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Turkey Inches Toward Genocide Recognition

Guest Editorial

Assyrian International News Agency

Midyat, Turkey (AINA) --- The head of the pro-Kurdish DTP (Demokratik Toplum Partisi -- Democratic Society Party) in Turkey, Ahmet Türk, toured the south-east region early this week and visited the Assyrian Cultural Association in Midyat. He was accompanied by other DTP members of the Turkish parliament from Mardin, Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa, Emine Ayna, Aysel Tigluk, and Ibrahim Binici. At the Assyrian Club he met with the vice-chairman Yuhanna Aktas and other Assyrians.

According to various Turkish news sources (AINA 12-30-2008), Türk apologized to the Assyrians in context of the events of 1915: "Sensing the pain of the events in our hearts, we feel that we need to apologize. In Turkey, apology is becoming quite a fashion recently. However, ours is something very different," he said.

Recently, a group of 200 Turkish intellectuals launched an Internet campaign to apologize for Ottoman war crimes committed at the hand of Turks against Armenians during World War I (AINA 12-12-2008). The language used does not refer to the term genocide, as favored by the victims, though it is certainly helping to erode the biggest taboo in Turkey, as the campaign initiator Baskin Oran puts it. The language speaks of "the great catastrophe" but Assyrians as victims -- 750,000 (75%) were killed in the genocide -- are not mentioned. Meanwhile at least 25,000 Turks have signed the petition, prompting calls of treason by Turkish nationalists and media. The Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan himself has called the petition a "mistake" (AINA 12-18-2008).

Mr. Türk continued his statements at the Assyrian association in Midyat with the following remarks: "We are ready to apologize for wrong doing. This is not to reduce the importance of the events. The events should be not brought up to the agenda by a simple apology. We are the people of this region and soil. Our struggle is aimed to allow people to live in brotherhood."

Closing his remarks, Mr. Türk said: "Without forgetting that Kurds have been abused in the past to act against others, it is important that we study the history and derive lessons. Probably we, as Kurds, have our stake in the killing of this (cultural) richness. Today, when we see Armenian and Assyrian brothers, and look at them, we feel shame."

Subsequently, the DTP delegation led by Türk visited the Assyrian monastery of St. Gabriel and met with Bishop Samuel Aktas. The monastery has recently came under attack by neighboring Kurdish village leaders, who are close to Erdogan's ruling party (AKP), aiming at grabbing monastery's land via fabricated lawsuits (AINA 12-24-2008).

Clouded and Undifferentiated View

Mr. Türk's apology is definitely welcomed as a gesture of friendship by Assyrians. In fact, it is not the first time that a Kurdish leader has apologized for Kurdish crimes committed against Assyrians during World War I. Putting Mr. Türk's statement in context of the Apology Campaign of by Turkish intellectuals, it is a courageous step by a party leader of the Turkish parliament.

In his statements, Ahmet Türk does not use the term genocide, and, like many Kurdish nationalists, compares the "suffering" of the Kurds in Turkey to the suffering of the Armenians and Assyrians in the past and especially to that of World War I, saying, that "Kurds today live the same pain." This confirms still an undifferentiated historical view with regards to the great losses that Assyrians had during World War I; apparently his suggested studies of history and the lessons to be learned from that need to go further.

In an interview with BBC and CNN in November of 2008, Mr. Türk used the word genocide for what is happening to the Kurds in Turkey, later on emphasizing that he did not use the word to support any Armenian claims. Triggered by protests of Collective VAN, a French-based Armenian initiative (Vigilance against the Holocaust Denial), a press controversy began in Turkey following the use of the term that is still taboo in Turkey.

According to Collective VAN, Ahmet Turk is best positioned to know what a genocide is, since he is the grand-son of one of the heads of Hamidiye regiments (Hüseyin Kanco of Mardin), established by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid II in 1894; they were responsible for perpetrating massacres against Armenians and Assyrians in the eastern provinces. These para-military regiments consisted of Kurdish chiefs who actively participated in the massacres against Christians in 1894/96 and again later in 1915 during the genocide unleashed by the Young Turkish government against the Christian population.

Despite being very well informed about the reality of the genocide, Collective VAN accuses Türk of manipulating the issue. In 2007 Ahmet Turk complained to Turkish television because DTP was not invited to the commemorations of Victory Day on 30/08/2007. He vehemently criticized the decision, stressing that the Turks had obtained the victory thanks to the Kurds -- because it is "understood that the Kurds had helped clean the Armenian people," according to Collective VAN -- and the Kurds were excluded from the festivities.

By Abdulmesih BarAbrahem

Abdulmesih BarAbrahem was born in Midyat, Tur Abdin in the Turkish part of Mesopotamia and emigrated with his parents to Germany in the mid-1960s, wherehe completed his education and received his M.Sc. from the University of Erlangen/Nürnberg in the field of Computer Science. Early 1970s, he organized the first Assyrian conference in West Germany, which marked the beginning of organized public Assyrian activities in Europe. He has published numerous articles on Assyrian topics. He is currently President of the Trusty-Fund of the Yoken Bar Yoken Foundation.

Views and opinions expressed in guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AINA. Guest Editorial Policy.
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Copyright (C) 2009, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use.




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Kanoon II = January

Turkey Inches Toward Genocide Recognition January -2-2009

Kanoon I = December

In Mosul, Iraqi Christians Brave the Violence to Celebrate Christmas
Dec. 25, 08

Turkmen Turkish ( and Assyrian) edorced as official languages in Kirkuk
Dec. 24, 08

Turkish Court Reschedules Hearings on Assyrian Monastery
Dec. 24, 08

Finnish Church Leaders Ask Turkey to Safeguard Assyrian Monastery
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Iraq: Christmas hampers distributed to victims of persecution
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A new book for Assyrians during Christmas Dec. 23, 08

Bishop’s fear for Iraqi Christians Dec. 23, 08

Baghdad celebrates first public Christmas amid hope, memories
Dec. 21, 08

Australia Assists Victims Of Sectarian Violence In North Iraq
Dec. 19, 08

Assyian er Nestorian christianity and the Roman Church Dec. 18, 08

Westminster Hall Debate of the House of Commons on: Christians in Iraq
Dec. 18, 08

US Turns 'Blind Eye' to Persecution of Christians in Iraq, Congressman Says Dec. 18, 08

Islamists Drive Christian Assyrians Out of Nineveh Dec. 16, 08

Thousands of Assyrians Rally in Sweden in Support of Besieged Monastery in Turkey Dec. 15, 08

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EU Lawmakers Raise Concerns Over Threats to Assyrian Monastery in TurkeyDec. 12, 08

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Dec. 09, 08

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Tishreen II = November

Qatar-Museum to host prestigious exhibition Nov. 28- 2008

Some fearful Christians hope to flee Iraq Nov. 28- 2008

Iraq's vice president ; Iraqi governmental is hiding facts about killing and Expelling Christians from Mosul Nov. 28- 2008

Assyrian Police in North Iraq Protest Against Marginalization
Nov. 26- 2008

Rosie Malek-Yonan; Children of Assyria Nov. 26- 2008

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Dutch Report reveals Kurdish cultural, ethnic and economic oppression of
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Nov. 20- 2008

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UN Iraq Envoy Condemns Killing of Assyrian Women Nov. 13- 2008

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Congressional Letter to Bush Requesting Protection of Iraqi Christians Nov. 12- 2008

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Tishreen I = October

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October 15, 2008

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Assyrians Demonstrate in Stockholm Against Persecution in Iraq
October 13, 2008

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October 13, 2008

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October 13, 2008

Kurdish Groups Behind Attacks on Assyrians in Mosul: says Iraqi MP
13, 2008

Iraq's Prime Minister Nurial-Maliki meets with MPs and Representatives of the Christian Community 12, 2008

Muslim Threats Force Assyrians to Flee From Mosul October, 11, 2008

Official: 3,000 Christians flee Iraq's Mosul October, 11, 2008

Houses Blown Up As Christians Flee Iraq's Mosul
October, 11, 2008

Iraqi group urges end of campaign against Christians in Mosul
October, 11, 2008

After the bloodbath in Iraq October, 11, 2008

Iraq archbishop warns Christians face ‘liquidation’
October, 10, 200

EU MEPs Confronted With Dire State of Iraq’s Christians
October, 10, 2008

Kurdish Officials Block Assyrian Demonstration in North Iraq
October, 9, 2008

Islamic fundamentalists: "expel Christians from Mosul"
October, 9, 2008

Is this why Christians of Iraq are being Killed? October.8, 2008

Iraq: 'Three Christians killed in 24 hours' October.8, 2008

Mosul, another "targeted murder" against the Christian community
October.6, 2008

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October.6, 2008

Christians in Iraq demand quotas October.6, 2008

Voice Is Sought for Iraqi Christians October.6, 2008

Assyrians Demonstrate in Los Angeles Against Iraq Election Law
October.6, 2008

Christian Security Forces Growing Stronger In Iraq October.6, 2008

British MP visits Christians in Iraq October.5, 2008

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October. 3, 2008

The Biggest Assyrian-Chaldean Demonstration in Northern Iraq
October. 2, 2008

UN criticises Iraq’s failure to include minorities in vote law
October. 2, 2008

Eilool = September

Assyrian artifact finds a new home at CSU Stanislaus Sept. 30, 08

Assyrian Chaldean Festival moves to valley, draws crowd
Sept. 30, 08

Iraq: New Election law disadvantages minorities – Quota system called for Sept. 30, 08

Demonstration in the Plain of Nineveh Sept. 30, 08

Iraq PM seeks safeguards for Christians Sept. 29, 08

Obama Questions Rice on Marginalization of Iraq's Minorities
Sept. 29, 08

A Political Coup Against Iraq's Minorities Sept. 29, 08

Assyrian Church of the East calls for Assyrian rights in Iraq
Sept. 28, 08

Let’s Hear You Loud and Clear! Sept. 28, 08

Iraqi Christians protest the end of their representation in government Sept. 28, 08

Article Guaranteeing Minority Electoral Rights Removed from Iraqi Electoral Law Sept. 27, 08

'If You Want to See Blood Come to Mosul' Sept. 22, 08

Assyrians call for unity in Iraq Sept. 22, 08

The Iraqi Police in Mosul managed to release the kidnapped Riyadh Batti Sept. 20, 08

First economic newspaper published in Mosul Sept. 18, 08

The Churches have a role to play in Iraq Sept. 18, 08

Turkey Attempting to Confiscate Assyrian Monastery's Land
Sept. 17, 08

Refugees Employment Assistance in Lodon Sept. 16, 08

Fresh violence in Mosul, two Christians kidnapped and killed
Sept. 16, 08

Assyrians in Northern Iraq Say They Will Not Return to Baghdad
Sept. 16, 08

Assyria, Art & Empire" treasures of Assyria from the British Museum Sept. 15, 08

`Yesterday's Children - Growing up Assyrian in Persia'. Sept. 15, 08

The 25th Worldwide AUA Congress Sept. 15, 08

A New Assyrian Cook Book Sept. 14, 08


Mandaean family murdered in Baghdad Sept. 12, 08

Kurdish Land Grabs Leave Assyrians Dependent on Food Aid Sept. 11, 08

War on Christians in the Middle East must be stopped Sept. 8, 08

Iraq’s first Christian militia takes stand against Qaeda Sept. 8, 08

Sion Ebrahami: I was taken hostage by the moujahadeen Sept. 4, 08

Iraqi media ignore kidnapping of Christians, archbishop says
Sept. 4, 08



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