Turkish President Abdullah Gul denounced the passing of that resolution as unacceptable:
"This unacceptable decision of the committee ... has no validity and respectability for the Turkish people,..." and "... Unfortunately some politicians in the United States of America have closed their ears to calls to be reasonable and once again sought to sacrifice big problems for small domestic political games."
FUCK YOU Abdullah Gul!!! "No respectability for the Turkish people..." Hell yeah, I suppose it's those famous muslim "sensitivities" again. Talking about sensitivities, look at that boy - just look at him - collapsed on a doorstep in 1915 or 1916 in Syria, then still part of the Ottoman Empire. He was just a minor member of the Ottoman Empire's christian minority of roughly 2 million Armenians. He became a victim of a horrible campaign of deportation, mass murder, deliberate starving, poisoning, drowning and even burning alive. Look at that boy, at his skull-like head, his pitiful remnants of limbs, his dull hair, his ribs poking through parchment skin. Can you imagine the agony this young innocent human being must have gone through before finally dying? I don't want to imagine it. Now multiply that suffering by 1.5 million or so. And you have the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide did not fall out of the sky. At the outbreak of World War I the Ottoman Empire was not really the backward sultanate anymore as it was commonly perceived in the rest of the world. Indeed, in 1908-1909 a group of young officers like Enver Pasha and intellectuals like Ziya Gokalp (to become Kemal Ataturks ideologue) had become the dominant power in Ottoman politics - that is where the term "Young Turks" comes from. Their movement, intent on modernising the sultanate, was called the CUP, the Committee for Unity and Progress. But long before them, the Christian Armenians had already been subject to persecution and even mass killings. As non-muslims their testimony under Sharia Law was inadmissible against muslims, and they had to pay higher taxes - even apart from the jizya, the exemption tax for dhimmis - than muslims. That jizya paid them little protection. In the late 19th Century, the Porte regularly sent undisciplined Kurdish troops against Armenian villages, with an estimated 37,000 dead as a result. However, some sources claim that in these so-called Hamidian Massacres (after the then sultan, Abdul Hamid II), as many as 350,000 perished! And in 1909, the year of the Young Turks, there was the Adana Massacre, which claimed another 30,000 Armenian lives.
As it happened though, those early killing would pale in significance to what was to come. The start of World War I did not go well for the Ottoman Empire, and a scapegoat for disastrous defeats on the battlefield was quickly found: the Armenians, quickly viewed as subversive elements (pre-war territorial losses to Austria-Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria had already angered the Young Turks against religious and ethnic minorities). Already in 1914, Armenian soldiers in Turkish service were singled out and shot, and Armenian public servants were ousted from the administration. In late 1914, the so-called Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa) was raised from deliberately released criminals, and supplied with explosives and rifles to start a terror campaign among ordinary Armenian citizens. Then there was the Battle of Sarikamish, fought in winter 1914-1915 in the Armenian homeland itself, in which the Turkish 3rd Army suffered disastrous losses against the Russians. The 3rd Army's commander was... Enver Pasha, and to minimize his own role in the disaster, he accused local Armenians of collaborating with the Russians (this was true to some extent, but the real reason for the defeat was Pasha's incompetence in tactical matters and logistics - as many troops froze to death as were killed by Russian bullets).
Although Pasha was largely blamed for Sarikamish - he never again held a military field command in the Ottoman Empire - the seeds had been sown. On April 24, 1915, 250-300 Armenian intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople, deported and killed. The same fate befell 5,000 Armenian citizens who were butchered in the streets. By the end of the month, an estimated 50,000 (!) Armenians had already been killed in the Van province alone. A desperate appeal by Armenian organizations to the German Ambassador in Constaninople for formal German protection was rejected by Berlin in order to... not offend the Ottoman government (the famous muslim sensitivities again). In May, Mehmed Talat Pasha , the Minister of the Interior, asked the Ottoman government and the Grand Vizier to legalize mass-scale deportation of all Armenians from Anatolia (central Turkey). On 29 May 1915, the CUP's Central Committee passed the Temporary Deportation Law (Tehcir Law), enabling the government and the army to deport any Armeninan who was deemed a threat to national security. Given the vicious propaganda campaign depicting ALL Armenians as fifth columnists, the laws "legalized" nothing less than wholesale ethnic cleansing. A couple of months later, the Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation was passed, "legalizing" the taking by muslims of all Armenian property including land, livestock and homes. Many if not most of the Ottoman's Empire wealthier classes and industrialists were Armenians (as well as Greeks, those had something coming too), thus the passing of this "law" meant a gigantic financial bonus for the Ottoman treasury (it is a common phenomenon in Muslim countries that the wealth of the nation is often provided by hardworking minorities of other faiths). In the summer of 1915 the mass deportation scheme was fully implemented. First able-bodied male Armenians were drafted for forced labor. Either they had to work themselves to death, or they were murdered outright. Then the women, children and elderly were told to take what they could carry and put on forced marches to "relocate" to the Syrian desert, Der Zor, "escorted" by Ottoman gendarmerie.
As it was, during the first nine months of 1915 alone, an estimated 1 million Armenians perished (the killings had already been going on on a "small" scale before April 1915, and as we have seen even in 1914). Of those 1 million, some 600,000 were downright massacred while another 400,000 succumbed to starvation, dehydration and rape on the death marches south. A detailed account of the events, well documented by a multitude of European diplomats as well as German officers, reads like a horror show (note that during World War I, Germany and Turkey were allies and the German military presence in Turkey in the form of instructors and advisers was considerable). From the site Genocide1915.info:
6/23/1915: The wholesale arrest of 1,500 men is carried out in Sivas Province.
6/23/1915: First large-scale massacre of Armenian men is carried out in the town of Kharput.
6/23/1915: Wholesale arrests are made in Bitlis of the scattered remnant Armenians who had escaped the previous series of massacres.
6/23/1915: Massacres of Armenian Christians, Maronites, Nestorians, Europeans, Catholics, and other non-Muslim people in the city of Mardin are carried out under the direct order of Dr. Reshid, the governor-general of Diyarbekir Province.
6/23/1915: The Armenian notables of Trebizond are sent by boat toward Samsun, and on the way are thrown, tightly bound together, into the Black Sea.
6/25/1915: The massacre of Armenians of Bitlis is carried out under the direct orders of Mustafa Abdulhalik Renda.
6/25/1915: A government decree instructs the 30,000 Armenians in Trebizond to leave the city within 5 days.
6/26/1915: A decree issued in Erzerum orders all Armenians to leave for Syria.
6/26/1915: A decree issued in Samsun orders all Armenians to leave within 15 days.
6/26/1915: The remaining Armenian men in Sivas are arrested.
6/28/1915: The previously arrested Armenian educators and community leaders in Kharput are transported from prison to be murdered.
6/29/1915: Vartkes and Zohrab, two Armenian deputies in the Ottoman Parliament, deported from Constantinople, arrive in custody in Aleppo.
6/30/1915: 3,000 Armenians from the city of Erzerum are murdered while being deported.
6/30/1915: 6,000 Armenians from Zeitun arrive in the Konia Desert and nearby malarial marshes.
7/1/1915: 2,000 Armenian soldiers in the Turkish Army used as laborers are massacred near the city of Kharput.
7/1/1915: The first convoy of deportees leaves the seaport of Trebizond for the south.
7/1/1915: The governor-general of Sivas announces that the first convoy of deportees from the city are to leave by July 5 in groups according to street residence. A total of 48,000 persons are deported. The governor, commissioner of police, two parliamentary deputies, the qadi (the chief religious judge), and the mufti (the religious chief) tell the Armenians that they were being resettled for the duration of the war in order to forestall any resistance.
7/2/1915: Bands of 4,000 chetes operating out of the mountains around Erzinjan begin daily raids against the southward bound convoys of Armenian deportees.
7/2/1915: The deportation decree is issued in the city of Mush.
7/4/1915: For the record an official German protest is registered with the Grand Vizier. The protest is left unanswered by the Turkish government.
7/4/1915: Neshed Pasha leaves Sivas with three regiments and artillery to subdue the Armenians resisting in Shabin-Karahisar.
7/5/1915: In Diyarbekir 2,000 Armenian soldiers working in labor corps are killed.
7/5/1915: The first convoy of deportees leaves the city of Sivas. Every day for 16 days an average of 400 families leave, the overwhelming majority being slain on route to the Syrian Desert. The last convoy departs from the city on July 20.
7/6/1915: By this date up to 1,000 Armenian families had left Trebizond in convoys headed south.
7/7/1915: The male members of 800 Armenian families in the town of Kharput are killed.
7/8/1915: Zaven, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, appeals to the Minister of Justice, Ibrahim Bey, who replies that he cannot intervene in matters concerning the War Ministry.
7/10/1915: 2,700 persons are killed in a second massacre in Mardin.
7/11/1915: The beginning of a four-day massacre in Mush under the combined orders of parliamentary deputy Elias, vice-governor Servet, and Governor-general Mustafa Abdulhalik Renda, Talaat's brother-in-law.
And so on and so on and so on.
Historical evidence for the near complete slaughter of the Armenian population under Ottoman rule is so massive and undisputed (the Armenian Genocide is the secondmost documented genocide after the Holocaust) that it is actually A-MA-ZING that anno 2007 the Turkish government - and the Turkish people -refuses to recognize one of the major crimes of humanity. One cannot imagine the Germans denying the Holocaust, and indeed they never tried to - although the individual, not directly involved German often resorted to the well-known catchphrase "Wir haben es nicht gewusst" - but here, today, are 70 million plus Turks who do deny their holocaust. The Germans went for a Thousand Year Reich and got a Thousand Year Shame instead, but at least they paid gazillions of Deutschmarks to compensate for the atrocities and supported the State of Israel, and generations of Germans who cannot possibly be held accountable for the sins of their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, continue to atone for the crimes of the Third Reich.
Not so the Turks. In Turkey, a brave man like the author Orhan Pamuk, was prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness" (articles 301 and 305 of the Turkish penal code), not even because of "controversial" books, but for merely stating the obvious. There, a gallant Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, who even harbored strong patriotic feelings for the country which had nearly wiped out his ancestors, was murdered for having the audacity to write about the genocide in his newspaper Agos. There, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism prepared a DVD denying the genocide and distributed it for free with the June 6, 2005 issue of TIME Europe under the guise of promoting tourism in Turkey. There, Mein Kampf (Kavgam) is a bestseller. Can we imagine the German government prosecuting a writer for saying that the Third Reich murdered 6 million Jews? We can't. But the Turks... they are getting away with it.
It is even worse. Readers of this blog will know my fondness of the current President of the United States. But from time to time even George Bush does or says things that greatly annoy me. Now, at age 42 I am well aware of there being something like realpolitik. I do understand there's a grand scheme going on - trying to remake the Middle East, and by extension the muslim world, into something humane (to avoid having to ultimately turn it into a charred radioactive glass desert instead) - and I do understand the necessity of sometimes having to swallow bitter pills in order to reap rich tables. I do understand the importance of a continued flow of fuel, ammo and supplies through Turkey to the American divisions in Iraq. But with regards to Bush's efforts to stall House Resolution 106, I'd wager that was a bridge too far.
The time has come for the West to stop pandering to islam, whether it's its more radical zealots fighting us or whether it's its oversensitive "moderates". It is time the West says "Until Here And No Further", and if that implies calling a spade a spade and Turkey cannot live with that, sorry, but then you are not a mature democracy and you offer yet another argument for the incompatibility of islam with man-made democratic rule.
Face your terrible past, or you will ultimately face a terrible future.