Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
April 28 2012


Armenian 'G' claims: A matter of balance and due process

by FERRUH DEMÄ°RMEN

We have just passed April 24, when Armenians of various walks of life
commemorate the anniversary of the arrest of the Armenian
intellectuals in Istanbul 97 years ago, alleged to have been the
beginning of `Armenian genocide.' So the pundits chastise, woefully,
Turkey for `denying' genocide, and demand that Turkey extend an
apology and offer restitution (meaning money and land) to the
Armenians.

This is no place to dwell on history to explain why such demands lack
rational basis, e.g., if the Ottoman Turks had intent to exterminate
the Armenian minority, why they gave Armenian citizens high positions
in the government, why they waited for more than 6 centuries - when
they were in much better position - to deliberately target Armenians.

Nor is this the proper place to elaborate why some critical pieces of
`evidence' e.g., the Andonian files, that the proponents of genocide
cite to support their thesis, were forgeries, or that the orders
issued by the Ottoman central government to relocate Armenians
proscribed that all measures were to be taken to ensure the safety of
the deportees and meet their needs during and after relocation.

But there are two aspects the proponents of genocide conveniently
ignore, that call for special attention: balance and due process.

Regarding balance, no one denies that Armenians suffered during
relocation, and some lost their lives, in a time of war when chaos,
lawlessness and depravation prevailed. Surely we must mourn the
sufferings and loss of life. But do we ever hear about the sufferings
and loss of lives of non-Armenians? During that tragic period more
than half a million Muslims - and some Jews ` perished at the hands of
armed, marauding Armenian gangs that terrorized the countryside and
helped invading enemy armies.

Do the lost lives of Muslims not matter?

If we are to recall history, do Armenians carry any sense of guilt and
culpability for aiding the enemy and terrorizing the local civil
population?

And why do we not hear, one must ask, any remorse on the part of
Armenians for the killings by the ASALA organization of more than 40
Turkish diplomats in the 1970's and `80's?

As for due process, it must be emphasized that `genocide' is a special
crime, and the term should not be used lightly. To quote the 1948 UN
Resolution on the Prevention of Genocide, determination on genocide
can only be made `by a competent tribunal of the State in the
territory of which the act was committed, or by such international
penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction.' In the case of the alleged
Armenian genocide, there has been no such determination. No court
verdict; none, period. The U.N. resolution also makes no attribution
to `Armenian genocide.'

A parliamentary body, often beholden to special interests, and acting
as both the prosecutor and judge, is no substitute for a duly
authorized court of law.

So, one must ask, without a court verdict, how can the Turks be
accused of the `g' crime? Where is the respect for due process?

In fact, the only judicial proceeding that comes close to being an
international tribunal on the Armenian case is the Malta Tribunal,
held by the victorious British after WWI. The proceedings,
investigating charges against 144 high-ranking Ottoman officials
accused of harming Armenians, failed to bring about a single
conviction. Even searching through the U.S. State Department files in
Washington D.C. failed to produce any incriminating evidence. Off went
the dispatch from the British Embassy to Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon
in London: `I regret to inform Your Lordship that there was nothing
therein which could be used as evidence against the Turks who are
being detained for trial at Malta.' All the detainees were set free
and returned to Turkish soil.

Armenian genocide allegations, apart from being legally unsustainable,
create discord and animosity in society. Nearly a century has passed,
and it is time to move on toward greater inter-communal harmony.

Will the Armenian Diaspora take note?