By Robert Fisk
All the while, new diplomatic archives are opening to reveal the smell of death – Armenian death
A letter from the Turkish Ambassador to the Court of Saint James arrived for me a few days ago, one of those missives that send a shudder through the human soul. “You allege that an 'Armenian genocide' took place in
Oh indeedy doody, I have. I am under the totally mistaken conception that one and a half million Armenians were cruelly and deliberately done to death by their Turkish Ottoman masters in 1915, that the men were shot and knifed while their womenfolk were raped and eviscerated and cremated and starved on death marches and their children butchered. I have met a few of the survivors – liars to a man and woman, if the Turkish ambassador to Britain is to be believed – and I have seen the photographs taken of the victims by a brave German photographer called Armen Wegner whose pictures must now, I suppose, be consigned to the waste bins. So must the archives of all those diplomats who courageously catalogued the mass murders inflicted upon
But Mr. Alptuna need have no such worries. His country is not a member of the European Union – it merely wishes to be – and it was Mr. Blair's craven administration that for many months tried to prevent Armenian participation in
Amid this chicanery, there are a few shining bright lights and I should say at once that Mr. Alptuna's letter is a grotesque representation of the views of a growing number of Turkish citizens, a few of whom I have the honour to know, who are convinced that the story of the great evil visited upon the Armenians must be told in their country. So why, oh why, I ask myself, are Mr. Alptuna and his colleagues in
In Lebanon, for example, the Turkish embassy has sent a “communiqu?” to the local French-language ?L'Orient Le Jour? newspaper, referring to the “soi-disant (so-called) Armenian genocide” and asking why the modern state of Armenia will not respond to the Turkish call for a joint historical study to “examine the events” of 1915.
In fact, the Armenian president, Robert Kotcharian, will not respond to such an invitation for the same reason that the world's Jewish community would not respond to the call for a similar examination of the Jewish Holocaust from the Iranian president – because an unprecedented international crime was committed, the mere questioning of which would be an insult to the millions of victims who perished.
But the Turkish appeals are artfully concocted. In
But now for the bright lights. A group of “righteous Turks” are challenging their government's dishonest account of the 1915 genocide: Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran, Halil Berktay, Hrant Dink, Ragip Zarakolu and others claim that the “democratic process” in
I have some sympathy with this argument. Why make the job of honest Turks more difficult when these good men and women are taking on the might of Turkish nationalism? The problem is that other, more disreputable folk are demanding the same deletion. Mr. Alputuna writes to me – with awesome disingenuousness – that Armenians “have failed to submit any irrefutable evidence to support their allegations of genocide”. And he goes on to say that “genocide, as you are well aware, has a quite specific legal definition” in the UN's 1948 Convention. But Mr. Alputuna is himself well aware – though he does not say so, of course – that the definition of genocide was set out by Raphael Lemkin, a Jew, in specific reference to the wholesale mass slaughter of the Armenians.
And all the while, new diplomatic archives are opening in the West which reveal the smell of death – Armenian death – in their pages. I quote here, for example, from the newly discovered account of
There is much, much more. Yet now here is Mr. Alptuna in his letter to me: “In fact, the Armenians living outside Eastern Armenia including
Al the while, new diplomatic archives are opening to reveal the smell of death – Armenian death.
Source: ?The Independent?, 20 May 2006