Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the Holy See of ignoring the pain suffered by Muslims and Turks. Cavusoglu did not say why Muslims and Turks tend to ignore the pain suffered by other faiths and other nations.
Such political controversies as the Pope’s speech always offer golden opportunities to Turkish officials who would not miss exploiting them in order to look pretty to an Islamist government and hope for a brighter career.
It seems as if Turkey’s ruling politicians are in a race to look less and less convincing to an already suspicious international audience. How they defended their ancestors’ sins a century ago earned them new points in the race, and made them look even more odd than before.
The tragic events of 1915-1920 that killed 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians have been recognized as genocide by a total of 22 countries in the world, 44 states in the United States, two states in Australia, three in Brazil, four regions and three cities in Spain, two in Syria, five provinces in Bulgaria, one in Colombia, one regional parliament in the Netherlands, one regional parliament in Italy and one in Iran.
The Catholic city-state, the Vatican, is among the countries that have recognized the genocide. But a papal speech on April 12 at a commemorative Mass, calling the mass killing of Armenians the “first genocide of the 20th century,” deeply annoyed some very important men in Ankara. Their defense line was beyond the traditional official Turkish language based on outright denial: it featured generous doses of banality and hypocrisy.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the Holy See of ignoring the pain suffered by Muslims and Turks. But Cavusoglu did not say why Muslims and Turks tend to ignore the pain suffered by other faiths and nations. In 2009, then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused China of committing genocide against the ethnic Turkic Uighurs in China, after fewer than 100 of them lost their lives during clashes with Chinese security forces. The same year, Erdogan said that he went to Darfur in Sudan and did not see genocide there. Only a few months earlier, Erdogan’s Islamist friend, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, had become the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity that caused the death of 400,000 people in Darfur in 2005. “A Muslim would never commit genocide,” Erdogan said, explaining why the man with an arrest warrant for his crimes, al-Bashir, was innocent.
History of the Armenian Genocide
A hundred years ago, amid the upheaval of World War I, this village and countless others across eastern Anatolia became killing fields as the desperate leadership of the Ottoman Empire, having lost the Balkans and facing the prospect of losing its Arab territories as well, saw a threat closer to home.
Worried that the Christian Armenian population was planning to align with Russia, a primary enemy of the Ottoman Turks, officials embarked on what historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century: Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, some in massacres like the one here, others in forced marches to the Syrian desert that left them starved to death.
The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War. It also remains that conflict’s most bitterly contested legacy, having been met by the Turkish authorities with 100 years of silence and denial. For surviving Armenians and their descendants, the genocide became a central marker of their identity, the psychic wounds passed through generations. (Source: NYTIMES)
The 100th anniversary will be commemorated on April 24, the date the Ottomans rounded up a group of Armenian notables in Istanbul in 1915 as the first step in what historians now agree was a wider plan of annihilation. Armenians from Turkey and the diaspora are preparing to gather in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square to honor the dead. They will also hold a concert featuring Armenian and Turkish musicians.
Ankara is not participating in any of the memorials, nor does it appear ready to meet Armenian demands for an apology. Instead, on the same day of the genocide anniversary, the Turkish authorities scheduled a centennial commemoration of the Battle of Gallipoli, an event that helped lay the foundation of modern Turkish identity.
Even now, Turkish textbooks describe the Armenians as traitors, call the Armenian genocide a lie and say that the Ottoman Turks took “necessary measures” to counter Armenian separatism. A room at the Istanbul Military Museum is devoted to the suffering of Muslims at the hands of Armenian militants.
The Turkish government acknowledges that atrocities were committed, but says they happened in wartime, when plenty of other people were dying. Officials stoutly deny there was ever any plan to systematically wipe out the Armenian population — the commonly accepted definition of genocide.