The April 13 editorial on the canceled Genocide exhibit at the United Nations rightfully criticizes the United Nations for succumbing to Turkish pressure. We would like to point out however, that in addition to the Armenians, there was likewise a conspiracy of Genocide directed toward the Greek and Assyrian populations by the authorities of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. As early as 1914, Greeks living on the coasts of Asia Minor were summarily deported into the interior, and eventually Greeks along with Assyrians fell victim to forced death marches, massacres, and starvation.
The horrific atrocities of the Ottoman Empire were acknowledged as can be seen by the initial efforts to free the Christian populations from Turkish rule. Plans were conceived for the establishment of an independent Armenian Republic, while Greece was officially invited by the Great Powers to take possession of Smyrna and Eastern Thrace. In addition, Constantinople was occupied by the Great Powers, thus putting an end to Turkish rule. The later tragedies which led to the burning of the free Greek City of Smyrna and the massacre of its Greek and Armenian populations by Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal, and the subsequent slaughter of Greeks and Armenians throughout Anatolia bear witness to the illegal status of the Turkish Kemalists, and the program for Genocide intended to eliminate once and for all the native Christian populations whose democratic demands emanating from the simple desire to merely exist conflicted with Turkish demands to maintain territory inhabited by non-Muslim populations.
The subsequent abomination referred to as "Exchange of populations" by the representatives of the Great Powers led to the forcible uprooting and destruction of 1,000,000 Greeks from lands that their ancestors had resided in for 3,000 years. Indeed, Genocide is the proper label for the policies that were adopted toward Greeks and Assyrians, as well as Armenians. The cowardly capitulation to the Turkish Kemalists by the Great Powers stands as an example of appeasement and cruelty by the West that condemned entire peoples to unspeakable terror and suffering. The legacy of this appalling example of indifference to the suffering of innocents remain with America and Europe to the present day.
Turkish ultranationalists maintain a firm hold on Turkey, and neighboring states unable to defend themselves such as Syria and Cyprus have fallen prey to the expansionist legacy that Mustafa Kemal left behind in Turkey, and that now appears to threaten the democratic ambitions of the Kurds in Nothern Iraq who are being targeted by the Turkish paramilitary State.
Theodore G. Karakostas Hellenic Electronic Center
In Response To:
Abetting Turkish Denial At The United Nations
International Herald Tribune, France
April 13 2007
More than 90 years ago, when Turkey was still part of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish nationalists launched an extermination campaign there that killed 1.5 million Armenians.
It was the 20th century's first genocide. The world noticed, but did nothing, setting an example that surely emboldened such later practitioners as Hitler, the Hutu leaders of Rwanda in 1994 and today's Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Turkey has long tried to deny the Armenian genocide. Even in the modern-day Turkish republic, which was not a party to the killings, using the word genocide in reference to these events is prosecuted as a serious crime.
Which makes it all the more disgraceful that United Nations officials are bowing to Turkey's demands and blocking this week's scheduled opening of an exhibit at UN headquarters commemorating the 13th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide - because it mentions the mass murder of the Armenians.
Ankara was offended by a sentence that explained how genocide came to be recognized as a crime under international law: "Following World War I, during which one million Armenians were murdered in Turkey, Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin urged the League of Nations to recognize crimes of barbarity as international crimes." The exhibit's organizer, a British-based anti-genocide group, was willing to omit the words "in Turkey." But that was not enough for the UN's craven new leadership, and the exhibit has been indefinitely postponed.
It's odd that Turkey's leaders have not figured out by now that every time they try to censor discussion of the Armenian genocide, they only bring wider attention to the subject and link today's democratic Turkey with the now distant crime. As for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his inexperienced new leadership team, they have once again shown how much they have to learn if they are to honorably and effectively serve the United Nations, which is supposed to be the embodiment of international law and a leading voice against genocide.
Mr. Karakostas is a member of the Hellenic Electronic Center.