The following report was
written by Turkish-American Meltem Deniz.
AKCAM AND HIS “OTTOMAN TURKISH” AND HIS ETHICS AS A SCHOLAR…….
Taner Akcam, unfortunately being presented as a history
scholar who read the Ottoman Archives in Ottoman Turkish, apparently does not even know
Ottoman Turkish or is not hesitant to step on ethics accepted in academia. I was always
wondering where and when he found the time to learn and read the archives, taking his past
into consideration. Here is a very good example, a proof of his lack of knowledge and
misinterpretation and I will let you judge about his ethics.
Taner Akcam at
Mr. Akcam presents the following archive, PARTIALLY,
(citing from the book “Armenians in the Ottoman Archives” published by the Archive
Department in Turkey) in his article as a proof of genocide, stating that probably this
archive skipped from the Archive Department’s attention (implying that they wouldn’t
otherwise publish it).
Let’s first present it EXACTLY the way he does in his article published in a Turkish
Newspaper YENI BINYIL, October 1, 2000: …He summarizes the archive and cites some of the
lines in its original. (Lines cited in original are in Italics and underlined.)
Burada, Devlet Arsivleri Genel Müdürlügünün, Osmanli Belgelerinde Ermeniler
(1915-1920) kitabinda (herhalde gözden kaçirarak) yayinladiklari bir belgeye deginmek
I want to mention a document here from the book named “Armenians in the Ottoman
Archives” published by the Archives Department (I think it skipped their attention).
Dahiliye Nezareti, 29 Haziran (12 Temmuz) 1915 tarihinde Di-yarbakir´a sifreli bir
telgraf çeker. Telgraf´ta, Vilayet dahilindeki Ermenilerle diger Hristiyanlarin
katledildikleri, "ez cümle ahiren Diyarbekir´den sevk olunan eshas vasitasiyla
Mardin´de murahassa ile Ermenilerden ve diger Hristiyan ahaliden” 700 kisinin
geceleri sehirden harice çikarilarak koyun gibi bogazlatildirildigi, öldürülenlerin
toplam sayisinin 2000 kisi civarinda tahmin olundugu aktarilir.
Ministry of Internal Affair, on 29th of June (12th of July) 1915, sends a coded
telegraph to Diyarbakir. In this telegraph, it is stated that within the city of
Diyarbakir, Armenians and other Christians are killed, “Briefly, the Armenian
religious leader and some of the Armenians and other Christians in Mardin, a total of
700 people, were taken outside the city at nights by the help of the officers who were
recently sent from Diyarbakir and were choked like sheep [‘choked like sheep’ (Koyun
gibi bogazlattirildigi..) is an expression and implies great dislike and disapproval and
criticism — here it sounds like as if this expression is used by Akcam while summarizing
the archive as it is not quoted], and the total number of people died is probably about
Ve "buna seri ve kati bir netice verilmezse... bi´l umum Hristiyanlarin
katledilmelerinden korkuldugu" bildirilir.
And the telegraph states that “if this situation is not ended right away, it’s
feared that many more Christians may be killed.”
Telgraf su cümle ile biter; Telegraph ends with the following sentence;
"Ermeniler hakkinda ittihaz edilen tedabir-i inzibatiye ve siyasiyenin diger
Hristiyanlara tesmili kat´iyyen gayr-i ca´iz oldugundan efkar-i umumiye üzerinde pek
fena te´sir birakacak ve bi´l-hassa ale´l-itlak Hristiyanlarin hayatini tehdid edecek
bu kabil vekayi´a derhal hitam verilmesi ve hakikat-i halin isari." (Taner
is citing this part in Ottoman Turkish — knowing the public wouldn’t understand a word
— therefore I am not going to translate to you either at this time)
Belgenin dili son derece açiktir. Ermeniler için kararlastirilmis olan siyasetin, diger
Hristiyanlara uygulanmamasi gerektigi hatirlatilmakta ve Ermeniler için uygulanan
öldürme eylemlerinin, diger Hristiyanlari da kapsayacak sekilde yapilmasina bir son
verilmesi istenmektedir. Bu belgeyi Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devletinin
bir kurumu yayinliyor. Yorumunu ise, Sükrü Elekdag ile Gündüz Aktan'a birakiyorum.
What this document says is very clear. In this telegraph, it is reminded that the
policy applied to Armenians shall not be applicable to other Christians, exterminations
are limited to Armenians and should not include the other Christians. This document is
printed by a department of the Turkish Republic. [Akcam implies that this is ironic]. I
will let Sukru Elekdag and Gunduz Aktan [Government officials] explain.
[He thinks (or he claims he “thinks”) the document escaped the Archive Department’s
eyes and ironically implies he caught them red handed — and tries to convince the readers that it probably is the
I got curious and read the original
lines of the archive with the help of an Ottoman-Turkish dictionary. When I read and
translated the part Akcam cited, to modern Turkish, I understood right away that
certain things do not make any sense. First of all, no where is it implied
that it was “okay to kill Armenians”…..Second of all, why the person who wrote
this telegraph would imply “It’s okay to kill Armenians but don’t touch the
other Christians”, but at the same time is concerned with lives of all the
Moreover, a government who wants to exterminate the Armenians because of the ‘nationality
concepts in Europe’ would not even care not to discriminate the other Christians,
as almost there is no Turk who is not a Moslem…. Wouldn’t it be nice to kill two
birds with one stone?
First, I tried to list all the possibilities why Akcam would misinterpret…While
doing that, I realized how “sensitive” it is to read the archives. For example;
kabil vekayi vs kabîl
vekayi (with a “۸” on the i [kabîl]
instead of a dot — such as a vs ấ)
kabil means = possible to occur, nothing to surprise, probable….
( with a “۸” on the i instead of a regular i) means “as such”…
“of this kind”…
Here are some more and striking examples….
This is “hậl”
in Ottoman Turkish…which means condition, situation…
This is “hậl”
as well, in Ottoman Turkish…but this one means “uncle”... mother’s brother….(watch
the little dot on L shape letter which is the only difference and excuse my
drawings..) but for some reason it also means the nevus on your body….
Briefly, reading the “Ottoman Archives in Ottoman Turkish” requires extensive
and special training. An archive expert is some one who knows the Arabic Alphabet,
Arabic, Persian and Turkish grammar. Otherwise, it would be reading the archives,
which have already been read by others.
(is) not only uneducated but also untruthful
I finally reached a retired Ottoman History
professor in New York, who knows Ottoman Turkish, Professor…... He said even the
Armenians are now criticizing Mr. Akcam; he’s not only uneducated but also untruthful,
and convinced me to find the archive and read the document in whole…
I found the book (Armenians in the Ottoman
Archives, 1995) in the internet (www.devletarsivleri.gov.tr). The book is a collection of
Ottoman Archives related to Armenian deportations. The archive is placed in the section
where security measures taken with regard to deportations are discussed. I read the whole
mentioned archive. (Attached copies of it both in original Arabic Alphabet and Latin
Alphabet). Once I read the whole document in full, I judged Akcam’s morals rather than
his knowledge. Here is what the telegraph states (written by Talat Pasha):
Son zamânlarda vilâyet dâhilindeki Ermeniler ile bilâ-tefrîk-i mezheb H*rîstiyanlar
hakkinda katl-i âmlar tertib olunduğu
ve ez-cümle ahîren Diyârbekir'den sevk olunan e*hâs vâs*tas*yle Mardin'de murahhasa
ile Ermenilerden ve di*er Hirîstiyan ahâlîden yedi yüz ki*inin geceleri *ehirden
hârice çikarilarak koyun gibi boğazlatdirildiği ve simdiye kadar bu katl-i âmlarda maktűl olanlar*n iki bin ki*i
tahmîn olundu*u ve buna serî‘ ve kat‘î bir netîce verilmezse civâr vilâyâtdaki
ahâli-i *slâmiyenin de k*yâm ederek bi'l-uműm H*rîstiyanlar*n katletmelerinden
korkuldu*u istihbâr edilmi*dir. Ermeniler hakk*nda ittihâz edilen tedâbir-i inzibâtiye
ve siyâsiyenin di*er H*ristiyanlara te*mîli kat‘iyyen gayr-i câ’iz oldu*undan
efkâr-* uműmiyye üzerinde pek fenâ te’sîr b*rakacak ve bi'l-hâssa ale'l-itlâk H*rîstiyanlar*n
hayât*n* tehdîd edecek bu kabîl vekâyi‘a derhâl hitâm verilmesi ve hakîkat-*
hâlin i*‘âr*. Fî 29 Haziran sene 331 (Holdwater: the
asterisks represent special Turkish characters... I "translated" some of them,
but not all.)
In the past few days, we are reported about Armenians and other Christians, that
massacres are committed and briefly, in Mardin, 700 people of Armenians and other
Christians including the Armenian priest were taken outside the town at nights and were choked
like sheep by the help of the officers who were recently sent from Diyarbakir, and
until this time the number of people who died is thought to be about 2000 and if this is
not ended right away, it is feared that Moslems in surrounding towns will be encouraged
and start massacring all the Christians. Because the application of the security measures
and policies undertaken with regard to Armenians is strictly forbidden to include other
Christians, such incidents, that could leave a terrible effect on the general public, and
particularly could endanger the lives absolutely of all the Christians, must be ended
immediately, and what the truth is about the situation (hakîkat-* hâl) must be
reported.(to himself (Talat Pasha).
Date: June 29, 1331 (July 12, 1915)
Briefly, Talat Pasha heard a “rumor”, so many people were killed, “strangled like
sheep”…and please pay attention…those are his words….and more
importantly heard that among the ones deported, there are other Christians who were not
Armenians…that’s what he exactly means by “the security measures and policies shall
not include other Christians”…and I will explain that why. Let’s also take into
consideration that the telegraph is written during the time-period where it is feared that
Moslems will organize a “revenge attack’ as a respond to the deaths of about 90,000
Turks killed by Armenian rebels in Kars-Ardahan, Van and Bitlis.
I perfectly understand why the Archive
Department put this archive in the book. I also understand that it’s not because
“it escaped their attention.” However, I still would like to ask a couple of
Akcam at fifty, a sociologist
working as "historian," at the
Univ. of Minnesota... which houses
the partly Armenian-supported
"genocide studies" institute,
Stephen Feinstein's CHGS.
(photo, NY Times)
1) When even Talat Pasha is not sure,
wants to learn what the truth is, whether indeed 700 people were deported, and if
those deported included other Christians, and if deaths occurred and if the total of
deaths is 2000, why does Mr.Akcam present this as if indeed the archive is “documenting”
that such a thing happened, and happened within the numbers presented?
2) Let’s assume Mr.Akcam is quite
pessimistic and assumes the “rumor” is definitely correct by all means. I can’t
blame him as it is apparent, Talat Pasha also took it seriously…...With what kind
of “thought process” he concludes that Talat Pasha implies “it’s okay to
kill the Armenians, but that shall not include the other Christians”?
3) If Talat Pasha “gives permission
to kill the Armenians”, why would he describe what he heard as “strangled like
sheep”? For an official in the highest rank to use that kind of a “slang”
term, which is not Ottoman Turkish at all and shines in the whole archive and
implies a great disapproval and disgust, summarizes the whole story to some one who
knows the Turkish language. Any one who knows Turkish can also easily understand
that Talat Pasha was obviously very angry and frustrated. And it is apparent, he is
not concerned if his Kurdish fellows would be upset when he says “terrible effect
on the general public”…He is concerned if indeed such killings occurred, at
least one of the effects could be to encourage the Moslems as people can say “Hey,
if the government is permitting, let’s do it”. Doesn’t Talat Pasha know that
it would not matter for the public whether you kill only the Armenians or
other Christians on the side?
Deportation was not fun….for any body…It is not fun your neighbor for 20-years
becomes your enemy overnight. Nor could it have been fun for the government to
maintain the security of its country, at the same time of its people while inside
and out in war. And definitely it is not an easy task to tell the difference between
“a Moslem” vs “a terrorist”.
The Americans who harassed Moslems after September 11 did not take any order from
the government and definitely it was not a “systematically-well planned” act.