regardless of this legislation. In fact, Europe - Turkish cooperation started before the Armenian Genocide and has continued unabated since then. The Treaty of Lausanne conveniently ignored the genocide and the promises the Europeans had made to the Armenians, paving the way for a new era of Turkish-European economic and military cooperation. Turkish cries of threats and blockades regarding Europe and the E.U. over this bill are laughable and hollow bravado.

2) All those who argue that this legislation somehow restricts "Freedom of Speech" are really reaching for straws. If they wish to debate the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide let them bring their case to the appropriate forum. No one is preventing them from doing so!!

3) Regarding the argument that this legislation thwarts reconciliation between the Turkish state and its people, on the one hand, and Armenians on the other, we say, " Reconciliation can only begin with a recognition of historical reality - something the Turkish state and its propaganda machine have avoided for the past 90 years. " Unfortunately, it appears that Turkey has been dragged, kicking and screaming, to even merely recognize that the issue of the genocide exists till today.

4) Armenians are not "obsessed" with the recognition of the genocide as some commentators have blithely noted. Many argue that the events of 1915 should be "filed away" and treated as an unfortunate tragedy that took place in the distant past. Such a convenient treatment of the 20th century's first genocide and its aftermath is disgraceful and must not be tolerated. When Armenian Genocide deniers rear their ugly head, they must be countered and exposed as such.

5) The fallout over this issue continues to highlight the contradictions inherent regarding the politics of both Europe and Turkey. Chirac opens his mouth in Yerevan one day and the next day, back in Paris, he opines to the contrary. The European Union, speaks of advancing democracy and justice, but backs down when the defense of these issue seemingly threaten Turkey's accession talks. Turkey rants on and on about how "freedom of speech" in France has been dealt a blow with this legislation but conveniently ignores its own track record on the same topic. Such hypocrisy knows no bounds....

Amidst all the rhetoric and wrangling surrounding this issue, Armenians have precious little to lose. We continue to watch the unfolding of this latest episode in the political manipulation of the Armenian Genocide with a certain degree of remorse, but also of satisfaction. Turkey, France and the rest of Europe, only have themselves to blame for the current imbroglio. The 1915 Genocide remains an unresolved issue some 90 years later. Had Europe and Turkey seen fit to address this crime against humanity soon after it was committed, they would not find themselves in the predicament from which they are attempting to extricate themselves today.

October 05, 2006

Many Average European Citizens Opposed To Turkey Becoming E.U. Member

"VOICE FOR EUROPE" Campaigns to Ban Turkey

    It seems that not all Europeans agree with their national leaders that Turkey should be granted full European Union membership .

    Demonstration In England 2005

    Demonstration In Paris 2005

    These activities and others of the Voice For Europe Campaign are from 2005. While their site is still up, it appears that after Turkey's accession talks started in October 2005 the organization has ceased functioning. Here's just a small excerpt from their site that sheds light on the arguments against Turkey's membership in the European Union:

    We, the undersigned citizens of the European Union, with the aim of supporting and contributing to European integration and protecting European values turn to the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission:We are convinced that1. Turkey in its essence is not a European country 2. The European Union does not have the absorbtion capacity to enlarge with the Republic of Turkey.Therefore we resolutely request the decision makers of the European Union not to enlarge the EU with the Republic of Turkey, but instead aim at strengthening a mutually acceptable and beneficial partnership.

    (Ohan Keri - Back in 2005, when Europe was voting on whether or not to merely start talks on Turkish accession, estimates placed some 30-40% of citizens of E.U. member nations as being opposed. But the talks started despite the opposition. Both Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac led the forces favoring Turkey's accession. Today, a variety of issues (Cyprus, democracy in Turkey, the Armenian Genocide, etc) are being debated and discussed regarding Turkey's membership. Is it all just one big political game concocted by the European powers to exert pressure on Turkey before further negotiations take place - a kind of "tit-for-tat" chess game.

    Somehow, the word "capitulations" comes to mind. Is the Genocide Recognition issue being conveniently used by these same European nations in their political machinations. One day the European Parliament removes the Genocide Recognition clause as a prerequisite for Turkey's accession, the next day, Jacques Chirac, facing Armenian TV cameras in Yerevan, calls for Turkey to do the right thing and accept its past mistakes.

    Hrant Dink recently commented that the Armenian Genocide is being used a political pawn in all of this and lamented the fact that the memory of those who perished is being manipulated in such a disgraceful manner. What Do You Think??

    October 01, 2006


    Kocharian and Chirac: Tete-a-Tete, But Eye to Eye?

    Amidst all the hoopla and celebration surrounding the visit of French President Jacques Chirac's visit to Armenia we would like to interrupt the toasts to French-Armenian friendship with some sobering historical recollections.

    True, the visit of Jacques Chirac, Europe's elder statesman, is veritably a great feather in the cap of Kocharian and Armenia in general. Given the on-going debate regarding Turkey's accession talks to enter the European Union, Chirac's pronouncements in Yerevan that Turkey should recognize its sordid past (read:Armenian Genocide) before entrance into the E.U. can only serve to further anger Turkey which already sees itself under assault from Europe and its calls for speedier improvements in human rights legislation and minority rights.

    It is true that the countries of France and Armenia share a long history that dates back to at least the Cilician Armenian Kingdom of the 12th to 14th centuries. Back then, it was a marriage of convenience, literally in fact. Lucikly, when the marriage ended and the Crusaders disappeared, the Armenians remained.

    Today however, given the newly founded French-Armenian love affair, it behooves us all to recollect a somewhat more tragic episode of French-Armenian relations that occured less than a century ago in Cilicia.

    Here, we cannot recount all that transpired in Cilicia during the tumultuous years immediately following the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Suffice it to say that Cilicia was the scene of fierce rivalry between the Europeans who emerged victorious from WWI, a nascent Kemalist- lead Turkish nationalism and the Armenian genocide survivors.

    According to Christopher Walker in his book Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, " France had two political options in Cilicia that were mutually incompatible. That is to say when one failed, the other could be adopted." Walker writes,

    "The first was to occupy the country directly, in the hope of turning it into a colony. This was the policy adopted at first. France's other option was to work with Turkey. France held 61% of the Ottoman Public debt, the tobacco monopoly as well as important concessions for Turkish railway construction, mining, ports, etc." (p. 293)

    The 50-60,000 Armenians who made their way back to the towns in Cilicia they were forced to flee in 1915 found themselves between two competing nationalisms - the French and the Kemalist. In fact, France had laid claim to Cilicia and surrounding areas as early as 1916, when WWI still raged on, according to the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Faced with an emergent Turkish nationalism spearheaded by Mustafa Kemal, the Armenians naturally sided with the French. In turn, the French played on the desperation of the Armenians, offering them promises of protection. All the French asked for in return was Armenian help in their struggle against the Kemalists.

    The Armenians soon found themselves in a no-win situation. As the Kemalist forces gained the upper hand, the French began a hasty retreat from Cilicia. In Marash, Hadjin, Aintab and elsewhere, despite heroic attempts to resist, Armenians were forced to flee their homes once again.

    This time, just as in the 14th century, the French and their armies disappeared. But unlike the Crusaders, this time the French made sure to protect their strategic and economic interests. By early 1921, France's Prime Minister Aristide Briand had negotiated a separate peace with the Kemalists. The French would abandon Cilicia and in return they would be given priority for a wide range of economic concessions. The peace treaty also called for the "widest possible partnership between Ottoman and French capital."

    So...President Chirac...Bien Venue en Armenie. Enjoy our famous Armenian hospitality.

    And to President Kocharian we offer these words of caution penned by Lord Byron himself...

    Trust not for freedom to the Franks;
    They have a king who buys and sells.