HistoryofTruth.com: Ms. Bain before starting we would like to thank you for giving an interview to Historyoftruth.com. As a Board Member of Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) and one of the most active name in Turkish American Diaspora, you are well known by Turkish American community, but still can you tell little bit about yourself to our readers?
Oya Bain: Thank you for your kind comments. I am a close follower of Historyoftruth.com and I find it very valuable and a rich source of information.
I came to the U.S. in 1960 with a Fulbright Scholarship to study Biochemistry.
My education in Turkey was mostly in English, French and American private schools. However what really molded me for life was my early primary school education in Heybeliada Ilkokulu. There I learned in utter amazement about the early centuries of the Ottoman Empire and later breathtaking triumph of Istiklal Savasi and Ataturk's reforms. No wonder Turks never had a concept of victimhood.
My parents were educators and first generation Turkish Republic professionals. Those were heady and exhilarating days. My life and my thinking were formed once for all by living through such historic days.
Another lifelong impression was formed as I grew up in Istanbul, intermingling with Jewish, Armenian and Greek communities, forming many warm friendships which still continue to this date. So you can imagine my absolute shock to see the hate and the venom in some Armenian and Greek groups in this country (U.S) which is known for tolerance and dialogue. What a contrast..
Eventually I also learned how to deal with the hate campaigns and anti Turkish attacks, without getting pessimistic and always looking forward for a good fight and a good outcome.soma online no prescription
In the US I had a fulfilling professional and family life, but in my 55 years in this country my attachment to Turkey and the Turkish Republic became ever stronger.
Professionally I worked as technical director of Clinical Pathology Laboratories of various medical centers, the last one being Georgetown University Hospital where I worked 16 years before retiring. My husband an educator and academician, was associated with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. We have one daughter, a physician who lives in New York with her family.
HistoryofTruth.com: Can you tell us about the work you do in ATAA? And What is ATAA`s plans for 2016? Also we know ATAA is very concentrated to 1915 issue and it holds conferences that is addressing the issue and we know from press releases which is addressing to ASALA terror and 1915 issue. As ATAA what is your plans for 2016 to defend Turkish History Thesis? Are there planned conferences or rallies?
Oya Bain: To give a historical background, ATAA was established in 1979 under the guidance of former Ambassador Sukru Elekdag and with the combined efforts of the two regional organizations, American Turkish Association of DC (ATA-DC) and Maryland Turkish American Association (MATA ). During 1970s and 1980s ASALA and JAG, Armenian terror organizations were brazenly murdering Turkish diplomats and civilians.
U.S. public, political leaders and media were conditioned to be apathetic by years of anti Turkish propaganda and appeared to be almost tolerant about these terrorist acts.The Turkish community was getting frustrated and humiliated. ATAA was formed for the purpose of responding to this anti Turkish onslaught and reverse the disturbing prejudicialtrends that were getting strongerespecially after the Cyprus Peace Intervention in 1974 and the racist movie Midnight Express in 1978.
Since its establishment in 1979 ATAA steadily responded to incessant Armenian claims in its many forms in the Congress, media, literature, and arts. The list of responses and proactive actions is very long
2015 was really a breakthrough year for the Turkish Community from two aspects.
1. In the last 15 years many new scholars surfaced doing in depth research of WW1 and Ottoman Armenian relations
2. A great unity and solidarity began taking place among the many diverse Turkish American organizations
For years ATAA has organized lectures, conferences, programs about the false Armenian claims throughout the U.S. In 2015 the frequency and the intensity of such programs reached the highest number and some of the programs took place in Canada also.
A significant development is the recent increase in the number of serious scholars and academicians studying the Ottoman period during WW1 objectively and publishing their findings without the Armenian threats and intimidation of the previous years. ATAA now has an inventory and will be very happy to share that information with the Turkish NY readers. In early years these types of scholars faced physical and mental threats and were discouraged from independent research .One incident among many others, for example Professor Stanford Shaw's home was fire bombed in 1977 in Los Angeles because of his objective assessment of the Armenian conflict.
To day we have serious scholars such as Ed Erickson, Michael Gunter, Guenter Lewy, Tal Buenos, Jeremy Salt, Norman Stone, Christopher Gunn, Maxime Gauin, Pat Walsh just to name the few, in addition to many excellent Turkish scholars.We also have outstanding legal experts such as Gunay Evinch, David Saltzman and Bruce Fein who are involved in the frivolous Armenian the lawsuits. Of course we were truly elated when ECHR High Court decided in favor of Perincek, emphasizing that Armenian claims cannot be compared to the Holocaust, basically confirming the Turkish thesis that there are historical questions to be answered on the issue.
In March 2015 ATAA Leadership Conference we had 7 outstanding speakers on the Armenian topic and we plan to have a plenary session on the same topic in 2016 ATAA Leadership Conference with more emphasis on reconciliation and resolution.
One crucial factor is the concept of repetition. We do not repeat our thesis as strongly and frequently as the Armenians have done in the last 100 years. The ATAA Lecture series must be repeated in many cities year after year, reaching out to the local media, legislators and public. Once or twice are not enough.
Armenian claims are not based on truth but relentless and many times shameless repetition in every possible media. In 2015 porno stars, Hollywood types, glamour lawyers,rock groups, money minded scholars (among them some Turks) were sad examples of exploitation of the Armenian-Turkish tragedy. It really degrades the tragic events of 1915.
The second important factor in the success of 2015 activities was the unity among many diverse Turkish American organizations . These organizations set aside their ideological beliefs, political convictions as relates to Turkey and united in a great show of force on April 24, 2015. Thousands walked from the White House to the Turkish Embassy and continued with the counter demonstration in front of the Embassy against the Armenian throngs.
The great difference from previous years was the message was different: "Peace and Reconciliation" This message was given in many forms: Newspaper ads, billboard signs, ads on the buses, articles in the papers etc...
This is the message we hope which will get Armenia and the diaspora out of it constant lament of victim hood and get the two peoples closer while looking at the historical events in a rational manner.
HistoryofTruth.com: How is ATAA`s relations with Turkish Embassy in Washington DC?
Oya Bain: Excellent! As mentioned above ATAA was established under the strong leadership of Ambassador Elekdag in 1979.
For the next 10 years during Ambassador Elekdag's tenure in Washington DC, ATAA enjoyed much support and grew to a mature organization. Mrs. Elekdag led many fabulous fund raising events at the Embassy which attracted the "movers and shakers" of Washington whom Elekdags cultivated.
Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir and Mrs. Kandemir continued their support to ATAA, which had a city wide Turkish Heritage month two years in row. President Ozal and Mrs Ozal attended ATAA events. Quincentenary events were celebrated with the Jewish community.
Ambassador Baki Ilkin faced the most critical so called Armenian genocide resolution challenge in the Congress. He practically camped at Capitol Hill for days.The resolution failed to pass almost on the last day of the Congress in 2000. During Ambassador Ilkin's tenure ATAA acquired the Turkevi in the center of Washington DC. Both Ambassador Ilkin and Mrs Ilkin opened the Embassy to ATAA on many occasions.
Ambassador Logoglu skillfully handled the Tezkere crisis in 2003. The pressure from the Bush government and neocon think tanks,journalists were overbearing. He and Mrs. Logoglu involved ATAA in many important social events of Washington. Right after 9/11 there was much interest in Turkey as a secular Moslem country. Mrs Logoglu led a panel on modern Turkish Women which was presented in many venues including the State Department, Harvard Club etc.
Ambassador Sensoy specifically supported ATAA during an ugly lawsuit against ATAA-I must say TurkishNY's support was most valuable also during that difficult time -Mrs Sensoy hosted many cultural and fund raising events.
Ambassador Tan and Mrs. Tan have been in Washington twice before and were familiar with ATAA. Both hosted lavish fundraisers at the Embassy. Ambassador Tan also initiated the unity between the large umbrella organizations. ATAA joined forces with Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA) and Turkish American Community Centers (TACC) for the first time at its Leadership Conferences.
Ambassador Kilic continued with efforts to unite all factions of the community and was key to the success of 2015 events.
For the first time there was a great collaboration among the many diverse Turkish American organizations of all colors and ideological beliefs. We all left those beliefs at home and joined arms in the important issues facing Turkey, namely increasingly shrill Armenian claims and increased PKK terror.
HistoryofTruth.com: What Turkish American people can do to support ATAA?
Oya Bain: It is a two way street..We should always ask what ATAA can do for the Turkish American community, not always ask what the Community do for ATAA, to reverse the Kennedy quote.
ATAA, as a national umbrella organization, has more than 60 regional member organizations. Practically every state is represented in ATAA's membership. Yet we cannot assume that every organization will support ATAA unconditionally.
ATAA's main mission is to educate and enable the Turkish Americans to be politically active and assertive. It promotes integration to the American community which is different from assimilation. It is very important to keep our Turkish identity and heritage during that process.
What ATAA is promoting are not soft and popular projects like festivals, bayram dinners, fashion shows. The local organizations do these activities extremely well. ATAA projects in short are not "sexy". The topics such as responding to the Armenian and other ethnic allegations, getting involved in the politics of the region require hard work, good information, much courage and risk taking.
ATAA had introduced and funded many community programs throughout the years. In early years ATAA held mini Leadership Conferences in different parts of the country. Later we introduced the TABAN program: Turkish American Broad Advocacy Network which was quite successful. In 2015 we combined the TABAN Programs with lectures on the Armenian issue. All member organization presidents were hosted at our three day National Leadership Conference in March 2015, ending with the ATAA Delegates meeting on the fourth day.
What ATAA needs is for those member organization leaders to go back and be politically and civicly active in their communities and be little ATAA organizations themselves. A most important issue is that these organizations need to get out of the harmful mindset that as 501c3 organizations they "cannot be active politically". This attitude has seriously hampered our efforts to challenge the regional Armenian allegations. 501c3 organizations can use up to 20 % of their resources in political activities. Better still these organizations can educate their members to be individually active. We also constantly encourage new organizations to join ATAA
As I said above it is a two way street-ATAA needs to be constantly visible and leaders who were hosted and trained by ATAA need to give back to their community.
HistoryofTruth.com: What would you say us about Turkish Diaspora in the U.S.? Who are they?
Oya Bain: Turkish Diaspora of to day is very different from the time when I first arrived to U.S in 1960. At that time, Turks were mainly from large cities such Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. The professions were mostly medicine, engineering and sciences. We were hesitant and rather timid in getting involved in political and civic activities. We worried that our English may not be good enough to speak to the politicians or write letters. Even to day when an anti Turkish article comes up we pass the article among ourselves saying that "somebody should write a response", rather than taking the initiative to write ourselves.
To day Turks from all parts of Turkey arrive to U.S..The variety, energy and assertiveness of today's diaspora reflect of what is happening in Turkey at the present: Rise of the Anatolian inland. We see all types of professions, different Turkish dialects, political and religious beliefs. There is new drive and self confidence in the community.
HistoryofTruth.com: What Turkish Diaspora and it`s members should do to become more effective?
Oya Bain: In recent years we see an increasing awareness of the problems facing Turkey and in conjunction with that increasing collaboration and solidarity are forming among many diverse groups.We saw an excellent example of this cooperative trend on April 24 2015 and during the months of preparations. This happened in other parts of the country, not only in Washington DC and New York. Another sign of maturity is the increased tolerance and respect for each other's political and religious beliefs. I have to admit in the 1960s,1970s our tolerance was low and we acted in an elitist manner to any group which was different than us.
HistoryofTruth.com: Are there supportive relations between Turkish Associations and Foundations in the US? When it comes to defend Turkish people and Turkey`s interest in the U.S., can we say they are acting together?
Oya Bain: As the oldest umbrella organizations both ATAA and FTAA brought unity to many regional Turkish American associations during the years. In 2011 the large umbrella groups started to work together rather than acting as rivals and continue to do so.
During Gunay Evinch's presidency there major umbrellas came together for many projects. During Ergun Kirlikovali's presidency we had the first "Turkish Davos" with more than 10 umbrella organizations participating in the National Leadership Conference. Every year now, all umbrella organizations are invited to our Leadership Conferences and many participate.
To day Turkish American National Steering Committee, which was formed in 2014, encompasses almost 150 organizations, some umbrella, some smaller. This is a very hopeful development.
The success of such cooperation depends if the individuals can set aside their personal feelings about Turkey's internal politics and focus on the challenges we have in this country. Otherwise we drown in useless and endless polemics and cannot get anything done. I have seen that happen many times in the past.
HistoryofTruth.com: How is relation between Armenian and Turkish people in Washington DC? Do you have any Armenian friends?
Oya Bain: This is very hurtful topic. Yes we have friends in the Armenian community. Turkish Armenians are warm, friendly and like us. Then we face entities like ANCA, a relentlessly hostile and negative organization, prejudice, exaggerations and outright lies in the media, political circles, academia. The contrast between the warm friendship of the Istanbul Armenians and the extreme hate we see from the others is really hurtful. That hate is truly a psychological malady.
HistoryofTruth.com: Can you tell us about Turkish Diaspora`s relations with Congress members and Senators?
Oya Bain: This is truly a success story. When I arrived to the U.S. in 1960 I had no idea about the political system in the US. This was the same with my generation of the diaspora.Turkish political system was very different, the notion of an individual being effective in the political process was foreign to us. Centrality of the Turkish politics created a feeling of individual's non effectiveness, almost fatalistic approach. Gradually we learned by fire -that is non stop anti Turkish resolutions popping up at the Congress- that we have to learn the system, change our citizenship and start being active.
ATAA always promoted individual political empowerment in its members through education and practice. We started to hold political fundraisers as individuals, reach out to our politicians and educate them as much as possible. It was difficult at times-the candidates we supported did not always win. There was no sure bet in politics. We also had to decide which American political party members we have to support: One that fits our own ideals or the one which is friendlier with Turkey. Frequently those did not agree. We had to make a choice.
In 2007 Turkish PACs were formed and started to work in a more systematic manner.
The report from Lincoln McCurdy below, dated Nov 23, 2015 shows 149 members in the Turkish caucus. Just few days ago the total number went to 151 due to the efforts of ATAA Southeast region Vice President.
Now ATAA has a report card system which evaluates the ATAA Regional Vice Presidents on their efforts to lead the political outreach in their regions. American politicians are open minded (regardless of the extremes we see to day) and eager to learn and understand different countries. Turkey with its location in one of the most critical regions of the world, being a Moslem country with a secular republic and being a close ally of the U.S. for decades can make its case easily and develop close ties with the politicians. Constituent outreach is the most critical step in getting a Congress member to join the Caucus. Votes and financial support are vital. We don't have as many votes as the Armenian and Greek communities, but we can provide financial and volunteer support.
Report form Lincoln McCurdy:
Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans
November 23, 2015
Today, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL/1st) joined the Turkey Caucus as the 149th member. The Turkey Caucus in the 114th Congress (2015-2016) has now surpassed the total of 148 in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). The current Turkey Caucus is only 9 members short in surpassing the total of 157 in 2012, the highest number ever attained.
· The Caucus has gained 20 new members since January 2015 increasing its members from 129 to 149. (149: 94R and 55D)
· In January 2015, 11 of the 50 states were not represented in the Caucus. Today, that number has dropped to 7: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Nebraska and Hawaii.
· In January 2015, 2 of the 6 territories were not represented in the Caucus. Today, that number has dropped to 1: U.S. Virgin Islands.
History of Caucus Membership Numbers
149 – 114th Congress (2015-2016)
148 – 113th Congress (2013-2014)
157 – 112th Congress (2011-2012)
125 – 111th Congress (2009-2010)
83 – 110th Congress (2007-2008)
62 – 109th Congress (2005-2006)
HistoryofTruth.com: We know ATAA and Turkish Diaspora members hold meetings with Congress members and Congressional Turkey Caucus Members. How do you tell them what actually happened in 1915?
Oya Bain: The Congressional members do not have time to read long, bulky books. Short write ups are helpful. As a super power U.S. politicians have to be knowledgeable about almost 200 nations in the world-an impossible job. The message has to be positive and solution oriented. We use the excellent AVIM brochures, short and concise articles and give a message of reconciliation with Armenia. ATAA supported the 2009 protocols between the two countries, especially the formation of an independent committee of objective historians to study the Armenian-Ottoman conflict. President Erdogan's condolence message to Armenia on April 24 2014 was very effective. Militant Armenians did not know how to respond.
ATAA holds periodic events at the Congress, inviting all 535 Congressional members and their staff. Educating and connecting with staff are very critical.
It appears that in recent years there is genocide fatigue in the Congress, i.e. members are getting tired about the claims. There are very few die hard members who are very rigid and very antagonistic to Turks such as Menendez, Pallone, Pelosi and few others. We don't waste time on such closed minds which are quite un-american and rather racist.
HistoryofTruth.com: What is Armenian Diaspora`s expectations from False Genocide claims? Is that true Armenian Diaspora in the US is using the False Genocide claims to benefit economically?
Oya Bain: It is definitely an industry. Both Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and Armenian Assembly (AAA) are well funded, have plush offices and large staff. Funds are raised easily since Armenian community has a single focus approach and people's are emotions are skilfully manipulated both by ANCA and AAA.
On the other hand Armenia is increasingly becoming a Russian puppet-it is already a Russian base. It is losing population and its economy does not look good. Armenia is played between the U.S. and Russia as a political ball. That is why Armenia occupies much bigger place in the U.S. politics in proportion to its small size, failing economy, and decreasing population. It is used in the Caucasus power game.
One wonders how long the victim hood and false claims will continue to be an economical source for the Armenian organizations in the U.S.
HistoryofTruth.com: Is ASALA still exist? Do you think is there still a threat for Turkish Diplomats in the U.S.?
Oya Bain: The terror threat is dormant but still very real. Just recently an Oct 20, 2015 article by extremist writer Harut Sassounian was headlined as : "To Ban Genocide Denial, Court Incites Violence"
A search in the Internet shows up 24 terror organizations under such names: "Suicide Commandos", Armenian Youth Attack Organization" a number of them active quite recently.
Another search for "Armenian criminal gangs" shows much information on the extent of criminal activity Armenian community is involved relative to its size. Criminal and political terror overlap in the Armenian case.
Every April 24 we see the motorcycle gangs such as Armenian Brigade, Hye Riders riding in front of the Turkish Embassy. it is a chilling and dark spectacle. Police trying to keep order at these demonstrations are wary of these gangs.
Yes the threat for the Turkish diplomats and the civilians is still very real, especially now the Armenian allegations are gradually faltering when subjected to serious scholarly research and to court proceedings such as the recent ECHR High Chamber decision.
When ATAA was first established in 1979, ATAA officers received FBI protection because of the Armenian threat .
Just two years ago,former ATAA president Ergun Kirlikovali was heckled at a meeting in Los Angeles area.
It is sad to see many young Armenian kids dressed in black in the demonstrations, being raised with such hate, breeding to morrow's criminal/terrorist gangs.
HistoryofTruth.com: Is there anything else you want to add or share with our readers?
Oya Bain: I lived and worked in US for more than 50 years, worked in mostly Catholic hospitals, never encountered any discrimination or prejudice and advanced to top positions in my career easily. This is my personal experience.
However the US media is a different matter. Bias, suppression of any good news of Turkey, subtle discrimination,
I call it the 50 cent news-You never get your one dollar's worth..
Just a most outrageous example-how many times we have seen a news item about more than 2 million refugees in Turkey? Almost none-Instead we see pages pages of news everyday about much lesser numbers of refugees in Europe.Turkey's burden is never mentioned.
Similar bias in the news about the terror attack in France. Pages and pages of news -Ankara terror incident not even mentioned
Any news items on PKK: terrorists are almost implied to be "freedom fighters" (Madame Mitterrand's darlings.)
Also the newspaper pundits-rarely an original thought-repeat same ideas platitudes constantly. Two day visit to a country-they become experts..
Unfortunately US media is living in a bubble of babble when it comes to world affairs in many parts of the world.
The media bias became much worse during the April 24, 2015, the centenary of the Armenian claims.
Around April 24th the movie Water Diviner opened in NY and DC. The movie critics were offended that Turks are shown in a positive light on a date like April 24th.!.
I was speechless. I wrote a letter to Washington Post. The editor had no idea that Anatolia was being attacked from all fronts in 1915. Such ignorance breeds the prejudice and it will probably take another 100 years to reverse and correct the misconceptions.
ATAA's Future Activities
We invite all to the National Leadership Conference which will take place on February 25-27 in Washington DC (Please check www.ataa.org for info and registration)
We have a plenary session on the Armenian issue, Reconciliation and Resolution, EHRC decision, where many related topics will be covered by Prof. Justin McCarthy, David Salztman and others.
We plan to show the film by Serkan Koc, "1915 based on Armenian Documents". There may be other films on oral testimonies from Turkish side.
We plan to have Mehmet Perincek speak under the banner of Talat Pasa Committee and take both the film and Perincek to a tour in the U.S. and Canada.
Turkish American National Steering Committee is getting bigger and more organized to deal effectively with the onslaught we will see on April 2016 and other related activities. ATAA always has been the front runner of such activities. The scope of the response and proactive approach have grown considerably since Steering Committee was formed in 2014. The unity and collaboration in the community are very encouraging.
Just recently we heard good news from scholar Maxime Gauin in France who have been responding for years very effectively to false claims and winning lawsuits.
Australian government recently confirmed its stand on the Armenian allegations and opted wisely not to support them.
Good news are trickling in. We hope in the next 100 years the Armenian lies and propaganda will be purged and a balanced view of the Turkish Armenian tragedy will emerge, respecting the suffering and death of both peoples during 1915. I think Armenian tragedy is now so debased by vulgar propaganda that it cannot get lower.
I want to stress the importance of sites like Historyoftruth.com which provides great service to its readers. One wishes that the Internet may eventually be cleaned of the garbage of wrong information about the Armenian claims.
I am hopeful about the next 100 years. The tide is turning around..
Thank you for interviewing me for Historyoftruth.com