Slogan in Turkey During Erdogan’s Rally: 'Armenian Bastards Cannot Deter Us'

Denial of Armenian Genocide: An “Intellectual” Endeavor in Turkey

In Turkey, anti-Armenian sentiments, and the denial of the Armenian genocide, have a long history among state and military authorities, Islamic and secular political figures, media representatives, academics, and writers.

The award-winning, well-known Turkish novelist Ayse Kulin, for example, commented on the Armenian genocide during a debate program on CNN Turk in 2014: “It was a relocation incident,” said Kulin. “It was an incident experienced during a war. It is hard to call what happened in a war ‘a genocide.’ We did not start slaughtering them without a reason – like what was done to the Jews [in the Holocaust].”

Following her comments, an online petition titled “We want Ayse Kulin to be ashamed” was launched by a group of activists in Turkey, who called for a boycott of her books.

“Very close to centennial of the Armenian Genocide,” said the petition, “it is regrettable that such an irreverent style came from the mouth of a writer, Ayşe Kulin. In an interview with the media, in a very relaxed way, Kulin, by saying ‘we did not butcher the Armenians without a reason’, emphasized that they had the right to butcher a nation. We strongly condemn Ayse Kulin and protest her books and invite all people with common sense also not to read her books.”

Hate Speech against Armenians in Turkish Media

The International Hrant Dink Foundation, named after the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink killed in 2007, in Istanbul, published a comprehensive report titled “Hate Crimes and Hate Speech” in 2010.  In the report, researchers scanned Turkish newspapers for hate speech against ethnic and religious communities.

 “At the end of the study covering a whole year,” said the report, “it was identified that the hate speech in Turkey mostly targets the Kurds and the Armenians.”

According to the report, the religious and ethnic groups that were targeted by hate speech after Armenians and Kurds were Rums (Turkish Greeks), Christians, and Jews. Arabs, Serbs, the Roma, Assyrians and Africans were also targeted, expanding the range.

“When scanning the newspapers,” added the report, “we started with some key words rather than following a chronological order. Some words were used more frequently compared to others. For example, in all the stories where the word ‘Armenian’ was used, hate speech could be seen.”

Anti-Armenian sentiment, or Armenophobia, appears to be a widespread characteristic of the Turkish media, politics, and culture. Not only the denial, but also the whitewashing, excusing of, and even taking pride in the Armenian genocide is commonplace, including in Turkish schools.

Armenian migration from Turkey escalating

“This year,” said journalist Miran Manukyan, who works for the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, “some people wrote racist graffiti such as, ‘Torment the Armenians’ on the walls of two Armenian schools in Istanbul. The Istanbul police directorate handled the situation, and an investigation has also been opened but there has been no progress yet.”

Moreover, the recent terror threats of the Islamic State (ISIS) are making life even more difficult for the Armenians in Turkey.

 “The only apparent precaution most people have been able to take is to stay away from crowds,” said Manukyan.  “In the face of terror attacks and chaotic environment, many people in Turkey think about leaving the country which is the precaution many Armenians in Turkey are also thinking of taking.”

Indeed, the number of people leaving Turkey and settling in other countries is rising day by day. “Those who are not Turkish and Muslim are more serious about leaving and migration,” according to the newspaper Agos.

An Armenian citizen of Turkey, who has recently moved to Europe, told Agos:

“Our primary reason was that we wanted our child to live in more civilized conditions. Turkey hasn't been peaceful at least for 5 generations. Turkey cannot manage to reach to ‘the level of contemporary civilizations’ and it seems that it won't in the next 30 years.

“Thinking that no place can be worse than Turkey, you choose to go anywhere else in order to have the life you deserve. I know many families who decided to leave Turkey and started to do something for it. The ones who had the opportunity left Turkey and the ones who cannot leave continue to live in Turkey, thinking what they would do in such an environment.”

Turkey, the very nation whose ancestors committed a genocide against Armenians in 1915 by killing or forcibly deporting 1.5 million Armenians from their ancestral lands, still continually and proudly insults the remaining Armenians.

The current population of the Armenian community in Turkey is about 60,000. Many Armenians are reportedly thinking of leaving Turkey in order to escape the hatred and aggression they suffer in the country–such hatred that even genocide has not been able to subdue.