Foreign Policy Journal
March 6 2015

The Armenian Genocide in Modern Turkey's Official Denialism: A Hundred
Shades of Denial.

by Grigor Boyakhchyan
March 6, 2015


Against the backdrop of Turkish official denialism, distortion, and
propaganda stunt looms the larger decay of a state rooted in organized
forgetting.


The will to truth is cowed by pressure of numerous kinds, reasons of
state on the one hand, economic necessities on the other, and, not
least, the pure careerism of intellectuals who put their expertise in
the service of power as a matter of course. When governments and
professional elites find reward in the sophistries of might makes
right, truth is bound to suffer."

-Terrence Des Pres

Repentant or emboldened through a hundred long years of denial, the
Turkish statehood stands at a critical juncture of its historical
past, present, and future. The Armenian Genocide and the Great
National Dispossession of the Armenian people from their homeland will
ultimately determine its decent place in the family of civilized
nations. Recognition and repentance, along with elimination of dire
consequences, is the right way forward for the Turkish government.

Only a month ahead of the April 24 Centennial of the Armenian
Genocide, the Republic of Armenia, together with Diaspora Armenians
from many far-flung corners of the world, brings together the vestiges
of enduring historical memory and remembrance on human suffering,
extermination and resurgence to denounce past inhumanities and prevent
future ones. Unbroken in spirit against this unprecedented crime, the
message they bring to the fore of international agenda stretches far
beyond the tragedy of a single nation to embrace the whole humanity.

Against the backdrop of Turkish official denialism, distortion, and
propaganda stunt - as the commemoration of Gallipoli landings staged
by the Turkish government on April 24 demonstrate - looms the larger
decay of a state rooted in organized forgetting and long-enforced
oblivion. Not only does the strenuous denial of the Armenian Genocide
by the Turkish government constitute a form of renewed aggression that
should be condemned and outlawed in its own right, but it also
forecloses the mere opportunity for many decent men and women in
Turkey to come to grips with their own history.

<img class="size-medium wp-image-25620"
src="http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/armenian-genocide-300x192.png"
alt="Armenians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed
Turkish soldiers. Kharpert, Armenia, Ottoman Empire, April, 1915
(Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)" width="300" height="192" />

Armenians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish
soldiers. Kharpert, Armenia, Ottoman Empire, April, 1915 (Public
Domain/Wikimedia Common

Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to centrally planned
and systematically orchestrated genocide against the Armenian people -
the testimony of survivors, documentary evidence, official archives,
and the reports of diplomats - the denial of Armenian genocide by
successive regimes in Turkey has proceeded from 1915 to the present.
Among the scores of articles available in the archives of the New York
Times, one featured on February 23, 1916 presents the reflections of
Lord Bryce, the head of British delegation to the Anglo-French
Parliamentary conference, on Turkish atrocities committed against
Armenians. It reads in part: "The cause of Armenians is especially
dear to me. There is no people in the world which has suffered more.
It has been a victim not of religious fanaticism, but of cold-blooded,
premeditated hatred on the part of the brigands who term themselves
the Turkish Government and who do not intend to permit the existence
of any national vitality except in their own element."

In an attempt to assassinate the entire civilization and culture, the
Ottoman Turkish government unleashed the deportation of Armenian
people to the arid deserts of Syria that would come to be known as
death marches of men, women and children, with many dying along the
way of exhaustion and starvation. The American ambassador Henry
Morgenthau would later write in his memoirs: "When the Turkish
authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely
giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well,
and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to
conceal the fact."

<img class="size-medium wp-image-25622"
src="http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Grigor-Boyakhchyan-300x225.jpg"
alt="The Armenian Genocide commemorative memorial at the Goddard
Chapel, Tufts University. The plaque reads, &quot;To the glory of
God and the memory of one and one half million Armenians - many of
them related to Tufts Alumni - who perished in the 1915 Genocide in
what is now modern Turkey.&quot; (Photo: Grigor Boyakhchyan)"
width="300" height="225" />

The Armenian Genocide commemorative memorial at the Goddard Chapel,
Tufts University. The plaque reads, "To the glory of God and the
memory of one and one half million Armenians - many of them related to
Tufts Alumni - who perished in the 1915 Genocide in what is now modern
Turkey." (Photo: Grigor Boyakhchyan)

Various perspectives on denial can be brought to bear on the form and
content of Turkish attempts to transplant a benign political image
around the world; what unites them together, however, is the
state-sponsored struggle to diminish, disguise and consign to oblivion
the memory of race extermination behind their actions in whatever way
possible - a struggle of forgetting against memory.

Regardless of the state of play on the ground in the Middle East or
elsewhere and the ensuing geopolitical significance allegedly
attributed to Turkey in world affairs, it is crystal clear that the
only enduring strength, authority and leadership that a country seeks
to obtain in international arena proceeds along the principles of
morality and justice. Unwillingness to embrace this route is an
attribute of politicians who think in short timelines.

There are no "smart denials" on the face of justice, irrespective of
the strategies and techniques the Turkish authorities choose to
concoct behind the sealed borders and closed doors. Denials are either
short-or long-lived; but they never mature into reality. Nor does the
known fade into the unknown - no matter how intensely the hundred
shades of distortion and denial envelop the truth - and those who have
attempted it have themselves ended up in the dustbin of history. To
bind the country to the same path of government-backed denial is an
expression of no strategy, no goals, and no vision for its future. It
is a sign of moral decay.



Grigor Boyakhchyan holds a Master's Degree in International Security
Studies (ISS) from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts
University. He currently serves as Head of Foreign Relations
Department of the Center for Information and Analytical Studies under
the Government of the Republic of Armenia. Prior to service, he taught
a full-time course on International Security Challenges for Master's
Degree students at Yerevan State University.


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