Turkish organizations in US send letter to Obama over Armenian lobbying

Turkish organizations in US have sent a letter to Obama to express their concerns over pressure put by Armenians on U.S. administration to label the incidents of 1915 as the crime of genocide.

Turkish organizations in US send letter to Obama over Armenian lobbying

Turkish organizations in the United States have sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama to express their concerns over pressure put by Armenians on U.S. administration to label the incidents of 1915 as the crime of genocide.

"It would be stating the obvious to observe that Armenian special interest lobbies are pressuring your administration and Congress to label the tragic events in the waning hours of the Ottoman Empire during World War I as the crime of genocide," Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), a roof of 53 Turkish organizations in the United States, said in its letter to Obama.

"To accept this one-sided characterization unilaterally by ignoring independent and impartial assessments by Middle East historians and scholars would be both grossly unfair and potentially incendiary to Southeast Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East," it said.

TCA said the Armenian claim of "passive victimhood" stood on such shaky historical footing, adding that the question of whether to apply the term genocide or not divided the scholarly community.

"Many reputable scholars, mainly historians of the Ottoman Empire, World War I and the Middle East have refrained from applying the term to describe the tragic civilian losses suffered in the early 20th century in the Ottoman Empire. Their work also diverges from, in many cases contradicts, the historical narrative from which descends the charge of genocide," it said.

"To quarrel with a genocide characterization?the crime of crimes, which requires exacting standards of proof as required by solemn treaty obligations and constitutional due process?is not to deny lesser crimes or atrocities. In fact, the Ottoman government itself prosecuted and convicted nearly 1,400 individuals, executing scores, including a provincial governor, for crimes committed against Armenians. On the other hand, the equally well documented massacres and ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslims in Eastern Anatolia committed directly or assisted by Armenian rebels, which were acknowledged by independent observers, are routinely ignored or denied today," the letter said.

Scholars in Ottoman history generally agree that the Armenian deaths resulted from a multiplicity of causes, the letter said and listed these causes as inter-communal warfare, the conditions of the forced relocations, murder, famine, disease, deficient medical care and austere conditions of life during wartime.

"The fact remains that there is no reliable assessment of the Armenian death toll or its categorization according to causation," it said.

TCA said scholars in Ottoman history would also generally agree that there was no record of Ottoman Muslim animosity towards Armenians based on religion or ethnicity.

"Many Armenians in fact served at the highest echelons of the Ottoman government and the Ottoman parliament. Few people throughout history, separated by ethnicity and religion, have shared such peaceful co-existence and developed such cultural affinity, as Turks and Armenians have for over 900 years under the Seljuk and Ottoman administrations. Nothing we argue in this letter should be construed as an effort to diminish the loss of innocent Armenian lives. We mourn their losses as ours and hope they, too, will find it in their hearts to mourn for our ancestors," TCA said.

TCA recalled that Turkey voiced willingness to accept the findings by an international commission of scholars and experts with access to all relevant archives, including those of Armenian organizations that remain closed today.

"Armenia should be urged equally to accept the formation and conclusions of such a commission. We see such an effort as the fairest method for assessing the truth, which will pave the way for reconciliation, in lieu of politically charged legislative or executive decisions by third parties," TCA concluded in its letter.

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Last Mod: 14 Şubat 2009, 09:56
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