Ankara, Turkey – The Armenian Allegation of Genocide: The issue and the facts.
THE ISSUE: Whether within the events leading to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire genocide was perpetrated against Armenian Ottoman citizens in Eastern Anatolia.
The Ottoman Empire ruled over all of Anatolia and significant parts of Europe, North Africa, the Caucasus and Middle East for over seven hundred years. Lands once Ottoman dominions today comprise more than 30 independent nations.
A century of ever-increasing conflict, beginning roughly in 1820 and culminating with the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, characterized the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire participated in no fewer than a dozen named wars, nearly all to the detriment of the empire and its citizens. The empire contracted against an onslaught of external invaders and internal nationalist independence movements. In this context — an imperiled empire waging and losing battles on remote and disparate fronts, grasping to continue a reign of over seven years — must the tragic experience of the Ottoman Armenians of Eastern Anatolia be understood. For during these waning days of the Ottoman Empire did millions die, Muslim, Jew, and Christian alike.
Yet Armenian have attempted to extricate and isolate their history from the complex circumstances in which their ancestors were embroiled. In so doing, they describe a world populated only by white-hatted heroes and black-hatted villains. The heroes are always Christian and the villains are always Muslim. Infusing history with myth, Armenian Americans vilify the Republic of Turkey, Turkish Americans, and ethnic Turks worldwide. Armenian bent on this prosecution choose their evidence carefully, omitting all evidence that tends to exonerate those whom they presume guilty, ignoring important events and verifiable accounts, and sometimes relying on dubious or prejudiced sources and even falsified documents. Though this portrayal is necessarily one-sided and steeped in bias, the Armenian community presents it as a complete history and unassailable fact.
RELEVANCE: The truth demands that every side of a story be told. Fundamental freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution protect those who choose to challenge the Armenian view.
To oppose Armenian orthodoxy on this issue has become risky. Any attempt to challenge the credibility of witnesses, or the authenticity of documents, or to present evidence that some of the claimed victims were responsible for their own fate is either wholly squelched or met with accusations of genocide denial. Moreover, any attempt to demonstrate the suffering and needless death of millions of innocent non-Christians enmeshed in the same events as the Anatolian Armenians is greeted with sneers, as if to say that some lives are inherently more valuable than others and that one faith is more deserving than another. The lack of real debate, enforced with a heavy hand by Armenian, ensures that any consideration of what genuinely occurred nearly a century ago in Eastern Anatolia will utterly fail as a search for the truth.
Ultimately, whether to blindly accept the Armenian portrayal is an issue of fundamental fairness and the most cherished of American rights — free speech. Simply put, in America every person has the opportunity to tell his or her story. Armenian possess the right to promote and celebrate their heritage and even to discuss ancient grievances. However, Armenian seek to deny these very rights to others. This is proven by the punitive nature and sheer volume of legislation proposed in the state and federal legislatures, the one-sided curricula proposed to state boards of education, and by the vast sums of money and energy devoted to this cause. Together, these efforts only increase acrimony and antagonism.
The complete story of the vast suffering of this period has not yet been written. When that story is told, the following facts must not be forgotten.
FACT 1: Demographic studies prove that prior to World War I, fewer than 1.5 million Armenians lived in the entire Ottoman Empire. Thus, allegations that more than 1.5 million Armenians from eastern Anatolia died must be false.
Figures reporting the total pre-World War I Armenian population vary widely, with Armenian sources claiming far more than others. British, French and Ottoman sources give figures of 1.05-1.50 million. Only certain Armenian sources claim a pre-war population larger than 1.5 million. Comparing these to post-war figures yields a rough estimate of losses. Historian and demographer, Dr. Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville, calculates the actual losses as slightly less than 600,000. This figure agrees with those provided by British historian Arnold Toynbee, by most early editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and approximates the number given by Monseigneur Touchet, a French missionary, who informed the Oeuvre d’Orient in February 1916 that the number of dead is thought to be 500,000. Boghos Nubar, head of the Armenian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1920, noted the large numbers who survived the war. He declared that after the war 280,000 Armenians remained in the Anatolian portion of the occupied Ottoman Empire while 700,000 Armenians had emigrated to other countries.
Clearly then, a great portion of the Ottoman Armenians were not killed as claimed and the 1.5 million figure should be viewed as grossly erroneous. Each needless death is a tragedy. Equally tragic are lies meant to inflame hatred.
FACT 2: Armenian losses were few in comparison to the over 2.5 million Muslim dead from the same period.
Reliable statistics demonstrate that slightly less than 600,000 Anatolian Armenians died during the war period of 1912-22. Armenians indeed suffered a terrible mortality. But one must likewise consider the number of dead Muslims and Jews. The statistics tell us that more than 2.5 million Anatolian Muslims also perished. Thus, the years 1912-1922 constitute a horrible period for humanity, not just for Armenians.
The numbers do not tell us the exact manner of death of the citizens of Anatolia, regardless of ethnicity, who were caught up in both an international war and an intercommunal struggle. Documents of the time list intercommunal violence, forced migration of all ethnic groups, disease, and, starvation as causes of death. Others died as a result of the same war-induced causes that ravaged all peoples during the period.
FACT 3: Certain oft-cited Armenian evidence is of diminished value, having been derived from dubious and prejudicial sources.
Armenian purport that the wartime propaganda of the enemies of the Ottoman Empire constitutes objective evidence. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who is frequently quoted by Armenian, visited the Ottoman Empire with political, not humanitarian aims. His correspondence with President Wilson reveals his intent was to uncover or manufacture news that would goad the U.S. into joining the war. Given that motive, Morgenthau sought to malign the Ottoman Empire, an enemy of the Triple Entente. Morgenthau’s research and reporting relied in large part on politically motivated
Armenians; his primary aid, translator and confidant was Arshag Schmavonian, his secretary was Hagop Andonian. Morgenthau openly professed that the Turks were an inferior race and possessed “inferior blood.” Thus, his accounts can hardly be considered objective.
One ought to compare the wartime writings of Morgenthau and the oft-cited Gen. J.G. Harbord to the post-war writings of Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey 1920 – 1926. In a March 28, 1921 letter he writes,
“[R]eports are being freely circulated in the United States that the Turks massacred thousands of Armenians in the Caucasus. Such reports are repeated so many times it makes my blood boil. The Near East Relief have the reports from Yarrow and our own American people which show absolutely that such Armenian reports are absolutely false. The circulation of such false reports in the United States, without refutation, is an outrage and is certainly doing the Armenians more harm than good. … Why not tell the truth about the Armenians in every way?”
FACT 4: The Armenian deaths do not constitute genocide.
The totality of evidence thus far uncovered by historians tells a grim story of serious inter-communal conflict, perpetrated by both Christian and Muslim irregular forces, complicated by disease, famine, and many other of war’s privations. The evidence does not, however, describe genocide.
A. The Armenians took arms against their own government. Their violent political aims, not their race, ethnicity or religion, rendered them subject to relocation.
Armenian ignore the dire circumstances that precipitated the enactment of a measure as drastic as mass relocation. Armenians cooperated with Russian invaders of Eastern Anatolia in wars in 1828, 1854, and 1877. Between 1893 and 1915 Ottoman Armenians in eastern Anatolia rebelled against their government — the Ottoman government — and joined Armenian revolutionary groups, such as the notorious Dashnaks and Hunchaks. They armed themselves and spearheaded a massive Russian invasion of eastern Anatolia. On November 5, 1914, the President of the Armenian National Bureau in Tblisi declared to Czar Nicholas II, “From all countries Armenians are hurrying to enter the ranks for the glorious Russian Army, with their blood to serve the victory of Russian arms. … Let the Russian flag wave freely over the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus.” Armenian treason is also plainly documented in the November 1914 issue of the Hunchak Armenian [Revolutionary] Gazette, published in Paris. In a call to arms it exhorted,
“The entire Armenian Nation will join forces — moral and material, and waving the sword of Revolution, will enter this World conflict … as comrades in arms of the Triple Entente, and particularly Russia. They will cooperate with the Allies, making full use of all political and revolutionary means for the final victory….”
Boghos Nubar addressed a letter to the Times of London on January 30, 1919 confirming that the Armenians were indeed belligerents in World War I. He stated with pride,
“In the Caucasus, without mentioning the 150,000 Armenians in the Russian armies, about 50,000 Armenian volunteers under Andranik, Nazarbekoff, and others not only fought for four years for the cause of the Entente, but after the breakdown of Russia they were the only forces in the Caucasus to resist the advance of the Turks….”
One of those who answered the Armenian call to arms was Gourgen Yanikian who, as a teenager, joined the Russians to fight the Ottoman government, and who as an elderly man, on January 27, 1973, assassinated two Turkish diplomats in Santa Barbara, California.
B. Logic and evidence controvert the allegation of genocide.
1. No logic can reconcile the two positions that Armenian promote. Eminent historian Bernard Lewis, speaking to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz on January 23, 1998, expanded on this notion,
“The Armenians want to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they speak with pride of their struggle against Ottoman despotism, while on the other hand, they compare their tragedy to the Jewish Holocaust. I do not accept this. I do not say that the Armenians did not suffer terribly. But I find enough cause for me to contain their attempts to use the Armenian massacres to diminish the worth of the Jewish Holocaust and to relate to it instead as an ethnic dispute.” (translation)
2. None of the Ottoman orders commanding the relocation of Armenians, which have been reviewed by historians to date, orders killings. To the contrary, they order Ottoman officials to protect relocated Armenians.
3. Where Ottoman control was weakest Armenian relocatees suffered most. The stories of the time give many examples of columns of hundreds of Armenians guarded by as few as two Ottoman gendarmes. When local Muslims attacked the columns, Armenians were robbed and killed. It must be remembered that these Muslims had themselves suffered greatly at the hands of Armenians and Russians. In the words of U.S. Ambassador Mark Bristol, “While the Dashnaks [Armenian revolutionaries] were in power they did everything in the world to keep the pot boiling by attacking Kurds, Turks and Tartars; [and] by committing outrages against the Moslems ….”
Where Ottoman control was strong, Armenians went unharmed. In Istanbul and other major western Anatolian cities, large populations of Armenians remained throughout the war. In these areas Ottoman power was greatest and genocide would have been easiest to carry out. By contrast, during World War II, the Jews of Berlin were killed, their synagogues defiled. The Armenians of Istanbul lived through World War I, their churches open.
C. The Armenian Allegation of Genocide Fails the Minimum Standards of Proof Required by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The term “genocide” did not exist prior to 1944. The term was subsequently defined quite specifically by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide. This high crime is now recognized by most nations, including the Republic of Turkey.
The standard of proof in establishing the crime of genocide is formidable given the severity of the crime, the opportunity for overlap with other crimes, and the stigma of being charged with or found guilty of the crime. While presenting the Convention for ratification, the Secretary General of the U.N. emphasized that genocide is a crime of “specific intent,” requiring conclusive proof that members of a group were targeted simply because they were members of that group. The Secretary General further cautioned that those merely sharing political aims are not protected by the convention.
Under this standard of proof, the Armenian claim of genocide fails. First, no direct evidence has been discovered demonstrating that any Ottoman official sought the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians as such. Second, Ottoman Armenian Dashnak and Hunchak guerrillas and their civilian accomplices admittedly organized political revolutionary groups and waged war against their own government. Under these circumstances, it was the Ottoman Armenians’ violent political alliance with the Russian forces, not their ethnic or religious identity, which rendered them subject to the relocation.
A recent comment on the U.N. position was rendered by, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq on October 5, 2000 when he confirmed that the U.N. has not approved or endorsed a report labeling the Armenian experience as genocide.
FACT 5: The British convened the Malta Tribunals to try Ottoman officials for crimes against Armenians. All of the accused were acquitted.
The Peace Treaty of Sevres, which was imposed upon the defeated Ottoman Empire, required the Ottoman government to hand over to the Allied Powers people accused of “massacres.” Subsequently, 144 high Ottoman officials were arrested and deported for trial by the British to the island of Malta. The principal informants to the British High Commission in Istanbul leading to the arrests were local Armenians and the Armenian Patriarchate. While the deportees were interned on Malta, the British appointed an Armenian scholar, Mr. Haig Khazarian, to conduct a thorough examination of documentary evidence in the Ottoman, British, and U.S. Archives to substantiate the charges. Access to Ottoman records was unfettered as the British and French occupied and controlled Istanbul at the time. Khazarian’s corps of investigators revealed an utter lack of evidence demonstrating that Ottoman officials either sanctioned or encouraged killings of Armenians.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the British Procurator General determined that it was “improbable that the charges would be capable of proof in a court of law,” exonerated and released all 144 detainees — after two years and four months of detention without trial. No compensation was ever paid to the detainees.
FACT 6: Despite the verdicts of the Malta Tribunals, Armenian terrorists have engaged in a vigilante war that continues today.
In 1921, a secret Armenian network based in Boston, named Nemesis, took the law into its own hands and hunted down and assassinated former Ottoman Ministers Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha as well as other Ottoman officials. Following in Nemesis’ footsteps, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Armenian terrorist groups, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide (JCAG), committed over 230 armed attacks, killing 71 innocent people, including 31 Turkish diplomats, and seriously wounding over 520 people in a campaign of blood revenge.
Most recently, Mourad Topalian, former Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, was tried and convicted in federal court in Ohio of terrorist crimes associated with bombings in New York and Los Angles and with the attempted assassination of the Turkish Honorary Consul General in Philadelphia. The Armenian youths whom Topalian directed and who conducted these attacks were recruited from the Armenian Youth Federation and Armenian Revolution Federation in Boston.
FACT 7: The archives of many nations ought to be carefully and thoughtfully examined before concluding whether genocide occurred.
Armenian make frequent reference to the archives of many nations while carefully avoiding calls for the examination of those archives. They know that no evidence of genocide has been found to date, as was the case in the Malta Tribunals. They also know that the national archives of several nations, including the U.S., speak primarily of the deaths of Armenians because the recorders were only interested in the Armenians, while intentionally omitting reports of Muslim deaths. Take, for example, the 1915 Armenian revolt in Van where at least 60,000 Muslims perished. Though the evidence for this is overwhelming, the official archives of several countries mention only Christian deaths.
Still, Armenian carefully avoid calls for the collection and examination of all records regarding the events in question. Such would include Ottoman records describing the activities of Armenian rebels and the Russian invaders whom they supported, as well as the archives of Germany, Russia, France, Britain, Iran, Syria and the United States. Most importantly, the unedited records of the Armenian Republic in Yerevan, Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Boston, and ASALA in Yerevan, ought to be examined but remain closed. Only those who fear the truth would limit the scope of an investigation.
FACT 8: The Holocaust bears no meaningful relation to the Ottoman Armenian experience.
1. Jews did not demand the dismemberment of the nations in which they had lived. By contrast, the Ottoman Armenians openly agitated for a separate state in lands in which they were numerically inferior. The Hunchak and Dashnak revolutionary organizations, which survive to this day, were formed expressly to agitate against the Ottoman government.
2. Jews did not kill their fellow citizens in the nations in which they had lived. By contrast, the Ottoman Armenians committed massacres against local Muslims.
3. Jews did not openly join the ranks of their countries’ enemies during World War II. By contrast, during World War I, Ottoman Armenians openly and with pride committed mass treason, took up arms, traveled to Russia for training, and sported Russian uniforms. Others, non-uniformed irregulars, operated against the Ottoman government from behind the lines.
4. Solemn tribunal at Nuremberg proved the guilt of the perpetrators of the Holocaust and sentences were carried out in accordance with agreed-upon procedures. By contrast, the Malta Tribunals, which were convened by the World War I victors, exonerated those alleged to have been responsible for the maladministration of the relocation policies.
5. Open Armenian-Nazi collaboration is evident in the activities of the 812th Armenian Battalion of the [Nazi] Wehrmacht, commanded by Drastamat Kanayan (a.k.a. “Dro”), and its successor, the Armenian Legion. Anti-Jewish, pro-Nazi propaganda was published widely in the Armenian-language Hairenik daily and the weekly journal, Armenian.
6. Hitler did not refer to the Armenians in plotting the Final Solution; the infamous quote is fraudulent. All sources attribute the alleged quote, “Who remembers the Armenians?” to a November 24, 1945 Times of London article, “Nazi Germany’s Road to War.” The article’s unnamed author says Hitler uttered the phrase in an address on August 22, 1939 at Obersalzburg. The Times of London author claims the speech was introduced as evidence during the November 23, 1945 session of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Yet the Nuremberg transcripts do not contain the alleged quote.
In fact, the quote first appeared in a 1942 book by Louis Lochner, the AP’s Berlin bureau chief during World War II. Lochner, like the Times of London author, never disclosed his source. The Nuremberg Tribunal examined and then rejected Lochner’s third-hand version of Hitler’s address and rejected it. Instead, it entered into evidence two official versions of the August 22, 1939 address found in captured German military records. Neither document contains any reference to Armenians, nor in fact do they refer to the Jews. Hitler’s address was an anti-Polish invective, delivered years before he conceived the Final Solution.
7. The depth, breadth, and volume of scholarship on the Holocaust are tremendous. The physical and documentary evidence is vast and proves indisputably the aims, methods, and results of the racist Nazi policies. By contrast, scholarship on the late Ottoman Empire is comparatively scarce. Much research has yet to be completed and many conclusions have yet to be drawn. Non-biased research from that period has thus far revealed tragedies afflicting all sides in a conflict with numerous belligerents. Nothing has yet been uncovered which establishes genocide. In light of the ongoing research and the other distinctions raised above, it would be improper, if not malicious, to equate a desire to challenge Armenian assertions with Holocaust denial.
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Associations (Assembly of Turkish American Associations, Washington, DC 1997);
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the Empire by Justin McCarthy (New York University Press, New York, 1983).
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Orel and Süreyya Yuca (K. Rustem & Bro., London 1986);
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