Questions without answers


By Ahmet Abidin Ozbek:

There are lots of questions about the nature of the state of Turkey. But there are fewer answers because the tyrants are never willing to change radically. Peace is not written in a book whose only language is hate and revenge. I have been living for almost 14 years in the United States. From time to time, I have the chance to talk with people about their impressions of Turkey and its major problems. I have been able to observe and discuss with people whose families originate from Turkey as well as others.

I have had the chance to talk with people from a lot of different cultures and backgrounds. It was interesting for me to learn what Armenians, Greeks and Arabic people who are already in America think about Turkey. The Armenians were in general friendly when they learned that I am Kurdish and Alevi from Turkey. They have very sad memories of the past. They feel betrayed. But I haven’t seen any thirst for revenge. The people I talked to were not so much worried about land. But they looked at least for some compassion from the people of Turkey. I remember that one day my Armenian Pastor friend Sako brought his mother to my workplace. The old lady invited me to her church, saying in Turkish: “Oglum burasi da Allahin evidir lutfen gel”. It means: “My son, there is also the house of God and you are welcome”. I talked with the family and learned that, before moving to Lebanon, she was from Turkey. Possibly the majority of her family had been killed in the 1915 Armenian Massacre.

Peter Condaxis has had his own coffee factory in my city for more than 40 years. I used to visit and drink expresso coffee there. One day he told me that the Turks had forced his Greek parents to leave Bergama city for Greece in the 1920s. His parents had coped but he never forgot what they told him about their experiences. My dear Greek friend John Mabal (Mabaloglu) told me that he had witnessed a massacre in Istanbul in the 1950s.

Many people’s lives were ruined and they lost everything in Turkey. They couldn’t assume that anything belonged to them. I became a colleague and friend of many Albanians in America. Most could not tell me one good thing about the period of Ottoman occupation. For example, it was very common for the occupiers to grab and separate kids from their parents to breed their Janissary Army (you might call it the Ottoman’s SS). There are many other examples, but I can’t list all of them here.

I have always tried to understand: Did we attempt to show more empathy or sympathy to those people or their descendants who are now living in the US? Don’t you think as human being we owe something to those people? They expected at least an apology for what happened to them, their parents, culture and values. As things stand, I don’t think they will get it. If we understand how the Turkish State fails or how Turkish people are so ignorant, we will be better able to accept reality.

The racist and discriminative nature of the State has also poisoned Turkish groups based outside the country. There are two kinds of organization, and both are somehow state-sponsored. First, there are groups that mostly represent Kemalist-Republican values: these are mainly Turkish Associations, Student Organizations etc. The second type of group are mostly connected to the Islamic foundation called the Fettulah Gulen Movement (FGM), and they have a large network of schools and non-profit organizations in the US. Of the two, the FGM is the more active, wealthy and well-organised.

But my questions start here. As a person with experience of dealing with the individuals and groups, I know that these are not intellectuals who can answer the complicated problems of Turkey. I tried to engage with these organizations many times and none are willing to talk about past historical crimes against minorities. They not only deny the minorities’ problems in the past (Armenian, Greeks) or present (Kurdish, Alevis)but also, in this new century, they maintain fake propaganda for their nonsense myth or ego. It is almost impossible to discuss any minority-related problems in these circles. My point of view is that these groups or associations, which are somehow affiliated with the Turkish State and official ideology, are not really humanist, democratic or free thinking.

That’s why the individuals belonging to those organizations in the US still do not understand the past or present for the benefit of humanity. For example, as we know, most Turkish groups are still committed to a “denial of the Armenian genocide”. I don’t believe revenge or hatred are the answers to historical events. I know that the Armenians were not only the victims of the genocide – also Turks and Kurds and other minorities became victims.

But Armenians lost their entire existence in the country. They faced total extermination by the Turk. I liked Edward Chaszar (1999) dictum about this. He said: “In the course of a quarter of a century –between 1895 and 1920 – the Armenian race lost a million and half persons by the gun or bayonet, by deliberate starvation, and by privation and pestilence. About a third of all Armenians in the world died a gruesome, painful death”*.

Why can’t the Turkish State officially display any sympathy for them? Today, Germans do so towards Jewish people; and Americans do so towards African Americans and Native Amercians. There are even many museums that you can visit to learn about past crimes. School books apologize publicly for them. Why are Turkish people so proud of their historical crimes ? They can’t apologise because they are still today committing the same crimes against minorities.

*Edward Chaszar, 1999. The International Problem of National Minorities. Matthias Corvinus Publishing. Toronto- Buffalo.ISBN 1-882785-02-9.

Copyright © 2012


One Response to Questions without answers
  1. Haval
    September 18, 2012 | 08:58

    well written article well done

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