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How I faced the Armenian genocide

A Turkish writer tells how he faced up to the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Turks and how learning the truth scarred his inner world.
Human rights activists light candles to mourn Armenian victims in central Istanbul April 24, 2010, during a demonstration to commemorate the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Muslim Turkey accepts many Christian Armenians died in partisan fighting beginning in 1915 but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that it amounted to genocide, a term used by some Western historians and foreign parliaments. REUTERS/ Osman Orsal (TURKEY RELIGION - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY POLIT

Another April 24 is coming around. A landmark in Middle Eastern history, the date this year will mark the 99th anniversary of the catastrophe of 1915. Ninety-nine years ago, one of the region’s Christian peoples, the Armenians, fell victim to a great tragedy they call Metz Yeghern, or genocide. A deep, insurmountable enmity has haunted Turks and Armenians ever since, with tensions bound to reach a crescendo next year, the centenary of the genocide. This year, like those that went before, the spokespeople of various countries will repeat their cliches. The annoying nonsense will go on.

Today, I tell of my own mental journey and the transformation of conscience I experienced on this issue as a Turk. I speak of how I faced up to the massacres of Armenians and Christians and how the truth scarred my inner being. The road to acceptance was definitely hard, but I eventually came to terms with the truth. The Armenians were uprooted from the lands where I lived. Hundreds of thousands of them were slain brutally on the orders of Talaat Pasha’s Young Turk government. In the ensuing Kemalist era, Turkey’s Christians and Jews were again expelled from their homeland. It was an unmistakable act of ethnic cleansing, which the state I belonged to denied. Such denial, on top of everything else, is shameful.

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