Astarjian: ‘Tamamiyle Yalandir
Without batting a lash and without being ashamed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan answered thusly to Charlie Rose, in visibly defiant facial and body language: “Tamamiyle yalandir!”
Charlie had asked him about the Armenian Genocide on his show, which was televised a week or so ago. “Tamamiyle yalandir!” The translator relayed verbatim: “It is completely a lie,” he said, “the genocide never happened.” Charlie Rose’s face became mummified instantaneously with disbelief. His eyebrows rose as if questioning, and skillfully introduced another topic to discuss in order to save the embarrassing moment.
That is what the prime minister of Turkey had to say, after his government affixed its signature on the ill-fated Armenian-Turkish protocols, agreeing to look into the matter with a fact-finding committee—a concept which all Armenians, except a corrupt Armenian clique, oppose. But that is not the issue now; the issue is the Turk’s dishonorable tradition of not respecting their signature.
Deception on the spot! The man didn’t have to think for a moment to distort the undisputed historic fact, in which his ancestors’ hands were awash with Armenian blood. Turks and Kurds committed the genocide—period! It is a fact. My father said so, my grandmother said so, Arnold Toynbee said so, Ambassador Morgenthau said so, the front pages of the New York Times said so, and State Department documents said so. They all said that there was a premeditated, preplanned, meticulously executed genocide to free Turkey of its Armenian citizenry. The Turks cannot get away with it! All the motives to this crime were there. The Genocide, which started in 1915, did not materialize overnight; it was breeding for decades. It was the product of 1) the Turk’s fanatic Islamism, xenophobia, feeling of Uber Alles, and chauvinism, and 2) the Kurd’s tribal order of looting and killing in order to survive.
The pogroms of Adana are a solid testimony to this fact: In April 1909 civilian Turks, not the Ottoman government, massacred some 30,000 Armenians for no reason other than hatred, jealousy, and religious fanaticism. Armenians were the well to do, civilized infidels. Children’s flesh was brutally macerated using cotton-picking tools, making them die a slow painful death. The Armenian civilian population was torched en masse while the English, French, Italian, Russian, Austrian, German, and the United States navy, moored at Adana’s Mersin harbor watched without interfering and rescuing the drowning. The same happened in Izmir (Smyrna) when Ataturk’s forces tightened the noose around the city from the north, the south, and the east, then set fire to the city forcing the Greek and Armenian population to jump into the Mediterranean, while the English naval officers were sipping four o’clock tea and eating crumpets and “samwiches” in deference to the tragedy taking place, right before their eyes. His Majesty’s Navy
did not raise a finger to rescue the drowning men, women, and children. To add insult to injury, the navy violinists played a musical score to that horrendous screen play, which four decades later was repeated in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
In 1956, Ataturk’s “modern, secular, and democratic” government killed and deported thousands of Greeks from Istanbul and set fire to their shops in the famous Kapali Charshi Bazaar. I met two Turkish Greeks, separately, in Athens: one a sea food restaurateur, and the other a barber. They both told me identical stories about the brutality of the individual Istanbulli, and the manner with which they were forced, at gun point, to close shop and get out of town. They had started a new life in exile, thanking God that their lives had been spared.
The crimes that the Turks perpetrated in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th against innocent people in Hijaz, Allepo, Cairo, Iraq, and North Africa could not be told in a few words. They killed and raped and robbed the wealth from individual Arabs and their countries. Reading about the Turks’ personal and public conduct in lands that did not belong to them reminds me of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves of One Thousand and One Nights.
Many Turks have not changed since their occupation of Asia Minor in the 15th century. Ataturk, who tried to Europeanize them, could do so only superficially. Turkey today is as European as Kenya. Ataturk himself was a chauvinist; he felt that he was Ubermensch and the Turk Uber Alles. His logo was “Ne mutlu Turkum diyene” (How happy is he who calls himself a Turk).
It is accurate to say that Kemalism led to a negative reaction amongst the Turkish population. Today, like yesterday, it is countered, even rejected by many Turks who have maintained their religious fanaticism. They have shrouded themselves with a thin veil of modernity functioning under Necmettin Erbakan and his protege Erdogan’s Islamic party (AK). They have already dominated the political scene much to the opposition of the military, which considers itself the protector of Kemalism. In reality these generals are holding a vigil to a dying regime that is hell bent on joining Europe, even as a cadaver.
There is a tiny group of intellectuals like Orhan Pamuk, Hrant Dink, Taner Akcam, even Hasan Cemal, who are void of prejudice and deception, but their survival in Turkey as a group, a movement, an entity, is next to impossible.
Imposing restrictive laws that punish anyone who remotely criticizes the regime as “insulting Turkishness” is proof positive of Turkey’s chauvinism. Men like this, and dozens like them, stand persecuted. Hrant Dink gave his life!
Article 13 of the Turkish Penal Code prescribes punishment to all those who praise Islamic values and lifestyle; hence the animosity between the chauvinist Islamist Turk and the chauvinist followers of Ataturk.
This is the truth, and to all this, Erdogan cannot look into my eyes, like he did to Charlie Rose, and say “Tamamiyle Yalandir.”