THE ALLEGED ARMENIAN GENOCIDE AND THE FRENCH
Today all the newspapers in Turkiye have the same headline; the French approval of the alleged Armenian genocide. I was not utterly disconcerted by the event. Having read about European history a bit, I always expect such moves from the Europeans. Besides, now that it is accepted, they will not be having any other things to vote on this subject. (i.e, the French encroachment of Turkey on this subject matter is over.). But does this mean that I accept those accusations of a 'genocide'? Does this mean that the French are eligible to teach people humanity? The answer to these questions is a definite "NO". Now lets think about this for a moment. First of all about the 'genocide' itself.
Was there really an Armenian Genocide? In explaining this, my aim is never to slant the historical facts. I am not going to make any comments on subjects that I do not know, for I am not an expert on this subject matter. And all the information I give, will be based either on books which are written by non-Turkish and non-pro-Turkish writers or on widely accepted facts.
How were the Armenians before the outbreak of the WW1? Everybody will agree that, when
judged by the standards of that age, they were relatively very well off. Ottoman Empire is
renown for it's religious toleration, and well-applied multi-national structure (so much
that it proved to be very hard for the Committee of Union and Progress to inject the
nationalist - that is Turkish nationalist - fervour to the minds of the Turkish-Ottoman
statesmen during the Young Turk revolution). The Armenians, together with Greeks,
generally belonged to very good layers of the society. They were mostly craftsmen or
traders, and they even had very prominent posts in government offices. That very reason
(that they were mostly craftsmen, and so they were needed to keep the economy on foot at
wartime) was the major factor in their exemption from the Ottoman Army. As for their
numbers, they were mostly found in Northeastern Anatolia, but due to their commercial
activities, there were some of their numbers in major cities such as Izmir, and Istanbul.
In 1915, the Ottoman state was already in it's 5th year in warfare (attack on Tripoli by the Italians in 1911, Balkan Wars in 1912-13, and World War I in 1914-on). Once the Turks entered the WW1, and the would-be-disastrous Turkish attack on Russia resumed, the Russian agitation on Armenians got on a new high footing. No matter whatever their reason, the Armenians did:
(North-eastern Anatolia was not the only place where the Armenians committed atrocities, they were harassing the Turkic population of the distant Baku as late as 1918. (1))
Of course, what the Armenians did is understandable from their point of view. They wanted freedom on a land that they claimed to be theirs (Anatolia has been claimed by many peoples during the course of its long history (Sumerians, Greeks, Persians, armies of Tamerlane, Byzantines, Seljucks..)) The best time to attain that goal was when the current owner of the house is weak, and preferably in co-operation with a strong neighboring house-owner. That is perfectly alright if we look at the case from the Armenian point of view. But they could not achieve their goal. It was the time for a payback.
What was the payback
going to be? Looking at those points above, a strong-handed statesman could even chose to
exterminate those Armenians in the region. After all, Turks, as I know them, never forgive
back-stabbing, and according to the customs of the Turks, raping the mother, sister, or
woman of a Turk, is equal to signing your death penalty. But this path was not taken.
The second choice was to concentrate them. After all, the English had seen it their right to concentrate the Boers (who had no wish other than to be left alone on a distant place on inland-Africa, and who had committed no such atrocities against the English.) during the Boer War(2). This second option also was not seen as a solution.
Their punishment was even more merciful: "to displace them" - the decision was to move them from the trouble spots to relatively safer areas to the south. Whatever happened, happened in this stage. Different sources pronounce the number of the Armenian deaths differently, but it is, even by reasoning, not as high as the Armenian claims which put this number to 1.5 million. The number of dead was higher than the normally expected in such a big trek, because in addition to the bad conditions such as disease prevalent in the region, the Armenians were subjected to sporadic acts of violence by regional brigands (many of them Kurds, who apparently hated the Armenians), and by some of the Turkish officials who, having been disturbed by the recollections of brutal Armenian uprisings, single-handedly overreached their orders and simply shot them.
This is the story of the Armenians in the WW1. The fate of some of their numbers is apparently unlucky. But they constantly strove to deserve such a penalty. (I will put more documents, both on Armenian killings, and Turkish killings as I find reliable sources) As you may see, I do not try to hide anything which happened in history. YES, there were Armenians who were killed by the Turks. NO, the number was not as high as 1.5 million. YES, there were also many Turks who were killed by the Armenians. And finally, NO, the situation can not be called a "genocide"(3), because the killings were not systematic, and the aim was not to destroy the whole Armenians. I can be so much objective on this matter, and I readily accept any proved action of Turkish reprisals, because I am not one of those who say, "No, Turks can not do such things". Because I think that even if there had been a total war declared on the Armenians, it would be fully justifiable. And I think it was the better choice, that it would not also deplete the man&material resources of the Ottoman Empire in trying to displace those problematic people.
Now.. How about the French, the state that judges the Turks, and decrees that the Turks are ethnic cleansers.? Well, one really has got a lot to say about the French. But before going on to the history, I want to point out to something really interesting. Due to the fact that this new legislation put the alleged Armenian Genocide within the context of the Gayssot Law, from then on, on French soil, it will be a crime to say that there was not a genocide at all. Now take a look at the legislative decision of a country who boasts so much of being democratic. Closing its doors for discussion of history, forcibly banning the brains which put forth different opinions. And they call themselves democrats!
It is really not hard to find occasions where the French have committed crimes against humanity. Indeed, their own revolution which started as "égalité, fraternité, liberté" ended up with mass-killing of their own people (4) and, instead of a Republic, with a ruler that possessed more dictatorial powers than a monarch. It produced an Empire which spread terror across Europe for years. Ask it to French and they may object this. They have a view of history in which a sense of romanticism is the prevalent feature instead of historical facts. That's possibly why they are interested in the sex life of Jeanne d'Arc above everything else(!). Again that's why they admire their leader Napoleon Bonaparte whereas he was indeed not much different from Adolf Hitler, in general manners, in self-adoration, in tyranny, and in lack of mercy.
Let's now go back to January 1799. In the previous year, France, who was supposedly the oldest ally of Ottoman Empire, had invaded the Ottoman Egypt without pretext, and now they were heading for Syria. On their way was Jaffa, the following excerpt is from an independent source. It is an undeniable example of genocide as the French call it.
"The Syrian expedition was hastily prepared and ill-supplied. At first all went well. Jaffa fell after a brief one-day siege, some two thousand soldiers of the Turkish garrison were put to the sword, and the town was sacked in an orgy of rape and murder. Two or three thousand Turks who held out in the citadel surrendered the next day on the promise that their lives would be spared; in the course of the following three days, they were taken to the beach and shot, bayoneted, or drowned. "Among the victims," says a French eye-witness, "we found many children, who in the act of death had clung to their fathers." The nauseating massacre had been ordered by Bonaparte personally: 'There was not enough food to feed the prisoners.' " (5)
Look at their national hero!!
Indeed, when we talk about an imperialist power such as France, the examples of mass-killings are abundant. But there is one, which exactly fits to the definition of genocide. In this part of my article I would like to inspect the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Can anybody on earth show me a single indigenous Mauritius-man? Just one sample would be enough, and I will not call it a genocide... They can not, because there is not a single native Mauritius-man on earth. Because the French, (together with their other European brothers) killed all of them. Not only with their sheer force of arms (the musket and the cannon), but also with their continental diseases, against which the islanders had no natural immunity. (2) (N4)
They may say that all those events have been left in the past. But hey, it was in last month's magazines that the French army committed many acts of rape, torture, and murder in Algeria, during the liberation movement of that country. General Massu himself confessed that "torture was not only generalized, but it was also institutionalized".(6)
This list of French cruelties can be made much more longer (the Crusades (N3)of which the French were a major part, the anti-Semitism in France before 1940 (N2), many examples of French imperialism partially or fully destroying native people, French opposition to British abolition of slavery, oppressive French treatment to Alsatians, to Corsicans, and to its subjects of Celtic origin...), but even this much is enough to prove that the French are the real barbarian. Besides, my problem is not with the French themselves. I know what they are very well (and as long as all my countrymen know what they and the rest of Europeans are, there would be not problem at all), and as I said, I always expect such moves from them. Nor am I outraged against the Armenians, who are deceived by the Europeans and made believe that they will gain from playing the role of the 'tortured-innocent'. (N1)
As long as I know what my foes are I will have no difficulty in dealing with them no matter how strongly and how insidiously united they are. But this Turkiye can not deal with them! Because it's socially, economically, and militarily inferior. This fact, and not the others, is a source of constant sorrow for me. Thus my rage is not against those states who encroach Turkiye, but against all the Turkish politicians who brought my country and my nation to this feeble state. I hope our great ancestors like Oguz Khan, Attila, Genghiz Khan, Alparslan, Mehmet the Conqueror, and Ataturk do not see what became of Turks in this very age. Otherwise they would be turning in their graves. Just as we, the patriotic young Turks, are turning in our beds every night.
After prolonged strife in Baku between Armenians and Moslems, governmental power in the site and its environs had fallen in April 1918 into the hands of a Council of Peoples Commissars which was composed of exclusively of Bolsheviks and left-wing Mensheviks. Headed by the Armenian Bolshevik, Stephan Shaumina, the Council looked to Moscow for direction and delivered large quantities of oil to Soviet Russia during its brief tenure in office. Early in June the Baku Soviet dispatched a "Red Army" toward Elizavetpol to block the advance of the Turks and "liberate" the Azerbaijanis from the forces of reaction. During the ensuing weeks the Baku army, which was composed mostly of Armenians, indulged in many acts of terror against the Moslem population along the way but had only brief success in holding up Nuris Army of Islam. By the end of July the first columns of Nuris force reached the Caspian Sea south of Baku and began to close in on the city.
2. Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, P.J Marshall (ed.), 1996, ISBN 0-521-43211-1, DA 16.M29 1996
3. Webster's New World College Dictionary
Genocide (n.): the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group
4. The Age of Napoleon, J.C Harold, 1963, DC 201 .H44.
Page 18, paragraph1, about the Republican massacres in Toulouse :
The republican troops were welcomed at the city gate by the naval troops of Toulon, who had only reluctantly obeyed the allies during the occupation and done their best to prevent the burning of the arsenal. Accompanied by part of the population, with their band playing revolutionary hymns, they hoped to convince their liberators of their loyalty to the Republic; the republicans, however, were not impressed by the tricolored flags and the laurel wreaths held out to them by the marines, two hundred of whom were lined up against a wall and shot without formalities. This was only a beginning. The looting, the raping, the mass executions went for several days.
5. The Age of Napoleon, J.C Harold, 1963, DC 201 .H44.
Page 76, paragraph 4, (the text is given within the main article)
6. NTVMAG, January 2001, page 110.
N1. In holding on to this train of thought, (that they will gain from playing the 'tortured-innocent') they think of the Jewish example. But they have two fallacies.
The first is that, they are not victims of a genocide as the Jews are. Because,
The second is that, in reaching their current prosperous state, the Jews benefited little from international aids compared with their industriousness, patriotic national character, and organizational ability with good leadership. These are all inherent qualities and they can not be donated. (I hope you know what I mean)
N2 I notice that I had written 'French anti-Semitism before 1940' but now I see that the French anti-Semitism did not end with the coming of 1940. In a book, I recently re-read, I noticed the following paragraph.
The record of the other peoples was not much better. The French police fully cooperated with the Germans in loading the murder
trains. The Hungarians handed over all foreign Jews though
making some attempt to preserve their own. The Pope remained silent. In Denmark, however,
when the alarm was raised, the entire population joined in concealing the Danish Jews
until they could be ferried to safety in Sweden. "The Second World War", AJP Taylor,
1975, ISBN 0-14-004135-4, D743 .T39 1975, page 194, paragraph 2
In fact "Vichy France was the only territory in Europe in which local authorities deported Jews without the presence of German occupying forces." (from "A History of Modern Europe" volume 2, John Merriman1996, ISBN 0-393-9628-2 (pbk.), D228 .M485, page 1267, paragraph 1
As we can see from these, the French had some part in the Holocaust as well. On the other hand, as we can see from the Danish example, it was indeed possible to aid the victims at the hard times when help was needed, instead of making politics over dead bodies.
N3 The Crusades were indeed a barbarian invasion of the civilized world. The most notorious French contribution to the Crusades is perhaps Prince Reynold. His brutality is very well depicted in a BBC television production called "Crusades", by Terry Jones.
N4 There's is evidently some complication in this thesis. The source I give (PJ Marshall's world famous book) talks about 'disappearing' of the natives. But the official history of Mauritius (which I presume to be biased, as many government official histories are) talks about Mauritius as an empty island before the arrival of the Portuguese. The Islands were first visited probably by Carthaginians, and then by Arabs, and then, in the age of European imperialism/colonialism, by Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English respectively. I do not make any explicit statements as to which one of the latter four cleared the islands off their native population. That's why I had included the "together with their European brothers" clause in parenthesis. In any case it should be quite simple to find other such incidents from the period of French imperial endavours.
The 7th paragraph of the 286th page of that book reads :
The British empire created plural societies extending from Trinidad in the Caribbean to Fiji in the Pacific. In each case the pattern was roughly similar. At the top was a small white elite, usually British but predominantly of French origin in Mauritius and partly French in Trinidad. Below the whites and separate from them and from one another were layers of immigrant peoples ex-slaves from Africa and indentured labourers or free migrants from Asia. In Mauritius and most Caribbean colonies indigenous populations had died out; in Ceylon, Malaya, East Africa, and Fiji indigenous peoples constituted another separate layer of society. In some cases the ethnic mix was very diverse indeed. British Guiana, for instance, was known as a land of six peoples: its original native Americans, the British, Portuguese brought in from Madeira, ex-slaves from Africa, Indians, and Chinese. Each of these groups kept itself apart from the rest.
by FX8500G - February 1, 2001
send a reply