21st CENTURY ENLIGHTENMENT

On the Armenian Issue

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Alvin Toffler (to the members of US Congress)

Edited by Uluç Gürkan,
Former Deputy of Turkish Grand Assembly

US Relations with Turkey

The tragedy in Eastern Anatolia during World War I is a predominant factor in the worn-out Turkish-Americans’ relationship.

In recent years, the US Congress has blindly accepted the Armenian portrayal of the tragic war-time clashes in Eastern Anatolia from spring 1915 through autumn 1916 as the first genocide of 20th century. Although Armenian’s this version of history is one-sided and steeped in prejudice, Congress perceives it as a complete history and an undeniable reality, without fact checking.

Nevertheless, this is an issue of fundamental fairness and the most cherished of American rights – free speech. The lack of real debate in Congress, enforced with a heavy hand by Armenians, ensures that any attempt to search for the truth will utterly fail. However, the truth demands that every side of a story be told. 

The US and the  UK archival records, as well as the national archives of  Russia, France, Germany, Iran, Syria, and Ottoman national archives, contain the documented accounts of this war-time tragedy. They provide first-hand facts, data, and evidence that officially refute Armenian genocide claims against Turkey.

To unearth the historical and judicial truth about 1915-1916 events, all these archival records must be carefully and thoughtfully examined before concluding whether genocide occurred.

Most importantly, the unedited records of the Armenian Republic in Yerevan, Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Boston, and ASALA in Yerevan, ought to be examined. However, they stay on closed.

When this official documented truth is observed and understood,  the hostility and intolerance towards, and religious discrimination against Turkish people will weaken, and even be forgotten.

Take, for example, the US records contain documents depicting a war  tragedy but offers no proof of Armenian genocide. They also include reports of respected envoys, who documented the Armenian Revolt to support the Russian invasion and provided evidence of mass killings by Armenians.

The US Congress regrettably overlook these US archival records.

Despite the first-hand  facts, data, and evidence officially held at the US National Archives, the US Congressional genocide resolutions that have been made in 1951, 1984, and 2019 oft-cites  Armenian allegations derived from dubious and prejudicial sources.

The US Congressional resolutions are habitually led by religious, racial, and surely political prejudices. The prejudices which lead the Congress are not sufficient to find where the truth lies on the Turkish-Armenian controversy over the events of 1915-1916.

Prejudices are symptoms of a diseased political culture – in fact, a political culture that threatens the very concept of politics itself. Consequently, using prejudices as a mirror for political purposes pose a grave threat to democracy.

The US Congress cannot go on like this. The lawmakers  need new ways of thinking that the twenty-first century requests. In this context, religious or racial, all prejudices must be cross-examined and dismissed where found.

Every dignified member of the US Congress, in her/his capacity as a leader and influencer, has the greatest responsibility to cure the prejudicially diseased US political culture. Politicians have the power to shape the political agenda and to shift public opinion, either positively or negatively. Therefore, it is their ethical obligation to call out racism, hate, and injustice from their decisions.

This will be an educated way of thinking, inspiring a clear slogan: “21s-  Century Enlightenment’, which recalls the pioneering spirit of Alfred Toffler’s message to the members of US Congress: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Alfred Toffler’s 21st Century Enlightenment message might be an crucial chance to cultivate Turkish-American relations and to overcome the present challenges. Members of the Congress can thus embark on a course of unprejudiced learning, unlearning, and relearning regarding the  tragic events that took place during World War I in Eastern Anatolia.

The first part of the course is to learn that the classification a historical or current event as genocide should not be based on personal decisions but on  legal evaluation. The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as an international legal concept and establishes the legal framework for genocidal atrocities. It should neither be politicized nor popularized in non-specific terms.

Second stage of the course is to unlearn the religious, racial, and political prejudices. And consequently, to identify and eradicate discrimination, hate and injustice in Congressional decisions.

The final stage is to relearn the historical and judicial truth regarding the Armenian issue as documented in the US archival records and the UK National Archives rather than through Armenian allegations derived from dubious and prejudicial sources.

It is now  time to  give the US archival records a hearing:

Armenian Issue as Reflected in U.S. Archival Documents

The Report of Niles & Sutherland

U.S. National Archives Ref. 184.021/175

Constantinople, Aug. 16, 1919

“At first we were most incredulous of the stories told us, but the unanimity of the testimony  of alt witnesses, the apparent eagerness with which they told of wrongs done them, their evident hatred of Armenians, and, strongest of all, the material evidence on the ground itself, have convinced us as of the general truth of the facts, first, that Armenians massacred Mussulmans on a large scale with many refinements of cruelty, and second that Armenians are responsible for most of the destruction done to towns and villages.

The Russians and Armenians occupied the country for a considerable time together in 1915…”

Congress Report 266 – American Mission to Armenia:

US Congress Report 266, April 13, 1920

(approved unanimously)

“We know, however, so much to be a fact that the Armenians in the new State are carrying on operations in view of exterminating the Mussulman element in obedience to orders from the Armenian corps commander. We have had copies of their orders under our eyes.

That the Armenians of Erivan are following a policy of extermination against the Mussulman and this wave of sanguinary savagery has spread right up to our frontier is also established by the fact of the presence within our borders of numerous Mussulmen fleeing from death on the other side.

The government of Erivan has, on the other hand, resorted to direct acts of provocation such as the practice of gunfire this side of the border.”

Bristol Papers

(https://www.loc.gov/item/mm79013854/)

Rear Admiral Mark Bristol served as U. S. High Commissioner in the defeated Ottoman Empire between late 1919 and 1923. He became the first US Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey and served until 1928. Unlike Herry Morgethau who was Ambassador during 1912-1915, Admiral Bristol was the most respected and best-known U.S. official by the statesman of Europe and the Near East.

Admiral Bristol’s often-overlooked annals contain 33,000 items including eyewitness accounts and investigator reports that reveal deliberate misinformation about what happened in Eastern Anatolia between 1915 – 1920. (From Bristol’s “Report on Operations” for the week of November 7, 1920)

These post-war writings of Rear Admiral Bristol compared to the wartime writings of Morgenthau prove that there was no Genocide and Morgenthau was lying. (The letter written by Admiral Marc L. Bristol to  Dr. James L. Barton , Secretary of the  Foreign Department of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, March 28, 1921):

“I see that reports  are being freely circulated in the United States that the Turks massacred thousands of Armenians in the Caucasus. Such reports are repeated so many times it makes my blood boil. The Near East Relief have the reports from Yarrow and our own American people which show absolutely that such Armenian reports are false.  

The circulation of such false reports in the United States, without refutation, is an outrage and is certainly doing the Armenians more harm than good.

I feel that we should discourage the Armenians in this kind of work., not only because it is wrong, but because they are injuring themselves. In addition to the reports from our own American Relief Workers that were in Kars and Alexandrople, and reports from such man as Yarrow,  have reports from my own Intelligence Officer and know that the Armenian reports are not true.

Is there not something that you and the Near East Committee can do to stop the circulation of such false reports?

Why not tell the truth about the Armenians in every way?

While the Dashnaks [Armenian revolutionaries] were in power they did everything in the world to keep the pot boiling by attacking Kurds, Turks and Tartars; [and] by committing outrages against the Moslems ….”

Colonel Charles Furlong

US Army Intelligence Officer & Delegate to Paris Peace Conference

In a speech (July 25, 1921) , Colonel Furlong declared, “We hear half the truth when we hear of the massacres of Armenians in Turkey; well hear the other half when we hear of the massacres of Turks by Armenians and Greeks.

Part One – To Learn:

Genocide is an international legal concept. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the crime of genocide and establishes the legal framework of genocide atrocities.  

Genocide Convention was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and then ratified in 1951 when it went into effect to have judicial value. Since then, Genocide Convention signifies the international community’s commitment to “never again” after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.

Genocide accusations should neither be politicized nor popularized uncertainly. Cataloging a historical or current event as genocide is not something to be named through personal decisions but only through legal evaluation.

UN Genocide Convention

Genocide, to be a crime, had to be proven under strong circumstances outlined in articles 2-6 of the Convention.

Article 2 and 3 of the Convention categorize the atrocities that ought to be punished under the Convention as genocide. These atrocities of genocide are those “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Special Intent

The key element distinguishing the crime of genocide from other crimes is the “intent to destroy” a group. For genocide to have legally occurred, there must have been “intent” on the part of perpetrators to wipe out an entire ethnic group. Therefore, without proven “intent to destroy”, no act can be ticketed legally as genocide.

In the literature of law, the special intent called “dolus specialis” is necessarily sought in genocide accusations.

Articles 187, 188 and 189 of the International Court of Justice’s Bosnia ruling explicitly state that “a separate notional element must be present” to define an act as genocide. This notional element is also present in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s (ICTY) Kupreskic case as “the need for the presence of intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group.”

Individual Criminal Responsibility

Article 4 of the Convention relates the “punishable atrocities of genocides” to the individual criminal responsibility. According to this article, “genocide” is a crime that can only be committed by “real persons. Therefore, only real persons – not legal entities – can be charged with the crime of genocide.

Court Ruling

Another important element distinguishing the crime of genocide from other crimes is that, for an event to be considered genocide, there should be a court ruling. This element – court ruling – is defined in Article 6. It reads, “trial of persons charged with genocide” as “by a competent / adequate-qualified tribunal of the state in the territory of which the act was committed” and “an international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction.”

Without a fair judicial trial, characterizing a historical event as genocide through personal or legislative decisions is a highly political and politicized act. It has no value in terms of international law.  This has been confirmed by international jurisprudence.  The European Court of Justice, in Dec. 17, 2003 and April 17, 2004, ruled in that the recognition of the “Armenian genocide” by the European Parliament “is a political measure with no judicial value.” 

Part 2 – To Unlearn

Armenian Allegations

Those who accuse Turkey of being guilty of genocide, either by mistake or on purpose, are trying to move around these major international requirements.

  1. The Armenian “genocide lobby” tries to create a widespread impression that there is a general international consensus characterizing the 1915 events as genocide. This is not true. There is no such consensus which would mean ultimate acceptance of the genocide allegations. Out of a total of 190 states, there are only 32 that recognize the Armenian genocide.
  2. Despite what Armenian diaspora and their supporters claim, there is no real document which proves that the Ottoman authorities intended to destroy Armenians. Those Armenians mostly living in western Anatolıa who were seen no thread to Ottoman supply lines and security were not relocated in 1915.
  3. Moreover, there is no national or international court ruling characterizing the 1915 events as genocide.  Yet, Armenian diaspora and their supporters accuse Turkey of genocide. Without a fair judicial trial genocide accusation through a personal or legislative decision is an analogous to politicize history.
  4. Although it is clearly emphasized by the Genocide Convention that genocide can be processed by real persons, Armenian genocide allegations, particularly legislative body resolutions declaring Armenian genocide, are usually levelled towards Turkey and the Turkish nation. Not only to Ottoman officials of the time, but all Turks who were not even born then are accused as being mass-murderer.

Hate Speech

The Armenian claims without judicial edict gains characteristic of hate speech against Turkish nation.

Hate speech is defined by United Nation’s as “any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor.”

In many instances, hate speech is usually directed at a specific race, religion, or gender. But it has also been directed at individuals or groups because of sexual orientation, ethnicity, or other group membership.

There can be specific negative effects of hate speech. Hate-motivated violence is the most serious effect. The Cambridge Dictionary underlines this violence effect of hate speech as follows: “Public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”

Hate speech, especially if left unaddressed, can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a wider scale. In this sense, it can spread seeds of intolerance and anger that contributes to hate crime.

Criminal Prohibition

There has been much debate over hate speech legislation.

The international community, in due course has also agreed to certain limitations –such as on speech which advocates “national, racial or religious hatred” and “constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a multilateral treaty adopted by United Nations General Assembly  on 1966, and in force from 23 March 1976 stated that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence shall be prohibited by law.” The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) also specified that “criminal prohibition is necessary when hate speech publicly incites violence against individuals or groups of people.”

Although the world is widely aware of the dangerous link between hate speech and violence, hate speech is still theoretically subject to international prosecution. There is no international legal definition of hate speech.

Consequently, it is extremely important for national governments to establish sound legal frameworks on hate speech which hold perpetrators accountable, uphold human dignity, while still balancing the right to freedom of expression.

In some countries, there are laws meant to protect human dignity.   In some others, the laws are designed to protect public order. Additionally, there are several countries where hate speech is not a legal term. In these countries, victims of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

Since the intent is to protect either the human dignity or public order, even where there are national hate speech laws, they require that a high threshold be violated, so they are not often enforced.

Double Standard

Moreover, the Armenian allegations language that turns real persons to Turkish nationality as perpetrators of genocide is a double standard – a double standard that occurs in the context of racial and religious prejudices.

As a matter of fact, for the Holocaust in the Second World War Germany or the German people are not blamed on any grounds. Hitler and other Nazi leaders are accused as individuals and the Nazis as powers of government. In addition to the “Jewish massacre” on which the word “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944, it can be clearly seen in the current examples of Rwanda, Sudan and Bosnia-Herzegovina that for the actions which can be defined as “genocide,” the criminal responsibility is directed against real persons, not on nationalities.

For example, for war crimes in Sudan not Sudan or Sudanese, but Al-Bashir himself has been accused. In the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia under the UN Genocide Convention, only “real persons” accused of “genocide” was tried.  As perpetrators of the Srebrenica massacre, not the Serbian nation, but the Serbian leaders and some of their commanders were held responsible and punished.

This important judicial clause is discounted when the debate is on the “Armenian genocide” allegations. Instead of real persons, illegally Turkey and Turkish nation is portrayed as the target.

Double standards should not guide and lead us. We must overcome our judicial double standards especially in the context of religious intolerances and eliminate all our discriminatory racial hatreds.

Part 3 – To Relearn

The Armenian allegation of genocide fails the minimum standards of proof required by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention cited above. It is made without a court edict and are unaddressed. No individual real person is pointed to be charged with crime of genocide, but Turkey and Turkish nation is targeted discriminately.

Even when “Armenian genocide “ is invoked in a debate without identifying the perpetrator of the crime as a real person or persons but simply citing Turkey as a country or Turks as  people, that besides being illegal, it is a discriminatory language that arises mainly within the context of racial and religious prejudices.

Without a court edict, such a discriminatory language is the legitimization of religious based racist hate speech.  Even if not turned to violence, it may trigger feelings of hostility towards Turkey and Turkish people. This is a crime not only against Turkey and Turkish people, but also a serious crime against humanity.

One Side of the Story

In addition, particularly religious based prejudices have turned the Armenian allegations to some sort of a one-sided pro-Christian story.

Armenians indeed suffered a terrible mortality. Beginning in late 1914, World War I was doubtlessly a painful period for Ottoman Armenians. It created many victims.

Even though it was a war-time tragedy and a military self-defense precaution to head off an uprising against the Ottoman state, relocation (sometimes cited as deportation erroneously, because Syria, the place where the Armenians were sent away from the war zones in the then Ottoman Empire) was doubtlessly a painful period for Ottoman Armenians. Undoubtedly, the war created many victims.

One-sided pro-Christian story claims that, beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire by Turks.

Although the figures reporting the total pre-World War I Armenian population vary widely, demographic studies prove that prior to World War I fewer than 1,5 million Armenians lived in the entire Ottoman Empire. British, French and Ottoman sources give figures of 1,05-1,50 million. Only certain American and off-cited Armenian sources claim a pre-war population larger than 1.5 million.

Thus, allegations that 1,5 million Armenians from Eastern Anatolia died should be viewed as grossly untrue.

Moreover, post-war figures of Armenians living also clearly proves that a great portion of the Ottoman Armenians were not killed as claimed. Boghos Nubar, the President of the Armenian National Assembly and head of the Armenian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919-1920, declared that some 600.000 to 700.000 Armenians were relocated from Anatolia. And after the war 280,000 Armenians remained in the Anatolian portion of the occupied Ottoman Empire while hundred thousand of Armenians had emigrated to other countries. 

Besides war-induced causes and intercommunal conflict perpetrated by both Christian and Muslim irregular forces, the totality of documents of the time thus far uncovered by historians verify that during the Armenians relocation to Syria [an Ottoman province at that time] hundreds of thousands of Armenians have died on account of disease, famine, and many other of war’s miseries.

With this, even if the fabrications about the Armenian losses are corrected, the revised numbers will not tell us the exact manner of death of the citizens of Anatolia, regardless of ethnicity, who were caught up in both an international war and an intercommunal struggle instigated by the Dashnaks – the group from which today’s active Armenian Revolutionary Front (ARF) was born, aiding and abetting the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA),  killing more than 42 Turkish diplomats and their families as recent as in the nineteen-eighties and still promoting such dastardly acts against Turks and their families even today.

Additionally, the corrected numbers will not be the complete story of the 1915 events. Truth demands every side of the story to be told. If only one side of the tragedy is to be accepted while the other side will be mentioned as perpetrators of the same tragedy, this is an extra example of racial and religious discrimination of double standard.

Each needless death, either Christian, Jews or Muslim, is a tragedy. Equally tragic are double standards designed to inflame discrimination and provoke hatred.

The statistics tell us that more than nearly 1,1 million Anatolian Muslims (Turks, Kurds) and Jews also perished because of the same war-induced causes that damaged all peoples during the period. Though the evidence for this is overwhelming, the legislative decisions of several countries about the story mention only Christian deaths.

What happened during this period cannot be considered solely the grief of the Armenians who were harmed. It is the grief of all Anatolian people, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim.

The years 1914-1919 constitute a horrible “war time tragedy” for humanity. Therefore, the pain of Anatolia triggered by the World War I of that period, should be shared and, when required, mourned together.

Armenian Armed Rebellion

In August 1914, following Germany’s declaration of war against Russia, Volunteer Units were established under the Russian Caucasus Army. They were primarily composed of  Armenians from the Russian Empire, though there were also Armenians from Ottoman Eastern Anatolia.

In November 1914, when  Russia declared war to Ottoman State, these well-equipped and trained volunteer units advanced into Ottoman territory together with Russian forces.  

Boghos Nubar, the president of the Armenian National Assembly, declared to Paris Conference that the  volunteers fighting against Turks were around 150,000 Armenians who were regular soldiers served in the Russian and near 50,000  fighters under the command of irregular Armenian military leaders. 

Russian forces had the position of advantage and control at the front. Ottoman forces based in Eastern Anatolia were 126,000 men. Many were poorly equipped to defend a line of more than 600 kilometres. They had only 74,057 rifles, 77 machine guns, and 180 pieces of artillery. The Battle of Gallipoli was draining all Ottoman resource.

Within a few months after the war began, the Ottoman Armenians refused to serve their constituted authority and took the side of Russians. Thousands of Armenian soldiers deserted the Ottoman armies and joined the invading Russian Army. Additionally, behind the battle lines numerous Armenian bands were formed to fight a guerrilla war against Turks.

By the beginning of 1915 thousands of  Armenians were fighting behind the lines. These rebellious Armenians, operating in close coordination with the Russians, were working to sabotage the Ottoman army’s war effort by raiding supply depots, destroying roads and bridges, attacking caravans, to ease the Russian occupation.

In April 1915, the Russian armies launched an offensive against Van, in the east, and the Allied troops landed on Gallipoli peninsula, in the west. At that critical moment, on May 27, 1915, the Ottoman Government ordered to remove insurgent rebellious Armenian minority from the war zones along the Eastern Front to the to the Syrian province of the Ottoman State.

Armenian rebellion was a factual threat to the Ottoman State, both on the battle front and behind the lines. Apart from Caucasus, Armenians, for the cause of Entente,  have been on the side of the Allies on all fronts.

Armenian volunteers have fought as members of the colonizing French Legions. More than 5,000 Armenians comprised more than half of the French Legion in Palestine. Armenian volunteers also helped the English military forces in Mesopotamia by preventing the Germans and Turks from sending their own soldiers to the other war zones.

Taking into consideration all these points, the then Armenian Republic have been recognized as an established Allied Power of the war against the Ottoman State in the Treaty of Sevres (Section VI “Armenia”, Articles 88-93) Article 89 ot the treaty signed between the Allies of World War I and the Ottoman Empire was as follows:

“Turkey and Armenia, as well as the other High Contracting Parties agree to submit to the arbitration of the President of the United States of America the question of the frontier to be fixed between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis, and to accept his decision thereupon, as well as any stipulations he may prescribe as to access for Armenia to the sea, and as to the demilitarisation of any portion of Turkish territory adjacent to the said frontier.”

War Tragedy

Eminent historian Professor Bernard Lewis, author of dozens of books on Turkey, Islam, and the Middle East, declares that what happened was a “war time tragedy”, not genocide:

“(It) was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale. Great numbers of Armenians, including members of the armed forces, deserted, crossed the frontier, and joined the Russian forces invading Turkey… There was guerrilla warfare all over Anatolia…

There is clear evidence of a decision by the Turkish Government, to deport the Armenian population from the sensitive areas… There is no evidence of a decision to massacre… On the contrary, there is considerable evidence of attempt to prevent it… The massacres were carried out by irregulars, by local villagers responding to what had been done to them… But to make this, a parallel with the holocaust in Germany, you would have to assume the Jews of Germany had been engaged in an armed rebellion against the German state, collaborating with the allies against Germany… This seems to me a rather absurd parallel.”

League of Nations “Note Verbal”

A League of National archival document supports Professor Lewis’s point of view.

On March 1, 1920, the “note verbal” released by Sir Eric Drummond, Secretary General of the League, British politician, and diplomat, declared that “in Turkey, minorities were often oppressed, and massacres carried out by irregular bands who were entirely outside the control of the Central Turkish Government”. This “note verbal” also completely verify that the Ottoman government had no intention to exterminate the Armenians.

1915-1916 Ottoman Court-Martials

Additionally, Ottoman court-martials of 1915-1916 historically prove that Armenian relocation was not a planned march to death.

1,673 Ottoman subjects, 975 civilian bandits from irregular bands, together with 528 government officials and 170 local officials, accused of alleged crimes against the Armenians during the relocation of 1915 were put on trial and sentenced by the Ottoman 1915-1916 court-martials.

Can you think of a government planning a relocation for the destruction of the Armenians, and yet conducting trials and sentencing hundreds of its citizens and officials for ill treatment to the Armenians while the war is going on?

It is illogical.

Deportation: A Military Precaution

Besides Ottoman archives, American British, French, Russian and League of Nation’s American archived documents confirm that the Ottoman government did not intend to exterminate the Armenians. The 1915 war-time decision on the relocation was since the Armenian armed rebellion and cooperation with the invading Russian army, thanks to the Dashnaks, the forebearers of today’s ANCA.

Professor of Military History Edward Ericson’s carefully researched study “Ottomans and Armenians” provides irrefutable evidence that the sole motive of the Ottoman military command in recommending that the relocation of Armenians in 1915 was the threat to the war effort from Armenian insurgent groups mobilized with the support of Russia.

The relocation, planned as a military precaution to head off an Armenian uprising against the Ottoman state with volunteer troops on the battlefield and gangs behind military lines, during the Russian occupation of Eastern Anatolia, created many victims.

“It was self-defense for the Turks” says Professor Ericson and adds: “The Ottoman Government had every right to protect the lives of their Muslim subjects who constituted the majority of the population in the areas selected for declaration of their autonomous state of Armenia.”

Katchaznouni’s Confession

Hovannes Katchaznouni, the first Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic is the eyewitness of both Professor Lewis and Professor Ericson.

Katchaznouni’s report to the 1923 ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) Congress refutes the grandiose, exaggerated and even outrageously false claims the Armenian Genocide lobbies.   In his report Katchaznouni underlines that during the World War I, for colluding with the Russians, Armenians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire and were at war with the Turks with whom they lived in peace and harmony for centuries down the street from each other:

The Winter of 1914 and the spring of 1915 were the periods of greatest enthusiasm and hope for all the Armenians in the Caucasus… We had no doubt the war would end with the complete victory of the Allies; Turkey would be defeated and dismembered, and its Armenian population would at last be liberated.”

As well, Armenian armed rebellion was confessed by many other Armenian activists. Gatrekin Pastermadjian in his book titled “Why Armenia Should be Free” wrote as follows:

“…purpose of the writer in writing this booklet, is to make great American people realize that Armenians are not anemic and unaggressive people with no fighting blood in their veins; that the Armenians have not been butchered like sheep but on the contrary, have fought most bravely and resisted most stubbornly the savage attacks of the Turks, whenever they had an opportunity”.

“The Armenian reservists, about 160.000 in the number gladly responded to the call for the simple reason that they were to fight the arch enemy of their historic race! Besides regular soldiers, nearly 20.000 volunteers expressed their readiness to take up arms against the Turk.”

“Opposite Sarikamish, where a battle was waged for three days and nights, the Turks suffered a loss of 30.000 men, mostly due to the cold weather than to the Russian arms… This was invaluable service rendered to the Russian army by the fourth battalion of the Armenian volunteers under the command of matchless Keri. Six hundred Armenian veterans fell in the Barduz Pass, and at such a high price saved 60.000 Russians from being taken prisoners by the Turks.”

“…those few battalions of Armenian volunteers in 1914 and 1915, rendered to the Russians invaluable services, twice saving the right and left wings of the Russian army from an unavoidable catastrophe…”

Allied Powers Provocations

An achieve document that comes from League of Nations clarifies the then war-tragedy and opens a new episode to answer the painful question of Prof. Bernard Lewis, “what happened to Armenians during World War I…”

Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen, a Norwegian explorer, gained prominence at various points in his life as scientist, diplomat and humanitarian. Following his appointment in 1921 as the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees, he devoted himself primarily to the League of Nations. He was awarded in 1938 the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of the displaced victims of World War I.

On September 21, 1921, while presenting a plan to the General Assembly for the establishment of a national home for Armenian refuges, he pointed that Armenians were provoked by Allied Powers to fight against Turks and two hundred thousand of them lost their lives in war for the cause of Entente:

“During the war, when the Armenians were driven out of Asia Minor…, the Allied Western Powers said to the Armenians ‘if you fight with us against the Turks, and if the war ends successfully for us, we promise you to give you a national home, liberty and independence.’ The Armenians fought for the Allied Powers. Two hundred thousand volunteers sacrificed their lives for the cause of Entente; but when the Armistice was signed and peace concluded, the promise given to the Armenians was forgotten…”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate League of Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees reminds that two hundred thousand Armenians provoked to fight against Turks, and sacrificed their lives for the cause of Entente, yet Turks are held responsible for this crime.  

Holocaust and 1915 Events

The 1915 events are both historically and legally different from the Holocaust. No link can be established between the Ottoman Armenians and German Jews.

First, there is ample evidence recognized by competent international courts proving that genocide was committed in Nazi Germany against Jews. Therefore, the Jewish genocide is an undisputable historical fact.

The tribunal at Nuremberg proved the guilt of the perpetrators of the Holocaust and sentences were carried out in accordance with agreed-upon procedures.

On the contrary, Malta Tribunal, which was convened by the World War I victors, acquitted those alleged to have been responsible for the  misrule of the relocation policies. Moreover, Jews did not demand the dismemberment of the nations in which they had lived. The Ottoman Armenians openly agitated for a separate state in lands in which they were numerically inferior.

The Hunchak and Dashnak organizations which survive to this day as cited above, were formed expressly to agitate against the Ottoman government.

Jews did not kill their fellow citizens in the nations in which they had lived. The Ottoman Armenians committed massacres against local Muslims. Jews did not openly join the ranks of their countries’ enemies during World War II.

But, during World War I, Ottoman Armenians openly and with pride committed mass treason, took up arms, travelled to Russia for training, and sported Russian uniforms. Others, non-uniformed irregulars, operated against the Ottoman government from behind the lines.

New World Order

Both the timing and reasons for turning the genocide allegations into some sort of religious hate speech against Turkey are notable.

The Armenian genocide allegations gained new momentum in the 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet system and the end of the Cold War. Besides, they gained a new international dimension, incorporated in the “New World Order” shaped around the “Clash of Civilizations” where Prof. Samuel Huntington emphasized religious differences.

Although it was not their direct concern, until now 32 countries and two international parliamentary assembly passed a total of 58 parliamentary resolutions on the subject. 

One of these declarations is dated 1915.  As part of war propaganda, the Russian, French, and British parliaments blamed Turkey with a joint declaration.  From 1915 to 1990’s, including the 1970’s and 1980’s when Turkish diplomats were mercilessly assassinated, the number of parliamentary declarations were only  six.  The remaining 51  resolution are a product of the new world order, which started after the Cold War was over.

The first accusation after the Cold War came about in 1993, when Samuel Huntington published his  “Clash of Civilizations” thesis in the Journal of Foreign Affairs. After his thesis came out as a book in 1996, foreign parliaments started to declare their accusations one after the other.

This cannot be a mere coincidence. 

Huntington had emphasized that ethnic and religious differences, which he defined as the civilization, would become the major fault line in the new world order. Here, the struggle events between Armenians against Turks and Kurds during World War I is described as a major example of the conflict of civilizations where the enemy iss Islam, supported by the claim that the borders of Islam are drawn in blood.

The Armenian allegations of genocide were brought forward in the international arena within this context.  As a result, they have become part of contemporary politics rather than a historical and legal issue.

Beyond that, the clash of civilizations theory has also shaped the fashion with which Armenian allegations of genocide are framed. The accusations of genocide are directed towards Turks as a nation and Turkey as a country.

British Governments

British Parliament is a notable exception among those 32 parliaments that have recognized the so-called Armenian Genocide.

During the World War I years and afterwards, the British tried to use every opportunity to try and sentence every Turk they arrested for the “killing of local Christian people”. However, as the country that knows best what happened during these days, today they clearly state that the events of 1915-1916 cannot be described as genocide.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Western parliaments were recognizing Armenian genocide claims, as if it were a necessity of adaptation to the new world order, the UK was also asked to do the same. British Spokesperson of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale rejected such demand in a speech dated 14 April 1999 delivered on behalf of the British government:

“…in the absence of unequivocal evidence to show that the Ottoman administration took a specific decision to eliminate the Armenians under their control at the time, British governments have not recognised the events of 1915 and 1916 as ‘genocide. …we do not believe it is the business of governments today to review events of over 80 years ago with a view to pronouncing on them… These are matters of legal and historical debate.

Despite this statement, the Armenian genocide lobby has maintained its pressure on the UK, ultimately resulting in the Armenian genocide allegations being addressed during a Holocaust commemoration ceremony held in London on 27 January 2001.

In a press conference held in Ankara on 22 January 2001, Britain’s Beverley Hughes, then parliamentary under-secretary of state in the department of the environment, transport, and the regions, stated that only the Holocaust would be addressed during the ceremony and made the following declaration in Istanbul:

A while ago, the British government reviewed evidence put forth on the Armenian allegations and examined documents on the events of 1915-1916. The decision is that these events do not correspond to what is defined as genocide by the UN. This is the attitude of the British government, and this will never change.”

In a response to a question on this matter, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Baroness Scotland told the House of Lords on 7 February 2001:

“The Government, in line with previous British Governments, have judged the evidence relating to events in eastern Anatolia in 1915-1916 not to be sufficiently unequivocal to persuade us that these events should be categorized as genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.”

Here comes the million-dollar question: “What evidence was judged, and which documents were examined by the British governments?”

The answer is the “Malta Tribunal” of 1919-1921…

Malta Tribunal

The Foreign Office documents of the Malta Tribunal (1919-1921) unearthed from the British National Achieves constitutes a new light on the Armenian genocide allegations. It is a historical fact that we have forgotten and indeed were made to forget.

Remembering this tribunal and embracing its reality will make the Armenian genocide lobbies, which at every turn calls on Turkey to “face its history”, to face the invalidity of their allegations by examining the British national achieve documented realities of history.

Malta Tribunal documents expose a rather crucial historical and judizial reality regarding 1915-1916 events should not be defined as genocide.

Had the international public opinion, or those 32 state parliaments (i.e. United States, Russia, France, Switzerland, Germany…) which have backed the Armenian allegations, have given due to scholarly attention to the historic facts of the Malta Tribunal, they would have then seen that the alleged Armenian genocide is indeed a farce without any validity whatsoever.

In this respect, the successive British governments have adopted such an exemplary international politics with realism, and above all, with integrity and credibility.

1919-1920 Ottoman Court-Martials

During World War I and afterwards, the British tried to use every opportunity to trial and then sentence every Turk they arrested for the “killing of not only Armenians, but all local Christian people”. 

After World War I, effort to prosecute the so-called “Ottoman war criminals” was taken up with the Ottoman Empire by the (1919) Paris Peace Conference) and ultimately included in the (1920) Treaty of Sèvres).  

By the end of the War, when victorious Allied powers occupied several parts of the Ottoman Empire, the new Ottoman government set up some court-martials to prosecute “crimes against Armenians” under extreme British pressure.

Under this pressure, the court-martials speeded up the so-called judicial process and the sentences were proclaimed and carried out immediately.

The court-martial in Istanbul decided to pass death sentences in absentia on 5 of the leading CUP (Committee of Union and Progress) members. They were accused of being the perpetrator of the “Armenian massacres and the entrance of the Ottoman Empire into World War I.

Meanwhile many other government officials were sentenced to death and the sentences were carried out.

Armenian genocide lobbies regard the Ottoman court-martials as a reliable judicial mechanism proving the genocidal intent of the Ottoman CUP government.

But this is both historically and legally a make-believe replica… The judges assigned to these court-martials felt helpless under strong governmental and external pressure and many of them resigned during the trials.

Also, trial procedures were not appropriate. There were false witnesses, exaggerated testimony, and so forth. And to accelerate the “so-called” legal procedures, to hire a lawyer was not permitted and the accused were not allowed to appeal.

Under these conditions, although no clear evidence proving his role in the Armenian massacres could be found, a district governor of Boğazlayan, Kemal Bey, was declared guilty and sentenced to death. The presiding judge of the court-martial, Mustafa Pasha, clearly declared the lack of impartiality in these courts. He stated that “a court-martial operating under occupation acts in line with emotions instead of conscience. This is an order coming from above”.

Kemal Bey’s execution caused significant public outcry against the Ottoman government and the British. This became a turning point for 1919-1920 Ottoman court-martials.

Admiral Calthorpe, the then Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, and High Commissioner at İstanbul reported to London that the Ottoman trials were; “proving to be a farce and injurious to our own prestige and to that of the Turkish government.”

Admiral John de Robeck, who replaced Admiral Calthorpe informed London of the futility of continuing the trials with the remark: “Its findings cannot be held of any account at all.” 

In the meantime, current Ottoman government was overthrown. The new government gave the right to appeal to those convicted in the 1919-1920 court-martials. Those who were lightly sentenced had to make their appeal personally. But for those who were sentenced to death and life imprisonment the appeal process was to be automatic. 

The Ottoman Military Court of Appeal investigated the light sentence decisions taken by the court-martials and discovered significant inconsistencies and improprieties in them. Almost all the judgments made by the court-martials were reversed in this Court of Appeal.

For heavy sentences, no Ottoman Court of Appeal has been established. The British authorities considered Ottoman trials as a travesty of justice, so decided to replace the Ottoman justice with the Western justice by moving the trials to their own territory, Malta, as “International”.

Historical and legal realities of Malta Tribunal brought to light from British national achieves give us an opportunity to answer this question – who should be held responsible for the Armenian losses…

We must underline that, neither the intent of a systematic extermination of Armenians nor the number of victims of the war tragedy of 1915 was ever established by any tribunal. No court decision was issued to interpret those days inter-communal violence as an act of genocide consistent with the relevant 1948 United Nations Convention.

Perhaps, more important is the fact that, there is an international court ruling falsifying the Armenian genocide allegations. That is the “International Court-Martial in Malta”, which is known as the Malta Tribunal…

Achieve documents relating to the Malta Tribunal should be revealed and not be forgotten on the dusty shelves of history.

Prisoners of War

By the end of the First World War, when victorious British army occupied Istanbul, the capital of Ottoman Empire, 144 Ottoman officials and military officers – majority of them members or sympathizers of the Committee of Union and Progress – were arrested and sent to Malta as prisoners of war.

The aim was “to trial and sentence the Turks” on the grounds that they had “perpetrated mass killings against Armenians”.

A judicial prosecution was opened against the Turks who were detained in Malta. The prosecution was conducted for more than two years, to investigate the accusation of “mass killing of Armenians.”

The investigation was conducted by Britain’s highest legal prosecution authority, Her/His Majesty’s Attorney (Prosecutor) General for England, and Wales in London.

The British Prosecutor General’s tribunal was based on Articles 230 and 231 of the Treaty of Sevres over “Armenian massacre” allegations.

Article 230 of the Treaty of Sèvres required the Ottoman Empire to “hand over to the Allied Powers the persons whose surrender may be required by the latter as being responsible for the massacres committed during the continuance of the state of war on territory which formed part of the Ottoman Empire on August 1, 1914”.

Along with the Ottoman archives transported to London after being seized during the invasion, every document believed to be in America was examined. Also, proof of the “Armenian massacre” was searched for in Egypt, Iraq, and Caucasia.

Search in American Archives

The US archival records were the British Foreign Ministry’s big hope to trial and sentence the Turks detained in Malta.

Some British officials were believing that Americans must have been in possession of mass evidence, since at that time the American diplomatic and consular agents continued their work in Turkey. Furthermore, the American aid organization “Near East Relief Society” was allowed by Ottoman Government be in Anatolia during the relocation.

On March 31, 1921 Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Minister, forwarded a telegram to Sir A. Geddes,  the British Ambassador in Washington. To accuse the Turkish prisoners in Malta he askedfor assistance to the US Foreign Secretary:

“There are in the hands of His Majesty’s Government at Malta a number of Turks arrested for alleged complicity in the Armenian massacres.

There is considerably difficulty in establishing proofs of guilt…

Please ascertain if the United States Government are in possession of any evidence that would be of value for purposes of prosecution.”

There was no reply for about two months. On May 27, 1921   Lord Curzon reminded Washington:

“We would be glad to know whether there is a likelihood that evidence will be available.”

On June 2, 1921 Sir A. Geddes returned the following reply:

“I have made several enquires of State Department and today I am informed that while they are in possession of a large number of documents concerning Armenian deportations and massacres, these refer rather to events connected with perpetration of crimes than to persons implicated. Should His Majesty’s Government so desire, these documents will be at the disposal of His Majesty’s Embassy on the understanding that the source of the information will not be divulged.

From the description I am doubtful whether these documents are likely to prove useful as evidence in prosecuting Turks confined in Malta.”

On June 16, 1921  The British  Foreign Office  forwarded the following  telegram to Washington with an attached list of  45 Turks named as “brief particulars”:

“Of the first instant, I enclose, a list of names brief particulars of the Turks who are being detained at Malta with a view to trial in connection with alleged outrages perpetrated on Armenians and other native Christians.

I shall be glad if you will ascertain as early as possible whether the United States Government can furnish evidence against any of these persons.”

For this search, a member of the British Embassy was permitted to see a selection of the US archival records.

On July 13, 1921, The British Embassy in Washington returned the following disappointing reply:

“I have the honour to inform your Lordship that a member of my staff visited the State Department yesterday, the 12th instant, in regard to the Turks who are present being detained in Malta with a view to a trial in connection with the Armenian massacres. He was permitted to see a selection of reports from United States Consuls on the subject of atrocities committed in Armenia during the recent war, the reports  judged by the State Department to be the most useful for the purpose of His Majesty’s Government being chosen among several hundreds.

I regret to inform Your Lordship that there was nothing there in which could be used as evidence against the Turks who are being detained for trial in Malta. The reports seen, while furnishing full accounts of the atrocities committed, made mention, however, of only two names of the Turkish officials in question -those of Sabit Bey and Süleiman Faik Pasha- and in these cases were confined to personal opinions of these officials in the part of the writer, no concrete facts being given which could constitute satisfactory incriminating evidence.

I have the honour to add that officials of the Department of State expressed the wish, in the course of conversation, that no information supplied by them in this connection should be employed in a court of law.

Having regard to this situation and the fact thar the reports in the possession of the Department do not appear in any case to contain evidence these Turks which would be useful even for the purpose of corroborating information already in the possession of His Majesty’s Government, I  fear that nothing is to be hoped from addressing any further enquires to the United States Government in this matter. I only regret that the State Department did not see their way to make the position clear at an earlier date.”

The US archival records were carefully searched. There was no evidence  that a British court of law would consider sufficient proof against them was found.

Even, despite the British government’s every effort to trial and sentence the Turks detained in Malta, no statement has been taken from witnesses deposing to the truth of the charges made against the Turkish prisoners.  Support of Armenian genocide allegations were laid with second or third hand illegal findings.

Reasonable Prospects

Failing the possibility of obtaining proper evidence to establish proof of guilt against Turks in Malta which would satisfy a Court of Law, the last possibility option chance of the British Foreign Ministry was to influence the Prosecutor General whether there was reasonable prospect of connecting any of the prisoners prisoned Turks charged with Armenian massacres.

Accordingly, the  Ministry on behalf of Minister Lord Curzon, asked Prosecutor  General to “initiate political charges” against 42 of the Turks in Malta and prosecute them “with reasonable prospects if judicial ones cannot be initiated.”

Final Judgement

This lawless political attempt of British Government to secure the prosecution of innocent persons failed in the authority of the British Prosecutor General.

On July 29, 1921, the British Prosecutor General announced to the British Government without question that with the “evidence in hand” none of the Turks in Malta could be prosecuted on the grounds of the Armenian massacre:

“… The charges made against the Turks named in the Foreign Office list are of quasi-political character”, and “no statements have been taken from witnesses who can depose to the truth of the charges made against the prisoners…

… without… the production of evidence of a character which alone could be admissible before an English Court of Justice… it seems improbable that the charges made against … the accused will be capable of legal proof in a Court of Law.”

Consequently, Malta Tribunal was closed in judgement of nulle prosequi, which amounts to a dismissal of charges by prosecution. From now on, there was no legal basis to hold the Turks in Malta as “offenders” for prosecution. 

Consequently, Prosecutor Attorney General’s Law Officers wrote to Foreign Ministry of Britain that the Turks detained in Malta “are charged with political offences and their detention or release therefore involves a question of high policy and is not dependent on the legal proceedings…”

Judgement of Non-Prosecution

It goes without question that the British Prosecutor General’s ruling of July 29, 1921 to dismiss the Armenian massacre accusations for “lack of evidence” constitute a legal procedure – a legal prosecution process during which the “Armenian massacre”, or currently termed “genocide” allegations were studiously investigated.

In modern law this ruling corresponds to a “judgement of non-prosecution” which means, “ıf there is no legal evidence to support the Armenian massacre claims, there is no legal basis to file or bring a lawsuit”.

Prosecutor General also cleared the legal status of the Turkish detainers in Malta that, from now on, they were not considered as “offenders” for prosecution, but as “hostages”. Consequently, the British government used them for exchange against British prisoners in Anatolia after two years and four months of imprisonment.

As the Prosecutor General’s prosecution constitutes the first step to a court trial, Malta Tribunal is a judicial ruling announcing that there never was a Turkish policy to exterminate Armenians. Additionally, the findings of this tribunal also falsify the 32 parliaments’ genocide resolutions prompted by prejudges and by some simple cyclical political self-interests.

Malta Tribunal and Nuremberg Trials

Simultaneously, the prosecution of the British Attorney General was an antecedent to the Nurnberg Trials – the trial concerning the Holocaust after the World War II.

The prosecutorial process on Malta shared an international judicial atmosphere similar to that of the Nuremberg. The Malta prosecution was conducted to establish a court similar to the “international court” later formed in Nuremberg to put German Nazi leaders on trial for the Holocaust.

The establishment phase of the international court where the Ottoman officials and military officers were supposed to be put on trial was also discussed by the League of Nations, the post-First World War predecessor to the United Nations. During its sessions, among the topics that were discussed were the methods to use to establish a court which would carry out such prosecutions and an “Advisory Board” was formed for this purpose.

These preparations had not been realized. Because British Attorney General put no Ottoman official and military officer on trial for Armenian massacre allegations. He declared that no charges could be filed due to “lack of evidence” and made it clear that no penal action could be taken even if charges were filed.

This was the reason why no trials were held in Malta.

Discrediting Malta

The “genocide lobby” realizes that the Malta Tribunal is of the end of the beginning for the genocide allegations.

As Winston Churchil said on the victory at El Amamein, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But iy is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Consequently, the genocide lobby worried that the Malta Tribunal reality would be the end of the so-called Armenian genocide recognition process, is making great effort to discredit them. To create the illusion that Malta Tribunal did not entail actual legal proceedings. They take recourse to a series of historic and legal falsehoods:

Exchange of Captives

Allegations suggesting that the Malta Tribunals were not taken seriously by the British, as they rather considered them a “captive exchange project,” are wholly not credible.

Judicial proceedings of Malta Tribunal conducted over the “Armenian massacre” charges are documented in the British archives. Despite that, the “genocide” lobby shamelessly tries to falsify Malta Tribunal.

This lobby refers to European Court of Human Rights judge Giovanni Bonello saying that “the release of the Turkish detainees was accomplished in exchange for 22 British prisoners held by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.”

According to judge Bonello, the Turks deported to Malta by the British during the Allied occupation of Istanbul were never actually brought to trial (there or elsewhere), because no international legal framework existed for doing so, and that in the end the situation was resolved pragmatically by an agreement with the Ankara government to exchange the remaining deportees for British prisoners of war in October-November 1921

If not ignorance, this is a big historical lie.

The Malta Tribunals did not end with an exchange of captives. On the contrary, they ended with a “judgement of non-prosecution” declared by the British Attorney General.

The exchange of captive’s issue arose thereafter.

Officers of the British Foreign Office began to think about the release of the Turkish prisoners in Malta after the British Attorney General’s July 29, 1921 decision, From now on they were not considered as “offenders” for prosecution, but rather as “hostages for exchange” against British prisoners in Anatolia.

Before any final decision, British High Commissioner at Istanbul was asked if he had any observation on the subject.  A Foreign Office dispatch to High Commissioner dated August 10, 1921, said:

“In addition to the difficulty caused by the absence of evidence which would be acceptable in a court of law, there is improbability that the French and Italian Governments would agree to participate in constituting the court provided for in article 230 of the Treaty of Sérves.”

Some say that an exchange of captives’ agreement was signed in London on 16 March 1921 between the government of Britain and Bekir Sami Bey, the foreign minister of the Grand National Assembly government in Ankara which led the War of Independence in Anatolia.

However, not all the Turks held in Malta fall within the scope of this agreement. The scope of the envisaged captive exchange was the release of all British captives by the Turks in exchange for “the return of the Turks who have not harmed or abused Armenians or British captives,” by the British.

The British organized the Conference of London with their allies when they were compelled to accept the War of Independence under Mustafa Kemal’s leadership and the government of the Grand National Assembly, after the First İnönü Victory of January 1921.

The aim here was to partially soften the Sèvres agreement and convince Ankara to accept it.

It was after the Conference of London that Bekir Sami Bey signed the captive exchange agreement. The British did not include those Turks in Malta accused with the “Armenian genocide” in this exchange of captives.

On the other hand, Ankara did not ratify the softened Sèvres or the limited-scope captive exchange agreement signed by Bekir Sami Bey, who then was dismissed from his duty as foreign minister.

The detention of Turks in Malta on the grounds of an Armenian massacre ended with the Attorney Generals declaration of dismissal of “Armenian massacre” allegations due to the absence of evidence on 29 July 1921.

Therefore, the release of Turks whose “detention” turned into “political captivity” is documented in the British archives.

Upon the dismissal declaration by the Attorney General’s Office, British Foreign Minister Lord Curzon sent a memo on 10 August 1921 to Sir Horace Rumbold, Britain’s high commissioner in İstanbul, mentioning “the obligation to make a general agreement.”

The response of the high commissioner can be summarized as follows: “Since no adequate evidence was found to convince a British Court of Law, all Turks should be included in the exchange of captives to avoid losing more reputation.”

Thus, began the negotiations for exchange which ultimately led to an agreement.

The Struggle for Independence

Another falsification aimed at discrediting the Malta Tribunals suggests that British attempts to reconcile with the National Struggle movement influenced the Attorney General’s dismissal.

Such falsification does not reject the proceedings which took place on Malta but attempts to discredit them by giving them a political character, which is at odds with historical reality.

The Attorney General’s Office declared its dismissal decision regarding the “Armenian massacre” on July 29, 1921, a time when the national liberation movement was weak.

The Greek Army had captured Kütahya and Eskişehir on July 17 and 19 respectively which led to the retreat of the national liberation forces to the east of the Sakarya River. The sound of Greek shells targeting Polatlı were heard from Ankara, and there were debates over relocating the Grand National Assembly (Parliament) from Ankara to Kayseri.

Britain had no initiative for reconciling with Ankara which would affect the Attorney General. On the contrary, the British government was dreaming of dealing a deadly blow to Ankara.

The National Independence Movement’s recovery and establishing a balance with the Greek forces took place two months after the Attorney General’s dismissal decision.

Non-Established Court

Those seeking to discredit the Malta Tribunals argue that no competent international court was established as required by the Treaty of Sèvres and therefore no judicial proceedings took place in line with the UN Convention on Genocide.

They claim, the Allied administration that occupied İstanbul fell short of establishing an international tribunal to try the Turks prisoners held as captive by the British forces in Malta. In the end, no tribunals were held in Malta.

According to European Court of Human Rights judge Giovani Bonello, the suspension of prosecutions, the repatriation and release of Turkish detainees was amongst others a result of the lack of an appropriate legal framework with supranational jurisdiction, because following World War I no international norms for regulating war crimes existed.

Since there were no international laws in place under which they could be tried, the men who orchestrated the genocide escaped prosecution.

To argue that the Turkish detainees in Malta were not brought to trial because following World War I no international norms for regulating war crimes existed, due to a legal vacuum in international law; is insufficiency of knowledge, if not prejudice. 

The Malta prosecution was conducted to establish a court similar to the “international court” later formed in Nuremberg to put German Nazi leaders on trial for the Holocaust. After World War I, the effort to prosecute Ottoman war criminals was taken up by the Paris Peace Conference (1919) and ultimately included in the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) with the Ottoman Empire.

The establishment phase of the international court where the Ottoman officials and military officers were supposed to be put on trial was also discussed by the League of Nations, the post-First World War predecessor to the United Nations. During its sessions, among the topics that were discussed were the methods to use to establish a court which would carry out such prosecutions and an “Advisory Board” was formed for this purpose.

These preparations had not been realized. Because British Attorney General put no Ottoman official and military officer on trial for Armenian massacre allegations. He declared that no charges could be filed due to “lack of evidence” and made it clear that no penal action could be taken even if charges were filed.

It is not that proceedings weren’t conducted on Malta due to the lack of a court. The proceedings started upon completion of the legal investigation, but no charges were filed, which means no “prosecution” before a court was initiated.

By the end of the CPS-led investigation which constituted the first phase of the judicial proceedings, no evidence suggesting “the mass killing” of Armenians and Christian Ottoman citizens was found, which would lead to “filing charges in a court of law.” Thus, the dismissal decision and dismissal of the “Armenian massacre” accusations led to the case being closed.

 It is known that if any evidence capable of proof was found, charges would have been filed and a trial would have been carried out by an international court designated by the League of Nations. Therefore, the establishment of such a court was among the topics discussed by the League of Nations.

The Attorney General’s decision to dismiss the Armenian massacre accusations for “lack of evidence” corresponds in modern law to a “judgment of dismissal.” This means, there was no need for a court.

Remission by Lausanne

The Malta falsification that the “Armenian genocide” lobby relies on the most is as follows: “Since Sèvres never went into force, with the signing of Lausanne, the Malta proceedings were granted amnesty and closed.”

Saying that the Malta proceedings were granted amnesty by Lausanne is a time travel trick mocking human intelligence. It is true that Ottoman Sultan Vahdettin did not ratify the Sèvres Treaty, despite its signature by the Turkish side. However, this does not mean that it did not go into force. First, the invasion led by the British and allies was in line with Sèvres’ map. Likewise, the justification for the illegal invasion of Istanbul came from Sèvres.

The Malta proceedings came to an end on July 29, 1921, and Lausanne was signed two years later, on July 24, 1923. At that time, no proceeding existed that could be linked to Malta. The files were closed and archived.

The most important agent of this time travel between Lausanne and Malta is renowned British genocide law specialist Geoffrey Robertson. In a report entitled “Was there an Armenian genocide?” presented to the British Parliament in October 2009, Robertson writes that the British Attorney General’s investigation initiated on Malta after WWI into the “Armenian massacre” “was closed with the establishment of the new Turkish Republic under the leadership of Ataturk, and therefore is of no judicial value.

Written by Robertson in exchange for money from the Armenian diaspora, this report aims to make the British Parliament accept the “genocide” allegations.

Believing that the failure of British governments and Parliament to make a move in this regard is due to their sensitivity to the Malta Tribunals, the “genocide” lobby attempted to overcome this problem through Robertson’s work. But they forgot that the Malta proceedings came to an end on July 29, 1921, and Lausanne was signed two years later, on July 24, 1923.

Reference to Genocide

The last falsification of the “Armenian genocide” lobby targeting Malta suggests, “The Malta proceedings did not include genocide, as at that time such a crime had not yet been defined. Therefore, the Attorney General’s decision cannot constitute a judicial reference today as to the nullity of the Armenian genocide claims.”

Such an allegation is contradictory.

If the Malta proceedings are to be declared null and void on the grounds that no such “genocide” definition existed at that time, such an accusation also cannot be done today using the contemporary notion of “genocide,” for the events took place at a time when no such notion existed.

It means practicing double standards to reject the Malta Tribunals’ judicial findings today and attempting to apply the contemporary crime of “genocide” to the past. This is the result of a sick political culture.

Besides, no matter what theoretical judicial reasons are used to defend it, it is not in line with the realities of life.

In its Perinçek-Switzerland decision of December 17, 2013, the ECtHR ruled that the condemnation of Doğu Perinçek by Swiss courts on the grounds of his remarks suggesting that “the treatment of Armenians during WWI cannot be interpreted as genocide” violated Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights on freedom of expression.

The clear meaning of this ruling is that “expressing that the 1915 Armenian deportation is not genocide cannot and will not constitute a basis for condemnation.

This ECtHR decision is a clear shield protecting freedom of expression against the insistence that “the Armenian genocide is an undeniable historical fact,” thus paving the way for free debate.

However, it should not be viewed only within the limited context of freedom of expression. Its meaning and importance go beyond that.

  • The widespread impression created by the “Armenian genocide” lobby that “there is a general international consensus characterizing the 1915 events as genocide” is not true. There is no such consensus which would mean “ultimate acceptance” of the “genocide” allegations. Out of a total of 190 states, there are only 32that recognize the “Armenian genocide.” Besides, those “recognitions” were made by parliaments, and as the French Constitutional Council ruled on 8 January 2016, “ Parliaments and governments cannot act as substitutes for judicial organs,” and more specifically, reaffirmed its earlier decision that a crime against humanity or genocide must be established by a competent court, not by the legislature.   
  • The 1915 events against Armenians are both historically and legally different from the Holocaust. No link can be established between the Ottoman Armenians and German Jews. There is ample evidence recognized by competent international courts proving that genocide was committed in Nazi Germany against Jews. Therefore, the Jewish genocide is an undisputable historical fact. However, the “Armenian genocide” claims are open to debate, and there is no court ruling on the issue. It cannot be considered the same way as the Holocaust.

Remembering Malta Tribunal

The Malta Tribunal constitutes an important milestone of Turkish history. However, we have forgotten and indeed were made to forget it.

Remembering Malta Tribunal and embracing its reality will make the Armenian genocide lobby, which at every turn calls on us to “face our history,” face the documented realities of history. 

The Malta Tribunal, with its judicial and historical firsthand findings proves that there never was a Turkish policy to exterminate Armenians. Besides, the findings of this tribunal falsify nearly 32 parliament’s non historical based political support of Armenian genocide allegations with second, if not third- or fourth-hand illegal findings, which amount to no more than hearsay or just an opinion.

It goes without saying that the judicial conclusions of the Malta Tribunals completely refute the “Armenian genocide” allegations. According to UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention, for an incident to be considered genocide, a court ruling is required. Malta Tribunal is the key to overcome the prejudices and face the historical facts. As Thomas Cooper, an Anglo-American 19th century economist, college president and political philosopher said, “Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it”.

Uluç Gürkan
Editor and Chief of ANKA News Agency (1983-1989)
Editor and Chief of Daily Güneş (1990-1991)
Member- Turkish Grand National Assembly/TGNA (1991-2002)

  • Vice PresidentParliamentery Assebly oy theOrganization for Security and Co-operation in Europe/OSCE-PA(1992-1995)
  • Deputy Speaker-Turkish Grand National Assembly/TGNA (1995-1999)
  • Head of the Turkish Delegation-Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union/WEU-PA (1999-2002)
  • Vice President-Parliamentary Assembly of the Conncil of Europr/PACE (2000-2002)

Lecturer at METU & Ufuk University (2003- ……)

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