Turkey Remains an Oppressor 103 Years After Armenian Genocide

Staff writer Aleksandar Stosovic.

Staff writer Aleksandar Stosovic.

Staff writer Aleksandar Stosovic.

By Aleksandar Stosovic, Staff Writer

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A little over a century has passed since the Ottoman Empire’s effort to exterminate Christian minorities from within its borders, yet the Turkish government continues to put pressure on the same groups it targeted one hundred years ago.

The historic political aggression towards Greeks, Assyrians, Armenians, and other ethnic groups on behalf of the Turkish government has recently intensified, as Turkey’s increasing violation of Greece’s airspace is creating a more volatile situation in the Aegean sea. Furthermore, Turkish involvement in the Syrian civil war has resulted in the displacement and slaughter of thousands of Assyrians, and blatant acts of anti-Christian discrimination still occur with the government seizing Armenian church property across Turkey. 

Since the end of the First World War, the international community has looked away from the ethnic cleansing of Orthodox Christian populations from the Ottoman Empire. After the defeat of the Central Powers, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 and the newly formed Republic of Turkey got away with the atrocities it committed in the years prior to its formation by completing secret backdoor deals with the U.S. State Department which granted Western powers access to oil fields in modern day Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

After the Great War was finalized and the world turned its attention away from the Near East, nearly all of the victimized populations were subjugated to the new borders drawn for them by major powers who refused to recognize the genocide they faced just a few years prior. The briefly independent First Republic of Armenia was annexed to the Soviet Union, and those who survived the carnage fled to nations throughout the Middle East. Most Assyrians were forced to live under Sunni Arab monarchies mandated by France and Britain in Syria and Iraq respectively. Nearly the entire Greek population of Anatolia was exiled during the population exchange of 1923. 

Hundreds of thousands were affected by this event, including ancestors of people within our own school.

“I am where I am today because of the events that transpired in 1915. We faced an occupation in which we were exiled from our homes and our businesses were destroyed. Many members of my family were killed in death marches. My family settled in Neo Skopos in Macedonia, northern Greece after being marched from Skopos to Heraclea. That hardship molded who we are as a community. I find it important to remember the people we lost and the hardships we faced. The crimes committed during those marches molded my family’s worldview”, science paraprofessional Dimitri Tripkos said. “We need to study history and the events that lead up to it- or else there’s no way to prevent similar things from happening in the future. We need to normalize relationships and have constructive discussions about what happened so we can forgive and move forward. That’s the only way we can make progress.”

Far too many times, history has proved to repeat itself. This is painfully obvious with how Turkey’s government treats Christian groups within its own country, let alone the ones surrounding it. Although the government of Turkey is not actively committing acts of genocide today, it has not changed its attitudes about the populations it once sent off to death marches through the Syrian desert. 

In relation to Armenia, Turkey continues to refuse recognition of the genocide it committed as well as any hopes of reparations or restitution. All journalists critical of Turkey’s policies are jailed, as Erdogan’s government leads the world in imprisoning those who disagree with him or the way he leads his nation. The murder of Turkish-Armenian columnist Hrant Dink in 2007  for his outspoken views on genocide recognition and promotion of human rights reflects the mainstream attitudes toward those who seek justice within a NATO constituent and potential European Union member state. Decades after the genocide, Turkey supplied arms and military training to Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh war against Armenia, as well as imposing a harsh economic embargo on Armenia during the conflict. Turkey also quarters troops in neighboring Nakhchivan, an Azeri enclave between Turkey and Armenia.

This form of indirect military involvement and intimidation is not unique to Turkey’s relationship to Armenia, however. Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, Erdogan’s government has been deviously colluding with anti-Assad forces in hopes of gaining control of Syria’s oil pipeline to Europe.

The Free Syrian Army, whose soldiers’ wages are paid for by the Turkish government and operate alongside the Turkish military, is funded entirely by Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. As Erdogan became eager to side with anyone fighting against Bashar al-Assad, countless links between ISIS and his regime have been established.  Once again, those harmed by Ottomans one hundred years ago are still victims to this day.

Although the ethnic cleansing of Assyrians and other minority groups from Iraq and Syria are not Turkey’s primary motive, it has nonetheless been an inevitable result of its involvement in the conflicts taking place there. Without the training, supplies, and intelligence given to so-called “rebel groups”, whether they’re Jaysh al-Islam, the Free Syrian Army, or ISIS; Turkey’s actions are causing outright genocideTo this day Turkey is staining its hands with the blood of innocent people, the only difference is that it is now paying mercenaries to kill instead of having to kill itself.

The undisputed bully of the Mediterranean displays its aggression towards its Western neighbors as well– in the past few days, the situation between Greece and Turkey has escalated higher than it has in two decades. Erdogan’s expansionist motives have further aggravated the relationship between the two nations, as he called to redraw the borders established in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Eighteen major Greek islands are at stake, and this revives the Aegean dispute which has existed between the two countries since the 1970’s. Just last Tuesday, two Turkish fighter jets flying over the Aegean sea followed a helicopter carrying Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and left only after the Hellenic Air Force responded by sending their own jets to escort Tsipras safely to Rhodes.

As Turkey’s government continues to harass its Christian citizens and neighbors alike, it is important to note that it persecutes Islamic cultures as well.

Muslim Kurds, who make up 18% of Turkey’s general population (roughly 14 million people), are denied nearly all forms of self-determination, whether it be organizing politically or simply using their own language. Interestingly enough, Kurds are also the most effective resistance force against ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Northeastern Syria, right below the Turkish border.

Why are these actions ignored by the international community? Why are the countless genocides unrecognized to this day? Why isn’t anything being done to stop the denialist policies of Erdogan’s regime? Why is Turkey getting away with violating another NATO state’s airspace day in and day out? Why isn’t the Turkish government sanctioned for financing international terrorist organizations?

These questions lead to two answers- geopolitical and economic expediency, and ultimately, the trade of oil between the Middle East and Europe.

The reality is that millions of human lives are used as nothing more than pawns in a game of dissonant political chess, sacrificed one after another for the sake of institutional power and capital gain.

Exactly 103 years since the arrest and deportation of over 200 Armenian intellectuals from Constantinople, the world has seen minimal progress in the way it deals with human rights violations and blatant disregard for international law.

As the global political scene is exacerbated daily, we can only hope that horrors like ones that occurred between 1915 and 1923 don’t repeat themselves.


2 Responses to “Turkey Remains an Oppressor 103 Years After Armenian Genocide”

  1. Jass on May 14th, 2018 9:46 pm

    It’s funny how you talk about an oppressor nation without mentioning Serbia…

  2. ... on May 16th, 2018 10:34 am

    This story has nothing to do with Serbia, that’s why it’s not mentioned. It has to do with the genocide of Armenians by Turks. Using your logic, nothing would ever be written because we’d have to mention every incident that ever happened that might be related. Why bring Serbia into it at all? Because the author is Serbian? What about Rwanda, Myanmar, Sudan, the Native Americans? You can go on and on if you wanted to. Enjoy some history in a very well written piece by a very talented writer.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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