29 Jun

ATA-A Condemns Istanbul Terror Attacks

The Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance (ATA-A) condemns the latest terrorist attack in Istanbul and calls up on all community organisations and leaders to take a stand against this gross assault on human life.

There are no excuses to justify the violent acts against human life.

This attack was not only against Turkey but the citizens of the world as terrorists stormed one of Europe’s busiest airports airport with guns, hand grenades and suicide vests.
Video footage of the event reportedly shows security guards fighting off at least one of the attackers.
The attack has left nearly 50 people dead and many more injured.

Among the many expression of sympathy, a phone call has touched us all in particular. Australian Vietnam War Veteran Lindsay Gazzard from Paramatta, NSW wanted to express his sympathies personally and called ATA-A.
On a day like this the conversation with Mr Gazzard and his warm words mean a lot to us, more than anything else. It is encouraging to know we are all together against these kind of evil acts.
It is comforting to know that the people of Turkey are not alone in their never-ending fight against terror.

Mr Gazzard told us to ‘stay strong’ and we will, knowing people who believe in the value of human life outnumber those who murder and massacre the innocent to make political statements.

We are grateful to all Australians who stand by us in solidarity during yet another hard day like this.


10 Jun

A bad day in the Bundestag


There is possibly not one German parliamentarian sufficiently well informed to pass judgment on what happened to the Armenians during the First World War. If there is such a person, he or she could never vote for such a resolution, given the mountain of evidence standing in the way of the claim of genocide.

By Jeremy Salt

In voting to ‘acknowledge’ the Armenian claim of genocide the Bundestag has taken a decision which is going to backfire in all sorts of practical ways. The central issue, however, is truth. There is possibly not one German parliamentarian sufficiently well informed to pass judgment on what happened to the Armenians during the First World War. If there is such a person, he or she could never vote for such a resolution, given the mountain of evidence standing in the way of the claim of genocide.

The resolution refers to the ‘almost complete extermination of the Armenians’ and the ‘pogroms’ against other Christians, namely the Assyrians and Chaldeans. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Armenians survived the war, in the Ottoman Empire and surrounding lands.   The figure of one or 1.5 million ‘massacred’ is a double untruth because the true death toll was probably about 600,000, still a huge number, without any need of exaggeration.   This was the figure given by the victorious powers after the war. If it has been bumped up in recent decades, that is because Armenian lobbyists and propagandists need the higher figure to justify their claim of genocide.

Furthermore, those who died were not all ‘massacred’: many were but by far the greater number died of exposure, disease or malnutrition or were killed in combat, the exact combination of causes which took the lives of about 2.5 million Ottoman Muslim civilians during the war. There is no mention in this resolution of the Muslim death toll or of the slaughter of Muslims by Armenians, especially when northeastern Anatolia was occupied by the Russians and their Armenian protégés between 1916-18. The archival evidence of survivors indicates that at least 500,000 Muslims were massacred between 1914-19. There are many Ottoman documents dealing with these terrible events and the absolute sadism and savagery of Armenian bands. There is no shortage of detail on what they did to their Muslim victims: the evidence comes not from one source but from many sources across eastern Anatolia. Neither is there any mention of the Muslims driven out of the Caucasus or eastern Anatolia by the Russian army and/or Armenians during the war. A German parliament expresses sympathy for Christian victims of Muslims but not sympathy the Muslim victims of Christians. They do not even rate a mention. It accuses ‘the Turks’ of genocide but not Armenians, when the evidence indicates that such a claim could easily be made against them on the basis of evidence sitting in the Ottoman and Russian archives?

The resolution wants Turks to face up to the expulsion and massacre of Armenians. In fact, while there is disagreement over numbers and use of the word ‘genocide’, Turks, generally speaking, have already acknowledge the large-scale killing of Armenians by their forebears. It is the Armenians who need to face up to the slaughter of Muslims by their ancestors, not just in Anatolia but across the border in Azerbaijan. As long as the Armenians are encouraged by parliamentarians to cling to their own partisan view of history they will never to have to engage with their own dark history: far from reconciliation being brought closer it will be pushed further away.

Armenian political committees and a section of the Ottoman Assyrian Christians threw in their lot with the Russians and were properly regarded by the Ottoman authorities as traitors. They gambled on a victory in which Russia would share and they lost in 1917 when the Bolsheviks pulled Russia out of the war. Tens of thousands of Ottoman Armenians sabotaged the war effort of the Ottoman government from behind the lines. By turning against the Ottoman government they jeopardized the safety of all their co-religionists. Severe losses on the battlefront deprived the Ottoman military command of the manpower needed to staunch attacks on lines of communication and supply as well as Muslim towns and villages. It was for this reason that the army recommended the ‘relocation’ of the Armenian population from the war zone at the end of May, 1915. The general staff believed that Armenian attacks were jeopardizing the entire war off.

Claims of genocide are also made by Ottoman Greeks, many of whom sided with the Greek army during the joint attack on the Ottoman state by four Balkan states (Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece) in 1912. Greece attacked again in 1919, launching what Arnold Toynbee called a ‘war of extermination’ against the Turks. These events fell within the period (1914-1923) in which the Ottomans were said to be committing genocide against the Armenians, yet have no place in parliamentary genocide resolutions or the studies of the international network of ‘genocide scholars. The same scholars show no interest in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Balkans, the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia from early in the 19th century until the end of the First World War. Millions were massacred or driven out of their homelands for the simple reason that they were Muslim.

Some of the eastern Anatolian provinces were depopulated of up to 60 per cent of their Muslim inhabitants during the First World War. Returning Ottoman forces encountered scenes of horror, the bodies and body parts of Muslims strewn through ruined towns by Armenian killers. As can be seen from these events, the ethnic cleansing of about one million Azerbaijanis from the Nagorno-Karabagh enclave by Armenians in 1991 and the Khojaly massacre of 1992 did not occur in a historical vacuum but within the context of earlier massacres and attempts at ethnic cleansing.

Like many other such resolutions the German declaration gives April 24 as the start of the ‘genocide’, whereas the far more important date is a week earlier when Armenians launched an uprising in Van, overthrowing the government by early May and handing the city over to the Russians. In the process tens of thousands of Muslims in the city and the villages around the lake were slaughtered. Tens of thousands more Muslim villagers poured out of the Van province to get away from the advancing Russian army and Armenian gangs. Such events have no place in the mainstream ‘genocide’ narrative for the obvious reason that they would spoil it. In ignoring the tremendous suffering of the Muslims throughout the war the German parliamentarians reveal the mindset of 19th century orientalists.

Much of the mainstream narrative on the Armenian question is based on lies or wild exaggerations. No decision was ever taken to ‘exterminate’ the Armenians. The ‘evidence’ produced by people like Taner Akcam is laughable and the fact that it could even see the light of day is the real evidence – of the ignorance and bias of mainstream publishers and their failure to maintain proper academic standards when it comes to this issue.

While holding the Ottoman government responsible, the Bundestag resolution does not mention the responsibility of the Ottoman Armenian committees or the three powers – Russia, Britain and France – who encouraged and armed the Armenians and Assyrians for their own selfish reasons. Furthermore, in blaming ‘the Turks’ or the wartime Ottoman government, German and other parliamentarians ignore the fact that the killers of Armenians in the eastern Anatolian provinces were often tribal Kurds. Why, after living in reasonable amity for hundreds of years, were Kurds killing Armenian Christians? Because the Armenians had been killing them: in a tribal society nothing but revenge could be expected when the time was right.

The Ottoman archives contain many documents instructing provincial officials to make sure the ‘relocation’ was properly handled. When the central government received news that the Armenian convoys were being attacked it instructed provincial authorities to tighten security and make sure the perpetrators were punished. These documents stressed that the only object of the ‘relocation’ was only to move the Armenians. The determination of the government to prevent the situation from worsening is very clear. In the autumn of 1915, with attacks on the Armenians continuing, it set up three commissions of inquiry into the crimes that had been committed. They recommended the court-martials of more than 1600 people: more than 50, including senior provincial officials, were sentenced to death and hundreds of others were imprisoned.

Great crimes were committed during the First World War and its aftermath, not just by ‘the Turks’ but by Armenians, Greeks and Kurds. More than a century has passed but objectivity has long since been lost in a swamp of politics and propaganda. If Kurds don’t want the Turkish government to be let off the hook over the Armenians, that is because of what is happening in the southeastern Turkey now, not what happened there more than a century ago. For Armenians and many Kurds the common enemy are the Turks, so it is only they who are to be held solely responsible.

Genocide is the most serious accusation that can be made against a national group and one that should only be made when the facts are crystal clear and beyond plausible challenge. This is clearly not the case with the Armenian genocide claim. Picking up on the German resolution the editorial committee of the New York Times has handed down its own judgment. Overlooking the ethnic cleansing/genocide of the Herero and Nama people of southwest Africa (by German colonial administrators) from 1904-7 and the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from southeastern Europe during the Balkans war (1912-13), it says the Armenians suffered the first genocide of the 20th century. As the editorial committee of the New York Times is not known for any specialized knowledge of late Ottoman history, this declaration is fatuous. German politicians seem to think they are doing some good with this resolution but they are not. Their vote was a victory for propaganda and lobbyists and a defeat for truth in history. It deserves to be rejected out of hand.



03 Jun

Germany is Wrong, Still Not Genocide

Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance (ATAA) questions the wisdom behind the Bundestag’s decision to pass a motion calling the events of 1915 as genocide.

Genocide is a precisely defined legal term, as upheld by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Bundestag has decided to call the events of 1915 as genocide without any court decision; therefore, the wording of the motion has no legal basis or standing.

Politicians have no right to re-write history, their motives in doing so is questionable to say the least.

ATAA, thanks and congratulates the Australian Federal Government for not bringing such contentious historic issues to the table.

Although some local politicians, for cheap gains, in the past have passed motions at local and state levels, Our Federal Government has shown true leadership and statesmanship.


We are a Nation that’s draws people from 192 nations. ATAA believes our multicultural harmony would come under threat if such judgements, siding with one community’s version of past events over another’s, is adopted here.

ATAA believes Bundestag’s decision is the result of ongoing tension between the Turkish Government and Germany Government over Syrian Refugees, and nothing to do with events that happened 101 years ago.

This motion does not serve any purpose other than to infuriate more than 250 million Turkic people around the world. It will not serve in any reconciliation process between two neighbours, Armenia and Turkey.

Besides, politicians should work on delivering better services to their constituents and leave historical debates to historians.

German motion, legally and historically speaking, still does not qualify the events of 1915 as genocide. It is only political gamesmanship.

There are 160+ countries which do not recognize the Armenian narrative of the past. There is not one single court order which has delivered such a ruling.

16 May

Armenian Propaganda and the Anzacs

‘‘Friends tell the truth’’ but don’t let the truth spoil a good story!

History without contextual understanding serves to no purpose, else than furthering the narrator’s biased agenda. Most of the respected academics today are aware of the hardships of understanding the events of the past. As more research done on contentious subjects such as the events of 1915, the debate grows. Some documents are proven to be false or numbers are being challenged. New evidence provides new perspectives to singular events that shape the understanding of bigger tragedies.

Professor Peter Stanley and his protégé Vicken Babkenian co-authored a book called Armenia, Australia and the Great War. The aim of the book is not to further our understanding of the events of 1915. The authors aim to draw Australia into a foreign and contentious debate. They want Australians to have a biblical belief in their side of the story.

Babkenian and Stanley are using media and the floors of NSW Parliament with the support of the Armenian lobby, to ‘lecture’ Australians about how to see the events of the past.

The book, sadly, does not provide any new evidence to the case. It only builds a new narrative by using the Anzacs for the same old tale. Stanley writes in his Epilogue:

‘We are told by deniers that it can’t be genocide because there is no evidence…it is true there is no single document…the absence of proof, as historians say, is not proof of absence’ (P 280)

By deniers, he means us, the Australian Turkish community, and freethinking people who question mainstream narratives. First of all, one should not forget that we do not deny great tragedies happened during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Millions of civilians living peacefully for centuries under Ottoman rule had to flee brutal uprisings, wars. However, Armenians in Diaspora continue to raise their pain above others’ and want the world to recognize a tragedy that affected more than five million people as theirs and theirs only.

To this date, as Stanley points out, genocide advocates failed to provide one single official document that would prove Ottoman government’s intention was to exterminate Armenians in 1915 or any other day. According to the respectable international courts, genocide is a precisely defined legal term and one has to prove ‘intent’ for the destruction of a community for any event to be labeled as genocide. This crucial point is the most contentious part in this debate. There is not a single official document that can be used as an evidence of the Ottoman state intention to destroy Armenians and Stanley agrees to this.

The British released Ottoman POWs and bureaucrats accused of carrying out crimes against humanity from Malta due to lack of evidence in 1921. Although the British High Command in the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, as victors and occupiers had access to every document in government archives, they failed to find one single document that could be used against those in Malta.

We do not deny the suffering of all parties involved. We say both parties suffered and Ottoman courts in fact punished dozens of its own officers to death for misconduct during deportations. However, labeling those events as ‘genocide’ is legally wrong and misleading.

Stanley accuses those who challenge Armenian narrative and his own convictions almost as being morally inferior. He writes in his Prologue: ‘We will not be drawn into the unnecessary argument over whether the Armenian genocide happened. That debate is over.’ (P5)

This attitude against debate is preventing efforts to reconcile. He continues in the Epilogue: ‘because the two sides cannot be both right…’ and attempts to build a dichotomy. ‘You are either with us or not’ style rhetoric is not the way to find the truth. We call the events of 1915, a botched deportation during a time of chaos. They call it “genocide”. The intention behind this necessary operation aiming at improving national security was not ethnic cleansing, a fact that had been proven over and over again.

Vicken Babkenian’s credibility, even as an amateur historian, is also questionable. His lack of discipline as an academic is evident in his style of presenting events. Even in his first pages, he proves his weak research skills or intention to manipulate numbers. Babkenian writes: ‘…Armenian migration that today has culminated in an Armenian_Australian community of over 50,000 people…’

According to a study of latest census in 2011 released by Department of Immigration and Border Protection, there are 16,723 people define themselves as Armenian by heritage or ancestry. Armenians in Australia, use this ‘50,000’ number very often, like the 1.5-million, the number they use to quantify victims of the events of 1915 to back their claims. Turkey and ‘genocide denier’ historians challenge this figure as well. After all Vicken Babkenian presents himself as a researcher at the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, an organization which is registered to an address Morayfield, Queensland.

Babkenian , from time to time contradicts, discredits his own sources. He outlines the details of the War Precautions Act and writes about government led censorship and propaganda through newspaper articles during war years. ‘…the state capitals’ daily newspapers were conscious of their patriotic and imperial mission.’ (P102) Yet the same chapter has 21 references, 11 of which are those same newspapers and articles published in those newspapers.

We could go on more and more about the factual mistakes, missing context and racist narrative in the book, but authors also pre-emptively close any prospects of a debate, so we will leave it here.

Armenia, Australia and the Great War is a book that aims to force you to pick a side on a foreign and contentious debate by using the Anzacs. It serves to no constructive purpose that would help both communities to reconcile and work together for a better Australia.

Never Again:

Genocide studies and academic debate are crucial for humanity to not to witness similar tragedies of the past again. International systems have been established to prevent civilians to be targeted by state apparatus or armed groups. Terms such as “ethnic” or “religious cleansing” should no longer be needed to define events we witness in the news. Unfortunately, all our attempts have failed so far to prevent crimes against humanity from happening again. Even after Rwanda, Serbia and Sudan; crimes against humanity are still being committed in large scales in Iraq, Syria and Somalia.

So, we have to ask the hard question to ourselves. Is it the ‘denial’ of labeling events of 1915 as genocide or other parties’ including Armenian’s self-claim of no responsibility to blame for such events to continue to happen today? How much the biased reading of history prevents us to understand the real causes of great tragedies? How much responsibility the super powers of the world bear in supporting ethnic and religious groups with arms and no action in supra-national institutions?

After all, without an open and honest debate, how can we find ways to stop tragedies as such to ever happen again?

Would real friends insult, intimidate or belittle you, when you ask questions?