(Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Photo Credit: AA)
By Taniel Koushakjian
January 20, 2015
While Americans commemorated the life and legacy of renowned civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19, 2015, Armenians around the world commemorated the life and legacy of Hrant Dink, an Armenian Turkish journalist, and the founder and editor of AGOS Newspaper, who was gunned down in the streets of Istanbul, Turkey on the same day on 2007. Ironically, these two men have a lot in common: both sought to serve as a bridge between two estranged communities (White Americans and African Americans; Turks and Armenians); both rejected violence and extremism and worked in an atmosphere of peace and common understanding; both were assassinated for their ethnicity and their message of peace through historical justice.
Some Armenian circles even call Hrant Dink the Martin Luther King of the Armenians. Yet, to mark the 8th anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attempted to capitalize on Dink’s message of tolerance and understanding by calling for a “new beginning” in Armenian-Turkish relations. “The way to leave the great tragedy that had frozen history in 1915 is to break taboos,” according to Davutoglu.
However, it is beyond hypocritical to accept Davutoglu’s call for a new beginning while, under his leadership, the modern Turkish republic continues to engage in the decades-old campaign of Armenian Genocide denial across the globe.
Nothing could illustrate this fact more than the timing of the Gallipoli centenary currently being planned by Ankara. As the acclaimed writer Robert Fisk of The Independent recently wrote in an article entitled ‘The Gallipoli centenary is a shameful attempt to hide the Armenian Holocaust,’ “This is not just diplomatic mischief.” Fisk reveals that, “The Turks are well aware that the Allied landings at Gallipoli began on 25th April – the day after Armenians mark the start of their genocide, which was ordered by the Turkish government of the time – and that Australia and New Zealand mark Anzac Day on the 25th. Only two years ago, then-president Abdullah Gul of Turkey marked the 98th anniversary of the Great War battle on 18th March 2013 — the day on which the British naval bombardment of the Dardanelles Peninsular began on the instructions of British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. At the time, no-one in Turkey suggested that Gallipoli – Canakkale in Turkish — should be remembered on 24th April.”
(Thousands gather in Istanbul, Turkey for a vigil to mark the 8th anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder. Photo Credit: Agos Newspaper)
It is difficult for anyone aware of the issues to believe Davutoglu’s statement that “Turkey, for its part, has moved beyond this point and left stereotypical rhetoric and generalizations in the past.” If Turkey truly wants a new beginning with Armenians, it would immediately end its decades-old campaign of Armenian Genocide denial. But that policy continues, nearly 100 years after committing the greatest crime against humanity during World War I. To invoke the message of Hrant Dink in this vein, Turkey, once again, exposes that it’s true intentions are to continue the Ottoman Turkish Empire’s policy to distort the facts, distract attention away from, and deny the Armenian Genocide.