It's pretty amazing that with
all the anti-Turkish fever throughout the world, instigated in large part by
the Armenian Diaspora, Turks still maintain their humanity and do not lend
themselves to hatred. This is the way I was brought up, and judging by other examples I keep coming across, I see I'm not an
isolated case. (Having lived in America all my life, I have had very little
contact with other Turks.) There is a lot to be said for this dignified,
mature and correct attitude... especially since it is in stark contrast to the
utter hatred that has been bred into Armenian and Greek children. I can see
this hatred when I venture on by to web sites where both parties clash over
their "issues." (Some Turks are not above cussing either, in these
forums... but it's almost always in response to the "mad dogs" among
the Greeks and Armenians. Once again, Turks observe Newton's Law: Greeks and
Armenians act, and Turks react.)
After hearing case after case
of Armenian caused injustices against Turks on the international scene, you
would think the Armenians who live in Turkey today would be targeted by
individual Turkish citizens who would simple-mindedly want to take their
frustrations out on available Armenians within their
country. It's remarkable this does not happen, by and large. In contrast, I
can't say the same about my fellow Americans; after the World Trade Center
attack, for example, there were many incidents of violence against other
Americans who happened to be Moslems. After the Hostage Crisis in the late
1970s, a good number of Iranian-Americans were targeted with violence or
Then again, Turks are made of a
different stripe. Even when they are part of an uncontrollable mob, they find
it difficult to let go of their traditional sense of fairness. For example,
C.F. Dixon-Johnson, British author of the 1916 book, "The Armenians," reported
the following incredible story... in support of the idea Turks could not have
been behind the Armenian "Genocide," especially in the role of
"the fanatical Turk as thirsting for the blood of the Christian":
tells us how a Jewish money charger, mistaken for an Armenian, had been set on
by the mob; when it was ascertained that he was a Jew, he was released but the
crowd ran after him, and brought him back to collect his money, which was
scattered on the ground.... "Would any other mob in the world have acted
thus under similar conditions?"
Let's get into the heads of some of
beads made with women's nipples"
"When will they stop teaching hatred to children?"
[A Letter] TO: Honorable Senator Byrne,
I am the great grandson of Mursel Fuat Kiliç, who was a captain in the Ottoman Army. A
captain who suffered his death in hands of Armenians during their revolt against a country
of which they were citizens.
I am a citizen of the United States but grew up in Ankara, Turkey, spending my summer
holidays in my parents' hometown Igdir. A small city literally sitting on the skirts of
Mount Ararat, sharing a border with today's Republic of Armenia, and U.S.S.R of the past..
A city which suffered a great deal in hands of Ottoman-Armenians. A city where many mass
graves of Turks were discovered during early 60's when I was a little boy. With each
discovery of such graves, I remember my grandmother Zehra Yaycili telling tales of the
horror she had witnessed.
Zehra, who was a devout Muslim, known for her gentle and caring mannerism and character
all over Igdir, in her mid-70's spoke of many sufferings of her youth during hard times.
However, a particular one specifically has stuck in my mind to this day. A sight of an
Armenian rebel, taking a cocky stroll through town, swinging some worry beads, a
significant instrument in prayer in the Muslim religion. An instrument which has 33
purposeful beads, each of which is attributed to different qualities of God; Omnipotent,
Omnipresent, etc. which are uttered to God during a prayer. The worry beads the young
Armenian swung around was made of something special to him. Some things he held dear as
some medals. However those little, blackened, rocklike beads were made of neither some
special stones, nor plastic. They were the cut-off nipples of Turkish women whom they had
violated, and tortured. So he strolled. He strolled, to warn others of the same fate.
So, do I hate the Armenians. NO, I do not. NO, I cannot. Neither does anyone now, nor has
anyone else in the past in my family. As a matter of fact, as a man in his early 40s, who
has love for all human beings, I love the Armenian people as well. This love for all was
first engraved in my heart by none other than my own grandmother Zehra. Because as a 5 or
10 year old, every time I asked my grandmother if she felt hatred for those people who
brought so much suffering to her hometown Igdir, she, God bless her soul, said nothing but
the following: "Son, war is an awful thing, and wars make people do crazy things. I
am sure if the parents of the man with the nipple worry beads saw their son, they would
not be proud of him either," and "May God never have you witness wars". I
am convinced to this day, the only reason my grandmother uttered that explanation was that
her heart couldn't bear the idea of raising a young child with hatred. It was unfitting
her gentle soul. It reminds me of the Oscar winning movie "Life is Beautiful."
So, I ask those Armenian-Americans who have assembled under your roof today; Why the
hatred? Why bend the truth?
Why not ask for once: "If the Turks were so horrible, why didn't they commit
"genocides" on the other numerous minorities within the Ottoman Empire?",
why would they just single out the Armenians? Why? Why? Why not accept that both sides
suffered, why not see that the whole scene was the handiwork of the arch enemy of the
Turks for centuries, the imperialist Russians against whom Turks have fought numerous
times throughout their history? Why not see that both sides suffered not only due to
reciprocated killings, but mainly due to hunger, extreme conditions of the winter climate
and widely spread diseases in parts of war-stricken Ottoman Empire of which their
ancestors were citizens, of whose unity and constitution, as Ottoman citizens they had
sworn to uphold?
When will your hatred stop? Why did they murder dozens of innocent Turkish diplomats in
cold blood? When will they stop teaching hatred to their children?
Treasurer of ATAA, allowed his letter to be printed in
the March 15, 2000 issue of The Turkish Times.
On Turkish Suffering
Dr. Turhan Baykan
In this article, I would like to explain my experience of reading and trying to
understand what happened in Anatolia almost a century ago. My experience could be
typical of practically all of the other Turkish youth.
During the years of my elementary and secondary school years, I
am not able to recollect any single sentence in any of textbooks referring to the
great human suffering that took place in Anatolia. As far as I remember there has
never been any official attempt in our teaching to brainwash us in regards to the
events, and human suffering that took place in 19th and 20th centuries and WWI. My
experience is the typical experience of almost all of the other Turkish children. We
do not grow with prejudice and hate against our neighbors. Why did the government
choose not to inflame the emotions by telling us how our neighbors caused great
suffering for our ancestors? The only place that I could find a logical explanation
for these peaceful teachings in Turkey is at p.336 of Prof. Justin McCarty’s book
DEATH AND EXILE; THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF OTTOMAN MUSLIMS. We have followed Ataturk’s
teaching to us “Peace at home, peace on earth.”
The next contact with the sad events during WWI , occurred when I arrived in the
United States to study. I was puzzled about the accusations and hatred from
Armenians towards Turks. So I started reading on the subject little by little in my
spare time. You have to realize that I am merely a layman, not a historian, as far
as the field of history goes. The list of the books that I have read so far is far
from complete. One of the books that impressed me was McCarthy’s book DEATH AND
EXILE that I mentioned above. His book contained many British, American , German,
Russian and even Armenian sources that gave credibility to what he has written.
What I have read so far has led me to arrive to some conclusions that our neighbors
may not like. What I have learned has opened my eyes to my ancestors’ suffering
which dwarves our neighbors’ suffering added together. I am beginning to believe
that what I have read so far is only the tip of the iceberg. The Turkish children
have been raised very naively with incomplete information about their ancestors’
suffering. Turks have raised their children with the heroic interpretations of their
past, while some of our neighbors have raised their children with the suffering and
self-pity loaded literature.
The cat is out of the bag. Armenians have opened our eyes to our ancestors’
suffering at the hands of our neighbors. Their accusations have led us to read and
learn about our suffering that our parents did not tell us and did not poison our
hearts with. We previously trusted and did not blame our neighbors, but they did not
trust and also blamed us. Now both of us have to re-learn to trust each other just
like we used to do between the 14th and 20th centuries.
However, If we study only our suffering, we will arrive to unfair, unjust
accusations, paranoia (excessive suspicion of other people) and unjustified hatred
against our neighbors. We do not want to fall into the trap that Armenian children
fell in. We should study both our ancestors’ and our neighbors’ ancestors’
suffering together. Then we will develop understanding and compassion for all and
have a peaceful relationship with our neighbors.
I find it very unjust, unfair, unthinkable and insensitive to ask my neighbors to
apologize to me for the bad deeds that some of their ancestors have done to my
ancestors in the past. Good deeds and bad deeds balance sheet are kept separately
for all. Everybody will get their rewards and punishment themselves. This idea of
apologizing reminded me of an old procedure of writing “illegitimate” to the
birth certificates which led to punishment of the children for what their parents
Why do the Armenians insist on apology from us? I believe that any sensitive person
would not ask anybody else to apologize for their parents’ sin. If they insist on
it , as Armenians do nowadays, then I would suspect that they may have a ulterior
motive in doing so, such as propaganda or politics.
The truth is that both our ancestors and our neighbors’ ancestors suffered,
especially during the change of borders in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Suffering in history is not an exclusive privilege and fate of any single ethnic
group. Who suffered more and what happened should be determined by objective
historians. Subjective history that was biased by the researcher’s ethnic
back-round is nothing but propaganda, and not acceptable. After neutral and
objective research are completed nobody should be surprised if “victims” may
turn out to have been “villains” and “villains” may turn out to have been
“victims.” Until historians reach a consensus view of what actually happened, in
the meantime, what is a layman like me who is not a historian to think?
Why does the following statement, “Turkish suffering dwarfed our neighbors’
suffering added together, during 19th century, 20th century and WWI,” sound very
credible to my layman mind?
Because I asked myself the following 3 questions:
I . Who lost the wars? The Turks lost all of the wars except the Anatolian war.
2. Who lost the lands? Turks lost all of the lands except Anatolia.
3. What happened to the losers? According to History Professor Justin McCarty (p. 1,
DEATH AND EXILE) “They were simply gone...five million Muslims were driven from
their lands. Five and one-half million Muslims died, some of them killed in wars,
others perishing as refugees from starvation and disease.”
In other words, defeat brought loss of land and then the ethnic cleansing started to
last one century. Only some of the Muslims (including my parents) survived to reach
Anatolia, “the last safe haven.” “The new Turkish Republic was a nation of
immigrants whose citizens came from Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Armenia, Georgia,
Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere.” (p.2 of DEATH AND EXILE)
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY
What is “the other side of the story” that our parents did not tell us and our
neighbors’ parents did not tell their children or did not think it was important
for them to know, or maybe they did not know themselves?
I am doing research on TURKISH SUFFERING ,“the
other side of story“ I would appreciate it very much if I hear from other readers
who know other sources to contribute to my research.
The Turkish Times August
But more important are the close human bonds which existed and still exist between Turks
and Armenians. Let me give you examples from my own life. While I write this piece I mourn
with tears in my eyes, for our dear teacher of mathematics, Mr. Ohannes Kondayan, who just
died in the States. I was not one of his best students and he flunked me regularly, but we
all loved him and kept in touch with him and his dear wife Betty. We have had many close
Armenian friends whom we loved dearly. There was dear Arto Ayvazian, whom we lost a few
years ago. After some forty years of absence from Turkey, he was writing in perfect
Turkish to me and admonishing us for "destroying OUR beautiful Turkish" We
visited him and his lovely wife Quenie and his dear mother who cooked us "our"
favorite dishes. His two small sons sat on our laps and called us "uncle,"
However, several years later, the ugly head of hatred showed its face when the two boys
grew up and started showing open resentment against their Turkish uncles. Arto apologized
for their actions; "It is difficult to explain our close bonds of friendship to these
brats whose minds have been poisoned" he lamented.
And therein lies the crux of the problem; it is difficult to erase history but what can
take the place of close human bonds of friendship between peoples who have lived together
The preceding is an excerpt from "Of Human Bondage,"
written by Altemur Kiliç.
A Sampling of
"Turkish Oral History"
The Armenians went to Bardakci before they
came to our village. My God, when we went out at night, blood, gunfire, mourning,
and wailing filled the air. I saw them torturing people by cutting
"pockets" out of skin while mockingly telling them they were decorating
them with medals. When we approached the Bardakci village, I saw that on the other
side of the brook, in the field near Mehmet's house they had tied the arms of five
men together and were shooting at them. When they fell to the ground, they stabbed
them with bayonets. My mother handed them all of her money and valuables so that we
would not be hurt. They then brought us to Van, and tortured the prisoners in
unmentionable ways. We stayed in the military barracks for four months. We later
became refugees and remained as such until April 1918.
AYSE SEVIMLI, b. 1897