Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Denial is like being killed again."

This is a picture taken in Kurdistan, inside the borders of Turkey. All over the mountains in the Eastern parts of Turkey, land is stripped of it's vegetation and these huge signs are carved into the mountains with sayings like "We are ready and we are not afraid. Jandarma Kommando", or "One Country, Jandarma Kommando" etc. Around Dersim I remember thinking, that if they were really "not afraid" why do they have a tank on every hillside? I never saw these signs in the west but in all the Kurdish areas the military had to carve these messages into the mountains to reassure themselves that they are really still in Turkey. Huge sums of money go into this self reassurance and image control, and a lot of this money is spent in the US.

There's a very good article from the Southern Poverty Law Center's website about the Turkish government's INDUSTRY of denial about the Armenian genocide. The same tactics are used to deny the ongoing genocide of the Kurds as well. The Kurdish issue is sometimes referred to in the Turkish press as "The Kurdish Question" or the "Kurdish Problem". It's my experience that whenever you see an ethnic or minority group with the word "Question" or "Problem" after the the name of the group, the real "question/problem" at hand is "how do we get rid of these people." It's worth noting that the mission of The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project is: dedicated to monitoring hate groups and extremist activity in the U.S.

The article goes on to document the millions of dollars the Turkish government spends on it's propaganda and genocide denial machine, including paying off congressmen and US scholars.

Early this year, the Toronto District School Board voted to require all public high school students in Canada's largest city to complete a new course titled "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications." It includes a unit on the Armenian genocide, in which more than a million Armenians perished in a methodical and premeditated scheme of annihilation orchestrated by
Turkish president Abdullah Gul warns of severe repercussions to the relations between the United States and Turkey if the "Armenian allegations are accepted."
the rulers of Turkey during and just after World War I.

The school board members each soon received a letter from Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, rebuking them for classifying the Armenian genocide in the same category as the Holocaust. "The tragic fate of the Armenian community during World War I," Lewy wrote, is best understood as "a badly mismanaged war-time security measure," rather than a carefully plotted genocide.

Lewy is one of the most active members of a network of American scholars, influence peddlers and website operators, financed by hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the government of Turkey, who promote the denial of the Armenian genocide — a network so influential that it was able last fall to defy both historical truth and enormous political pressure to convince America's lawmakers and even its president to reverse long-held policy positions.

The article goes on to describe the funding of the "Institute for Turkish Studies" in the US by the Turkish government.

In 1982, the government of Turkey donated $3 million to create the Institute for Turkish Studies, a nonprofit organization housed at Georgetown University that pushes a pro-Turkey agenda, including denial of the Armenian genocide. Three years later, in 1985, Turkey bought full-page advertisements in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Washington Times to publish a letter questioning the Armenian genocide that was signed by 69 American scholars. All 69 had received funding that year from the Institute for Turkish Studies or another of Turkey's surrogates like the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, a quasi-governmental agency in Turkey's capital city.

The Institute for Turkish Studies has since received sizable donations from American defense contractors that sell arms to Turkey, including General Dynamics and Westinghouse. Turkey continues to provide an annual subsidy to support the institute. In 2006, the most recent year for which tax records are available, the institute awarded $85,000 in grants to scholars. Its chairman is the current Turkish ambassador to the U.S., Nabi Sensoy.

The most important and moving point in this article lies in this statement:

"Denial is the final stage of genocide," says Gregory Stanton, president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. "It is a continuing attempt to destroy the victim group psychologically and culturally, to deny its members even the memory of the murders of their relatives. That is what the Turkish government today is doing to Armenians around the world."

Last year, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity issued a letter condemning Armenian genocide denial that was signed by 53 Nobel laureates including Wiesel, the famous Holocaust survivor and political activist. Wiesel has repeatedly called Turkey's 90-year-old campaign to cover up the Armenian genocide a double killing, since it strives to kill the memory of the original atrocities.

He was hardly the first. As long ago as 1943, law professor Raphael Lemkin, who would later serve as an advisor to Nuremburg chief counsel Robert Jackson, coined the term "genocide" with the Armenians in mind.

The denial of memory, the erasing of narrative-- this is what my first "Turkish Teacher" meant when he talked about "cleaning". This article is worth reading in detail, as well as a separate section detailing all the "denial" web pages which often include the names, photos and home addresses of American scholars who speak openly about the Armenian genocide.

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