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Questions and Answers

Published: 07-05-2008

 

What does "Genocide"Mean?

This term refers to a well defined crime, the definition of which has been given in an international convention made after the Second World War: the "Convention of Prevention and Repression of Crime of Genocide", approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution of December 9, 1948 and which went into effect on January 11, 1951, convention Turkey has signed and ratified this agreement.

In the convention the definition of the crime of genocide consists of three elements: for one thing, there has to be a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Then, this group has to be subjected to certain acts listed in the convention: the "murder of the members of the group, and forced transfer of the children of one group into another group and subjecting the members of a group to conditions which -will eventually bring about their physical destruction". But the third element is the most important: there has to be "an intention of destroying", in part or as a whole the said group. This key-description helps to differentiate between genocide and other forms of homicide, which are the consequences of other motives such as in the case of wars, uprisings etc. Homicide becomes genocide when the latent or apparent intention of physical destruction is directed at members of any national, ethnic, racial or religious groups simply because they happen to be members of that group. The concept of numbers only becomes significant when it can be taken as a sign of such an intention against the group. That is why, as Sartre said in speaking of genocide on the occasion of the Russell Tribunal on the Vietnam War, that one must study the facts objectively in order to prove if this intention exists, even in an implicit manner.

(23) Prof. SOYSAL, Mumtaz, The Orly Trial, 19 February - 2 March 1985, Statement and Evidence Presented at the Trial,

Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences, 1985

 

APRIL 24, 1915

The Ottoman government, against Armenian revolts starting from 1890's and Armenian massacres which resulted with murders of tens of thousands of Turks, informed high members of Armenian congregation and the Armenian deputies that "Government will take necessary measures, if the Armenians continue to stab back the Ottoman State and to kill Turks". The Ottoman government's efforts to stop the events could be clarified with documents.

However, it became a necessity to secure the behind lines as the army was in war more than one fronts, the events did not stop on the contrary they increased. The Armenian attacks on innocent and defenseless Turkish women and children became a vital problem.

Under these circumstances, on April 24, 1915 Armenian Committees were closed by the Ottoman Government and 2345 leaders of these committees were arrested due to their antigovernmental activities. April 24, which is commemorated annually as "Anniversary of Armenian so-called Genocide" by Armenians abroad is this date when 2345 revolutionary committee members were arrested and this day is irrelevant with the Relocation Implementation.

However, Armenian revolutionary committee members always used this a propaganda rule by distorting and exaggerating the facts. As a matter of fact, Ecmiyazin Catholicos Kevork sent a telegraph to the President of USA, stating:

"Dear President, we have been informed that in Turkish Armenia, massacres began and the lives of the Armenians are in danger. At this delicate moment, I address to the noble feelings of Excellency and the great American Nation and in the name of humanity and Christianity, I invite you to interfere Turkey by your Great Republic's diplomatic representatives and protect my people who were left to fanatic violence of the Turks.

Kevork, Archbishop and Catholicos of all Armenians."

Russian Ambassador for Washington's contacts with the US government followed Kevork's telegraphs. Thus, 24 April, the day, which the Armenian committee members were arrested for their illegal activities was begun to be referred as "the day of so-called Armenian genocide by Turks".

 

WHAT IS "RELOCATION"? DOES IT MEAN "GENOCIDE"?

The Arabic originated word "tehcir" means "emigration / immigration", it definitely not means "deportation" or "exile". Hence the law commonly known as the "Tehcir Law" is the same as "Temporary Law On The Military Measures To Be Taken For Those Who Resist The Governmental Acts And Supplementation"s." The word used to explain the implementation in line with this law is "tenkil" in the Ottoman language and means "transport- not the equivalent of "deportation", "exile" or "proscription" in Latin originated languages.

The relocation, which was started with the orders of Talaat Pasha, and approved by the Government and the Parliament as a measure against the Armenian riots and massacres, which had arisen in a number of places in the Country " pre " dominantly in Van province, was only implemented only in the regions in which such riots and massacres affected the security of the fronts directly. The first area was Erzurum, Van and Bitlis Vicinities which formed the rear part of the Caucasian " Iran Front; and the second was Mersin " Iskenderun Region which formed the rear part of the Sina Front. In both of these regions, Armenians had collaborated with the enemy and involved in activities to facilitate the enemy"s invasion.

Later, the scope of the immigration was widened in order to include the Armenians in the other provinces, who rioted, collaborated with the enemy and screened the activities of Armenian Gangs. Although the Catholic and Protestant Armenians were excluded from immigration at the beginning, later those whose harmful activities were observed, were also relocated.

Since 1915, numerous papers, reports, books, etc. were written and published about the immigration implementation. The Armenians, by using false documents have succeeded to deceit the World for a long time. The rumor about Armenian holocaust (!) which expressed at first as three hundred thousand and later increased to three million has no basis at all. In fact, although English and French authorities have extensively studied the Ottoman archives during their occupation in Istanbul have failed to find even a single document hinting about such holocaust.

Had the Ottoman State intended to make genocide on Armenians; could not they realize such an act at the places where the Armenians live? Why would it be necessary "to immigrate" them for such an intention? Why did they undertake the significant fiscal and material costs of their security, safety, health and food of the immigrating Armenians? During this immigration and re-settlement process which lasted approximately 1,5 year from May 1915 until October 1916, why would the central and local administrations take measures to ensure the lives and properties of Armenians in spite of the difficult war circumstances? In addition, would it be necessary to accept great administrative, military and financial burden "as if opening a new front- to protect and secure these people?

The answers to these questions shall be sufficient to understand the real intention of the Ottoman State. Also there is no logical explanation that why the Ottoman State suddenly changed its policy towards a community which had always been called as "millet-i sadika" (loyal people) due to their being really faithful to the Government. Hence the party whose attitude had changed was not the Ottoman Government, but the Armenians who were deceived by the independence promises of Russia and the Entente States.

In conclusion, it can be said that the Armenian Immigration which was a necessary measure to ensure the State Security and Safety is among one of the most successful transportation and re-settlement processes; and has no intention whatsoever to annihilate Armenians.

 

WHAT WAS THE DEMOGRAPHIC DATA BEFORE AND AFTER RELOCATION?

The Armenian committee members always distort and exaggerate the facts about Armenian population before and after the Relocation Implementation. They try to create a basis for their false claims by using war records, official records, church statistics and, reports of foreign missionaries. Some of numbers that is given about the Armenian population in the Ottoman territories are sometimes exceed to the total Armenian population of the Diaspora.

Armenian Population before the Relocation:

There are many different claims about Armenian population in the Ottoman territories; some figures are as follow:

1.British Annual Register 1917 1.056.000 (1)

2.Patriarch Ormanyan 1.579.000 (2)

3.The Armenian historian Kevork Aslan 1.800.000 (3) (In "Armenia and Armenians", Aslan states the Armenian population in Anatolia 920.000, in Clicia (Adana, Sis, Maras) 180.000, in the other Ottoman territories 700.000, total 1.800.000)

4.German Priest Johannes Lepsius 1.600.000 (4)

5.Cuinet 1.045.018 (5)

6.The French Yellow Book1.475.011 (6)

7.The Armenian historian Basmajian2.280.000 (7)

8.Patriarch Nerses Varjabedyan1.150.000 (8)

Official Ottoman census statistics are as follows:

The Ottoman Directory of Statistics was founded in 1892 The first director of the branch was Nuri Bey. Between 1892-1897 a Jewish Ottoman, Fethi Franco was appointed for the duty. From 1897 until 1903, an Armenian director was in charge, called Migirdic Shabanyan. Later, Mr. Robert an American was appointed (1903-1908). Between, 1908-1914 Mehmet Behic was the general director. (9)

As it is seen, in a very chaotic period when the Ottoman government was facing with the Armenian Issue on the international arena, the Ottoman Statistics were under the control of foreigners. At this point, the Ottoman statistics should be considered as the most objective documents about the Armenian population living in Ottoman territories.

* Ottoman census statistics for 1893 1.001.465

* Ottoman census statistics for 1906 1.120.748

* Ottoman census statistics for 1914 1.221.850 (10)

An evaluation of the three sources clarifies that, during the First World War, the Armenian population in the Ottoman territories was approximately 1.250.000.

The numbers of the Armenians, subjected to relocation was controlled from their departure until their arrival, between June 9, 1915 and February 8, 1916. The figures below are taken from pertinent Ottoman documents (11):

Adana (2)

14.000

15-16.000

Ankara (Central)(3)

21.236

733

Aydin(4)

250

-

Birecik(5)

1.200

-

Diyarbakir(6)

20.000

-

D?rtyol(7)

9.000

-

Erzurum(8)

5.500

-

Eskisehir(9)

7.000

-

Giresun(10)

328

-

G?rele

250

-

Aleppo(11)

26.064

-

Haymana(12)

60

-

Izmir(13)

256

-

Izmit(14)

58.000

-

Kal"acik(15)

257

-

Karahisari sahib(16)

5.769

2nd 222

Kayseri(17)

45.036

4.911

Keskin

1.169

-

Kirsehir(18)

747

-

Konya(19)

1.900

-

K?tahya(20)

1.400

-

Mamuret?laziz(21)

51.000

4.000

Maras(22)

-

8.845

Nallihan

479

-

Ordu

36

-

Persembe

390

-

Sivas(23)

136.084

6.055

Sungurlu

576

.

S?rmene

290

.

Tirebolu

45

.

Trabzon(24)

3.400

.

Ulubey

30

.

Yozgat(25)

10.916

.

TOTAL

422.758

32.766

DID ARMENIAN CASUALTIES AMOUNT TO 1.5 MILLION?

Armenian propagandists claim that as many as 1,5 million Armenians died as the result of so-called "genocide". Like the rest of their claims, this also is imaginary, with the number claimed being increased over years. At first, immediately following the war the Armenians claimed that as many as 600,000 had been killed. Later they raised it to 800,000 and now they talk about 1,5 million and tomorrow they may talk even about three million. The 1918 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica said that 600,000 Armenians had been killed; in its 1968 edition this was raised to 1,5 million.

How many Armenians did die? It is impossible to determine the number exactly, since no complete death records were kept during those years. The only basis on which even an estimate can be made is the actual Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire at the time. Even here figures vary widely, with the Armenians claiming far more than other sources:

Claimed Armenian Population

1.British Annual Register 19171.056.000 (1)

2.Patriarch Ormanyan 1.579.000 (2)

3.The Armenian
historian Kevork Aslan 1.800,000 (3)

(In "Armenia and Armenians", Aslan states the Armenian population in Anatolia 920.000, in Clicia (Adana, Sis, Maras) 180.000, in the other Ottoman territories 700.000, total 1.800.000)

4.German Priest Johannes Lepsius1.600.000 (4)

5.Cuinet 1.045.018 (5)

6.The French Yellow Book 1.475.011 (6)

7.The Armenian historian Basmajian 2.280.000 (7)

8.Patriarch Nerses Varjabedyan1.150.000 (8)

Official Ottoman census statistics are as follows:

The Ottoman Directory of Statistics was founded in 1892. The first director of the branch was Nuri Bey. Between 1892-1897 a Jewish Ottoman, Fethi Franco was appointed for the duty. From 1897 until 1903, an Armenian director was in charge, called Migirdic Shabanyan. Later, Mr. Robert an American was appointed (1903-1908). Between, 1908-1914 Mehmet Behic was the general director. (9)

As it is seen, in a very chaotic period when the Ottoman government was facing with the Armenian Issue on the international arena, the Ottoman Statistics were under the control of foreigners. At this point, the Ottoman statistics should be considered as the most objective documents about the Armenian population living in Ottoman territories.

* Ottoman census statistics for 1893 1.001.465

* Ottoman census statistics for 1906 1.120.748

* Ottoman census statistics for 1914 1.221.850 (10)

An evaluation of the three sources clarifies that, during the First World War, the Armenian population in the Ottoman territories was approximately 1.250.000.

The Armenian population subjected to relocation was 438.758 and 382.148 of these safely reached their new destinations. (11) The number of casualties had occurred as follows: 500 people on the road between Erzurum and Erzincan; 2000 in Meskene, between Urfa and Aleppo and 2000 others on the outskirts of Mardin were massacred in attacks launched by bandits or nomadic Arabs. Another 5000 people were killed in attacks on convoys passing through Dersim. (12) It was understood from these documents that many people had also fallen victim to hunger while on the road. (13) Apart from these, some 25-30 thousand people had lost their lives when struck by fatal diseases such as typhoid and dysentery. (14) In all, an estimated 40 thousand casualties had been registered during relocation.

The remaining 10-16 thousand people were made at stay in provinces they had reached, when the implementation of relocation was brought to an end. For instance, on April 26, 1916, orders were given to provide the return to and the settlement in the province of Konya of those Armenians setting out form the province to new destinations. (15) On the other hand, many other Armenians are believed to have fled to either Russia or to Western countries, including the Unites States.

As a matter of fact, according to the pertinent documents, 50.000 of the Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman Army joined the Russian forces, and some other 50.000 Armenian soldiers went to America to be trained in the US Army to fight against the Turkish Army. In fact, the letter of an Armenian called Murad Muradyan- who was an advocate in Elazig later immigrated to America " shows such information. (16) In the concerned letter, Muradyan mentions that some Armenians were escaped to Russia and America and later 50.000 of those trained soldiers went to Caucassia. As it can be understood from all the concerned documents, many of Armenian subjects of the Ottoman State were scattered through various countries especially to U.S.A. and Russia, before and during the war. For example, Artin Hotomyan who was a tradesman in America sent a letter to the Chieftain of Security on January 19, 1915 and stated that thousands of Armenians migrated to U.S.A. and they were facing with hunger and hardships. (17)

REFERENCE:
Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf-; Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gercekler (1915), TTK Press, Ankara 2001.

FOOTNOTES

1)British Annual Record for 1917

2)Uras, Esat, Tarihte Ermeniler ve Ermeni Meselesi, Istanbul, 1987

3)Aslan, Kevork, Ermenistan ve Ermeniler, Istanbul, 1914.

4)Uras, Esat, a.g.e.

5)Uras, Esat, a.g.e.

6)1893-1897 Ermeni Isleri, Paris, 1897 Uras, Esat, a.g.e.

7)Uras, Esat, a.g.e.

8)Uras, Esat, a.g.e.

9)Mazici, Nursen, Belgelerle Uluslar arasi Rekabette Ermeni Sorunu, Istanbul 1987.

10) see Karpat, Kemal, H. Ottoman Population 1830-1914 Demographic and Social Characteristic, The University Of Winsconcin Press, 1985 London.

11) Some figures can be slightly change.

12) Coded telegraphs from governors of Trabzon, Erzurum, Sivas, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Bitlis Maras, Canik, June 26, 1915 (code, number. 54-A/112). Telegraphs from governors of Eregli and Musul (June, 8 1915 coded telegraph sent to Konya province, code, numberr.57/337; Zor province February 3, 1916, code, number.60/219).

13) code, number.57/110.

14) see DH. EUM. 2. branch, numberr.68/81; see. code., number. 57/51.

15) code, number. 63/119.

16) DH. EUM. 2. Sube, nr.2F/14.

17) Bkz. DH. EUM. 2. Sube, nr.2F/94.

 

DID THE OTTOMAN GOVERNMENT REFRAIN FROM AN INVESTIGATION?

The Ottoman Empire indicated its intent, by verbal notes addressed on 26th March 1916, to receive two jurists from each of Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland as countries not involved in the World War I. This initiative, of which the documents are reproduced in the last part of this document, was blocked by an intervention from the United Kingdom and as a result the formation of the committee of jurists and the investigation of the subject were blocked (1).

This move is an indication of the fact that there was nothing against the international law in the acts and deeds of the Ottoman Empire and an expression of self-confidence. In fact, the prevention of this investigation seems to be motivated by the wish to conceal the actual criminals and descriptions. Had this committee been established, the arrows of accusation now aimed to Turkey would hit the real targets and the insubstantial claims would be burried.

The initiatives launched by the Ottoman State did not come to an end with this move as the Sublime Port requested, by its cable dated 7th March 1920(2), the Allied Powers and Admiral Bristol to inquire into the matter, to elucidate the facts and to inform the Turkish and world public opinions of the outcome. This cable was a request "for an immediate in situ examination by an international committee of the purported massacre of Armenians and the acquittal of the Turkish nation from the propaganda with malice aforethought". This plea was published also in all the dailies as an open letter. Similarly, a group of foreign reporters, led by Ahmet Refik, was dispatched to Eastern Anatolia for an in-depth survey(3).

Would a State that had committed a crime against humanity risk the consequences of such initiatives? This example and several others to be described later will reveal beyond any shade of doubt how far the injustice made to the Turkish nation and history and how these indecent these insinuations were from a humane viewpoint.

 

DID TALAT PASHA SEND SECRET TELEGRAMMES ORDERING GENOCIDE?

Armenian propaganda claiming that so-called genocide was an Ottoman government policy requires proof that such a decision was in fact made. For this purpose the Armenians produced a number of telegrams attributed to Talat Pasha supposedly found by British forces commanded by General Allenby when they seized Aleppo in 1918. It was claimed that they were found in the office of an Ottoman official named Naim Bey, and that they could be destroyed only because the British occupation came with unexpected speed. Samples of these telegrams were published in Paris in 1920 by an Armenian author named Aram Andonian, (38) and they also were presented at the Berlin trial of the Armenian terrorist Tehlirian, who killed Talat Pasha. Nevertheless, the court neither considered these documents as "evidence" nor was involved in any decision claiming the authenticity of them. These documents were, however, entirely fabricated, and the claims deriving from them therefore cannot be sustained. They were in fact published by the Daily Telegraph of London in 1922, (39) which also attributed them to a discovery made by Allenby's army. But when the British Foreign Office enquired about them at the War Office, and with Allenby himself, it was discovered that they had not been discovered by the British army but, rather, had been produced by an Armenian group in Paris. In addition, examination of the photographs provided in the Andonian volume shows clearly that neither in form, script or phraseology did they resemble normal Ottoman administrative documents, and that they were, therefore, rather crude forgeries.

Following the Entente occupation of Istanbul, the British and the French arrested a number of Ottoman political and military figures and some intellectuals on charges of war crimes. In this they were given substantial assistance by the Ottoman Liberal Union Party, which had been placed in power by the Sultan after the war, and which was anxious to do anything it could to definitively destroy the Union and Progress Party and its leaders, who had long been political enemies. Most of the prisoners were sent off to imprisonment in Malta, but the four Union and Progress leaders who had fled from the country just before the occupation were tried and sentenced to death in absentia in Istanbul. Three other Government officials were sentenced to death and executed, but it was discovered later that the evidence on which the convictions had been based was false.

In the meantime, the British looked everywhere to find evidence against those who had been sent to Malta. Despite the complete cooperation of wome enthusraztic supporters such as the Ottoman Liberal Union (38) ANDONIAN, Aram, Documents Qfficiels concernant les Massacres Armmiens, Paris, Armenian National Delegation, 1920. (39) Daily Telegraph, 29 May 1922. government, nothing incriminating could be found among the Ottoman government documents. Similar searches in the British archives were fruitless. Finally, in desperation, the British Foreign Office turned to the American archives in Washington, but in reply, one of their representatives, R. C. Craigie, wrote to Lord Curzon:

"I regret to inform your Lordship that there was nothing therein which could be used as evidence against the Turks who are at present being detained at Malta ...no concrete facts being given which could constitute satisfactory incriminating evidence.... The reports in question do not appear in any case to contain evidence against these Turks which would be useful even for the purpose of corroborating information already in the possession of His Majesty's Government.''(40)

Uncertain as to what should be done with prisoners, who already had been held for two years, without trial and without even any charges being filed or evidence produced, the Foreign Office applied for advice to the Law Officers of the Crown in London, who concluded on 29 July, 1921:

"Up to the present no statements have been taken from witnesses who can depose to the truth of the charges made against the prisoners. It is indeed uncertain whether any witnesses can be found." (41)

At this time the "documents" produced by Andonian were available, but despite their desperate search for evidence, which could be presented in a court of law, the British, never used them because it was evident that they were forgeries. As a result, the prisoners were quietly released in 1921, without charges ever having been filed or evidence produced.

It is useful to reiterate that the main elements in the chain of evidence constructed in proving that Andonian's "documents" were all patent forgeries:

1. To show that his forgeries were in fact "authentic Ottoman documents" Andonian relied on the signature of the Governor of Aleppo, Mustafa Abdiilhalik Bey, which he claimed was appended to several of the "documents" in question. By examining several actual specimens of Mustafa Abd?lhalik Bey's signature as preserved on contemporary official documents, it is established that the alleged signatures appended to Andonian's "documents" were forgeries.

2. In one of his forged documents, Andonian dated the note and signature attributed to Mustafa Abd?lhalik Bey. Again, by a comparison with authentic correspondence between the Governor (40) 13 July 1921; British Foreign Office Archives 371/6504/8519 (41) British Foreign Office Archives 371/6504/E8745

Aleppo and the Ministry of the Interior in Istanbul, on the date in question, it is proven that the Governor of Aleppo on that date was Bekir Sami Bey, not Mustafa Abdulhalik Bey.

3. Consistently, Andonian's forgeries attest to the fact that he was either totally unaware of, or carelessly neglected to account for, the differences between the Muslim Rumi and Christian calendars. The numerous errors he made as a result of this oversight are, in and of themselves, sufficient to prove the fabricated nature of his "documents". Among other things, the errors Andonian made in this respect served to destroy the system of reference numbers and dates that he concocted for his "documents".

4. By way of a detailed comparison of the entries made in the Ministry of the Interior's Registers of outgoing Ciphers, wherein are recorded the date and reference number of every ciphered communication sent out by the Ministry, with the dates and reference numbers placed by Andonian on his forgeries, it is proven that his so-called "ciphered, telegrams" bear no relationship whatsoever to the actual ciphers sent by the Ministry to Aleppo in the period in question.

5. Again, by comparing the Turkish "originals" of Andonian's " ciphered telegrams" with actual examples of contemporary Ottoman ciphered messages, it is shown that the number groupings he employed bear no relationship to the actual ciphers the Ottomans were using in that period. Thus, in his attempt to make his forgeries appear credible, he created a whole series of unusable, non-existent ciphers. Further, from the dates he affixed to his forgeries in this category, the Ottomans would have had to use the same ciphers over a six-month period which was impossible. By publishing a series of documents instructing officials to change the ciphers they were using, it is shown that, in fact, the Ottomans were changing their cipher codes on average once every two months during the war years.

6. By comparing the manner in which the common Islamic injunction, Besmele, was written on Andonian's two forged letters with numerous examples of the way in which it appears on authentic contemporary Ottoman documents, it is suggested that Andonian's clumsy forgery of this term may well have stemmed from the fact that non-Muslims, even those who knew Ottoman Turkish, did not employ this injunction.

7. A number of examples from Andonian's forgeries show that it is simply inconceivable that any Ottoman official could have used such sentence structures and make such grammatical errors. In the same vein, a host of expressions; allegedly uttered by prominent Ottoman officials are used, which no Ottoman Turk would ever have used. Andonian's intention in these instances was clear: he wanted nothing less than the Turks themselves to be seeming to confess to crimes which he had manufactured for them.

8. The forged documents, with two exceptions, were written on plain paper with none of the usual signs found on the official paper used by the Ottoman bureaucracy in this period. The fact that one of the forged Turkish originals was written on a double-lined paper, which the Ottomans did not even use for private correspondence, constitutes an even more serious error on Andonian's part. Even the two forgeries which appear at first glance to have been written on some kind of official Ottoman stationery are actually written on blank telegraph forms, which anyone wishing to send a telegram could pick up in any Ottoman post office.

9. At a time when the British were frantically searching the world's archives for anything to be used as "evidence" against the group of Ottoman officials whom they were holding for trial as being "responsible for the Armenian incidents", their failure to utilize Andonian's "documents" which were readily available in their English edition, strongly suggests that the British Government was fully aware of the nature of these forgeries.

10. Had documents of the nature of those concocted by Andonian ever actually existed, their confidential nature would have dictated that they be sent by courier for security reasons; rather than through the easily breachable public telegraph system. Likewise, had such documents really ever been written; it is inconceivable that they could have lain around in a file for three years, instead of being destroyed as soon as they had been read.

11. There are also numerous differences between the French and English editions of Andonian's book. Indeed, these variations are of such significance that it is absolutely impossible to ascribe them to printing errors, or errors in translation.

12. Finally, the fact that even some authors with close links to Armenian circles, who serve as spokesmen for Armenian causes, have indicated their own doubt as to the veracity of Andonian's "documents" should not be overlooked. In short, from start to finish the so-called "Talat Pasha Telegrams" are nothing more than crude forgeries, concocted by Andonian and his associates. Moreover the Ottoman archives contain a number of orders; whose authenticity can definitely be substantiated, issued on the same dates, in which Talat Pasha ordered investigations to be made to find and punish those responsible for the attacks which were being made on the deportation caravans. It is hardly likely that he would have been ordering massacres on one hand and investigations and punishments for such crimes on the other.

A letter forged by Aram Andonian with the date, February 18, 1331 (March 2,1916) opens with a "bismillah" (blessing), which would never have been written by a Moslem. The forger, Andonian, made his most fatal mistake with the date, however. He was obviously not well enough versed in the tricks of converting to the Rumi year of the Ottomans, where a difference of thirteen days between the Rumi and Gregorian calendars must be taken into account.

The date he put on the letter was off by a full year. Instead of 1330 (1915), he wrote 1331 (1916). The contents of the letter are supposed to be evidence of the long advance planning of the resettlement operation of 1915.(42) (42) Feigl, Erich. A Myth of Terror, 1991, Edition zeitgeschichten-Freilassing- Salzburg, p. 85

An American aid organization called "the Near East Relief Society" was allowed by the Ottoman Government to stay and fulfill its functions in Anatolia during the deportations. Even following the entry of U.S.A. into war on the side of Entente powers against Ottoman Empire, the same organization was permitted to remain in Anatolia. This was dealt in the reports of the American Ambassador Elkus in Istanbul. In this case, if an order for "massacring Armenians" had been given, would the Ottoman Government have allowed to an American organization to be witness to the "massacres". In other words, it is ridiculous to suppose that the Ottomans said to America: "We are massacring Armenians. Why don't you have a look at it." Such an allegation could never be a logical explanation of historic facts. Finally, and in the end most important, when the war came to an end, the Armenian population still was substantially in place in Western Anatolia, Thrace and Istanbul. Had the Ottoman government ordered massacres, evidently they too would have been killed. And for that matter, had the Ottoman government wanted to eliminate all the Armenians in the Empire, it could have done so far more easily by killing and disposing of them where they lived, rather than undertaking a large-scale deportation of those in the Eastern war zones under the eyes of foreign observers.

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The claim, thus, that the Ottoman government ordered and carried out a general massacre of Armenians in the Empire cannot be sustained and is disproved by the facts.

 

IS THERE ACCESS TO THE OTTOMAN ARCHIVES? ARE DOCUMENTS RELATED RELOCATION CONCEALED?

Documents on all matters dealing with the relocation are accessible to all. The Ottoman Archives in where these documents are kept are available for the examination of all researchers since 1925 at the Prime Ministry"s State Archives. From 1925 to date, a total of 3.817 scholars, broken down into 605 from the United States, 168 from Germany, 150 from France, 98 from Saudi Arabia, 84 from Iran, 74 from the United Kingdom, 70 from Israel, 63 from Libya, 58 from Hungary, 52 from Argentina, 47 from Bulgaria, 47 from Egypt, 39 from the Netherlands, 36 from Romania, 35 from Tunisia, 35 from Algeria and 28 from Canada, to whom should be added 190 Turkish citizens of Armenian origin, studied the existing documents and carried out scientific work.

Aside from the free examination by thousands of foreigners, these documents were also published in Turkish and English and made available to the researchers. It should also be mentioned that the archives of the Turkish General Staff are being published in the Military history Documents Magazine in facsimile and modern Turkish, and being sold.

Similarly, there is another publication prepared from which the Prime Ministry"s Yildiz Palace archives was published in three volumes in the Ottoman Turkish, English and modern Turkish.

Despite all these facts, several Turkish and foreign organisations and nationals still claim, either intentionally or because for lack of information that the Republic of Turkey is being incriminated for "deliberately avoiding to make the archives available for examination"

 

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HOW DO SCHOLARS REACT TO ALLEGATIONS OF GENOCIDE?

ATTENTION MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

(May 19, 1985)

The undersigned American academicians who specialize in Turkish, Ottoman and Middle Eastern Studies are concerned that the current language embodied in House Joint Resolution 192 is misleading and/or inaccurate in several respects. Specifically, while fully supporting the concept of a "National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man," we respectfully take exception to that portion of the text, which singles out for special recognition:

". . . the one and one half million people of Armenian ancestry who were victims of genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1923 . . .."

Our reservations focus on the use of the words "Turkey" and "genocide" and may be summarized as follows:

From the fourteenth century until 1922, the area currently known as Turkey, or more correctly, the Republic of Turkey, was part of the territory encompassing the multi-national, multi-religious state known as the Ottoman Empire. It is wrong to equate the Ottoman Empire with the Republic of Turkey in the same way that it is wrong to equate the Hapsburg Empire with the Republic of Austria. The Ottoman Empire, which was brought to an end in 1922, by the successful conclusion of the Turkish Revolution which established the present day Republic of Turkey in 1923, incorporated lands and people which today account for more than twenty-five distinct countries in Southeastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, only one of which is the Republic of Turkey. The Republic of Turkey bears no responsibility for any events which occurred in Ottoman times, yet by naming Turkey' in the Resolution, its authors have implicitly labeled it as guilty of "genocide" it charges transpired between 1915 and 1923; As for the charge of "genocide" no signatory of this statement wishes to minimize the scope of Armenian suffering. We are likewise cognizant that it cannot be viewed as separate from the suffering experienced by the Muslim inhabitants of the region. The weight of evidence so far uncovered points in the direct of serious inter communal warfare (perpetrated by Muslim and Christian irregular forces), complicated by disease, famine, suffering and massacres in Anatolia and adjoining areas during the First World War. Indeed, throughout the years in question, the region was the scene of more or less continuous warfare, not unlike the tragedy which has gone on in Lebanon for the past decade. The resulting death toll among both Muslim and Christian communities of the region was immense. But much more remains to be discovered before historians will be able to sort out precisely responsibility between warring and innocent, and to identify the causes for the events which resulted in the death or removal of large numbers of the eastern Anatolian population, Christian and Muslim alike.

Statesmen and politicians make history, and scholars write it. For this process to work scholars must be given access to the written records of the statesmen and politicians of the past. To date, the relevant archives in the Soviet Union, Syria, Bulgaria and Turkey all remain, for the most part, closed to dispassionate historians. Until they become available, the history of the Ottoman Empire in the period encompassed by H.J. Res. 192 (1915-1923) cannot be adequately known.

We believe that the proper position for the United States Congress to take on this and related issues is to encourage full and open access to all historical archives and not to make charges on historical events before they are fully understood. Such charges as those contained H.J. Res. 192 would inevitably reflect unjustly upon the people of Turkey and perhaps set back progress irreparably. Historians are just now beginning to achieve in understanding these tragic events.

As the above comments illustrate, the history of the Ottoman-Armenians is much debated among scholars, many of whom do not agree with the historical assumptions embodied in the wording of H.J. Res. 192. By passing the resolution Congress will be attempting to determine by legislation which side of the historical question is correct. Such a resolution, based on historically questionable assumptions, can only damage the cause of honest historical inquiry, and damage the credibility of the American legislative process.

SIGNATORIES TO THE STATEMENT ON H.J. RES. 192 ADDRESSED TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

RIFAAT ABOU-EL-HAJ

Professor of History
California State University at Long Beach

SARAH MOMENT ATIS

Professor of Turkish Language & Literature
University of Wisconsin at Madison

KARL BARBIR

Associate Professor of History
Siena College (New York)

ILHAN BASGOZ

Director of the Turkish Studies Program at the Department of Uralic & Altaic Studies
Indiana University

DANIEL G. BATES

Professor of Anthropology
Hunter College,
City University of New York

ULKU BATES

Professor of Art History
Hunter College
City University of New York

GUSTAV BAYERLE

Professor of Uralic & Altaic Studies
Indiana University

ANDREAS G. E. BODROGLIGETTI

Professor of Turkic & Iranian languages
University of California at Los Angeles

KATHLEEN BURRILL

Associate Professor of Turkish Studies
Columbia University

RODERIC DAVISON

Professor of History
George Washington University

WALTER DENNY

Associate Professor of Art History &
Near Eastern Studies
University of Massachusetts

DR. ALAN DUBEN

Anthropologist, Researcher
New York City

ELLEN ERVIN

Research Assistant Professor of Turkish
New York University

CAESAR FARAH

Professor of Islamic
& Middle Eastern History
University of Minnesota

CARTER FINDLEY

Associate Professor of History
The Ohio State University

MICHAEL FINEFROCK,

Professor of History
College of Charleston

ALAN FISHER

Professor of History
Michigan State University

CORNELL FLEISCHER

Assistant Professor of History
Washington University (Missouri)

TIMOTHY CHILDS

Professorial Lecturer at SAIS,
Johns Hopkins University

SHAFIGA DAULET

Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Connecticut

JUSTIN MCCARTHY

Associate Professor of History
University of Louisville

JON MANDAVILLE

Professor of the History of the Middle East
Portland State University (Oregon)

RHOADS MURPHEY

Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern
Languages & Cultures & History
Columbia University

PIERRE OBERLING

Professor of History
Hunter College of the City University of New York

ROBERT OLSON

Associate Professor of History
University of Kentucky

DONALD QUATAERT

Associate Professor of History
University of Houston

WILLIAM GRISWOLD

Professor of History
Colorado State University

WILLIAM HICKMAN

Associate Professor of Turkish
University of California, Berkeley

JOHN HYMES

Professor of History
Glenville State College West Virginia

RALPH JAECKEL

Visiting Assistant Professor of Turkish
University of California at Los Angeles

JAMES KELLY

Associate Professor of Turkish
University of Utah

PETER GOLDEN

Professor of History
Rutgers University, Newark

TOM GOODRICH

Professor of History
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

ANDREW COULD

Ph.D. in Ottoman History
Flagstaff, Arizona

MICHAEL MEEKER

Professor of Anthropology
University of California at San Diego

THOMAS NAFF

Professor of History & Director, Middle East
Research Institute University of Pennsylvania

WILLIAM OCHSENWALD

Associate Professor of History
Virginia Polytechnic Institute

WILLIAM PEACHY

Assistant Professor of the Judaic & Near
Eastern Languages & Literatures
The Ohio State University

HOWARD REED

Professor of History
University of Connecticut

TIBOR HALASI-KUN

Professor Emeritus of Turkish Studies
Columbia University

J. C. HUREWITZ

Professor of Government Emeritus
Former Director of the Middle East
Institute (1971-1984) Columbia University

HALIL INALCIK

University Professor of Ottoman History & Member of the
American Academy of Arts & Sciences
University of Chicago

RONALD JENNINGS

Associate Professor of History & Asian Studies
University of Illinois

KERIM KEY

Adjunct Professor
Southeastern University
Washington, D.C.

DANKWART RUSTOW

Distinguished University Professor of
Political Science
City University Graduate School New York

STANFORD SHAW

Professor of History
University of California at Los Angeles

METIN KUNT

Professor of Ottoman History
New York City

AVIGDOR LEVY

Professor of History
Brandeis University

DR. HEATH W. LOWRY

Institute of Turkish Studies Inc.
Washington, D.C.

JOHN MASSON SMITH, JR.

Professor of History
University of California at Berkeley

ROBERT STAAB

Assistant Director of the
Middle East Center
University of Utah

JAMES STEWART-ROBINSON

Professor of Turkish Studies
University of Michigan

FRANK TACHAU

Professor of Political Science
University of Illinois at Chicago

DAVID THOMAS

Associate Professor of History
Rhode Island College

WARREN S. WALKER

Home Professor of English & Director of the
Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative
Texas Tech University

WALTER WEIKER

Professor of Political Science
Rutgers University

MADELINE ZILFI

Associate Professor of History
University of Maryland

ELAINE SMITH

Ph.D. in Turkish History
Retired Foreign Service Officer
Washington, D-C-EZEL

KURAL SHAW

Associate Professor of History
California State University, Northridge

FREDERICK LATIMER

Associate Professor of History (Retired)
University of Utah

BERNARD LEWIS

Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near
Eastern History
Princeton University

 

WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY FOREIGNERS?

Immediately after the World War I and following the occupation of Istanbul and several other regions of the country by the Allied armies, the British authorities had sent several hundred Ottoman political and military leaders as well as intellectuals, to Island of Malta under the accusation that they were criminals of war and imprisoned them there. The Sublime Porte had vehemently co-operated with the Allied Powers in all areas just in order to keep the sultanate and its very existence and to get rid of the Union and Progress Party that ruled the Empire for ten years and had a significant influence in the Government.

A thoroughgoing examination was made on the Ottoman archives in order to find clues for indicting the Union and Progress Party as well as the detainees both in Malta and in Istanbul. All these efforts did not produce an iota of evidence that might be used to incriminate the Government of that time and the detainees. Despaired by this failure, the British Government screened its own archives and the documents held by the United States Government in Washington. The result was a blatant impasse.

The United States archives contain an interesting document sent to Lord Curzon on 13 July 1921 by Mr. R.C. Craigie, the British Ambassador in Washington. The tenor of this message is as follows: "I regret to state that there is nothing that may be used as evidence against the Turkish detainees in Malta. There are no events that may constitute adequate proofs. The said reports do not appear to contain even circumstantial evidence that could be useful to reinforce the information held by His Majesty"s Government against the Turks.(1)"

On 29 July 1921, the legal advisers in London decided that the intended indictments addressed against the persons on the the British Foreign Ministry"s list were semi-political in nature and therefore these individuals should be treated separately from the Turks detained as criminals of war.

They also stated the following: "No statements were hitherto received from the witnesses to the effect that the indictments intended against the detainees are correct. Likewise it does not need to be restated that finding witnesses after so long a time is highly doubtful in a remote country like Armenia which is accessible only with great difficulties. (2)" This statement was also made by the legal advisers in London of His Majesty"s Government.

In the end, the detainees in Malta were released in 1922 without trial and even indictment.

Yet the efforts to smear image of Turks with the so-called genocide claims had not come to an end as the British press published certain documents attempting to prove the existence of a massacre claimed to have been perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire while efforts were on-stream to start a lawsuit in Malta. It was stated that these documents were unearthed by the British occupation forces in Syria led by General Allenby. The inquiries subsequently made by the British Foreign Office revealed, however, that these documents were fakes prepared by the Armenian Nationalist Delegation in Paris and distributed to the Allied representatives instead of having been discovered by the British army.

 

WHAT IS THE FOUR "T" PLAN?

The goal of Armenian terrorism that has never hesitated to go to such extremes as cold-blooded murder is to make the claims of genocide against Armenians heard and their demands known. The ultimate objective is a "Great Armenia", for which they designed the so-called " Four T plan" based on propaganda, recognition, indemnity and land. The intention here is to rehabilitate the world public opinion by making them to accept, through terrorism, the existence of genocide against them, to force Turkey into recognising it, to receive compensation in monetary terms and finally to seize from Turkey the land needed for realising a Great Armenia.

The claims underlying "the Four T Plan" are the following:

- The Turks invaded Armenia and seized its land.

- They applied a systematic massacre against Armenians since the 1877-1878 war.

- They resorted to a planned genocide against Armenians from 1915 onward.

- Talat Pasha issued secret orders to apply genocide on the Armenians.

- 1,5 million Armenians lost their lives through genocide.

It is necessary to make a brief study on the claims and the historical developments of Turkish-Armenian relations so as to understand how preposterous the insinuations are and which clandestine interests underlie them.

 

IS THE SVRES TREATY STILL IN FORCE?

The Armenian propagandists claim that the Svres Agreement, which provided for the establishment of an Armenian State in eastern Anatolia, is still legally in force, and use it to base their claims for the "return" of "Armenian lands". In fact, this agreement was never put into force. It was superseded and replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne, and thus no longer has the force of law. In addition, after the Tashnaks established an Armenian Republic in Erivan on 28 May 1918, it signed the Batum Treaty of 4 June, 1918 with the Ottoman Government. This treaty was described by Foreign Minister Hadisian of the Armenian Republic as involving the full disavowal on the part of the latter of all claims on the territory or people of the Ottoman Empire including its Armenians and the lands claimed by the Armenian nationalists:

"The Armenians of Turkey no longer think of separating from the Ottoman Empire. Their problems no longer are even the concern of relations between the Armenian Republic and the Ottomans Relations between the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian Republic are excellent, and they must remain that way in future. All Armenian political parties feel the same way. Continuation of this good neighbourly spirit is one of the principal points of the program recently announced by the Armenian Government, of which I am Foreign Minister. "(43).

Even the Tashnak organ Hairenik stated on 28 June 1918:

"Russia's policy of hostility toward Turkey emboldened the Armenians of the Caucasus; that is why the Caucasus Armenians were involved in clashes between two friendly races. Thank goodness that this situation did not last too long. Following the Russian Revolution, the Armenians of the Caucasus understood that their security could be achieved only by having good relations with Turkey, and they stretched out their hands to Turkey. Turkey also wanted to forget the events of the past, and grasped the out-stretched hand in friendship. We agree that the Armenian Question has been resolved and left to history. The mutual feelings of suspicion and enmity created by foreign agents should be eliminated.''(44)

These declarations make it clear that the Armenian Issue was closed by the agreements concluded, following World War I; that- the events that had taken place were the responsibility of the Russians and Armenians, not of the Turks, and that if anyone had been mistreated it was the Turks, no-one else. It is true that the World War I settlement was reopened for a time by the Armenian Republic. Despite the Tashnak declarations, Armenian bands began to raid into eastern Anatolia in the summer of 1918. On 28 May 1919, in the first anniversary of the foundation of the Armenian Republic by the Tashnaks, it declared that "Armenia has annexed Eastern Anatolia" thus laying claim to the territories of eastern Anatolia which had been returned to the Ottoman Empire following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. To examine the Armenian claims and recommend a settlement, American President Wilson sent an American investigation committee to Anatolia in the fall of 1919 under the leadership of General James G. Harbord. It toured through Anatolia during September and October, and then reported to Congress that:

"The Turks and Armenians lived in peace side by side for centuries; that the Turks suffered as much as the Armenians at the time of the deportations; that only 20% of the Turkish villagers who went to war would be able to return to their homes: that at the start of World War I and before the Armenians never had anything approaching a majority of the population in the territories called Armenia; that they would not have a majority even if all the relocated Armenians were returned; and the claims that returning Armenians would be in danger were not justified. "(45) As a result of this report, in April 1920 the American Congress rejected the proposal, which had been made to establish an American Mandate over Anatolia for the purpose of

enabling the Armenians to establish their own state in the East.

On 10 August 1920 the Armenians joined in signing the long-hoped-for Treaty of

Svres, which provided that the Ottoman government would recognize the establishment of an

independent Armenian state, with boundaries to be determined by President Wilson. This treaty

was, however, signed only by the Ottoman Government in Istanbul, while most Turks, and

most of the country accepted the leadership of the Ankara government, led by Mustapha

Kemal, who actively opposed the treaty and its provisions.

In the meantime, following the Armistice of Mondros which concluded the fighting of World War I in 1918, the province ofAdana was occupied by the French. The British occupied Urfa, Marash and Antep but later left these also to the French. As French forces occupied these provinces, in south and southeast Anatolia, they were accompanied by Armenians wearing French uniforms, who immediately began to ravage Turkish villages and massacred large numbers of Turks. These atrocities stirred the Turks of the area to resist, once again leading to the spreading of propaganda in Europe that Turks were massacring Armenians. This time, however, since the French themselves were forced to send the Armenians to the rear to end the atrocities, the Armenian claims were evidently false, and no-one really believed them.

After the American Congress rejected a Mandate over Anatolia, the Armenian Republic in the Caucasus, starting in June 1920, attacked Turkey, sending guerrilla bands as well as organized army units into eastern Anatolia, and undertaking widespread massacres of the settled population. The Ankara government moved to the defense in September, and within a short time the Armenian forces were routed, eastern Anatolia was regained, and order and security re-established. By the Treaty of Gumru (Alexandropol) signed by the Ankara Government and the Armenian Republic on 3 December 1920, both sides accepted the new boundaries and acknowledged that the provisions of the Treaty of Svres were null and void. The Armenians also renounced all territorial claims against Turkey. Shortly after this the Red Army entered Erivan and established the Soviet Armenian Government. However through a revolt in Erivan on 18 February 1921 the Tashnaks once again took over control of Armenia. The new Vratzian Government sent a committee to Ankara on 18 March asking for Turkish assistance against the Bolsheviks, a strange event indeed considering that only two years ago the Tashnaks had organized an Armenian invasion of Turkey. The Tashnak government did not last very long, however, and the Soviets soon regained control of Erivan. On 16 March 1921 Turkey signed the Moscow Treaty with the Soviet Union, by which the boundaries between Turkey and the Soviet Union were definitively drawn. As arranged in this agreement, on 13 October 1921 Turkey signed the K-ars Agreement with Soviet Armenia, confirming the new boundaries between the two as well as their agreement that the provisions of the Treaty of Svres were null and void once and for all. The situation on the southern front was settled by the Treaty of Ankara signed with France on 20 October 1921. France evacuated not only its own troops, but also the Armenian guerillas and volunteers who had cooperated with them, and most of the Armenians who had gathered at Adana in the hope of establishing an Armenian state there. Many of these Armenians were settled in Lebanon. This agreement made possible the subsequent return of Hatay to Turkey, thus fulfilling the provisions of the Turkish national pact, which had been drawn up by Mustapha Kemal, and the leaders of the Turkish War for Independence. All these settlements effectively nullified Armenian ambitions for a state in eastern Anatolia. The Treaty of Lausanne, signed on 24 July 1923 in place of the Treaty of Svres, did not even mention the Armenians, which is why Armenian nationalists even today try to resurrect the Svres treaty which never really was put into force.

 

WERE ARMENIANS OPPRESSED AND SUBJECTED TO ATROCITIES BY THE TURKS THROUGHOUT HISTORY

Armenian propagandists have claimed that the Turks mistreated non-Muslims, and in particular Armenians, throughout history in order to provide support for their claims of "Genocide" against the Ottoman Empire, since it would otherwise be difficult for them to explain how the Turks, who had lived side by side with the Armenians in peace for some 600 years, suddenly rose up to massacre them all. The Armenians moreover, have tried to interpret Turkish rule in terms of a constant struggle between Christianity and Islam, thus to assure belief in whatever they say about the Turks on the part of the modern Christian world.

The evidence of history overwhelmingly denies these claims. We already have seen that the contemporary Armenian historians themselves related how the Armenians of Byzantium welcomed the Seljuk conquest with celebrations and thanksgivings to God for having rescued them from Byzantine oppression. The Seljuks gave protection to an Armenian Church, which the Byzantines had been trying to destroy. They abolished the oppressive taxes which the Byzantines had imposed on the Armenian churches, monasteries and priests, and in fact exempted such religious institutions from all taxes. The Armenian community was left free to conduct its internal affairs in its own way, including religious activities and-education, and there never was any time at which Armenians or other non-Muslims were compelled to convert to Islam. The Armenian spiritual leaders in fact went to Seljuk Sultan Melikshah to thank him for this protection. The Armenian historian Mathias of Edessa relates that,

"Melikshah's heart is full of affection and good will for Christians; he has treated the sons of Jesus Christ very well, and he has given the Armenian people affluence, peace, and happiness."

After the death of the Seljuk Sultan Kilich Arslan, the same historian wrote,

"Kilich Arslan's death has driven Christians into mourning since he was a charitable person of high character. "

How well the Seljuk Turks treated the Armenians is shown by the fact that some Armenian noble families like the Tashirk family accepted Islam of their own free will and joined the Turks in fighting Byzantium.

Turkish tradition and Muslim law dictated that non-Muslims should be well treated in Turkish and Muslim empires. The conquering Turks therefore made agreements with their non-Muslim subjects by which the latter accepted the status of zhimmi, agreeing to keep order and pay taxes in return for protection of their rights and traditions. People from different religions were treated with an unprecedented tolerance which was reflected into the philosophies based on good will and human values cherished by great philosophers in this era such as Yunus Emre and Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi who are well-known in the Islamic world with their benevolent mottoes such as having the same view for all 72 different nations" and "you will be welcome whoever you are, and whatever you believe in". This was in stark contrast to the terrible treatment which Christian rulers and conquerors often have meted out to Christians of other sects, let alone non-Christians .such as Muslims and Jews, as for example the Byzantine persecution of the Armenian Gregorians, Venetian persecution of the Greek Orthodox inhabitants of the Morea and the Aegean islands, and Hungarian persecution of the Bogomils.

The establishment and expansion of the Ottoman Empire, and in particular the destruction of Byzantium following Fatih Mehmed's conquest of Istanbul in 1453 opened a new era of religious, political, social, economic and cultural prosperity for the Armenians as well as the other non-Muslim and Muslim peoples of the new state. The very first Ottoman ruler, Osman Bey (1300 -1326), permitted the Armenians to establish their first religious center in western Anatolia, at Kutahya, to protect them from Byzantine oppression. This center subsequently was moved, along with the Ottoman capital, first to Bursa in 1326 and then to Istanbul in 1461, with Fatih Mehmet issuing a ferman definitively establishing the Armenian Patriarchate there under Patriarch Hovakim and his successors. As a result, thousands of Armenians emigrated to Istanbul from Iran, the Caucasus, eastern and central Anatolia, the Balkans and the Crimea, not because of force or persecution, but because the great Ottoman conqueror had made his empire into a true center of Armenian life. The Armenian community and church thus expanded and prospered as parts of the expansion and prosperity of the Ottoman Empire.

The Gregorian Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, like the other major religious groups, were organized into millet communities under their own religious leaders. Thus the ferman issued by Fatih Mehmet establishing the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul specified that the Patriarch was not only the religious leader of the Armenians, but also their secular leader. The Armenians had the same rights as Muslims, but they also had certain special privileges, most important among which was exemption from military service. Armenians and other non-Muslims generally paid the same taxes as Muslims, with the exception of the Poll Tax (Harach or Jizye), which was imposed on them in place of the state taxes based particularly on Muslim religious law, the Alms Tax (Zakat) and the Tithe , from which non-Muslims were exempted. The Armenian millet religious leaders themselves assessed and collected the Poll Taxes from their followers and turned the collections over to the Treasury officials of the state.

The Armenians were allowed to establish religious foundations (vakif) to provide financial support for their religious, cultural, educational and charity activities, and when needed the Ottoman state treasury gave additional financial assistance to the Armenian institutions which carried out these activities as well as to the Armenian Patriarchate itself. These Armenian foundations remain in operation to the present day in the Turkish Republic, providing substantial financial support to the operations of the Armenian church.

By Ottoman law all Christian subjects who were not Greek Orthodox were included in the Armenian Gregorian millet. Thus the Paulicians and Yakubites in Anatolia as well as the Bogomils and Gypsies in the Balkans were counted as Armenians, leading to substantial disputes in later times as to the total number of Armenians actually living in the Empire.

The Armenian community expanded and prospered as a result of the freedom granted by the sultans. At the same time Armenians shared, and contributed to, the Turkish-Ottoman culture and ways of life and government to such an extent that they earned the particular trust and confidence of the sultans over the centuries, gaining the attribute "the loyal millet". Ottoman Armenians became extremely wealthy bankers, merchants, and industrialists, while many at the same time rose to high positions in governmental service. In the 19th century, for example, twenty-nine Armenians achieved the highest governmental rank of Pasha. There were twenty-two Armenian ministers, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Trade and Post, with other Armenians making major contributions to the departments concerned with agriculture, economic development, and the census. There also were thirty-three Armenian representatives appointed and elected to the Parliaments formed after 1826, seven ambassadors, eleven consul-generals and consuls, eleven university professors, and forty-one other officials of high rank.

Over the centuries Armenians also made major contributions to Ottoman Turkish art, culture and music, producing many artists of first rank who are objects of praise and sources of pride for Turks as well as Armenians in Turkey. The first Armenian printing press was established in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

Thus the Armenians and Turks, and all the various races of the Empire lived in peace and mutual trust over the centuries, with no serious complaints being made against the Ottoman system or administration which made such a situation possible. It is true that, from time to time, internal difficulties did arise within some of the individual millets. Within the Armenian millet disputes arose over the election of the patriarch between the "native" Armenians, who had come to Istanbul from Anatolia and the Crimea, and those called "eastern" or "foreign" Armenians, who came from Iran and the Caucasus. These groups often complained against each other to the Ottomans, trying to gain governmental support for their own candidates and interests, and at the same time complaining about the Ottomans whenever the decisions went against them, despite the long-standing Ottoman insistence on maintaining strict neutrality between the groups. The gradual triumph of the "easterners" led to the appointment of non-religious individuals as Patriarchs, to corruption and misrule within the Armenian millet, and to bloody clashes among conflicting political groups, against which the Ottomans were forced to intervene to prevent the Armenians from annihilating each other.

These internal disputes, as well as the general decline of religious standards within the Gregorian millet led many Armenians to accept the teachings of foreign Catholic and Protestant missionaries sent into the Empire during the 19th century, causing the creation of separate millets for them later in the century. The Armenian Gregorian leaders asked the Ottoman government to intervene and prevent such conversions, but the Ottomans refrained from doing so on the grounds that it was an internal problem which had to be dealt with by the millet and not the state. Bloody clashes followed, with the Gregorian patriarchs Chuhajian and Tahtajian going so far to excommunicate and banish all Armenian protestants. Later on, serious clashes also emerged among the Armenian Catholics as to the nature of their relationship with the Pope, with the latter excommunicating all those who did not accept his supremacy, forcing the Ottomans finally to intervene and reconcile the two Catholic groups in 1888.

The freedom granted and the great tolerance shown by the Ottomans to non-Muslims was so well known throughout Europe that the empire of the sultans became a major place of refuge for those fleeing from religious and political persecution. Starting with the thousands of Jews who fled from persecution in Spain following its re-conquest in 1492, Jews fled to the Ottoman Empire from the regular pogroms to which they were subjected in Central and East Europe and Russia. Catholics and Protestants likewise fled to the Ottoman Empire, often entering the service of the sultans and making major contributions to Ottoman military and governmental life. Many of the political refugees from the reaction that followed the 1848 revolutions in Europe also fled for protection to the Ottoman Empire.

The claims that the Ottomans misruled non-Muslims in general and the Armenians in particular thus are disproved by history, as attested by major western historians, from the Armenians Asoghik and Mathias to Voltaire, Lamartine, Claude Farrre, Pierre Loti, Nogures Ilone Caetani, Philip Marshall Brown, Michelet, Sir Charles Wilson, Politis, Arnold, Bronsart, Roux, Grousset Edgar Granville Garnier, Toynbee, Bernard Lewis, Shaw, Price, Lewis Thomas, Bombaci and others, some of whom could certainly not be labelled as pro-turkish. To cite but a few of them:

Voltaire:

"The great Turk is governing in peace twenty nations from different religions. Turks have taught to Christians how to be moderate in peace and gentle in victory. "

Philip Marshall Brown

"Despite the great victory they won, Turks have generously granted to the people in the conquered regions the right to administer themselves according to their own rules and traditions. "

Politis who was the Foreign Minister in the Greek Government led by Prime Minister Venizelos:

"The rights and interests of the Greeks in Turkey could not be better protected by any other power but the Turks. "

J. W. Arnold:

"It is an undeniable historic fact that the Turkish armies have never interfered in the religious and cultural affairs in the areas they conquered. "

German General Bronsart:

"Unless they are forced, Turks are the world's most tolerant people towards those of other religions. "

Even when Napoleon Bonaparte sought to stir a revolt among the Armenian Catholics of Palestine and Syria to support his invasion in 1798 -1799, his Ambassador in Istanbul General Sebastiani replied that "The Armenians are so content with their lives here that this is impossible."

 

DID THE TURKS ENGAGE IN MASSACRING THE ARMENIANS AS OF 1890's?

The so-called "Armenian Question" is generally thought of as having begun in the second half of the nineteenth century. One can easily point to the Russo-Turkish war (1877 - 78) and the Congress of Berlin (1878) which concluded the war as marking the emergence of this question as a problem in Europe. In fact, however, one must really go back to Russian activities in the East starting in the 1820's to uncover its origins. Czarist Russia at the time was beginning a major new imperial expansing force across Central Asia, in the process overrunning major Turkish Khanates in its push toward the borders of China and the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, Russian imperial ambitions turned southward as the Czars sought to gain control of Ottoman territory to extend their landlocked empire to the Mediterranean and the open seas. As an essential element of this ambition, Russia sought to undermine Ottoman strength from within by stirring the national ambitions of the Sultan's Christian subject, in particular those with whom it shared a common Orthodox religious heritage, the Greeks and the Slavs in the Balkans and the Armenians. At the same time that Russian agents fanned the fires of the Greek Revolution and stirred the beginnings of Pan-Slavism in Serbia and Bulgaria, others moved into the Caucasus and worked to secure Russian influence over the Catholicos of the Armenian Gregorian church of Echmiadzin, to which most Ottoman Gregorians had strong emotional attachments. The Russians used the Catholicos' jealousy of the Istanbul Patriarch to gain his support to such an extent that Catholicos Nerses Aratarakes himself led a force of 60,000 Armenians in support of the Russian army that fought Iran in the Caucasus in 1827 "1828 and, in the process capturing most of Iran's Caucasus possessions, including those areas where the Armenians lived. This new Russian presence along the borders of eastern Anatolia, combined with the support of the Catholicos, enabled them to extend their influence among Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Russian pressure in Istanbul finally got the Patriarch to add the Catholicos' name to his daily prayers starting in 1844, furthering the latter's ability to influence Ottoman Armenians in Russia's favor in the years that followed. Most Ottoman Armenians were still too content with their lot in the Sultan's dominions to be seriously influenced by this Russian propaganda. The lands abandoned by those who immigrated to Russia were turned over to Muslim refugees flooding into the Empire running away from persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe. This led to serious land disputes when many of the Armenian emigrants, or their descendants, unhappy with life in Russia, sought to return to the Ottoman Empire in the 1880's and 1890's.

The Russians were not the only foreign power seeking to protect-the Ottoman Christians. England and France sponsored missionary activities that converted many Armenians to Protestantism and Catholicism respectively, leading to the creation of the Armenian Catholic Church in Istanbul in l830 and the Protestant Church in 1847. However these developments were not directly related to the development of the "Armenian Question", except perhaps as indications of the rising discontent within the Gregorian church which the Russians were seeking to take advantage of in their own way.

On the other hand, the Reform Proclamation of 1856 was of major importance. While not abolishing the separate congressions and churches and the institutions that they supported, the Ottoman government now provided equal rights for all subjects regardless of their religion, in the process seeking to eliminate all special privileges and distinctions based on religion, and requiring the communities to reconstitute their internal regulations in order to achieve these goals. Insofar as the Armenians were concerned, the result was the Armenian Community Regulation, drawn up by the Patriarchate and put into force by the Ottoman government on 29 March 1862. Of particular importance the new regulation placed the Armenian comunnity under the government of a council of 140 members, including only 20 churchmen from the Istanbul Patriarchate, while 80 secular representatives were to be chosen from the Istanbul community and 40 members from the provinces. The Reform Proclamation of 1856 led England and France to be more interested in Armenians which in return intensified the interests of Russia in the same ethnic group. Their concern was based on their own imperialist interests rather than their affection for Armenians. Russia now sought to gain Armenian support for undermining and destroying the Ottoman state by promising to create a "Greater Armenia" in eastern Anatolia, which would cover substantially more territory between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean than the Armenians ever had ruled or even occupied at any time in their history.

It was against this background that the Ottoman-Russian war (1877 - 78) awakened Armenian dreams for independence with Russian help and under Russian guidance. Toward the end of the war, the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, Nerses Varjabedian, got in touch with the Russian Czar with the help of the Catholicos of Echmiadzin, asking Russia not to return to the Ottomans the east Anatolian lands occupied by Russian forces. Immediately after the war, the Patriarch went to the Russian camp, which by then was at San Stephano, immediately outside Istanbul, and in an interview with the Russian Commander, Grand Duke Nicholas, asked that all of Eastern Anatolia be annexed to Russia and established as an autonomous Armenian state, very much like the regime then being established for Bulgaria, but that if this was not possible, and the lands in question had to be returned to the Ottomans, at least Russian forces should not be withdrawn until changes favoring the Armenians were introduced into the governmental and administrative organization and regulations of these provinces. The Russians agreed to the latter proposal, which was incorporated as Article 16 of the 'Treaty of San Stephano. Even as the negotiations were going on at San Stephano, moreover, the Armenian officers in the Russian army worked frantically to stir discontent among the Ottoman Armenians, urging them to work to gain "the same sort of independence for themselves as that secured by the Christians of the Balkans." This appeal gained considerable influence among the Armenians of Eastern Anatolia long after the Russian forces were withdrawn.

The Treaty of San Stephano did not, however, constitute the final settlement of the Russo-Turkish war. Britain rightly feared that its provisions for a Greater Armenia in the East would inevitably not only establish Russian hegemony in those areas but also, and even more dangerous, in the Ottoman Empire, and through "Greater Armenia" to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, where they could easily threaten the British possessions in India. In return for an Ottoman agreement for British occupation of Cyprus, therefore, to enable it to counter any Russian threats in Eastern Anatolia, Britain agreed to use its influence in Europe to upset the provisions of San Stephano, arranging the Congress of Berlin to this end. As a result of its deliberations, Russia was compelled to evacuate all of Eastern Anatolia with the exception of the districts of Kars, Ardahan and Batum, with the Ottomans agreeing to institute "reforms" in the eastern provinces where Armenians lived under the guarantee of the five signatory European powers. From this time onward, England in particular came to consider the "Armenian Question" as its own particular problem, and to regularly intervene to secure its solution according to its own ideas.

A committee sent by the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul attended the Congress of Berlin, but it was so unhappy at the final treaty and the Powers' failure to accept its demands that it returned to Istanbul with the feeling that "nothing will be achieved except by means of struggle and revolution." Russia also emerged from the Congress without having achieved its major objectives, and with both Greece, and Bulgaria being left under British influence. It therefore renewed with increased vigor its effort to secure control of Eastern Anatolia, again seeking to use the Armenians as a major instrument of its policy. Now, however, it was resisted in this effort by the British, who also sought to influence and use the Armenians by stirring their national ambitions, though in this respect, in the words of the French writer Rene Pinon, who is in fact known with his pro-Armenian views, "Armenia in British hands would become a police station against Russian expansion." Whether under Russian or British influence, however, the Armenians became pawns to advance imperial ambitions at Ottoman expense.

It was British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and the Tories who defended Ottoman integrity against Russian expansion at the Congress of Berlin. But with the assumption of power by William E. Gladstone and the Liberals in I880, British policy toward the Ottomans changed drastically to one which sought to protect British interests by breaking up the Ottoman Empire and creating friendly small states under British influence in its place, one of which was to be Armenia. In pursuit of this policy, the British press now was encouraged to refer to eastern Anatolia as "Armenia"; British consulates were opened in every corner of the area to provide opportunities for contact with the local Christian population; the numbers of Protestant missionaries sent to the East was substantially increased; and in London an Anglo-Armenian Friendship Committee was created to influence public opinion in support of this new endeavour. The way how Russia and Great Britain used Armenians as a tool for their own ambitions has been adequately documented by numerous Armenian and other foreign sources. Thus, the French Ambassador in Istanbul Paul Cambon reported to the Quai d'Orsay in 1894 that "Gladstone is organizing the dissatisfied Armenians, putting them under discipline and promising them assistance, settling many of them in London with the inspiration of the propaganda committee." Edgar Granville commended that "There was no Armenian movement in Ottoman territory before the Russians stirred them up. Innocent people are going to be hurt because of this dream of a Greater Armenia under the protection of the Czar," and "the Armenian movements intend to attach Eastern Anatolia to Russia." The Armenian writer Kaprielian declared proudly in his book "The Armenian Crisis and Rebirth that "the revolutionary promises and inspirations were owed to Russia." The Tashnak newspaper Hairenik in its issue of 28 June 1918 stated that "The awakening of a revolutionary spirit among the Armenians in Turkey was the result of Russian stimulation." The Armenian Patriarch Horen Ashikian wrote in his History of Armenia "The protestant missionaries distributed in large numbers to various places in Turkey made propaganda in favor of England and stirred the Armenians to desire autonomy under British protection. The schools that they established were the nurseries of their secret plans." And the Armenian religious leader Hrant Vartabed wrote that "'The establishment of protestant communities in Ottoman territory and their protection by England and the United States shows that they did not shrink from exploiting even the most sacred feelings of the West, religious feelings, in seeking civilization", going on to state that the Catholicos of Echmiadzin Kevork V was a tool of Czarist Russia and that he betrayed the Armenians of Anatolia.

In pursuit of these policies, starting in 1880 a number of Armenian revolutionary societies were established in Eastern Anatolia, like the Black Cross and Armenian societies in Van and the National Guards in Erzurum. However these societies had little influence, since the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire still lived in peace and prosperity and had no real complaints against Ottoman administration. With the passage of time, therefore, these and other such Armenian societies within the Empire fell into inactivity and largely ceased operations. The Armenian nationalists therefore moved to center their organizations outside Ottoman territory, establishing the Hunchak Committee at Geneva in 1887 and the Tashnak Committee at Tiflis in 1890, both of which declared to be their basic goal the "liberation" from Ottoman rule of the territories of Eastern Anatolia and the Ottoman Armenians.

According to Louise Nalbandian, a leading Armenian researcher into Armenian propaganda, the Hunchak program stated that:

"Agitation and terror were needed to "elevate the spirit" of the people. The people were also to be incited against their enemies and were to "profit" from retaliatory actions of these same enemies. Terror was to be used as a method of protecting the people and winning their confidence in the Hunchak program. The party aimed at terrorizing the Ottoman government, thus contributing toward lowering the prestige of that regime and working toward its complete disintegration. The government itself was not to be the only focus of terroristic tactics. The Hunchaks wanted to annihilate the most dangerous of the Armenian and Turkish individuals who were then working for the government as well as to destroy all spies and informers. To assist them in carrying out all of these terroristic acts, the party was to organize an exclusive branch specifically devoted to performing acts of terrorism. The most opportune time to institute the general rebellion for carrying out immediate objectives was when Turkey was engaged in war. "

K. S. Papazian wrote of the Tashnak Society:

"The purpose of the A. R. Federation (Tashnak) is to-achieve political and economic freedom in Turkish Armenia, by means of rebellion ... terrorism has, from the first, been adopted by the Tashnak Committee of the Caucasus, as a policy or a method for achieving its ends. Under the heading "means" in their program adopted in 1892, we read as follows: The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Tashnak), in order to achieve its purpose through rebellion, organizes revolutionary groups. Method no. 8 is as follows: To wage fight, and to subject to terrorism the Government officials, the traitors, ... Method no.11 is: To subject the government institutions to destruction and pillage. "

One of the Tashnak founders and ideologues, Dr. Jean Loris-Melikoff wrote that:

"The truth is that the party (Tashnak Committee) was ruled by an oligarchy, for whom the particular interests of the party came before the interests of the people and nation.. They (the Tashnaks) made collections among the bourgeois and the great merchants. A t the end, when these means were exhausted, they resorted to terrorism, after the teachings of the Russian revolutionaries that the end justifies the means. "

The same policy was described by .the Tashnak ideologue Varandian, in History of the Tashnakzoutune (Paris, 1932).

Thus as Armenian writers themselves have freely admitted, the goal of their revolutionary societies was to stir revolution, and their method was terror. They lost no time in putting their programs into operation, stirring a number of revolt efforts within a short time, with the Hunches taking the lead at first, and then the Tashnaks following, planning and organizing their efforts outside the Ottoman Empire before carrying them out within the boundaries of the Sultan's land.

The first revolt came in Erzurum in 1890. It was followed by the Kumkapi riots in Istanbul the same year, and then risings in Kayseri, Yozgat, Corum and Merzifon in 1892 - 1893, in Sasun in 1894, the Zeytun revolt and the Armenian raid on the Sublime Porte in 1895, the Van revolt and occupation of the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul in 1896, the Second Sasun revolt in 1903, the attempted assassination of Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1905, and the Adana revolt in 1909. All these revolts and riots were presented by the Armenian revolutionary societies in Europe and America as the killing of Armenians by Turks, and with this sort of propaganda message they stirred considerable emotion among Christian peoples. The missionaries and consular representatives sent by the Powers to Anatolia played major roles in spreading this propaganda in the western press, thus carrying out the aims of the western powers to turn public opinion against Muslims and Turks to gain the necessary support to break up the Ottoman Empire.

There were many honest western diplomatic and consular representatives who reported what actually was happening, that it was the Armenian revolutionary societies that were doing the revolting and slaughtering and massacring to secure European intervention in their behalf.

In 1876, the British Ambassador in Istanbul reported that the Armenian Patriarch had said to him:

"If revolution is necessary to attract the attention and intervention of Europe, it would not be hard to do so. "

On 28 March 1894 the British Ambassador in Istanbul, Curie reported to the Foreign Office:

"The aim of the Armenian revolutionaries is to stir disturbances, in order to get the Ottomans to react to violence, and thus get the foreign Powers to intervene. "

On 28 January 1895 the British Consul in Erzurum, Graves reported to the British Ambassador in Istanbul:

"The aims of the revolutionary committees are to stir up general discontent and to get the Turkish government and people to react with violence, thus attracting the attention of the foreign powers to the imagined sufferings of the Armenian people, and getting them to act to correct the situation. "

Graves response to New York Herald reporter Sydney Whitman"s question:

"If no Armenian revolutionary had come to this country, if they had not stirred Armenian revolution, would these clashes have occurred ", was "Of course not. I doubt if a single Armenian would have been killed. "

The British Vice-Consul Williams wrote from Van on 4 March 1896:

"The Tashnaks and Hunchaks have terrorized their own countrymen, they have stirred up the Muslim people with their thefts and insanities, and have paralyzed all efforts made to carry out reforms; all the events that have taken place in Anatolia are the responsibility of the crimes committed by the Armenian revolutionary committees. "

British Consul General in Adana Doughty Wily wrote in 1909 "The Armenians are working to secure foreign intervention." Russian Consul General in Bitlis and Van; General Mayewski, reported in 1912:

"In 1895 and 1896 the Armenian revolutionary committees created such suspicion between the Armenians and the native population that it became impossible to implement any sort of reform in these districts. The Armenian priests paid no attention to religious education, but instead concentrated on spreading nationalist ideas, which were affixed to the walls of monasteries, and in place of performing their religious duties they concentrated on stirring Christian enmity against Muslims. The revolts that took place in many provinces of Turkey during 1895 and 1896 were caused neither by any great poverty among the Armenian villages nor because of Muslim attacks against them. In fact these villagers were considerably richer and more prosperous than their neighbors. Rather, the Armenian revolts came from three causes:

1. Their increasing maturity in political subjects;

2.The spread of ideas of nationality, liberation, and independence within the Armenian community;

3.Support of these ideas by the western governments, and their encouragement through the efforts of the Armenian priests. "

In another report in December 1912, Mayewski wrote that:

"The Tashnak revolutionary society is working to stir up a situation in which Muslims and Armenians will attack each other, and thus pave the way for Russian intervention. "

Finally, the Tashnak ideologue Varandian admits that the society "wanted to assure European intervention," while Papazian stated that "the aims of their revolts was to assure that the European powers would interfere Ottoman internal affairs." At each of their armed revolts the Armenian terrorist committees have always propagated that European intervention would immediately follow. Even some of the committee members believed in this propaganda. In fact, during the occupation of the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul the Armenian terrorist Armen Aknomi committed suicide after having waited in desperation the arrival of the British fleet. It can be seen thus that the basis for the Armenian revolts was not poverty, nor was it oppression or the desire for reform; rather, it was simply the result of a joint effort on the part of the Armenian revolutionary committees and the Armenian church, in conjunction with the Western Powers and Russia, to provide the basis to break up the Ottoman Empire.

In reaction to these revolts, the Ottomans did what other states did in such circumstances, sending armed forces against the rebels to restore order, and for the most part succeeding quickly since very few of the Armenian populace supported or helped the rebels or the revolutionary societies. However for the press and public of Europe, stirred by tales spread by the missionaries and the revolutionary societies themselves, every Ottoman restoration of order was automatically considered as a "massacre" of Christians, while the thousands of slaughtered Muslims being ignored and Christian claims against Muslims automatically accepted. In many cases, the European states not only intervened to prevent the Ottomans from restoring order, but also secured the release of many captured terrorists, including those involved in the Zeytun revolt, the occupation of the Ottoman Bank, and the attempted assassination of Sultan Abdulhamid. While most of these were expelled from the Ottoman Empire, it did not take long for them to secure forged passports and other documents and to return to Ottoman territory to resume their terroristic activities, with the cooperation of their European sponsors. Whatever were the claims of the Armenian revolutionary societies and whatever the ambitions of the imperial powers of Europe, there was one major fact which they simply could not ignore. The Armenians comprised a very small minority of the population in the territories being claimed in their name, namely the six eastern districts claimed as "historic Armenia" (Erzurum, Bitlis, Van, Elaziz, Diyarbakir and Sivas), the two provinces claimed to comprise "Armenian Cilicia" (Aleppo and Adana) and finally Trabzon which was later claimed to have an outlet to the Black Sea coast. Event the French Yellow Book, which among western sources, which made the largest Armenian population claims, still showed them in a sizeable minority:

.

Total Population

Total Armenians Population

Percent of

Gregorian

Erzurum

645,702

134,967

20.90

Bitlis

398,625

131,390

32.96

Van

430,000

80,798

18.79

Elaziz

578,814

69,718

12.04

Diyarbakir

471,462

79,129

16.78

Sivas

1,086,015

170,433

15.68

Adana

403,539

97,450

24.14

Aleppo

995,758

37,999

3.81

Trabzon

1,047,700

47,200

4.50

Thus even by these extreme claims, the Armenians still constituted no more than one third of the provinces' population. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1910, the Armenians were only 15 percent of the area's population as a whole, making it very unlikely that they could in fact achieve independence in any part of the Ottoman Empire without the massive foreign assistance that would have been required to push out the Turkish majorities and replace them with Armenian emigrants.

Russia in fact was only using the Armenians for its own ends. It had no real intention of establishing Armenian independence, either within its own dominions or in Ottoman territory. Almost as soon as the Russians took over the Caucasus, they adopted a policy of Russifying the Armenians as well as establishing their own control over the Armenian Gregorian church in their territory. By virture of the Polijenia Law of 1836, the powers and duties of the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin were restricted, while his appointment was to be made by the Czar. In 1882 all Armenian newspapers and schools in the Russian Empire were closed, and in l903 the state took direct control of all the financial resources of the Armenian Church as well as Armenian establishments and schools. At the same time Russian Foreign Minister Lobanov-Rostowsky adopted his famous goal of "An Armenia without Armenians", a slogan which has been deliberately attributed to the Ottoman administration by some Armenian propagandists and writers in recent years. Whatever the reason, Russian oppression of the Armenians was severe. The Armenian historian Vartanian relates in his History of the Armenian Movement that "Ottoman Armenia was completely free in its traditions, religion, culture and language in comparison to Russian Armenia under the Czars." Edgar Granville writes, "The Ottoman Empire was the Armenians' only shelter against Russian oppression."

That Russian intentions were to use the Armenians to annex Eastern Anatolia and not to create an independent Armenia is shown by what happened during World War I. In the secret agreements made among the Entente powers to divide the Ottoman Empire, the territory which the Russians had promised to the Armenians as an autonomous or independent territory was summarily divided between Russia and France without any mention of the Armenians, while the Czar replied to the protests of the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin only that "Russia has no Armenian problem." The Armenian writer Borian thus concludes:

"Czarist Russia at no time wanted to assure Armenian autonomy: For this reason one must consider the Armenians who were working for Armenian autonomy as no more than agents of the Czar to attach Eastern Anatolia to Russia. "

The Russians thus have deceived the Armenians for years; and as a result the Armenians have been left with nothing more than an empty dream.

 

DID THE TURKS PRACTICE A PLANNED AND SYSTEMATIC GENOCIDE ON ARMENIANS IN 1915?

The beginning of World War I and the Ottoman entry into the war on November l, 1914 on the side of Germany and Austria - Hungary against the Entente powers was considered as a great opportunity by the Armenian nationalists. Louise Nalbandian relates that "The Armenian revolutionary committees considered that the most opportune time to begin a general uprising to achieve their goals was when the Ottoman Empire was in a state of war", and thus less able to resist an internal attack.

Even before the war began, in August 1914, the Ottoman leaders met with the Dashnaks at Erzurum in the hope of getting them to support the Ottoman war effort when it came. The Dashnaks promised that if the Ottomans entered the war, they would do their duty as loyal countrymen in the Ottoman armies. However they failed to live up to this promise, since even before this meeting took place, a secret Dashnak Congress held at Erzurum in June 1914 had already decided to use the oncoming war to undertake a general attack against the Ottoman state. The Russian Armenians joined the Russian army in preparing an attack on the Ottomans as soon as war was declared. The Catholicos of Echmiadzin assured the Russian General Governor of the Caucasus, Vranzof-Dashkof, that "in return for Russia's forcing the Ottomans to make reforms for the Armenians, all the Russian Armenians would support the Russian war effort without conditions." The Catholicos subsequently was received at Tiflis by the Czar, whom he told that "The liberation of the Armenians in Anatolia would lead to the establishment of an autonomous Armenia separated from Turkish suzerainty and that this Armenia could be realized under with the protection of Russia." Of course the Russians really intended to use the Armenians to annex Eastern Anatolia, but the Catholicos was told nothing about that.

As soon as Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, the Dashnak Society's official organ Horizon declared:

"The Armenians have taken their place on the side of the Entente states without showing any hesitation whatsoever; they have placed all their forces at the disposition of Russia; and they also are forming volunteer battalions. "

The Dashnak Committee also ordered its cells that had been preparing to revolt within the Ottoman Empire:

"As soon as the Russians have crossed the borders and the Ottoman armies have started to retreat, you should revolt everywhere. The Ottoman armies thus will be placed between two fires: of the Ottoman armies advance against the Russians, on the other hand, Armenian soldiers in Ottoman soldiers should leave their units with their weapons, form bandit forces, and unite with the Russians. "

The Hunchak Committee instructions to its organizations in the Ottoman territory were:

"The Hunchak Committee will use all means to assist the Entente states, devoting all its forces to the struggle to assure victory in Armenia, Cilicia, the Caucasus and Azerbaijan as the ally of the Entente states, and in particular of Russia. "

And even the Armenian representative to Van in the Ottoman Parliament for Van, Papazyan, soon turned out to be a leading guerilla fighter against the Ottomans, publishing a proclamation that:

"The volunteer Armenian regiments in the Caucasus should prepare themselves for battle, serve as advance units for the Russian armies to help them capture the key positions in the districts where the Armenians live, and advance into Anatolia, joining the Armenian units already established there."

As the Russian forces advanced into Ottoman territory in eastern Anatolia, they were led by advanced units composed of volunteer Ottoman and Russian Armenians, who were joined by the Armenians deserting the Ottoman armies and went over to the Russians. Many of these also formed bandit forces with weapons and ammunition which they had for years been stocking in Armenian and missionary churches and schools, going on to raid Ottoman supply depots both to increase their own arms and to deny them to the Ottoman army as it moved to meet this massive Russian invasion. Within a few months after the war began, these Armenian guerilla forces, operating in close coordination with the Russians, were savagely attacking Turkish cities, towns and villages in the East; massacring their inhabitants without mercy, while at the same time working to sabotage the Ottoman army's war effort by destroying roads and bridges, raiding caravans, and doing whatever else they could to ease the Russian occupation. The atrocities committed by the Armenian volunteer forces accompanying the Russian army were so severe that the Russian commanders themselves were compelled to withdraw them from the fighting fronts and send them to rear guard duties. The memoirs of all too many Russian officers who served in the East at this time are filled with accounts of the revolting atrocities committed by these Armenian guerillas, which were savage even by the relatively primitive standards of war then observed in such areas.

Nor did these Armenian atrocities effect only Turks and other Muslims. The Armenian guerillas had never been happy with the failure of the Greeks and Jews to fully support their revolutionary programs. As a result in Trabzon and vicinity they massacred thousands of Greeks, while in the area of Hakkari it was the Jews who were rounded up and massacred by the Armenian guerillas. Basically the aim of these atrocities was to leave only Armenians in the territories being claimed for the new Armenian state; all others therefore were massacred or forced to flee for their lives so as to secure the desired Armenian majority of the population in preparation for the peace settlement.

Leading the first Armenian units who crossed the Ottoman border in the company of the Russian invaders was the former Ottoman Parliamentary representative for Erzurum, Karekin Pastirmaciyan, who now assumed the revolutionary name Armen Garo. Another former Ottoman parliamentarian, Hamparsum Boyaciyan, led the Armenian guerilla forces who ravaged Turkish villages behind the lines under the nickname "Murad", specifically ordering that "Turkish children also should be killed as they form a danger to the Armenian nation." Another former Member of Parliament, Papazyan, led the Armenian guerilla forces that ravaged the areas of Van, Bitlis and Mush.

In March 1915 the Russian forces began to move toward Van. Immediately, on April 11,1915 the Armenians of Van began a general revolt, massacring all the Turks in the vicinity so as to make possible its quick and easy conquest by the Russians. Little wonder that Czar Nicholas II sent a telegram of thanks to the Armenian Revolutionary Committee of Van on April 21,1915, "thanking it for its services to Russia." .The Armenian newspaper Gochnak, published in the United States, also proudly reported on May 24,1915 that "only, 1,500 Turks remain in Van", the rest having been slaughtered.

The Dashnak representative told the Armenian National Congress assembled at Tiflis in February 1915 that "Russia provided 242,000 rubles before the war even began to arm and prepare the Ottoman Armenians to undertake revolts", giving some idea of how the Russian-Armenian alliance had long been preparing to undermine the Ottoman war effort. Under these circumstances, with the Russians advancing along a wide front in the East, with the Armenian guerillas spreading death and destruction while at the same time attacking the Ottoman armies from the rear, with the Allies also invading the Empire along a wide front from Galicia to Irak, the Ottoman decision to deport Armenians from the war areas was a moderate and entirely legitimate measure of self defense.

Even after the revolt and massacres at Van, the Ottoman government made one final effort to secure general Armenian support for the war effort, summoning the Patriarch, some Armenian Members of Parliament, and other delegates to a meeting where they were warned that drastic measures would be taken unless Armenians stopped slaughtering Muslims and ceased to undermine the war effort. When there was no evident lessening of the Armenian attacks, the government finally acted. On April 24,1915 the Armenian revolutionary committees were closed and 235 of their leaders were arrested for activities against the state. It is the date of these arrests that in recent years has been annually commemorated by Armenian nationalist groups throughout the world in commemoration of the so-called "genocide" that they claim took place at this time. No such genocide, however, took place, at this or any other time during the war: In the face of the great dangers, which the Empire faced at that time, great care was taken to make certain that the Armenians were treated carefully and compassionately as they were relocated, generally to Syria and Palestine if they came from southern Anatolia, and to Irak if they came from the north. The Ottoman Council of Ministers thus ordered :

"When those of the Armenians resident in the aforementioned towns and villages who have to be moved are transferred to their places of settlement and are on the road, their comfort must be assured and their lives and property protected; after their arrival their food should be paid for out of Refugees' Appropriations until they are definitively settled in their new homes. Property and land should be distributed to them in accordance with their previous financial situation as well as their current needs; and for those among them needing further help, the government should build houses, provide cultivators and artisans with seed, tools, and equipment. "

And it went on to specify :

"This order is entirely intended against the extension of the Armenian Revolutionary Committees; therefore do not execute it in such a manner that might cause the mutual massacre of Muslims and Armenians. "

"Make arrangements for special officials to accompany the groups of Armenians who are being relocated, and make sure they are provided with food and other needed things, paying the cost out of the allotments set aside for emigrants. "

"The food needed by the emigrants while travelling until they reach their destinations must be provided ... for poor emigrants by credit for the installation of the emigrants. The camps provided for transported persons should be kept under regular supervision; necessary steps for their well being should be taken, and order and security assured Make certain that indigent emigrants are given enough food and that their health is assured by daily visits by a doctor... Sick people, poor people, women and children should be sent by rail, and others on mules, in carts or on foot according to their power of endurance. Each convoy should be accompanied by a detachment of guards, and the food shoul be supplied for each Coney should be guarded until the destination is reached... In cases where the emigrants are attacked, either in the camps or during the journeys, all efforts made to repel the attacks immediately... "

Out of the some 700,000 Armenians who were transported in this way until early 1917, certainly some lives were lost, as the result both of large scale military and bandit activities then going on in the areas through which they passed, as well as the general insecurity and blood feuds which some tribal forces sought to carry out as the caravans passed through their territories. In addition, the relocation of Armenians took place at a time when the Empire was suffering from severe shortages of fuel, food, medicine and other supplies as well as large-scale plague and famine. It should not be forgotten that, at the same time, an entire Ottoman army of 90,000 men was lost in the East as a result of severe shortages, or that through the remainder of the war as many as three or four million Ottoman subjects of all religions died as a result of the same conditions that afflicted the deportees. How tragic and unfeeling it is, therefore, for Armenian nationalists to blame the undoubted suffering of the Armenians during the war to something more than the same anarchical conditions which afflicted all the Sultan's subjects. This is the truth behind the false claims distorting historical facts by ill-devised mottoes such as the "first genocide of the twentieth century" which Armenian propagandists and terror groups try to revive to justify the same tactics of terror today which brought such horrors to the Ottoman Empire during the last century.

 

IS EASTERN ANATOLIA THE HOMELAND OF ARMENIANS?

Even Armenian historians disagree on this question. Let us examine some of their contradictory theories while looking into Anatolian history.

1.The Biblical Noah Theory. According to this idea, the Armenians descended from Hayk, great-great grandson of the Biblical patriarch Noah. Since Noah's Arc is supposed to have come to rest on Mount Ararat, the advocates of this idea conclude that eastern Anatolia must have been the original Armenian homeland, adding that Hayk lived some four hundred years and expanded his dominion as far as Babylon. This claim is based entirely on fables, not on any scientific evidence, and is not worthy of further consideration. The historian Auguste Carriere summarily dismisses it stating that "it depends entirely on information provided by some Armenian historians, most of which was made up."

2.The Urartu Theory. Some Armenians claim that they were the people of Urartu, which existed in eastern Anatolia starting about 3000 B.C. until it was defeated and destroyed by the Medes, with its territory being contested for some time by Lydia and the Medes until it finally fell under the influence of the latter. This claim has no basis in fact. No form of the name Armenian is found in any inscription in Anatolia dating from that period, nor was there any similarity at all between the Armenian language and that of Urartu, the former being a member of the Satem group oflndo European languages, while the latter was similar to the Ural-Altaic languages. Nor were there any similarities between their cultures. The most recent archaeological finds in the area of Erzurum support these conclusions very clearly. There is, therefore, absolutely no evidence at all to support the claim that the people of Urartu were Armenian.

3.The Thracian-Phrygian Theory. The theory most favoured by Armenian historians claims that they descended from a Thracian-Phrygian group, that originated in the Balkan Peninsula and by the pressure oflllyrians migrated to eastern Anatolia in the sixth century B.C. This theory is based on the fact that the name Armenian was mentioned for the first time in the Behistan inscription of the Mede (Persian) Emperor Darius from the year 521 B.C., "I defeated the Armenians." If accepted, of course, this view effectively contradicts and disproves the Noah and Urartu theories.

(1) CARRIERE, Auguste, Moise de Khoren et la Genealogie Patriarcale, Paris, 1896

 

DID THE TURKS INVADE AND CONFISCATE ARMENIAN LANDS STARTING WITH THE SELJUKS AND THE OTTOMANS?

The territory in which the Armenians lived together for a time never was ruled by them as an independent, sovereign state. This territory was ruled by others from the earliest times from which there is evidence that Armenians lived there. From 521 to 344 B.C. it was a province of Persia. From 334 to 215 B.C. it was part of the Macedonian Empire. From 215 to 190 B.C. it was controlled by the Selephkites. From 190 until 220 A.D. it frequently changed hands between the Roman Empire and the Parthians. From 220 until the start of the fifth century it was a Sassanian province, and from then until the seventh century it belonged to Byzantium. From the seventh to the tenth centuries it was controlled by the Arabs. It returned again to Byzantine rule in the tenth century and, finally, it came under the domination of the Turks starting in the eleventh century.

The Armenians living in this territory who remained under the rule of these various empires, could not continuously maintain any sort of independent or unified Armenian state. At the most, a few Armenian noble families dominated certain districts as feudal vassals of the neighboring imperial suzerains, serving as buffers between the powerful empires that surrounded them. Most of these Armenian "principalities" were, thus, simply set up by local Armenian nobles within their own feudal dominions, or by the neighboring empires, who in this way secured their military services against their enemies. The best example of this was the Baghratid family, long brought forward by Armenian nationalist historians as an example of their historic independent existence, which was in fact put in charge of its territory by the Arab Caliphs. Some of the "Armenian" families which assumed the title of principality at this time were, moreover, really Persian rather than Armenian in origin. That they did not constitute any sort of independent nation is shown in the statement of the Armenian historian Kevork Asian:

"The Armenians lived as local notables. They had no feeling of national unity. There were no political bonds or ties among them. Their only attachments were to the neighboring notables. Thus whatever national feelings they had were local."

These Armenian principalities existed for centuries under the control of various great empires and states, often changing sides to secure maximum advantage, and thus earning for Armenians often caustic and critical remarks from contemporary historians, as for example the Roman historian Tacitus, who in his Annalium liber wrote: "The Armenians change their position relating to Rome and the Persian Empire, sometimes supporting one and sometimes the other", concluding that they are "a strange people."

It was as a result of these conditions, and then, the Armenians' lack of unity and strength, their very failure to create a real state, their weakness in relation to their neighbors, the fact that the territory in which they lived was the scene of constant conflict among their more powerful suzerains from all sides, that they often were deported, or moved voluntarily, from the lands where they first lived when they appeared in history. Thus when they fled from the Persians they settled in the area ofKayseri, in Central Anatolia. They were deported by the Sassanians into central Iran, by the Arabs into Syria and the Arabian Peninsula, by the Byzantines into Central Anatolia and to Istanbul, Thrace, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Transylvania and the Crimea. During the Crusades, they went to Cyprus, Crete and Italy. In flight from the Mongols they settled in Kazan and Astrakhan in Central Asia, and finally, they were subsequently deported by the Russians from the Crimea and the Caucasus into the interior of Russia. As a result of these centuries-long deportations and migrations, then, the Armenians were widely scattered from Sicily to India and from the Crimea to Arabia, thus forming what they call "the Armenian diaspora" centuries before they were deported by the Ottomans in 1915.

The Armenians broke away from the Byzantine church in 451,150 years after they accepted Christianity, leading to long centuries of Armenian-Byzantine clashes which went on until the Turks settled in Anatolia starting in the late 11th century, with the Byzantines working to wipe out the Armenians and eliminate the Armenian principalities in order to maintain Greek Orthodoxy throughout their dominions. Contemporary Armenian historians report in great detail how the Byzantines deported Armenians as well as using them against enemy forces in the vanguard of the Byzantine armies. As a result of this, when the Seljuk Turks started flooding into Anatolia starting in the late llth century, they did not encounter any Armenian principalities; the only force remaining to resist them was that of Byzantium. The Seljuk ruler Alparslan captured the lands of the Armenian Principality ofAni in 1064, but it had previously been brought to an end by the Byzantine in 1045, nineteen years earlier, with Greeks being brought in to replace the Armenians who had been deported. It is therefore false to claim that the Seljuk Turks destroyed any Armenian principality, let alone a state. This already had been done by the Byzantines, and it was in fact the social and economic ferment that resulted which greatly facilitated the subsequent Turkish settlement. Contemporary Armenian historians interpret this Turkish conquest of Anatolia to have constituted their liberation from the long centuries of Byzantine misrule and oppression. The Armenian historian Asoghik thus reports that "Because of the Armenians' enmity toward Byzantium, they welcomed the Turkish entry into Anatolia and even helped them." The Armenian historian Mathias of Edessa likewise relates that the Armenians rejoiced and celebrated publicly when the Turks conquered his city, Edessa (today's Urfa).

An Armenian principality did arise in Cilicia starting in 1080 but it was the result, not of the Turkish settlement in Anatolia, as has been claimed, but, rather, of the Byzantine destruction of the last Armenian principalities in eastern Anatolia, which caused a flood of Armenians fleeing into Cilicia. This principality maintained good relations with the Turks even as it provided assistance to the Crusaders who passed through its territory on their way to the Holy Land, while accepting the suzerainty, first of Byzantium, and then after it declined, of the Crusader Kingdoms, the Mongols, and, finally, the Catholic Lusignan family which gained control of Cyprus. This sort of relationship with "unbelievers^, however, displeased the Gregorian Armenian Church, with the resulting internal divisions playing a significant role in the Principality's conquest by the Mamluks of Syria and Egypt in 1375. In the end, the most significant consequence of this last Armenian principality was the establishment of a separate Armenian church from the one centered at Echmiadzin, which added to the internal divisions within Armenian Orthodoxy which remain important to the present day.

Thus, when eastern Anatolia was conquered by Fatih Mehmet II and Yavuz Sultan Selim I, it was taken from the White Sheep Turkomans and from the Safavids of Iran, who had occupied it after the Byzantines had retired; while Yavuz Selim took Cilicia from the Mamluks. MIn no case, therefore, did the Ottoman Turks conquer or occupy an existing Armenian state or principality. In every case, these Armenians had previously been conquered by peoples other than the Turks.

(*) ASLAN, Kevork, L'Armenie et les Armeniens, Istanbul, 1914.

 

ARE THE ARMENIANS IN TURKEY OPPRESSED AT PRESENT?

Armenian nationalist propagandists from time to time claim that the Armenians of Turkey are being persecuted. This is done, not only to reinforce their claims that the Turks persecuted Armenians throughout history, but also to provide a unifying bond for Armenian action groups and to get foreign states to intervene in Turkish internal affairs. Like the other Armenian claims, this also is not based on fact.

The 40,000 - 50,000 Armenians living in Turkey today are in no way separated from the remainder of the population. They are full Turkish citizens, with the same rights and privileges as other Turkish citizens, with their lives, liberties and happiness guaranteed by law.

The Armenians of Turkey continue to worship in their own churches and teach in their own language in their own schools. They publish newspapers, books and magazines in Armenian and have their own social and cultural institutions in addition to participating fully in those open to all Turks. The Armenian community in Istanbul has 30 schools, 17 cultural and social organizations, two daily newspapers called Jamanak and Marmara, two sports clubs, named Shishly (Sisli) and Taksim, and many health establishments as well as numerous religious foundations set up to support these activities.

Most of the Turkish Armenians continue to be Gregorian, and are led by a Patriarch. In addition there are a number of Catholic and Protestant Armenians who have their own churches and other institutions.

The Armenians of Turkey are as free to live prosperous and happy lives as are Turks of other religions. Many of them are prosperous merchants as well as leading members of the arts and professions. The Armenians of Turkey are proud to be Turkish citizens and, along with all other Turks, deeply resent the lies about their country spread in their name by outside Armenian nationalists. In particular they abhorred the terrorist attacks carried out by these groups on Turkish diplomats, citizens; and interests throughout the world.

On November 1st 1981 the Armenian Patriarch held a memorial service at the Patriarchate to commemorate the Turkish diplomats slaughtered by Armenian terrorists and to condemn these acts done in the name of the Armenian people. In February 1982 the Patriarch vigorously denied the claims made by the Council of Europe that Turkey is oppressing its minorities, stating "The Armenians of Turkey are Turkish citizens, they live in peace in Turkey, they practice their religion freely and benefit from the freedom of belief." Following the Armenian terrorist assassination of Turkish Consul-General Kemal Ankan in Los Angeles on 28 January, 1982, the Armenian Patriarch stated "The Turkish Armenians, like all other Turkish citizens, learned of this with great sorrow", and appealed for "all Armenians living outside Turkey to rise up against these illegal activities and murders." Turkish Armenians themselves thus put the lie to the claims of the Armenian propagandists.

 

WHAT IS THE PICTURE FROM THE STANDPOINT OF UN TREATY ON GENOCIDE?

The genocide concept was defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Crime. According to the article 2 of this Convention, the genocide is any of the acts of assassination of or inflicting serious physical or mental integrity on the group members or their detainment under living conditions that would result in its annihilation or introduction of measures preventing births within the group or forcibly transferring the children of one group into another in order to partially or wholly eradicating a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. The genocide implies acts and actions under a planned State policy.

When the issue is examined from the viewpoint of genocide Convention, some events in the history should be recalled. For the perpetration of such a serious crime against humanity as the genocide, there should be a certain tendency toward it in the history of the nation concerned. The criminality is as much a personal trait as a national one. A study of the Turkish history reveals no traces of genocide or assimilation. A short historical tour of horizon and a recall of the geography once under the Ottoman rule show us that the Ottomans had penetrated well into Europe all the way up to Vienna, controlled the whole of the North African coast and the entire Middle East for a period from 200 to 400 years. Which nation may be said to have been exterminated during this period? In a era when the sharia prevailed in Anatolia, creeds such as Syriac, the oldest Christian denomination, and Yezidite that idolatrised the fire and had their own free reins and churches were built throughout Anatolia in the 1800s despite the fact that it was against the religion"s commandments. As a matter of fact, one of the brothers of Sokollu Mehmet Pasha, an Ottoman Grand Vizier, was appointed as the Patriarch of Makarije Serbian Church and led the revival of Serbian national spirit. We find examples of genocide in the era of intersectarian wars of Europe, in the people whose languages were forcibly changed (Hindus and Peshtus), in Africa where the language and religion were entirely altered and in South America when the Europeans had set foot there.

The Turkish administration is used to coexist with the peoples of different cultures and origins in all regions where it rules. This is probably a feature acquired by living together with different cultures for long periods in its history.

The Turkish State tradition has justice and preservation or cultures, but no trace whatsoever of massacre or genocide. This is revealed in no uncertain terms in Justin McCarthy"s book titled Death and Exile, in which examples are given of how the Balkan and Caucasian peoples had fled to the Ottoman rule to avoid death. A question needs to be asked to those accusing the Ottoman administration of having perpetrated genocide: Why did the Jews and Moslems leave Spain and Portugal in 1469, why did Tokely Imre and his entourage leave Hungary and seek refuge in the Ottoman Empire in 1680, Racozy Feren and his confidantes in 1711 and Lajos Kosuth and his two thousand associates in 1849, and where had the Swedish King Charles and the remainder of his army the same year, the Polish Prince Chartorsky in 1841 and 1856, the Russian General Vrangel with his army of 135.000 in 1917 and even Trotsky sought safety for life? Don"t those accusing Turkey of having committed so-called genocide in 1915 know that the Polish and German Jews had fled to Turkey in the late "30s? Why, only after 20 or 25 years after the so-called genocide, these people preferred Turkey for seeking asylum and finding safety?

Let us remember the genocide and assimilation events in the Balkans some 550 years after Mohamed the Conqueror who confirmed by his firman of 1478 the freedom of and preserving the values inherent in all human beings and for transferring them to the following generations. The Balkanic nations whose languages, religions, churches and schools were put under protection under this firman ousted the Bosniacs, Albanian Moslems, Macedonians and Bulgarian Turks from their countries in the 21st century just for creating homogenous societies. Those accusing Turkey with genocide disregarded the massacres that continued for months and ignored the desperate screams of women of all ages who were raped. The Iraqi people who fled from Saddam"s ire who attempted to annihilate his own people with the mustard gas that he had obtained from the Western weapons manufacturers had found the safety in Turkey where they had fled. The Turkish people, despite their limited means, shared their food with them and received without reservations all humans persecuted in their countries. This is the clean slate that may be shown as an example to all others of the Turkish nation, Ottomans and the Republic of Turkey.

In his talk before the United States House of Representatives, Professor Justin McCarthy indicated with the following words that Turkey also had suffered great pains in the World War I but preferred to keep them deep in its heart:

"The will to avenge is always branded in the minds of those that lose everything in wars. There would be a far greater number of deaths if the new Turkish Republic harped on these feelings. For this reason, Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk"s Government adopted a policy whereby the losses sustained in the past were overlooked and peace treaties were signed with its former foes because it had felt that pressure to be applied on the Armenians and other minorities would rekindle the old animosities and led to further wars. Thus the Turks never mentioned their own problems. This was the best decision that could ever be adopted under the then prevailing conditions. The point to which we arrived today is due to the fact that nobody had spoken on behalf of the Turks. What do you expect the Turks to think when they are unjustly criticised for something that they had not done?"

 

HOW DO ARMENIAN CLERGYMEN ASSESS THE ALLEGATIONS OF GENOCIDE?

Dikran Kevorkian, Pastor of Kandilli Armenian Church, who took part in 7th October 2000 in the TV programme named "in a nutshell" said the following:

The genocide and relocation denote two different concepts. The imperialist schemes and the Armenian apolitical dream leaders (media, churches and clergy) are the causes of this situation. The Patriarch is a spiritual leader and a blunder is committed when his opinions are sought in the political matters. What could ASALA and PKK do if there were no political support behind them?

There was a German pressure on the Sublime Port for the relocation in an attempt to shake the existing order and to secure itself an economic benefit through the Berlin-Baghdad railroad.

With regard to assimilation, I am prepared to say this: Today, it is only in Turkey among all countries of the world that the Armenians manage to maintain their own identity. The Armenians in the diaspora abroad continue their struggle for existence by changing their names because there are efforts there to melt the Armenians in the cultural pot.

The diaspora knows very well that the Sunday rites in all major American churches are in English and the Armenians are gradually losing their own language. Those who declare these things are branded to be black sheep of the herd. It is for these reasons that we as the Armenians living in Turkey, declare our regrets against these efforts, because an injustice is committed to the spirit of national forces entrusted to us by Atat?rk. All this is a stratagem concocted abroad, including the ASALA, PKK and Kocharian"s declaration. We, as the citizens of Turkey, believe that an injustice is perpetrated here. The Armenians should know better than being scapegoats if they are intelligent enough.

MESROB II,

(THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCH)

Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch, gave the following reply during a round-table meeting at the Turkish CNN TV in October 2000 to he question of a spectator named Henika Kiremitci who asked him how they as the uneasy Armenian minority should act:

MESROB II - I too, feel a certain uneasiness when I feel the pulses of our Istanbul congregation members; yet I wish to say to all members of my church as well as to all the Armenians living in Turkey that there is no reason for you to be uneasy. Please have confidence in the common sense of all our citizens living here and particularly of our State and don"t feel yourselves embittered since you don"t even have the least involvement with these schemes and actions.

MESROB II,

THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCH

Patriarch Mesrob II chairing the ceremonies at the Surp Krikor Losavoric Church in Kinaliada in the morning of 22 August delivered the following sermon in the Surp Badarak rites presented by Hayr Sahak Apega:

FIRST PART OF THE SERMON

There was a holy pool named Siloam at Yerusagem. At the time of Rab Hisus, the citizens used to say that the water in the pool suddenly churned from time to time and believed that the sick people who threw themselves into the pool when the water churned would be healed. Hundreds of sick people used to keep guard by the poolside and chant prayers. One day 18 people horribly died there when one of the poolside pillars collapsed. This incident is confirmed in the thirteenth chapter of Lucas Bible.

Reminding this incident to his disciples, he asked them whether these 18 people were more sinful than the other congregation members and, failing to receive any replies, said this: "No, because people may die for many other reasons than their own faults or sins. But the important thing here is this: everyone should be ready for the critical moment between life and death for acts of God or other causes and should avoid being caught unaware by the death. The greatest disaster that we may encounter is to lose God"s realm. If we want God"s affection and paternity, we should repent and approach Him. This constitutes the focal point of the sermons of Baptist Yahya (Surp Hovannes Migirdic) and Rab Hisus in the Bible: Repent, because God"s realm is near.

We are under the influence of the horrible earthquake of which the Centre was Izmit. Pains suffered by the death of more than twenty thousand people aside from the material and spiritual values are not easy to bear. The imminence of the earthquake was known. But this is in the human nature; we do not want to understand how late we were in adopting appropriate measures until that moment comes. I am wondering if the consciences of these thieve contractors are now bothering them. And the administrators acting as if they are in a slow-motion movie? On the other hand, is it possible not to feel grateful to the Greek citizens who sent their blood together with monetary help or the Israeli Government who set prize to its people and citizen even in an other country?

Humanity precedes piousness. Surp Agop says that those who do not love others may not love God, an invisible spirit. Those that consider religious, lingual and racial differences are lowly miserable. Like Rab Hisus taught in the example of Good Samaritan, all peoples are the children of the good father in the sky and brothers of each other even if they belong to different religions and ethnical groups. The people should be able to display the virtue of philanthropic spirit of help. The people who died in the Marmara earthquake, the suffering survivors without homes are all our brothers in the God. All believers should give the help they are capable to. It is indeed a sin to remain aloof to such grieves and pain.

When the autumn rains begin, myriad of people who live in the open will be getting ill. When we live in the warmth of our homes and partake our three daily meals, we should also think of disaster-stricken brothers and set aside a little from what God gave us. This is our first duty.

Our second duty is to repair within shortest possible time the damages in our community schools, churches and Patriarchate building and reinforce them against a probable new earthquake.

Doing all this, however, we should not overlook one point: This earthquake should be an opportunity for us to question ourselves, to renew our repentance and to socially, administratively and spiritually renew our deeds.

SECOND PART OF THE SERMON

In the second part of my sermon, I want to mention an important issue when the new school year approaches since our spiritual and cultural life sustains a major erosion. This is due to snobbism and desire to show off. It is not possible to conceive the reasons for disdaining the community"s schools and for preference particularly by the nouveau riche group to send their children to prestige schools. These people spread unjust rumours on the quality of the community"s schools to justify their action. Not less than eight of the graduates of our schools gained access to the Robert College with very high scores and the percentage of our senior high school graduates finding their way to universities is quite high. Our senior high schools rank hundred and fiftieth in the whole country.

Aren"t these the indicators of the success rates of our schools? Parents who refuse paying two hundred millions to our schools and send their children to those charging two to three billion Liras make the greatest unfairness to their off-springs by denying them the richness of their own language, culture and spiritual wealth. I am certain that these children will blame their parents when they grow up. There are different makes of cars and many alternatives when you want one as good as or better than that of your neighbour. But our community schools have none. Our schools educate very conscientious Turkish citizens and acquaint them with the Armenian language and literature and the basic tenets of the Christian religion.

Don"t our schools have problems? Of course they do. But so do the other schools. Therefore, we should take an active role in the school administrations, committees, and parent-teacher associations in order to remove the administrators who do not perform well and who do not renew themselves in a democratic way and replace them with better ones. This is possible only by the efficient and learned participation of our community. One of the direct consequences of the alienation from our schools is the deterioration of our family order. The rate of divorces, something unheard of until recently, rose rapidly in the last decade. Our people married without a holy bond and those who just simply cohabit reached almost sixty percent. We have many philanthropists among us who provide material support and seek an outlet from the blind alley into which our community entered. On the other hand, there are several who simply show off and remain aloof to these problems, but raise a lot of humdrum if they are not seated at the head tables or seen in the pictures taken.

Who, then, be involved in these problems if not the community leaders, intellectuals and Samaritans? I have only spiritual powers. The only thing that I may say as your Patriarch is that I will withdraw my benediction from every person and every family who remove their children from their community, religion and school. Pity to those devoid of the benefaction of the church and church fathers! Happy are those who are bonded by the affection ties and unison of this great family! Happy are those who are able to drink the eternity waters through our foreseeing merciful church built under the customs and traditions of our ancestors!

Briefly I want to say this: There are only a few weeks before the start of the new school year. Own up your schools, support them, keep your children in your own education institutions, encourage your beloved teachers, have faith in your church and schools and return your children to the community schools even if they are enrolled elsewhere for one or two years.

MESROB II,

THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCH

Now we will reprint here the interview given to Milliyet daily"s reporter Yavuz Baydar by the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II:

Question: There were no Armenian Patriarchs in Constantinapolis until its conquest by Mehmed II. Why?

Mesrob II:The history of Armenian community in Constantinapolis date back to the fourth century BC. We know that there was an Armenian church in the sixth century within the city walls. Later, since Byzantine was not tolerant to Christians other than the Orthodox denomination, the Armenians held their rites in buildings outside the walls. The spiritual leader of all Armenians in Thrace and in Europe until Lvov was in Bursa. For this reason, an Armenian Patriarch was not deemed necessary within Byzantine.

Question: What was the situation of the Armenian community in Anatolia until the conquest?

Mesrob II:The history of Christian Armenians in Anatolia dates back to the missionary work in eastern regionsd by two of the apostles of Jesus, Saint Thaeeus and Saint Bartholomeus. In 301 AD, the Armenian Kingdom accepted the Christianity as the official religion and the Echmiadzine Patriarchate, considered as the Archbishop for the Armenians was founded. We will celebrate in 2001 the 1700th anniversary of this event. Furthermore, the Armenians dissociating themselves of the Jerusalem Patriarchate established a separate Armenian one.

The Aktamar Patriarchate founded on the Isle of Aktamer in Van lake in 10th century was the third. The Clician one in Kozan was established in 1441. In all other regions, there were Armenian Bishopries or Archbishopries, called "marhasas" in Ottoman.

Question:Why did Fatih the Conqueror grant a Patriarchate edict to the Armenian community in Istanbul?

Mesrob II:After the conquest of Istanbul, Mehmet II brought large numbers of Armenians to the city in order to populate it. Following the recognition of Gennadios as the Greek Archbishop, the same treatment granted to Hovagim as the Archbishop of all Armenians may perhaps be deemed as urged by the wish to establish a balance between Christian inhabitants.

We should bear in mind the fact that there was a large mass of people who did not accept the Byzantine Orthodox doctrine within the Empire. Furthermore, the Archbishop would constitute an authority for facilitating the collection of taxes from the Armenians.

Question: We find the Armenians during the Ottoman reign as a merchant and artisan community who were not involved on a large scale in the existing problems. The Armenians began to get closer to the palace from the Mahmud II period onward. In the era following the Reformation, the Regulation on the Armenian Nation imparted a secular autonomy to the Armenian community that produced deputies and even viziers. At the same time, however, the dissolution trend in the Ottoman Empire was accelerating and some Armenian political parties were revolting against the central administration and the bitter events that were experienced culminated in 1915. What do you think of all these discussions that continue still?

Mesrob II: I don't think that the Armenians, at the time, were after independence. Most of the community were followers of the Patriarchate and the Ottoman Empire. Some were even disturbed by the plunder and political unrest in the Eastern part of the Empire, and were requesting the reestablishment of security. Only a minor part, the Tashnak followers, were after independence.

The rulers of that period did a major mistake by holding the entire minority responsible for the deeds of a just a few of them. To me, the problem was this: the collapse of the Ottoman Empire had started and numerous countries proclaimed their independence. And of course, some powers of the West, took part in this chaos. Due to reasons like this, the Turkish-Armenian relations were forced into an insecure atmosphere. Thus, the decree on relocation was declared, which led to events called as "the big disaster" in the history of the Armenians.

Nevertheless, it would be misleading to explain the entire history of the Turkish-Armenian relations, up to the establishment of the Turkish Republic, just based on this last period.

We have to study the history, from the beginning of the 5th century. We shall not disregard that the first Armenian publishing house was established in Istanbul and that the first Armenian book was printed there, as well as, that the first Armenian Theatre, which was also opened in this city. To me, the most important thing is that people from various communities, cultures and religions lived together under the same roof of an Empire, for more than 600 years. This is a fact to be celebrated.

Question: Was the transition to the Republic a pain for your Church?

Mesrob II : Of course, it was. The First World War was over and the relocation took place. Destruction effected the entire community. In the first five years of the Republic, the community did not have a Patriarchate. After Muslu I. Mesrob was elected as Patriarchate in 1927, a normalisation period started.

Question: What are the problems of your community and Church, today?

Mesrob II: We don't have problems, regarding religious matters. We can perform our religious duties at any place and time, as we like to do.The most important problem is lack of clergymen. A school of clergymen is a must, however, we desire to solve this problem together with Y?K, within the university system.

The community has social problems. The Declaration of 1936 forced some limitations on our community, which are in the present time totally obsolete and require reform. One should be allowed to donate to a church, as other are allowed to donate to mosques. All donations of properties to Foundations, after 1936, are to be returned to the owners since 1970. If the ex-owners have already died, the property was confiscated. I wish this act would be annulled soon.

Question: What is your perspective of the Turkish nation, in the eve of 2000 ?

Mesrub II: Though the atmosphere in Turkey, of which we are celebrating the 75th anniversary, seems somehow tight and thick, I do not think that the situation is that bad. I bear hope for the future. I feel positive, both for the regional situation of our country and its steps into the future. I think that we can overcome most of the problems by revising the system.

Question: What is your opinion, concerning the discussion on secularism ?

Mesrub II: Our community shares this principle. The document of 1863 verifies our attitude. We still share this attitude. I, as the Patriarch of the Turkish Armenians, do not have the least interest to be a judge of a religious court solving claims of marriage, divorce, and the right of property.

As a citizen born in the era of the Republic, I think that there is no way to turn to the past. To me, in the eve of 2000, any attempt to of ruling daily live with religious rules, which means a return to the middle ages, is ridiculous.

Question: The Year 2000 Celebrations are attracting the entire humanity, nevertheless, they have a special meaning for the Christians. How will you contribute to the "Millennium" Celebrations in Turkey ? Are these celebrations a big opportunity for Turkey ? Do you think that Turkey is giving the deserved attention to this subject ?

Mesrob II: It is very important for us, however, I do not know what importance is given by the government authorities. Look, there are 3 major Anatolian Churches in Turkey: The Armenian, the Greek and the Syriac. As far as I know, the government did not get in touch with any of these churches, regarding the 2000 Celebrations. We are ready for any contributions, but if it is left to the very last moment, I am afraid that we might encounter some undesired obstacles. I have always said:

If Palestine and Vatican are countries of prior importance for Christianity, Anatolia, in other words Turkey, is of secondary importance. The tombs of half of the Apostles are in Anatolia! In 2000, a flood of tourists will visit Israel. How many will visit Turkey? If were are looking for a solution to our tourism crisis, we should also consider this issue. The cultural, folkloric and religious tissue of Turkey should be demonstrated in full range. I think that this is not done. We should exploit this great opportunity.

MESROB II,

THE ARMENIAN PATRIARCH

Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch, in his speech held on a reception on 22 Mai 1999, at the Hilton Hotel:

"We are on the eve of the 3rd Millennium. We are preparing to celebrate the beginning of a new era in the history of mankind. I think that this is a great opportunity for all of us. An opportunity that could enable us to realise our dream of unifying continents, cultures and nations"

A world where individual rights and freedom is respected, a world of justice far away from any and all kind of violence is our mutual desire.

The crossroad ahead does not only offer a great opportunity but also a very difficult exam. The 2nd millennium that we are going to leave behind us, is full of tragedies.

But still, there are also incidents that we will remember will with respect in the following millenniums.

Just the one that we are celebrating today"

The establishment of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarch, is a unique incident in the history.

Eight years after the conquest of Constantinapolis by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, in 1461, he transformed the West Anatolian Archbishopship into the Patriarchship of Istanbul, by a decree. This was a clear evidence of the toleration of Fatih and the successor Ottoman Sultan, towards different religions.

Neither before nor after Mehmed the Conqueror, the world history does not have a second example of a Ruler who granted a religious rank to the believers of another religions.

In the eve of a new millennium, considering the conflicts in the world and our vicinity, we should give this incident, that took place 538 years ago deserved respect as an example of toleration between religions and cultures.

We remember with respect, both Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror who arranged the daily live of the Armenians in the empire, in accordance with their beliefs and traditions, as well as our prior 83 Patriarchs, who served at this post with loyalty, starting with Hovagim of Bursa the Istanbul Armenian Patriarch, who was appointed in 1461.

We the Armenians in Turkey, as the major group of Christians in our country, are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Turkish Republic with happiness and are hopeful for the future.