Genocide of Armenians. Is there limit to discussions?

Genocide of Armenians. Is there limit to discussions?


Andrei Yepifantsev, an independent expert. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza


A few days ago, an article by Andrei Areshev headlined ‘The Genocide of Armenians: Limits of Discussions’ was published on the website of the Caucasus Geopolitical Club. He opposes some of my statements which say that I disagree with the official Armenian version of the genocide. I would like to express gratitude to Andrei. His article was not only the first and the only opposing me from scientific positions, but also from the point of view of morality and good manners. When I posted my article, an avalanche of insults and threats against me covered the information space. It is very sad, but really identical, as it demonstrates the poor level of people’s development, as they thoughtlessly protect the official version of the genocide. And if Andrei asks where the limits of discussions lie, I would like to ask whether such supporters are intelligent enough to start such discussions.

Andrei’s article confirms that he promotes the official version of the Armenian genocide, which is recognized by 15 countries, including Russia. This version says that the Armenians lived on their historic land in Eastern Anatolia, where the Turks permanently and without any reason discriminated against and killed them; and finally in 1915 the Turks came there again for no reason and began murdering them, according to their national identity, trying to destroy the Armenian nation and committing awful crimes which are recognized by international law as genocide.

This version is clear, and it should be considered like any other version. At the same time, it has a serious drawback: the version is ethnic, i.e. it is unilateral and biased. Like any ethnic version, it has four key drawbacks:

It doesn’t strive to find out an objective and fair picture of the events, but is aimed at achieving a political situation which would satisfy its ethnic group, even if it contradicts historical truth.Therefore, it artificially restricts a spectrum of evidence, focusing on that which proves its point of view, rejecting or ignoring other facts which contradict the version. It blames other nations for everything, rejecting an understanding of the fault of its own nation and responsibility for the tragedy. Like any version which is based on historic memories, rather than systemic and universal scientific data, it exaggerates the suffering of its people and ignores the suffering of other people which was committed by the nation.

Pure science doubts any ethnic version, due to its non-scientific character and initial striving for a certain result.

Traditionally, there are two such versions on the topic of the Armenian genocide. These are the Armenian version and the Turkish version, which is almost its mirror reflection. Of course, such an approach reflects the very complicated past and present of Armenian-Turkish relations. And it gives no chance for rapprochement. A prominent representative of the Armenian Diaspora in Russia told me that there was a severe information war between the Armenians and the Turks. According to him, if I want to be a friend of the Armenians, I should support their side and act according to the principle of ‘proletarian internationalism’, as an anecdote on the Armenians describes it: “Peoples of the whole world without national differences come together and go beating up Azerbaijanis.” Informationally, of course. By the way, dear Andrei Areshev mentions the information war.

I am not a part of the war! I don’t want to beat anyone up and I want to be a friend both to Armenia and Azerbaijan, like Russia.

At the same time, I should say that for political reasons, the Armenian version of the genocide is recognized in our country officially. This is what is presented by Andrei. It is thought to be right and patriotic to spread and support this version, while doubting it or using arguments which oppose it is wrong. If you do so, it means you are not a progressive scientist, you are not patriot, you justify the awful genocide, the Turks have bought you, so you are a very bad person. Unlike supporters of ethnic versions, I don’t participate in the information war, and I cannot easily agree with the official historical version without thinking about its verification and matching the real picture. I am aware of both Armenian and Turkish views, and I should say that I disagree with both of them, and I recommend those who want to know the truth ‘not to read Soviet newspapers at night,’ i.e. ethnic versions.

There are independent versions as well. They are usually expressed by scientists, social activists and eyewitnesses, who don’t need to justify their actions and who don’t lose or benefit anything from discrediting other people, falsifying historical facts or taking a politically biased position. These are not Armenians or Turks. These are numerous witnesses – Russians, Americans, Germans: Leo Tolstoy’s daughter Alexandra, who was a nurse on the Caucasus front; a participant of the war, an emigrant E. Maslovsky, who published an interesting book ‘The World War on the Caucasus Front 1914-1917. A Strategic Essay’ in Paris in 1933; Emori Nils and Arthur Sutherland, two observers who were sent by the US Congress to eastern regions of Turkey in 1919 to evaluate the situation; well-known European and American historians – Guenter Lewy, Norman Stone, Mark Levin, Justin McCarty, Sean McMicken, Nic Danfort, Mark Mazover, and many others. Let’s say that their collective version is mainly spread in the public opinion of the countries which are not politically motivated to recognize or reject the genocide.

I didn’t include modern Russian historians on the list; some of them are politically biased; and I prefer not to list anyone, in order to avoid blaming anyone for selectivity. Let’s not read Soviet newspapers!

Thus, the collective version says that from 1914 to 1918 the Turks committed awful crimes against the Armenians, according to their national identity, and killed about 1.5 million Armenians through murders or establishing unbearable conditions for life, including depriving them of housing and food. Our contemporaries who live in times of the existence of the term of ‘genocide’ use it to describe these events. I cannot oppose them. At the same time, all of them insist that the Armenians were also guilty of repressions against them and of absolutely similar massive crimes by the Armenians against the Turks and the Kurds. In this case, the term ‘genocide’ is not used, but synonyms are used: massive murders, massacres, ethnic cleansing, awful cruelty, and so on.

I will try to present their position. The Turks and the Turkish Armenians entered the 20th century with a terrible background of mutual hatred, claims, discrimination and pressure. It is impossible to find the victim and the criminal, the initiator of the hatred and its reason. By 1914 the Ottoman Empire was weakened and had lost vast territories in Europe; the ethnic Turks who lived there had to move to the main territory of the country, including Turkish Anatolia, where they did their best to prevent another exile from there.

A revolutionary movement had been growing among the Turkish Armenians since the early 20th century. It was aimed at establishing their own state on historic Armenian lands, i.e. Turkish Anatolia. They wanted to repeat the experience of Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece, which separated from Turkey and exiled the Turks due to their support for Russia during the war. The beginning of the First World War caused a national uprising among the Armenians. It turned into a movement for separation of at least six Turkish vilayets. The Armenians were accumulating arms, sabotaging the civil and military administrations, forming guerilla groups, attacking the army and the police, deserting from the Turkish army, shifting to the Russian side, and joining the Armenian units which were sent to the front fighting against the Turks. 

 

 

Like any other nation, the Armenians have a right to revolution and their own statehood. Just as Turkey has a right to protection. By adopting such a decision, the Armenians not only exercised their right, but also took on a huge responsibility, because if their struggle against Turkey fails, then the price of defeat will be catastrophic. At least, such a price of defeat they wanted to impose on Turkey in case of its loss. That's how American historian Mark Levene described it: "In betraying the former Ottoman Empire..  the Armenians ... took on enormous personal and collective risks in order to fight it on the other side." Mark Levene. The Crisis of Genocide. Devastation: The European Rimlands 1912-1938. Volume 1. Page 131. Oxford, 2014.Anti-Turkish movement gained the greatest scope since April 1915, when Armenians rose up in several cities, and which proved to be the most successful and long in Van, where Armenians knocked out the Turkish detachment located there, fortified the city, sent to Russia for help and during 4 weeks defended city ​​from the Turks and the Kurds.During and after this defense, when Armenians were retaining the territory, and in regard to Armenian squads, which fought in the Russian army, we can say that Armenians cleaned targeted territories under their control from all non-Armenians. This results terrible crimes, the expulsion of all foreigners, and has a systematic and planned nature. Ethnic cleansing was so total, that according to the memoirs of contemporaries, entire Armenian population left the area of the Armenian control, and outside this zone Armenian vigilantes so actively engaged in repression against the Kurds and not a war against the Turkish army at all, and  "rather than to use them in areas where they, as locals, could be useful, were forced to concentrate all four squads in the Azerbaijan brigade in Persia". Evgeny Maslovski. "The Caucasian Front in the Great War 1914-1917. Strategic essay". Page 39. Paris, 1933.In response to such actions of Armenians (almost all authors emphasize retaliatory nature of the reaction of the Turks) and in order to protect its territory, Turkey unleashed hostilities against Armenians in two directions: military opposition to armed units and the same thing that Armenians have done themselves  - cleansing the border areas of disloyal population, which assumes ethnic cleansing, during which huge masses of people were sent to the territory of modern Syria - Deir ez-Zor desert, Konya, Mosul, central Anatolia. Unbiased historians agree with the official Armenian version that "it was a terrible case of collective punishment," but unlike the official version, describing the deportation as a terrible disaster and veiled murder, after which only 20% Armenians survived, historians say that, especially in the beginning, "the main body of these deportations...was relatively orderly and did not involve direct violence." M. Levene. The Crisis of Genocide. Devastation: The European Rimlands 1912-1938. Volume 1. Page 145. Oxford, 2014.On the one hand, Turkey's right to defend its territory and to counter the fifth column is indisputable. It did not do anything which is contrary to the principle of actions of humanitarian law of that time and what other countries didn't do. Thus, ethnic cleansing and forced deportation on a national basis were completely natural and commonly used tools in those years, dozens of countries resourced to it constantly, and all empires, including Russia. The level of violence demonstrated by Turks exceeded all possible limits. Along with hunger, war, epidemic typhus this led Armenians to disastrous victims, estimated by different researchers to a one and a half million people and taking into account the voluntary withdrawal of Armenians to Russia led to the total abandonment of the Eastern Anatolia by Armenians.However, the researchers emphasize that Turkey does not aim to destroy Armenians as a nation, proof of which can be a large Armenian community in cities, located far from the Russian offensive zone and where there was no rebellion - Istanbul, Smyrna, etc., where Turks limited only by organized deportation of a small part of the population, which was reputed as unreliable, and did not carry out reprisals against the rest people. Unreliable Greeks were subjected to the same soft deportation, virtually without casualties, but more stringent repression were made  against Assyrians, who brutally fought against the Turks together with Armenians. None of the peoples, who didn't fight against the state, was not subjected to reprisals.As a result, Armenians failed to create their own state on the territory of Turkey and to throw Turks from their territory, like Greeks or Serbs did. The main reasons for this were that, unlike the situation in the Balkans, Turks and allied Kurds were not a minority, but a clear majority in Turkish Anatolia, and Russia, in contrast to the wars in the Balkans, did not manage to win the First World War, collapsed and entered into negotiations with Turks only in 1921 from the position of weakness. It was catastrophic price for Armenian defeat.That's the story. And here begins its main discrepancy with the official Armenian version. In real history Armenians were not only the victim, who suffered a terrible defeat, but the cause of this destruction, and the side-aggressor which applied the measures, at least incompatible with contemporary humanitarian law, and as a maximum - who arranged the same genocide.Here are a few excerpts. That's what Americans Niels and Sutherland, who visited Anatolia after the Russian army and Armenians left, write: "In the entire region from Bitlis through Van to Bayezit we were informed that the damage and destruction had been done by the Armenians, who, after the Russians retired, remained in occupation of the country and who, when the Turkish army advanced, destroyed everything belonging to the Musulmans. Moreover, the Armenians are accused of having committed murder, rape arson and horrible atrocities of every description upon the Musulman population. At first we were most incredulous of these stories, but we finally came to believe them, since the testimony was absolutely unanimous and confirmed by material evidence. For example, the only building preserved in Bitlis and Van are houses of Armenians, as shown by the Christian churches and the inscriptions on buildings, while Muslim houses are completely destroyed. Villages belonged to Armenians still exist, whereas Muslim villages razed to the ground.Locals testify extreme violence perpetrated against people, as evidenced by the following symptoms of Armenian anger everywhere. In every town and village, where we stayed, locals in the first place would not tell us about their needs, and about horrors committed by Armenians against them and their families, which were almost the same as committed by Turks against Armenians. In our opinion, there is no doubt that the Armenians are guilty of the same crimes against Turks, and that Turks are guilty against the Armenians.It is obvious that because of this perception of Armenians by local residents, their return to stay in this region is not possible regardless of the number of troops to be stationed here." Justin McCarthy. «The report from Niles and Sutherland». Pages 1828-1829. Ankara. 1990."The burning of Muslim houses in Bath by Armenians was due to exorbitant, irrational hatred felt by Armenians to the entire Muslim and Turkish," Guenter Lewy and Justin McCarthy write in "The Armenian Massacre in Ottoman Turkey. The Armenian rebellion in Van". Page 245. The publication of the University of Utah, USA, 2005.War veteran and historian-emigrant Maslovsky emphasizes reciprocal nature of the actions of Turks: "As the repression in response to the uprising of Armenians in Van, in April 1915, the Turkish command has made an order for eviction of all Armenians from the district of hostilities, which was carried out not only with the extreme rigor, but also with terrible cruelty; It was a disaster for Armenian population, who paid for their sympathy to Russia and a hostile attitude towards the Turkish population and the government; about a million human lives were lost in this forced exodus". Evgeny Maslovsky "The Caucasian Front in the Great War 1914-1917. Strategic essay". Page 307. Mark Levene said the same thing: "A strong desire of punishment for sins committed by community (Armenian - A.E.) against the state. M. Levene. Page 147.And here the same: "There is no doubt that the deportations (of Armenians by Turks - A.E.) are regularly accompanied by or even held in the form of mass murder ... But it was not unilateral action. In Van, for example, Muslims were also subjected to mass kill both before and after the liberation of the city. M. Levene. Page 147.

Like any other nation, the Armenians have a right to revolution and their own statehood. Just as Turkey has a right to protection. By adopting such a decision, the Armenians not only exercised their right, but also took on a huge responsibility, because if their struggle against Turkey fails, then the price of defeat will be catastrophic. At least, such a price of defeat they wanted to impose on Turkey in case of its loss. That's how American historian Mark Levene described it: "In betraying the former Ottoman Empire..  the Armenians ... took on enormous personal and collective risks in order to fight it on the other side." Mark Levene. The Crisis of Genocide. Devastation: The European Rimlands 1912-1938. Volume 1. Page 131. Oxford, 2014.

Anti-Turkish movement gained the greatest scope since April 1915, when Armenians rose up in several cities, and which proved to be the most successful and long in Van, where Armenians knocked out the Turkish detachment located there, fortified the city, sent to Russia for help and during 4 weeks defended city ​​from the Turks and the Kurds.

During and after this defense, when Armenians were retaining the territory, and in regard to Armenian squads, which fought in the Russian army, we can say that Armenians cleaned targeted territories under their control from all non-Armenians. This results terrible crimes, the expulsion of all foreigners, and has a systematic and planned nature. Ethnic cleansing was so total, that according to the memoirs of contemporaries, entire Armenian population left the area of the Armenian control, and outside this zone Armenian vigilantes so actively engaged in repression against the Kurds and not a war against the Turkish army at all, and  "rather than to use them in areas where they, as locals, could be useful, were forced to concentrate all four squads in the Azerbaijan brigade in Persia". Evgeny Maslovski. "The Caucasian Front in the Great War 1914-1917. Strategic essay". Page 39. Paris, 1933.

In response to such actions of Armenians (almost all authors emphasize retaliatory nature of the reaction of the Turks) and in order to protect its territory, Turkey unleashed hostilities against Armenians in two directions: military opposition to armed units and the same thing that Armenians have done themselves  - cleansing the border areas of disloyal population, which assumes ethnic cleansing, during which huge masses of people were sent to the territory of modern Syria - Deir ez-Zor desert, Konya, Mosul, central Anatolia. Unbiased historians agree with the official Armenian version that "it was a terrible case of collective punishment," but unlike the official version, describing the deportation as a terrible disaster and veiled murder, after which only 20% Armenians survived, historians say that, especially in the beginning, "the main body of these deportations...was relatively orderly and did not involve direct violence." M. Levene. The Crisis of Genocide. Devastation: The European Rimlands 1912-1938. Volume 1. Page 145. Oxford, 2014.

On the one hand, Turkey's right to defend its territory and to counter the fifth column is indisputable. It did not do anything which is contrary to the principle of actions of humanitarian law of that time and what other countries didn't do. Thus, ethnic cleansing and forced deportation on a national basis were completely natural and commonly used tools in those years, dozens of countries resourced to it constantly, and all empires, including Russia. The level of violence demonstrated by Turks exceeded all possible limits. Along with hunger, war, epidemic typhus this led Armenians to disastrous victims, estimated by different researchers to a one and a half million people and taking into account the voluntary withdrawal of Armenians to Russia led to the total abandonment of the Eastern Anatolia by Armenians.

However, the researchers emphasize that Turkey does not aim to destroy Armenians as a nation, proof of which can be a large Armenian community in cities, located far from the Russian offensive zone and where there was no rebellion - Istanbul, Smyrna, etc., where Turks limited only by organized deportation of a small part of the population, which was reputed as unreliable, and did not carry out reprisals against the rest people. Unreliable Greeks were subjected to the same soft deportation, virtually without casualties, but more stringent repression were made  against Assyrians, who brutally fought against the Turks together with Armenians. None of the peoples, who didn't fight against the state, was not subjected to reprisals.

As a result, Armenians failed to create their own state on the territory of Turkey and to throw Turks from their territory, like Greeks or Serbs did. The main reasons for this were that, unlike the situation in the Balkans, Turks and allied Kurds were not a minority, but a clear majority in Turkish Anatolia, and Russia, in contrast to the wars in the Balkans, did not manage to win the First World War, collapsed and entered into negotiations with Turks only in 1921 from the position of weakness. It was catastrophic price for Armenian defeat.

That's the story. And here begins its main discrepancy with the official Armenian version. In real history Armenians were not only the victim, who suffered a terrible defeat, but the cause of this destruction, and the side-aggressor which applied the measures, at least incompatible with contemporary humanitarian law, and as a maximum - who arranged the same genocide.

Here are a few excerpts. That's what Americans Niels and Sutherland, who visited Anatolia after the Russian army and Armenians left, write: "In the entire region from Bitlis through Van to Bayezit we were informed that the damage and destruction had been done by the Armenians, who, after the Russians retired, remained in occupation of the country and who, when the Turkish army advanced, destroyed everything belonging to the Musulmans. Moreover, the Armenians are accused of having committed murder, rape arson and horrible atrocities of every description upon the Musulman population. At first we were most incredulous of these stories, but we finally came to believe them, since the testimony was absolutely unanimous and confirmed by material evidence. For example, the only building preserved in Bitlis and Van are houses of Armenians, as shown by the Christian churches and the inscriptions on buildings, while Muslim houses are completely destroyed. Villages belonged to Armenians still exist, whereas Muslim villages razed to the ground.

Locals testify extreme violence perpetrated against people, as evidenced by the following symptoms of Armenian anger everywhere. In every town and village, where we stayed, locals in the first place would not tell us about their needs, and about horrors committed by Armenians against them and their families, which were almost the same as committed by Turks against Armenians. In our opinion, there is no doubt that the Armenians are guilty of the same crimes against Turks, and that Turks are guilty against the Armenians.

It is obvious that because of this perception of Armenians by local residents, their return to stay in this region is not possible regardless of the number of troops to be stationed here." Justin McCarthy. «The report from Niles and Sutherland». Pages 1828-1829. Ankara. 1990.

"The burning of Muslim houses in Bath by Armenians was due to exorbitant, irrational hatred felt by Armenians to the entire Muslim and Turkish," Guenter Lewy and Justin McCarthy write in "The Armenian Massacre in Ottoman Turkey. The Armenian rebellion in Van". Page 245. The publication of the University of Utah, USA, 2005.

War veteran and historian-emigrant Maslovsky emphasizes reciprocal nature of the actions of Turks: "As the repression in response to the uprising of Armenians in Van, in April 1915, the Turkish command has made an order for eviction of all Armenians from the district of hostilities, which was carried out not only with the extreme rigor, but also with terrible cruelty; It was a disaster for Armenian population, who paid for their sympathy to Russia and a hostile attitude towards the Turkish population and the government; about a million human lives were lost in this forced exodus". Evgeny Maslovsky "The Caucasian Front in the Great War 1914-1917. Strategic essay". Page 307. Mark Levene said the same thing: "A strong desire of punishment for sins committed by community (Armenian - A.E.) against the state. M. Levene. Page 147.

And here the same: "There is no doubt that the deportations (of Armenians by Turks - A.E.) are regularly accompanied by or even held in the form of mass murder ... But it was not unilateral action. In Van, for example, Muslims were also subjected to mass kill both before and after the liberation of the city. M. Levene. Page 147.

 

And here is insight of Leo Tolstoy's daughter, Alexandra Tolstaya, who happened to be in the province of Van after the uprising as a nurse in the Russian army:

 

"Dirty bodies covered in rugs were on the floor. Turks, men, women, the old, the young, children... All together in a pile. Moans, delirium, weeping of small children... Some, it seemed to me, had suspicious blemishes on faces. What was is? Pox? Dirty lanky hands were stretching towards us, women were weeping, asking for something, begging us, trying to explain in Turkish:

 

- 'Hanum! Hanum!...'

 

I noticed a woman sitting in the corner, strangely lowering lifelessly dangling sleeves on the sides, she was moaning quietly, hardly audibly.

 

- 'Her hands were twisted,' explained Mr. Yarrow.

 

- 'Who did it? Why?'

 

- 'In a clash with Armenians...'

 

- 'Armenians? But why mutilate a woman in such a way?' I asked with surprise, 'I read in newspapers that Turks were commiting atrocities, massacaring Armenians. I do not understand...'

 

- 'Everything happened. Mutilations on both sides. Of course, both happened during the times of war. The animosity between Turks and Armenians lasted for centuries. There was cruelty from both sides, but here, in Van, we had to witness an inhuman cruelty of Armenians. They said Armenians were cutting women's breasts, twisting, breaking their legs, hands, and I saw victims of the inhuman cruelty personally.' Alexandra Tolstaya. Autobiography 'Doch', p. 53-54. Moscow, 1992. Released for Zarya (Canada) 1979.

 

Another unbiased version of the story contains many examples of the kind. How does the official Armenian version react? 'They are lies. Keep digging,' wrote one of its loutish adherents. Andrey Areshev, as an intellectual man, does not write in such manner. But he has a similar opinion. He disregards them, calling their authors 'naysayers'. The problem is not that they deny the genocide, they say that it happened on both sides. And that is where the discussion comes to a close for Andrey, as a follower of the ethnic version: it goes though the point where evidence discarding his goal start emerging. He cannot argue with people who saw everything with their own eyes or with well-known and unbiased scientists, so he neglects everything. In one shot.

 

I agree with European and American historians and I emphathize the descendants of Armenians who went through such hideous tragedy. If everything mention falls under the term "genocide", then let's call it so. But a tear of a Turkish or a Kurdish child is tantamount to a tear of an Armenian. The rules should be equal for everyone. If they are applied to villainy the Turks committed, they should definitely be applied to the villainy conducted by Armenians, and if the genocide Armenians suffered from Turks is recognized, the genocide of Turks by Armenians should be recognized too.

 

They tell me: 'How can you compare them! One and a half million of Armenians died, and only 100,000 of Turks. The victim here is obvious!' Sorry, my friends, a genocide cannot be measured in numbers. Aren't a hundred thousand a genocide, would a hundred thousand and one be a genocide? The genocide is, first of all, a strive for extremination of a nation. Something both sides were most likely doinb. If Turks were cleansing according to ethnic origin, Armenians were burning Turkish houses according to the same rule, so that people of a certain nationality who left had no opportunity to return, because there would be nowhere to.

 

History shows that a larger nation has more chances to harm a smaller nation, but it is the smaller nations that often demonstrate greater cruelty because they use it to instill fear into the larger. It is the smaller nation who should feel its greater responsibility in such conflicts because the harm the larger nation may inflict may be fatal

 

The same applies to the argument about the impossibility of accusing Armenians of cruelty because they were fighting for justice and battling for the Homeland, while Turks were the occupants. First of all, the word 'occupant' is very conditional and depends on many reasons. If Armenians were protecting the unrecognized but existing ethnic territory, the Turks were fighting for their state and could not resemble occupants in any eyes, except those of Armenians. Not to mention that whether they were occupants or not has nothing to do with the term 'genocide'. If someone decided to commit such actions, it means that he crossed the line and became a criminal regardless of whose land he was on.

 

The Armenian version of the abominable genocide does not give us answers to such questions. It principally evades even recognition of the right for existence. It completely covers itself from anything contradicting it and surrounds itself with the most powerful emotional vibe, when the main proof of the genocide is constant declarations about a horrifying offense against the Armenian people from those who do not believe in the genocide and consider other arguments. 'All the proof about the Armenian genocide is in the Genocide Museum in Yerevan,' says the version, 'Any other information is lies and Turkish insinuations, if you believe them,l it means you justify the genocide and you should be put to jail. Besides, my great grandmother-german was cut in half by a Turk with a yataghan and it is the best proof!'

 

I am deeply sorry for the great grandmother and her descendents, but if the theory needs to rip out only convenient arguments from the general picture, then completely ignore the rest of the world, using a grievance as the strongest argument in a womanish fashion... I do not believe in such theory. Ultimately. Just as 95% of countries in the world who have not recognized the Armenian genocide with such selective and unproven evidential base.

 

I repeat, I do feel sorry for the Armenian grandmother. But tell me who will show compassion to descendents of similar Kurdish and Turkish grandmothers who went through the same national tragedy? Many people in Turkey have the same horrifying recollections and no one can forbid them or anyone else to mourn the dead. Moreover, the more Armenians insist on personal exclusiveness, impeccability and victimhood and the natural guilt of Turks, the less chances there are that Turkey ever recognizes the genocide, because it is very hard to convince someone that only one nation has the right to mourn its dead, and yours - having the same tragic moments in history - should by default be labeled hellspawn and condemned for ages.

 

One would wonder... what is there to discuss? Let Armenian, Turkish and neutral historians gather, lay all the facts, archive data on the table, compare it and make a decision... Turkey has offered to do so many times. But again, it means to lift the limits of the discussions Andrey Aresehv writes about, and the Armenian version of the genocide cannot do it because it can only exist in clinical pureness of picked links, limits of discussions, ignoration of unpleasant questions and disappointments as proof. Open it to the full picture and it will shatter! Thusly, its adherents are starting to put armlocks and claim about the horrible grievance they suffer by even giving the Turks such opportunity. 'The opportunity for a joint commission is simply offensive because it comparable with existence of a joint commission of Hitlerites and Jews,' say supporters of the Armenian version...

 

In the end, what is there to be offended by? How does Armenian genocide differ so much from others that everything offends its followers and does not offend adherents of other cases of genocide? American Indians demand world scientists to investigate into their genocide, the Chechens created a commission to investigate the burn-down of the Khaybakh village, which some interprete as genocide, Circassians have held many talks about the disputed events of the Caucasian War in all kinds of formats, international commissions have worked on the genocide between the hutu and tutsi. And all nations who experienced genocide only welcomed the commissions. Why the very same thing is a terrible offense for Armenians can only be explained as the weakness of their official version.

 

Moreover, an opportunity to create such commission was considered. Its formation was even a provision in the 2009 Zurich Protocols on restoration of Armenian-Turkish relations recently withdrawn from the parliament. I remember European countries and the US, even the director of the Genocide Museum in Yerevan, Hayk Demoyan, backing the formation of the commission. Demoyan was speculating that such investigation would only help Turkey and Armenia. What has happened now? What does Armenia fear?

 

By the way, the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission operating since the early 2000s, to which Andrey Areshev refers in his article, is absolutely different. It was a purely political organ focused on restoration of trust and cooperation. Not historical. In 2003, it asked the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York whether the events of 1915 should be a genocide the Turks committed against Armenians. The Center, not historians either, responded: 'Yes, they should.' Very well. I am absolutely fine with that. But it is only a part of the picture. Let's ask how the acts Armenians committed against the Turks should be interpreted. Something tells me that analogical historical facts would be followed by an analogical response.

 

And then, we would get a full and impartial historical picture reflecting the horrible reality of the time. If someone does not need it, limits should be set in the discussion. The discussions would become useless, so the law on criminalization of denial of the Armenian genocide would be adopted, censorship should be imposed, the freedom of speech and conscience should be lifted. But that would make the version clipped and one-sided, politically incorrect.

 

The problem is that history proves that progress is achieved in societies that set no limits in discussions, that do not limit the freedom of thought. They are the only ones who win in the end. Those who isolate themselves in confortable dogmas lose in the end. It will always be that way.

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