“Shared Pain” or “Genocide”? Turkey Apologizes For Deaths Of Armenians

260px-MarcharmeniansTurkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan offered what the government described as unprecedented “condolences” for the killing of Armenians in the First World War. The “apology” however is likely to be viewed as manifestly inadequate for those who have long demanded that Turkey acknowledge the killings as “genocide.” There remains a sharp historical debate over the killings though countries like France tried to end that debate by criminalizing arguments that this was not a genocide. The overwhelming world opinion however is that this was genocide and that Turkey continues to offer a revisionist history to its students and citizens. This statement comes as the country approaches the 100th anniversary of the killings next year. Turkey continues to deny that 1.5 million people were killed in 1915.

Erdogan expressed regret over the “shared pain” of the 1915 killings — something that is likely to be viewed by Armenians as falsely equating the level of injury between those who killed innocent civilians and the survivors of those victims. Various countries have labeled the deaths as genocide.

Erdogan said “[i]t is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early 20th century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren . . Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences – such as relocation – during the First World War, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes among towards one another.” However, he appeared to suggest that Turkey, a Muslim country, is being unfairly treated for the deaths of Armenians who are Christian. He insisted that “[u]sing the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible.”

It is interesting to see how Turkey views these remarks as a breakthrough and unprecedented. I cannot imagine that Armenians will share that view.

Source: Globe and Mail

33 thoughts on ““Shared Pain” or “Genocide”? Turkey Apologizes For Deaths Of Armenians”

  1. The above is a bit out of character for me, but it’s been such a busy, stressful day, and I really must have needed the laugh. You all know how it is, sometimes, there’s only enough time to peruse just the subject lines of the emails in your inbox. We all receive the same number from Jonathan, so hopefully you won’t begrudge me this comment. Jonathan’s posts aren’t always of serious nature, and I guess I just read the subject of this one the wrong way. The way things are in the world these days – in this country, it may even have been just the right thing. Humor goes a long way when the load is sometimes otherwise just too heavy to bear. So this doctor hopes your orbicularis oris responds upwardly, knowing I also felt the weight of the post’s intent. Enjoy or now… it’s all I could think of when I read the subject, as I said. (I’ll repost it if my html code is incorrect. Maybe someone can fix it for me, if so.) Thanks,.

  2. fiver, Great comment. Keep them coming here and on other threads. We need thoughtful people like you.

  3. randyjet,

    Excellent job of articulating the Genocide denial position. Less of a good job in the accuracy department, however.

    You write:

    Most of those deaths were a result of starvation, exposure, and other forms of neglect, not as a direct result of intentional murder by shooting them.

    However, these “starvation” and “exposure” deaths were the direct result of Turkish soldiers driving Armenians from their homes in Armenia and Anatolia and into the Syrian desert. That’s pretty darn intentional.

    You also claim:

    That there were so many survivors shows the lack of intent to murder ALL Armenians just because they were Armenians.

    There were an estimated one and a half million Armenians killed in the Genocide of an estimated total population of two million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Though estimates of total population and of those murdered vary, the proportions are consistently horrifying.

    On April 24, 1915 the Ottoman Empire rounded up and imprisoned/executed hundreds of Armenian leaders and intellectuals – a significant early step in any preplanned Genocide. Indeed much of WWII’s Genocide of the Jews, the Rom, and others follows a similar pattern.

    Adolph Hitler himself, when confronted on his Final Solution to the Jewish problem is quoted as stating:”Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?”





    1. fiver While the number of Armenians is in dispute, I think that the most reasonable and accurate is the one of 600,000, which is still a massive amount and does indeed qualify as genocide by any definition. Having said that, it is STILL NOT of the same type and quality of Nazi Germany’s genocide of subject people. One has to remember that the Serbs in WWII were subject to genocide by the Croatian Ustashi government which claimed over 800,000 and did a similar genocide in the last war in Yugoslavia.. I would hope that you would demand the SAME acknowledgement by the Croatian government who killed more people than the Ottomans. So far though, the Croats are immune from criticism of their genocide of the Serbs since they are political allies. So I have to take a rather jaundiced view of legislation to declare Turkey as being responsible for that genocide of the Ottoman government which as I pointed out was supported by Entente after WWI against Ataturk’s government. If the Entente was so outraged at the genocidal Ottomans they should not have been fighting for them.

  4. While I am sorry that so many Armenians were killed, it is not anywhere close to the genocide Nazi Germany committed nor was it of similar intent. The Armenians were in revolt against the Ottoman Empire and were relocated as part of suppressing that revolt. What the Empire did is what the US did in Vietnam with similar results, though not as fatal for the victims in such numbers.

    Most of those deaths were a result of starvation, exposure, and other forms of neglect, not as a direct result of intentional murder by shooting them. That there were so many survivors shows the lack of intent to murder ALL Armenians just because they were Armenians. My guess is that the Ottoman Empire killed nearly the same number of their own troops in similar fashion they were so inept and incompetent in even providing for their own people. The Turks suffered horribly too at the hands of the Ottomans which is why they got rid of the Sultan. One has to ask if the current government can be held accountable for the crimes of the Sultan who I might add the Allies were supporting in the Civil War! The Allies need to apologize to the Turks for killing the troops of the current government too then in support of the government which committed that genocide.

  5. Turkey is not alone in refusing to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. While some individual states have formally recognized these mass atrocities, the US government has not.

    Nor has Israel.

  6. Isn’t Armenia the birthplace of Christianity? Turkey is Muslim, I guess there is no love lost.

  7. Mr. Erdogan’s apology is insufficient, but he is walking a fine line. My belief is that Turkey will eventually acknowledge that genocide did occur, but that the politics for such an admission are not yet favorable. Of course, had there been smart phones in 1915, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Genocide is no longer a crime that can be buried with the dead.

  8. To the winner goes the spoils and the history perspective. The world is changing though, as now everyone can find out what is really behind the curtain in the City of Oz, I mean London.

    If you have not read the Creature From Jekyll Island by Ed Griffin, it is a non-fiction and must read for those who wish to know the economics and corruption behind WWI. As General Smedley Butler’s book title denotes; War is a Racket and the participants will be quite unsettling for many.

  9. For those readers who have not studied this issue much, know that Erdogan’s statement represents a mile stone in making progress towards having Turks acknowledge this travesty. And sure, it is likely done to help Turkey become more accepted by Europeans. And when compared to the problems existing between Palestinians and Jews who occupy Palestine in the name of a much greater holocaust and genocide, it’s still an important step. Now if we only could get the Muslim Smites and their Jewish cousin Semites to love one another like the most famous of all Jews taught, we could make more progress.

  10. An Armenian guy owned the liquor store near my boyhood home. I learned from an early age about this genocide. Eddie was a nice, easygoing, guy. Except when he discussed this. He lost family in this holocaust.

  11. Ah, the non-apology apology. We’re sorry, but we didn’t really do anything wrong, so stop being mad at us! Fascinating, to say the least.

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