Armenian Genocide denial is the claim that the Ottoman Armenians were not victims of a genocide, orchestrated by the Committee of Union and Progress, during World War I, as documented in a large body of evidence and affirmed by the vast majority of scholars. Denial was an integral part of the killings, carried out under the guise of resettlement. In the aftermath of the genocide, incriminating documents were systematically destroyed.
Denial rests on the assumption that the "relocation" of Armenians was a legitimate state action in response to a real or perceived Armenian uprising. Deniers assert that the CUP intended to resettle Armenians rather than kill them; the death toll is claimed to be exaggerated or attributed to other factors, such as a purported civil war, disease, bad weather, rogue local officials, or bands of Kurds and outlaws. Denial is usually accompanied by "rhetoric of Armenian treachery, aggression, criminality, and territorial ambition", sometimes including the accusation of a genocide perpetrated by Armenians against Turks.
One of the most important reasons for denial is that the genocide enabled the establishment of a Turkish nation-state; recognition would contradict Turkey's founding myths. No Turkish government has acknowledged that a crime was committed against the Armenian people. Since the 1920s, Turkey has worked to prevent official recognition or even any mention of the genocide in foreign countries; these efforts have included millions of dollars in lobbying, the creation of research institutes, as well as intimidation and threats. Denial also affects Turkey's domestic policies, and is taught in Turkish schools; Turkish citizens who acknowledge the genocide have faced prosecution for "insulting Turkishness". The century-long effort by the Turkish state to deny the genocide sets it apart from other cases of genocide in history. Azerbaijan also denies the genocide, and campaigns against its recognition internationally.
According to opinion polls, the majority of Turkish citizens oppose recognition of the genocide. The denial of the genocide has profound consequences both for Armenians and in Turkey, and is hypothesized to contribute to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as ongoing violence against Kurds and political opponents in Turkey.
The presence of Armenians in Anatolia is documented since the sixth century BCE, almost a millennium prior to the Turkish presence in the area. In the Ottoman Empire, Armenians and other non-Muslims were effectively treated as second-class citizens under Islamic rule, even after the nineteenth-century Tanzimat reforms intended to equalize their status. By the 1890s, Armenians faced forced conversions and increasing land seizure, which led a handful to join revolutionary parties such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. In the mid-1890s, state-sponsored Hamidian massacres killed almost 200,000 Armenians, and in 1909, the authorities failed to prevent the Adana massacre, resulting the death of some 17,000 Armenians. The Ottoman authorities denied any responsibility for these massacres, accusing Western powers of meddling and Armenians of provocation, while presenting Muslims as the main victims and failing to punish the perpetrators. These same tropes of denial would be later employed to deny the Armenian Genocide.
The Committee of Union and Progress came to power in 1908, and launched another coup in 1913. In the meantime, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all its European territory in the Balkan Wars; the Young Turks blamed Christian treachery for this defeat. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees fled to Anatolia as a result of the wars; many were resettled in the Armenian-populated eastern provinces and harbored resentment against Christians. Beginning in mid-1914, scattered massacres of Armenians began, accelerating after the Ottoman entry into World War I later that year, on the side of the Central Powers. During its invasion of Russian and Persian territory, Ottoman paramilitaries massacred local Armenians; massacres turned into genocide following the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Sar?kam (January 1915), which was blamed on Armenian treachery. Armenian soldiers and officers were removed from their posts pursuant to a 25 February order. In the minds of the Ottoman leaders, isolated indications of Armenian resistance were taken as evidence as a general insurrection.
On 24 April, hundreds of Armenian intellectuals were arrested in Constantinople. Systematic deportation of Armenians then began, given a cover of legitimacy by the 27 May deportation law. The deportation convoys, consisting mostly of women, children, and the elderly, were guarded by the Special Organization and subject to systematic rape and massacres, while the rest were left to die of starvation or disease. Deportation was only carried out in the areas away from active fighting; near the front lines, Armenians were massacred outright. The deportation was ordered by the leaders of the CUP, especially Talat Pasha, who knew that he was sending the Armenians to their deaths.
Historians estimate that 1.5 to 2 million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, of which 800,000 to 1.2 million were deported during the genocide. In 1916, a wave of massacres targeted the surviving Armenians in Syria; by the end of the year, only 200,000 deported Armenians were still alive. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 women and children were integrated into Muslim families through such methods as forced marriage, adoption, and conversion. Property belonging to the Armenians who were deported or murdered was confiscated and redistributed by the state. During the Russian occupation of eastern Anatolia, as many as 60,000 Muslims were massacred by Russian and Armenian forces. Making a false equivalence between these killings and the genocide is a common tactic of denial.
The genocide is extensively documented, in both the Ottoman archives and those collected by foreign diplomats--including neutral countries and the Ottoman allies Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary--as well as eyewitness reports by Armenian survivors and Western missionaries, and the proceedings of the Turkish courts-martial of 1919-1920. Talat Pasha kept his own statistical record, which revealed a massive discrepancy between the number of Armenians deported in 1915 and those surviving in 1917. Although the evidence dates from the time of the genocide, academic research into the event began during the 1980s. The vast majority of scholars outside of Turkey accept the genocide as a historical fact, and an increasing number of Turkish historians are also acknowledging and studying the genocide.
Contemporary observers used unambiguous terminology to describe the genocide, including Völkermord--the German word for genocide--"the murder of a nation", "race extermination" and so forth. The English word genocide was coined by the Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944. Lemkin's interest in war crimes stemmed to the 1921 trial of Soghomon Tehlirian for the assassination of Talat Pasha; he recognized the fate of the Armenians as one of the main cases of genocide in the twentieth century. Although most international law scholars agree that the 1948 Genocide Convention, which established the prohibition of genocide in international criminal law, is not retroactive, the events of the Armenian Genocide otherwise meet the legal definition of genocide: "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such".
As well as having a legal meaning, the word genocide also "contains an inherent value judgment, one that privileges the morality of the victims over the perpetrators". Many Turkish intellectuals have been reluctant to use the term genocide because, according to Turkish historian Taner Akçam, "by qualifying it a genocide you become a member of a collective associated to a crime, not any crime but to the ultimate crime". According to Halil Karaveli, "the word incites strong, emotional reactions among Turks from all walks of society and of every ideological inclination". The Turkish government uses expressions such as "events of 1915" or "Armenian question", often characterizing the charge of genocide as "so-called" or "Armenian allegations".
Genocide denial is the minimization of an event established as genocide, either by denying the facts or denying the intent of the perpetrators. Historian Deborah Lipstadt stated that "denial aims to reshape history in order to rehabilitate the perpetrators". Turkish sociologist Fatma Müge Göçek identifies three subtypes of denial: silence, secrecy, and finally subversion, where the denier produces a text that undermines reality with half-truths. She states that "The most significant characteristic of denial is silencing, namely, the absence of portions of information regarding past and present events."
Although often called the last stage of genocide, denial was present from the outset as an integral part of the killings, perpetrated under the guise of resettlement. Armenian Genocide perpetrators committed violence in secret, omitting it from their public statements. Denial emerged due to the Ottoman desire to maintain American neutrality in the war (until 1917) and German financial and military support. In addition, there was no popular demand for the genocide.
In May 1915, Russia, Britain, and France sent a diplomatic communiqué to the Sublime Porte condemning the Ottoman massacres of Armenians and threatening to "hold personally responsible for those crimes all members of the Ottoman government, as well as those of its agents who will be found implicated in similar massacres". The Ottoman government replied,
Talat Pasha claimed that reports of systematic extermination were no more than "lies and slander the Armenians had started to contrive and fabricate". In early 1916, the Ottoman government published a two-volume work titled The Armenian Aspirations and Revolutionary Movements, which rejected the charge that the Ottoman government tried to exterminate the Armenian people. At the time, little credence was paid to such statements internationally, but some Muslims who had previously felt ashamed over the crimes against Armenians changed their mind in response to propaganda about Armenian atrocities. The themes of genocide denial that originated during the war were later recycled in later denial of the genocide by Turkey.
The Armenian Genocide itself played a key role in the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the foundation of the Turkish republic. The destruction of the Christian middle class, and redistribution of their properties, enabled the creation of a new Muslim/Turkish bourgeoisie. Continuity between the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey was significant, and the Republican People's Party has been described as the successor of the Committee of Union and Progress that carried out the genocide. Many leading members of the Turkish nationalist movement had been perpetrators of the genocide, or enriched themselves from it, creating an incentive for silence.
The Ottoman government in Istanbul held courts-martial of a handful of perpetrators in 1919 to appease Western powers and exonerate the rest of society. Even so, the evidence was sabotaged and many perpetrators encouraged to escape to the interior and join the Turkish nationalist movement. Although everyone at the time acknowledged the reality of state-sponsored mass killing, many circles of society did not regard it as a crime. From exile, Talat Pasha supported the Turkish nationalist movement and published a memoir in 1919, accusing the Armenians of sedition and defending deportation as a legitimate measure while denying state-sponsored massacres. The "denial, trivialization, or relativization of major war crimes played a central role" in the formation of a Turkish nationalist consensus.
Following the genocide, many survivors sought an Armenian state in eastern Anatolia. These demands, which came into being after the genocide, have often been retroactively cited as justification for the 1915 genocide. Warfare between Turkish nationalists and Armenians was fierce, with atrocities being committed on both sides; the Armenian killings of Muslims have also often been cited as retroactive justification for 1915. Turkish troops conducted massacres of Armenian survivors in Cilicia and killed around 200,000 Armenians during the Turkish occupation of the Caucasus; thus, historian Rouben Paul Adalian has argued that "Mustafa Kemal completed what Talaat and Enver had started in 1915".
Kemal, the leader of the Turkish nationalist movement, repeatedly accused Armenians of plotting the "extermination" of Muslims in Anatolia. He contrasted the "murderous Armenians" to Turks, portrayed as an innocent and "oppressed nation". In 1919, Kemal defended the Ottoman government's policies towards Christians:
Whatever has befallen the non-Muslim elements living in our country, is the result of the policies of separatism they pursued in a savage manner, when they allowed themselves to be made tools of foreign intrigues and abused their privileges. There are probably many reasons and excuses for the undesired events that have taken place in Turkey. And I want definitely to say that these events are on a level far removed from the many forms of oppression which are committed in the states of Europe without any excuse.
Historian Erik-Jan Zürcher argues that "a serious attempt to distance the republic from the genocide could have destabilized the ruling coalition on which the state depended for its stability". Denial was consolidated during the early republican era, and Turkish anthropologist Esra Özyürek has even argued that "the Turkish Republic was originally based on forgetting".
From the founding of the republic, the genocide has been viewed as a necessity and raison d'état. Many of the main perpetrators of genocide, including Talat Pasha, were hailed as national heroes of Turkey. Talat's admirers still view him as a capable statesman and visionary founding father; many schools, streets, and mosques are still named after him. Those convicted and executed for war crimes, such as Mehmet Kemal and Behramzade Nusret, were proclaimed "national" and "glorious" martyrs, and schools and neighborhoods were named after them. Akçam states that "It's not easy for a nation to call its founding fathers murderers and thieves". Historian Hans-Lukas Kieser argues that "unbroken implicit and explicit identifications with actors and positions of [Talat's] era... remain entrenched in the political culture".
One factor in explaining denial is Sèvres Syndrome, a narrative that portrays Turkey as besieged by implacable enemies, which would be undermined if it were admitted that Armenians were not enemies seeking the destruction of Turkey, but the victims of state-sponsored murder. Despite the unlikelihood that recognition would lead to any territorial changes, many Turkish officials believe that genocide recognition is part of a campaign to partition Turkey or extract other reparations.
Kieser and other historians argue that "the single most important reason for this inability to accept culpability is the centrality of the Armenian massacres for the formation of the Turkish nation-state". The official narrative maintains that Turkey was an innocent victim during and after World War I. Many Turks are reluctant to admit that the Ottoman Empire, conflated with Turkey, was in fact a perpetrator. Admitting that Turkey's leadership has been lying to its citizens for a century, and the military's role in carrying out and profiting from the genocide, could also undermine their prestige.
By an edict of the Ottoman government, foreigners were banned from taking photographs of Armenian refugees or the corpses that accumulated on the side of the roads on which death marches were carried out. Those who disobeyed were threatened with arrest. Strictly enforced censorship laws prevented Armenian survivors from publishing memoirs in Turkey, or "any publication at odds with the general policies of the state".
The Turkish state and most of society has engaged in similar silencing with regard to other ethnically-targeted human rights violations in the Ottoman Empire and Republican Turkey, including the deportations of Kurds, 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in Thrace, 1942 wealth tax targeted at non-Muslims, 1955 Istanbul pogrom, 1964 expulsion of Istanbul Greeks, and massacres of Alevis in Mara? (1978), Çorum (1982), and Sivas (1993). Laws against "insulting Turkishness" have been used to prosecute those who acknowledge the genocide. These convictions are justified on the basis that freedom of expression "can be limited in accordance with aims such as the protection of national security, of public order, of public security". Many books translated into Turkish from other languages around the turn of the twenty-first century expunge passages about the Armenian Genocide or use mistranslations to minimize the killings and responsibility of the Ottoman government.
Akçam states that "one of the strategies of the successive Turkish governments' denialist policy was based on the concealment or destruction of original historic documents". After the 1918 armistice, incriminating documents in the Ottoman archives were systematically destroyed. The records of the postwar courts-martial in Istanbul have also disappeared without a trace. Recognizing that some archival documents would support its position, in 1985, the Turkish government announced that the archives relevant to the "Armenian question" would be opened. According to Turkish historian Halil Berktay, a second purge of the archives was conducted by diplomat Nuri Birgi at this time. The archives were officially opened in 1989, but in practice, not all the archives were opened, and access was restricted to scholars sympathetic to the Turkish official narrative. A 2004 United States diplomatic cable noted that Turkey still did not allow access to more than seventy million documents that were still uncatalogued. Access was further liberalized in the twenty-first century, but as of 2012, some key archives remain closed to scholars.
Talat Pasha had decreed that "everything must be done to abolish even the word 'Armenia' in Turkey". In the postwar Turkish republic, Armenian cultural heritage has been subject to systematic destruction as an attempt to eradicate any traces of the Armenian presence. On 5 January 1916, Enver Pasha ordered all place names of Greek, Armenian, or Bulgarian origin to be changed, a policy which was fully implemented in the later republic, continuing into the 1980s.Mass graves of genocide victims have also been destroyed, although many still exist. After 1923, Armenian girls continued to be kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam.
In Kemal's 1927 speech, which was the foundation of Kemalist historiography, the tactics of silence and outright denial are employed for violence against Armenians. As in his other speeches, he presents Turks as innocent of any wrongdoing and victims of horrific Armenian atrocities. For decades, Turkish historiography ignored the "Armenian question". One of the early exceptions was the genocide perpetrator Esat Uras, who published The Armenians in History and the Armenian Question in 1950. Uras' book, probably written in response to post-World War II Soviet territorial claims, was a novel synthesis of prior arguments deployed by the CUP during the war, and represented the bridge between wartime denial and the "official narrative" on the genocide developed in the 1980s.
In the 1980s, following Armenian efforts for recognition and a wave of assassinations by Armenian militants, Turkey began to present an official narrative of the "Armenian question", which it framed as an issue of contemporary terrorism rather than historical genocide. Retired diplomats were recruited to write denialist works, completed without regard to professional methodology or ethical standards, generally based on cherry-picking from the archives to find information favorable to Turks and unfavorable to Armenians. The Council of Higher Education, set up in 1981 by the Turkish military junta, has been instrumental in cementing "an alternative, 'national' scholarship with its own reference system". Besides academic research, the first university course on the "Armenian question" was taught by Türkkaya Ataöv in 1983. By the twenty-first century, the Turkish Historical Society, which has been described as "the Kemalist official producer of nationalist historical narratives", had as one of its main functions the countering of genocide claims.
Around 1990, Taner Akçam, working in Germany, was the first Turkish historian to acknowledge and study the genocide. During the 1990s, private universities began to be established, enabling state-sponsored views to be challenged. In 2005, the first academic conference to challenge conventional views on the genocide in Turkey was held at Bilgi University, a private university in Istanbul, after having been cancelled due to a campaign of intimidation. This event occurred during Turkey's bid for European Union membership and was cited as evidence of Turkey's openness. The conference represented the first major challenge to Turkey's founding myths in the public sphere; acknowledgement of the genocide among Turkish historians could no longer be dismissed as a fringe view. These developments resulted in the creation of an alternative, non-denialist historiography from select intellectuals in Istanbul and Ankara, which operates in parallel to an ongoing denialist historiography.
Historian Nazan Maksudyan states that "there is an official national(ist) historiography tradition which almost always prefers a 'glorious past' to truthfulness" and Turkish historians who use professional methodology to write about the Armenian Genocide are accused of treason. Turkish academics who study the genocide from a non-denialist perspective have been subjected to death threats as well as prosecutions for "insulting Turkishness". The Turkish denialist historiography is ignored by Western scholarship because its methods, especially the selective use of sources, are not considered scholarly.
Turkish schools, regardless of whether they are public or private, are required to teach history based on the textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education. The state uses its monopoly to increase support for the official denialist position, demonizing Armenians and presenting them as enemies. For decades, these textbooks omitted any mention of Armenians as part of Ottoman history. Since the 1980s, textbooks discuss the "events of 1915", but deflect the blame from the Ottoman government to other actors, especially imperialist powers who allegedly manipulated the Armenians to achieve their nefarious goals of undermining the empire, and the Armenians themselves, for allegedly committing treason and presenting a threat to the empire. Some textbooks admit that deportations occur and Armenians died, but present this action as necessary and justified. Most recently, textbooks have accused Armenians of perpetrating genocide against Turkish Muslims. In 2003, students in each grade level were instructed to write essays refuting the genocide.
Teachers are instructed to tell seventh-year students:
State to your students that the Russians also made some Armenians revolt on this front and murder many of our civilian citizens. Explain that the Ottoman State took certain measures following these developments, and in May 1915 implemented the 'Tehcir Kanunu' [Displacement Law] regarding the migration and settlement of Armenians in the battleground. Explain that care was taken to ensure that the land in which the Armenians who had to migrate were to settle was fertile, that police stations were established for their security and that measures were taken to ensure they could practice their previous jobs and professions.
The genocide was for decades a taboo subject in Turkish society. Göçek states that it is the interaction between state and society that makes denial so persistent. Besides the Turkish state, Turkish intellectuals and civil society have also participated in denial. Turkish fiction that deals with the genocide typically denies it, while claiming that the fictional narrative is based on true events. Noting that many people in eastern Turkey have passed down memories of the genocide, genocide scholar U?ur Ümit Üngör states that "there is a clash between official state memory and popular social memory: the Turkish government is denying a genocide that its own population remembers". Since the 2007 assassination of Hrant Dink, an increasing number of Turks are acknowledging the genocide and challenging denial. Many Kurds, who themselves have suffered political repression in Turkey, have recognized and condemned the genocide.
Most Turks support the state's policies with regard to genocide denial. Some admit that massacres occurred, but blame them on Armenian treachery which resulted in a justified state response. In 2013, a study sampling Turkish university students in the United States found that 65% agreed with the official view that Armenian deaths occurred as a result of a "inter-communal warfare" and another 10% blamed Armenians for causing violence. A 2014 survey found that only 9% of Turkish citizens though that their government should recognize the genocide. Many believe that such an acknowledgement is imposed on the Turks by Armenians and foreign powers and would bring no benefit to Turkey. The persistent denial of the genocide is one reason why many people, especially in Western Europe, have a negative view of Turkish people.
The Islamic conservative AK Party came to power in 2002 and took an approach to history that denigrated both the Young Turks and the early Republican era, which initially led to some liberalization and a wider range of views that could be expressed in the public sphere. AK Party presented its approach to the "events of 1915" as an alternative to genocide denial and genocide recognition, by emphasizing shared suffering. However, over time and especially since the 2016 failed coup, the AK government became increasingly authoritarian; political repression and censorship has made it more difficult to approach controversial topics such as the Armenian Genocide.
In the twentieth century, the only Turkish political movement to recognize the genocide was the Maoist militant group Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist. The genocide has also been recognized by Kurdish political movements including the Kurdistan Workers' Party in its official newspaper in 1982 and the Kurdish parliament-in-exile in 1997. As of 2020 , genocide denial is supported by all major political parties in Turkey, except the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, as well as many pro- and anti-government media and civil society organizations. Both government and opposition parties have strongly reacted to genocide recognition in other countries. No Turkish government has admitted that what happened to the Armenians was a crime, let alone a genocide.
Turkish efforts to project its genocide denial overseas date to the 1920s, or, alternately, to the genocide itself. Turkey's century-long effort to deny the Armenian Genocide sets it apart from other genocides in history. According to Colin Tatz, "No other nation in history has so aggressively sought the suppression of a slice of its history". Genocide denial is a major aspect of Turkey's foreign policy; central to Turkey's ability to deny the genocide and counter recognition is its strategic position in the Middle East.
At the Lausanne Conference of 1922-1923, Turkish representatives repeated the version of Armenian history that had been developed during the war. The resulting Treaty of Lausanne annulled the previous Treaty of Sevrès which had mandated the prosecution of Ottoman war criminals and the restoration of property to Christian survivors. Instead, Lausanne contained a secret annex granting impunity to all perpetrators.
Turkey's response to the Armenian issue was fairly ad-hoc and reactive until the 1980 Turkish military coup, when it developed more institutionalized ways of countering genocide claims. In 1981, the foreign ministry established a dedicated office (?AGM) specifically for the purpose of promoting Turkey's view of the "Armenian question". In 2001, a further centralization created the AS?MKK (Committee to Coordinate the Struggle with the Baseless Genocide Claims). Institute for Armenian Research, a think tank which exclusively focuses on the Armenian issue, was created in 2001 following the French Parliament's recognition of the genocide. AS?MKK disappeared after the 2017 Turkish constitutional referendum.
According to sociologist Levon Chorbajian, Turkey's "modus operandi remains consistent throughout and seeks maximalist positions, offers no compromise though sometimes hints at it, and employs intimidation and threats". Motivated by the antisemitic idea of a global Jewish conspiracy, the Turkish foreign ministry has recruited Turkish Jews to participate in denialist efforts. Turkish Jewish leaders helped defeat resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide and avoid mention of the genocide in academic conferences and Holocaust museums. Turkish embassies report on any conference that mentions the Armenian Genocide and in most cases Turkish lobbyists obtained concessions, either enclosing the word "genocide" in quotation marks or else including speakers that represent the Turkish state's view. As of 2015 , Turkey spends millions of dollars worldwide on lobbying against Armenian genocide recognition.
Historians have described the acquiescence of other countries in Turkey's genocide denial as a form of collusion. Israeli historian Yair Auron states, "There is at least one cynical lesson from this: for a 'good' price, a nation can purchase a revision of its own history, even the history of an act as terrible as genocide." Akçam stated in 2020 that Turkey has definitively lost the information war over the Armenian Genocide on both the academic and diplomatic fronts, with its official narrative being treated like ordinary denialism.
From 1915 to 1918, Germany and the Ottoman Empire undertook "joint propaganda efforts of denial". German newspapers repeated the Ottoman government's denial of committing any atrocities and stories of alleged Armenian treachery. Stories about Armenians were censored, although penalties were light. On 11 January 1916, socialist deputy Karl Liebknecht raised the issue of the Armenian Genocide in the Reichstag, receiving the reply that "the Porte has been forced, due to the seditious machinations of our enemies, to transfer the Armenian population of certain areas, and to assign them new places of residence". Liebknecht's follow-up questions were interrupted by laughter. Genocide denial in Germany mostly ended after the 1921 trial of Tehlirian, which revealed so much evidence that formerly denialist newspapers accepted the fact of the genocide, including the perpetrators' intent. German nationalists instead began to portray the genocide as justified. When the Bundestag voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide in 2016, Turkish media harshly criticized the resolution and eleven deputies of Turkish origin received police protection due to death threats.
Historian Donald Bloxham states that "In a very real sense, 'genocide denial' was accepted and furthered by the US government before the term genocide had even been coined." In interwar Turkey, prominent American diplomats such as Mark L. Bristol and Joseph Grew endorsed the Turkish nationalist view that the Armenian Genocide was a war against the forces of imperialism. In 1922, before receiving the Chester concession, Colby Chester argued that Christians of Anatolia were not massacred; his writing exhibited many of the themes of later genocide denial.
In the 1930s, the Turkish embassy scuttled a planned film adaptation of Franz Werfel's popular novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by the American company MGM, threatening a boycott of American films. Attempts to revive the film in the 1950s and 1960s were also shot down by Turkish embassies with the support of the United States State Department. In 1953, United States diplomat Arthur Richards expressed hope "that the book would never be made into a play or a movie because the Turkish people are particularly sensitive to this period of their history and are trying desperately to cover it up".
Turkey began to use political lobbying around 1975.?ükrü Elekda?, Turkish ambassador to the United States 1979-1989, aggressively worked to counter the trend of Armenian genocide recognition by courting academics, business interests, and Jewish groups. Multiple people involved in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reported that Elekda? told them that the safety of Jews in Turkey was not guaranteed if the museum covered the Armenian Genocide. Under his tenure, the Institute of Turkish Studies was set up, funded by $3 million from Turkey, and the country began to spend $1 million annually on public relations. In 2000, Elekda? complained that ITS had "lost its function and its effectiveness".
Turkey has also threatened that United States' access to key air bases in Turkey would be cut off if it recognized the genocide. In 2007, a United States Congress resolution for genocide recognition failed due to Turkish pressure. Opponents of the bill stated that a genocide had taken place, but argued against formal recognition to prioritize relations with Turkey. Each year, the president issues a commemorative message on 24 April. Sometimes, Turkey will make concessions in order to prevent the president from using the word "genocide". In 2019, Congress formally recognized the genocide.
In 2001, the United Kingdom initially refused to invite Armenian Genocide survivors to an official commemorative event of the first Holocaust Memorial Day, which included survivors of several genocides, but later relented. In 2005, the Turkish National Assembly demanded an apology for the 1916 publication of The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, a collection of eyewitness reports on the genocide. Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson charged that around 2000, "genocide denial had entrenched itself in the Eastern Department [of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office]... to such an extent that it was briefing ministers with a bare-faced disregard for readily ascertainable facts", such as its own records from the time period. In 2006, in response to a debate initiated by Steven Pound MP, a representative of the FCO claimed that the United Kingdom did not recognize the genocide because "the evidence is not sufficiently unequivocal". Although FCO representatives have not used this argument since 2009, the Turkish government highlights it on its website as if it represents the current position of the British government.
According to historians R?fat Bali and Marc David Baer, "the single most important factor in successfully concluding the process of normalization between Israel and Turkey" was Armenian Genocide denial.
The 1982 International Conference on Holocaust and Genocide, which took place in Tel Aviv, included six presentations on the Armenian Genocide. Turkey threatened that if the conference was held, it would close its borders to Jewish refugees from Iran and Syria, putting their lives in danger. As a result, the Israeli Foreign Ministry joined the ultimately unsuccessful effort to cancel the conference.
In April 2001, foreign minister Shimon Peres was quoted in a Turkish newspaper as stating, "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through, but not a genocide." According to Charny and Auron, this statement "entered into the range of actual denial of the Armenian Genocide, comparable to the denial of the Holocaust". However, scholar Eldad Ben Aharon states that Peres simply made explicit what had been Israel's policy since 1948.
Israel-Turkey relations deteriorated in the late 2010s, but Israel's relations with Azerbaijan are close and the Azerbaijan-Israel International Association has lobbied against recognition of the genocide.
The Turkish authorities have put forth certain conditions before attempting to reconcile with Armenia. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 following the First Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan. The borders have remained closed because the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute has not been settled to this day. Although Armenia was willing to normalize relations without preconditions, Turkey demanded that the Armenian side abandon all support for the recognition efforts of the Armenian diaspora. The closed border harms both the economy of Armenia and of eastern Turkey.
In 2005 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an invited Turkish, Armenian and international historians to form a commission to reevaluate the events of 1915 by using archives in Turkey, Armenia and other countries. The idea of a historical commission met stiff resistance from the Armenian diaspora. Many Armenians viewed it as "an attempt to re-legislate an issue that had already been decided". There have been two major attempts at Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, both of which failed partly due to the controversy over the Armenian Genocide. In both cases, namely the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (2000-2004) and the Zurich Protocols (2009), the mediators did their best to sideline the issue of the genocide; however, this proved impossible. Armenian diaspora groups opposed both initiatives due to fears that it would be giving in to genocide denial. According to Vahagn Avedian, reconciliation cannot occur without some common narrative and therefore is unlikely as long as the official denialist policy continues.
Until the twenty-first century, Ottoman and Turkish studies marginalized the killings of Armenians, which many portrayed as a wartime measure justified by emergency and avoided discussing in depth. These fields have long enjoyed close institutional links with the Turkish state. Statements by these academics were also used to further the Turkish denial agenda. Historians who recognized the genocide feared professional retaliation for expressing their views. The ethics of academics' decision to deny the Armenian genocide have been questioned.
Beginning in the 1980s, the Turkish government has funded research institutes that deny the genocide. Their methodology has been compared to the tactics of the tobacco industry or global warming denial; funding biased research, creating a smokescreen of doubt, and thereby manufacturing a controversy. According to David B. MacDonald, the minority of scholars who deny the genocide "hardly demonstrate the existence of a genuine academic dispute". Denial of the genocide has shaped scholarship, for example spurring many authors to focus on countering denial arguments.
On 19 May 1985, The New York Times and The Washington Post ran an advertisement in which 69 academics--most of the professors of Ottoman history working in the United States at the time--including the prominent historian Bernard Lewis, who called on Congress not to adopt the resolution on the Armenian Genocide.Heath Lowry, director of the Institute of Turkish Studies, helped secure the signatures of the academics and the advertisement was paid for by the Committee of the Turkish Associations. For his efforts on the open letter, Lowry received the Foundation for the Promotion and Recognition of Turkey Prize. Over the next decade, Turkey funded six chairs of Ottoman and Turkish studies to counter recognition of the genocide; Lowry was appointed to one of the chairs. According to historian Keith David Watenpaugh, the resolution had "a terrible and lasting influence on the rising generation of scholars". Many or most of the 69 academics benefited directly or indirectly from Turkish government research grants, and a majority were not specialists on the historical period during which the genocide occurred. In 2000, Elekda? admitted that the statement had become useless because none of the original signatories besides Justin McCarthy would agree to sign another, similar declaration.
More recent academic denialism in the United States has focused on the theme of an alleged Armenian uprising, which is said to justify the persecution of Armenians as a legitimate counterinsurgency. In 2009, the University of Utah opened its "Turkish Studies Project", funded by Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) and led by M. Hakan Yavuz, with Elekda? on the advisory board.University of Utah Press has published a number of books denying the genocide. The series began with Guenter Lewy's The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey (2006), which had been rejected by eleven publishers and, according to Marc Mamigonian, became "one of the key texts of modern denial". TCA has also provided financial support to several authors including McCarthy, Michael Gunter, Yücel Güçlü, and Edward J. Erickson for writing books that deny the Armenian Genocide. According to Richard G. Hovannisian, of recent deniers in academia, "Almost all are citizens of the Turkish state or have lived and served in the Turkish Republic. The Turkish authors are all past or present officials of the Turkish foreign ministry."
In 1990, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton received a letter from Nüzhet Kandemir, Turkish ambassador to the United States, questioning his inclusion of references to the Armenian Genocide in one of his books. The ambassador inadvertently included a draft of a letter from Lowry advising the ambassador on how to prevent mention of the Armenian Genocide in scholarly works. Lowry was later named to the Atatürk chair of Ottoman Studies at Princeton University, which had been endowed with a $750,000 grant from the Republic of Turkey. Lowry's actions were described as "subversion of scholarship" and "further proof of the Institute of Turkish Studies' and scholars' collusion with Turkish state interests". Lowry later apologized for writing the letter, saying that he "goofed".
In 2006, Ottomanist historian Donald Quataert--one of the 69 signatories of the 1985 statement to the United States Congress--published a review of Bloxham's book The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. Quataert stated that he used the word genocide because "to do otherwise... runs the risk of suggesting denial of the massive and systematic atrocities" and that "what happened to the Armenians readily satisfies the U.N. definition of genocide". The review has been cited as challenging the field's habitual neglect of the Armenian Genocide. Weeks later, Quataert resigned from the position of the chairman of the board of directors of the Institute of Turkish Studies after Turkish officials threatened that if he did not retract his statements on the genocide, the institute's funding would be withdrawn. Several members of the board resigned and both the Middle East Studies Association and Turkish Studies Association criticized the violation of Quataert's academic freedom.
In a lecture he delivered in June 2011, Akçam stated that he was told by a Turkish foreign ministry official that the Turkish government was offering money to academics in the United States for denial of the genocide, noting the coincidence between what his source said and Gunter's book Armenian History and the Question of Genocide. Hovannisian believes that books denying the genocide are published because of flaws in peer review leading to "a strong linkage among several mutually sympathetic reviewers" without submitting the books to academics who would point out errors.
Deniers claim that the events of the genocide did not occur or reject that the Ottoman government was responsible. Many denialist works share much of the facts about events with non-denialist histories, but differ in their interpretation and emphases. The official Turkish view is based on the assumption that the Armenian Genocide was a legitimate state action and therefore cannot be challenged on legal or moral grounds. Historian Ronald Grigor Suny summarizes the main denialist argument as "There was no genocide, and the Armenians were to blame for it."
Denial of the Armenian Genocide is frequently compared to Holocaust denial because of similar tactics of misrepresenting evidence, false equivalence, claiming that atrocities were invented by war propaganda and that powerful lobbies manufacture genocide allegations for their own profit, subsuming the specific and one-sided killings of genocide into war deaths, and blaming genocide victims for provoking their own suffering. Both forms of negationism share the goal of rehabilitating the ideologies which brought genocide about. Holocaust denial, however, is not supported by a powerful state apparatus, meaning that it is less developed and less respectable.
One major claims is that there was a "civil war" or generalized Armenian uprising planned by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaks) in collusion with Russia. In reality, there was Armenian resistance--primarily the uprisings in Shabin Karahisar, Musa Dagh, Urfa, and Van--but these were localized, desperate, and mostly unsuccessful attempts at self-defense against imminent anti-Armenian measures. The books that make this argument often rely on the arguments published by genocide perpetrator Esat Uras. Another frequently cited source is a 1923 pamphlet Hovhannes Kachaznuni, which criticizes Dashnak actions, written to obtain Soviet permission to return to Soviet Armenia; this source is frequently misrepresented by deniers. Neither Ottoman archives nor other sources support the hypothesis of a general Armenian uprising, as admitted by one of the proponents of this theory, Edward Erickson.
According to some deniers the number of Armenians killed was only 300,000 or even less, perhaps no more than 100,000. The numbers of Armenian victims are minimized to diminish the guilt of the perpetrators or even absolve them entirely, by allowing the Armenian Genocide to be normalized as an ordinary outcome of wartime conditions, rather than a systematic extermination. Bloxham sees this as "part of the project of fraudulently minimizing the number of Armenians who had ever lived in the Ottoman empire, thereby undermining Armenian claims for autonomy or independence". However, by the twenty-first century, in response to increased scholarship on the genocide, the official narrative began to admit that hundreds of thousands of Armenians had died, instead spending more time in justifying these deaths and deflecting responsibility.
Some of the writers who reject genocidal intent claim that certain groups of Armenians were spared deportation, including Catholic and Protestant Armenians as well as the families of Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman Army. The latter claim is false; the vast majority of families of soldiers were deported, especially after the Armenian soldiers themselves were killed. In the former case, the Ottoman authorities did issue orders to spare Catholic and Protestant Armenians, to appease German demands, but such orders were quickly rescinded with explicit orders to deport every Armenian regardless of confession. Another claim is that the Armenian communities of Smyrna and Constantinople were spared from deportation, which according to proponents would prove that there was no systematic effort to exterminate the Armenians. Documentation confirms the deportation of Armenians from both areas. Irregular deportation from Constantinople, beginning with the deportation of Armenian intellectuals on 24 April 1915, occurred throughout the remainder of the war, but German pressure prevented the total deportation of the community, as planned by the Young Turks. Deportation from Smyrna was halted after German general Otto Liman von Sanders threatened to use force to block additional deportations.
At the extreme end of denialist claims is that it is not Turks who committed genocide against Armenians but vice versa, as articulated by the I?d?r Genocide Memorial and Museum. This theory relies on an exaggeration of revenge killings committed during the Russian occupation of eastern Anatolia, decontextualized from the genocide of 1915.
Because of the systematic destruction of evidence in the Ottoman archives, documents there are unlikely to provide a "smoking gun" to prove the genocide. Deniers then demand a "smoking gun" to prove that the genocide happened, and question the veracity of the evidence that has survived. Armenian survivors and Western diplomats are dismissed as unreliable sources, to the point that "the only source of reliable evidence on the topic is [deemed to be] the Prime Ministerial Ottoman Archive in Istanbul".
Some deniers discount the postwar courts-martial on the grounds that it was imposed by the Allies. However, the courts-martial were actually biased towards the defense, evidence was provided voluntarily and there is no evidence of forgery, and the most plausible explanation for the disappearance of their archives was that the perpetrators were trying to hide their guilt. The Talat Pasha telegrams, originally published in 1919 as part of The Memoirs of Naim Bey, provide concrete evidence that the genocide of Armenians was implemented as a state policy. ?inasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca argued in their 1983 book The Talât Pasha "telegrams": historical fact or Armenian fiction? that Naim Bey did not exist, and his memoir and the telegrams were forgeries by the Armenian journalist Aram Andonian. According to Akçam, their claims "were some of the most important cornerstones of denying the events of 1915" and "the book became one of the most important instruments for the anti-Armenian hate discourse".
Denialist works portray Armenians in negative terms as a terrorist and secessionist fifth column; in other words, they were to blame for their own suffering, and thus the attacks against them cannot be considered genocidal. Related claims include alleged mass defections of Ottoman Armenians to the Russian Army. Such defections did occur on a limited scale but the Armenian regiments in the Russian army were composed mostly of Russian Armenians. According to this logic, the deportations of Armenian civilians was a justified and proportionate response to Armenian treachery, either real or as perceived by the Ottoman authorities. Proponents cite the doctrine of military necessity and attribute collective guilt of all Armenians for the military resistance of some, despite the fact that the law of war criminalizes the deliberate killing of civilians.
Under the Genocide Convention, genocide requires "intent to destroy"; deniers of the genocide argue that this criterion has not been proven. According to this theory, the Ottoman government ordered the "relocation" of Armenians but did not intend for them to die. Deaths are blamed on factors apparently beyond the control of the Ottoman authorities, such as weather, disease, or rogue local officials. The role of the Special Organization is denied and instead massacres are blamed on Kurds, "brigands", and "armed gangs"; in fact, the latter terms are used synonymously in contemporary documents to "member of the Special Organization". Other false claims made along these lines include that the Ottoman rulers took actions to safeguard Armenian lives and property during their deportation, and prosecuted 1,397 people for harming Armenians during the genocide. This theory relies on a legally incorrect understanding of genocidal intent; the crime of genocide also includes "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction".
Another major argument deployed to counter the Armenian Genocide is that the claim that the Ottoman Empire represented "500 years of friendship" between Jews and Muslims. The actual degree of friendship is exaggerated, Turkish antisemitism is elided, and the history is used to justify Armenian Genocide denial, according to the argument that Turkish benevolence towards Jews means that they could not have committed genocide against Christians. This argument perhaps originated during the genocide, when Talat Pasha asked Henry Morgenthau Sr., the United States ambassador, why he would care about Armenians given that Ottoman Jews were treated well. Additionally, Turkey has presented itself as a rescuer of Jews during the Holocaust, without acknowledging that thousands of Jews were deported to extermination camps because their Turkish citizenship was not acknowledged. It is claimed that if Turkey saved Jews from genocide, it could not have committed genocide against Armenians. During a visit to Sudan in 2006, Erdo?an denied that there had been a Darfur genocide because "a Muslim cannot commit genocide".
Some European countries have adopted laws to criminalize denial of the genocide. Criminal prosecution of genocide denial is controversial, being claimed by opponents to erode freedom of speech. Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was repeatedly prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness"; before his assassination, he opposed laws against genocide denial because of his belief that such laws would entrench polarized positions on the issue and hinder reconciliation.
In 1993, French newspapers printed several interviews with Bernard Lewis in which he argued that there was no Armenian Genocide because the Armenians brought their fate upon themselves. Criminal proceedings were brought by a state prosecutor under the Gayssot Law, but failed as the court determined that the law did not apply to events prior to World War II. In a 1995 civil proceeding brought by three Armenian Genocide survivors, a French court censured his remarks under Article 1382 of the Civil Code and fined him one franc, as well as ordering the publication of the judgment at Lewis' cost in Le Monde. The court ruled that while Lewis has the right to his views, their expression harmed a third party and that "it is only by hiding elements which go against his thesis that the defendant was able to state that there was no 'serious proof' of the Armenian Genocide".
In the 2000s, France passed multiple laws to criminalize Armenian Genocide denial, but they were all struck down in court as unconstitutional.
In March 2007, Turkish ultranationalist politician Do?u Perinçek, a member of the Talat Pasha Committee, named after the main perpetrator of the genocide, was found guilty of racial discrimination by a Swiss court for denying the Armenian Genocide. Perinçek appealed; in December, the Swiss Federal Court confirmed his sentence. The verdict was overturned by the European Court of Human Rights in Perinçek v. Switzerland on freedom of speech grounds. Although the court did not rule on whether the events of 1915 constituted genocide, several concurring and dissenting opinions recognized the reality of the Armenian genocide as a historical fact. Since the ECtHR has ruled that member states may criminalize Holocaust denial, the verdict has been widely criticized for creating a double standard between the Holocaust and other genocides, along with failure to acknowledge anti-Armenianism as a motivation for genocide denial. Perinçek and the Talat Pasha Committee misrepresented the verdict to claim that they "put an end to the genocide lie".
When recognizing the Armenian Genocide in April 2015, Pope Francis added, "concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it".David Tolbert, president of the International Center for Transitional Justice, emphasized that "The consequences of denial are deep and lasting, not only for the descendants of the Armenians, but also for Turkey itself, in large and small ways. Putting perpetrators of genocide in the Turkish pantheon of national heroes has its price."Vicken Cheterian states that genocide denial "pollutes the political culture of entire societies, where violence and threats become part of a political exercise degrading basic rights and democratic practice". Historian Stefan Ihrig has argued that impunity for the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide, as well as silence or justification from bystanders of the crime, emboldened the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
According to an article in Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, "[d]enial prevents healing of the wounds inflicted by genocide, and constitutes an attack on the collective identity and national cultural continuity of the victimized people". Göçek argues that the lack of closure due to ongoing Turkish denial has left the descendants of Armenian victims in an "awkward, unsatisfactory state of incompletion". The activities of Armenian terrorist groups in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia and Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide, was caused partly by the failure of peaceful efforts to elicit Turkish acknowledgement of the genocide. Historian Thomas de Waal argues that "For many individual Armenians, and for Diaspora Armenians collectively, the problem is that the unresolved legacy of the Genocide is a prison, and it is the Turks, and not they themselves, who have the key to release them."
Denial of the genocide has had profound effects on Turkish society. Cheterian argues that "By censoring the Armenian Genocide, its impact, traces and consequences do not simply disappear. It continues in various forms". Kieser states that until the Armenian Genocide is recognized, "the legacy of this crime condemned the political culture of the country to remain unfit for a true, that is, egalitarian, pluralism, the twin brother of truly democratic rule." Cheterian and others have argued that Turkey's campaign against the Kurds and political repression result from genocide denial. Most of all, according to Cheterian, there is a continuity between deep state organs such as the Special Organization set up to carry out the genocide, and the deep state which continues to operate in Turkey (e.g. Ergenekon) outside of political or legal accountability.
Genocide denial has also been cited as a threat to regional stability and peace. Bloxham recognizes that "denial has always been accompanied by rhetoric of Armenian treachery, aggression, criminality, and territorial ambition, it actually enunciates an ongoing if latent threat of Turkish 'revenge'". Akçam states: "If a society, if a state, doesn't acknowledge its wrongdoing in the past, this means there is a potential there, always, that it can do it again."
Since the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijan, a Turkic country, has adopted Turkey's genocide denial and worked to promote it internationally. Many Armenians saw a connection between the genocide and later anti-Armenian violence such as the 1988 Sumagit pogrom. However, the connection between the Karabakh conflict and the Armenian Genocide is mostly made by Azerbaijani elites. Azerbaijani nationalists accused Armenians of staging the Sumagit pogrom and other anti-Armenian pogroms, similar to the Turkish discourse on the Armenian Genocide. According to Azerbaijan, genocide has been "repeatedly committed against the Azerbaijani people", citing events such as the Treaty of Gulistan (1813), the Treaty of Turkmenchay (1828), Baku Commune, January 1990 deployment of Soviet troops to Baku, and especially the 1992 Khojali massacre. However, Armenians never suffered any mistreatment, let alone a genocide. Azerbaijan sees any country that recognizes the genocide as an enemy and has even threatened sanctions. Cheterian has argued that the "unresolved historic legacy of the 1915 genocide" helped cause the Karabakh conflict and prevent its resolution, while "the ultimate crime itself continues to serve simultaneously as a model and as a threat, as well as a source of existential fear".
The I?d?r genocide monument is the ultimate caricature of the Turkish government's policy of denying the 1915 genocide by rewriting history and transforming victims into guilty parties.
Despite growing scholarly consensus on the fact of the Armenian Genocide...
... important developments in the historical research on the genocide over the last fifteen years... have left no room for doubt that the treatment of the Ottoman Armenians constituted genocide according to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
... the denialist position has been largely discredited in the international academy. Recent scholarship has overwhelmingly validated the Armenian Genocide...
We are of the firm opinion, strengthened by the contributions in this volume, that the single most important reason for this inability to accept culpability is the centrality of the Armenian massacres for the formation of the Turkish nation-state. The deeper collective psychology within which this sentiment rests assumes that any move toward acknowledging culpability will put the very foundations of the Turkish nation-state at risk and will lead to its steady demise.
Uniquely, the entire apparatus of a nation-state has been put to work to amend, ameliorate, deflect, defuse, deny, equivocate, justify, obfuscate, or simply omit the events. No other nation in history has so aggressively sought the suppression of a slice of its history, threatening everything from breaking off diplomatic or trade relations, to closure of air bases, to removal of entries on the subject in international encyclopedias.
Turkish nationalists were following the pattern that was firmly established after the Hamidian massacres, though new research might take the chronology of unpunished crimes and denial further back to the first half of the nineteenth century. In each and every case of violence against the non-Muslims, the first reaction of the state - even though the regime changed, along with the involved actors - was denial.
The Armenian deportations were not the result of an Armenian rebellion. On the contrary, Armenians were deported when no danger of outside interference existed. Thus Armenians near front lines were often slaughtered on the spot and not deported. The deportations were not a security measure against rebellions but depended on their absence.
Göçek makes only a passing reference (p. 248) to the first official publications denying any attempt to exterminate the Armenians, two volumes, titled The Armenian Aspirations and Revolutionary Movements, and published by the Ottoman Ministry of the Interior at the start of 1916. A close analysis of this publication (the language and images) is pivotal to understanding that denial is part of the processes of genocide--denial does not merely manifest itself afterwards, although it can take on different legitimising discourses, as these change (as with this case) over time.
... unlike the CHP, some AKP sympathizers blamed the Unionist mentality for what had happened in 1915 to the Ottoman Armenians by labeling it as an inhumane incident or a crime against humanity; but similar to the CHP, they were hesitant to recognize 'this relocation' as genocide. This was presented as the third way between genocide denialism and genocide recognition. Davuto?lu labeled it as 'the common grief approach' that focused on the cumulative sufferings of the Ottoman peoples during World War I...
Throughout the 2000s (and to this day), the official Turkish narrative has denied outright, and systematically, that the experience of the Armenians was a crime at all, let alone a genocide. Whatever linguistic acrobatics the state narrative has performed does not change this reality.
Initially, the Allied Powers sought the prosecution of those responsible for the massacres. The Treaty of Sevres, which was signed on August 10, 1920, would have required the Turkish Government to hand over those responsible to the Allied Powers for trial... The Treaty of Sevres was, however, not ratified and did not come into force. It was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne, which not only did not contain provisions respecting the punishment of war crimes, but was accompanied by a 'Declaration of Amnesty' of all offenses committed between 1914 and 1922."
The paid advertisements, signed by all of the most prominent Ottoman historians of the time, marked the fixing of a regime of denial and silencing in the practice of modern Middle East history. Though intended for politicians, the ads were also read by graduate students and junior professors, and had a terrible and lasting influence on the rising generation of scholars. When I was a graduate student preparing grant proposals to pursue the study of the interwar Middle East and the legacy of mass violence, I knew that the mere mention of Armenian refugee survivors' historical role ran the risk of stigmatizing and marginalizing my research. When I look back on this collective act of silencing three decades later, I am still at a loss to understand the many ways in which a community of scholars could participate in this deformation of history, and I wonder at its many lingering effects on our field, and its many continuing silences.
Scholars of Turkey (not only in Turkey) have in some notable cases been complicit in this state-sponsored denial... Their critics have argued that denial in posterity is in fact the last stage of genocide, which adds insult to injury through a symbolic killing of the memory of the dead. From this follows that scholars are duty-bound by professional standards to defend historical truth and open themselves to suffering as a way of taking a stand against cruelty and killing, whatever its source.
The "Lewis Affair" began in the United States on May 19, 1985, with the publication, both in the New York Times and in the Washington Post, of an advertisement addressed to members of the House of Representatives. The statement was signed by sixty-nine academics in Turkish studies and sponsored by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. Among the signatories was the name of Bernard Lewis, the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern History at Princeton University.
The Institute of Turkish Studies and its director. Heath Lowry, were instrumental in securing the signature of sixty-nine academics in Turkish studies, many of whom had been awarded grants by the institute, for an open letter published as an advertisement in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and read more than once into the Congressional Record.
This is a telling slip; Lewy is talking about 'the Armenians' as if the defenceless women and children who comprised the deportation columns were vicariously responsible for Armenian rebels in other parts of the country. The collective guilt accusation is unacceptable in scholarship, let alone in normal discourse and is, I think, one of the key ingredients in genocidal thinking. It fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, on which international humanitarian law has been insisting for over a hundred years now.
'Necessity' in war can never justify the deliberate killing of civilians: if they are suspected of treason or loyalty to the enemy they may be detained or interned, or prosecuted, but not sent on marches from which they are expected not to return.
In conclusion, if the Grand Chamber had really balanced the freedom of expression with the Armenian group's right of identity and dignity and not merely with the risk of diffusion of violence and hatred, the affirmation contained in the judgment--according to which the Holocaust denial 'must invariably be seen as connoting an antidemocratic ideology and anti-Semitism'--it would appear to be gravely discriminatory because it would imply that, in a democratic society, some groups are more valuable than others.
[Perinçek] seemingly intended to further spread the Turkish program of denial and suppression throughout the world, thus perpetuating the Young Turks' and Atatürk's destructive and repressive ideology still present in Turkey today.
Das Argument des ,,fehlenden Konsenses" bezüglich des armenischen Völkermordes verstößt gegen den Geist der Europäischen Menschenrechtkonvention (1950), die als Folge der Verwüstungen des Zweiten Weltkriegs entworfen wurde: Es markiert einen Sieg für die Ideologie der Völkermordleugnung.