Note: This is not a real interview.
Participating in this unlikely interview below are two officials of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Ismet Ucma is a founding member of the AKP and a member of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. Our second guest is Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister who, prior to his appointment in 2009, was chief foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Michael G. Mensoian (MGM) to Ismet Ucma (IU): Several months ago, just prior to April 24, 2012, you referred to what unbiased credentialed genocide scholars and historian have conclusively determined was a genocide of the Armenian people as “geno-deportation.” This is a word that does not appear in the dictionary. You define geno-deportation as the violent deportation of a nation. Could you explain why any deportation must be violent? And if violence is necessary, how does it differ from genocide?
IU: If the government had intended to commit genocide it would have employed the annihilation methods used by the Spanish and Portuguese against the indigenous populations they encountered as they built their colonial empires, or the methods used by the Germans against the Jewish people during World War II.
MGM: Based on your admission as to the meaning of geno-deportation, the government’s plan was to carry out a violent deportation of all Armenians in Anatolia. Violent implies the use of extreme force, which, invariably, results in death. Toward the end of 1914 some 40,000 loyal Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman-Turkish Army were disarmed and, according to a United Nations Human Rights Council report, were placed in slave labor battalions building roads and used as pack animals. These Armenian soldiers were worked mercilessly without adequate food and provision against the natural elements, and when their strength had been exhausted were murdered for sport. Is this an example of your violent deportation? How does this differ from genocide?
IU: No comment.
MGM: Prior to the deportation, the annihilation of the Armenians was already taking place. It is a fact that orders were issued by the Ottoman-Turkish government to round-up, incarcerate, and summarily execute several hundred of the Armenian intelligentsia as a prelude to what you describe as a deportation. After their execution, many of these victims—priests, physicians, educators, writers, and others—were often put on public display in their respective towns and villages. How can this premeditated murder of the Armenian intelligentsia as well as the execution of the Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman-Turkish Army be considered necessary to deportation? Isn’t your “geno-deportation” a euphemistic term for genocide?
IU: No comment.
MGM: In some of the villages women with their children, fearful of what was happening, sought refuge in their churches. The government forces made up of soldiers and hardened criminals charged with rounding-up these defenseless Armenian women and children from their homes would then lock the church doors and burned those inside alive. In other instances, simply to save time, Armenian men were taken from their homes and executed on the outskirts of their villages by bullet or bayonet or whatever killing weapon participating Turkish or Kurdish men eager for plunder might have had. Others, including women and children, were taken by boat miles from shore and thrown overboard to drown in the Black Sea. This violence, which is properly described as atrocities associated with genocide, were witnessed and reported by sympathetic Turkish and Kurdish villagers, as well as unbiased foreign civilian and government witnesses. Do you dispute that the purpose of such brutality and savagery was not deportation, but the annihilation of the Armenian people?
IU: No comment.
MGM: Why were women and children already separated from their men folk forced to walk with little preparation to centers selected by the government with little but the clothing on their backs? From these predetermined strategically located centers, an ever-growing stream of women and children from the local villages within that region were then forced to walk without food or water for weeks following difficult trails usually away from the witnessing eyes of villagers. Their ultimate destination was Der Zor. These helpless women and children suffered every indignity imaginable. Women saw their children die and children witnessed their mothers’ humiliation or death. Many young women and children were simply taken by villagers to serve lives of servitude. In some areas the trail became lined with the decaying bodies of the dead. For those women and children who were able to survive the horrors of this death march, their deportation destination was a desolate desert region in northeastern Syria devoid of food, water, shelter, and medical help. Every piece of evidence studied by unbiased credentialed genocide scholars and historians conclusively proves that this was a genocide. Do you have any mitigating evidence that would even remotely support your deportation theory?
IU: No comment.
MGM: We thank Mr. Ucma for being with us today to share his thoughts on his recently created word “geno-deportation.” We now have an opportunity to ask Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu to explain his recent definition of the “Turkish Diaspora.”
MGM to Ahmet Davutoglo (AD): You have suggested that a Turkish Diaspora exists that includes all former subjects of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and, I assume, must also include those who would have been considered citizens of present-day Turkey. You gratuitously include Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Kurds and Armenians as well as ethnic Turks. I can’t think of one Armenian who would want to be considered part of a Turkish Diaspora. Those in our present-day diaspora are primarily the progeny of those Armenians who miraculously survived the genocide carried out by the Ottoman-Turkish government and continued by the Republic of Turkey. The few remaining original survivors of the genocide that resulted in the murder of some 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women, and children could never consider themselves as part of your Turkish Diaspora. Other than ethnic Turks, have any of the ethnic groups you included in your definition of a Turkish Diaspora expressed a desire to be included?
AD: My government believes that including all our citizens, past and present, in the Turkish Diaspora is proof of our inclusive and democratic society. We all have a common history and have suffered equally the pain of what happened in the past, especially as it applies to the Armenian people.
MGM: Can you be more specific? What pain have your people allegedly suffered that has any relationship to the genocide that nearly succeeded in destroying the Armenian nation?
AD: No comment.
MGM: Can you explain why your government, in fact every government from Kemal Ataturk to the present, believes it has a legal right to the wealth that was confiscated as a result of the genocide that took place? It is blood-stained wealth stolen from the 1.5 million innocent Armenian men, women, and children who were victims of the genocide, as well as the tens of thousands of Armenians who were able to escape the horrors of that genocide. This extensive Armenian wealth served as the economic foundation of present-day Turkey. It included homes, lands for crops, vineyards, and pastures, farm animals and implements, businesses and their inventories, religious properties that included hundreds of churches, cemeteries, and monasteries, educational structures from elementary schools to colleges, and personal wealth. A conservative estimate would place the present-day value of this confiscated real and personal property in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The passage of time has not weakened Armenian’s legal and moral claim to this stolen wealth.
AD: No comment.
MGM: A final question. The genocide not only had an economic objective, which was to seize the wealth of the Armenian people, but a political objective as well: Politically it was to allow Turkey to strengthen its tenuous control over historic Armenian lands by permanently eliminating its Armenian population. Of the 2 million Armenians uprooted by edict of the Ottoman Turkish government, 1.5 million were murdered in the genocide. Not content with the near-destruction of the Armenian nation, every government from Kemal Ataturk to Prime Minister Erdogan has implemented an official policy to destroy all evidence that much of the land that Turkey occupies is historic Armenian land whose people were annihilated in the genocide. Just recently in another example of this “policy of eradication” an Armenian cemetery was profaned and completely destroyed to make way for a road. Routinely Armenian churches, schools, cemeteries, and monasteries have been destroyed as part of this policy. Through its policy of genocide and eradication of physical evidence, Ottoman Turkey and the Republic of Turkey have sought to weaken Armenia’s claim to its historic lands. Questions still remain with respect to the legality of treaties signed by Armenia under duress as well as land awarded to Armenia through binding arbitration by United States President Woodrow Wilson. The Armenian claim to these hallowed lands is eternal. Do you have any final comments?
AG: No comment.
MGM: We thank Mr. Davutoglu for being with us today.
As we approach the climactic year 2015, Turkey will continue to provide diversionary interpretations as to what they want the world and especially the Armenian Diaspora to believe happened. As long as these diversionary tactics are able to “muddy the waters,” Ankara will have succeeded. We delude ourselves into believing that a majority of Armenians are knowledgeable about the genocide—its methodology and the economic and political objectives it sought to achieve. Unfortunately, our problem continues to be the lack of resources, both human and financial, and the ability to have our message properly and imaginatively conveyed to our own people and the world community (see “2015: A Rededication or a Last Hurrah,” The Armenian Weekly, April 28, 2012).