Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Armenian Genocide: Kurdish Recognition of the Massacres.

with 16 comments

This Year we Honour the Memory of our Armenian Sisters and Brothers.

This is deeply important,

Turkey has recalled its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis described the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in WW1 as “genocide”.

Turkey has reacted with anger to the comment made by the Pope at a service in Rome earlier on Sunday.

Armenia and many historians say up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915.

But Turkey has always disputed that figure and said the deaths were part of a civil conflict triggered by WW1.

The row has continued to sour relations between Armenia and Turkey.

‘Bleeding wound’

The Pope made the comments at a Mass in the Armenian Catholic rite at Peter’s Basilica, attended by the Armenian president and church leaders.

He said that humanity had lived through “three massive and unprecedented tragedies” in the last century.

“The first, which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th Century’, struck your own Armenian people,” he said, in a form of words used by a declaration by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

Pope Francis also referred to the crimes “perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism” and said other genocides had followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.

He said it was his duty to honour the memories of those who were killed.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” the Pope added.

Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan welcomed his comments, saying they sent a powerful message to the international community.


Now Turkey’s Islamist leader, often called Neo-Ottoman, finds it difficult to accept responsibility for the crimes of the Caliphate.

But – and this is not so widely noticed – the Kurdish movements began the process of recognising the genocide some time ago.

Why is this important?

The genocide of Armenians by some Kurds was meticulously carried out with help from some tribal Kurds who were organized into an auxiliary force called the ‘Hamidiye Alaylari’ or Hamidiye Brigades of the government in Istanbul.

During the Van Resistance, Armenians who left via Persia took defense positions in the Bargiri, Saray and Hosap districts of Van Province. The refugee group following the Russian forces were intercepted by Kurdish forces when they crossed the mountain passes near Bargiri Pass. At the Bargiri Pass, the Armenian refugees had many casualties.

Since that time, and particularly since the 1990s,  the Kurdish democratic movement has been at the forefront, within Turkey itself, in calling for recognition.

There is a long list of Kurdish statements and acts on this issue.

Last year Ahmed Turk, a Kurdish politician in Turkey, declared that the Kurds have their share of “guilt in the genocide, too,” and apologized to the Armenians.

“Our fathers and grandfathers were used against Assyrians and Yezidis, as well as against Armenians. They persecuted these people; their hands are stained with blood. We as the descendants apologize,” Turk said. (Rudaw via Assyrian International News Agency).

This one stands out: the statements  of comrade Abdullah Öcalan (Wikipedia)

In a 10 April 1998 personal letter to Robert Kocharyan, the newly inaugurated President of Armenia, Öcalan congratulated him on his election victory and expressed hope that the genocide would be officially recognized in Turkey:

“I also welcome and endorse the passage of a resolution in the Belgian Senate calling on the Turkish government in Ankara to recognise the reality of the Armenian holocaust perpetrated by the last Ottoman regime in 1915-19 … The massacres during the First World War which shocked the civilised world then became a precedent for an even more appalling and destructive demonstration of genocide of the Jewish people by the German Nazis in the Second World War. Let us recall Hitler’s response to a critic of the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish problem: ‘Who complained about the Armenians? ’​”[9]

Öcalan reiterated this position in a letter published on 30 January 2014 by the Istanbul-based Armenian weekly Agos. Throughout the letter, written from his cell in İmralı Prison, he repeatedly used the word “genocide” to characterise the atrocities, and stated:

“Today, the entire world should confront the historical truth of what happened to the Armenians and share their pain, paving the way for mourning. Inevitably, the Turkish Republic too will have to approach this issue with maturity and confront this painful history.”

He also emphasised that the Kurdish and Armenian struggles were inseparably linked to one another, citing the 2007 assassination of Agos co-founder Hrant Dink as an example of how “anti-democratic forces” within Turkey seek to undermine both causes. Öcalan’s letter was an apparent condemnation of incendiary remarks made earlier in the month by KCK co-chair Bese Hozat regarding alleged conspiracies by “Armenian, Jewish, and Greek lobbies” to undermine the democratic movement in Turkey.

It is no surprise that the Kurdish comrades from the News Agency Rudaw gave a prominent place to the Pope’s Sunday speech.

Pope calls Armenian slaughter ‘1st genocide of 20th century’


Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2015 at 12:25 pm

16 Responses

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  1. I read an article a couple of years ago, can’t remember where, it may have been on an Armenian site, that argued that teh Tirks will never admit the genocide because the Turkish middle class enriched itself by looting Armenian property, like the Nazi did with the Jews. Can you imagine if reparations had to be paid? They wouldn’t stand for it, so it’s better to deny it ever happened or that it was part of a civil war.

    Sue R

    April 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm

  2. Can anyone imagine the Turks wallowing in breast-beating self-flagellation like the Germans seem to enjoy so much?

    At best, the Turks might – might – end up with the sort of Japanese attitude “Well, bad things happen in wartime and it was all a jolly long time ago.”

    As we all know (read William Dalrymple’s book ‘From the Holy Mountain’) the Turks have industriously erased almost all visible evidence that any Armenians ever lived in Western Armenia; the cemetary headstones have been smashed to fragments and used for road ballast.

    Billy Corr

    April 13, 2015 at 3:43 pm

  3. Sounds more than possible, but at the moment we also have Erdoğan who’s insistent on the glories of the Ottoman empire.

    Andrew Coates

    April 13, 2015 at 4:27 pm

  4. There’s a great interview out there (cannae find) with a German Green MP of Turkish descent on the genocide. My first thought was, apart from Lucas, why haven’t the Greens here got great speakers like him!

    Off topic and slightly for the craic. I wonder what our mate ‘AWL?! The evils!’ Neil would make of this lot >


    Paul Canning

    April 13, 2015 at 8:03 pm

  5. Sue R- “reparations will be paid”. What about the reparations that Israel should pay to the Palestinians?

    Paul- the Korean protest is not any loonier than protesting about gay rights in Iran. in fact, their protest probably makes more sense than all the bollox about trans rights etc.

    South Korea seems to be a fascist puppet regime, much like Saudi Arabia etc. As far as i can see, it is the US that stops reunification. but i’m no expert.

    Turkey should face the Armenian genocide, and also face the real nature of Ataturk, a fascist who attempted to take Turkey out of the Islamic world. Its good that his project is failing, and i hope they return to using the Arabic script.


    April 13, 2015 at 10:32 pm

  6. I think protesting in defence of an oppressive regime is considerably loonier than protesting in defence of those who suffer at the hands of another oppressive regime.

    And before you play the whataboutery card again, I am no great admirer of the South Korean state, nor do I admire the vast majority of states in the world.

    I am simply a humanitarian. It’s not your fault if you’re not, “Neil”.


    April 13, 2015 at 11:00 pm

  7. (a propos an earlier post on this matter, if you do not wish a group of people harm, then it occurs to me that you *have* to care about them, at least to some extent)


    April 13, 2015 at 11:03 pm

  8. i am a humanitarian- i care very deeply. i care a lot about the rights of gays in Iran, there is nothing in international politics that is more important than the rights of gays in Iran to have a pride march in Tehran, and get married in mosques and adopt or have children through artificial means and there is no difference between them and straight normal people. If they dont agree, then we should have to put sanctions on them, maybe even bomb and invade their countries until they agree.

    i can see your type of humanitarianism.


    April 13, 2015 at 11:24 pm

  9. That is not what I believe at all. I absolutely oppose the bombing and invasion of Iran. Your post is the biggest straw man outside the Whittlesey Festival.

    Your use of the word “normal” comes from the beginnings of fascism. I know. I’ve experienced it myself.


    April 14, 2015 at 12:40 am

  10. i’m anti-fascist. i go to anti fascist anti bnp and anti edl demos. so there. i dont go to the ‘protest the pope’ rally because i’ve got no problem with the pope or the catholic church as such.


    April 14, 2015 at 1:24 am

  11. by the way, were you there at the ‘beginnings of fascism’ yourself?


    April 14, 2015 at 1:28 am

  12. Back on topic…I’d recommend Taner Akcam’s book on the Genocide. A very brave Turkish writer whose broken withe the genocide-denying consensus in Turkey – also anything by Orhan Pamuk.

    alex ross

    April 14, 2015 at 11:54 am

  13. Pamuk is absolutely great,

    Andrew Coates

    April 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm

  14. ‘First genocide of the twentieth century’.

    So nobody remembers the German slaughter of the Herero-Nama in 1904 which was almost a blueprint for the massacre of Armenians a decade later (including as it did the use of local auxiliaries recruited from other tribes traditionally hostile to the Herero-Nama, concentration camps, death marches and simply driving victims into the desert to die)?

    Roger McCarthy

    April 14, 2015 at 1:36 pm

  15. What about the slaughter of Assyrians and Pontic Greeks which took place during the First World War. Historians often subsume these two massacres in with the Armenian, as they happened at the same time by the same ethnic groups ie Turks and Kurds. The reason that the Pope has not mentioned them is that the Armenians do follow the Catholic rite, while the Greeks are Greeks and the Assyrians are Syriac. Still, he did make a catch all statement about Christians in the Middle East the other week.

    Did you see Kim Kardashian (her of the surgically enhanced butt) is making a programme about the massacre, and her husband, Kanye West, gave a rap concert in Yerevan the other day. They had their baby, NorthbyNorth West, christened in the Armenian Cathedral in Jerusalem as well. That’s in the Israeli bit.

    Sue R

    April 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm

  16. There’s an article in al-Monitor entitled something like ‘Unresolved matter of restitutions to the Armenians’ which provides a lot of information. The foundations of the prosperity of Modern Turkey (sic) are founded on the expropriations of Armenian (and Assyrian and Greek) property. A special office was set up to register and distribute confiscated (ie stolen) property, and it is quite clear that the legal owners were not expected to return from that bourne from which there is no return. The article I read a few years ago said that every middle class family in Turkey is implicated in this expropriation and this article reiterates that. Practically every public building in Turkey is built on previously owned Armenian land. The Assyrians (or Syriacs) are in a weaker position as they are not a wll organised lobby, unlike the Armenians and they are not registered as a ‘minority’ in Turkey. The article suggests that there property was being ‘confiscated’ up until the 2000s. is Obama does not want to upset a ‘NATO’ ally by describing the massacre as a genocide, despite the fact that he promised the Armenians he would if they voted for him.

    Sue R

    April 22, 2015 at 4:53 pm

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