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99 Years of Turkish Genocide

AINA Editorial

….Joseph Zaya (1906-2006) survived the genocide. He was born in a village in the Hakkary mountains (presently South-Eastern Turkey). The Ottoman Empire was something he lived in until the age of nine, when, in the face of genocide, he and his family was forced to flee. He remembered it vividly: long marches, hunger, starvation, butchery, impalement, burning.

“I lost my brother and his wife and four kids right in front of my eyes. Three Kurds and two Turks dragged my brother out and cut off his arms, right in front of me and his wife and kids. They then proceeded to rape his wife and eleven year old daughter, all the while looking at him and taunting him. After which they shot all of them. But they spared me. I don’t know why.”

“During our escape through the mountains,” he continued, “I remember the bodies strewn on both sides of the path. Most women and children were crying but would not dare stop to care for the sick and dead because they knew the Turkish and Kurdish armies were behind them. I remember a child on the side of the road suckling on his already dead mother who had died with her arms around him. That image has haunted me all my life. This is something that we Assyrians should never forget, and the world should not forget it, either.”

No objective inquisitor can deny this horrific genocide occurred, the first of the twentieth century. Yet Turkey’s official policy, which it pursues zealously, is to do exactly that. For Turkey, the genocide did not occur, what occurred was “civil strife.” Turkey even goes as far as claim the Armenians mounted an insurrection and hence it was war and they were only casualties of war. This is not true, but even if it were, how would that explain the massacres of Assyrians and Greeks? They never rose against the Ottoman state. They remained loyal subjects until at last they realized their fate, and only then started literally defending their lives.

Ninety nine years later, most of the world has come to accept that genocide was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. Even the Kurds, who did most of the actual killing during the genocide, have admitted it. On April 23, 1995 the Parliament of Kurdistan in Exile issued a statement saying “Let history note that we at the Parliament of Kurdistan in Exile share the pain of the survivors and their relations. We unequivocally denounce the act and condemn the perpetrators of this inhumanity, the Ottomans and their collaborators of the Kurdish auxiliary forces. We urge you all to do the same” (AINA 4-23-1995)….

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