Turkey is paying the price for genocide
Cengiz Aktar's latest book "The Turkish Malaise" argues that the Republic was built on the 1915 Genocide and its denial, and that it has moved away from the notion of the rule of law and surrendered to a permanent gang mentality. We talked about this reality and its consequences with Aktar over a morning coffee in the garden of his house in Leros. And yes, there is a "curse" of genocide. It is not a religious or metaphysical curse. In a state founded on the commission of the greatest crime against humanity this geography has ever seen and its denial, it is a curse that renders all kinds of immoral acts commonplace, crimes committed go unpunished and criminals are unaccountable.
The regime of the Committee of Union and Progress established a gang rule and made all kinds of crimes commonplace. The murder of journalists and dissidents, the suppression of any dissenting voice and the establishment of a Turkish and Sunni state in Anatolia at all costs were the basis of their actions. For this purpose, the ancient peoples of Anatolia, such as Armenians, Greeks, Yazidis and Assyrians, had to be wiped out. The terrorist acts and the forced migration policy against the Greeks in the Aegean and the Black Sea were successful in achieving this goal. But the real catastrophe befell the Armenians. The extermination of the Armenian population was on such a scale that no one could openly talk about what happened to other peoples who shared a similar fate.
In the name of securing the eastern border, Armenians were deported to the Syrian desert regardless of whether they were children, women or the elderly, attacked on the roads by gangs that included criminals released from prison, their women raped, their babies killed by being crushed against rocks. In his Island Stories series, Yasar Kemal dramatically depicts the story of women's breasts being cut off and left to die.
This is the basic fact that refutes Ankara's claim that "there was no genocide, but only forced deportation for security reasons." A massacre was perpetrated against everyone, including children and the elderly, and all groups that did not embrace Turkishness and were not Muslim were exterminated. It should be noted that the fear of Western and Russian meddling in internal affairs using minorities and Christians as an excuse also played a role as well. Although the names of Enver, Talat and Cemal Pashas are prominent in the Genocide, the main cadres and executives of the Committee of Union and Progress were in charge of the organization. These cadres were to serve in the CHP, the state party and in the organization of the Republic established under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. As Turkey gained self-confidence, it vindicated the genocidal pashas of Union and Progress, named squares and streets after them and moved their graves to Turkey.
Thus, those who carried out the genocide, those who massacred the peoples and plundered their property, would be treated as heroes. Because everything was done in the name of the "state." This led to impunity for crimes committed in the name of the state in Turkey, state control of the judiciary and the nesting of a cadre of criminals within the state.
Today, the gang mentality within the state has resurrected. In the name of the war against "FETO" and the Kurds, all kinds of lawlessness have become the norm. Arbitrariness has completely taken over the so-called state mentality, and crime and impunity have become commonplace. This is the reality unseen by those who believe that the departure of the AKP will solve all the country's problems. There is a "Kurdish reality" that Turkey cannot solve through war. As long as the Kurds are there, the gangs that play on society's fear of division will always be strong within the state and will take the wheel again when they see the conditions favorable.
The only way out of this vicious circle is to confront the past, condemn those who have committed crimes against humanity before history and create an order in which those who break the law, even in the name of the state, are held accountable. But this requires a mature society, and Turkey is a society that has not yet outgrown its infancy and has a structure that sees the "imperialist-Western" powers as responsible for everything that happens on its territory and never questions its own actions. It is difficult to create a democratic and law-abiding society from this picture. Everyone is forced to live with a semi-democratic model at home that does not cause problems for its neighbors and the world order...
*Ergun Babahan graduated from Istanbul University Law School in 1981. After a short time working as a lawyer, he stepped into journalism as a reporter in Yeni Asır. He worked as an editor, managing editor and editor-in-chief in Söz, Hürriyet, Sabah and Yeni Binyıl newspapers, respectively. He joined the John Knight Professional Program at Stanford University with a German Marshall Fund scholarship in 1988, and the American Foreign Policy Process program at the University of Maryland in 1990 with a Ford Foundation scholarship. Babahan served as the editor-in-chief for +Gercek and now works as editor-in-chief for +GercekNews.