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? ’”
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.