The Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. Many ethnic Turks in Germany do not like this fact, because in their eyes there was no mass murder of ethnic Armenians. Turkey has rejected the Armenian Genocide and uses diplomatic pressure on nations to reject the historic fact. In 1915, the Ottoman Imperial government forced all Armenians to go on a death march into the Syrian desert. Around 1,5 million died because of famine, deceases and brutal Turkish guards. Although the Ottoman Empire accepted responsibility, the modern day Turkish government has not!
Turkish nationalism is the reason why the modern Turkish republic does not accept the genocide. In their nationalist world views, the Turkish people were not brutal killers and only 200.000 to 500.000 Armenians were killed. They also love to claim that many innocent Turks were murdered by Armenians to downplay the fact that Turkish forces were responsible for the first genocide of the 20th century. Historical researches all agree that there was a genocide, but the Turkish government and many Turks refuse to agree!
Denial of war crimes is not typical Turkish. Soviet and Russian historians still have difficulties accepting Stalinist crimes. The mass murder of Polish officers was long called a German crime, although it was Stalin who ordered the execution. Many communist parties stayed with the official Soviet version that German soldiers executed the Polish officers in April 1940. The reality was different, Stalinist NKVD troops carried out the mass murder under direct orders from Joseph Stalin!
Still the Soviet-Union denied this fact until 1990, when it finally took responsibility. In 2010, the Russian parliament blamed Joseph Stalin and his Soviet government for the crimes. However this has not led to a public rejection. Many Russians still love the mythical Stalin and the modern propaganda still glorify the Soviet struggle against fascism, win-out mentioning the mass murder and deportations carried out by the NKVD!
The Turks have done the same thing. They refuse to accept that the Young Turks who ruled the Ottoman Empire, deliberately killed more then 1 million Armenians. Since the 1980’s, the Turkish government has started a campaign of denial. Although there has been more room for debate, most Turkish workers still believe in the ”official” version of the state. This ”official” version tries to hide the truth, because the state might fear the lawsuits of the Armenian minority!
In the east of Turkey, there are Armenian minorities living under Turkish law. Like the Kurdish people, these ethnic Armenians have been oppressed and not granted basic civil liberties. Turkish nationalism forced them to behave like Turks and speak only the Turkish language!
Denial of the Armenian Genocide is a political weapon of the Turkish ruling class, which has used ethnic nationalism to keep itself in power since 1923. Both Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian workers have been put up against each other. This is why revolutionary socialists call on Turkish workers to reject ethnic nationalism. A problem in modern day Turkey which forbids criticism of the mighty Turkish nation. In times of terrorism and war, the Ankara regime led by soon-to-be-dictator: Erdogan, feeds on ethnic nationalism to boost its support among the masses. Turkish workers have no party of their own, although the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) tries to be a voice for all people, it suffers from a hostile Turkish media, which brands them ”PKK supporters”!
There is little room for free debates inside Turkey. Those who reject ethic nationalism are not save. Far-right Turkish nationalists have shown that they are willing to commit violence against anti-nationalist Turks. Their intolerance is not limited to the borders of their almighty Turkish nation. Even in nations such as Germany, the nationalists have a lot of supporters. This is because many Turks remain dogmatic loyal to their country and are very patriotic, even if they are not born in Turkey!
Revolutionary socialists reject nationalism. Turkish nationalism is a poison, like German nationalism in the 20th century, it has caused death and destruction. Nationalists try to split the workers and put them against each other. This is why the nationalists support the denial campaign of the Turkish government. They wish to promote their racist ideology about a Great Turkey which stands above all minorities. Like the nazi’s and fascists, the nationalists have little tolerance for those who do not share their chauvinism!
Our alternative is a socialist Turkey, one that accepts historical responsibility and works to unite all workers in one socialist republic. A socialist Turkey is the only way forward. But for this to happen Turkish workers need to brake free from their ethnic nationalist mentality, which the bourgeoisie has imposed on them. The Armenian Genocide was a terrible crime, committed by nationalists fueled with hatred of Armenians. It is ironic that the Ottoman Empire had accepted responsibility and even was willing to arrest those Young Turks who carried out the massacre. But the Turkish state that Mustafa Kemal founded in 1923, rejected the idea that the Turkish people carried out a genocide!
One of the first nations who started to name the massacre a genocide was the Armenian Socialist Soviet Republic in 1988. In order to ease the growing nationalist elements in Soviet Armenia, the Stalinist government tried to look good by agreeing on naming the massacre a genocide. 29 countries including Russia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and Canada, as well as 45 states of the United States of America, have recognized the events as a genocide. Only Turkey and the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan deny that a genocide ever happened!