LETTER:Turks should admit Armenian massacres

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The Independent Online
Sir: Win Griffiths MP (letter, 24 April) reminds us of the Armenian massacres. The way he handles the issue, however, is far from satisfactory.

About the Armenian massacres there are three points of controversy: (a) Was the operation of the Ottoman army militarily necessary? (b) How many Armenians died? (c) Was there really intent on the part of the Ottoman government, ie was genocide committed? I will not say anything on the first two points. About the third, I agree with Erik Zurcher, when he argues in his brilliant book Turkey: A Modern History, that:

There are indications that, while the Ottoman government as such was not involved in genocide, an inner circle within the Committee of Union and Progress under the direction of Talat wanted to "solve" the Eastern Question by the extermination of the Armenians and that it used the relocation as a cloak for its policy. (p. 21)

I think it is time that we Turks accept the terrible tragedy that befell the Armenians and encourage our government to make a public gesture which would work towards relieving the pain and agony of Armenian survivors. After all, the founders of modern Turkey fought against the Ottoman government in their struggle for an independent, secular republic.

As for Mr Griffiths's claim that Turkey is blockading aid to the Armenian Republic, Turkey is preparing to ease its embargo on Armenia. We must note, however, that that blockade was imposed because this "tiny land- locked" country, which is "suffering severe hardship" (Mr Griffiths's words), occupies the Nagorny-Karabakh enclave in Azerbaijan, as well as 20 per cent of Azerbaijan proper. A look at the Israeli-Palestinian situation should warn us against the dangers of forgetting about "the victims of the victims".

Finally, Mr Griffiths makes the nonsensical claim that Turkey is involved "in ethnically cleansing its 12 million-strong Kurdish community". Such an irresponsible use of the term "ethnic cleansing" not only does not reflect the reality about the Kurdish problem in Turkey, but is also tantamount to an insult for the Bosnians and to a trivialisation of their predicament.

Sincerely yours,



24 April