Dear Editor,

In the Editorial Piece titled "Joy of December" of the 23rd Issue of the weekly Dhaka Courier, which was published on 18 December 2020, events of 1915 in the former Ottoman Empire were falsely phrased as "genocide". I would like to bring to your kind attention below the facts regarding the events in 1915:

"It is a well-known fact that, under international law, "genocide" is a strictly defined crime which requires very concrete conditions of proof. It was legally established for the first time in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, according to which the authoritative determination of this crime can solely be made by a competent court, after proper investigation and adjudication. As regards the events of 1915 which predate the Convention by decades, no such judgment exists either. On the contrary, the most significant and respected sources of contemporary international law, such as the ECHR decisions of 2015 (Switzerland vs. Perinçek) and 2017 (Switzerland vs. Mercan) clearly pointed to the historic and non-justiciable nature of the events concerned and confirmed that these events may amount to nothing but a subject of a legitimate debate, protected under freedom of expression.

Use of such a phrase seriously distorts the truth about the events of 1915, a two-way tragedy in which large numbers of Turks and Armenians lost their lives. To understand what happened in 1915 one has to examine what happened before then. Relocation of Armenians was a decision of the Ottoman Empire in its waning days. This was the last resort, proceeded under the circumstances of a struggle for life and death, facing the greatest amphibious operation the world history had witnessed in Gallipoli and while consecutively attacked by the Tsarist Russia in the Eastern Front.

The Ottoman State's dragging into World War I was seen as a great opportunity by Armenian armed groups and they revolted against the State in Eastern Anatolia by collaborating with the invading Russian Armies and other foreign forces. Then, undoubtedly, 1915 became a year when the efforts to push the Ottoman Empire into anarchy had reached its peak. Due to the war tactics of Allies, the country's communication and transportation lines were brought to collapse with bitter consequences for the people. That said, ethnic terror of minorities, among which Armenian bands took the lead, are well documented.

After heavy casualties inflicted by the said attacks of the Armenian bands, the Ottoman Government enacted the Relocation Law on May 27, 1915 through which, the Armenians living around strategic military locations were relocated to the southern parts of the Empire that were far from the war zone as a defensive measure.

The said Relocation Law provided all possible measures to be taken by the Ottoman Government to ensure the security of the Armenians subjected to relocation. In its ailing state, the administration acted as firmly as it could to stop those who had attempted to exploit the conditions of a terrible war. Officials or civilians who disobeyed the instructions of the Government and committed offences against Armenian convoys were tried by the Military.

Courts in 1916 and many of them were sentenced to different punishments from imprisonments to capital punishment.

Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a State that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes all who are accused of wrongdoing against Armenian relocatees?

The most authoritative document on the ending of the prolonged, or in other words, unended WW1 on Turkey is the Lausanne Treaty of July 24, 1923. This Treaty, let alone mentioning a "genocide", does not even refer to the Armenians. Such a fact only suffices to underscore that the Armenian "genocide" emerged as an invented lie at later decades boosting of which was done by brutal terror attacks to Turkish diplomats and their families between 1973 to 1985. Therefore, it also strongly resonates with its roots based in our recent history of terror, and violence.

Concerning Armenia's unsubstantiated allegations regarding Turkey, 1 must repeat, it is disgraceful, yet, unsurprising that such assertions come from a country which overtly glorifies the perpetrators of the brutal terrorist attacks committed against Turkish citizens and diplomats, as well as the civilian of third countries in the 1970s and 1980s.

It is sadder and graver that some groups within the Armenian diaspora also hinder any attempt to initiate this process by using such aggressive ways as hate speech, spreading misinformation and putting pressure on the national or local governments to recognize the so- called term "Armenian Genocide".

Turkey is still willing to take appropriate steps towards normalization and reconciliation with Armenians. The message of condolence dated 23 April 2014 and the call of the erstwhile Turkish Prime Minister H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the Armenians on 20 January 2015 are indications of this constructive approach.

In line with this approach, Turkey had also proposed to establish a joint commission composed of Turkish, Armenian and all interested historians to study the 1915 events in the archives of Turkey, Armenia, third countries and Armenian revolutionary groups. To date, no Armenian representative has accepted these initiatives."

I would truly appreciate if you could publish the information above to inform your readers who may also wish to read the Turkish perspective on this important topic.

Sincere regards,

Mustafa Osman TURAN Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the People's Republic of Bangladesh

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