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One more name on the list of dead
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-01-21 10:54:18
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A few months ago, I wrote a long article about the Armenian and Turkish dispute over the Armenian Genocide. Some of the information I used was taken from an article written by Hrant Dink, a Turkish citizen with Armenian origins, known author and editor of the Turkish newspaper Agos. Later that same week, I received an e-mail from somebody accusing me of naivety and emphasizing that words like ‘genocide’ don’t help much in a constructive conversation that is formulated in Turkey.

However, there is no conversation about a series of things in Turkey and it is a pity that often geopolitical or financial interests blind governments, organizations and institutions from seeing what is really going on. And then a death or a murder takes place and we all begin wondering again how it is possible for the candidate for membership to the democratic United Europe to have a law that forbids conversation on ethnic minorities.

All the agencies around the world are going to write extensively about Dink’s work and, most likely, some media will have references to part of his work that we don’t know due to the language barrier, so I’m not going to talk about it. I’m not going to bother with the murder as an act itself, since we all agree that it is despicable, nor talk about the 'teenager' wearing a white hat and denim jacket as Turkish television described him - I'm the police will easily find him. I’m going to discuss who armed the hand that shot and killed the author with those three bullets.

For decades the Turkish state has lived under a certain triptych: Kemal - nation - tradition. It is a state with people who follow this triptych, in this order, religiously. Nobody dares to doubt the words of Kemal Ataturk, the father of the new Turkish state, who lived in the first half of the 20th century and he is now worshiped like an ancient god. His gigantic posters are everywhere in Turkey, in every single government or private establishment, observing, like Big Brother, and his mausoleum can only be compared with Mao's in China following the first years of his death.

But Kemal’s era is not only the transformation of an Arab style empire to a modern state but also an era with the suppression of ethnic minorities and the inspiration of a new nationalism born in the ashes of a falling Ottoman Empire. Perhaps Kemal Ataturk wanted to give dignity to the citizens of the falling empire, but what he got was the slaughter of ethnic minorities like the Armenians. The Armenians were not the only ones, with Greeks and Jews following, yet the number of dead Armenians is simply inhumane and can only be compared with what happened during the Holocaust.

Transforming ideas to religion that you had to follow without doubt and questions created fanatics, people who feel any change is a threat and, unfortunately, in a country where the majority of the population has to survive at financial limits far lower than the average European, fanatics found the right ground to spread their beliefs. If that was not enough, Turkey had to face another challenge from Islam, Kemalism's major domestic enemy. It reappeared strong enough to win elections and form a government.

The Guard of Kemalism for all of these years has been the army and every time they felt that something endangered their interests or Kemal’s vision they just had to make a coup and correct things, with the latest incident in the early-80s with General Evren. The army never left and even Erdogan, the prime minister with the Islamic roots, has often been called back in order for the ‘Security Council’ to veto any decision of the government. Furthermore, a series of constitutional laws, such as the law that forbids and severely punishes discussion of the Armenian Genocide, gives more weapons to the fanatics to exercise murder, with Hrant Dink the latest victim.

The Armenians who still live in the Turkish state don’t expect the dead to resurrect and they don’t expect anybody to stand and take the blame. What they are expecting from the Turkish state is to admit that a mistake happened and apologize, but the Turkish military institution, the real power in a country, has a military dictatorship with a democratic face and a bit of Islam to serve the tolerance that Europe asks so much, is never going to happen soon.

These are the same people who armed the hand that murdered the known editor and author; these are the same hands that will arm again another hand to shoot another Armenian or a Kurd who will dare mention that he is a Turk with Kurdish roots.

Somehow all the above leaves you with a bitter taste, especially when remembering how keen the new President of the EU Mrs. Merkel was, only days before, to emphasize Europe’s commitment to democracy and tolerance. Turkey has long way to go before it meets Europe's demands for democracy and tolerance, since they are currently alien words inside the country.

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by (bohdan)2007-01-23 06:46:29
The silence of Truth is the weapon of cowards.

The Courage of Truth has lost another Hero.

The unending tragedy of mankind's history continues.

Sand2007-01-23 15:01:10
The suppresion of truths that everybody knows exist is one of the oddest of human activities. The screaming outrage that burst forth in the USA when Janet Jackson revealed she had a nipple is another example of this insanity. And then, of course, there's evolution.

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