ZMIR, Turkey, April 17 – The Turkish State Archive issued today a list of more than 523,000 Turks whom it said were killed by Armenians in Turkey between 1910 and 1922.
The move appeared intended to counter longstanding Armenian contentions that Turkish Ottoman officials committed genocide during a period of mass deportations of Armenians that began in 1915.
Turkey fears that the 90th anniversary of the start of the violence, which Armenians and their supporters plan to mark on April 24, will cause widespread anti-Turkish feeling. It is also concerned that the issue could interfere with its plans to start talks with the European Union in October for possible membership. There have been growing calls from other countries for Turkey to acknowledge its role with regard to the Armenians.
Last week, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish Parliament called for an international study of the events of that period, but senior Armenia officials turned down the proposal.
Turkey flatly denies that there was any systematic effort at killing or forcing the Armenians out of eastern Anatolia, where the Armenians were trying to establish a separate state with support from the French, British and Russians. Turkey contends that, instead, hundreds of thousands of Turks were killed by Armenians as they tried to establish themselves as the majority population in that region. Prof. Yusuf Sarinay said.
This is a rewriting of history worthy of Orwell. Or Goebbels. For the truth, see The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus by Vahakn N. Dadrian.
The list issued today was compiled based on reports by the regional authorities sent to Ottoman officials in Istanbul, as well as the written accounts of international observers, said Mr. Sarinay, the director of the Office of State Archives.
“Europe has used Armenians as a tool in extension of their policies over Turkey, for which Turks and Armenians suffered,” Mr. Sarinay was quoted as saying by the Anatolian news agency. “Europe should also face her own history.”
Hirant Dink, a leading figure among Armenians in Turkey called the list an official attempt to create an alternate version of an internationally recognized reality. He said that such documentary analysis and confirmation of its accuracy should be left in the hands of international academics.
“Figures and documents should be researched and analyzed,” Mr. Dink said, “However, talking merely in figures means that Turkey doesn’t understand the pain of the other side; what is undermined here is the conscience and human factor behind all.”
That’s for sure, Dink. That’s for sure.