Yesterday the US House of Representatives recognized “the systematic killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire, modern-day Turkey, as genocide.” I want to ask one simple question to all the members of the House who think they really changed something by voting against Turkey. Did the Ottoman Armenians die yesterday? Didn’t you know that they were killed, raped and massacred through their journey in the Asia Minor almost a hundred years ago? Why do you care about it now?
I am not writing this paper because I am a Turk. I am writing this because the feeling of this injustice puts my heart on fire and I can’t stand it. To put it bluntly, I never felt myself responsible for what happened to the Armenians because in fact even the Turks and Kurds at that epoch were not responsible (except the people who took part in massacres and other crimes). Because since there were no elections, they never voted for that government. It is not like the Germans that voted for Hitler. They knew what Hitler wanted because he never hid it. It was all in the party pamphlets and in his book.
Nevertheless, me, being not responsible from this horrible event doesn’t relieve me. My grandmother was from Van. I know very closely what happened there between Turks, Kurds and Armenians. I am not trying to say that it was just a simple fight between two nations (Turks and Kurds were both on the Ottoman side). It was only a part of this story. I also know much about how innocent people were forced to walk through a land while there was still an ongoing war. I even wrote an article about it in Agos, the Armenian newspaper in Turkey. Many people had to leave their lands and houses. Some of them gave their children to their neighbours so that they would be kept safe until they returned back. I know all these things. These are all our stories. I want to repeat it again. These are all our stories. Turks, Kurds, Armenians, we lived through those years fighting, killing each other, doing all sorts of heinous crimes to each other and we lost many people. Now Turks, Kurds and some Armenians, we are still living together. Is it a perfect place now? No. Do we have problems? Yes, too many.
And then one day, some people who don’t even know where Van, Muş, Bitlis are, decide to take measures and make comments on behalf of us. On our deaths, on our loss, on our grief. As if they do care. We, all nations of Asia Minor, we lost our multicultural life after the Great Catastrophe, Medz Yeghern, as Armenians call it. It was, indeed, a great catastrophe; because after Medz Yeghern, we all lost our hope to live peacefully together. I am sorry to say this but the tears shed by the American representatives are crocodile tears. Because they never really cared about how and why we killed each other. They are not sorry that we have lost the possibility to become brothers again. They take advantage of this animosity. If it is politically profitable, they take it out of the cupboard and serve it. If not, throw it away, who cares if Armenians suffered or not. It is always the same arrogant attitude. Put Armenians on the table if you want to threaten Turkey. And who cares about the truth?
Some of my Jewish friends on Twitter, they support the recent step taken by the USA. I asked this to them and I want to ask it to you too. I know that you will be honest. What would you feel if the USA would threaten Germany with the recognition of the Holocaust only because they were politically in conflict? Wouldn’t you be hurt that your lives and your loss were used as a bargain between governments?
Some people might be angry at me, but I can’t compare the Holocaust to the Armenian Medz Yeghern. I don’t want to go much into detail. Some might think I am saying this because I am a Turk and I can’t be objective. Undoubtedly, I can’t say I am perfectly neutral. No one in this world, could transcend her own identity. However, the Holocaust was the greatest tragedy that we all have seen. I hope that it would be the last. Without a doubt, I have no intention to devalue the Armenian suffering. However, the Holocaust was a significantly different phenomenon.
All in all, our Armenians don’t deserve this American attitude. Turkey and Armenia should have revealed these events that covered the last two centuries of the Ottoman Empire many years ago. I know Turkey insistently denies it. Armenia doesn’t appear to be willing either. But believe me, if we don’t come together and discuss Medz Yeghern, it will always remain as a political card.
The reason why I am writing this with my heart on my sleeve is because for me it is so disrespectful to instrumentalize a human tragedy and use it whenever it seems rewarding in the political arena. I personally don’t understand how many of my Jewish friends don’t see the point here. The representatives, they don’t care about our pain, our past or our future. They, in fact, don’t care about how Jews were tortured, killed and systematically oppressed because we are only a card in their hands that they would put on the table whenever they need it.