Turkish Translation of 1916 Blue Book Due to be Released in Ankara23 June 2010 Background
On Oct. 12, 2005, Lord Archer of Sandwell QC, Lord Biffen, and Lord Avebury organized a meeting in Westminster for British parliamentarians to respond to a petition sent to members of the British Houses of Parliament by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) contesting the veracity of the 1916 British Parliamentary "Blue Book.”
The central thesis of the Blue Book was the argument that starting in 1915, Armenians were subject to a policy of mass annihilation in the Ottoman Empire. According to the TGNA petition, the Blue Book was a wartime fabrication that harmed Turkish interests during World War I and continues to do so today. The petition asserted that the 1916 report had no supporting documentation; that it was contrived in essence; and that the main compiler and editor of the report admitted that it was a propaganda tool fabricated against Ottoman Turkey and its German ally.
The petition insisted that the core of the Blue Book was a set of eyewitness accounts that were unreliable, and that the work was composed in such a way as to conceal the flawed character of these key reports. It maintained that withholding the names of some informants and locations, supposedly to safeguard sources still in the Ottoman Empire, was in reality to conceal the weaknesses of the reports themselves.
However, a group of British MPs concluded from their own knowledge of the Blue Book and many contemporaneous accounts by eyewitnesses that have since been published, as well as from a detailed report from the Gomidas Institute, that: the Blue Book was compiled from first-hand testimonies that were scrupulously reported by the distinguished editor, Arnold Toynbee; the supporting documentation has been readily accessible, a point overlooked in the letter from the TGNA; Toynbee never said the Blue Book was flawed, as claimed by the petition; the petition wrongly asserted that the War Propaganda Bureau was the sole source for all information regarding the situation in the Ottoman Empire, while really there were hundreds of neutral consular officials and missionaries; the reports by neutrals have been reinforced and corroborated by other United States and German consular reports, now in the public domain, and by numerous accounts in the diaries and letters of survivors; and the sources of the 150 eyewitness accounts published in the Blue Book were not discovered recently in a War Propaganda Bureau document, as claimed by the TGNA, but have been known and published for many years.
TGNA Not Properly Informed about Blue Book - Need Authorised Turkish Translation
British MPs judged that the TGNA was not properly informed about the Blue Book. Consequently, on Jan. 27, 2006, 33 MPs responded to the TGNA petition with a letter to the speaker of the TGNA, Bulent Arinc, inviting TGNA members to a face-to-face meeting with their British colleagues to discuss the Blue Book. As no response to that letter was received, a second email communication was sent on Sept. 1, 2006 to all individual members of the TGNA, inviting them to a face-to-face meeting. Again there was no response.
The British MPs concluded that TGNA members must not be aware of the actual content of the Blue Book, nor the archival trail associated with it. In order to facilitate better understanding and reflection, it was suggested that the Gomidas Institute undertake the Turkish translation of their uncensored edition of the Blue Book, which was replete with discussion and full archival references. The Gomidas Institute was able to undertake such a project with support from the AGBU, so that a whole new Turkish readership—not just members of the TGNA—could appraise the Blue Book issue in an informed and balanced manner.
ENGLISH: James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–1916: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon by Viscount Bryce [Uncensored Edition], edited and with an introduction by Ara Sarafian.
TURKISH: James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Ermenilere Yapılan Muamele, 1915-1916 Vikont Bryce’ın Fallodon Vikontu Grey’e Sunduğu Belgeler [Sansürsüz Basım], Gomidas Institute: London and Istanbul, 2009, 654 pp. Yayına hazırlayan Ara Sarafian. Özel önsöz Lord Avebury. « Back