On the one hand we have Turks who do not remember anything, and on the other are Armenians who live as if the events of 1915 happened just 15 minutes ago. How on earth will all these people come together and talk? The tone and content of some discussions made me really very pessimistic.
I felt I was regarded as a kind of intruder whose comments threatened the status quo. I felt no one actually wanted to talk about anything. There are positions carved in stone, the trauma has been frozen and everyone is actually content with that. This “victimhood” has turned into an identity and does not want to be lost. Do you really want Turkey to recognize what happened in the past, or do you want revenge? Can being a descendant of a nation that suffered heinous crimes perpetrated by a certain mentality in Turkey give you the right to be totally true and righteous, whatever the position you take? Are you entitled to be a racist and to not be questioned at the same time?
In my previous piece I discussed that some Armenians, believing everyone in Turkey is a murderer, are actually racists since they stigmatize all Turks. I have since received very tragic messages that challenge me and discuss how “Turk” equates to “barbaric,” “rapist,” “killer” and so on. My “racist” critique met with a textbook example of pure racism. These people are not aware that they have a huge potential of being perpetrators themselves. They are the soul twins of the massacre perpetrators from which their ancestors suffered. They think that being a victim gives them the right to not be criticized. Should we turn a blind eye to serious human rights violations perpetrated by Israel, Armenia and Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq just because these people suffered from the Holocaust, crimes against humanity and so on? Can we do that? If you do not pay any attention to human suffering created by Armenia, serious torture problems for example, but all you talk about is the Armenian genocide, how can I take you seriously? Should I respect your pathological nationalism while you think you are challenging another pathological nationalism in Turkey?
There were some objections to my claim that Turkey has been suffering from memory loss. Some Armenians believe everyone in Turkey remembers what happened but just pretends to have forgotten. Turkey has not only lost its memory about 1915, it has also totally lost contact with its past. I will discuss this subject in another article.
With all due respect, I find the obsession over the term “genocide” quite grotesque. Some Armenians believe that if dialogue between Turks and Armenians does not start with the use of this word, Turks will somehow get rid of the burden of history. Can societies start talking with each others on concepts? When you insist that dialogue with another nation is to start with the use of a certain word, you actually insist on not talking. You do not want to talk, you just want to condemn. And you do not understand that Turkish society’s confrontation with its past is not only part of justice, but also a precondition to regaining its psychological health. We will not be a sane society without confronting our loss. When dialogue starts, when Turkish society starts to discuss this matter through reason first and tries to comprehend what happened with its heart later on, a process of recovery will start. Everything will start by feeling the sorrow and pain of an old Armenian lady who was forced to leave her home and who had to walk through the desert. When Turks start to weep for this old Armenian lady, we will start to understand what we have lost.
Why do you expect me to identify myself with Talat Paşa? I reject his heritage and am disgusted by his gangs. As long as you see all Turks as Talat Paşa and as long as Turks identify themselves with him, we will continue this vicious cycle. When both Turks and Armenians condemn him and his criminal gangs together, when we cry together for our loss, for being condemned to live as separate peoples, then we will all start to heal.
When I speak to Armenian nationalists, they only block my feelings. They make me numb. However, when I come across Armenians who speak from their heart, I feel tremendous pain. Everything will start by feeling the loss, not with words and not with hate mongering. Everything will start by feeling the pain of one single individual. Then, bodies will be buried, memories recovered and we, both Armenians and Turks, will start to mourn together — and for a long time.