As part of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust, the cell Democracy or barbarism of the Ministry of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation organized 25 January 2016 in Brussels a day of reflection dedicated to genocide deniers and revisionism.
In the first part of the day, Laurence Schram (Doctor of History) and Mr. Eric David (Professor Emeritus of International Law) spoke about the denial and the laws in force in Belgium and Europe. Mr. Yves Ternon (Doctor of History, Paris IV-Sorbonne) made a presentation on the Armenian genocide and the Tutsis.
In the second part of the day, first Özgüden Dogan, chief editor of Info-Türk, presented the Turkish denial about the 1915 genocide and its impact in countries hosting immigrants from Turkey.
Then a panel of M.Elias Constas (scientific collaborator MRAH) and representatives of the three resources Centres spoke concrete examples of situations or about whether they experienced themselves or that have been reported by their field actors (teachers, educators …)
The intervention of Dogan Özgüden
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all I must make a clarification. Frankly, I’m not an expert on issues of genocide and denial … For cons, I’m a witness, both in my private life that in all my professional activities and social policies, including for over forty years ‘exile.
I just listened to the speech of dear Yves Ternon which is one of the foremost authorities on the subject of the first genocide of the 20th century. I had the honor of serving as an intermediary between him and my friend Zarakolu, there are more than twenty years, for publication in Turkey of the Turkish translation of his work, Armenian Tabou .. .
Indeed, until 1993, the genocide of Armenians in 1915 was a taboo in Turkey … Turkish public opinion has never known or recognized that the most bloody and shameful episode in its history.
All generations, including mine, have been raised in the schools of the Kemalist republic which inculcates the superiority of the Turkish race … As neighboring peoples such as the Russians, Arabs, Bulgarians, Greeks, Persians, non-Turkish peoples of Anatolia, as Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Kurds were considered enemies of the Turkish nation.
Genocides, massacres, pogroms committed against these people appeared nowhere in the curriculum or in the Turkish media.
Fortunately, despite the brainwashing, as the child of a family of itinerant railroad, I had the chance to know in the Anatolian steppes or in the neighborhoods of cities such as Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul, some descendants of genocide survivors.
However, despite sharing the same social fate that my Armenian friends, they never raised this issue, because it was a taboo which forced the non-Turkish families to keep silent to not suffer harassment by official authorities or even by their neighbors proud of being Turkish and Muslim.
They were right, after the extermination and deportation, there were only a few tens of thousands of Armenians and Greeks in Turkey. But Turkish nationalism was not entirely satisfied with the ethnic cleansing done by the Ottoman power. During the Republican period, repressive operations against non-Turkish communities continued incessantly.
During the first year of the republic, in 1923, over one million Greeks were deported to Greece.
In 1934, after an anti-Semitic campaign in the Turkish media, Jews from the cities of Tekirdağ, Edirne, Kırklareli and Çanakkale were victims of pogroms.
From 1923 to 1937, the Turkish army has carried out several genocidal operations against the Kurdish population in the southeast provinces.
And it continues: during the second world war, many Armenians, Greeks and Jews were sent to forced labor camps in the east of the country under the pretext that they did not pay a tax on their property.
And pogroms and atrocities on 6 and 7 September 1955 against the Greek community in Istanbul and Izmir … I was personally eyewitness rampages in Izmir as a young journalist.
Of course, I have to add to the blacklist pogroms against Alevis in the 70, 80 and 90 in the cities of Kahramanmaras, Corum and Sivas.
While these pogroms were sometimes criticized by opposition parties and media, the 1915 genocide was never discussed in the media until recent years.
Even the 50th anniversary of the genocide in 1965, while the Armenian diaspora launched a genocide recognition campaign, the Turkish media remained deaf and dumb.
Neither the parties of the left or progressive unions have made no comment on this black page of history. All this despite the fact that there were Armenians, Greeks and Jews who were active in these organizations.
When someone dared to ask a question about this subject, we preferred to just say that during the first world war, imperialism sow hostility among the peoples to weaken the Ottoman Empire and share these territories.
About this silence, I remember an anecdote of my professional life with bitterness … In 1967, when I ran a week left, we hired a young academic as assistant technical director Inci Tugsavul.
He was wearing a Turkish name. After several months of collaboration, one day he told me: “I must confess one thing that bothers me since day one. Yes, my name Yasar Uçar, but I’m not Turkish. My family was forced to hide his real identity and wearing a Turkish name. I do not want you to have problems working with an Armenian then you already have dozens of lawsuits and threats … “
I reassured … “No Yasar, nothing to fear … This is an honor for me to work with an Armenian origin colleague. “
A second anecdote which I always remember with bitterness … After the second coup in 1971 … At the beginning of our exile with my wife Inci Tugsavul. We were organizing a protest campaign against the regime of generals in Turkey. One evening we were with our friend Marcel Croës with another guest. When I related violations of human rights in Turkey, this guest asked me a direct question: “What do you think of the genocide of Armenians in 1915? “
After a few seconds of hesitation, I tried to repeat the same argument that progressive organizations in Turkey, “Yes, there have been dramatic episodes in the history of our country, but they are the consequence of imperialist provocations. “
My interlocutor was not happy with this evasive answer, me neither!
It is from that time that I got into a closer study on the subject … It is above all thanks to the documents provided by the diaspora that my work team and I are better informed about this happened in 1915.
When the Armenian Asala organization launched in 1975 its violent actions against Turkish targets in order to force the Ankara regime for the recognition of the 1915 genocide, the subject is nilly entered the agenda of democratic organizations Turkey.
When these actions aroused anti-Armenian campaign in the media in the service of the Ankara regime in 1981 in an opposition newspaper that we were heading to Brussels, we published the first article calling on the Turkish democratic forces to seriously on the issue of the Armenian genocide.
In 1987, we published a voluminous black book on the violations of human rights in Turkey in which devoted a chapter about the oppression of Kurds and Christians in the country. To date, we are not alone in the search for historical truth.
Late 70s and especially after the third hit of 1980 state, the influx of Armenians, Assyrians and Kurdish political refugees fleeing repression is a real turning point in the community life of Turkish citizens in Europe.
While almost all Turkish immigrant associations were subject to the repressive policies of the military junta, the Armenian, Assyrian and Kurdish have set up their own organizations in all host countries in Europe.
The historical struggle of the Diaspora for the recognition of the 1915 genocide has gained a new dimension with the support of these new associations that have always kept their narrow organizational relations with Turkey.
It was at that time that we expanded continuing education activities and expression and creativity within our intercultural association Les Ateliers du Soleil. This center is frequented since tens of years by citizens from more than fifty backgrounds, including Armenian, Assyrian, Kurd from Turkey.
In the 90s, the Association of Democrats Armenians of Belgium, the Belgian Institute of Assyrian, Kurdish Institute of Brussels and the Info-Türk Foundation have established a platform for the defense of human rights and peoples in Turkey.
It is this platform that, with the European Armenian Federation, organized in 2005 a series of academic and cultural activities to mark the 90th anniversary of the genocide of Armenians and Assyrians.
Enraged by these developments, the Turkish lobby has not hesitated to provoke Turkish ultranationalist groups against Armenian organizations, Kurdish and Assyrian.
Already in 1994, the Grey Wolves had attacked a hundred Kurds participating in a peaceful march. I remember with horror from firing, in 1998, the premises of the Kurdish Institute of Brussels and another Kurdish association in the Bonneels street in front of the Brussels police!
In 2007, the offices of a Kurdish Association in Saint-Josse were ravaged by arson. That same year, an Armenian trade in Saint Josse was sacked twice by the Grey Wolves.
Same year, the Turkish journalist Mehmet Köksal who had achieved a critical work of communalism and denial was the victim of a physical assault under the cries of “traitor”.
A year later, in 2008, a call to lynching campaign was launched against the leaders of Info-Türk because of our criticism against Holocaust denial. The Belgian government had to place me under protection.
A turning point in the fight against Ankara’s denial was the assassination of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 by the sinister forces of the Turkish state. It is for the first time in Turkey, tens of thousands of Turkish democrats have mobilized to protest against this last step of the Armenian Genocide while chanting “We are all Armenians … We are all Hrant Dink ! “
The recognition of the 1915 genocide has since become a key demand of Democratic Forces of Turkey
However, the Ankara regime, despite the fact that he is a candidate for decades in the EU persists in its denial. Not only in Turkey but in all the countries hosting Turkish immigrants, denying the 1915 genocide is one of the red lines of the Turkish state.
Organizations subject to Turkish lobby are forced at every opportunity to protest against the recognition of the 1915 Genocide … Even politicians from the Turkish community and belonging to the Belgian political parties manifest as burning during the genocide deniers elections …
Among them, there are some who promised the voters of Turkish origin to demolish the monument in Ixelles dedicated to the victims of genocide and to erect a monument in Brussels to honor the Ottoman Empire.
To my disappointment, the Belgian political leaders have preferred to close their eyes to this submission to negationist lobby of the Turkish state in order to attract votes in the municipalities inhabited by Turkish nationals.
That is why the resolution adopted last year by the Belgian parliament is not a real recognition of the 1915 genocide, because it absolves all the leaders of the Turkish Republic.
But several officials of the Ottoman genocide of 1915 were incorporated into the Republican politicians as ministers, MPs or military commanders.
In addition, the resolution praised the two main current leaders, Erdogan and Davutoglu, while they still deny the Armenian genocide.
Obviously, it was a game to keep politicians elected some deniers of Turkish origin in their ranks, giving them a chance to vote a version “soft” resolution.
Even more disturbing … Last year was commemorated in the world the 1915 genocide centennial Meanwhile, in Belgium, the head of denial and despotic regime was welcomed with full honors, red carpet the occasion of the inauguration of Europalia-Turkey.
Valuing the Belgian home as a diplomatic victory in its propaganda in the elections of November 1, Erdogan has strengthened its parliamentary majority.
Worse, this prestigious festival program was devoted solely to the promotion of the greatness of the Ottoman Empire without making any reference to the Armenian civilization, Assyrian, Greek or Kurdish that existed there even before the Turkish conquest.
After his conquest of Brussels and its electoral victory, Erdogan has launched a new campaign of repression against its opponents in order to establish a despotic presidential system and adapt all public institutions of Turkey to Islamic standards.
Is it not that Erdogan who, in the name of religious solidarity, provided logistical support Daech?
Currently, the Kurdish people in Turkey is subjected to an unprecedented bloodbath by Turkish security forces and Kurds in Syria are the only forces fighting against the Islamic state and they are constantly threatened by the power of Erdogan.
In Turkey today, not only the Kurdish politicians but also journalists, academics, artists who dare to protest against this repression suffer every day new threats, insults and searches.
More than a thousand scholars are accused of treachery to the fatherland by the media at the service of the Erdogan government.
Because they have discovered that most of these academics had said: “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians! “After the assassination of Hrant Dink.
Here are some testimonials from me in the time limit allotted to each speaker.
I believe that the Belgian democratic forces always have vis-à-vis duty of the peoples of Turkey and vis-à-vis the Turkish democrats, victims of repression by the leaders of this country which is a member of the Council of Europe , NATO member and candidate to the European Union.
Erdogan and his accomplices never deserve the red carpet, but a red light as they do not respect the universal and European conventions on human rights and peoples.
Thank you for your patience…
Stéphane © armenews.com