Posted 31 August 2009 - 07:45 AM
This thread have veered off topic. (I am a bit embarrassed to point it out, as I am of Olympian stature when it comes to veering off-topic.) We had a thread on this a year or two ago, which someone started on the topic, and after over 100 posts the Moderators not only froze the thread, but they erased it as well.
I am not an expert here, but have studied the events involved in this question to some degree, in part guided by two friends; an "e-friend" in Turkey, a western European who has lived there for many years, and who is a student of the history of the period, and a good friend of mine here in Philadelphia, an Armenian-Turk, born in Turkey, who served in the Turkish Army (not an entirely happy experience). The fighting and massacres started in 1894 (actually probably in Biblical times) with the Armenian revolt and extended to about 1922 or 1923, and not only involved the Turks and the Armenians, but also the Kurds (a lot), Tartars, and probably Georgians, perhaps Assyrians, etc.
I could go thru most of the statements in the above posts, on both sides, and I believe challange many assertions in an informed fashion, but then we would be off to the races. But there are many important complexities generally ignored by the people championing one side or position or the other. Probably the most Armenians were killed, at least at one time, during the forcible expulsion of the Armenians from the north-east border with Russia into Syria, under brutal conditions, but many of those actually killed were killed by maurading bands of Kurds, who were cranky as they seem to believe that earlier Armenians had massacred 100-200,000 Kurds early in their revolt. It is often stated that the Turks expelled the Armenians becaused they feared that the Armenians "might" support the invading Russians, while in fact there were Armenian units in the Russian Army, possibly division-sized, and even in 1919 there were at least two fully-organized Armenian divisions operating in the area of the border or probably beyond it, and in one case one of the divisions engaged in a battle with a Turkish army corps, itself operating outside of Turkey, and the Armenian division came our quite badly, according to my source. In one odd incident, about 1921, Armenian formations massacred several settlements of Tatars, and amazingly then fled fairly deeply into Turkey for protection from retribution. All of these accounts are from various sources, but neither Armenian nor Turkish.
The primary sources and documents on these events are written in half a dozen obscure, archaic, or simply extremely difficult languages, none of which, I believe, utilize the Latin alphabet. 99% of the people able to usefully study these matters are extremely partisan. The Turks are controlling of access to their archives, while I understand that the Armenian archives (interestingly, mostly in Boston, Mass., USA) are completely off limits to outsiders. About 4-5 years ago the Turkish Government (which generally has handled this controversy very poorly) made a formal proposal for an international, transparent research effort into what actually happened over these 19 or 20 years, and the Armenian government, according to supporters and news reports, refuse, saying that they will sit down to study this question only after reparations start arriving in Armenia. (The Turks reportedly, a few years ago, combed their extensive archives and generated a list of 523,000 ethnic Turks supposedly murdered by Armenians over the 1894 to 1923 period. This supposedly is an actual list of individual people, with names and the place and date of death, not a list like "250 villagers killed in xyz Village in December 1914". Who knows as to its accuracy, but experts could, using sampling techniques and a sample size of several thousand supposed victims, fairly easily authenticate of reject its veracity.)
Orthodoxy on this topic is enforced, at least in the US, by threats of violence, and violence. My Armenian-Turkish friend has had activists enter his carpet shop (what else!) here a few blocks from my house and threaten to burn it down unless he modifies his views towards the party line. There have been at least two recent bombings on the campus of UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles). I and my Armenian friend have seen and visited several restaurants that are Turkish but have had to masquarade as "Greek" due to threats. (I have heard that they actually are Turkish Turkish restaurants in California, but neither I or my friend have ever seen one.)
However, as often happens, the disporata may be more extreme than people in the actual countries, and there have been a number of events suggesting a raprochment between Turkey and Armenia. The research difficulties are immense, and only a limited number of people have the skills to usefully address this question.
There are probably only about 20 or 30 Pals on this Forum that are qualified to really get into this question, and probably all but two or three are bitterly partisan on this issue.
For the sake of full transparency, I must admit that my father fought in the Turkish Army in 1915, but in the extreme west of Turkey, far from the area of the regrettable events. But I feel that I have been fairly objective here, if possible, but I am sure that the above seems jarringly partisan. But almost anyone in the US or Europe only hears the organized Armenian position on this matter.