Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Turkey does not deny the deportation, nor does it deny that a large number of Armenians perished during the act of removal. They do argue the number of those that died as well making it about a fourth of what records show. Turkish officials also argue how genocide cannot be applied to the deportation as it has been due to the fact that the intent was never present. They continuously refer to the fact that nothing was explicitly put into writing or declared in an official speech. Historians point out how the fact that only the Armenians were targeted and treated with such violence in the deportation process as proof as well as that of firsthand accounts that came from those that were not victims in the events. Most orders were passed in code to keep the intent a secret. By doing this, the Ottoman Empire gave modern Turkey the stance that the genocide did not happen.
Turkey’s reaction to the events and the world’s reaction have made many question the integrity and honor of the modern nation. Their refusal to face what many see as an historical fact has created much tension between them and other nations as well as tensions between Armenians and the nations they look to for help in forcing Turkey to admit the events actually happened. Turkey prefers to forget the past and move on to a more peaceful future. The fact that the genocide has not been addressed has created a festering sore for the Armenians who feel they need Turkey to recognize the events and apologize for them. Turkey’s refusal has been taken to the world, but most powers including America have caved in to Turkey’s pressure as the nation is so strategically placed to help deal with Middle East issues. Threats of danger to American citizens, soldiers, and military backfire has pushed Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush back from supporting the Armenians as they had promised.
Historians see the lack of responsibility taken by Turkey as a dangerous position. As the world ignored the genocide for many decades, it appeared that the world did not care as a whole about any small group of people. Hitler would take advantage of such a laissez-faire attitude when he looked to blame and eventually attempt to annihilate the Jews. He placed all his money on the fact that as the world did not care about the Armenians they would not care about the destruction of the Jews. The world did not react soon enough. Turkey had time to push the events aside and begin their own defense while others found the lack of attention as an excuse for their own actions.
Until Turkey can admit to the events, there will be a dark spot that festers in their history. All through Europe, the Middle East, and America Armenians remember the events and long for it to be recognized by the very people who implemented it. Turkey continues to claim that it was a deportation that had the sad results of death along the way that any deportation would experience. They will not admit that the plans were laid out in a manner that deliberately sought to make the journey hard for the refugees. Recognition of murder along the route can only be found in eyewitness accounts of the decaying bodies along the road the treatment of them by citizens and official soldiers. Turkey uses the genocide as a tool to keep their powerful position with the West as the gate to the Middle East allowing the sore to fester for everyone.
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