A Tale of Two Peoples: Armenians and Turks

Paul Mirabile studied at the French university of Vincennes-Paris VIII for eight years majoring in philology, literature and History, especially mediaeval, defending his doctoral thesis on the Genèse de la Chanson de Roland. He has lived, worked and travelled for the past twenty-five years in Turkey, South India, China and Siberia teaching at universities or secondary schools, studying languages, History and mediaeval literature, publishing books and articles on the mediaeval epic tales of those aforesaid nations....

His interest in Turkic and Armenian relationships stems precisely from this mediaeval continuum and present day political framework, one gleaned from his readings of Dede Korkut Kitabi and David of Sassoun, during thirteen years of working and studying in Turkey, and frequent sojourns in Armenia.

A Tale of Two Peoples: Armenians and Turks


I discovered Turkey, the Turks and their language, and History in the late 1980's. I also discovered the Armenians, the Greeks, the exiled Jews from mediaeval Spain, the Kurds, the Syriacs and the Laz! This was quite a complex and disorientating say the least. During my first five years in Istanbul, teaching at Turkish High Schools, at the University of Boğazaçi and translating for the Inkılâp Yayınevi, I gradually penetrated the Armenian community and began to study the story of the Armenian peoples of Turkey, parallel to my Turkic studies, and by whose prompting and ardour I learned Armenian and concentrated on its mediaeval History. All this inevitably led me to the genocide of 1915. And that is when the indeterminacy of my emotions and thoughts began to agitate and waver...

Living and working so long amongst Turks whilst investigating Armenian mediaeval architecture, History and language...investigating Armenian Ottoman History and the events that led to the 1915 genocide, stirred discordant tensions within me: was it a question of taking sides with one people against another; one Christian, the other Muslim? No, certainly not, albeit the sentiment did stir me, emotionally. Was I then the advocate of a minority people 'tolerated', humiliated then butchered by the ruling majority? Yes, there may be some good argument in this sociological model; after all, I am Sicilian, born in a Sicilian ghetto of New York City, and know the feeling of discrimination and hostility by the more 'integrated and legitimate decision-making' communities...Yet, this problem, however affective though it be, was not the underlying motivation of my research. Could it have been the Orient/Western dichotomy then, some defending Western values embodied by the Armenian community, others the more oriental values as incarnated by the Turks: the Armenian merchant mentality, pragmatic and conniving versus Turkic charm and indolence? But what does 'Oriental' and 'Occidental' truly mean? Are Armenians more Occidental because throughout Ottoman History and to this day in Republican Turkey, many of them were and still are educated in Western missionary schools or their own, whilst the Turkish population were and still are educated in their own religious (madrasas) or public schools or military academies? No, this was indeed not the nascent indeterminacy of my emotions and thoughts.

Perhaps my intelligence had been kindled by the long list of genocidal literature that the curious-minded come across their perusal wanderings; and through these readings they begin to cultivate an anti-Turkish sentiment due to the labourious literature that Armenian Americans, French and British (or their non-Armenian advocates) have poured into the intellectual market since Toynbee's Murder of a Nation, and his and James Bryce's well known Blue Book!1 Yet such reasoning, however conclusive it may appear to some, neither swayed nor persuaded me for the simple fact that before arriving in Turkey, and because of the lack of genocidal literature in Turkey (as could be expected in 1980's!) I had never read one book about the Armenian people, much less about the genocide...

Be that as it may, another pressing question nagged at my heart as I lived and worked and studied amongst all these communities of Turkey: a complex ethnical one which I see in terms of a nomad/sedentary model, and this from the 11th century to the events of 1915. Yes, this stirred my emotions and awakened my intelligence as I investigated a History of Turkey, timidly, without 'professional guidance', from the Middle Ages to the present day, in view of composing, partially, this History...

Where did it all begin, au juste? In my discovery, reading and translation of the Turkic mediaeval epic gem Dede Korkut Kitabı - The Book of Dede Korkut, then a few years later my discovery, reading and translation of the Armenian mediaeval epic jewel Սասունցի Դաւիթ - David of Sassoun, there emerged in my mind the nomad/sedentary dichotomy, more like a model than a concept.

For the nomad/sedentary model condemns two peoples, willy-nilly, to adjust to one another as complementary communities vying for territorial space, either through total subjugation or periodical shifts of domination, or as adjoining communities so self-containing as to produce mutual exclusion. In the case of the invading nomadic Seljuks and the sedentarised Armenians, the circumstances of their coexistence will be exposed shortly.

This being said, my feelings and thoughts on this History are neither chronological nor complete; they are fragmented into brief scenes of historical encounters, linguistic exchanges, architectural parallels, literary confrontations, personal observations. No neutrality belies my pages: to be neutral dissimulates pious falsehoods or exposes a slanderous position or attitude towards the Other, be they Turks or Armenians. On the contrary, to be now with one and now with the other, alternatively, even simultaneously, bespeaks an affective, marked tension, not of hypocrisy as some fools or cynics may presume, but a delicate and precarious one based on intellectual and emotional efforts to understand the Other...whoever they may be...

Nomad or sedentary? The nomadic life has always been mine, yet it has been the sedentary or settled life that has given rise to flourishing civilisations, of which was the mediaeval Kingdom of Armenia! It is thus by this nomad/sedentary dichotomic force or model that I shall begin my reflections on this tale of two peoples who have been living on the same land for ten centuries, and whose convergences, because of this shared coexistence, has inferred divergences of various degrees, simply because the radical or essential divergence lies surely in their nomadic and sedentarised modus vivendi.

The Nomad Turk and the Sedentarised Armenian: An Ethnical Approach

From the East came the Turkic nomad warriors, driving their flocks of sheep and horses and goats; a long caravan of mounted bowmen, women and children, oxen hauling huge yurts2 upon creaking carts, for Turkic nomads remained no longer than six months in one place before travelling ever onwards; they followed the grasslands, and when their animals had sufficiently grazed the dense, wind-bent blades, they moved on...

The nomad spirit is one instituted on movement ever forwards: a present without either past or future. For the nomad, Space is measured according to the changing of seasons, punctuated by hunting, feasting and warring; it is occupied by vast swarming herds of animals and pitched yurts, not by the building of stone or wooden edifices. Time is not gauged by the tilling of fields and their harvesting, but by the very urge to move onwards. The nomad seeks not permanence, but abides by the rhythms of ecological vicissitudes. The nomad does not transform nature according to his or her will, does not force nature to adapt to his or her living requirements...quite the inverse is practiced as a way of life...The nomad adheres to Nature's bounties and grace...

To develop this nomadic trait, diachronically, let us explore three fields of human activity: architecture, writing, and literary creations. Interesting enough, all three activities are compounded in the 7th century stele found in the Orkhon Valley in today's Mongolia, 360 kilometres West of Ulan Bator, discovered by the Russian, Nikolay Yadrincev, and its Orkhon-Yenisey runic writ (or Göktürk alphabet) deciphered in 1893 by the Dane, Vilhelm Thomsen. Upon two steles is inscribed the tale of the nascent Göktürk nation, their tribal chieftains and their relations with the Han: Kül Tigin,3 carved in 732, and Bilge Khan, carved in 735 are the founding chieftains of the first attested 'Turkic' peoples, written in Chinese '突厥' (türük) or inpinyin 'tū jué'.4

These stone inscriptions remain the sole foundation that bear testimony to a Turkic scriptural patrimony. The Göktürk alphabet authenticates a Turkic ontology because scripture, with its literary creations, confirms an ontological relationship to existence, to the inscriber's vision of the world or of his Creator, because the very forms, forged from the mystery between man and his begetter, be it Creator or Creation, projet this ontic bond into existential activity. The stele initiate the long tale of the Oghuz peoples, a sort of Oghuzname 'Book of the Oghuz';5 a lithic narration of the nine tribes of the Nine Oghuz Federation (Dokuz Oğuzlar) wedged into the shell of a turtle, sign of longevity for the Han, whose shell symbolises his house, who like the nomad's life (konar göçer hayat) carries his home wherever he wanders. On the opposite face of the stele, a Chinese translation is provided, whence the naming of the Turks by the Han. Indeed, the Göktürk sees himself through the Other...Han! The stele represent that mirroir of Alterity that reflects the foundation of Identity: without that Other, one exists at best partially...

The Sino-Turk ethnic identity exposes shared values: a dual narrative in Chinese and in Göktürk set within a single architectural monument or recital stone whose base is the turtle, a Sino-Turkic narration at whose apex have been carved a dragon,6 a wolf,7 and a mountain goat,8 three creatures shared by the Turkic and Han cultures. The Bilge Khan stela was placed in front of a funerary pavilion called an eb-ev in Göktürk, which meant 'tent', combining thus an architectonic conception of both the Han culture (funerary pavilion or mausoleum) and the tent...The Han, in naming their neighbours, relegated this name -Törük>Türk- to the pages of History...9 

And yet, because of the gradual migration towards the West, the ontic patrimony was for ever abandoned, and Turkic identity bore many other weeds of existence as inferred from the sundry scriptural systems with which they expressed themselves: Chinese, Sodgian, Uyghur (8th century), Arab, Greek, Russian and Latin!10 

Nomadic culture adapts to different forms of existence, especially those forms shaped by powerful civilizations: Han, Persian, Greek, Arab, European. The variety of scriptures used by the Oghuz, the Seljuks and the Ottomans produced profound psychological and ethnic upheavals in substantiating an Identity. Ahmet Yesevi's Hikmets,11 voiced in the 10th or 11th centuries, but undoubtedly written in the 14th or 15th centuries, have the original forms of the Arab-based alphabet of the Chagatai language, out of which Uyghur, Turkmen, Uzbek and Kazakh were wrought. Similarly, the Turkic (Uyghur) erudite, Mahmud al-Kaşgari (11th century) wrote his Dīwāni l'Lugat al-Turk ('Glossary or Dictionary of the Turkic Languages' in Uyghur script. The Dede Korkut Kitabı was originally written out in Arabic script in the Azeri language (Eastern Turkic?). Djelal-al Din Rumi or Mevlâna's (13th) Mesnevi is semantically and syntactically written in Persian but robed in Ottoman (Arabic) letters. Persian and Arabic graphic forms continued to guide Ottoman literature (Divan) until Atatürk's alphabet reform in 1928 (Dil Devrimi) by which the Western (modern?)-Latin alphabet triumphed over the Arabo (Muslim?)-Ottoman alphabet...

Does the varying use of scriptures change identities...existences? We believe it does, because each transition and vicissitude entails dependence upon a more powerful civilization, even though the scriptural borrower may be the more dominant, militarily. Indeed, since their exodus from the mountains and valleys of Mongolia in the 8th century, there has never been any scriptural continuum for the Turkic peoples, only continual changes in the forms of their scriptural expression, due to their religious conversion to Manicheism in the 8th century of which the Sogdion script predominated, to Buddhism in the Xinjian (Chinese Turkestan) of which the Uyghur alphabet emerged as the salient one for the Turkic convertees, to Islam in the 10th century of which the Persian and Arab alphabets prevailed, to 'modern capitalism' with the use of the Latin alphabet in the 20th century or to 'communism' with the use of the Cyrillac alphabet by the Turkmen, Uzbek, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Azeri, Yakut...

If scripture is the mirror of one's Self and the binding adhesive matter of a community, the Turkic peoples today have much to contend with, for it is difficult to see one's Self as an ever-shifting mirror whose reflection is invariably interlaced with that of the Other. Is the nomad spirit then destined to assimilation, isolation or sedentarization? The Turkic peoples have not been assimilated, nor have they attempted to assimilate! Be it for religious or ethnic reasons remains to be discussed. Nor are they isolated: the various beyliks and empires that they carved out is proof of their refusal to be isolated. It is the slow but steady sedentarization process that they consciously or unconsciously adapted. How and when? By their Encounters and exchanges with the Persian and Armenian civilizations, aided by the Islamic Arabic civilisation, both Sunni and Shia.

Indeed, ever since the Seljuks burst upon the mediaeval scene from Persia into Armenia, and their victories over Byzantine armies at Manzikert in 1071, they learnt the Art of Construction, especially stone construction, from the Persians and the Armenians. There is no mosque building before the late 11th century by the Seljuks. The first Sekjuk mosque, albeit built by Armenian masons, was at the mediaeval capital of the Armenian kingdom, Ani, in 1072 (Ebül-Ma'meran Mosque), after which we find the extraordinary mosques at Sivas in 1192, Konya in 1219, Divrik in 1218 and Nigde in 1223. However, these mosques show the stamp of Persian tradition and Armenian workmanship, as are the majority of the large 16th century moques of Istanbul and Edirne under Ottoman rule - built by the Armenian architect Sinan.12

In the Book of Dede Korkut, one of the key words is ev, derived from the Uyghur forms 'eb/ob' 'flat land' which was suitable for pitching a yurt, and whose root 'ob', during the Ottoman period meant 'to found, establish a home' (konut duşturmek). In the Oghuz dialect, 'ob(a)' meant 'people, tribe, household'.13 In the Turkic epic tale stone building is absent: the mosques that were founded were emptied churches or cathedrals of Armenian or Georgian origin, the walls whitewashed of their frescoes. Alp Arslan, the commander of the victorious Seljuk forces in Armenia, after seizing Ani in 1064, uttered his first prayers in the cathedral, which still stands today; he renamed it Fethiye Mosque! This is indeed an excellent instant of Alterity...and Identity?..

Many mosques in the villages of Northeastern and Eastern Turkey today were former churches or chapels: at Dolişan, near Artvin, the mosque occupies the upper sphere of the mediaeval Georgian church whilst the lower sphere, demarcated from the upper by a false ceiling, abandoned and plunged in darkness, still harbours the most splendid frescoes. This being said, the majority of the mediaeval churches and cathedrals, when they have not been transformed into barns or public toilets, lay forsaken, unrestored, falling slowly into apathetic decay, with little support, either from the local inhabitants or from Ankara.14 The cathedral at Kars, for example, has undergone remarkable changes over the past hundred years or so: to the mediaeval Armenian church was added an iconostase during Russian occupation at the end of the 14th century, then followed a period of abandonment after the Turkish War of Independence over which time the church was transformed into a public urinal, a condemned building whose doors were cemented over and finally a museum, written as such on the postcards (Kars müzesi) that visitors may purchase at the Tourist Information Office...

The castles mentioned in the Book of Dede Korkut are Christian; no Oghuz or Seljuk palaces exist at all. Architecture as a 'sign' of power has no relevance for the Seljuks simply because nomadic tribes had no affiliation to the lands they crossed or upon which they grazed their animals. The notion or practice of land-possession or of staking out land began to emerge within the nomadic pysche through Persian and Armenian influence, which little by little slakened the impulsive drive or urge to migrate endlessly. It was the Timorial system of land concession, initiated by the Ottoman House in the 14th century by Murat I, by which the sultans allocated land to their loyal warriors, that commenced the firm settling of the land and its political corollary, empire-building.15 For indeed, this land-concession marks an important phase in sedentarization: from the 14th century onwards the tent is substituted for the palace in which the Sultan sits, the prayer mat (secade) or Christian church for the mosque in which the imam16 calls the prayer (kutbe or hutbe), the horse-mounted warrior for the vezir...The 'name' of the Oghuz fades, gradually replaced by Osman>Ottoman, derived from the name of the third Caliph, Uthman! This name built stone palaces, mosques and castles as seats of authority or power. It exploited the Persian-Arabic scripture as a means of generational transmission of this authority or power, deepened an understanding and faith of Koranic law (fisq) to establish and assure the control of territorial gains or conquests. One of the longest migrations in world History will not come to an end, but by the establishing of a capital in Istanbul with Topkapı as a seat of Sultanat authority, with Rumeli Hisar as the majestic fortress that helped cause the fall of Byzantinum as a seat of military authority and the construction of the Eyüb, Fatih, Beyazit and Suleymaniye mosques as seats of Muslim jurisdiction, the nomad Turks hence settled in Anatolia and Thracia, transforming them into their new-found homeland, appropriating the land as their Patrimony...

And the Haikian (Armenians)? Since 600 B.C., after their migration from Cappadocia and Thracia, these mountain peoples drove their ancestral roots deep within the soil of present-day Eastern Turkey, where they mixed with the people of the ancient Kingdom of Urartu, round Lake Van. The settling of the Haikian in Eastern Turkey has its attestation in the hoary name of Haïk, presumed descendent of Japhetas, son of Noah. A geographical and spiritual corroboration which settled the Armenians soundly in Eastern Anatolia, ratified their cultural heritage as a sedentarised people, warranted these lands as their patrimony...

Since their settling, Armenia has been at the centre of warring civilizations: Persian Achaemenians, Macedonian (Alexander the Great) from whom they learned the art of warfare, Romain and Byzantium, the epoch during which they converted to Christianity through the heroic efforts of Saint Gregory the Illuminator when he converted the pagan King Trdat in 314. Armenia became the first Christian State! In spite of Byzantine resentment, Arab domination, and Seljuk penetration, the Haikian subjugated, albeit remained independent, tilling their soil, building their homes and churches and palaces and castles. The conception of Statehood was founded on the triadic representation of the King in his Palace at Ani, the Bishop in his Cathedral at Aght'amar, the Aristocracy in their Castles. Social functions that form the four-part structure of the epic David of Sassoun: King (թագաւոր), Bishop/Archmandrite (վարդապետ), Aristocrat (նախարար), those founding Figures of Armenian mediaeval Statehood! The Figures sat in their seats of authority: the Palace (տուն), the Church (եկեղեցի) and the Castle (բերդ). These seats of power built of stone are signs of long settlement of a sedentary people, of a long and tender relationship between a people and its land. In sum, a Kingdom or the rudiments of Statehood...

These political figures and their stone representations of power were supported by a writing system that had its nascent murmurings in the Paleolithic Age in the guise of pictograms, which throughout the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcholithic periods evolved into a runic system, borrowing somewhat from the Assyrian and Urartu cuniform scriptures before attaining a syllabic alphabet, sloughing the Greek and Syriac forms in favour of the novel Haigazian one, forged by Mesrob Mashdots in the 5th century (406). It is with Mesrob's alphabet that the Syriac version of the Evangiles was translated in the fifth century, and that chroniclers and poets such as Moses of Khorene, Hovhannes Draskhanakerttsi and John of Aghtamar wrote their works. It is with this scripture Armenians identifies themselves. A mediaeval identification whose forms have hardly changed.17

The Armenian scripture has weaved an ontological and existential thread since the 5th century. It is, like the stone hewn monuments of early Armenian Statehood, a sign of their hoary presence because it represents the continuum of a civilization. It is a scripture that has survived the onslaughts of Persians, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs and Turks! It is one that has been borne by the land in the same way that the stone hewn monuments have been...

The epic tale David of Sassoun emblazons this long-standing sedentarization of Armenia in Eastern Turkey. For if the Turkic mediaeval culture as depicted in the Dede Korkut Kitabı, was one of a tent-culture, the Armenian one as of a stone-construction. An important etymon in the epic tale is 'house' ' տուն' /dun/; an etymon that projects solidity, stableness, sedentariness! The town of Sassoun is qualified as a house: 'Սասնա Տուն' 'House of Sassoun'.18

The 'house' represents a fortress against invading nomads because its sturdiness withstands their assaults. It rises proudly as do Sassoun's pillars which stand erect, whence, perhaps, the origins of the name 'Sassoun' from the etymon ' սանսուն ' /sansun/ 'columns, pillars (of stone)' read in David of Sassoun:

'Մեր բերդին անունը եղաւ Սանսուն, Սասուն' (p. 103).
['The name of our castle became: Sansoun, Sassoun.']

It goes without saying that this etymology has no historical veracity; yet, it does put into perspective the tenacity of which Sassoun defended its legacy against Arabs, Kurds and Turks. After all, this tiny town in the mountains of Eastern Turkey did give birth to one of the most marvelous and penetrating mediaeval epic tales that has survived the ravages of History...

Hermaphrodism and the Other: A Biological Approach

The hermaphroditic is he or she that possesses both sexes and thus needs not have recourse to the opposite sex for reproduction. The androgynous has the ability to self-fertilise, thus enjoys self-reliance. A self-fertilization by the selfsame for the selfsame...which excludes Otherness as foreign and minatory to the sameness of the self-assuming Self.

We believe the djimmi-system, ordained by the Koran as regards the Jews and Christians whose territories were conquered by the Muslim warriors of the new religion revealed to Mohammad, but who refused to convert to Islam, engendered geographical and psychological ghettoes or islets which condemned the 'unbelievers' to live apart from the dynamic, expanding Islamic society, but paradoxically whose expansion as it unfolded in Asia Minor, the Near East, North Africa and in Europe depended upon these 'minorities' for economic, medicinal and diplomatic support. Juxtaposed to their Muslim 'protectors', the 'People of the Book' 'Ahl al-Kitāb' 'أهل الكتاب' developed parallel economic, cultural, even political growths within the social fabric of the Islamic nations. If we now turn to the conquering Turkic peoples of Armenia and Byzantinum, the millet-system,19 legally, brooked no compromise or concession concerning this Koranic injunction. Church bells rang no longer. Christians were prohibited from mounting horses. Blue was the colour of their clothes and their hats, small.20 Muslim homes measured eight metres whilst those of Christians and Jews only six. Anything higher than Islamic followers was condemned for Muslims were closer to God than the ignorant or the unworthy rayas...

These decrees were designed to humiliate, belittle, remind those non-Muslims that their presence amongst the true believers, the conquerors, was merely tolerated; and that this munificent tolerance could change according to the conduct of the unbelievers. It goes without saying that the precarious tolerance bestowed upon Christian and Jew plunged the minorities into states of extreme tension, not specifically in opposition to the Muslims, but more perfidiously, amongst the various denominations of non-Muslims, a Turkish tactic which pitted Jew against Christian, Armenian against Greek, etc.21 Indeed, the stubbornness to resist the injunctions of the final Prophet and His religion only reinforced Turkish scorn and contempt of the minority communities...

The key word in this segregated, juxtaposed sociological configuration is 'tolerance'. A banalised word in the mouths of journalists and television anchor men and women today, which for some strange reason has been understood positively, whereas, in reality, the plight and the predicament of the tolerated tells a long and painful tale. Tolerated are those who reject the hand of generosity, of kindness or benevolence. Tolerated are those who persist in their difference, in their their adamancy of not comprehending the historical transformations of the world, not submitting to the imperatives of a determined Destiny. Ingratitude and haughtiness are the attributes of the tolerated. And because of this self-righteousness, this untoward attitude, the tolerated have been severed from the majority, assorted as ungrateful, stigmatised as heretical, albeit munificently tolerated because, after all, they are the founders and followers of the monotheist religion...22

To be tolerated, and yet dominate the economy, the diplomacy, the medical world, construction, the arts and the press23 of the conquering people posits a problematic. The problematic posited is the following:

A conquering people who are less numerous than the conquered (as was the case with the Franks in mediaeval Gaul) either assimilate or are assimilated (the Mongols of Genghis Khan and Timur). The Franks gradually merged and amalgamated with the long-since settled Gallo-Romains, and through this slow sociological recomposition the French nation came into being. Similarly with the conquering Normans in England during the 11th and 14th centuries who, by the process of osmosis with the Anglo-Saxons gave birth to the English. As to the invading and conquering Seljuks, neither any merging, amalgamation nor osmosis ever took place. Now it may be argued that the Franks and the Gallo-Romains shared certain existential values, albeit the first were pagan. As to the Christian Normans and Anglo-Saxons, admittedly both were Christians, and due to this, population integration and assimilation might have been less painful because differing religious rites do impede inter-relations within the private domain.

Be that as it may, we are not implying that Islam itself is incapable of assimilating or being assimilated into any culture foreign to its identifying structure without either effacing that culture completely or being assimilated by it. This is of course a debatable issue, so much more so that it depends on what Islam one is debating: Shia Islam as it exists in Iran today has never lost its Zorastrian foundation, and the Sufism as practiced in India has indubitable links with Hindu mysticism. It is not a question of syncretism but of an absorption of a solid religious substratum...which carries us along to the Islam practiced by the Seljuk Turks, a compound of Shamanism, Sunni and Persian Shia Islam...

The Seljuk conquerors indeed sought to convert the populations they then ruled over, however without much conviction; for they themselves had not instrumentalised their new religion as a means of political power. In fact, they sought out the skills that they lacked from the Armenians and the Greeks whilst proclaiming their dynasty as the ruling one of Anatolia, even bestowing upon themselves the title Sultans of Islam; a dominance and title that carved out swathes of land called beylikler, the bey being he who ruled over that territory amidst the clusters and pockets of the subdued Christian populations. Nevertheless, in spite of reciprocity in the public domain, the private domains remained seal-tight between both Muslim Seljuk and Christian Armenian and Greek.24 It were as if there existed a multitude of communities that never really penetrated one another, but were tangential to one other, so many spinning monads in the public arena of commercial gain or loss, so many villagers whose neighbours' homes indeed touched theirs, yet so few ventured within those intimate circles of the private domain...

This monadic or juxtaposed sociological topography gave rise to what we call 'tolerance'; that is mistrust of the Other when political and economic conditions fare well for all, but accusation and animosity for that same Other when those aforesaid conditions fare badly...

It was with the Ottomans that the sentiment of mistrust grew into a figure of more complex emotions, in rhythm to the political or economic situations of the expanding or shrinking empire. The Ottoman authorities, because they never really attempted to understand the people whom they had conquered and were ruling over, found themselves in an awkward position: they were perfectly known by their conquered subjects, but ignored everything and anything about them! This is indeed a vulnerable posture, and one that tranformed mistrust into resentment, bestirred bitterness and acrimony, exalted scorn, disparagement and derogation...

Such derogatory deportment does not discourage assimilation, it is the manner with which integration or assimilation becomes impossible to accomplish. Resentment dissuades integration and assimilation because the assimilator and the assimilated are adamantly convinced of the superiority of their value-system. These value-systems are not encapsulated: the Ottoman system, based largely on Sunni and Shia Islamic values, quaffed from the founts of Arabia and Persian; as to the Armenians, their Christian nourishment found outlets not necessarily with the Greek and Syriac populations living in Anatolia and beyond, but more with the European Catholic and Protestant communities, and to a lesser extent, with the Orthodox Russian ones. Thus the two value-systems remained largely open, but paradoxically disregarding one another...There, the two communities lived, side by side, again to use the geometric term tangential, yet quite resentful of the fact that this divine tactility, this contiguous outgrowth, however imperceptively it brushed the susceptibilities of the two communities, had ever arisen...

At the end of the 20th century, the Armenian community administered 80% of the Ottoman economy, due to the simple fact that their members had strong ties with the European countries through diplomacy (ambassadors, advisors), banks, trading companies and education (university students and professors); ties that the Ottomans had relegated to the Armenians to manage because they spoke foreign languages and had studied the codes of European étiquette, but mostly, too, because the Armenians had firm insight and scholarship of the Ottoman Empire, and so became spokesmen for it...a paradox quite in itself when one hears the Turks, be they Ottoman or Republican, decry the Armenian as a traitor...

Indeed, over the centuries, because of this imposed tangential juxtaposing policy, this creation of a mosaic of monadic communities, the Armenians formed a State within the Empire, not quite that mediaeval kingdom which comprised the King in his Palace, the Bishop in his Cathedral or the Aristocrat in his Castle, but one that drafted out the first Constitution of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, the Armenian National Constitution, written in Turkish and Armenian in 1863.25 It symbolised the first juridical tentative structure to realise political segregation within the confines of the Ottoman Empire, without however jeopardizing it. Not only did it grant juridical equality for all Ottoman subjects, but it also served as a milestone in the hermaphroditic relationship between Ottoman Turk and Armenian, Armenian and Jew, Armenian and Greek! Indeed the Armenian National Constitution laid the first stone for the construction of an autonomous State which would have distinguished the Armenian community from all the other communities of the Empire: it granted the Armenian community the right to build their own schools, churches and courts of law. It was ratified in 1863. Ironically, it became the prototype of the 1878 Constitution under the aegis of Sultan Abul Hamîd II, which provided equal rights for the Armenian subject, legitimised his or her language in political affairs. Ironic, too, is the fact that the Armenian National Constitution clearly eschewed the psychological gulf between Ottoman Turk and Armenian, and perhaps eschewed more blatantly the 'unassimilableness' or the 'unintegratableness' of the two peoples, as if the Constitution ratified a historical mutual assent, conscious or not, since the 11th century. It acknowledges, unfortunately, a recognised status of two juxtaposed peoples whose past, present and future explicitly denote two juxtaposed histories lived out upon the same lands.

The 1878 Constitution founded the base of the first Ottoman Parliament with Armenian, Greek, Jewish and Kurd representation. One that openly permitted Armenian religious schools to educate and send Armenian students to Europe or America to study and work then return to better the Ottoman banking and administrative systems.26 A Constitution that even paved the juridical way for a shared police force comprised of Turk, Armenian and Kurd. Alas, this first Ottoman Constitution was totally revoked by Abul Hamîd II in 1883: equality for all Ottoman subjects, be they Muslim, Christian or Jew was substitued for Ottomanization; namely, Turkish nationalism tainted with an 'intolerant' Sunni Islam...

The revocation reminded the Armenian Ottomans of their 'tolerated' status, they who for centuries had lived 'side by side' with their conquerors as the millet-i sadıka 'the loyal community', 'juxtaposed' to their neighbours without the same civil rights, without any juridical possibility of integrating into the social tissue since marriage of an Armenian man to a Muslim woman was punished by death.27 Undoubtedly, Abul Hamîd II understood that equal rights for all subjects would undermine the notion of Turkishness (much more so than Ottoman identity!) and Sunni tradition. Undermine, too, an authority perfectly known by the 'enemy' but whose 'enemy' was quite unknown by them...

The Armenians were treated like the epitome of Greed and Vindictiveness, set next to the rank nonenity, the odious conniver, the seditious schemer...

This predicament had to be perforated like a bulging blister: violence ensued...uprisings and savage reprisals at Kumkapı (1890), Sassoun (1894), Van (1897), Adana (1909): uprisings and brutal repressions long before the outbreak of World War One...

Wrought from this chaos were the Armenian political parties set on carving out an independent Armenian State, in view of the fact that Abul Hamîd would have never yielded to an Armenian autonomy within the Empire. And they sought to carve out this State with or without arms: Armenegan, founded in 1885 at Van; Hnchak, whose programme not only guaranteed an independent Armenia for Armenian Ottomans but laid grounds for a vast federal State for Iranian and Russian Armenians as well, and this by violent means if necessary; Dashnaktsuiun, a nationalist and socialist political party based on pro-Western Marxist ideas, and not shy to open warfare against the Ottoman Turks if the situation called for it. Their slogan read: "Better to arm the militia with a dozen arms than produce a dozen programmes."28 They, like the members of Hnchak, readied Armenian militias (çetes) for battle.

So came to a brusque and brutal end the 'well-being' of the millet-system! Indeed, the millet-system constructed a network of ghettoes, all of which were self-containing, and thus quite independent of the Ottoman Sunni administration, economically, culturally, even politically...However, these self-sufficient communities, independent though they be within the Ottoman authority, were constrained to answer only to that authority and not to any other outside their prescribed boundaries.29 The millet-system now enriched the Ottoman Empire acting as so many windows to Europe, now poisoned its very foundation because of the very segregated, essentializing values that prevented the Ottoman Turk from ever understanding his or her subjects thoroughly or even partially. One may even venture to add that Turks and Armenians had always engaged in an unfolding chain or sequence of juxatposed monologues, hardly ever any genuine dialogue...

Now one may ask why the Armenians laboured so long to draft out a Constitution, and struggled for an autonomy amongst a Turkish population that neither acknowledged them nor really cared to acknowledge them! The answer seems to us quite clear: Armenians were present on their lands... denoted, indeed, under another appellation, yet very much present on their lands. A presence that had always piqued the Turks and which, periodically, had driven them to acts of belligerence. But why: For having conquered a land that belonged to a long-settled people and having to live side by side with them as 'friendly neighbours' instead of dispersing, exiling or exterminating them? For that indeed is the crux of the problematic: the Armenians wrote out a Constitution because they were perfectly at home; they identified themselves perfectly with the land they tilled, sowed and harvested, a telluric identification which brought them pleasure and confidence, much perhaps to the envy of the Turks and the Kurds.30 Furthermore, the Armenian, in spite of scorn and humiliation, never suffered from an inculcated inferiority complex. This, undoubtedly, was what infuriated the Turkish authorities more than anything else; a self-assured and stoic attitude that defies authority because it advocated rightful claims without having recourse to brute force. The Armenian 'sub-culture' survived, first because of their sedentary values and second because in spite of the millet-system (or thanks to it?) they did effect exchanges with the Occident. Hence, by forging narrow but concrete channels with the Occident, the Armenians escaped psychological imprisonment, widened their circles of influence both for themselves and for the Ottoman Turks, albeit this widening was judged by Ottoman authority more for Armenian 'private' interests than for Ottoman 'public' interests - which might have been partially true for certain Armenian circles, but not for the majority of the Armenian population, 80 % of which at the end of the 19th century lived in the rural areas of Cilicia and Eastern Turkey.

Armenians slowly tightened the vice of hermaphrodism, willy-nilly, by plunging their roots ever deeper into Armenian soil because of that very external nourishment and sustenance. In the eyes of the Ottoman authorities their Armenian subjects were indeed the 'loyal nation'; however, this appreciation must be understood through the lenses of hermaphrodism; that is, as long as the Armenian Ottoman remained docile, obedient, submissive, encapsulated in his or her golden ghetto. Indeed, as soon as this loyality transformed into declarations for civil equalities for all Ottoman subjects, the Armenian metamorphised into the gavur, the thankless hypocrite, the ungrateful renegade who had to be punished for his or her 'treason'...The sentiment of revenge on the part of the Ottoman Turks and their henchmen the Kurds, unleashed a crescendo of violence in the 1890's: the 'butcher' or the 'red sultan', Abul Hamîd II, wasted no time in butchering Armenians, reddening Turkish soil with his loyal subjects' blood; he declared triumphantly: "the only means of ridding ourselves of the Armenian Question is to rid ourselves of the Armenians." This inexorable logic reached its apex with the coming to power of the Young Turks in 1913 after the dethroning of Abul Hamîd II in 1909, led by the triumvirat Enver Paşa, the Minister of War, Talat Paşa, Minister of the Interior and Djemal Bey, Minister of the Navy. At the beginning of their rule, however, the Armenian Ottoman cried victory: the 'butcher' had been disposed of, the Young Turks had embraced secularism as a means of governing, accepted Christians and Jews as equals. Sparks of enthusiasm enkindled the hearts and excited the minds of Armenians in the big cities and in the rural areas. The end of both the millet-system and hermaphrodism appeared on a not so distant, cheerful horizon.

The cheerful horizon ebbed as time passed...

For the Union and Progress Committee, founded by the Young Turks (Ittihad ve Terahki Cemiyeti) perceived the Armenian not as a species of a different religion but one biologically different than the Turk, and thus incompatible with the nationalistic programme adopted by the them, whose inspiration rolled in with the waves of 'Teutonism' or 'Germanity' that had been overlapping Germany's stormy shores since the 1860's. The Ottoman Turks had always categorised the Armenian as that Christian heretic outside the favours and advantages of Islamic peace (Dar el-Islam). With the Young Turks, though, religious segregation took on an essentializing form that placed the Armenian (and the Jew) outside of Turkishness. It is a racism that grew in rhythm with Europe's, and more particularly with Germany's.  

The Armenian essentialised, not only was it out of the question that this disloyal community claim territorial rights for an autonomous State, but they henceforth had to be educated in Turkish schools in the Turkish language, the language of Authority of the superior race.32 

With the outbreak of war, and the Young Turks allied to Germany, conscription became obligatory for Christians and Jews. Since they had all been screaming for equal rights, they would have a capital occasion to shed their blood for their fatherland! In 1910 enrolement commenced, and more than 60,000 Armenians joined the Turkish armed forces to fight for their country.33 Immediately, however, the enrolled Armenians were regrouped in 'work battalions' (amele talurları), and set out to repair the roads, their weapons confiscated. These 'battalions' were gradually decimated and the bodies thrown into ditches. As the war progressed, and the Young Turks lost terrain to the Russians34 and the British, their frustration grew and its wrath fell upon the Armenians both in Greater and Minor Armenia. Massacres, pogroms and the final deportation (tehcir) to the desert of Deir ez-Zor (Syria), which some have coined the Armenian Auschwitz. Sixty percent of the deportees: children, old men and women were killed en route, either by the Kurd militias,35 paid by the Ottoman government to loot and kill the 'traitors', or by starvation and malady. Meanwhile, the 1,800,000 Armenians in Russia fought against the Turks in the Caucasus. In 1915, the Russian army fought side by side with the Armenians at Van, and retreated with them to what would become the Republic of Armenia in 1923, with Yerevan as its capital.36

A total of 1,3 million Armenians perished in the deportations and the pogroms, of which 400.000 died of malady and hunger and 300.000 exterminated in the camps. At that time there were approximately two million Armenians living in what is today Turkey.37 On the 24th of April, 1915, 235 Armenians disappeared from their homes in Istanbul: intellectuals, artists, teachers, politicians. The majority were executed en route to prisons or further exile.

Thus had been settled the Armenian Question...

Ten centuries of co-existence or of co-habitation ended in flurries of organised hate and systemic revenge. The Pan-Turanic movement of the Young Turks, with their racist architects like Ziya Gökalp, because it was a biologically supported movement, severed the races that could not serve the purpose or the goals of Turkishness, not even in servility; namely, a vast Turkish-speaking zone from Istanbul to Western China (Xinjian),...Essentialised as non-Turkish, nominalised and branded as treasonous, the life of an Armenian held no value besides that of slave-girls for the military brothels or young boys for the homosexuals. The Turkish authorities maintained that the Armenians had connived with the Allies in a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government (does this not an echo the gigantic Jewish conspiracy of those parasites of Sion?), and that the Turkish army attacked Van because the Armenians had staged revolts. Yet, the Turks had long since confiscated Armenian weapons from all the villages, and thousands of able-bodied men had been enrolled in the army! So who was to revolt or foment revolution: the women and children, the elderly?

Pent-up in their own definitions of the whatness (quiddity) of Turkishness, the Turks projected their own racist and nationalist designs on their minorities. This essentializing process enfolded the Armenian not so much as a Christian, but as an Armenian. And we believe that for this essentialization of the Armenian T. H. Lawrence wrote in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom: "Turks killed Armenians, not Christians."

Strange though it may appear, the Armenians, because of the imposed ghettoes and a coerced hermaphroditic rôle in the Turkish society, explored and discovered outlets in order to escape this sterile or fruitless rôle. Their educational, diplomatic and commerical links with Europe enriched their values and deepened their perspicacity, whilst at the same time broadened the gap between their conquerors and themselves. Armenian knowledge of the Turk and the European placed him superior to the Turks, sociologically, economically and more important still, psychologically. The genocide of this cosmopolitan, Europeanised community has its roots in the paradoxical situation of the conquered knowing the conqueror but the conqueror ignoring the conquered. What initiated and stimulated the genocide has nothing to do with revolts and war, but resentment, jealousy, fear, bitterness...of the Other...that unknown Other, whose intensity of depreciation organised a mass recourse to vengeance against Armenian industrialness, resourcefulness, organization; in short, against a settled civilization which the Turks labelled as perfidious and treasonous...

The Turk can only accept the Other if he or she adopts the Turks' perception or vision of the world. And for this very biased and sad reason there has never been a History of Turkey written where Armenians, Greeks, Syriacs, Jews and Kurds play equable rôles in the cast of millions, so much more so since the minorities, in whatever social tissue they happen to live, have always played major rôles in economic, cultural and political development.38 This phenomena is what James Bryce called 'minority creation', a common sociological growth within socio-political landscapes of a great variety: America, India, Russia, Spain, Germany, etc. And it is for this precise reason that extermination was on the Young Turk agenda, as it would the Nazi one in the late thirties and early forties...

It is not the Ottomans, the Young Turks or the Republicans who committed the pogroms and the final deportation, it is simply the Turk in his long-awaited settling of scores. It is much too easy to incriminate a political regime; this political manoeuvre diverts the observor's attention from the lot of responsibility which weighs upon those who perpetrate the act or acts; namely, the subjects or citizens of that ruling majority. Fingers point to Abdu Hamîd II, to Enver Paşa, Djemal Bey or Talat Paş Doctor Nızam. But those aforesaid individuals required executioners to carry out their orders: Ottomans...Young Turks...Republicans...In a word, Turks...

Sassoun: the Epicentre of Revolt: A Geographic Approach

Nestled in the mountainous regions of Eastern Turkey, in the Province of Batman, the village of Sassoun, today a rather big, shabby-looking town, during the Middle Ages rose to symbolise Armenian freedom and independence, struggling against Arab (7th and 8th centuries), Byzantium and Turkic yoke (11th and 12th centuries).
David of Sassoun, albeit a fictitious tale, symbolically recounts this struggle over four generations of heroes from Sassoun: Sanasar, Meherr the Great, David and his son, Little Meherr, all of whom fought against the Caliph of Mısır (Egypt and Syria) for King Gagik.39 Sassoun represents, according to the epic narration, the centre out of which Armenian energy radiates in its striving for national identity. When Armenia fell under Byzantium tyranny in the 11th century, only Sassoun conserved its sovereignty under the rule of the Thornikian family. This national identity was by no means forged by closing frontiers, racial purity or religious biogtry.  Sanasar, the first of our Sassoun heroes, along with his brother Balthasar, rides into an unknown and mysterious land of genies and houries, a sort of A Thousand and One Nights land, where he encounters strange creatures, defeats a dragon with a magic stone in its mouth and claims his bride, Forty-Blonde Braids, a ravishing woman out of whose hybrid union Meherr the Great is begot...

Meherr the Great loses his parents and is brought up by his Armenian uncle Vargo and an Arab woman Ismil Khatun, widow of the King of Mısır, Melek. David is born in Egypt out of Meherr's desire for Ismil Khatun and must defend himself against his half-brother, Melik, son of Ismil Khatun and the King. David kills him, then flees to Sassoun where he becomes the shepherd of the Armenian people!

David marries an Armenian princess, Khanduth, but falls into sin by laying with Sultane Tchemechkik of Arab descent. From this illicit union Little Meherr is born. The Princess Khandouth kills herself, and her daughter by David, jealous because of this adulterous union, kills her father.

Little Meherr, lost in a conundrum of identities, of a licite and illicite mixture of Arabic and Armenian blood, errs from place to place in quest of an answer to such generations of waywardness...of hostility, love and jealousy...of his grim loneliness...He finds this unsoluble answer within the Rock of Van where he remains embedded to this day, awaiting the revival of Sassoun...the resurgence of Armenia...

The historical probity of the mediaeval epic tale David of Sassoun has had its defenders, but historical probity interests us much less than 'historical incisiveness'; the epic relates a story of a people battling for freedom and sovereignty, however, without averting to the exclusion of the Other, to a hermaphoridism. And there lies the 'political' message of David of Sassoun: A policy of independence with the Other...whatever antagonistic relationship it might have spawned...

Interesting enough, this chant to Armenian freedom required many centuries before it descended its mountainous folds: the philologist and ethnographer, Bishop Garegin Srvandztiants (1840-1892), teaching in Eastern Turkey in 1873, had the pleasure of listening to the heroic deeds and misdeeds of the Sassoun heroes in a village near Muş by a story-teller, Gurbo, who for three days recited the entire tale for the curious bishop. He transcribed it and published a written form in 1874 entitled House of Sasun 'ՍԱՍՆԱՅ ՏՈՒՆ. (In small case: սասնայ տուն)41

Why was this chef d'oeuvre never disclosed to the Armenians of Russia, of Persia or of the Arab world before 1873? Had the town of Sassoun, symbol of Armenian identity and stalwart resistance fallen into decay, lost its historic memory? Certainly not. The villagers of Sassoun continued their story-telling tradition without a need to export their epic tale, without any exigency to have recourse to an outside world for confirmation of its validity...until...until the approaching signs of resentment and jealousy crept ever closer, spreading over the Armenian settlements of Ottoman Turkey. Those forerunner signs of vengeance, aroused amongst the Kurdish population that surrounded Sassoun, and the concentration of military personal from the Ottoman army. Is it a coincidence that the first Armenian massacres occurred in and round Sassoun? David of Sassoun was published in 1874...the Hamidian massacres took place between 1894 and 1896! The thirst for vengeance, the desire to terminate these lovers of liberty must have reached a crescendo because the Sassounites of the Sasun Ayaklanması (the Sassoun uprising) withstood the onslaught as tenaciously as the fury and viciousness of the Kurds and the Ottoman Turks pursued it. The butcherings, burnings and deportations of the entire population has nothing to do with treason or ingratitude: the Sassounites refused to pay higher taxes both to the Kurds and to the Ottoman authorities than what was required of them as the 'loyal community'. Decreeing higher taxes and goading the Kurds to act as headsmen in the operation served as an Ottoman pretext to exterminate. Here, at this point, the mediaeval tale David of Sassoun transcends all historical rectitude to mark symbolically the plight of Armenians ever since their mediaeval presence as a kingdom and as a sovereign political entity during the 19th century within empires. Armenia had always defied empire-builders in their avidity and rapacity to enfold and absorb her under economic yoke and political tyranny. Sassoun braved this yoke and tyranny, forged an independent 'state of mind' and spirit. It is this spirit of independence that incited Abdul Hamîd II to organise the Kurdish hamadiye and 'punish' those ungrateful subjects for that spirit and state of mind, punish them into submission by annihilating them. The Armenians of Sassoun paid dearly their fierce and unshakeable resistance...

David of Sassoun tells this tale. By recounting mediaeval defiance it were as if the powerful verses of Gurbo adumbrated that dauntlessness to come; as if that voice melded the mediaeval past with the modern present; as if David of Sassoun had foreshadowed the destruction of the Armenian nation because unable to escape from its mediaeval legacy.

The Turco-Kurdish slaughtering at Sassoun bears witness to a shared historical past, whose unfailing persistence and unflagging continuum could no longer be tolerated by Turkish authorities. Other hamlets, villages and towns followed Sassoun's plight as the genocidal impulses became more and more organised. However, as far as we are concerned, Sassoun remains the epicentre of the genocide impulse and movement, its very 'modern' motivation, now technologically capable of making disappear huge swathes of populations. Impulses and movements, however, that had lain dormant since the Middle Ages but which required a well-weaved ideology and a well-structured logistics to materialise it...render it operational.

Perhaps it is for this reason that no Turkish translation of David of Sassoun exists. That no prominent Turkish analyses or commentaries have filled the shelves of Turkish libraries or computer archive screens. If they did, they may awaken those mysterious voices of the Sense of the Past...voices that disturb the slumber of the restless, agitate troubled or a bad conscious, that annoy the biased historian or politician...

After seventy years within the Soviet Union, Armenia in 1991 finally acceded to full independence...

Sassoun has lain dormant since 1895. The epicentre has indeed shifted to Erevan, but symbolically Sassoun will remain that centre as long as David of Sassoun is recited and chanted in all the languages of the world...

Republican Turkey: Dogged Armenian Existence: a Political Approach

In 1923 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, after having dismissed the Sultanat, and thus Ottoman authority, after having liberated Young Turk officials for their complicity in the Armenian genocide,42 addressed a group of craftsmen in Adana: "...the country has finally returned to its rightful owners. Armenian and others have no rights here. These fertile lands are deeply and essentially Turkish."43Atatürk's Republic continued to troll the hymn of resentment and vengeance. Indeed, Taner Akçam spells it out quite explicitly: " L'identité nationale turque (englobant aussi, en partie, les Kurdes) a pris forme au cours du processus génocidaire."44  (Turkish national identity (including, partly, the Kurds) took form during the genocidal process.)45 Turkish identity could only be assured and confirmed by effacing the reflection of the Other...Armenian...

In 1923 all civil servants from the minorities of the Republic were made redundant from their employment. In the same year, Armenians were prohibited from returning to their homelands in Cilicia. In 1928 only Muslims could study and practice medicine in Turkey. In 1942 the Turkish Republican government decreed a 'wealth tax' (varlık vergisi) which, and this goes without saying, exacted from the non-Muslim communities exaggerated sums of money46: the wealthy Armenians had to pay 232 % over the levied taxation (the Jews 179 %, the Greeks 156 % and the wealthy Muslims 4,94%).47 Those who could or would not pay were led directly to labour camps at Aşkale, Sivrihisar and Karanlıkdere.

The former president of the Turkish Republic, Turgut Özal, wrote a rather odd political pamphlet La Turquie en Europe,48 with the firm intention of settling Turkey's essentialised, fertile lands soundly in the fertile crescent of Europe's. To do so he disingenously through lies, historical beguiling and dubious sleight evacuated those people who were the closest to Europeans (and the Turks!) throughout the History of Turkey, the Armenians. Özal argues that "les Francs venant de l'Ouest et les Turcs venant de l'Est ont voulu combler le vide créé par l'effrondement de l'empire byzantin." (page 17). The resourceful link between Frank (Europe) and Turk (Turkey) connects the 'vide' (emptiness) of Gaul and Anatolia, albeit both territories were far from 'vide': millions of Armenians, Greeks and Kurds had been living there well before the arrival of the Seljuk Turks! Similarly with Gaul, chock-full of Gallo-Romains, Almanics, Burgonds, Visigoths, even Jews that gradually became the Frankish kingdom. On the other hand, the concept of 'vide' prevails in the subconscious of the Turkic psyche, and indeed, the emptiness needed to be 'filled in' with Turks was fully accomplished in 1915. Özal mentions the Armenians three times in his opuscule, one of which accuses the Armenian 'gangs' (çete) of killing Turks and Kurds. So he justifies himself:

"Je le répète, les Turcs...] n'étaient pas hostiles aux Chrétiens. L'empire, plurinational et pluriconfessionnel- le seul, peut-être, de son espèce- était, par ses institutions gouvernementales et son type de société, oecuménique et synthétisant." (p. 163).

This statement is so wrought with baseness that to disentangle the falsehoods would require much wasted time and space; nonetheless, and simply put, the millet-system did not allow any oecumensim or synthetism; quite the contrary occurred, juxtapositioning and segregation. Özal truly believes that the Ottoman Empire inherited the Hittite Empire by some sort of metaphysical legacy or transcendent eugenics which linked the Indo-European race to the Turkish. He lauds the Hellenic civilization, minimises the Armenians, has not a word to say about the Syriacs. How can Turkey be European with the likes of Syriacs (Assyrians), Byzantine Greeks (too Oriental!) and Armenians, in spite of their past 'loyalty'? Özal prefers Greeks like Homer, who is more Turkish than Greek! On page 164, the former president laments the aftermath of the genocide:

"En 1890, les Arméniens se révoltèrent à leur tour. Ils n'agirent pas différemment des autres communautés chrétiennes. Mais, dans leur cas, ce furent eux les vaincus. C'est peut-être là une des raisons pour lesquelles cette question anarchronique garde une certaine actualité."49

This 'question' is far from anachronic: it is perfectly chronic. Özal stuns us with that adjective 'certaine', a 'certain topacality', as if this question came and went like a pimple on the face. Anachronism does not bestir thousands of men and women to investigate the causes of the 1915 'Event', it has nothing to do with defeat, of being vanquished, but of a troubled conscious...

It is, however, this tragic sentence that has plummeted the pages of this scurrilous tract into the depths of cynicism:

"L'effrondement de l'empire avait rendu possible la création d'un Etat-nation en Anatolie. Les frontières nationales de la jeune République laissaient à l'extérieur les territoires habités par des populations chrétiennes, tandis qu'en Anatolie vivait désormais un peuple homogène, parlant la même langue et partageant les mêmes valeurs culturelles et religieuses."
(p. 201).

Özal's 'analysis' can hardly be called Republican: 'homogenous population'! This bombastic extolling defines more a fascist or Nazi State, one that can be read in Hilter's Mein Kampf and attested in Nazi Germany.50 If we translate these republican thoughts of the former president, it would read something like this:

"At last we have rid ourselves of those foreign-language speaking communities who have impoisoned us for over ten centuries with their religious oddities, economic industriousness and obdurate claims and demands of political and cultural autonomy and independence. At last Anatolia, emptied of those ungrateful parasites, can henceforth accomplish its monolithic Destiny, linguistically, culturally, economically and politically."

Server Tanilli confirms this monolithic vision of a purified Anatolia when he uprightly reveals:

"A mon avis, la déportation des Arméniens, cet événement horrible, entrait probablement dans le cadre de la politique d'économie nationale, que dans celui des conditions de sûreté que nécessite l'état de guerre, car cette politique visait à laisser le champ libre aux musulmans. Il faut souligner que, en ce qui concerne les Grecs, même si aucune loi ne fut promulguée à leur encontre- à l'inverse de ce qui fut fait pour les Arméniens- beaucoup d'entre eux ont émigré de facto ou ont été contraints à émigrer. La bourgeoisie en Anatolie ayant été jusque-là constituée, dans une large mesure, de Grecs et d'Arméniens, ces mesures y firent apparaître une lacune qui fut un des facteurs que accélera le processus d'accession des musulmans à la bourgeoisie."51

And Taner Akçam to add: "C'est bel et bien sur la base de cette extermination qu'une nouvelle société a été édifiée." (It is precisely on the foundation of this extermination that a new society had been erected.)52

Thus upon these principals was the Republic of Turkey founded. A creation of monolithic values quite inverse of a Republic or what the values of a Republic are reputated to be. A Turkish Republic that infused or diffused values of nationalism emblazoned by article 301, a number that is larded with dire consequences for those who insult or offend 'Turkishness' (türklüğü hakaret). What exactly is this numeric concept of Turkishness: Pan-Turanism? An Ethno-nationalistic race? A Muslim Turk? A Sunni Turk?A citizen of Turkey who speaks only Turkish? Let us enumerate a few outstanding examples:

Orhan Pamuk insulted Turkishness when he declared:

"Bu ülke, otuz bin Kürt ve bir milyon Ermeni öldürüldü ve neredeyse hiç bir kimse, bunu söylemeye cesaret edemiyor."
(Das Magazin, Swizterland 2006).
["In this country 30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed and no where has anyone the courage to say this."]53

If this declaration is an insult to Turkishness then Ottoman, Young and Republican Turk are all Turks, and no Republican Turk should declare that the genocide took place in some distant Ottoman era as if an Ottoman was not Turkish enough to be a Turk. We suppose that Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize winner in literature, is not Turkish enough to undertand this historical discrepancy.

And was Hrant Dink, Armenian and founder of the Armeno-Turkish newspaper Argos, guilty of insult to Turkishness when he founded his newspaper as a token of Alterity, or wrote his book Deux peuples proches, deux voisins lointains (ed. Actes Sud, 2009)? He must have been guilty for he was assassinated with a bullet in the head in 2007 as he left his office in broad daylight. In his book, Dink reminds the Turks that the Amenians were the last to revolt against the Young Turk triumvirat. And yet, the 'système de compartiment' ('compartiment system': p.74) elaborated by the Turks since the Middle Ages did not prevent the Turks from regarding their Armenian subjects as 'le grand méchant loup' (the big bad wolf)' or contracting a malady due to their 'perfidie' (p. 29), which explains the final solution to 'rayer (the Armenians)  de la surface de l'Anatolie' (wipe out the Armenians from the face of Anatolia), as if the Turks knew intimately their most loyal subjects. In this, the title of Dink's book Two Close Peoples, Two Distant Neighbours
pricks sensitive nerves. This has been our position for some thirty years now since our first encounter with Turks and Armenians in Turkey...Two peoples coexisting for ten centuries share so much in common, appear so similar, yet in these similarities lies a gulf of ignorance, mistrust and hostility. Dink posits the question: if there was treason, against whom: the Sultan, Islam, the Ottoman Empire...the Turkish race? Excellent question. Will article 301 be held against Armenians of Armenia who defended the Armenian populations of the Karabagh during the war, and against whom the Turkish government bawled the same catch-phrases like çete to qualify the Armenians of Armenia as they qualified those under Ottoman and Young Turk rule, whilst openly defending their 'petit frère azerbaïdjannais' (page 57)? Will the Armenian ever escape Turkishness? Will the Turks ever escape it?..

To be accused of insult against Turkishness, consequently, definitely transcends concepts of race or pure blood, for Turks, too, can be guilty of lack of Turkishness. Have Ayşe Hür, Ismail Beşitçi and Taner Akçam55 insulted Turkishness because they have written on the Armenian genocide? Are those who organised the conference on the Armenian 'Event' at the Boğazaçi, Bilgi and Sabancı universities in 2005 also guilty of insult and offense to Turkishness?

Were the fifty-five doctors, members of the Medical Association of Turkey, of which seven were president, guilty of insult to Turkishness because they treated the wounded soldiers of the Ottoman armies during World War I, or because Sarkis Torosyan served as a doctor at Galipoli, or because Komitas, the Armenian composer, in 1912, gave a concert for the wounded soldiers of the Ottoman army in Tripoli? The majority were duly punished: executed or deported...56

Was the Armenian Patriarch guilty of insult to Turkishness when he declared during World War I:

"Devlete ihamet edilmeyecek, herkes görevini layıkıyla yapacak."
["There shall be no treason to the State, everyone will do their duty, appropriately."]

Were the deputies of the Daşnak Party of Istanbul guilty of insult against Turkishness when they officially asserted:

"Biz Osmanlı yürttaşyız. Kafkasyadaki işlere karışamayız."
["We are Ottoman subjects. We shall not get involved in those affairs of Caucasia."]

Was Yaşar Kemal guilty of insult and offense against Turkishness when in 1951 he journeyed to Van to the island of Aghtamar where the Holy Cross Church, Patriarchate of mediaeval Armenia, was scheduled to be demolished, and thanks to his efforts, the church became a historical site? Is he less Turkish for this intercession than those who deemed its presence injurious or inutile to the Republic? Or for the medal he received from Armenian officials at Erevan in 2013 because of this heroic act?..

Is the grandson of the executed Talat Bey, Hasan Cemal, guilty of insult to Turkishness because he wrote a book about the Armenian genocide in which he is the principal actor: 1915: Ermeni Soykırımı, and because every year he attends the genocide commemoration ceremonies at Erevan on the 24th of April?5

Is Elif Şafak, a Turkish novelist today living in the United States, guilty of offense against Turkishness when she wrote in her English written novel, The Bastard of Istanbul:58
"You are their (Turks)59 friends only insofar as you deny your own identity" and "Since they (Turks) won't join us (Armenians) in our recognition of the past, we are expected to join them in their ignorance of the past."

says Baron Boghdassarian on page 184. There is no doubt that Elif Şafak is guilty by this bald statement of fact, that only experience amongst Turks and Armenians in Turkey, and frequency with historical texts bears out...

Finally, are the priests, parishers, witnesses and infant child guilty of insult to Turkishness because in 2013 the first Armenian baby since a hundred years had been baptised in the Aghtamar Church on Lake Van? Are the members of the formidable police security squadron also guilty because they protected the priests, parishers, witnesses and infant child from possible molestation?

Turkishness appears to draw its juridical inspiration from what is basically not or negative, rather than what is supposed to be or positive. An apodictic inspiration by which Turkishness is more legitimately proven rather than effectively proven. And how is this 'evidence' or 'proof' displayed or purveyed: no one seems to know besides those who condemn and those who are condemned for insulting and offending it...

Indeed, in the eyes of the Republican Turks, the Armenians (but also the Greeks and the Jews) are viewed like the sterotyped 'foreigner' with his or her walk on part upon Turkey's historical stage. In Ekrem Talü's novel, Papoğlu (Istanbul 1937), the 'foreigners' play minor rôles because they refuse to recognise Turkey as their Fatherland, and so:

"...habitués à vivre confortablement pendant des siècles, quand il fut question de verser son sang, les Grecs, les Arméniens et les Juifs de Turquie qui avaient applaudi au régime constitutionnel et au principe d'égalité, ne voulaient pas qu'ils s'appliquent au service militaire. 'Le service militaire doit être celui des Turcs, nous ne pouvons pas sacrifier nos vies pour ce pays, ni faire couler notre sang pour ce sol!' disaient-ils. D'une certaine manière, ils avaient raison: leurs relations avec le peuple truc se limitaient à la Grande Grèce, les Arméniens à l'Empire d'Arménie, depuis les terres de Caucase, d'Açmiyadzin jusqu'aux rives de Mersin sur la Méditerranée, et les Juifs au royaume de l'argent juif qui domineraient le monde." 60

This extravagant passage is bristling with clichés and banalities: Armenians fought in the Ottoman armies, and for this patriotism were executed by Young Turk officiers alongside the roads they were repairing for the Fatherland. As to the 'Empire' that Armenians so aspired to, it is the Turks who yearned after and built empires, not the Armenians who would have settled for their homelands in the mountains of Eastern Turkey and those of Cilicia; who would have welcomed quite gladly the implemation of the clauses of the Treaty of Sèvres and nothing more...

Such is the dilemma of a dogged Armenian existence in today's Republic of Turkey; that and so many other dogged existences (Jew, Greek, Kurd, Syriac, etc.), each of which possesses a long tale of its own...

Conclusion: Revenge and Recognition

The 1920 Treaty of Sèvres demanded of the Ottoman government that an Armenia (and a Kurdistan) be politically recognised within the allocated boundaries agreed upon by the Turkish, English, Russian and French governments, as laid down in articles 88 and 89:

'...Turkey, in accordance with the action already taken by the Allied Powers, hereby recognised Armenia as a free and independent State. (article 88)61
'...The question of the frontiers to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis...' (article 89)

and in article 92:

'The frontiers between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively will be determined by direct agreement between the States concerned.'

The treaty calls for protection of minorites within the Turkish frontiers as stated in articles 140 to 151. For example, abandoned properties (Emval-i-metrokeh) must be restored to their rightful owners upon their return to their former lieu of residence. (article 144). And most important:

'All Turkish nationals shall be equal before the law and shall enjoy the same civil and political rights without distinction as to race, language and religion' (article 145).

As is known, this State and these lawful provisions became 'lettre morte' with Atatürk's victories over the Greeks in the West and Kazım Karabekir Paşa's victories over the Russo-Armenian armies in the East. The Soviet Army occupied Erevan in 1920, and peace was made between the Armenian Daşnak Party and Atatürk at Gumri in 1921 (Treaty of Kars). Atatürk traded Batum for Ani...this symbol (the capital of mediaeval Armenia) was worth much more than a large port on the Black Sea...

At Mudanya in 1922, the Armistice put an end to England's and France's cupidity of Turkey, and at the same time smashed Armenians' hopes for a State, as if the two were inexorably associated when in fact the settlement should have been concluded between Turks and Armenians alone. So much for British integrity and French chivalry...

Atatürk refused any return of Armenians to Anatolia, treated as traitors.62 Neither England nor France insisted on Independence or rights of Armenians living in Turkey: Armenians had served the purposes of the Great Game and henceforth forsworn to their historical Destiny. A forsakenness so often strategically meted out by the 'super powers' when a favourite must be choosen. This favourite was Atatürk's Turkey! And so once England's commercial interests with Armenians dwindled to a pipe dream, the English turned their noble backs and began to court Atatürk's new founded Republic. The French, as could be expected, followed suit, the Hatay escaping their colonial calculations, as well as Syria on the whole. So many colonial dreams many commercial contracts singed and reduced to ashes; yet there was still phantasies to fulfil and strategies to implement: the new Republic would serve as an excellent buffer State between Arabs and Persians...a frontline observatory outpost for the Americans, too, who had recently slipped on to the world stage of conspiracy and intrigue to spy on the Soviet Empire, henceforth culled as the culprit. Having no oil, even Azerbaijan loomed larger in the eyes of the commercial-minded Occident than the Christian Armenians.

And the authors of the genocide, lest they be forgotten?

Before Atatürk's War of Independence (Kurtuluş Savaşı 1921-1923), the Ottoman authorities condemned Enver Paşa, Talat Paşa and Djemal Paşa to death in their absence.63 Judged in absence because having escaped to foreign countries through helpful channels, three Armenians belonging to the Daşnak Party at Erevan and Tiblissi, Shahan Natalie, Armen Garo and Soghomon Tchlirian,64 planned and carried out Operation Nemesis: the 'in absence' condemnation, once the presence located, was carried out in public places where the executions could be exposed to the whole world not in guise of retaliation or vengeance but of justice.

Talat Paşa was executed in Berlin in 1920 by Soghomon Tehlirian.65 The former president of Azerbaijan, Fathal Khan Khoiski was executed in Tiblissi in 1920 by Misak Giragossian because he organised the pogroms of the Armenian population in Baku. The Minister of the Interior of Azerbaijan, Bihbud Han Jivanshir was executed in Baku in 1921 for the same reason by Misak Torlakian. Said Halim Paşa, former Turkish ambassador to Rome was executed by Arshavin Shiragian in 1921. The former governor (vali) of Trabzon, Cemal Azmi was executed in Berlin in 1922 by Arshavir Shiragian. And in the same year, Cemal Paşa was executed in Tiblissi by Stephan Dzaghigian.66 As to Enver Paşa, he was killed by a Soviet Bashkir brigade commanded by an Armenian officer whilst fighting for Pan-Turanism in the Basmachi Revolt in present-day Tajikistan. So began the hunt of the criminals of the Armenian genocide...67

In 1943, Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew living in America, forged the word 'genocide' to describe and juridically classify the atrocities committed against the Jews by Nazi Germany. Genocide: the murder of a nation. The murder of a race. Thus the extermination of the Jews was clearly defined, legally. And the Armenians? The Turkish government claimed that since the word did not exist in 1915 the massacres and deportation could not fall under the legality of the term. In response to this rhetoric the Armenians of the 'diaspora' (France, United States, Lebanon) founded the A.S.A.L.A (Armenian Secret Army of Liberation).68 Supported secretly by certain movements within the aforesaid countries (the Palestinian Liberation Army movement, for example), the members of ASALA, unlike those of Operation Nemesis, carried out operations on a big scale with the firm intention of making the public sensitive to the silence round which the Armenian genocide had been enshrouded by both the Turkish government and their strategic partners. At first they targeted Turkish ambassadors and consulate diplomats (36 diplomats were assassinated). But as the movement grew, and its members, most of whom had lost parents or grandparents in the massacres and deportation, but who had been living very far from their forebearers' homelands, acting thus more out of an absence of testimony rather than a presence of one, their victims increased in proportion to their indiscrimination: airports were attacked: Ankara in 1982 with nine dead, 82 wounded and Orly in France (1983) where dozens and dozens of non-Turks were killed or wounded. The places of attack were certainly not chosen at random and the death toll clearly marked the claims of the organization that sent a stern message to the Turkish government: the foundation of a historical Armenia and Turkish recognition of the genocide. The response from Ankara lingered not: the Turkish secret police, under orders from General Kenan Evren, the president of the Republic attempted to assassinate the founding members of the terrorist group; they had little luck...69

The movement lost momentum because it lost support both from within the Armenian community and without. ASALA was dismantled in 1995. Instead, diplomacy, juridical action and historical research prevailed over the venting of pent-up wrath in the name of revolutionary murder! We must also take into account the intensive research on the Shoah at that time, admittedly parallel, but whose convergences became more salient than their divergences. For after all, if the results aver quantitively distinct, the situation of a minority group settled within a hostile population is not: must one assmilate or merely integrate? Are those perfectly assimilated to be reckoned as loyal or treasonous? It is this parallel research that has brought to light a more historical and juridical definition of genocide since 1943. And whether Shimon Peres should like it or not, it is the legal recognition of the Shoah that has certainly legitimated the Armenian genocide.70
There is no doubt that Operation Nemesis, ASALA and the on-going research into the Armenian genocide by so many different investigators, be they historians, sociologists, lawmen, writers or reporters have revealed the necessity of open debate and unambiguous conclusions. Ever since the first official commemoration of the genocide in 196571 at Erevan, the Armenian genocide has gradually become a historical reality for which laws have been adopted both to commemorate and thwart negationism.72 In 1987 the European Parliament recognised the Armenian genocide, and the 24th of April henceforth was declared that day of commemoration. This decision was ratified by Jacques Chiraq in 2001, supported by both the Left and Right wing political parties. The United States adopted laws condemning crimes against Humanity, with a special clause for the Armenian genocide. In 1997 the Association of Historians also passed a resolution which recognised the Armenian genocide. In France, the General Assembly attempted to pass a law that would have condemned the negation of the Armenian genocide as a crime in the same way that the law of 1990 condemns the negation of the Shoah. The proposition was not adopted, probably due to the pressure from the Turkish anti-genocide lobby in France and Ankara.73 The unadopted text condemns negationism as a crime against Humanity, punishable by imprisonment and a 45,000 Euro fine. Certain jurists propose that the text which condemns the Shoah include both the Armenian and Ruwandi genocides.74

To counter these legal and historical pursuits, the Turkish government finances groups in France and America to oppose these arguments with irrefutable proof of Turkish extermination by the Armenians on Internet and in book form. Apparently large sums of money are spent for this counter-propaganda. The Talat Paşa Committee,75 stationed in Ankara, has been promoting the slogan: "we are proud of our History", a thesis also supported and voiced by the director of the Turkish Institute of History, M. Halaçoğlu, who, incidentally, maintains that the Kurds living in Turkey are in fact Turkmen...They, however, are unaware of this fact...

In spite of this counter-propaganda, since 2010, Armenians have organised commemorations on the 24th of April in Istanbul: artists and university professors have prepared these commemorative activities together in peaceful stride.76 It does appear that the clouds that have darkened Memory have been buffetted away, leaving exposed the indelible footfalls of a historical reality...

In 2014; on the 23rd of April, President Tayyip Erdoğan surprised the world by offering his condolences to those Armenians whose grandparents had been killed in the 1915 Event (Olay). It was the first time that a Turkish high official pronounced such a discourse: "We wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the circumstances which marked the beginning of the 20th  century rest in peace and we express our condolences to their grandchildren."

A huge step appeared to have been taken...which is not untrue. Nevertheless, certain intellectuals, sceptic about such a declaration a year before the centenary of the genocide, and whose commemorations were speedily taking embolden shape throughout the world, including Istanbul, believed Erdoğan might have strategically affected a general commiseration of the loss to attenuate the political intensity of those expositions, conferences, seminars and other ostentatious displays of the Event. Other intellectuals argued that Erdoğan's address was perfectly timed, and that his discourse provided only an apology not a recognition. Furthermore, Erdoğan said that Armenians had been killed without specifying how! Other less concession-seeking Turkish officials have even gone so far to report that Armenians and Turks suffered together, given the bellicose circumstances, a tactic which clearly inviegles the Armenians into a 'joint suffering', dismissing the particularities of theirs...Hence, Turkish Muslims and Christians shared a 'joint genocide'. This paltry thesis has been asserted to compare the fate of Muslims at the hands of Christian Bulgarians as a yardstick to measure the breadth of historical inevitability, and in the same breath, to repudate or revoke the charges of an Armenian genocide. As 2015 unfolds, it appears that Ankara will outplay the Armenian genocide by promoting a welter of grandiose events in a sort of 'commemorative competition'...

The Turks have long since sedentarised. The hermaphroditic topography, albeit still present, has slowly eroded as a social or religious policy in Turkey.77 Memoires of Sassoun have long since slipped into a diffusion of darkness, a haunt for ghosts who revel in 'minor events'. Orgulous Armenian reprisals, too, no longer so much as stir public opinion, let alone sway political decisions. That leaves intellectual effort: legal, historical, sociological, political. That leaves diplomacy. That leaves the huge task of rewriting (writing?) a History of Turkey in which the Armenian, Greek, Syrian, Jew and Kurd play their parts in the majestic historical backcloth of two thousand years of coexistence, and at times, cohabitation! Protagonists equal in rank and peer. Rôles equitable to Turkish Seljuks, Ottomans and Republicans. Which means not the strategy of 'joint suffering' or genocide, but a History of a joint 'Cultural Patrimony', and instead of attempting "to reshape and rehabilitate the perpetrators",78 set the stage for that plethora of tantamount voices within, whatever be the background of his or her forebearer, as is the wont of any honestly written History.79

We do not believe that we are asking too much of Turkish historians or politicians this wont of History. Would it not be a marvellous History written by historians and writers and poets from all the social backgrounds or communities that played their rôles (and there is no major or minor rôle in this History to be written!) in the forging of Turkey's History (and not a History of Turks or a Turkish History of Anatolia!)? It may mitigate the 'crazed sentiment' of those who feel they have been scorned and forsworn...A genuine History of all peoples' stories, n'est-ce pas?..

Here we posit a final question: to compose a History which comprises the stories of all the protagonists of that History, should it not entail the empathy and the compassion of the author for several, certain, many, all the protagonists of that History? Should not the composer or the author empathise with as many communities of protagonists as possible by showing compassion towards them in order to expose not only the facts, but the meaning of a truth that well may be hidden by so many scores of facts, like the forest that hides the myriad trees? The 'suffer with' the communities of protagonists in pursuance of this meaning of truth exposes the composer or author to a method that many 'professional' historians or writers have deemed unobjective, biased, inutile for the world of science...

If that be the case, it behoves us to admit to those 'professional' historians and writers that objectivity lies quite outside the breadth of human relationships, the range of interrelational emotions, those very truths of life that compose the truth of stories...of a History. For if empathy and compassion be a danger to scientific investigation it is preferable then, we believe, to live dangerously, exposed to the presence of the Other, fount and torrent of all human experience...

...History should not always been written by the conquerors...


1 Both written during the genocidal period and thus expressed in a journalistic and propagandist vein.
2 The Turkic nomad tents were veritable mobile homes, some of which, especially the Khan's or other dignities', of colossal dimensions, fully furnished with rugs, kilims, stoves, canopies, sofas, etc. There are many kinds of Turkic tents mentioned in the Book of Dede Korkut: the otak (otağ), a large nomad tent or pavilion, the three-sided shade-tent ala-sayvant and the çerge, a small tent used to store weapons in a temporary bivouac. In Old Turkic, the yurt, in fact, defines more the space or emplacement of the tent rather than the tent itself...
3 Kül Tigin lived from 684 to 731 and Bilge Khan from 683 to 734.
4 The word 'törük' may be derived from the Turkic verbal form türemek 'to spring up, appear, increase' which evolved into törük>türük>türk. See Prof. Dr. Durmuş Ilhami, Bilge Kağan Köl Tigin ve Bilge Tonyukuk, ed. Akçağ Yayınevi, Ankara 2012.
5 The first 'paper form' of the Oghuzname appears in 1305 in a Persian version Camiü't-tevārih and in 1309-1340 in Arabic Durar al'Tijan.
6 The dragon, evren in Azeri Turkic, represents the Maker of rain that nourishes the land with heavenly waters and replenishes the people with crops. Another Turkic etymon for dragon read in 21th century literature is büke. It does not figure in the Book of Dede Korkut.
7 It is the wolf -kurt- who guided the Turkic peoples out of the dangerous mountains upon the smiling plains to safety from attacking armies. This wolf-guide was called böri (or börü) and he became a symbol of Turkic pride, especially in its mediaeval totemic representation, but also in a more modern one in the form of the boz kurt the 'grey wolves', a branch of Kemalism that leans quite heavily to the right...
8 The mountain goat -keçi- is that animal watched over and cared for by the shepherd -çoban-, an ubiquitous Figure in the Turkic, nomadic nation. It goes without saying that the mountain goat also provides milk and cheese for the nomad tribesmen. The shepherd plays major rôles in the Book of Dede Korkut, especially in legend three, Bamsı Beyrek's.
9 Today's oba in Turkish means 'large nomad tent, nomad family, temporary nomad camp'. For our study, we have used Muharrem Ergin's Dede Korkut Kitabı (text in Azeri), 1958 and Orhan Gökay's Dede Korkut Kitabı, 1964.
10 The Turkic peoples of the Crimea, the Tartars, learned the Latin alphabet in the 14th century from the Franciscan missionaries. See Menges, K. K., 'Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta', ed. Johannes Bensing 1968.
11 'Strophes of Wisdom'.
12 Mimar (Koca) Sinan (1489-1588), the Armenian born architect of the Şehzade Mehmet Camii, the Sultan Ahmet Camii, Süleymaniye, Rüstem Paşa and at Edirne, Selimiye. In the 18th century, Krikor Balian was the architect behind the building of the Ortaköy Mosque and the Nürsretiye Mosque, and his son, Garabet and his four sons, the designers and builders of the Beylerbeyi, Domabahçe and Ciragan palaces.
13 See Eyuboğlu, Ismet Zki, Türkçe kökler Sözluğu, ed. Remzi Kitabevi, Istanbul 1989.
14 There are, however, exceptions. Yedi Kilesi, near Van in Eastern Turkey has, since our last sejourn (1989 and 1990), been preserved thanks to the initiatives of the muhtar. Dört Kilise, too, near Yusufeli has been cleared of its hay and stock animals by a local inhabitant, Cemal, an acquaintance of ours, and since has taken on a rather pious atmosphere due to the Georgians who wish to visit the church and there improvise mass, judging by the myriad melted candles round the altar...The Armenian monastery near Bitlis may be restored pending official decision from the muhtar...
15 Allocating land for loyal service by kings or princes was practiced by the Frankish Salic kings as early as the 6th century. In the Lex Salica it is known under the mediaeval word 'alleu'. As a socio-economic system, the 'alleu' was one of the most sedentarizing military and juridical forces of the Frankish peoples.
16 Neither imam nor vezir is mentioned in the Book of Dede Korkut. It was the chieftain who called the prayer amongst the migrating Turkic nomads, function that surely stems from Shamanist rites as practised by the Turkic peoples during their migration from Mongolia, the chief acting as both military and religious guide. However, the Shaman in certain Turkic clans did perform the religious rites alone, the two functions, military and theological, being separated.
17 Two letters were added in the 12th century: ' օ' /o/ and ' ֆ ' /f/.
18 For our study we have used the Erivan Armenian edition of David of Sassoun 'Սասունցի Դաւիթ' 1988, and the French translation by Frédéric Feydit, David of Sassoun, ed. Caucase, Gallimard 1964. See also Leon Surmelian, Daredevils of Sassoun, ed. George Allen and Unwin Ltd. London 1966 and Apples of Immortality by the same author and the same editors, 1968.
19 Milletler 'nation, an ethnico-religious community' in Turkish, derived from the Arabic 'ملت
20 The Jews in Ottoman Turkey were obliged to dress in yellow, but hats had to be red and shoes, black. Turbans were prohibited. This is not a Byzantium legacy but one borrowed from Europe. On the other hand, all the sultans did not impose discrimatory dress codes ; the colour scheme either varied according to the whims and caprices of the sultans or was periodically overlooked...See Güzyüzler, A. Naim, Bizans'tan 20 yüzyıla Türk Yahudiler, ed. Gözlem, Istanbul 2012.
21 No doubt, this was one of the reasons why the expulsed Jews from Spain were welcomed so heartily by Bayezid II.
22 H.A. Gibbons in his The Foundation of the Ottoman State, London 1968, writes that the Ottomans granted their non-Muslim subjects "complete religious toleration" (page 70). Khurram Qadir, is his 'Seeds of Ottomanism and Islamism: Fruits of Secularisim and Democracy' in IRCICA Journal, Istanbul N° 3, 2013, writes more realistically: "As a religion, Islam had a modicum of religious tolerance for other semitic religions[...]albeit an inferior one compared to the Muslims." (page 81). The word 'modicum' reflects a historical reality, not a dictate, be it divine or profane.
23 In the Ottoman Empire, the first Armenian press was founded in 1567. The Greeks founded theirs in 1627 and the Ottomans in 1727. The first printing press in Istanbul was built by the exiled Sepharads in 1493! See Güzleryüz, A. Naim, op. cit.
24 But again, the private domains of the Greeks and the Armenians, too, remained quite concealed from one other.
25 The Hatt-i Hamayoun, an Ottoman document of reforms for the minorities, had already taken effect in 1856 as part of the overall Tanzimat reforms of the Ottoman Empire, begun in 1839.
26 Many of the teachers or professors in the Armenian school system of the Ottoman Empire were British and American Protestants sent from Britain or America. It is true that during the Young Turk Period, the professors who had been educating young Armenians in their language and History, at the same time, awakened dormant feelings of ethnic nationalism that would lead some to take up arms with the allies during World War I; that is, with the French and Russians. Those Armenian Ottomans who did fight with the French and the Russians were, however, very few compared to those Armenian Ottomans who fought with and for the Ottoman Turks...
27 The contrary, of course, was legally permitted since the Armenian woman, because having absolutely no rights, neither as a Christian nor as a woman, legally became a Muslim.
28 See Ermeni Meselesine objektif Bakış, Halil Ersin Avcı, ed. Doğan Kitap, Istanbul 2014. In Turkish the 'slogan' reads: 'bir düzine silah nakledecek, çete bir düzine programdan daha iyidir'. (page 114).
29 The English had laboured long and hard for an independent Armenia, not particulary because they had any great love for the Armenian people, but they hoped that Armenia would become a commercial spring-board for their overland Anglo-India trade routes. See Ermeni Meselesine Objektif Bakış, op. cit.
30 Whence the ridiculous statement by General Bronsand of the German army when he declared: "De fait, l'Arménien est comme le Juif, un parasite égaré hors des frontières de sa patrie, suçant la moelle du peuple qui l'accueille." (In Vahaken Dadrian, ed. Stock 1996, page 416.) Unlike the Jew, the Armenian was quite within the boundaries of his homeland, hardly welcomed by the Turks who overran their land. The German general confuses Heidegger's concept of Bodenständigkeit 'attachment to the land' or 'telluric implanting, taking root', a concept programmed and carried out by Nazi Germany, with an Armenian community whose ontic-telluric attachment to their land dates six centuries before the arrival of the Seljuks, whom the general defends as if that land had always been theirs...
31 The Young Turks were themselves at loggerheads about what 'concept' to adopt and voice: a return to Ottomanization or fully proceed with Europeanization whose inspiration drew from French Jacobinism and German racism.
32 Ziya Gökalp's misinterpretations of F. Nietzsche's writings (especially the Overman and the 'Blond Beast') served as a guide for the Young Turk intellectuals' nationalistic and Pan-turanic programme.
33 Raymond Kervokian puts the figure at 120.000. In L'Histoire, 'Scénario pour une extérmination', Vol. 408, 2015 pp. 38-51.
34 At the Battle of Sartkamich in 1915 the Ottoman army lost 75 to 80 percent of its soldiers. Turkish and Armenian Ottomans were taken prisoner and sent to Siberia.
35 The hamidiye.
36 In 1914 a census reading reports that 1,800,000 Armenians were living in Russia of which 670,000 at Erevan. In 1970, the percentage of Armenians living on Turkish territories was 9 ; that is, 97,247, of which 37 % in Aleppo, 29 % in Ankara, 24 % in Adana, 6 % in Sivan, 7 % in Izmit, 60 % in Aydın, 14 % in Kayseri, 38 % in Kastamonu and 29 % in Konya. 82 % of the Armenian population in 1917, that is 841,161 people were unaccounted for, whereas in 1917, 9 % (94,206) of the Armenians deported and accounted for were living elsewhere in the world (See Gomidas Institute: bulletin of 30th of January, 2015.
37 See Kevorkian, Raymond, op. cit. The author further adds that out of the 700,000 Armenian survivors, 80,000 remained in Istanbul and 10,000 in Izmir. Out of the 1,040,782 deportées, 15 to 20 percent reached their destinations: Aleppo, Damascus and Beirut.
38 The Collective Van (Vigilance Arménienne contre le Négationisme) in its bulletins remind us that "Les Turcs et les Arméniens (could and should) s'enorgueillissent de ce patrimoine commun" (dated 30th of May, 2014).
39 Or King Ashod I.
40 Alterity begins by exogamy: King Gagik marries his daughter, Lady Dzovinar (of the sea) to the Caliph, thus uniting diplomatically, Armenian and Arab.
41 In fact the bishop had been sent to Eastern Turkey (Western Armenia!) to gather information concerning the Armenians living in these regions for the Patriarchate of Istanbul (Constantinople!).
42 Those Young Turk officials imprisoned by the British on the Island of Malte. On the other hand, trials were held by the Ottoman authority before the War of Independence and the advent of Kemalism for complicity in the Armenian genocide at Yozgat (1919), Erzincan (1920), Bayburt (1920), Trabzon and Kharput.
43 Article written by Ayşe Hür in the daily journal Taraf, the 22nd of Janurary, 2012. It is thus no surprise that the majority of the archives pertaining to the genocide were either destroyed, mislaid or hid by the Kemalist government after 1922...
44 See L'Histoire 'Pourquoi la Turquie n'ouvre pas ses archives?' Vol. 408, Feburary 2015, pp. 50-51.
45 Our translation.
46 87 % of those who succumbed to the wealth tax were non-Muslim. Hür, Ayşe, op. cit.
47 Idem. It may also be recalled that the total Christian wealth of the Ottoman Empire at that time fluctuated between 25 to 30 percent...
48 Edition Plon, 1988.
49 And as Robert Brasillach, the French collaborator and Nazi had the occasion to write: "L'histoire est écrite par les vainqueurs"! Brasillach was condemned by French justice after the war and shot.
50 More than 200,000 copies of Mein Kampf were sold in Turkey after editors had permission to publish it. Erdoğan censored the book, lest he be accused of complacency or connivance towards and with Nazi ideology.
51 Dans Varia Turcica 'Le Tourant de 1913, dans l'Histoire de l'Union et Progrès' éd. ISIS, Istanbul 1991, pp. 347-368.
52 Our translation. L'Histoire, page 51, op. cit.
53 Our translation.
54 Our parentheses.
55 His Ermeni Meselesi Hallolunmuştur takes up the 'question' that Victor Hugo had coined. Taner was the first Turkish citizen to have broken the ice that had frozen all discussion on the Armenian question between Turks in Turkey. He revealed that amongst the political or military figures who saved the Fatherland from the Greeks and the Russians, several of them were murderers. (See From Empire to Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Question, London 2004).
56 Gomitas Vartabed (1869-1935) died in a psychiatric ward in Paris in 1935 after fifteen years of insanity. He was one of the 235 Armenians rounded up on the 24th of April 1915 in Istanbul. On the rôle that Armenian doctors played in World War I see Paros, an Istanbul monthly written by, but not only for, the minority communities of Istanbul (Armenian, Greek, Syriac and Jew), founded in 2010, especially number 36: 'Arsen yarman'dan Resmi Söylemi sarasak bir kitap' 'A book that will shake the official discourse by Arsen Yarman.', pp. 70-75.
57 An excellent book indeed. One that has yet to be translated into 'European languages'. It is dedicated to the murdured Hrank Dink with this opening epigraph: "Canım Hrant, her şey konuştuğumuz gibi..." "Dear Hrant, as every thing that we talked about..."
58 At Viking Press 2006.
59 The parentheses are ours.
60 Cited from Les Cahiers du judaïsme, ed. Alliance Israëlite: 'L'image des Juifs dans le Roman turc', Rifat Bali, N° 32, 2011 pp. 46-52.
61 All articles extracted from Ermeni Meselesine Objektif Bakış, op. cit. pp. 263-272.
62 A decision he went back on as stated in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) according to article 31. A strategic move, the perspicacious Atatürk knew that few would return and indeed he was perfectly correct...
63 In Turkish 'gıyaben cezalandırılarak'.
64 Natalie and Tchlirian were Protestant Armenians.
65 During his trial in Germany more light was thrown on the Armenian genocide than the execution itself!
66 For this list, and it is incomplete, see Ermeni Meselesin Objektif Bakış, op. cit. pp. 244 and 245.
67 We shall add here that the governors of Alep, Husein Djelal, of Konya, Djebel Beyan and of Ankara, Hasan Mazhar Bey refused to carry out the orders given to them for the deportation of Armenians in their districts ; they were dismissed from their functions...
68 Founded in Beirut in 1975 by Hagop Hagopian, James Karnujian and Kevork Ajemian, all of whose parents had disappeared in the genocide.
69 There were also individually-motivated assassinations such as the killing of two Turkish diplomates in Los Angelos in 1973 by Gourgen Yanikan.
70 Shimon Peres declared to the Turkish government in 2001: ''We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. What the Armenians went through was a tragedy, but not a genocide.'' Nothing similar, declares the former president of Israel! It goes without saying that this discourse seeks to soft-soap the Turkish government, but behind whose buttering up lurks the latent distaste of Christians, and more importantly, a disdain to set the Shoah next to any genocide that has occurred in world History, be it before 1944 or after...
71 In 1965 Uruguay was the first country to recognise officially the Armenian genocide.
72 Should negationism be condemned is a long and delicate issue ; one that we shall not comment here.
73 The Turkish anti-genocide lobby has its foreign supporters: Pierre Nora qualified the Armenian genocide as no more than "trois mouches écrasées" (three crushed flies) ; Justin McCarthy, an American professor, declared that defense of the genocide was a "meaningless idea". Sundry historians 'assermentés' feel that il faut laisser l'Histoire aux historians!..Indeed, 'official' historians prefer to proceed 'à huis clos' (in camera) whilst debating such sensitive issues far from the eyes and ears of the common and nonentity...
74 The first peoples exterminated entirely in the 20th century were the Herons of today's Namibie, a genocide carried out by the Germans in 1904 to 'clear space' for the German occupation of what was then Southwest Africa!..
75 An ultranationalist organization.
76 It is interesting to note that the Kurdish Party -the BDP- officially recognises the Armenian genocide...
77 The millet- or djimmi-system was officially abolished in 1856. Inter-marriage between Muslim and Armenian is not infrequent today in Istanbul or Izmir. However, it the Muslim man who, in marrying the Armenian woman causes either the tacit conversion of the woman, and thus of their children, or husband and wife, adhering passively to their religions, their children remain without any religious upbringing at all. There are, on the other hand, several occasions in which the Armenian spouse will persuade her Muslim husband that their children be baptised ; but this is rare. The Turkish Minister of Education refuses any child whose father is Muslim to be enrolled in an Armenian school ; in other words, to have an Armenian mother does not grant a child an Armenian education, be it partial (Elementary school and/or Middle School) or complete (High School)! This law (or custom?) has been contested recently and may undergo a change...which remains to be seen...
78 Lazare, Aaron, On Apology, ed. Oxford Press 2004.
79 The president of Israel, Revven Rivlin, during his speech at the United Nations on the 70th commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz in 2014 recognised the Armenian genocide.
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