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Australia's misplaced friendship with Turkey


Armenian Genocide Protestor

The NSW Parliament recently passed a resolution condemning the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman empire against its Assyrian, Pontic Greek and especially Armenian communities during the Great War. 

The Turkish Consul-General in Sydney, the foreign ministry in Ankara and even the city council in Çanakkale (Gallipoli) immediately responded. They deny that the genocide had even occurred and have warned state parliamentarians that they will not be welcome in Turkey when the two nations commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in 2015.

Australians unaware of the details might be surprised at the vehemence of the Turkish response. Aren’t Turkey and Australia friends? Don’t the Turks generously welcome Australian and New Zealand visitors to Gallipoli throughout the year but especially in April? What have we done to offend them?

The answer is that the parliamentarians have had the temerity to acknowledge the truth about one of the great crimes against humanity of the twentieth century. (Let’s for the moment put aside the question of whether a parliament’s view is even relevant. If the parliamentarians had resolved that the genocide had not happened it would still be an historical fact. But both Turks and Armenians regard legislative endorsement of their version of the past as scalps, and the Armenians are winning.)

Australians have been captivated by the Turkish narrative of Gallipoli. The Turkish nation has built around the campaign (in which they defeated a British (and Anzac) and French invasion of Turkish soil) a national epic of salvation. That Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of the modern Turkish nation, commanded some of its defenders makes Gallipoli part of Turkey’s national founding myth. In this the two nations have something in common.

The problem is that the day before the 1915 invasion, the Ottoman empire, suspicious of its Armenian minority, embarked upon the systematic elimination of the empire’s Armenian population. Impartial scholars accept that about a million-and-a-half of the empire’s two million Armenians were killed directly or died of starvation and sickness over the next few years. Neutral missionaries and diplomats, and even Turkey’s German allies witnessed and reported the massacres and deportations – as did Anzac prisoners of war. 

The world was outraged at the time, and the surviving Armenian community, including a substantial Armenian diaspora in the Middle East, Europe, North America and Australia, has never forgotten it. Turkey, on the other hand, denies that genocide occurred, disputing its definition in international law or arguing that while villagers may have been deported they died of incidental causes. 

The NSW resolution disrupts the astoundingly successful charm offensive Turkey has conducted in Australia for years, fostering a positive relationship with Australia through the shared ordeal of Gallipoli. The NSW resolution, instigated by Australia’s energetic Armenian National Council and promoted by the Christian Democrat MP Rev. Fred Nile (but also by the premier Barry O’Farrell), has upset Australia’s acquiescence with Turkey’s desire to emphasise the shared history of Gallipoli while eliminating any reference to the genocide.

You might argue that the Armenian genocide is remote from the Australian experience of the Great War. In fact, Australian troops (both prisoners of war and as combatants) encountered the genocide and its effects, and Australian civilians contributed vast amounts of money and time to the international relief effort mounted from 1915 and for years after. In effect, Australian troops in the Middle East were fighting to defeat a regime capable of state sponsored atrocity, just as Australia’s forces in the Second World War were fighting to defeat the regime responsible for the Holocaust. The Armenian genocide is part of the story of the Great War, something to which Australians should not be blind, and certainly not blinded by Turkish denial.

The controversy obliges Australians to take sides. I am an impartial historian, having been convinced of the facts by the historical evidence. That claim makes me immediately suspect in Turkish eyes. I suppose I’ll be banned as well. But having examined the evidence, I am co-writing a book on Australia and the Armenian genocide. As President of the recently-formed coalition Honest History, dedicated to standing up for honesty in our relationship to the past, I cannot connive at the falsification of history.

Australia and Turkey are friends. But friends tell each other the truth. They don’t react like children – ‘if you say that you can’t be my friend anymore!’ Turkey’s extraordinary response to the NSW parliamentarians will oblige Australians to choose between being a friend of Turkey or being a friend of the truth. I know which way I choose.

Peter Stanley headshotProfessor Peter Stanley is a military historian at the University of NSW, Canberra.

Armenian Genocide Protest image from Shutterstock.com

Topic tags: Peter Stanley, Armenian Genocide, Turkey, Fred Nile, Barry O'Farrell, NSW Government, Gallipoli



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Existing comments

Turkish People dont get out of their way to murder people.Why dont you mention what armenians did before hand with the Rusians?

Bevan | 23 August 2013  

Mr. Stanley you fail to state in your article that there is also many Western Historians and academics who vehemently state that there is no evidence to suggest that such a genocide had occured. You also fail to note that the term genocide was define during the Nuremberg Trials. So how could you allege that the Ottoman Empire (again not modern day Turkey) committed a genocide when the term was not even coined back then? Please do explain.

TheTruth | 23 August 2013  

Turkey's archive is open and can be visited by any historian including Armenian. What about Armenian archives? No they are not open the insist not to open it. Since they have lot to hide. Mr Peter have you ever visited Turkey gone through Ottoman document. Can you read understand Ottoman Language? Or all your source are Christian narratives? You never talk about Greek and Armenian gangs. How many people they murdered. You never talk about Balkans that Ottomans get 2 million people moved into country and 1 million muslim murdered over there at the same time but no they are muslim so no need to mention. What would hapen not 100 years ago but today 2 million people moved into Australia compared to 100 years ago no transportation power so on. What about the biggest force ever made to attack a country and weak Ottoman army let alone weapon no food no cloth. Guess what supported by Russians and French Armenian and Greek gangs attacking Turkish villages and killing everyone no sparing kids or women and this is lasting a few years like that. How would Australia react if suppose Japans and allies attack Australia with 400-500 ships meanwhile 2 million Australian in these countries moved to Australia and another 1 million massacared in Japan. On top of that with Japan and China supported gangs taking the opprtunity and behind the front line attacking Australian villages and killing and burning everyone. Would you welcome them or turn back and say wait a minute this is ungratefulness. Unfortunately you do not mention single truth here. You certainly politically motivated claims to move people only one direction without any proof. Certainy many innocent Turk, Greek and Armenian killed but just the christian mentioned here. Muslims are not human in your book. All started by Armenian and Greeks does not tell you anything. 1.5 million claimed but There were not 1.5 million Armenians at that time living in Ottoman rule does not tell you much. Or more than 400 thousand counted Armenian reach Syria (at that time Ottoman soil) does not tel you much. Today many living in Europe and America all from Ottoman land does not tell you much and there are almost 100 thousand illegal Armenian workers working in Turkey today Why they would come back to a country that they massacred. Mr Peter as you see 1000 word article is not enough to move people into certain direction. These things happen on Ottoman land you need to come research our archive and Armenian and Russian and German and English. It is not easy job of 500 word article written with google search and what some christian missioner.

so-called genoside | 23 August 2013  

Dear Peter

Thank you for enlightening me on such a fundamentally important human righst issue. Turkey's denial of the Armenian genocide is a shameful act which needs to be known about and condemned.

David | 23 August 2013  

These days, in the golden glow of two national mythologies, it seems as if the Gallipoli campaign was a heroic, chivalrous combat between two heroes. It wasn't, of course. Oh, there was heroism. The real heroism of the common man as ordinary soldier. Fighting in basically what was a war between the British Empire and Allies and the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires and Allies. Interesting the British sent none of their Guards Regiments with titled officers to die there. Like the disastrous (for combatants) Gallipoli Campaign the Armenian Genocide was planned at the highest level. I suppose, psychologically, this carryover from the "glorious" Ottoman Empire, whose memory seems to be something many in post-Ataturk Republican Turkey seem to be attempting to revive, may be "too hard" for many to bear. I think the first Turkish account of the Genocide was written and published in Germany by a Turk resident there. Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, had considerable trouble when he spoke openly about it. It is a pity that your field is neither Modern Turkish History nor Modern Turkish Politics nor are you proficient with either Classical nor Modern Turkish. Someone in those fields with those competencies, provided they were allowed access to the Ottoman Ministry of War's Archives could really write something.

Edward F | 23 August 2013  

Professor Stanley should be commended for his stance on historical truth - an important notion for building a better future. The professor should also turn his attention to FYROM where the concept of historical truth is totally non existent.

Chris M | 23 August 2013  

Yes, friends tell the truth, but friends also listen to friend's side of the history. I grew up listening to horror stories of how Turkish women, children and men suffered in the hands of Armenians, how they were slaughtered because Armenians decided to make the most of the situation and wanted to carve the east and south Turkey for themselves at the knee of my grandfather. I wept when he showed me his scars. They were horrific. My family instilled in me that it was the war not the people and I should love all. And like majority of Turks, I hold all races dear in my heart. In your arrogance you call the Turkish Government, who represents the Turkish people, childish because they dared to disagree with you and want to honour the wishes of their people including myself to deny invitations to some politicians. There is no reason, those politicians and yourself can’t apply for the 8500 ticket lottery and go as a tourist. You are entitled to your own conclusions but not to the arrogance of expecting all Turks agreeing with you. Good luck in your book. As a Turkish Australian, I wish you well.

Nesrin Akman | 23 August 2013  

Hi Mr Stanley, Turkey's denialist lobby has been very active for many years with its funding of academia and very questionable scholarship. Many a non-Turkish academic know not to look a gift horse in the mouth. One just need look at Topal Osmans personal report to see the extent of systematic carnage inflicted on Armenian peoples, right across the country. I would also suggest that if you research further, you will note a distinct pattern and method across the Greek and Assyrian communities as well. The biggest impact on the Greek communities was not during WW1,lthough was prevalent, but prior, and after. One can also obtain a copy online of Talaat Pasha's personal report on numbers and levels of regional cleansing from his recently found report, courtesy of his family before the Turkish authorities found it first.(see link.) http://www.academia.edu/4167489/Talaat_Pashas_Report_on_the_Armenian_Genocide You must also understand the process they enacted to render the minority communities harmless in order to carry out their plans, this is also documented. I personally had the privilege of speaking and living with one such person who lived through these years and experienced these events. I heard it directly from his mouth what went on, and know the truth.

Bill | 23 August 2013  

Prof Stanley, you have vindicated fully why you served as the Australian War Memorial's chief historian/curator for two decades. Your meticulous work - including on the Stolen Years exhibition - is on full display in this amazing piece of writing. Congratulations on a brilliant piece. Looking forward to the AWM's response.

The Genocides of the indigenous Armenians, Assyrians and Hellenes of eastern Thrace and Anatolia was one of the main drivers of Raphael Lemkin's work in codifying the concept of genocide. In his notes and publications in the 1930s and 1940s, Lemkin repeatedly cited these cases as examples of genocide. Check them out online.

Prof Stanley's essay is a major contribution to the efforts to restore the Genocides to their rightful place in Australian historiography. Australians witnessed the deportations of Armenians , Hellenes and Assyrians. Australians rescued Armenians and Assyrians from massacre and starvation across the Middle East. Australians saved tens of thousands of Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic lives by donating money, food and clothing throughout the 1920s.

Hopefully, Dr Brendan Nelson, who has substantial knowledge of the Genocides, will heed Prof Stanley's implied call and add this page to the ANZAC story in the nation's premier military history institution.

Yizkor - Memory | 24 August 2013  

What about the genoside of greek cypriots in 1974?5000 greek cypriotslost their lives and 1700 are missing.a very big number for a small country.the turkish history is full of genosides and nothing else.can anyone name anything good the turks gave the world;and dont forget what is happening today in syria and egypt is the product of the new sultan of turkey ertogan.the man is dangerous for the world peace

ellinas charalambous | 24 August 2013  

Thank you, Peter, for your courageous article.

As the wall of silence in Turkey continues to crumble, the voice of denial is becoming increasingly desperate. The arguments of the denialists have become a little more sophisticated, but they remain textbook denialist arguments: reduce numbers, blame the victim, engage in 'relative trivialisation', shift blame to a previous regime, deny the obvious, and the list goes on. Their arguments are akin to a rapist in court protesting: "I didn't rape her, but she deserved it anyway".

The Turkish denial strategy has even included interference in Australian academic affairs by Turkish representatives. In 1988, Turkish consular representatives in Sydney attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent the Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies at Macquarie University from teaching the Armenian Genocide. A decade later, the Turkish Consul-General attempted, again unsuccessfully, to prevent a Genocide conference from going ahead at the same university.

Hopefully the stories of ANZAC eyewitnesses, the research of historians such as yourself and the uncovering of Australia's generous story of humanitarian relief among Armenian Genocide survivors will continue to raise awareness in Australia of what really took place in 1915-23. Acknowledging the past is important, not just for the Armenians, but for Turkey.

Armen Gakavian | 24 August 2013  

Thank You Mr Stanley! from a Canadian Armenian.

Raffi B | 24 August 2013  

"Bravo" to Eureka Street.com, to Peter Stanley, to Australian politicians and everyone in Australia who has rejected Turkey's denialist policies. Of the many reasons why Turkey refuses to acknowledge the truth is that the Ataturk's government was funded by the property Ataturk and his cohorts stole/confiscated from the 1.5 million Armenians Turkey had slain.

Jirair Tutunjian | 24 August 2013  

What about the killing of the aborigines in Australia and taking their land from them? Which is very recent and at home!! Ottomans have been very good to other nationals over its history. Can the same be said for other western countries . They went and invaded and then used the locals to kill their own brothers and sisters, manipulated by colonial powers.

So please just don't pick on a nation because it is of different religion and a country the west never managed to rule. Unfortunately they are still trying!!!

Anil lee | 24 August 2013  

Sad to see a number of comments that reflect the shameful denial of the crimes against humanity committed by Turkey. These are historical FACTS and documented as GENOCIDE by the International Association of Genocide Scholars - www.genocidescholars.org - which is based on hard evidence. The Ottoman, Young Turk and Nationalist Turkish governments were all guilty of Genocide. That last stage of Genocide is the denial that it ever happened and modern Turkey is guilty of this behavior. For anyone who cares about the truth you can read it here - http://www.genocidescholars.org/resources/resolutions

Congratulations to Peter Stanley for shining a much needed light on this topic.

Mike Drake | 24 August 2013  

To all Turks who deny the Armenian Genocide. How do you explain the thousands of ruined Armenian churches littered across Anatolia? Where are the people who worshipped in those churches that you have now turned into mosques and stables?

hyejack | 24 August 2013  

Dear Peter
Thank you for having the courage to speak out about one the world’s most fundamental human-rights issue – Genocide. What is quite unique about your argument is the fact that the Armenian Genocide is not only part of Australia’s military history but also forms an integral part of our nation’s social and cultural history.
I would especially like to thank those denialists who have posted comments on this site as they remind us about the urgency to prevent genocide from re-occurring. Genocide scholars have long regarded denial as the final stage of genocide – the attempt to consolidate and solidify the gains made by act of killing and eradicating an ethnic or religious group. In regards to the “Ottoman archives don’t prove genocide” argument, Turkish scholar Prof. Taner Akcam provides perhaps the most comprehensive analysis in chapter one of his latest ground-breaking book, “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity”, Princeton University Press, 2012. Akcam states “even after the various housecleanings and quite possibly, deliberate sterilizations of the Ottoman archives, the material remaining therein nevertheless contains ample information that fundamentally contradicts the official version of events long proffered by the Turkish government and its allies”, p. 26.

Daniel | 24 August 2013  

To Nesrin Akman You seem to have misconstrued Peter’s article. Peter’s criticism is focused on Turkey’s official state policy on the Armenian genocide as well as Australia’s current cultural amnesia. His article is not about the differing views of the Turkish people on the subject matter. There were many brave Turkish governors in 1915 who defied the deportation orders, and there are many courageous Turkish citizens today who are outspoken on the Armenian genocide – some at risk of prosecution. There’s no doubt that during the carnage of the First World War, especially in the Ottoman-Russian border regions both Turks and Armenians were exposed to ethnic carnage. However, in the words of Turkish academic Fatma Ulgen, the WW1 genocide of the Armenians was ‘a one-sided destruction of a largely defenceless community by the agents of a sovereign state’. In almost every town and village in Anatolia, Armenians were simultaneously massacred and deported simply because of the ethnic group they belonged to. Many of the massacres and deportations occurred in places which were far from the war zones such as Ankara and Afyon Karahissar. These 2 cities were chosen as the main internment camps for allied POWs because of their distance from the war zones. Dear Nesrin, not everyone is expected to agree with Peter, because not everyone has yet distanced themselves from the ideology that was responsible for the genocide. There are some who continue to support Turkey’s exclusionary policy of ethnic homogeneity at the expense of its indigenous Christian and Kurdish populations. Perhaps you may want to reflect on which side of the moral fence you stand.

Afyon | 24 August 2013  

You have obviously touched a raw nerve with some people of Turkish origin and their sympathisers, Peter. As I said, the main matter at issue is what happened in Ottoman Turkey to its Armenian population during WW 1. There are several reasons why this has been airbrushed from Republican Turkish historical memory. I believe the matter is not taught, or taught improperly, based on incorrect evidence, if at all, in Turkish schools. Much - not all - of the mistreatment and murder of Armenians, like that of the Assyrians in post-British Iraq, was the work of Kurds, who now cast themselves in the victim-hero role and want their own state, which they are most unlikely to achieve, except for the Kurdish zone in Northern Iraq. They also would have many reasons to be silent. As I said, what happened in Turkey is the main game. I understand what you and others are doing. How much it will change things in Turkey I wonder. I think Turks, like Germans in regard to the Holocaust, need to accept this Shadow side to their history. Germans have and have moved on.

Edward F | 25 August 2013  

It's becoming clear to all that Turkey has pulled off the most successful mass genocide of Christians in all the middle east.. Good on the NSW government and people like Peter Stanley for bringing these mass crimes against humanity to light.

Simon | 25 August 2013  

Thank you Professor Stanley, could you please add Hrant Dink as one of the latest example of Turkish denial and brutal acts.

Armenian | 25 August 2013  

All NSW parliamentarians are welcome at Gallipoli for the purpose of honouring the Anzacs. This invitation is extended by Greek people everywhere who are the traditional owners of the land and who lived there right up to the outbreak of WWI. In fact while digging trenches the Anzacs often uncovered ancient Greek pottery which they sent to London. The genocide is a historical fact but the persistence of the Turkish government's denial is fast reaching the point of being a crime in its own right. Unless the Turkish government acknowledges the genocide, it has little right to call itself civilized. Turkey will gain respect by admitting what happened. On the contrary it will reap much condemnation for accusing the Anzacs for fabricating accounts of what they saw and recorded. If we cannot believe our dead Anzacs then why honour them.

Peter | 25 August 2013  

As I and my family will be stepping off a plane in Istanbul tomorrow, my sister in Australia warned us not to get involved in any conversations about Gallipoli. How pathetic is it that after all these years, and the mutual respect and recognition that both countries have forged over this piece of 'sacred ground', that politicians who are renowned for shooting their mouths off, have opened old wounds about an incident which may / may not have happened nearly 100 years ago. It puts us firmly in the realm of the Irish troubles (which is in-bred in each generation) or the obsession the Israelis have with the 'Holocaust'. The Japanese treatment of Allied POW's is well documented and photographed, yet we don't hold on to animosity and hatred two generations later. For God's sake Fred Nile, et al should shut their mouths, show continued respect for the ANZAC story, spirit and tradition, and allow those of us who have peaceful interaction and exchange with the Turkish people and their land, to continue to build respectful harmonious relationships. So, to the honourable member of the house, please continue to do what you do best - blow a lots of hot air around that no-one is actually listening to, and let the rest of us live and let live !

Michael | 25 August 2013  

To Bevan. "Turkish people don't get out of their way to murder people." That's exactly what your Mongol ancestors did when they left Central Asia and invade Anatolia all the way to the gates of Vienna. How do you think Empires are built?

hyejack | 25 August 2013  

Nobody in Turkey is trying to deny Armenian suffering. Most people acknowledge it. But the problem is Armenians deny Turkish suffering, because at the time, there was a very bloody civil war where Armenians, Greeks and Pontians (neither Pontians nor Armenians have rights to the Black Sea, the people who have most rights are the Laz people, which I come from) were trying to promote seperatism to divide Turkey's borders and wanted to erase Turkey off the map. Sadly, Greeks and Armenians lost the war and Turkey was victorious. What is happening is the Armenian diaspora is pushing a one sided narrative of history because they want to steal land from Turkey and try to plot to wipe Turkey off the map again (they are pushing a one sided narrative due to the fact they lost a war and think they will be successful, but in reality they won't once Turkey gets rid of the non-patriotic traitor Erdogan). How about mentioning how Armenians were being used like pawns by the Russians and the French?

Ahmet H. Karangil | 25 August 2013  

thank you, peter, for standing up and being counted as we all must

f hetherton | 25 August 2013  

Thank you for this article, Peter. There are still those who stubbornly deny this genocide ever took place. My closest childhood friend was of Armenian origin and I have been well aware of the reasons why her family was scattered throughout the US, Lebanon and Europe. If Germany can face up to it's past, why can't Turkey?. Barbara H.

Barbara Harland | 25 August 2013  

Stepping back from the passion of the comments to date, I have two questions:
1. Given the division of powers in the Australian federation, why does a State parliament pass a resolution concerning an historical event in another country?
2. Given the mass killings in State-induced famines in Ukraine during Stalin's era and China during Mao's time - both sets of mass-killings exceeding the numbers of Armenians and other minorities killed in Turkey - why does the NSW Parliament single out Turkey for special outrage and not these two larger nations we also happen to consider as friends?

Ian Fraser | 25 August 2013  

Friends also use tact, even when talking about grandparents. As far as I understand--and I do pursue this subject--the Turkish & Armenian people within Turkey and Armenia and their younger generations are slowly and carefully reconciling themselves to these 100 year old events and building new relationships in a new world.

Do they really need the likes of Fred Nile with his latest new agenda added to his other inflammatory positions to advise them how to do this? What would he have the Turks do?

It's all so simple for some. Time heals.

Ross | 25 August 2013  

Thank you Peter for a brave and very enlightening article. I note the vigorous Turkish-Australian response. Would you be able to comment on their points about allegations of provocation from "behind the lines" attacks by Christians on Muslim villages and the lack of access to Armenian archives?

Eugene | 25 August 2013  

I suffer from ethnocentrism. I say suffer because it is a mental disorder that impels me to take the view that my own group (the Irish people) is the centre of everything and all other people (especially the English) are scaled and rated with reference to it. Over many decades I have tried to bring this mental disorder under control (with some degree of success) but when I read Prof Stanley's article and the comments on it I realised two things. One, ethnocentrism still affects very much the way I read history and two, I am not alone. I am bemused however by the dispute over whether or not that what happened to Armenian civilians in 1915 at the hands of Ottoman forces should be called genocide. I was brought up to believe that Oliver Cromwell with his massacres of Irish villagers in 1649 was trying to turn Ireland into an English and Protestant country. It was much later in life before I realised that Cromwell was sowing the seeds of his own destruction. Eventually the English people would reject his Puritanical tyranny. I cannot allow atrocities of the past to blind me to the opportunities of today.

Uncle Pat | 25 August 2013  

The measure of any country's (or indeed individual's) maturity lies in its ability and willingness to acknowledge any negative past and resolve at the very least that it/he/she will never act in the same way again. The government, people and education system of modern Germany are a shining example of a country which has come to terms with the horrific side of its past. The current generation bears no responsibility for the sins of their fathers and mothers, and should not, but they do still feel part of the collective guilt for the Nazi past. But the great thing about the Germans is the willingness of its people, academics and government to discuss and process that guilt so that it can never happen again. Germany can today quite rightly take a proud place among the world's active and vibrant democracies. Unfortunately, Japan has not shown itself nearly so ready to acknowledge the brutality of their war record, preferring to see itself as a victim of World War II (through the Atom bomb attacks) rather than as a perpetrator. Its education system is therefore largely silent of its past, and as a result, the Japanese in general tend to be ignorant of the real history of their nation in the early 20th Century, and fairly extreme right-wing politicians can still gain traction. Most countries that have shameful incidents in their past try to sweep them under the carpet. In Australia (and the USA) for many years there was likewise no mention of our at best patriarchal and at worst genocidal treatment of our own indigenous inhabitants. Over the last 10 years, Australians have been rediscovering sometimes very unsavoury aspects of our nation's past that have been hidden or ignored for most of our history. At first there was opposition (the "black-armband view"), but we are gradually coming to terms with this and starting to make progress in reconciliation. No-one can deny that that our own mea culpa is in our own best interests, and helping to heal the hurts that have held both immigrants and indigenous back. Which side in any conflict can truly claim to have no atrocities on its conscience? Australia and Turkey have come to share a history of common heroism and hardship, and it is wonderful that we have become good friends. As in Germany, the current generation of Turks can look with pride at the nation they have built. But good friends should not be afraid of telling one another hard truths, and some friends simply have a bit more growing up to do.

P Miles | 25 August 2013  

Thank you, Peter Stanley for your article.. Much appreciated.

Noel FitzSimons | 25 August 2013  

Thanks for the info, Peter! It's great to hear that a conservative government has the guts to acknowledge openly what is historically correct. I'm sure you have read Geoffrey Robertson QC's book on his research on the Arminian genocide. Robertson has also written articles on this topic. Amazing that people don't know about it!!! I went to hear Neil Oliver when he was in Canberra, a couple of months ago and we were surprised to hear how many lies we have been told about WWI and other histories. It's all bogus stuff. Oliver is re-writing some of the Enlgish history and telling the truth. Keep up the good work, Peter!

Nathalie | 25 August 2013  

People in abusive relationships often relate how their abuser will 'forget' about the abuse next day, and demand that the nagging stop. "Get over it, why don't you"! Unfortunately, minds and hearts don't work that way. For true reconciliation, acknowledgement and repentance are essential. If the present Turkish government could sorrowfully acknowledge the crimes of the past, the victims may be freed to get over it. At the moment, the bitterness is being passed on generation to generation. Thank you, Professor Stanley, for keeping us aware ofthe reason for this suffering.

Joan Seymour | 25 August 2013  

I congratulate Professor Stanley for his stand. He truly challenges his nation to choose between Turkey and the truth. I have visited Turkey and really developed a love for its people and culture so much so that my watch has two sections; one with local time and one with Greek and Turkish time to remind me of a very memorable visit to both. I visited the Gallipoli battle site and always have wondered why troops from A/NZ were sacrificed so needlessly and the consequences for Churchill as is well known. As we say in the USA, "Way to go. Prof. Stanley. RCS

R C Salinas | 25 August 2013  

The Armenian Genocide is not a historical issue it is a political issue because we are not only talking about mass murder of the Armenian people but also mass stealing of land, property, mass conversion of Armenian children to Islam and on top of that the Republic of turkey and successive Turkish governments have been lying for 98 years to not only the rest of the world but its own citizens!

Gabriel | 25 August 2013  

1) Congratulations, NSW parliamentarians, and Prof Stanley. 2) Yes, time heals, but it is greatly helped if the offender admits the offence. 3) I wish the Kurdish people well.

Gavan | 25 August 2013  

Thank you for an excellent article. I am a Greek of Asia minor origin. I am currently doing post graduate research in which I have focused in part on the Greek War of Independence and in particular on the Massacres on Chios and Psara in April & May of 1822. Attempts to have them acknowledged as genocides have fallen on deaf ears. My most reliable estimate is that of a population of 900,000 around a thousand survived. The islands have never recovered. the efforts of the Greeks to gain independence were brutally dealt with on many other occassions. Sometime the Greeks did give as good as they got. Nevertheless there are many stories of mass slaughters by the Turks both in the 1820s, in the period during the 1st WW until 1922, and then in the 1950s, that have never been properly acknowledged by Australian governments because of this strange love affair with the Turks.

Areti Devetzidis | 26 August 2013  

Peter, I have been waiting for an article like this for many years. I have known about it but your writing and submitted comments received to date, have given me a much clearer picture of this terrible tragedy inflicted on the Armenian nation. It deserves a much bigger audience. Ron.

Ron | 26 August 2013  

On 19 May 1985, a total of 69 American Scholars and Academic Historians, who specialise in Turkish, Ottoman and Middle Eastern Studies: declared that there was “no genocide” to the U.S House of Representatives. They agreed that “the weight of evidence… uncovered points in the direct of serious inter communal warfare (perpetrated by Muslim and Christian irregular forces), complicated by disease, famine, suffering …”. Did you also know that the NSW Politicians that you think are so bright also: in October 2012 allowed the State of New South Wales to become the fourth state in the world to recognise the independence of the “Republic of Nagorno Karabakh”, which is a small landlocked province wedged between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The issue I have with this is that the first 3 states have not been recognised by the United Nations!! Such is the level of infiltration achieved by the minority group (which is lead by the Armenian National Committee based in Sydney) into NSW Politics, which can only be considered “embarrassing” for all of us Australians. PS: More fact: In 1919, The British High Commission in Istanbul, utilising Armenian informants, arrested 144 high Ottoman officials and deported them to the island of Malta for trial on charges of harming Armenians. The British Procurator General exonerated and released all 144 detainees after they were held for two years and four months without trial.

Alan Yildiz | 26 August 2013  

Correct me if I am wrong but 18 nations have passed a resolution of fact regarding the Armenian Genocide. I cannot for one moment believe nor accept that state parliamentarians of NSW would blindly pass a resolution without supporting evidence and facts. The underlying facts behind this article is that the current Turkish government is using extortion tactics to deny Australians the opportunity to commemorate a significant part of their history unless they denounce the facts & evidence they have viewed and agreed upon. What's next? Denouncing the theory of evolution because it is not in the Qaran and not allowing entry because you accept scientific fact? Putting the recognition of the Armenian Genocide aside, all Australians should be incensed at the repugnant attitude displayed by so called Turkish "diplomats" .

Axcel | 26 August 2013  

One cannot forget the fate of the Kurds and other minority groups in the Middle East. When the Western Powers carved up the old Ottoman Empire and the Balkans after World War 1 they did not envisage the problems we still face a century later.

John ozanne | 26 August 2013  

I m living Gelibolu in peace with the help of Allah and our heros ... aussies showed lovely friendship us with bullets and cannons we cant forget. Please dont send soldiers and dont hurt us again!) 98 years before Great Britain used Aussy guys for their aims. Now Armenia use Aussies for Armenian aims. My history professor said history is for getting advice for future.

oncu | 27 August 2013  

It is said to see how it is never mentioned the present say aspects of 1915 genocide when discussing the issue. Let me remind you all that since 1993 Turkey by closing the economically most important border with Armenia is trying to asphyxiate its post-Soviet fragile economy thus causing a huge economic emigration from Armenia. How about Turkish threating stance when discussing/negotiating with Armenia on whatever regional topic? Can you imagine Germany behaving like that towards Israel? In any case, thank you Professor for your article and I wish one day, these patriotic Turkish ultra nationalists realize that the greatness of their nation depends on their acceptance of their past and let's never forget that we are all humans, first of all and only afterwards Turks, Armenians or Australians! Looking forward to that day when we make peace with Turks.

Armenian from Armenia | 28 August 2013  

The denials by Turkey of the Armenian genocide and their defensive words against the NSW parliament, tell us that entry into the European Union is premature.

Carol Keane | 28 August 2013  

Peter is president of Honest History, a coalition of historians and others supporting the balanced and honest presentation of our history in the context of the centenary of WWI. For more information: admin@honesthistory.net.au

David Stephens | 28 August 2013  

Thank you Peter for a courage the world took a long time to have. Hoping the federal government will follow the steps of NSW.

Amale | 29 August 2013  

Firstly, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Professor Stanley for being a friend of the truth, and making the Australians aware of the other side of the story of Gallipoli. Persons -especially Turks- commenting on this article, should know that Armenian soldiers, without knowing that their families exterminated at the same time, also died fighting beside the Turks against the invasion in Gallipoli, but who remembers them? As an Armenian living in Australia for 30 years, I feel sad to see that Turks living in Australia still carry on denying the facts based on their limited and wrong historical knowledge. The wrong history that we were thought and brain washed during our primary and secondary education in Turkey. I am also unable to undersand that Turks living in Australia were a loud voice supporting the recognition of the "stolen generation" some years ago. But when the subject is the "stolen generation" of Armenians, indigenous people of Turkey, it is all but denial. Maybe because they don't know the history. Great number of poeple living as Turk or Kurd have Armenian ancestory. Here, I would like to emphasis that most of them have Armenian grandmothers. The mphasis here is grandmother, because, only the good looking Armenian girls escaped the extermination; they were taken as maides or wifes by wealthy or powerful Kurds and Turks, and converted to Islam. These people still hide their true identity because they scared of consequences. I wish, people having negative thoughts of Professor Stanley's article, to learn the truth about the past,(maybe they should read the coming book), move towards a better future.

Alan | 30 August 2013  

I do not believe the Turkey Armenian situation is anything to do with Australia and it is certainly NOT at NSW state issue. The NSW state government had no right saying anything about Turkey and what happened with Armenia. The government should stick to doing what they are paid to do.

Louise | 30 August 2013  

Thank You for standing up for the Armenian people. It is heart warming to see some non-Armenians acknowledging the truth and spreading the word. The impact of this, of course, is always greater coming from someone who isn't Armenian and has nothing to gain but peace with their own conscience. Thank You and God Bless.

Linda Azad | 30 August 2013  

I don't quite understand the argument that if a matter does not concern Australia directly, therefore it is acceptable to ignore historical facts. Human rights issues are universal issues and they affect us all. It is a matter of principle. Modern Turkey is not responsible for what occurred in the past but Turkey has to simply apologise from the Armenian people and stop denying and hiding the truth. We should all be friends of the truth! The fact that the word genocide was not coined or used when the massacre happened does not make Stanely's argument flawed!

Linda | 30 August 2013  

In the case between the Turks and the Armenians, the fact remains that the full narrative of the contested historical period is still a matter of controversy among historians & other scholars. The continued study of this period in Ottoman-Armenian relations is essential. But such study should not require a genocide-or-not-genocide litmus test as an entry point. A scholar should never, I repeat, never, state that a subject is immune from further study or interpretation. To do so is to declare the death of academic freedom. To do so is to declare an absolute truth and that to question it is to commit blasphemy. This one-sided and unreliable information (about any people) after a long period of unchallenged time, would create hostility and hatred that would not be easily overcome. Every day, news from the Middle East is dire. As governments change and conflicts rage on, one worries about the next generation of leaders for Palestine, Syria, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. Are they being given examples showing that after the hostilities, there is the possibility for finding common ground? That dialogue and reconciliation are important steps towards a more prosperous and stable future for their children and every generation thereafter? Is history passed down in a way that considers the perspectives of other cultures? As war and threats of conflict swirl across the continents, it is never too soon to use the lessons of Gallipoli to teach our children not just to honour bravery and sacrifice, but also to recognize that it takes equal measures of great strength and empathy to set aside the tragedies of war and conflict.

Mustafa Kemal | 30 August 2013  

Can anyone relate to this? Daisaku Ikeda of Japan, a Buddhist philosopher, founder of Soka University & recipient of countless literacy, humanitarian & peace awards, as well as more than 300 academic honours, recalls one of his conversations with Prof. Toynbee in his article “Another Way of Seeing Things”; It is as if the land of Turkey is trying to encompass all humanity and make it one, calling out: “West, you may be East in my embrace! East, you may be West in my home!” For the historian Dr. Arnold Toynbee (1889–1975), Turkey had a particular significance, as it was events in Turkey that prompted him to become a pioneer in looking beyond the Eurocentric view of history. During our conversations in his London apartment, he told me that he had once been forced to quit his post at London University because he had “angered people prejudiced against Turks” with his straightforward reporting of events in Turkey. Toynbee visited Turkey in 1921, when he was about 32 years old. He had gone to observe the Greco-Turkish War that had been raging for two years. He first observed conditions from the Greek side, then from the Turkish. For Toynbee, guided as he was by Saint Augustine’s injunction “Audi alteram partem” (Hear the other side), this was absolutely crucial. And he placed particular importance on listening to the side that was “the more in danger of not being given a fair hearing.” As he said: “In the present conflict and controversy between Greeks and Turks, the Greeks were the vocal party once again. The Greeks had the ear of the West, and the West was in the ascendant in the world. I was familiar with the Greeks’ case; I felt that it could take care of itself; the Turks’ case was the one that I must take pains to understand.”

Adrian | 31 August 2013  

"As an Armenian, I never condone terrorism, but there must be a reason behind this. Maybe the terrorism will work. It worked for the Jews. They have Israel.” As quoted in the November 18, 1980 issue of The Christian Science Monitor. [Kevork Donabedian, the editor of The Armenian Weekly, the biggest media organization of the Armenian diaspora in the United States, Hairenik Publishing owned & operated by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (aka Armenian National Committee), parent company of the 'Armenian Relief Society' Charity Fund.]

Murat | 31 August 2013  

Good on you Peter Stanley. I often wondered weather there would be a historian that would ask the Turks where are the Armenians that lived on their historical lands for centuries before before you plundering nomads arrive from Central Asia? Thank you NSW politicians, Now the custodians at the War Memorial Canberra how is it there is no mention of this fact???

David Dilanchian | 01 September 2013  

'Doing battle beside the Hellespont these men lost their shining youth. They brought honour to their homeland, so that the enemy groaned as it carried off the harvest of war, and for themselves they set up a deathless memorial of their courage'. This inscription adorns a wall in the Australian War Memorial's Hall of Valour, part of a dedication to the Hellene warriors who fell on Gallipoli in the mid 5th century BCE. Almost 19 centuries later, Anzacs fell there in support of similar ideals. Peter Stanley has done all Australians a great service with this eloquent exposition on Turkey's deliberate campaign of denial by omission. The first Turkic warriors invaded the peninsula in 1354. Before this time, Gallipoli was predominantly Hellenic populated, with small Armenian and other communities. These Christians remained the area's majority until the Balkans Wars of 1912-13, when Muslim refugees from the Balkans were settled. Gallipoli was 'ethnically cleansed' of its indigenous Hellenic population in the winter of 1914, part of the same 'Turkification' plan that swept away the indigenous Armenians and Assyrians of eastern Anatolia. National histories are necessary, binding peoples together. As with Gallipoli, they become dangerous when the mythologies become exclusive.

Panayiotis | 02 September 2013  

No one denies the tragic suffering and loss of life experienced by Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Kurds and others before, during and after the First World War. These events are central to the national mythologies of the various affected groups. 'Impartial' historians need to look beyond these mythologies and examine the evidence very carefully, particularly if claims of genocide are involved. A book I would recommend in this respect is Guenter Lewy, The Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey: a disputed genocide (University of Utah Press, 2005). A measured approach, fully cognizant of the suffering experienced, is more likely to promote truth and reconciliation than is the passage of parliamentary resolutions for purposes of propaganda.

Derek McDougall | 26 September 2013  

I believe that Australia should support Turkey against ISIL as we are (Believe) that we are close friends now. The 1st WW is long gone and Turkey has helped a lot with the scene and graves etc. for a long time now after Gallipoli.

Peter Kroon | 05 December 2014  

A gut wrenching account from a survivor of the genocide, of 3 million christians in Turkey, is a best selling book called: 'NOT EVEN MY NAME', by Thea Halo. Her mother was 10 yrs old, when her family was evicted from their home, with only the clothes on their backs, and put on a death march through the deserts of turkey! She saw her family die on that road to hell, one by one...to be eaten by the dogs and the vultures! Turkish people are our brothers, but the criminal turkish government has to be made accountable!! Just like the israeli gov. who has to end the appartheid and annihilation of the palestinians, (with the support of the u.s gov. who sends to israel 3 billion dollars a year!)

Tim faraos | 02 February 2015  

Very much in character with Turkey's attitude in their political dealings with developed countries. They have no clue whatsoever, about diplomacy and the word compromise does not exist in their vocabulary. They are bullies and if anybody dares to disagree with them...the Meeting is, as far as they are concerned, finished. They do NOT discuss and they refuse to see anyone else's point of view.. They can be unbelievably childish in their political dealings and they will never say please...they demand. Over the years and to this day, Turkey has inflicted a number of atrocities on humanity, but have they ever said sorry or admitted responsibility to any of them? NEVER. You may very well ask the question ... 'what gives this, third world country, the confidence and courage to behave the way they do' ? Please allow me to answer that question....USA and the United Kingdom did and still do, by allowing them (Turkey) to literally get away with murder, time after time after time. Not even a reprimand let alone being punished. But then again...how could they reprimand them, when in a lot of cases the Turks are just following USA's and Britain's instructions........ I

C. Koulias | 15 March 2015  

Hi Peter,
I'm not a professor, nor am I extremely well educated. Not in military, or historical events.
So I will take your writings in good faith.
My question to you is this.
Do the sins of the Ottoman Empire against it's Armenian population excuse, or justify the sins of the English,French, Indian, New Zealand and ( my people ) Australian governments, for sending soldiers to invade a foreign land, of which it had no direct conflict with?.... As you yourself said, the Turks committed this atrocity only one day before we landed. So it was not to save these people.
I think both are equally inexcusable. But we are all only responsible for our own actions, not others....
.....Searching for the truth!

Kevin Cochrane | 20 April 2015  

Mr Stanley. You go on in your article about Armenians who were affected during the war however, nowhere in your article do you mention the Turks in Eastern Anatolia who were also affected during the same time. My late grandmother's entire village was slaughtered by the Armenian's. She would vividly recall the moment she and her youngest brother, the only two to survive of her village escaped only to loose each other in a convoy of displaced persons on there way out of the war zone. I see no where in your article any mention of these, just one sided bias towards one side of a larger story. Will i ever get an apology for what my grandmother had to go through in the loss of her family? How about an apology for what happened to countless other Turks in the East who were also either slaughtered or displaced from thier villages at the hands of the Armenians? I doubt an answer to either question will come to fruition. As they say "History is written by the Victors" i guess that the "Victors" are trying to once again rewrite history for thier own agenda!

JimBob | 27 April 2015  

I don`t wanna sound flippant, but tragically war is sort of not nice ok. Yes it happened, but it happened over in armenia. Why a memorial here in aust? Stalin invaded Estonia, will we then have a memorial in Aust too? I`ve seen instances in sydney where turks and armenians don`t talk to each other. Why? After all, aren`t they supposed to be getting away from their previous nations? Please get on with each other. Please!! My dad's a jew by the way!

Dazman | 24 April 2016  

How would one describe the systematic brutal elimination of Aborigines populations In the name of King, Country and Civilisation.

Mohammed Saleem | 06 August 2017  

And what can one say about the systematic, barbaric and brutal elimination of Aborigines in the name of King, Country and Civilisation.

Mohammed Saleem | 09 August 2017  

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