is part of a series examining the works of the Armenian-supported, perpetual
"visiting professor" Taner Akcam; here is the lead page for this series.
On February 6, 2005, "Historian" Taner Akcam was invited
to give a talk on CBC's Sunday Edition, on radio. While host Michael Enright erred in
calling the sociologist with practically no academic background (Akcam earned his degree
in Germany, and apparently was never attached to the faculty of any institution, nor did
he have any important papers published save for ones in minor publications for
"Kurdistan" and the like) a "historian," there was a tone of fairness
in his voice, evident from the questions he asked... and by giving the "Other
Side" a chance, a decision that made Akcam mildly flip out, as we'll soon see. Let's
see how the "historian" (aside from the fact that Akcam has no background in
history, let's bear in mind a real historian always examines all sides to a story; a
better title for Akcam would be "propagandist") handled himself.
The interview has been made available at this place
in cyberspace. It is the first time I got a taste of Dr. Akcam's melodious voice.
Michael Enright intelligently begins his program by
stating "It is impossible to underestimate the power of the word 'genocide.'
And it is equally impossible to underestimate the consequences when the word is NOT
used," faulting those who avoided the word when describing events in Darfur.
He further adds:
themselves call it “The Forgotten Genocide.” And while it may have happened 90
years ago, in a far-away corner of the Ottoman Empire, it is as alive for Turks and
Armenians today as it was those many long decades ago."
Host Michael Enright
I like the fact that Enright specified the
Armenians as mislabeling their raison d'etre as a "Forgotten Genocide.” when
their money and loudness has insured their myth as the second best researched
"genocide" after the Holocaust. However, this "genocide" is not
alive for most Turks, who have better things to do with their lives; Turks made the
mature decision to move away from these ugly events, to stress brotherhood and a
looking to the future. Had Turkish grandparents instilled their children with hatred
for the excruciating crimes the
Armenians had committed (with Russian help), while ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands of fellow Ottomans,
then the episode would have been alive. The only reason why it's alive for some
Turks is because even the silent Turks have come to realize the ugly charges of the
genocide industry cannot remain unanswered.
"Taner Akçam has
become the first Turkish historian to call the Armenian killings a genocide. In
response, his life has been threatened. No university in his own country will hire
him. He has been derided as a traitor, and hailed as a hero."
If his life has been threatened, I hope it was
never so seriously. Even those who regard Akcam as a traitor address him in a civil
manner as possible, an attitude steeped in Turkish tolerance, in marked contrast to
the fanatical Armenian "I will KILL you" mentality (one example) that too often surfaces with
perceived slights. (Not to say some Turks are without this "Oriental
mentality" either; but Akcam could not have operated as seriously, even in
Turkey itself, if he felt his life was in danger. The same applies to his fellow
turncoat, Halil Berktay, who actually has been spreading his poison in Turkey
itself, at Sabanci University. Since both Akcam and Berktay are the same peas in a
pod, if Berktay has found a Turkish university to hire him, there is no reason why
the same courtesy couldn't be extended to Akcam, as well.
Akcam's life has been seriously threatened, and
we'll soon discover the ones doing the threatening were not the Turks, but those who
lie in Akcam's own anti-Turkish bed.
|The interview begins
Akcam responds accurately to the host's question as to whether the
Turkish "denial" is being taught in schools. Akcam explains, "Until recently, it was not a topic in the Turkish curriculum.
Nineteen-fifteen was referred to only as a deportation of the Armenian people in eastern
Anatolia because of the war conditions. Only these two sentences, nothing more."
Only recently has the matter been introduced in the classroom, from the
"denialist" viewpoint. (Although I hear reports that Armenian propaganda has
seeped into the nation as insidiously as everywhere else, and there are Turkish teachers
who go the route that would make Taner Akcam proud.)
Fatma Müge Göçek
Had the Turks taught what really took place all of these years, Turkish
children could have borne hatred for Armenian betrayal and extermination tactics. What has
this mature and civilized policy resulted in? Too many Turks today are blank slates,
ignorant of the details of these events. Genocide industry forces, with Akcam's friend
Fatma Müge Göçek as one in the lead, are now looking to expand the spreading of their
poison within Turkey itself.
A conference was planned in a state institution, Bogazici
University, with participants only belonging to the genocide club; those with differing
opinions, such as Turkkaya Ataov, were
refused. The genocide club best operates in monologue format, shunning dialogue. (As
Akcam will make clear, as will soon be seen.) A state representative complained that the
Turks involved were treasonous, and the conference organizers figured the matter got too
hot and cancelled. (Why didn't they simply hire extra security?) A big hullabaloo ensued,
the state rep found a lawsuit on his hands, the Turkish left wailed, and 154 university
professors protested — apparently completely unaware of the propagandistic exclusivity
of this conference. (Very bad taste to hold an anti-Turkish affair in a state-run
university.) At the time of this writing, the conference has
been rescheduled, with the same "closed door" policy.
Akcam is asked to provide a description of events.
"The beginning of the deportation was in
1915, May, and continued until the beginning of 1917."
My knowledge is that the resettlement policy ended in 1916. Perhaps
there was a trickle going on by 1917. Vahan Cardashian quoted Henry
Morgenthau (in a March 3, 1916 letter to Lord Bryce, as recorded in The Armenian Review
[Winter 1957, p. 107]) that the government's attitude toward the Armenians was passive,
and that large numbers of Armenians were found in almost every city. That sounds like it
was pretty much over by the beginning of 1916. ADDENDUM: Talat
Pasha sent a "cease and desist" "deportation" directive on August
1915. Officially, August 1915 was the end of the "deportation." Locals
had other ideas, and displaying the lack of power of the central government, Talat kept
issuing orders to stop. In 1916, a lot of the later "deportations" appear to
have taken place among those already "deported," when the Armenian population
grew larger than 10% of a community. [Source: Guenter Lewy, "The Ottoman Massacres
in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide.")
Were the Armenians dropped off
their advocates love to have us believe?
"Almost the entire Armenian population of
Anatolia was deported to the deserts of Syria and Iraq."
These regions were known as "The Fertile Crescent"; the sand
dunes of "Lawrence of Arabia" do not represent the correct picture. One
of the many times the "historian" Taner Akcam proves his marriage to the forces
of Armenian propaganda. Another is the idea that there were practically no Armenians left
in Anatolia, which is false. Morgenthau himself reported otherwise in 1916, as seen above,
and the Armenian Patriarch claimed there were 1,260,000 Armenian survivors in what was
left of the empire in 1918, and 644,900 in 1921. The Patriarch's pre-war population was
2.1 million (when in fact it was around 1.5 million.)
"The official version, the official
reason was that the Turkish authorities—or the Ottoman authorities—of that time
considered the Armenian population, especially in eastern Anatolia, as a threat."
The word "official" has no place here; this was the one
and only real reason. The Armenians posed as a significant military threat with
perhaps 50,000 fighters behind the lines, posing as a fifth column. (The number might have
been as many as 100,000, according to Prof. Justin McCarthy.) The Ottoman Empire was being
attacked on multiple fronts by superpower enemies, particularly mortal enemy Russia. Enver
Pasha's terrifying Sarikamish mistake meant there was no army left in the east. One of the
reasons why Sarikamish failed (aside from direct Armenian sabotage) also had to do with the fact
that Enver was counting on Armenian soldiers, once the Dashnaks professed their loyalty in an Erzurum meeting months earlier. This
is when the Turks offered Armenians real autonomy, little aware
that the two-faced Armenians were accepting what they thought was a better deal from
Russia. In their greed, the Armenians conveniently forgot the Russians historically rarely
kept their promises, whenever they convinced the Armenians to betray their Ottoman nation,
beginning in the late 18th century. True to form, the Russians would not keep their promises this time, either.
"They covered up their operations as a
necessity of the war. During this deportation, they organized a paramilitary organization,
and this organization—a secret organization, a military organization—attacked the
There was nothing to cover up. The Ottomans provided genuine orders designed to protect Armenian
lives and property. The reason why things did not go smoothly had to do with wartime chaos
and corruption, a lack of manpower and resources, and, yes, animosity against the
Armenians from individuals thanks to Armenian treachery in the nation's darkest hour. If
the Ottomans wished to cover up, they would never have allowed, for example, this hostile missionary to have joined a
convoy of Armenians on the march. As she herself related (at the time of the events; she
later "revised" her views), the government had nothing to do with the
attacks from, mainly, Kurds. While there were renegade troops who committed crimes against
Armenians, there was no "military organization" that attacked the convoys...
that is totally preposterous. What Akcam is using is the hearsay dug up by his Armenian
mentor, Prosecutor Vahakn Dadrian. Dadrian relies on half-reported testimony of the 1919
trials conducted by a puppet Ottoman government, where people were saying anything to save
their necks. (Here is how a real historian interprets
these trials. Dadrian naturally went on a counter-attack, defending his unfounded
"Special Organization" theories
that Akcam is referring to.) The trials were so farcical, even the British turned a blind
eye to their findings for their planned separate tribunal.
How could any scholar make such claims when there is no real
evidence? Shame on Taner Akcam for being so unscrupulous. There are many forces out to
destroy his country, and double shame on him for joining these forces.
"The number of dead is between, according
to Turkish numbers, three hundred and six hundred thousand, and according to Armenian or
scholarly estimation, around 1 and 1 million Armenians perished during that period. Most
of the reasons for the deaths were killing, hunger, starvation, health conditions,
disease, and so on. At the end almost the entire Armenian population was deported and
"Scholarly" estimates? It's repulsive this blatant
propagandist dares to even use such a word. Fact: there were around 1.5 million
Ottoman-Armenians before the war, a median figure from most "neutral" sources;
even Akcam's pod pea, Halil Berktay has settled on this number, in a recent interview from
a Hurriyet genocide series that Akcam also took part in. Fact: Before the
declaration of the stillborn Sèvres Treaty in 1921, the Armenian Patriarch recorded up to
644,900 Armenians within what was left of the Ottoman Empire. Hundreds of thousands of
refugees had moved elsewhere, such as the 50,000 in Iran and the 500,000 (according to
Richard Hovannisian) in Transcaucasia, and the hundreds of thousands in other regions.
Fact: the Armenians themselves concede one million Armenians survived. (From the Patriarch
in 1921 to Boghos Nubar, to today's cast of Armenian
characters — including Akcam's mentor, Vahakn Dadrian.) Subtract 1 million from 1.5
million, and you get the actual scholarly result that approximates the
"Turkish numbers." (Substitute "Truthful" for "Turkish";
barring the claims of certain pseudo Turks.)
At the end "almost the entire Armenian
population" was NOT "deported and eliminated."
These 645,000-odd Armenians moved out for various reasons (greener pastures were offered
through sympathetic Christian nations, for one; for another, many herded to Cilicia to establish an Armenian country, before France
chickened out), ultimately leaving a tenth of that number making up the Armenian community
in Turkey today. (Barring the thousands of recent arrivals from Armenia in recent years,
seeking a better life.) The fact is, the Turks allowed the Armenians to return under several edicts and agreements.
Most of the reasons for the Armenian deaths were famine and disease,
the same reasons that claimed the lives of most of the Turkish/Muslim civilians. Bread was
almost unobtainable since the start of the war, according to biased U.S. consul Leslie
Davis. (Pg. 38, "The Slaughterhouse Province.") His fellow biased
diplomat, Ambassador Morgenthau, explained few were left to till the fields because of
massive mobilization, and Henry estimated an entire quarter of the Turkish population died
from starvation. Diseases were rampant; fellow pro-Armenian General Harbord believed
600,000 Turkish soldiers died from typhus alone. Outright killings did not constitute a
large percentage of Armenian deaths; the "murders" were in the low 10s of
thousands, perhaps. (Le Figaro figured [in 1977] a total of 15,000, including all
causes of deprivation on the marches, not just massacres.) Compare with the over
half-million Turkish/Musllim lives the Armenians (with Russian help) took, when nearly
all the Turkish soldiers were away and could not defend their villagers... or when the
Armenians occupied eastern Anatolia. Why does this "Turkish historian" not care
about these lives, taken from what approximated an actual genocide? The same reason
William Gladstone poured his outrage over the 10,000 Bulgarians who died in the
Bulgarian bid for independence (they were all "massacred," of course), and
didn't say a word about the 262,000 Turks who were killed, and a further half
million who were expelled. (McCarthy, "Death and Exile.")
Taner Akcam's willful dishonesty (assuming he is not ignorant of
these facts) is truly hard to stomach. We all need to make a living, but what can drive a
man to sell out on such a wholesale fashion?
To Akcam's credit, sometimes he has
rare "honesty attacks," as demonstrated by the following reply to the
host's question regarding the reason for why the Armenians were killed:
culture of tension between Christian and Muslim populations is one of these reasons.
But both peoples, the Muslims and Christians, lived in the area more than 500 years
without any problem."
Good for Akcam that he did not espouse one of
the favorite Armenian theories providing a murder motive, that "Muslims hate
Christians"; he also didn't travel down the road of the favorite theory,
"Pan-Turanism"... that Turks hoped to Turkify the empire. (Curiously
leaving other Ottoman non-Turks intact.) Akcam provides his own theory:
"There are of course
different reasons, but, if you ask me, I would underline one important reason, and I
would define this more as a political reason. The basic fear of the Ottoman Empire
was that they were going to lose the eastern part of Anatolia. In 1914, before World
War One, there was an agreement between the Russian government and the Ottoman
government. According to this agreement, the Ottoman authorities should implement
certain reforms in eastern Anatolia. These reforms should give certain autonomy to
the Armenians. According to the Ottoman authorities, this was the beginning of
Armenian independence in eastern Anatolia."
Definitely, the Ottoman Empire was well aware
that the European imperialists succeeded in stirring up the peoples in the Balkans,
resulting in the massive loss of territories and Turkish lives. The Europeans were
now pulling the same trick with the Armenians. The handwriting was on the wall.
What Akcam is not telling us is that the
Armenians were accorded "internal autonomy" (as Hovannisian described it) centuries
ago. The Turks wanted to get away from the dictates of its mortal Russian enemy, and
offered a real autonomy to the Armenians themselves, as we covered earlier,
through the work of Nassibian. The fact is, the Armenians prospered under the
Ottomans unlike any other time in their history; they were treated worse by the Russians and even the
Here is the flaw in Akcam's theory: the Turks
didn't have to respect this treaty that Russia twisted the Turks' arm with. Once war
started and the Turks annulled this treaty, why should they have been afraid of the
implications of the treaty? That was not a reason to get rid of the Armenians. The
Ottomans were saying "screw you" to the world; they also eliminated the
humiliating Capitulations during WWI... the whole idea was to reclaim their
sovereignty, as the nation had degenerated into little more than a European colony.
War was not an excuse to implement a large-scale, expensive relocation policy when
resources and manpower were so scarce. If killing off the Armenians was on the
Turks' minds, it would logically have been much smarter to use them as much as
possible during desperate wartime, and murder them after the war had been won.
"The Turks had just sustained in the
Caucasus a severe defeat. They needed every available man and every round of
ammunition to cheek the advancing Russians. It is therefore incredible that without
receiving any provocation they should have chosen that particularly inopportune
moment to employ a large force of soldiers and gendarmes with artillery to stir up a
hornet’s nest in their rear. Military considerations alone make the suggestion
absurd." C.F. Dixon-Johnson's "The Armenians," 1916.
Akcam goes on to explain that each time reforms
were granted, "Ottoman authorities never implemented
these democratic rights." That is absolutely an untrue statement. As an
example, Armenians were granted the right to bear arms along the way. (That is what
caused Adana in 1909 to become
a powderkeg.) What prevented the reform process from running smoothly was the
constant interference of the powers, and the subsequently emboldened minorities who
took advantage of their greater freedoms by working against the state.
Akcam's diabolical conclusion: "They thought that instead of creating an establishment of an
Armenian—allowing of a nation-state there, to kill them, to homogenize the region,
is the best political solution." After the Turks actually offered the
Armenians autonomy in the Dashnak conference of Erzurum in the autumn of 1914. What
a despicable distortion. The true sequence of events was that the Armenians were
offered a reward of what resembled "actual" autonomy (this would have
likely been under some Ottoman control) if the Armenians had only done their
patriotic duty and fought against the enemies of the state. The Armenians decided to
stab their nation in the back by becoming, as Boghos
Nubar put it, "belligerents de facto." The existence of the
nation was threatened with this betrayal, combined with the need to fight hostile
superpowers (already in agreement through secret treaties as to how to divide the Ottoman lands between
themselves), and the entire Armenian community had to be moved elsewhere, for
reasons of national survival. The reasons were much more pressing than why the
United States resettled their Japanese during WWII, because the United States'
existence was not immediately threatened, and their Japanese community was loyal.
The relocation of the Armenians was meant as temporary, and they were allowed to
come back; even before the official decree of return was issued, Armenians were
trickling back anyway. (Already present in large numbers, in 1916. See Morgenthau
In fact let's dwell on that Morgenthau
reference for a moment. Now, let us please bear in mind this is coming from Henry Morgenthau, one of the worst
accusatory Turcophobes from the period who lied through his teeth to satisfy his own
agenda, and who relied
exclusively on Armenian sources. If Morgenthau himself is saying in early 1916
that "Armenians were found in good numbers in almost all the interior cities
of Turkey," and that the government's role was "passive"
toward the Armenians, what kind of an extermination policy is that? What kind of a homogenization
is that, if around half the number of pre-war Armenians still remained in the state
at the end of the war, according to the often-deceptive Armenian Patriarch himself?
(Remember, the ones who lost their lives mostly died of famine and disease, the same
reasons that claimed the lives of most of the 2.5 million-plus Turkish mortality.)
It is the duty of immoral "historians" with an agenda to completely
overlook the facts (not the "official" facts from the "Turkish
government," but the facts presented by AKCAM'S OWN pro-Armenian sources), and
make terrible "genocide" accusations..
Shame. Shame on Taner Akcam.
The host asks Akcam why today's Turkish historians
deny Akcam's reality, and Akcam replies "they don’t
want to be reminded of that past." Isn't this explanation absolutely
ridiculous? As if today's Turks (let along professional historians whose
business deals with the past) have any care or even concept of events that happened
so long ago. Perhaps Akcam is mixing "Turks" up with "Armenians"
(with the crucial difference that Armenians live to be reminded of this past).
Another reason is that "founders of the Turkish Republic were either participants in this
genocidal process or they enriched themselves from this process." When
the host asks whether Ataturk should be among the implicated, Akcam replies, "Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was one of the opponents of this genocidal
I'll admit, Akcam surprises me sometimes. His
pattern is lie, lie, lie, lie, and all of a sudden... out of nowhere... truth.
Here he admirably breaks from the ranks of the genocide forces, those such as Levon
Marashlian, Rudy Rummel and countless
others, who squarely pin the genocidal blame on Ataturk as well. (At least regarding
the post war "Phase Two." So when Ataturk's forces clashed with the
Armenian Republic, a war that Armenia provoked according to its own prime minister, Ataturk is blamed for
further massacres... even though Near East Relief representatives themselves are on
record (in the case of 1920 Kars... incidentally, the province with many Turkified
Armenians where Akcam was born) for stating that there were no massacres.
Yet Akcam has a way of undoing even his rare
moments of truth; in this case, he adds, "(Ataturk)
openly accused the Unionist leaders who organized this genocide of being murderers."
Is Akcam referring to the mysterious Los Angeles
Examiner article (August 1, 1926) by a Swiss
journalist of whom no traces could be found, and the one where Ataturk's own
schedule book does not record any interviews given? That is, the one all major
biographies of Ataturk avoided mentioning because of the knowledge that this
interview was a fake? To get the real scoop on Ataturk's Armenian views, the
interview to consult would be March 27, 1921's Public Ledger,
conducted by Clarence Streit. (On the same page as the link provided directly
What Akcam is telling us is that "It is a psychological difficulty to call these founders thieves and
murderers." Too bad Akcam harbors no such difficulties, psychological or
otherwise... making false statements come all too naturally to him. Before one
accuses anyone of being a "thief" or a "murderer," what does one
need? (Assuming one possesses morality.) One needs evidence. Not hearsay or
fabrications, such as the testimony from the 1919 puppet courts.
Here is the reality, as provided for by former
P.O.W. and later assistant to the British High Commission (the ones who supervised
the occupation of the beaten Ottoman nation), Harold Armstrong (from "Turkey in Travail," as he
describes the Turkish officials imprisoned for the Malta Tribunal; Armstrong's
accent is understandably on P.O.W.s, but the near-entirety of these men — 144 at
one point — were being held for crimes against Armenians):
"The story of these deportees is a
sorry one. Among them were evil criminals, who had murdered prisoners-of-war. Many
were ordinary normal Turks who had been leading men in Turkey during the war. Some
were arrested on the poor evidence of a couple of Armenian women or on that of an
enemy. More than one was arrested in error. They were imprisoned in conditions quite
out of keeping with their rank or position. They were kept two years in confinement
without being charged with any crime. They were herded all together, those arrested
for political offences old and new, and those for massacre, murder and evil crimes.
Thus the foul beast Mazlum Bey from Afion-Kara-Hissar, who had murdered British
prisoners-of-war and committed loathsome crimes and offences, was confined with Said
Halim Pasha, the old Grand Vizier, who had opposed the declaration of war and had
been persuaded by Enver Pasha against his better judgment to sign. It was as if the
victorious Germans had shut Lord Balfour in with a gang of criminals like Crippen
and Mahon... the affair dragged on, and late in 1921 all these prisoners without
distinction were released, and those who wished it were shipped back to Turkey. The
results of these deportations were considerable...
The belief in British justice suffered a
rude shock. Many of the deportees were men of great importance. When released they
became ministers and deputies in the Angora Government, and their hatred of the
British was not diminished by their imprisonment, degradation and general treatment
Of course these ordinary normal Turks
and patriots who had experience in government were going to lend their expertise to
the depleted, struggling new nation, by becoming ministers and
deputies in the Angora Government. Therefore, according to Akcam, one
reason why today's Turkish historians are "deniers" is because... they
need to protect the reputations of these men? Men who couldn't be found guilty,
even by the desperate British who hoped to virtually wipe the Turkish nation off the
earth's face, through the Sèvres Treaty?
Akcam refers to the aversion of the "G-word," but not by "twenty, thirty
percent of Turkish academia," who are aware "a
crime against humanity" had taken place, but are afraid of speaking up, for
fear of losing their jobs. As an example of the foreboding atmosphere, Akcam cites the
success of his 1991 book, one that has sold well for an academic work, but one that was
not reviewed once in the nation's media.
No nation is without blood on its hands, and ones
that were superpowers during their time are especially susceptible. Turkey past and
present has certainly behaved badly at times, like any other nation, and in the Armenian
example, I wish they could have done more to alleviate the Armenians' suffering. But given
the wartime desperation for survival and lack of resources... and given the vindictive
human nature at play, anxious to punish those who double-crossed their nation, the
"Sick Man" did a fairly good job regardless. The majority of Armenians survived;
the Ottoman Turks could have truly "deported" the Armenians, banishing them
outside the country forever, as the Russians heartlessly did with what amounted to over
700,000 of their innocent Muslims. (See this telegram,
where Enver was considering this more inhumane step, while considering what to do with the
rebellious Armenians; certainly, the state could have saved a lot more money and resources
by simply booting the Armenians out to Russia.) Moreover, any other country in the same
boat probably would not have even bothered with a "deportation," employing a
"shoot first, ask questions later" policy, as Arthur Tremaine Chester suggested
with what might have happened in this American
There were crimes against humanity on both ends;
there is no disagreement regarding massacred Armenians on the part of the Turks. (Although
practically nonexistent is the pro-Armenian who will admit the massive ethnic cleansing
crimes perpetrated by the Armenians.) But before fools irresponsibly point fingers, they
better make sure they have their facts (as defined by unconflicted sources) straight. The
only issue is whether the Ottoman government systematically attempted to exterminate the
Armenians. Propagandists like Akcam can unethically offer all the theories they want, but
what counts for truth-seekers is genuine and factual evidence. At present, there is no
such evidence. Even Professor Hovannisian is reported to have said in the
"Congress on the Problems of World Armenians" held in 1982: "The
Armenian problem could not be proved. The genocide is not valid legally and it is exposed
The "Historian" Gets Personal
Akcam offers insight into his life by stating,
"...between 1990—I was in Germany, and my Ph.D. is also
from Germany, and I was living in Germany. In 1995 I returned to Turkey and tried to
settle there and tried to find a job."
"I had certain
agreements with certain institutions. One private university in Istanbul agreed to
hire me, but at the last second, they decided to drop their decision. "
They were all afraid: "I must add that there was no official pressure at that time towards
these universities, but these scholars, the academicians who are going to decide on
that issue, got certain letters, unsigned or signed as 'A Group of Turkish
Intellectuals.' In these letters, these scholars and universities were warned [not]
to get in touch with me. This is an indirect threat. Everyone knew that these
letters were coming from the authorities, the Secret Service, or groups within the
Turkish state, and so the universities were scared to hire me."
That's nonsense. Akcam is speculating again.
Pro-Armenian propaganda always has it that the sinister Turkish government. will
always be behind the opposing forces to the Armenian myth. The reality is that the
Turkish government is completely at a loss in handling this "genocide"
business. As Harold Armstrong deduced with some overstatement, "The Turks...
were incommunicative people with no power of self-expression nor of propaganda in
their own interests."
I'm not in a position to conclusively say
whether the "sinister" Turkish government was behind these threats; what
I'm saying is that if I were a Turk living in Turkey, and if I were to hear a
poisonous propagandist like Akcam were being considered to soil impressionable
students' minds, I'd surely fire off such a letter. I wouldn't care what the
"Turkish government" had to say.
Akcam explains why it is important to tell the
story of the genocide:
"I was a member of
this generation who were really fighting for human rights and democratic rights, in
Turkey. That’s why I know what torture means, I know what violence means. It’s
part of my own history."
He's got that right. What he doesn't reveal is
that he was a convicted terrorist who played a part in the violence of that
tumultuous period. For example, on November 4, 1975, he reportedly participated in
an act of violence in Malatya, which resulted in an injury to a cab driver.
Here is how Akcam explained this part of his
"...I was arrested
in 1976 because of the article I wrote in a students’ newspaper. The reason why I
was arrested is that I wrote that there are Kurds living in Turkey. In fact, the
Turkish state claimed at that time that there were only Turks in Turkey. In the
1970s, this was a founding myth of the modern Turkish state. It was a criminal
offense. It was against the law to acknowledge the existence of Kurds in Turkey.
Because of that reason, I was put in jail and sentenced to ten years. Then, after
one year, I thought “it is enough,” and I escaped from the prison. Then I came
to Germany, where I was given political asylum in 1978. After some personal
tragedies as a result of my political role, I decided to quit politics and change
the direction of my life. It was the middle of the 1980s. I went to academia."
If only all prisoners could get out of jail
when they think, "it is enough." Despite their vile MIDNIGHT EXPRESS
reputation, Turkish prisons must be the easiest in the world to bust out of. Those
who have blown Turkish joints include Billy Hayes, Mehmet Ali Agca [the criminal who
shot the Pope], Peter Balakian's "action priest" relative...
So Akcam innocently provides as the reason for
his imprisonment that he wrote an article about Kurds. I'm betting the
"Kurd" word was not so much a taboo in 1976's Turkish media as Akcam hoped
for the radio listener to believe. No, the reasons for his imprisonment were far
In the gushing March 6, 2004 New York Times article on Akcam ("Turks
Breach Wall of Silence on Armenians"), writer Belinda Cooper quoted
Akcam as having explained the reason for his arrest:
"spreading communist propaganda"
It looks like Akcam is adept at
providing all sorts of reasons for his arrest, except for the real one:
Akcam might have been involved in groups designated as terrorist by the
Turkish government, but if we wish to get at reasons for his arrest, what
would be a fairer source than the radical newspaper he used to edit? Here is
their version, and overall, it
is mostly in agreement with Belinda Cooper's conclusion.
From "From Terrorism to
Armenian Propagandist: The Taner Akcam Story,"
by Mustafa Artun, March 19 , 2001:
...Akcam moved from student activism
into political terrorism by joining the THKP-C (...Turkish People's Liberation
Party-Front) in 1972 — a terrorist organization that was implicated in the
assassinations and killings of numerous far-right militants, Turkish security
officials, and American and NATO military personnel. In the mid-1970s, Akcam became
a leading member of DEV-YOL (Devrimci Yol-Revolutionary Path) and the editor of its
periodical... It might be recalled that DEV-YOL was one of the two principal leftist
terrorist organizations (the other being DEV-SOL) that played a major role in the
bloody escalation of political violence in Turkey during the 1970s. In the bizarre
ideological divisions among the leftist groups that proliferated on the Turkish
political scene at the time, DEV-YOL was known as following a "pro-Soviet"
line in terms of its international loyalties. DEV-YOL's bloody terrorist activities,
which claimed hundreds of fatalities and a large number of serious injuries,
included assassinations, armed attacks, bombings, and bank robberies. The group also
achieved notoriety when it set up a so-called "liberated zone" in the town
of Fatsa on the Black Sea coast where DEV-YOL militants established their control
for several months before being routed by the security forces.
During this period of heightened
terrorism, Akcam was an active participant in the planning of assassinations and
armed attacks against the targets chosen by DEV-YOL. He was in the inner leadership
circle of the terrorist organization and worked as the right-hand man of its leader
Oguzhan Muftuoglu. In addition, as the editor of DEV-YOL's magazine, he wrote
numerous articles exhorting DEV-YOL militants to engage in violence to bring down
"the oligarchy", to punish "the fascists", and to get rid of
"American imperialism." By the mid-1970s, as political violence between
the far-left and ultra-nationalist groups escalated, Akcam had become one of the
leading "theoreticians" of leftist terrorism and violence in Turkey.
Taner Akcam was arrested in 1976.
After a trial that lasted several months he was sentenced to eight years and nine
months for his role in fomenting terrorism and political violence. However, Akcam
did not stay in jail for long: in a spectacular incident that made the headlines in
the Turkish press, he escaped from a prison in Ankara along with four other
convicted terrorists in March 1977. After hiding in Turkey for several months, he
managed to find his way to Germany where he asked — and received — political
asylum. In Germany,
...He criticized DEV-YOL's leader
Muftuoglu for his "pacifism" and called for the renewal of the "armed
struggle" in Turkey. He also maintained his fanatical criticisms and attacks
against of the West in general, and the United States in particular. In an interview
in 1989, he declared: "I consider saying 'yes' to NATO and the European Union
the biggest shame for a revolutionary. I am against the West since I consider it an
imperialist power...and because I view the technology, culture, and politics of the
West dangerous for all mankind." Akcam returned to Turkey in 1993 for the first
time since his prison escape. Since his 1977 conviction and sentence had expired, he
could not be put back into prison.
...It is lamentable that a person
who has been a fanatical critic of the U.S. throughout his adult life and who has
worked in terrorist organizations that were directly responsible for the deaths of
American citizens is now warmly embraced by Armenians living in this country.
Perhaps this should not come as a surprise since the Armenian activists have shown,
over and over again, that they are willing to provide moral and material support to
those who engage in terrorist acts directed at Turkey and Turkish officials. As a
former terrorist leader with a long record of involvement in activities against the
Turkish state, Akcam should feel at home among his new Armenian patrons.
Note how the prison term in the above account differs from
Akcam's claim, to the tune of one year and three months. Why isn't Akcam more careful with
his "facts"? Maybe he hoped that "ten years" sounded more monstrous,
for such an innocent crime as writing an article about Kurds.
For one who once declared that the technology, culture, and politics of the West [is]
dangerous for all mankind, how ironic that Akcam embraced the land of all evil,
the United States, with such open arms.
When Armenian forces arranged for Akcam to enter the
United States and get a professor's job (many Americans with Ph.Ds are hard-pressed to get
those) at Dennis Papazian's University of Michigan-Dearborn (the "official"
story is that fellow genocide-advocate, Fatma Muge Gocek, sponsored him), I wonder how
such a "scholar" of no apparent repute (aside from his willingness to sling mud
at his country) managed to get past immigration officials. My knowledge is that those with
criminal pasts are frowned upon. Not to mention communist sympathizers.
The host asks, "...people were trying to kill
you, right? I mean, the German police offered you protection. They even offered you
plastic surgery so you could change the way you looked."
That sounds like the sinister Turkish government was
after Akcam's hide, doesn't it? The interviewer made it sound that way mainly at the
show's beginning (when he said that "Taner Akçam has become the first Turkish
historian to call the Armenian killings a genocide. In response, his life has been
Now take a look at who the culprit was:
Akcam: "Yes, I
was threatened by the PKK at that time."
Michael Enright: That’s the Kurdish—
Akcam: That’s the Kurdish separatist organization. One can compare this organization
with Pol Pot or Stalin or even with Saddam Hussein. The number of people that the leader
of that organization liquidated is more than, unfortunately, 3,000. They liquidated more
than 3,000 of their own members. I was opposed to that also. They wanted to kill me. They
couldn’t find me, and so they killed one of my best friends in Hamburg. This was the
turning point for me.
If this isn't the worst hypocrisy!
Akcam had an understanding at one point with the PKK's Ocalan.... they were both working
for the same cause, after all, the weakening of the Turkish state. Akcam was a champion of
the Kurds (he went to prison for the Kurds, by golly), and at that time, the PKK served as
the darlings of the anti-Turkish West. Something must have gone wrong between them (note
Akcam makes no reference as to why he was targeted for murder; was he one of the 3,000
members the PKK wanted to liquidate? Isn't it odd, by the way, that an organization would
want to liquidate its own members? That is not the kind of policy which would sustain an
organization's membership, over the long term), and now... suddenly... Akcam is slinging
mud at his former friend, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
(See both men go at each other, in published interviews, shedding light at the
I can't resist adding the former part of the above
Enright: Well, you’re
going to write your memoirs, I hope. Are you?
Akcam: Everyone wants [me to write them], but I don’t have time. I think working on the
Genocide is more important than my personal story, at the moment.
Well said. The "genocide" is Akcam's whole
cause for existence... why, just like many extremist Armenians!
Now what kind of an answer is that for a REAL
scholar? Why would Akcam be so obsessed with the genocide exclusively, like his mentor,
Vahakn Dadrian? If he wants to concentrate on this so-called genocide among other
subjects, that would be one thing. But no. His whole academic career is based on this
one-note topic. What does that tell us?
"Only between 1921 and
1938, in the first sixteen years of the Republic period, there were more than twenty
Kurdish uprisings against the Turkish authorities, and there were a lot of violence,
massacre, human rights abuses."
From my limited knowledge of this part of Turkish
history, I'd have to agree there were abuses. Yet it is only Turkey that is singled out
for being "barbaric" when there are uprisings within its borders. The Kurdish
tribes were accustomed to living semi-independently and many times did not wish to
recognize the authority of the central government. Now what would any nation have done?
Say, okay, live and let live? That's not the way the world works. And the Turks have a
special sensitivity to the issue of its minorities stabbing the nation in the back and
breaking away. Turkish tolerance through the centuries ultimately endangered the entire
Turkish nation with extinction. Of course the authorities would be on guard against
further rebellions. The way in which these rebellions were put down may be questioned, but
it's unfair to do so without putting in perspective how other nations have dealt with
their own rebellions.
The interview ends with Akcam predicting Turkey
"will apologize." I hope he's wrong. If Turkey
apologizes because of desperation to get into the European Union (who would want to belong
to a club that requires its member to lie, as a condition?) or because its leaders curry
favors from the West, that would be terrible. It would be a grave insult to Turkey's
national honor. If anyone needs to apologize, it is the Western nations that have created
and perpetuated this myth for so long... and the Armenians themselves, for working day and
night to cultivate Turkey's image as a monster.
But maybe Akcam is correct. He has opened the
floodgates to many other Turkish sell-outs. I hope the Turks will be careful and
responsible. Prof. Justin McCarthy was more optimistic, when he gave a speech in March 2005:
"...I have faith in the honor of the Turks.
What I know of the Turks tells me that they will never falsely say there was an Armenian
Genocide. I have faith in the honesty of the Turks. I know that the Turks will resist
demands to confess to a crime they did not commit, no matter the price of honesty. I have
faith in the integrity of the Turks. I know that the Turks will not lie about this
history. I know that the Turks will never say their fathers were murderers. I have that
faith in the Turks."
The Turkish Response
The program deserves a lot of credit for
including the lengthy statement prepared by the Ottowa Turkish Embassy. It was so
nicely prepared, here it is in its entirety:
Enright: Now, we asked for a response from the
Turkish Embassy in Ottawa. Here is part of the Embassy’s official statement to The
[ME reads from statement:]
The question — whether the events in Anatolia during the First World War can be
termed a genocide — is too complex to treat in a short time. The Turkish people,
not only the Turkish Government as many times mistakenly put, firmly believe that
what happened to the Armenians was not genocide. This stance does not aim to
belittle the suffering of Armenians as well as of Turks or to deny that high numbers
of lives have been lost in Anatolia. Every loss of life is deplorable and tragic. To
mourn these losses and learn about our common history is one thing but attempting to
use these tragic — tragic equally to both sides — events for political or
material gains today is another.
In the years that the Ottoman Empire was getting closer to its final collapse,
Armenians had decided to wage an armed struggle against Ottomans with the aim of
creating an independent state of their own in Eastern Anatolia.
The problem with the Armenian case was that in the territory that they were
claiming, they were only a minority. Therefore, for them to be able successfully to
form an independent state was possible only by ethnically “cleansing” the
majority Turks from these lands, something which they planned and started to do.
They actually attacked and did whatever harm they could inflict on Turkish
interests. For the Ottoman Government, they were terrorists instigating rebellion.
Alarmed by this imminent security risk and the strategic threat posed by the
Armenian support of the enemy, that is, the Allied forces, the Ottoman Government
decided in May 1915 to relocate only the eastern Anatolian Armenians from the six
provinces with Armenian population to other parts of the Empire, away from a war
zone in which they were collaborating with invading Russian armies.
Many Armenian convoys, once uprooted, became victim of unlawfulness prevailing in
the region as well as the harsh natural conditions aggravated by the war. As a
result, many Armenians were killed while many others made into one of these cities
and formed today’s Diaspora. But, one has to remember that the number of Muslim
and Turks perished in those years in those conditions is no less than those of
The Turkish people are deeply offended by the accusations branding them as being
genocidal- They find it disrespectful of their unmentioned millions of dead in a
time of desperation not only for Armenians, but more so for the Turks. It is not
accurate if the issue is presented as one between the Armenian Diaspora and the
What determines genocide is not necessarily the number of casualties or the cruelty
of the persecution but the “intent to destroy” a group. Historically the “intent
to destroy a race” has emerged only as the culmination of racism, as in the case
of anti-Semitism and the Shoah. Turks have never harbored any anti-Armenian racism.
There is no evidence that the Ottoman Government wanted to exterminate Armenians by
this decision of relocation. On the contrary, all the evidence shows just the
opposite that they wanted to implement this relocation decision without risking
Killing, even of civilians, in a war waged for territory, is not genocide. The
victims of genocide must be totally innocent. In other words, they must not fight
for something tangible like land, but be killed by the victimizer simply because of
their belonging to a specific group.
What happened between Turks and Armenians was a struggle for land; branding it as
genocide, a term coined to depict the Shoah, is in our opinion, the greatest
disgrace to the innocent victims of the Holocaust. It is deplorable that, some
Armenian groups in the Diaspora would like to exploit the horrors generated by the
Holocaust as a tool in their bid to realize their self-centered, dreamy national
aspirations, terribly hopelessly far from the realities.
ME: That’s the official statement from the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa.
Holdwater: They slipped
up, though, in their claim that only the "eastern Anatolian Armenians from the
six provinces" were relocated. The rest is excellent.
|Taner Akcam is Infuriated!
Why, how dare there be any nuance
representing the historical reality when the pro-Armenians would prefer an
uninterrupted, propagandistic monologue! Taner Akcam embarrassed himself with the
Thank you again for your invitation to appear as
a guest on CBC's "Sunday Edition." I certainly appreciated sharing my
findings on the Armenian genocide with a Canadian audience through the medium of a
free press and am looking forward to contribute further.
I was, however, extremely surprised to learn that a long statement from the Turkish
Embassy was read by host Michael Enright immediately following my remarks. This is
shocking not only because I was given no opportunity to respond, but also, and more
seriously, because Canada's national radio broadcaster felt it necessary to solicit
an official position-statement from a foreign state, which had the effect of making
the whole interview seem pointless and refuting my position. To me, this statement
and its broadcasting are equivalent to issuing a fatwa. As you might know the fatwa
is a kind of verdict issued by religious authorities, known as Muftis, to settle
disputed questions in Islamic culture. A fatwa guides the believers in how to act
and think and is tantamount to the “final word” on an issue. The Turkish state
continues this Islamic tradition and considers it necessary to have one official “last
word” on any historical topic.
I have had enough personal experience with authoritarian governments to know the
difference between legitimate free speech and the legitimizing of an official party
line. But my problem here is not only with the Turkish government, which considers
that it has the right to dictate what its citizens should think about history;
rather, my problem here is with CBC and its need to seek an official statement. You
invited me as a scholar to talk on a historical topic and the Turkish state is not
my counterpart. Surely this is not a standard which you follow for your historical
problems here in Canada. To put it another way, had I been asked to comment on the
historical treatment of Native Americans, surely the CBC would never have dreamt to
ask the American State Department for an official stance on my position and
broadcast it after my interview. This kind of action has the effect of a double
standard; what you would not do with your own history, please don’t do it with
If you really want to support free speech in general, and, especially in Turkey,
please don’t legitimize the Turkish state’s official “fatwas” by
broadcasting them as a normal follow-up to an academic debate. The best way to aid
Turkish society in its struggle for human rights and democracy is to remind the
Turkish state that in Western societies the states, as a rule, don’t have official
lines or positions on certain historical events.
You might also be interested to know that Turkey’s current official state position
on the Armenian genocide is “let the historians discuss the issue; it’s not
state business.” However, it seems that Turkey does not actually stick to this
position and quickly intervenes if one of its citizens has a position other than its
official “fatwa.” Likewise, CBC doesn’t want to leave the Turkish state out of
the debate and felt it was necessary, or was compelled, to seek their official
position; if the latter is the case, CBC owes us an explanation for what forced them
to do so.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share my view of history. I hope that in the
future CBC will be more sensitive in constructing discussions on historical topics.
Visiting Associate Professor
Department of History
University of Minnesota
(History... and Taner Akçam,
in the same sentence. Chilling.)
Unbelievable. The above is such a
comical example of self-destruction, it needs no response... speaking for itself. I can
understand why some have given Taner Akcam the nickname, "village idiot."
However, I can't resist
pointing to some of the statements within this disastrous letter.
There is no shortage of those who advocate the
Armenian "Genocide," but when thoughtful media outlets attempt a sense of fair
play, finding those to counter the lies can be next-to-impossible. (Reason: pro-Armenian
terror tactics, looking to ruin reputations. Nobody dares to go up against the
pro-Armenian fanatics who operate from the unethical standpoint of the end justifying the
means.) Naturally, the only outlet serving as opposition then becomes the various Turkish
embassies. Thus, the CBC was not looking for an "official statement" from the
Turkish government. CBC was looking to even the scales of what it recognized as a hot
button, controversial topic. The Turkish government was the only one available to
So what should it matter whether the opposition
comes from another professor, or from the "sinister" Turkish government? It is
only the message that should be considered important, not the messenger. Here, Akcam has
the audacity to equate the messenger with a fanatical Islamist issuing a
"fatwa." This is a regrettable approach, to be kind.
Such is the sleazy tactic of the pro-Armenians,
looking to discredit their opponent in irrelevant ways. Akcam makes the outright charge of
labeling Turkey as an "authoritarian" government... even though he has had his
own poisonous books freely published there since 1991. This kind of allowance would not
come from a government that "considers that it has the right to dictate what its
citizens should think about history."
The "Native American" parallel is not
analogous, as everyone knows the Indians got the short end of the stick of their conflict,
with the "white man" breaking every treaty and decimating the Indian population.
The Armenian myth is far from as cut and dried; there is a lot of funny business going on
with the bigoted sources the pro-Armenians point to.
"The best way to aid Turkish society in its
struggle for human rights and democracy is to remind the Turkish state that in Western
societies the states, as a rule, don’t have official lines or positions on certain
historical events." Taner Akcam and others like him are the last to lecture on
"human rights and democracy," because by concentrating on only one side of the
story, they are undemocratically turning a blind eye to the "less-than-human"
others who suffered at least as equally, if not more. (Numerically, many more non-Armenians were directly killed by Armenians than the
other way around.) And if Western societies avoid official lines on historical events, we
wouldn't have the politicians of these "enlightened" nations voting on genocide
resolutions without a care for the actual historic events.
If Akcam is outraged over the lack of free speech,
he should be up in arms at the way Western nations such as France and Switzerland make it
a crime to disagree with the Armenian mythology. In the "authoritarian" country
he evidently despises so much, I'm not aware of people being taken to court for advocating
the Armenian "genocide." If this were the case, Akcam would have been arrested
the next time he set foot in his homeland, for writing "genocide" books released
Akcam had a nerve hit when his rubbish (and I
thought the brunt of his claims had been in existence already through the obsessive
research of Dadrian and others, yet he has the nerve to term them as his findings)
was countered with the actual historical realities, undoing his foul work; he desperately
lashed out, hitting below the belt as much as he could muster. This imposter
"historian" should be thanked for showing his true amateurish stripes. The whole
idea of the forces he represents is to try and stifle academic debate; if he were so
certain about his "facts," he wouldn't have felt as intimidated.