10/14 Calgary Herald: Turkey needs to admit a genocide happened

Turkey needs to admit a genocide happened

Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2007

Turkish protests which erupted last week over a vote in a United States congressional committee only prove that Turkey must come to terms with its history before it can join the European Union and win anything more than respect born of geopolitical necessity.

Public and governmental outrage in Turkey was sparked when the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed by 27 votes to 21 a resolution condemning as genocide the 1915-1917 slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians and forced deportation of many more by a revolutionary Turkish government anxious to rid the country of what it considered to be subversive non-Muslim elements. At least 20 foreign nations, including Canada, have over the years recognized the killing as a genocide. It is refreshing to see a small part of Congress add its voice to the chorus, even if the resolution is non-binding and likely to fail when it comes before the House of Representatives.

There is not a shred of doubt that the genocide happened. The Turkish interior minister at the time, Talat Pasha, even told a German reporter that they had to get rid of all the Armenians regardless of guilt because "those who were innocent today might be guilty tomorrow." News and evidence of the killings were leaked by foreign observers to Western governments, but -- as with the genocide in Rwanda nearly 80 years later -- nothing was done.

Famously prickly and nationalist, Turkey has always denied that a genocide took place and claims that many Turks died, too. Turkey has gone to absurd lengths to discredit dissenting opinions to the point of disrupting foreign academic conferences, limiting ties with governments that recognize the genocide and stifling domestic discussion by prosecuting people under a law which prohibits "insulting Turkishness."

This latest hue and cry is echoed by the White House, which strongly opposes the resolution out of political expediency. Turkey is an important NATO ally and the site of the Incirlik air base, a crucial supply and transit hub for American forces stationed in Iraq. Worse, Turkey's government has been making noises about entering the heretofore relatively peaceful northern part of Iraq in pursuit of troublesome Kurdish rebels who use the area as a refuge in an intermittent campaign of guerrilla warfare against Turkey. This would be a disaster for American efforts to stabilize Iraq and the Bush administration is eager to head things off at the pass.

While the logic of this position is understandable, the morality is not. This is not an age prepared to mix blood with water under the bridge. If Turkey is ever to stand unencumbered on the global stage, it must accept its grisly past and make amends.

Time heals all wounds, but only if those who inflicted the injuries will let it.

Source: http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/theeditorialpage/story.html?id=2dd45f8b-64e7-428c-b4e0-b4a34af889f2