[April 24, 1993] © 1993 Dennis R. Papazian

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN

ARMENIAN RESEARCH CENTER

4901 EVERGREEN ROAD

DEARBORN, MI 48128-1491

The following is an address by Dr. Dennis R. Papazian, professor of history and director of the Armenian Research Center at The University of Michigan-Dearborn delivered at the Knights of Vartan sponsored commemoration of the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Times Square.

I am happy to be back with you this year to commemorate the Armenian genocide and to speak out once more against this heinous crime against humanity, whether it be committed against the Armenians or any other people. I want to thank the Knights of Vartan for their wisdom and moral fortitude in organizing this annual commemoration in Time's Square, the symbolic center of America. Seeing over two thousand eager and determined faces in this great throng gives me strength and gives me hope. It is good that we are here together again this year.

But today I am sad. . . Sad about what we are forced to remember. . . Sad to remember what we would rather forget. . . Sad to have to testify once more to a horrible genocide, the murder of a nation. . . Sad to relate the story Armenian people being systematically driven from their ancestral homes by a racist and fascist Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire. Yes, sad to remember that the Armenian people were driven from their homes to certain death, sad about the suffering and misery of an innocent people whose only crimețand that only in the brains of twisted mindsțwas to be a progressive people demanding their God-given human and civil rights in a degenerate state. Yes, I am sad today.

I am also sad that the present Turkish government becomes a part of that crime by a process of denial. Sad that the Turkish government has hired unscrupulous lobbying and public relations firms to deny the reality of the Armenian genocide, to pretend that it never happened, and to engage in public lying. Sad that the Turks, a good and bad people as everyone else, are denied by their misdirected leaders of their own catharsis, their own chance at repentance, their own personal and civic healing. Yes, I am sad that today's Turks are forced to live a lie which in turn endangers their own immortal souls. I am sad for the misdirected Turkish people.

The present Turkish government says it didn't happen, so we Armenians gave them the testimony of our survivors, people who lived through the attempted genocide and are living memorials to it. But the Turks say, it didn't really happen.

So, we Armenians gave them the testimony of the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, a neutral observer, who cabled the United States State Department that the Young Turks were engaging in the murder of a nation. But the Turks say, it didn't really happen.

So, we Armenians quoted American counsellor officials, official Americans, stationed all over the Ottoman Empire, including Leslie Davis, who called his district, the Harpoot district, the Slaughterhouse Province. But the Turks say, it never really happened.

So we quoted honest American Christian missionaries who had five colleges in Western Armenia and dozens of schools; missionaries who in some cases gave their very lives to save their Armenian brothers and sisters. But the Turks say, it never really happened.

So we quoted British, Italian, French, and Russian officials in the Ottoman Empire who were eyewitnesses to this great crime against humanity. But the Turks say, it never really happened.

So we went further. We decided to quote the allies of the Young Turks during the First World War, the Germans and the Austrians, friends of the Turks, allies of the Turks. And the German and the Austrian allies of the Young Turks told the same story as all the civilized European nations, that the Young Turk government was guilty of a genocide against the Armenian people. But the Turks say, it didn't really happen.

So today, I will quote from the Turkish trial record, the official papers of the Turkish Courts- Martial, the official documents of the post-war repentant Turkish government, which wanted to exculpate the Turkish people and place the blame of the Armenian genocide where it belonged, squarely on the backs of the Young Turk conspirators who controlled the Turkish government.

So let's see what these honest Turks said. The honest Turks said that there were, and I quote from the official Turkish record, "wholesale massacres," "mass drowning," "mass burnings," "mass rape," "mass pillage," and "mass plunder." That's what the honest Turks said.

The honest Turks said that there were, and I quote, "deportations," "expropriations," "destruction of villages and towns," and the "murder of innocent people." That's what the honest Turks said.

The honest Turks said that Talât Pasha, the Minister of the Interior and sometime Prime Minister, in the trial verdict, that he "was the principle perpetrator of the crime," that he dismissed or had murdered those decent Turkish or Arab governors who refused to carry out his diabolical orders, and that Talât Pasha was a prevaricator (liar), a deceitful man, and a cheat. Talât was sentence to death by the Turkish court. That's what the honest Turks say.

The honest Turks said Dr. Nazim, a member of the Young Turk Central Committee, was the evil and secret master-mind behind the Armenian genocide. He was accused, tried, and sentenced to death by the Turkish court. That's what the honest Turks say.

The honest Turks said that Dr. Behaeddin Shakir organized criminals from jail, "killer bands," çetes, to "exterminate the deportees along the death marches." That he committed "acts of depravity" and "animal brutality." That's what the honest Turks say. Behaeddin Shakir, too, was sentenced to death by the honest Turks.

The honest Turks also condemned Çemal Pasha and Enver Pasha to death for their central roles in the Armenian genocide.

The honest Turks said, when characterizing the Armenian genocide, and I quote, that it was "the shame of Turkey," and an "atrocious policy," involved illegal "mass conversions" since the religious leaders had never issued a fatwa calling Armenians to submit, nor was it legal under Islamic law to forcibly convert "Peoples of the Book," and carried out "outright massacres" of Armenians. They describe this period, the period of the Armenian genocide, and I am now quoting the Turks, as the "blackest page in Turkish history." That's what the honest Turks said.

Abdulhalik, the evil governor of Aleppo, one of the unrepentant criminals, nevertheless confessed that "all this suffering through sickness and war has come upon the Turks as a just punishment from a righteous God because of what we have done to the Armenians." That was a confession of an unrepentant criminal, who recognized the truth.

The Minister of the Interior of the repentant post-war Turkish government admitted that 800,000 Armenians had been murdered, not counting those who died during the forced marches, those forcibly converted, or young children who were kidnapped and made into Turks or Kurds. This brings the Armenian loss to well over 1.5 million, two-thirds of the Armenians in Turkey. That's what the honest Turks said!

But where are the honest Turks today? We need some honest Turks today. I'm looking for some honest Turks today. You know, I may have found one. I am afraid to use his name, although he spoke publicly on Turkish television. He said that during a period of dictatorship, ethic cleansing could take place. He gave as an example the period of rule by the Young Turks, when a dictatorship was established and the Armenian massacres were committed for the purpose of ethnic cleansing. He was reproached: "You shouldn't have raised such an issue here. But since you raised it, let's not use the word 'genocide', let's say 'deportations.'"

"Use whatever word you like. One thing is sure: During that period a large number of people died, and they certainly didn't die of the flu, but were simply massacred." God bless that honest Turk.

Today I am not only sad, but I am also ashamed. I am ashamed as an American. I love America and want America to be the best that it can be, a beacon of truth, justice, and righteousness in the world, a beacon of light to the nations. As an American I am ashamed that the U.S. State Department is supporting the current Turkish denial. I am ashamed, as an American, that the U.S. State Department allows the Turks to call Americans liars.

I am ashamed that the U.S. State Department allows the Turks to call the American Ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, who reported the truth, a liar. What kind of State Department is that?

I am ashamed, as an American, that the U.S. State Department allows the Turks to call Christian American missionaries, eyewitnesses of the genocide, liars. What kind of State Department is that?

I am ashamed, as an America, that the United States State Department allows the Turks to call American counsellor officials in Turkey, their own predecessors, liars. What kind of a State Department is that?

I am ashamed, as an American, that the U.S. State Department allows the Turks to call an American President, Woodrow Wilson, a liar. What kind of State Department is that?

Woodrow Wilson, in his message to the Senate asking for an American mandate over Armenia, said that "at their heart this great and generous American people have made the case of Armenia their own." What kind of a State Department is that which calls an American President and the American people liars?

The Turks laugh as they manipulate our present-day State Department into calling American leaders, American officials, and their own predecessors and colleagues liars. I am so ashamed. If I were in the State Department, I would not allow foreigners to brand a whole generation of good Americans as liars. If I were in the State Department, I would defend the good name of America. I am so ashamed.

I am also ashamed of the New York Times, supposedly America's journal of record. On Friday, April 23rd, it carried stories of the opening of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. There was not one line about the Armenian genocide. I am so ashamed.

As I look out over this massive gathering and see the placards bearing quotations from the New York Times in 1915, I say, what's wrong with the editors and reporters of the New York Times? Can't they read their own newspaper?

This morning, in sadness, I phoned Set Momjian, who is on the U.S. Holocaust Council, and asked if there was any mention in the Holocaust museum about the Armenian tragedy. "Dennis," he said, "there is prominently displayed Hitler's exhortation to his generals as they marched into Poland, 'Go, kill without mercy. . . . After all, who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians?'"

Well, let us tell Hitler today, and let us tell the New York Times today, let us tell the Turkish government today, and let us tell the U.S. State Department today: "We remember, we remember, and we will not let the world forget."

We are not just talking about history today. What about the present? History, sad to say, as we warned repeatedly over the years, is repeating itself. Many of you know that I go to Washington frequently. I have talked with members of the National Security Council, exceptionally fine men. I have talked with Turks and Azerbaijanis; yes, with Turks and Azerbaijanis, at the prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies. And I have spoken with leaders in the State Department, exceptionally fine men. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to one young official in the State Department, an exceptionally nice and intelligent young man, a beautiful American, the best that this country has to offer. After our official visit, we left the building, and I walked with him to the subway station. He spoke to me in confidence. "Surely, Dennis," he said, "there must be some Turks who know the truth. Why don't they speak out?"

"They must be afraid," I replied, "they must fear their government or radical elements in their society. How else can we explain it?"

I was too polite to say what I should have said, "Surely there must be some Americans in the State Department who know the truth. Why don't they speak out?" Why don't Americans who have no fear of their own government speak out? As an American I am so ashamed.

I am particularly ashamed because I read in Friday's New York Times that twelve young officials of the U.S. State Department broke ranks and publicly insisted on meeting with the Secretary of State to demand that the United States send a military force to protect Muslim Bosnians in the Balkans. These young officials, as one might surmise from the Armenian case, know little or no history. Don't they realize that the Balkans is the powder keg of Europe. What do they want, World War III? Do they want to send American boys to die? If they want to fight in the Balkans, let them leave their comfy desks and go, themselves, and fight. Americans don't need to die in the Balkans.

The Canadian general who headed the UN peace keepers in the area warned us that the confusion and hatreds run deep. Arm the Croats and Muslims, he said, and they will do the same terrible things the Serbs are now doing.

The Republic of Turkey is supposed to be a secular state. It is held up by our State Department as an ideal. "Why then," I asked the head of the Turkish Institute in Washington, "does the Republic of Turkey make such a fuss over Bosnia? Is it Muslims protecting Muslims? That would be inconsistent with a secular Turkish state."

"Well," I was told, "it's not religion. It's just that the Bosnians are honorary Turks." That's double-talk, if I've ever heard it.

I respect true Muslims. I have many Muslim students. After all, it was the good Arab Muslims who gave refuge and a new life to the Armenians driven out of Anatolia. What I suspect is that the Turks want a pro-Turkish Muslim state in Europe. The Turks, in some strange way, want to think of themselves as Europeans. Well, if the Turks want to be welcomed into Europe, they must pattern themselves on the good Europeans and not on Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and their ilk. We have all had enough of bad Europeans.

The macho boys in the State Department want to protect Muslims in Europe who are surrounded by a sea of Christians. Well, what's wrong with Christians? Why don't the boys in the State Department want to protect Christians in Asia Minor who are surrounded by a sea of Muslims. Where's the equity? It seems today that no one respects Christians. What's wrong with being a Christian. I am so ashamed.

After the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks, the Azeri Turks continued the genocide in Nakhichevan, in Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabagh, in the Caucasus. No one in the State Department made an outcry, no one broke ranks, no one threatened the Secretary of State demanding protection for the persecuted Armenian Christians. What's wrong with protecting Christians?

But in recent days, when Armenian freedom-fighters from Nagorno-Karabagh scored a few victories, the American Secretary of State sent nasty notes to the Armenians. As an American I am so ashamed.

It should be clear by now that Armenia wants peace, harmony, and trade with its neighbors, not war or hatred. Armenian president Levon Ter Petrossian went to Turkey this past week to attend the funeral of President Ozal. Armenia holds out its hand for peace, but the Turks rather demand surrender. We will not surrender. We hold out our hands as equals, but we are not accepted as equals. We will never surrender. We will never surrender our human rights, our rights to peace and security within our borders, our right to the pursuit of happiness, free of threats of atomic bombs or wayward ballistic devices.

Yes, we are also here today to testify that both the living and the dead have human rights. The dead have the right to have the world know the true circumstances of their death. The living have the right to peace, security, and friendship with their neighbors.

Yes, Armenia wants peace. Let the leaders of Turkey and the Turks of Azerbaijan agree to peace. But if they refuse, we will fight. And, as we have shown, we can fight effectively. Armenians will never suffer a genocide again, neither in Turkey, nor Azerbaijan, nor in nor in Nagorno-Karabagh, nor in Nakhichevan, nor in Hayastan.

Never again, never again, never again! Never, never, never again.

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[Note: most of the quotes of the honest Turks are from Vahakn N. Dadrian's "The Proceedings of the World War I Armenian Massacres in the Proceedings of the Turkish Military Tribunal," International Journal of Middle East Studies (November 1991), pp. 549-576. Also see Volume 22, Number 1 of the Journal of Political and Military Sociology (Summer 1994) which was a special issue on The Armenian Genocide in Official Turkish Records: Collected Essays by Vahakn N. Dadrian].

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