British Parliamentary Blue Book on Armenian Genocide Sent to the Turkish Parliament for a Second Time

British Parliamentary Blue Book on Armenian Genocide Sent to the Turkish Parliament for a Second Time 22 February 2013

The British Parliamentary Blue Book, which consists of eyewitness accounts of the Armenian Genocide, has been sent to the Turkish Parliament for a second time. Copies were first sent to Turkish deputies in 2009, but distribution was prevented in Ankara.

The Committee Against Racism, part of the Human Rights Association of Turkey, held a news conference in Istanbul on 20 February 2013, during which committee member Ragip Zarakolu and Ara Sarafian, founding director of the Gomidas Institute (London), spoke about the Blue Book. Meeting participants subsequently went to Galatasaray Post Office and formally sent copies of the book to the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament and members of the Parliament's Human Rights Committee.

In 1916 the British Parliament commissioned Viscount James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee to prepare a report on the treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during 1915-1916. The work was published under the British Parliamentary Blue Book series.

Sarafian: The Blue Book is at the centre of official Turkish denials
In his presentation, Sarafian talked about the Blue Book, which was discussed in Turkey in the 1980s, when it was made into the centrepiece of a new wave of official Turkish denialist historiography. Authors like Kamuran Gurun, Sinasi Orel, Mim Kemal Oke, Salahi Sonyel, along with their supporters such as Justin McCarthy, Heath Lowry and Andrew Mango manipulated aspects of the Blue Book and combined their vitriol in using it to attack Armenians and the Armenian Genocide thesis.

The Blue Book was targeted once more by the TBMM (Turkish Parliament) in 2005, when Turkish Parliamentarians embarked on another offensive, this time blaming the British Parliament for the Armenian Genocide thesis. The TBMM claimed that the eyewitness accounts in the Blue Book were fabricated or second rate. In fact Sarafian’s research had already found such claims to be baseless. His initial findings had been presented at an academic conference and published in the 1990s, and in 2000 the Gomidas Institute published the entire Blue Book in a critical edition, replete with full citations from British and American archives. When the Turkish Parliament embarked on its disinformation campaign in 2005, the veracity of the Blue Book was actually a matter of record, and the Turkish Parliamentarians engaged in a shameless and orchestrated act of denial against a creditable report based on genuine records.

The 2005 initiative of the TBMM was taken by CHP's deputy Sukru Elekdag, who led virtually all of the members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly to sign a letter addressed to the British Parliament, arguing that the British book was a mere fabrication and that, incredibly, the British Parliament should apologise and formally withdraw it. Quite rightly, the British took no such action. Instead, 33 British MPs responded to the Turkish accusations, and invited the latter (and their advisors) to a face to face meeting to discuss their differences of opinion. The Turkish Parliamentarians did not respond and a second invitation was sent. This second invitation was also ignored.

Sarafian: Silence is part of the denial

Although the Turkish translation of the Blue Book (uncensored edition) was released at the Turkish Human Rights Association in Ankara in 2009 in the presence of Ara Sarafian and Lord Avebury, Turkish MPs ignored their invitations to attend. All copies of the translation that were sent to the TBMM were not accepted for delivery.

Sarafian said that this behaviour was indicative of the official denial of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. "The silence of the TBMM is part of the denial. My reason for being here is to expose this denial.”
Zarakolu: Parliament is trying to protect itself from "corrosive" publications

Zarakolu said that the Speaker of the TBMM in 2009 was Koksal Toptan, and it was he who stopped the books from reaching the Turkish MPs by instructing the cargo company, which had prior clearance to make its delivery of books, to turn back: "This shows us the immense power of the control mechanism and the efforts to keep the Parliament away from ‘corrosive’ publications. It reflects serious problems even in the Turkish Parliament when it comes to academic freedom, communication and freedom of information. The Blue Book is important in terms of human rights history in Turkey. Very, very few Turkish MPs had seen this book when they signed the TBMM letter to London. Nor did they see it afterwards.”

Besikci: As long as the denial continues, archives are not reliable

In a long written statement from the veteran sociologist and human rights’ activist Ismail Besikci, the meeting was told that Turkish archives will not be reliable as long as the denial policy continues : "Under these circumstances, the eyewitness accounts of those who lived through these events are more valuable [than the materials presented in the Turkish state archives]. In this sense, the statements in the Blue Book are invaluable.  I wish that Turkey in 80 years time will be a more democratic country and there would be no place for denialist politics in that democratic Turkey."

Ragip Zarakolu (left), Ara Sarafian (second from left) at Galatasaray post office

Source : Bianet, Ermeni Soykırımı, "Mavi Kitap" İkinci Kez Meclis Yolunda" at

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