On his article in Today’s Zaman on August 11th, 2010, Mr. Orhan Kemal Cengiz questions if the real reason why Turkish state denies Armenian genocide is in fact monetary. The fact that the state would have to pay billions for the Armenian property left in Asia Minor after the atrocities of 1915 and later. He concludes that the real reason reaches far beyond that and should be found at the definition of Turkish identity as a people and an ongoing war by the “deep state” to hide the lies told anise the inauguration of the modern Turkish Republic. I cannot agree more.
He writes; “we are now able to hear the allegations of some historians in the mainstream media about the possessions of Armenians”. That is where I was stuck. Being a member of what today we call “minorities of Asia Minor”, I have strong opposition to this word: possessions. For Armenians, albeit local or a member of a diaspora somewhere, the main possession is their memories. The land, houses, shops and other dwellings are important because they are all parts of that collective memory.
Surely, I am young to understand anyone who has witnessed or direct relative of one who has witnessed 1915, 1922 or even 1950’s. But my experience with people who are direct witnesses of these events make me think that no Armenian, or Greek, or Assyrian is after a house, or money or anything tangible. Many Armenian diaspora organizations have collectively stated that, monetary requests are just tools to force the opponents to acceptance.
Here’s the deal. Even though an International Court could grant (which I really doubt) any compensation to an Armenian or Greek family, there are many International agreements that resolved these claims in mid and late 20’s. It would be awful hard to pass through these unless new facts about the details of the Genocide will be unearthed.
The real claim is about the memories. It is not about the ownership of the land. It is about the memories stolen from generations of people by an ethnic cleansing that started in the late 19th century that goes on even today. It is for the memory of the little children of 1915, from whom, not only the families were stolen, but also their identity. It is for the memory of hundreds of thousand of “Turkish” grandfathers and grandmothers of today who hid their religion, beliefs, traditions even from their own children and grandchildren. It is for the memory of countless Armenians and Greeks, and Assyrians, and Zarathustrans, and Kurds, and others dispersed around the globe and forced to assume different identities.
And in the memory of those under the ground. In Asia Minor or elsewhere, in mass graves or under green grass at a calm pasture in the U.S. It is their memory that has to be replaced; not some house in Caesaria. The houses lost their souls. It is about putting the souls of living and lost in the right perspective.