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Turkish Historical Society, July Prof. The subject of this paper is the Armenian-Turkish Question. According to the Armenian historiography it all started on April 24, , the date at which the Ottoman security forces arrested leading personality of the Armenian Revolutionary Party ARF , Dasnaksutyun. The Turkish historiography, however, challenges this assertion and dates the origin of the question to the Congress of Berlin, in , when the internal conflict between the Armenians and Muslims became an International issue for the Great powers of the period.
Call for peace and dialogue The subject of this paper is the Armenian-Turkish Question. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the Turkish-Armenian Question should be the subject of history, and different opinions should be elaborated by historians. However, it is not a secret that we have diverging interpretations of events that took place during a particular period of our common history. These differences that have in the past left behind traces of painful memories for our nations continue to hamper the development of friendly relations between our two countries today.
I believe that, as leaders of our countries, our primary duty is to leave to our future generations a peaceful and friendly environment in which tolerance and mutual respect shall prevail… In this connection, we are extending an invitation to your country to establish a joint group consisting of historians and other experts from our two countries to study the developments and events of not only in the archives of Turkey and Armenia but also in the archives of all relevant third countries and to share their findings with the international public.
I believe that such an initiative would shed light on a disputed period of history and also constitute a step towards contributing to the normalization of relations between our countries. He is not alone in Armenia. Armenian historians have written their version of their history and led their people to believe that their facts are so solid that they cannot be challenged.
Under these circumstances it may not be exaggeration to say that Armenians believe their thesis as strong as a dogma. Distortion of the UN Convention of on genocide Do the sources prove Armenian allegations beyond any shadow of a doubt? Is not there any fact that can be challenged about the events of ? Why do the Armenians have no question about their thesis?
Was the treatment of Armenians by the Ottoman regime in equal to genocide as defined by the UN Convention of ? Is that really so? First of all, we are dealing with a period of history and therefore it is natural that day by day as new documents come into light our knowledge of the period may be changed.
There are many points and details that are open to debate about the nature of the incidents that took place between Armenians and Muslims in and onwards. The treatment of the Armenians by the Ottoman government can not be seen within the concept of the UN Convention of on Genocide.
It is neither legal nor scholarly. From an international law perspective, the the Armenian Allegations regarding events is certainly disputed simply because the allegations are not based on legal verdicts by a competent international judicial institution.
Even though this very fact is sufficient to demonstrate that accusations against Turkey is unlawful, there are other reasons which cast doubts on the use of the word genocide in describing the events of within the framework of the UN Convention. And the events of should be assessed in the light of this definition. What is more important is that archival documents reveal that the Ottoman government had no intention to destroy its Armenian population and cannot be hold accountable for the Armenian losses.
All studies dealing with the implementation of relocation have so far indicated that by the relocation of the Armenians the Ottomans tried to prevent a full scale rebellion behind their army lines which had already started in the centers such as Erzurum, Zeytun and Bitlis just before the entry of the Ottoman Empire into WWI. It is known that when the Ottoman military declared mobilisation in August , most members of ARF and other Armenian political parties fled and joined the Russians, as was decided in the secret committee meetings.
Even Karekin Pastermadjian, an Armenian deputy in the Ottoman Parliament and also a member of Dashnak party, had joined one of these units to lead the Armenian voluntary forces. According to the Russian historians, there were 23 Ottoman-Armenian units in the Russian army at the very beginning of the war, making roughly 11, soldiers. Plus there were 40, Armenian armed volunteers only in the Caucasian region fighting for the Russians.
There were also Armenian volunteer units scattered all over Turkey. Bogos Nubar Pasha in one of his letters to the Foreign Ministry of France stated that they were fighting on the side of the Allied forces against the Ottoman Empire with almost , Armenian soldiers.
This very fact also justifies the necessity of removing Armenians behind army lines. The provinces in the rear of the army had a large Armenian population, and these people, feeling that there was an excellent chance of the Russians defeating the Turks, decided to make it a certainty by rising up in the rear of the army and cutting it off from its base of supplies.
Let me draw a parallel imaginary case. Suppose that Mexico was a powerful and rival country with which we were at war, and suppose that we sent an army to the Mexican border to hold back the invading enemy; suppose further that not only the negroes in our army deserted to the enemy but those left at home organized and cut off our line of communication. What do you think we as a people, especially the Southerners, would do to the Negroes?
Our Negroes have ten times the excuse for hating the whites than the Armenians have for their attitude toward the Turks. Firstly, the law of relocation was only limited to the areas of strategic importance for the military, and secondly, the law also left out a reasonable amount of the Armenian population from relocation. Indeed, Ottoman government of the time had defined many exemption categories for the Armenians.
According to the documents released by the Directorate of Turkish Archives, the following groups were not to be transferred:. However there were no mass transfers among them. Indeed reports of the American diplomats and missionaries put the number of exempted Armenians at between , and , Thus, one should ask here the crucial question: If the intention of the Ottoman government was to annihilate the Armenian people, in whole or in part, just because of their religious, ethnic or national identities why would they have so many Armenians exempted?
Why would they exclude the Armenian population of Istanbul from relocation? Before we answer these questions one cannot accuse the Ottoman Empire of deporting Armenians for their ethnic or religious identity. It is argued that the time given for the journey was too short, mass transfers had been started without duly preparations and the authorities were aware of the dangers ahead of the convoys. Documents in Turkish and American archives, however, refute these claims.
First of all, let us make clear that in certain cities there were Armenians who were relocated in a limited time ranging from 24 hours to 48 hours, but according to the concrete documents those transferred in two days were not peasants, but were Armenian committee members.
They were all male. They were arrested and transferred immediately for security reasons to prisons in various cities. In other places people were given at least two weeks for preparations. In many cities first convoys left in the first week of July, which is roughly 35 days after the law was published in the Official Gazette. Moreover, foreign observers of the relocation process reported that the Ottoman government issued strict instructions for the safe conduct of the relocation.
Necessary orders were given to find ways to provide food for the people to be sent away, the means of transportation to be used to transfer them to their destinations, to determine which lands they were to be settled in, the amount of funds that would be needed to provide them with food and their livelihood and providing them with seeds and fertile lands to grow wheat. Orphans were sent to the orphanages established by the government and missionaries. Some were also given under the protection of families and government paid their expenses.
Document 2: A view of Dier-el-Zor. Last but not the least; they were not deported, as was claimed, to the deserts of Mesopotamia. As Rear Admiral Colby M. Those from the mountains were taken into Mesopotamia, where the climate is as benign as Florida and California, whither New York millionaires journey every year for health and recreation.
All this was done at great expense of money and effort, and the general outside report was that all, or at least many, had been murdered…In due course of time the relocated entirely unmassacred and fat and prosperous returned if they wished so to do , and an English prisoner of war who was in one of the vacated towns after it had been repopulated told me that he found it filled with these astonishing living ghosts.
Unfortunately the war time British and American propaganda had declared entire Ottoman-Armenian population as being death and the people in the west were made to believe lamentable stories and ordeals of their fellows. What is more striking, however, is that this war time propaganda is still given credit and the loss of Armenians during the relocation is claimed to be 1.
Luckily we have western sources to refute these exaggerated figures. American consular or missionaries were present in some cities from which the Armenians started their journey and cities in which they were resettled. They reported regularly the number of people left and also arrived.
Some consular like Jesse J. Jackson, American consular at Aleppo, reported to his embassy on daily basis the number of arrivals by railway or on foot. Therefore his documents are as precious for historians as a pearl. For instance in one of his reports dated February 8, , he gives the total number of Armenians arrived in camps:.
Document From J. Juxtaposing these figures with that of Bogos Nubar Pasha makes sense. There are sources like Near East Relief which gives the number of Armenian refugees in from Turkey as high as , The document further states that the total given does not include , Armenians living in Turkey and some 95, who became Muslim. Thus, how can one talk about 1,, deaths in the early days of displacement? These figures clearly demonstrate that figures were distorted and the number of Armenian victims were exaggerated.
A method of raising the death toll is unfortunately swelling up the population figures. Many independent researchers estimate the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire before as between 1,, and 1,, Even such pro-Armenian scholars as Dr.
Johannes Lepsius do not accept the figures ascertained by the Armenian Patriarchate at 2. Lepsius calculated the Armenian population to be around 1,,, which was in fact made up by averaging Ottoman official figures with that of the Patriarchate. There is not a single source that would indicate the population of the Ottoman Armenians was as high as 2. At this stage the origin of the figure 1,, that later become 1. Strikingly enough, this illogical figure originated from the report of Leslie Davis, the US consul at Harput.
One must note here that the report was written only 54 days after the law of relocation was published by the Official Gazette. Government Responsibility: To what extent? Another important issue that should not be overlooked when assessing the events of and in the light of the UN Convention of is the question of genocidal intent.
The UN Convention strongly stipulated that there must be a specific intent to exterminate a group. There must be hatred toward a group because of their national, ethnic, religious and racial identity. There is no evidence of any prejudices against Armenians by the CUP cadres. Nor has anyone been able to demonstrate that there had been any plan to exterminate the Ottoman Armenians.
On the contrary, the CUP continued to employ Armenians in important and even strategic positions. According to a memorandum dated 24 July , there were Armenians occupying strategic posts in the Ottoman bureaucracy. This shows that Armenians that were loyal to the army who had nothing to do with the Dashnak and Hunchak organizations or who were committed to the Ottoman government were still working in the ranks of the army and the bureaucracy even in This is a clear indication of non-existence of any kind of hatred towards the Armenians as an ethnic group.
Documents recently released by the General Directorate of the Ottoman Archives reveal that the government had indeed mobilized its entire means for the security of the convoys. Each convoy was assigned gendarmes.
1915'TEN GÜNÜMÜZE TEHCİR
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