The letter by Varouj Chitilian G ["Armenian Genocide Remembered," April 24] is fraught with lies, misrepresentations and baseless accusations. There was no systematic execution of Armenian civilians by the Turkish authorities. On the contrary, Turkish people themselves were struggling for existence against not just the Armenian guerrillas, but the whole world.
The years surrounding 1915 were marked by the turmoil of an empire in collapse. The Ottoman Empire was under siege on all fronts: by Greece and the Allied powers in the west and by Kurdish and Armenian insurgents internally. For generations, Turkish and Armenian people lived in harmony. As early as 1800s, however, Armenian insurgents began to foment unrest to wrest themselves from Ottoman rule.
These insurgents enlisted the help of the European powers to plan their revolt against the Ottomans. Their plans finally bore fruit with the outbreak of World War I and the subsequent assault of the Turkish people in Anatolia. The Allied powers planned a division of Anatolia under the Sykes-Picot agreement, in which a Turkish state would be blotted from existence.
Armenian insurgents armed the Armenian civilians who had been living right by Turkish people, and incited them to kill their Turkish neighbors. Amid this struggle for existence, the Ottoman sultan fled, and it was left to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to rally the Turkish people to fight for their independence. Amid this turmoil, there can hardly be found a "Turkish government," let alone one that would "order" the execution of Armenian civilians.
More Turkish civilians died in this struggle than even Armenians. 80 percent of my family perished in the struggle for freedom from the invading armies. Turkish families struggled to find food, chewing at times on the soles of their shoes to hold back their hunger. I myself am lucky to be alive. Had my great-uncle died of his injuries, my mother would not have even been born to bring me into this world.
Armenian civilians were not massacred. They were deported out of Anatolia to places where they could not attack Turkish people. In these marches, some Armenians died. Some got killed by their own countrymen in crossfire from attacks launched from Russia. At the end of the day, Turkish people were able to save their own freedom, and under the leadership of Ataturk, established the current Republic of Turkey. As a Turkish-American, I am proud and grateful that my forefathers were able to save their freedom - I dread to think about what would have happened had Anatolia been colonized by the invaders.
To add insult to injury, Chitilian goes so far as to say that somehow the Holocaust, and the genocide in Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda would have been prevented had "Turkey been punished for their crimes." The Holocaust and Cambodia massacres occurred before Bosnia, and still many innocent people were killed there too.
After the Holocaust, the world has still not learned its lesson. In 1993 alone, thousands of Azeri Turks died at the hands of Armenians invading Nagorno-Karabakh. Why isn't Armenia today being held accountable for these atrocities? By trying to show Turkish people as culpable in irrelevant events, Chitilian is throwing dirt and cheap pot shots with no substance.
The University of California at Los Angeles rejected the establishment of a Turkish Studies program because of the strong Armenia lobby. Is it a crime to study Turkish history in America? Turkish diplomats have been assassinated by Armenian terrorists in the United States and abroad. And most sadly, thousands of Azeri Turks have died in Nagorno-Karabakh, while Armenians try to hide this fact by distorting the facts.
The real question to ask is, who will remember the Turkish people who are currently suffering at the hands of Armenians?
Sevgi Ertan '98