Genocidio Armenio


Cultura y sociedad

lunes, 28 de abril de 2014

Ragip Zarakolu: "In Turkey, denialism is a state security issue"

Ragip Zarakolu was born in 1948 in Buyukada, Turkey. The dictatorships of the '70s imprisoned and persecuted him for his publications. Zarakolu founded the Belge publishing house, the Demokrat newspaper and the Human Rights Association of Turkey, in Ankara, and devoted much of his life to fill the empty spaces on the shelves of libraries. Recently, specifically, as he says, since the murder of Hrant Dink, he became one of the most influential authors in the revisionist movement in Turkey that challenges the official story and touch taboo issues, especially the Armenian Genocide. In this interview he gave to Prensa Armenia during his visit to Buenos Aires, Zarakolu shows his views about current affairs regarding Armenian issues.

What's your opinion on Erdogan's statement?

It's an important declaration, but it's not enough. We must express that too. But when we look at the general attitude of the Turkish state and government, it’s a partial development. But it’s not enough. Also, this declaration is a result of your struggle and our struggle for the acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. For example, we are working for the Armenian Genocide issue in the last twenty years. In our society, especially after the assassination of Hrant Dink, there are a lot of people beginning to reason that what we said about Armenian Genocide is true.

Do you think that this statement was forced by civil society that is changing their minds?

Sure. We are a minority in Turkey now, but we began to change the minds of the elite, of the intellectual part of Turkish society. This is important as a beginning. We had to struggle during last ten years to huge sponsored state denialism. Turkish state gave huge founding for denialist education, denialist publications, denialist conferences, denialist courses. Also there is a high commission of coordination committee struggle with genocide claims. In Turkey, this is a state security issue.

Denialism is institutionalized.

Yes. It’s worse that in the nineties and two thousand, with the nationalist government of Ecevit and Bahçeli: they organized this kind of struggle directly connected with the state security. Devlet Bahçeli, from the MHP ultranationalist party of Turkey, was the first chair of that coordination committee. Later, the chief of this committee was Abdullah Gül, who was Foreign Minister. And now, it’s Davutoglu. It’s a contradiction, Davutoglu signs the Protocols with the Armenian government in Switzerland, and on the other hand this commission is going on. Sure, it’s not as active as during the Bahçeli government, but is a potential, an apparatus inside the Turkish state. So today they may be more passive, but that doesn’t mean that next year they couldn’t be more active. Turkey’s government first step should be to dissolve that committee.

Then Turkey proposed to build up a common historians committee so they decide what it is. But that’s absurd. It’s not an issue of historians; the genocide is a human rights issue. It can’t be an issue of historians, because they can select and montage the facts. So it’s a political, not an historical issue. Sure, it’s a very important part of Turkey and Armenian history, but historians can’t solve this problem. Only politicians can solve this problem. The Armenian and Turkish politicians can solve this problem, like Israel and German solved the Holocaust problem. And this cannot be only an Armenian and Turkish states problem. There is also a very important Diaspora section. In the decision, Diaspora must have the right to say something. The descendants must have the right to say and demand something. So, there is a triangle: Armenia, Diaspora and Turkey. They can decide for the future.

For example, why can’t Turkey give Mount Ararat to Armenia, as a gesture? It is a mountain; there is no population change problem. Why can’t Turkey give Ani? It’s a historical area, there is nobody living. Turkish government can make a first gesture to show the good intentions with something.

Do you think returning Mount Ararat could be the first step, and not the last?

Yes. For me, it can be a first step. They can discuss it later. It’s an interstate problem, a border problem. Before, the borders were unchangeable; but after Kosovo, Iraqi Kurdistan and now the Ukraine question…

If we are talking about self-determination, why nobody officially accepts the existence of Karabakh Republic? What’s the difference between Kosovo and Karabakh?

It’s a double standard…

It’s a typical double standard. Turkey, like United States, is one of the most double standard countries. “I can do what I want, but you can’t do it. Because I’m a bigger country and I have a bigger army”. This is a “bandit” policy.

What’s your opinion about Obama’s last statement, where he didn’t use the word genocide?

I have worked for years for freedom of expression. It shows how important freedom of expression is, because the President of United States made the censorship on his own real ideas. What is the place of ethics? What is the place of self-respect? The same with Madame Pelosi, Chair of the Democrats in the Parliament. She also accepted the Armenian Genocide, but when she got a position in the state… If you are a part of state you aren’t part of an elite, you are part of the citizens, of American citizens. This shows that there is a double standard in United States.

United States may criticize Turkey for banning Twitter, but the same United States censor its own ideas, without using the word “genocide”. If he didn’t use it before, I could understand it, but it’s not ethical to take de votes of the Armenian electors saying “genocide” and later, to make interests with Turkey state, you don’t use the word “genocide”. Which is your real idea? Do you think it is a genocide or not? I’m now suspicious about Mr. Obama’s expression about accepting genocide also. Meds Yeghern is an important concept, but together with genocide.

There has been some discussions in the Perinçek v. Switzerland ruling about freedom of expression…

I have a very clear mind on this question. I’m a human rights activist. Genocide is a crime against the humanity. To defend genocide is also a crime against humanity. It’s not about freedom of expression, this is out of freedom of expression. The hate speech can be a part of freedom of expression? I can defame you, I can be a racist? No, that’s not a kind of freedom of expression.

Do you have any information about the Turkish government role in Kessab attacks?

I wrote an article about this. In the last Kessab attacks there was also responsibility of Turkish government, because the Turkish government is tolerant with the passing of radical Islamists Falangist groups in the border. There are rules of war, the Geneva Conventions, and they don’t even respect the rules of war. It is a crime against humanity to kill people because of their beliefs or their race or ethnic origins. We cannot be tolerant to help that kind of groups. It’s a very inacceptable situation for states diplomacy and also for the rules of NATO.

How was your trip to United States and the Capitol Hill? Did you meet the Armenian community?

Yes, the American community is very anxious for the future of Christians Armenians in Middle East. They are very anxious because the old history is coming back again. The same problems with deportations, mass killings, emigration; many Armenians had to leave Syria to Armenia. These are sometimes forced emigrations.

They also leave to Karabakh…

Yes. It’s a double standard policy. On one side, Turkish government demands rights for Turkish minorities but they didn’t respect the rights of Armenians in Middle East, or the rights of Karabakh Armenians. Why did the Karabakh Armenians decide the self-determination? Because there was a danger of a second genocide by Azeris.

Prensa Armenia interviewed Ragip Zarakolu in Buenos Aires

Designed By Blogger Templates