Saturday, May 30, 2009

Frustration over Historical Views.

So, I had this friend on Twitter. He's a nice guy. I like him. He's a good person from everything I know and can see about him. We haven't met personally, but I still think he's a good guy.

Well, on Twitter yesterday I posted a link and said "Please remember the Armenian Genocide." Now, this is a very sensitive issue in Turkey. It's a no-go topic pretty much, and I found it difficult to handle while I was in the country. From everything that I have read and listened to, there is no doubt in my mind that in 1915, towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, there was a genocide of Armenians in Turkey. Yet, not only the Turkish government, but it seems most of Turkey's citizens steadfastly deny that this is true. Public debate is non existent. Even suggesting it gets blood boiling. And, obviously, it got this friend angry, and he has blocked me. That is his choice, though I feel bad about it.

The reality is, there is not a country in the world without skeletons in it's closet. This includes Canada and what has happened in this country to the aboriginal population, which was horrible...and still is in so many ways. But, it is important to deal with these issues. When a country denies what has happened in the past, especially when it comes to an issue like genocide, it is creating a sad situation. How frustrating it must be for Armenians to know that their culture in Ottoman Turkey was destroyed in brutal ways, and then to have the extra insult of complete denial of these atrocities thrown in their faces. Accounts abound from within the Armenian community, from representatives from other nations who were in Turkey at the time, in newspaper reports in the US and Britain, etc., of what was going on. Before these events there were other mass slaughters of Armenians. There was an utter contempt for Armenians. They were dehumanized within what what was left of the Ottoman empire, seen as a danger, and a hindrance to a Pan-Turkish dream. I don't see how it can be said that a genocide did not happen. But, there is an insistence within Turkey that it was not so. Why? Why is this denial so strong? I do not understand? If it happened...and, like I said, based on what I have read and heard, I believe that it did...then why deny it? What advantage can possibly be gained by doing this? All it creates is pain and resentment all around. If the country thinks it is fooling the outside world, it is wrong. If the country thinks that they are not causing damage to their reputation, then they are wrong. It baffles and saddens me. Turkey is a fantastic country. The people are warm and friendly...VERY warm and friendly. The sights are incredible. It has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The father of Turkey, Ataturk was a progressive, interesting person who did amazing things for the country. It is a wonderful place. There is a lot for the people of Turkey to be proud of! Acknowledging the acts of 1915 to be a genocide cannot take away from what Turkey has become and can be in the future. Again, there is no country without faults. There are still issues that need to be dealt with in the Turkey, including the treatment of the Kurdish population, and the gap between the rich and the poor as just a few examples. But, this is reality. All countries have issues to deal with. Turkey is no exception. That doesn't mean it is not a great place, because it truly is, and I loved being there and miss it so much. I would LOVE to go back. The experiences that I had there were incredible.

So, yes, I don't think there can be any doubt that a genocide occurred there. Owning up to it is important. Debate is important. Discussion is important. It is a topic that should be tackled. It can no longer be a no-go issue. Turkey and it's citizens must look at those events and talk about them...consider acknowledging them as a genocide...understand them...and move on. Turkey is too great of a country to NOT do this. I hope my friend can one day be a part of this discussion.

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