Harut Sassounian's column of 15 November 2007
Publisher, The California Courier
The Assembly of Turkish American Associations recently featured on its website a reference to ?the first nationwide public survey? conducted in Turkey on the Armenian Genocide and the congressional resolution on this issue. The poll was carried out earlier this year by ?Terror Free Tomorrow? in collaboration with Istanbul-based ?ARI Movement? and U.S.-based ?ARI Foundation.?
The survey showed that 78% of Turks oppose the congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide, while 7.4% support it. Turkey?s leaders may be happy that the majority of Turkey?s citizens oppose the resolution, but they conveniently overlook the fact that the 7.4% who support it represent more than 5 million Turks who believe that the U.S. Congress should recognize the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, another 8.5% or close to 6 million Turks have a neutral position on this issue.
When asked their reason for opposing the genocide resolution, only 36% said that it was because they did not believe that a genocide occurred. This means that almost two-thirds of Turkey?s population opposes the bill for completely different reasons: 42% said they mistrusted the impartiality of the U.S. Congress, while 18% preferred that historians make that judgment.
The most amazing finding of the survey was that fully 50% or 2.5 million of Turks supporting passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution justified it by saying that ?Turkey should recognize the past wrong of its genocide against Armenians;? 13.7% said that ?Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide will help reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia,? and 26.1% said that ?The U.S. Congressional resolution is not binding law and will not affect official American policy toward Turkey.?
When asked if the approval of the resolution would improve or worsen the respondents? opinion of the United States, 73% of the Turks said such an act would worsen their opinion of the U.S. This is not surprising at all, since a recent Pew Research Center poll showed that 91% of the Turks already disliked the United States. What is shocking, however, is that 4.5% of those surveyed, which translates into more than 3 million Turks, said that the approval of the genocide resolution by the U.S. Congress would improve their opinion of the United States! Another 22% or 15 million Turks said that congressional approval would not affect their opinion of the U.S., did not know or did not answer.
When asked if Turkey should refuse to assist the U.S. war effort in Iraq if the Armenian resolution were to be adopted by the U.S. Congress, 83% of the respondents said they would oppose any cooperation with the U.S., while 8.5% or close to 6 million Turks said they would still support the U.S. in Iraq.
In response to another question, 78% said that they would favor taking action against the U.S. for adopting the genocide resolution (boycotting American products, demonstrating against the U.S., voting for candidates opposed to the war in Iraq). However, 11% or 7.5 million Turks said they would take no action against the U.S. for adopting the genocide resolution. Another 11% had no answer or opinion.
Another shocking answer was given by the Turkish respondents when asked why the U.S. Congress may approve the Armenian Genocide resolution: 42% said because of anti-Muslim feelings in the United States, 31% said due to domestic U.S. politics, and 12% or the equivalent of 8.5 million Turks said because ?the Armenian Genocide is a proven historical fact!?
The results of the survey are not surprising. The overwhelming majority of the Turkish public, after being fed by their leaders a steady diet of lies on the Armenian Genocide for more than 90 years, naturally is bound to disbelieve that such barbaric acts were committed by their ancestors. However, the real news revealed by this survey is that, despite all the years of brainwashing, millions of Turks not only refuse to believe their government?s denialist propaganda, but have the courage, at a great risk to their own safety, in ?face-to-face? interviews, to acknowledge publicly that the Armenian Genocide is a fact and that the U.S. Congress must approve the Armenian Genocide resolution.
The long years of Armenian efforts for the international acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide seem to be bearing fruit not only around the globe but also within Turkey itself, despite that country?s draconian laws which ban any reference to that crime. The news reports of these efforts, fueled by the Turkish government?s extensive denialist measures, have created a massive amount of information on the Armenian Genocide which is reaching large segments of the Turkish public for the first time. The above Turkish survey shows that outside pressure is gradually making Turks face the dark and ugly chapters of their past.
Photo: Harut Sassounian