Those who stir trouble with the so-called Armenian genocide allegations, particularly France, have “no concern about the truth,” Turkey’s president said Wednesday, clearly overlooking the fact that systematic extermination of Christian populations had begun much earlier.
“When we dig deeper into genocides, massacres, and human rights violations, we see the same countries that make noise about democracy and freedom,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a symposium on archives and historical research in the capital Ankara.
“Those who lecture Turkey on human rights, democracy, the Armenian issue, and the fight against terrorism all have a bloody history,” Erdogan added.
“Those responsible for massacres and agony in previous centuries are the ones who [now] wear the mask of human rights and freedoms,” he said.
He stressed that the Western world became dominant not due to its ideas but through “a brutal war against man and nature that held their interests above all values.”
‘It is clear who is behind history’s greatest massacres’
“Turks or Muslims are not responsible for the brutal murder of 50 million people around the world to establish economic prosperity through colonialism,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey’s ancestors were not involved in “the destruction” of ancient civilizations and peoples in the Americas.
Mr Erdogan is of course forgetting the enslavement of all of the Middle East and North Africa as well as the wars of conquest against Europe and the brutal and atrocious behavior of Ottoman authorities towards subject peoples.
“It is also clear who started World War I and II, in which the greatest massacres in history took place, killing some 70 million people,” Erdogan said.
“Those who talk about the Holocaust have already erased from their memories the persecution of Jews and the concentration camps they started in Europe 80 years ago.
“We will not forget those who sent millions of Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks to death in a night,” he added, referring to the 250,000 Crimean Tatar Turks exiled thousands of kilometers from their homeland in May 1944.
“It’s obvious who killed 800,000 people in Rwanda 25 years ago, it’s France. … In Algeria, it is the French who massacred hundreds of thousands of people,” referring to the Rwandan genocide and the French colonial era.
“These are very clear in our records,” Erdogan stressed.
Erdogan underscored that those who brutally killed millions of innocents in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Karabakh, and Myanmar and their implicit supporters are well known, and added: “From 1912 to 1919 alone, 2 million people in the Balkans and 2 million in [Turkey’s] east and southeast were killed for being Turkish and Muslim.”
‘Stand by the oppressed’
“We continue to stand by the oppressed, just like our ancestors,” Erdogan stressed.
Describing the days of World War I, when Armenians who sided with invading Russians were relocated, he said: “In such a period, deporting the Armenian gangs and their supporters who slaughtered the Muslim population of women, children and the elderly in eastern Anatolia was the most reasonable course of action.”
He stressed that deporting people is very different from killing.
“Turkey’s archives are fully accessible”, Erdogan said, calling on Armenians and third parties to research the 1915 events.
He also said that no group or state has been able to prove claims about the Armenian issue through archival evidence.
Erdogan’s remarks come in the wake of France declaring a day of commemoration of the so-called genocide claims.
Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as “genocide” but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to tackle the issue.