Pakrat Estukyan

Մենք ու մերոնք - Biz ve bizimkiler

Wars and genocides

The most common argument used by the defenders of official history in Turkey, who are entrusted with genocide denial, is the “state of war” discourse. However, this is nothing but an example of demagogy. Also, this amounts to denial of a fundamental truth: the crime of genocide can only be committed in a state of war. Throughout history, there is no genocide that is committed during a peace time. For committing such a crime that requires mass participation, it is necessary to create a hateful atmosphere first and to poison societies with this atmosphere. And this is possible only in a state of war. 

On May 4, 1937, “Reform Plan for the East" (Şark Islahat Planı) was accepted; being called "Tertele" by people, this plan caused the annihilation of Alevis and other peoples within the borders of Dersim province. 

1915 Armenian Genocide was carried out in the mist of World War I. And 1937-38 Dersim Massacres were carried out in the eve of World War II. 

History as a scientific discipline requires a comparative view of things. In order to understand what happened in one place, you have to understand what happened in other places of the same land as a structure. For instance, about 3 years before May 1937, in a different part of the same Turkish Republic, Jewish people who had been living in Edirne and other cities of Trakya were made to leave their centuries-old homeland; this was an unofficial state policy that was enforced on June and July 1934. 

When the second war of sharing turned into a disaster that made Europe and its peripheries a complete mass, the east of Turkey was “reformed” and the eastern people who had to go to different parts of the country had been oppressed by the local authorities there and forced to convert to Islam.  A decade, during which the families were systematically torn apart, languages became forbidden and the names were changed in the entire country, was passed. 

The republic government, which had been trying to seem like “impartial” since the beginning of the war, was carrying out completely different policies behind closed doors. For instance, in 1942, all men in this country were called to serve as reserve soldiers. With this policy, all men between the ages of 20 and 45 were conscripted, but not given military uniforms. They were made to work in road construction. 

“Document fetishists” might claim that there is no document about this issue, but back then, everybody was thinking that Turkey will go to war as an ally of Germany, when Stalingrad, which was under siege, fell. According to this plan, non-Muslim men was going to be killed where they are and the army was going to attack Soviet Union through a front that was going to be opened through Armenian border. 

It is interesting that, in the same period, on February 1943, Istanbul Police Chief Nihat Pepeyi and Director of Minorities Branch Selahaddin Korkut went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany upon an official duty for making observations. It is also interesting that, after this visit, Turkey imported the technology that had been used by Nazis for burning Jewish people and built two ovens in Balat, which was densely populated by Jewish people. 

As you can see, wars pave the way for genocides. 

And today, this way is being paved by Turkey's active participation in the clashes in Middle East and constitutes a threat against peoples once again.

We should keep in mind that calling the crimes against humanity genocide is not about how many people were killed. Some criteria that Raphael Lemkin suggested for defining the notion of “genocide” is enough for defining the crimes that are motivated by hatred with this notion. What happened in Cizre, Nusaybin, Şırnak and Sur recently might be foreshadowing much more dangerous events.