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Genocide : conversation stopper and the events of 1915 by Matt Haydon*

Ecrit par TN-pige, 2013-09-11 10:36:57


Nous vous proposons de découvrir cet article de Matt Haydon, d’origine arménienne et doctorant à l’Université d’Utah publié dans Today’s Zaman.

On peut résumer les propos de Matt Haydon à propos des campagnes menées par les organisations nationalistes arméniennes en quatre points :

  1. Il est idiot de diaboliser les Turcs à propos de 1915 ;
  2. Il est absurde de traiter de « négationnistes » tous ceux qui ne sont pas d’accord avec la version arménienne des évènements, et absurde aussi de refuser la discussion avec des universitaires qui ne partagent pas votre avis (du moment qu’ils admettent que 1915 fut une tragédie, ce que tout le monde, y compris les Turcs acceptent) ;
  3. On a mené des campagnes de dénigrement et de diffamation contre les Turcs depuis 1965, sans résultat aucun : la Turquie est une puissance régionale, et ses habitants, loin de s’être laissé impressionner, se sont endurcis dans leur position et ont approfondi les recherches et les arguments permettant de démonter les positions arméniennes.
  4. Le terme « génocide » est en train de revenir à la figure de l’Etat arménien et de ses officines, notamment avec la demande azerbaïdjanaise de reconnaissance des massacres commis par les Arméniens au Haut-Karabagh (notamment à Khodjaly) en tant que génocide.

On ne doutera pas qu’avec des propos aussi lucides, M. Haydon ne va pas se faire que des amis au sein de la clique ultra-nationaliste arménienne. Osons espérer qu’il ne subira pas le même sort que les dizaines de Turcs assassinés par les terroristes arméniens dans les années 80. Ou encore celui d’illustres historiens occidentaux, comme Gilles Veinstein menacé de mort et diffamé par les officines arméniennes de France après sa mort ou encore Stanford Shaw qui, suite à la publication de l’Histoire de l’empire ottoman et de la Turquie moderne est victime,avec son épouse, d’une tentative d’assassinat : son domicile est plastiqué — et gravement endommagé — par des terroristes affiliés à l’ASALA, à 3h 50 du matin, alors qu’ils sont en train de dormir chez eux ; l’explosion dévaste le rez-de-chaussée et souffle les vitres de deux maisons voisines. En janvier 1982, le professeur Shaw est agressé par des "étudiants" arméniens, son bureau à l’université de Californie est saccagé, et il reçoit de nombreuses menaces verbales et écrites (y compris des menaces de mort), ce qui l’oblige à déménager hors du campus (en conservant confidentielle sa nouvelle adresse) et, pendant quelques années, à interrompre ses activités d’enseignement ; par deux fois, le FBI écrit à la famille Shaw pour lui recommander de quitter le territoire américain, par mesure de sécurité, et les Presses universitaires de Cambridge reçoivent également des menaces ; il aurait passé le plus clair du premier semestre 1982 à l’étranger pour fuir les terroristes arméniens. William D. Schaeffer, vice-recteur de l’UCLA indique, à l’époque : « Dès lors qu’une organisation terroriste internationale est impliquée, le pouvoir de l’université pour remédier à cette situation est limitée. » Pratique pour faire taire les historiens qui réfutent les thèses officielles d’Erevan relayés par les organisations ultra-nationalistes arméniennes.


Genocide : conversation stopper and the events of 1915 by Matt Haydon*

There is a “war of words” going on within the Armenian academic community in the pages of Armenian Weekly about those who participated in a recent conference titled "The Caucasus at Imperial Twilight : Nationalism, Ethnicity and Nation-Building, 1870s-1920s" (Tbilisi, Georgia, June 5-9).
A group of professors are accusing the Armenian scholars who participated in the conference to discuss the Caucasus and the events of 1915 either as denialists or being co-opted.

As a member of the Armenian community and a participant in the Tbilisi conference, I was disturbed to learn that I was also labeled a genocide denier. While I am an Armenian whose family also escaped the horrors of what happened in the Ottoman Empire, I am also a student who is interested in finding out how the events of 1915 took place, what exactly happened and why it happened. This is the point of attending an academic conference : to explore new ideas and concepts and to interact with scholars who are working on the issues. More importantly, it is to identify areas in research that are lacking and need exploration.

What was the purpose of the Tbilisi Conference ? Was the goal of the conference to push the agenda of genocide denial ? Absolutely not. First of all, the conference, as apparent in its title, covered the imperial rivalries in the 19th and early 20th centuries and tried to understand local competition of different nationalisms along with the end of the Ottoman Empire as well as the root causes of World War I. At no point in the literature about the conference or during the interaction with the organizers of the conference was there any indication that the conference would center on the events of 1915 in Anatolia and the topic of genocide denial.

Why do we need to accuse those who disagree with the Armenian version as a genocide denier ? What is the purpose of doing it ? The participants of the conference were from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Turkey, Russia and Georgia. Only one scholar was from Armenia, Ara Papian. There were a few Armenian scholars from the United States who have been subsequently labeled denialists.

All of the other Armenian scholars from Armenia withdrew at the last minute due to external pressures, i.e., the government of Armenia. It is not the job of a government to instruct scholars what to study and how to study the subject matter. The Republic of Armenia should not constrain academic debate and not penalize those who do not subscribe to the official Armenian historiography. This goes against the core of academic freedom.

At no point during the conference did the scholars deny that there was suffering in Anatolia in 1915 or before. This is an important fact the Turkish government has acknowledged ; there was suffering of the people, especially Armenian. However, the Turkish government will not describe the event as genocide due to a number of reasons. When I asked a Turkish scholar about why Turkey refused to recognize it as genocide, he said :

“There are three reasons : We still do not know exactly what happened. The key source for our understanding is the Russian archives and they have just become accessible to scholars. Second, ‘genocizing’ the events of 1915 started after 1965 and as a way of perpetrating the image of the terrible Turk, recycling Islamophobic discourses and turning American public opinion against a NATO ally during the Cold War ; third, given what took place in Karabakh in terms of ethnic cleansing and [the] deliberate killing of people because they were Turks shows the capacity of what revolutionary Armenian committees were capable of doing. Finally, there is a powerful memory in Anatolia and [it] identifies the Armenian revolutionary groups as villains. No Turkish government could ignore this powerful memory.”

Thus, the Turkish government recognizes the sufferings of both the Armenian population as well as the Muslims.

The major question some of the participants had of the events of 1915 was not whether 1915 was a genocide or not, but rather what, why and how it happened ? Some participants did, in fact, label the events of 1915 as genocide, but there was not a reaction to the label. In other words, people were more focused on what happened rather than the label. Can genocide laws be applied to events that happened before the laws were enacted ? Why is it so important that the events of 1915 be called genocide ? There are major problems in genocide studies.

The genocide discipline has created an environment of political correctness that handicaps scholars and prevents them from in-depth examination of controversial issues. The topic of genocide stirs many emotions for those who want to be recognized as victims and those who reject the label. The concept of victimhood has become a constant through genocide studies. Unfortunately, Armenians have reified this concept by “othering the Turks” as an enemy.

There is no other concept that has gripped this many Armenians : The past is nothing but genocide and without its recognition, the Armenians somehow lose historical and cultural significance. This concept goes further with the notion that the Turks are guilty and the Armenians are victims. It has become “the Church” for Armenians both in Armenia and outside the country.

There are two issues : Do we, the Armenians, insist on a concept, which stops any form of conversation, and also become a partner to the perpetration of the image of the “Terrible Turk” ? Second, do we know exactly what took place in 1915 ? What is necessary are more multi-disciplinary studies that represent different disciplines, geographies and national historiographies, which was the very purpose of the conference. Moreover, the scholars who have different perspectives need to come together and discuss and help us to better understand what took place without dehumanizing each other.

Archives in Russia and Turkey as well as the formerly closed Ottoman archives are now open. The archives are important avenues to “reconstruct the past” from those fragments and find answers, but both sides of the argument must engage and speak to each other rather than organizing conferences just among the believers. Armenians must not simply follow the paradigm that the events of 1915 were genocide and there is no other way of understanding what took place. What must be realized by all scholars is that there are shades of gray in every event and they should prepare to listen to the alternate narratives.

Once someone is labeled as a genocide denier, conversation and exploration stop. Is this what we, the Armenians, want ? To end the conversation and mobilize the anti-Turkish groups, whether they are in the United States or Anatolia, to push our version down the Turkish throat ? These tactics have not worked and will not work ; instead, they will make the Turks more resistant. Turkey is a regional power with 80 million people and one of the fastest growing economies, and we cannot impose our version of the past on Turkey.

The collective memory in Anatolia is diametrically different than what we are told in the diaspora. We can only socialize and overcome the excesses through debate and engagement to build a shared language. What is the end goal of labeling a person a genocide denier ? Will this label cause Turkey or perhaps the United States government to change their stance ? The answer is no. Insisting on genocide will not build any bridges with Turkey. We need to find another way of discussing what took place. The last, well-funded campaign of the Azerbaijani government to get the Karabakh killings to be recognized as genocide shows that this weapon could easily be turned against Armenia as well.

*Matt Haydon is a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah and of Armenian descent.

Lien/Source : Today’s Zaman

terrorisme #Arméniens #Azéris #Lobbying arménien #Turcs Arménie censure histoire Massacres de Khojaly Opinion Question Arménienne Terrorisme arménien Turcophobie Turquie
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