The accepted genocide of Kurds in Turkey

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Dr Rebwar Fatah
  • 26/10/2006 00:00:00

Since the Armenian genocide, Turkey has done very well to hide and disguise its dark history from the international community. But a shady past rarely dawns a bright future.

Instead, Turkey is re-branding itself with Europe-friendly terms to essentially get rid of what it has always wanted to be rid of. Turkey’s tidy up of its language: words with a distinct Kurdish origin wiped out and replaced. Indeed, anything that is not strictly Turkish has been linked to “terrorism” – a trigger word guaranteed to win the sympathies of the international community.

The Turkish constitution does not recognise Kurds in Turkey, and so often labels them as terrorists, providing a convenient scapegoat for military uprisings and other political issues. Thus, “terrorist” becomes a synonym for Kurds.

Turkey frequently argues that the PKK is a terrorist organisation; hence all Kurdish organisations are banned for what they may imply.

Turkey is desperately in need of an imaginary threat to its “national security”, “territorial integrity” and “sovereignty”, achieved by “separatist/terrorist” Kurds. The scale of the suffering Kurds and destruction of Kurdish homeland does not fit into any “terrorist” definition. In 1999, the death toll of Kurds killed in Turkish military operations increased to over 40,000. According to the figures published by Turkey’s own Parliament, 6,000 Kurdish villages were systematically evacuated of all inhabitants and 3,000,000 Kurds have been displaced. This sounds like an elimination of a people, a culture and a homeland.

If Turkey is genuine in its elimination of terrorism, it must take brave steps, accepting Kurdish people and their homeland, Kurdistan, and ending its history of oppression.

Professor Noam Chomsky called the Turkish response to Kurds an “ethnic cleansing”, resulting in the death of thousands, the emigration of over two million people and the destruction of approximately 6000 villages.

In fact, these methods by which Turkey has sought to oppress the Kurdish people are similar to those used by Saddam Hussein in the recent past, including the destruction of Kurdish land, mass evacuation and deportation. In some other areas, Turkey has used more oppressive methods to achieve its “Final Solution” of the Kurdish Issue. Some have found this unsurprising, given Turkey’s Ottoman ancestry. During World War I, for example, the Ottoman Empire allied itself with Germany, and in the conflict’s immediate aftermath conducted a programme aiming to exterminate the Armenians, Greeks, Yezidis and Alwis. To date, however, Turkey denies these genocidal campaigns.

The oppression of Kurdish people within Turkey can be defined as genocide in various ways; cultural, linguistic and physical all play a part in the cleansing of Kurdish ethnicity from Turkey itself, and are still embraced by the Turkish constitution.

The head of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, Lord Avebury, said of Turkish atrocities in 1996 that,

"Just as many people in western Europe turned a blind eye to Hitler's preparations for the Holocaust in the thirties, the democratic world ignores the evidence of incipient genocide against the Kurds in Turkey today."

As history has shown in Iraq, Turkey cannot attempt to solve the Kurdistan issue with violence and oppression; the days have well passed in which campaigns of genocide can be “successfully” conducted, and Turkey must look to the future, realising that modern Kurds are not as Kurds from the dark ages.

Examples of atrocities by Turks

The history of Turks from Ottoman Empire to the Turkish State is a continuous attempt to eliminate any ethnic and religious group that come in contact with them.

1821, April 22 - Execution of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregorios and loosing of Turkish mobs on the Greek inhabitants of the cities and towns of the Turkish mainland, as a reprisal for the Greek upraise in Peloponisos.

1822 - The Sultan takes new reprisals to terrify the Christians on the Island of Chios. 50,000 Greeks are murdered.

1850 – 12,000 Armenians and Nestorians are massacred by Turkish government.

1860, April 7 - The Sultan orders a massacre of the Maronite villagers in Lebanon.

1860, July 6 - Syrians are massacred under the direction of Ahmed Pasa in

Damascus. 11,000 killed.

1876 - Turkish authorities suppress an uprising in Bulgaria. 15,000 people are massacred in the area of Plovdiv in Bulgaria, among them are a number of Armenian members from the local colony. 58 villages and 5 monasteries are destroyed.

1877, June 28 – After the Russian retreat during the Russo-Turkish war, the Turkish army and Kurdish Guerrillas destroy Christian villages. Roughly 6,000 Armenians die.

1892, Summer – 8,000 Yezidis, near Mosul, are massacred and their villages are burned by orders of Ferik pasha for refusing to accept Mohammed.

1894, September to 1896, August - Sultan Hamit applies the policy of genocide to Armenians.

1894, August and September – 12,000 Armenians are killed in Sassun.

1895, October - The first organised genocide takes place in Constantinople and Trebizond.

1895, November and December - The Turkish authorities organize a large massacre throughout the country.

1896, June - Massacre of Armenians at the city of Van.

1896 – 300,000 Armenians are massacred in Constantinople.

1896, May 12 – 55,000 Greeks are murdered in the island of Crete, while

the conflicts between Greeks and Turks in the island continue.

1909, March – 30,000 Armenians and some American missionaries are massacred in Adana, Tarsus and other towns of Cilicia by the Young-Turks.

1909 – Revolt of the Arabs in Yemen is suppressed by the Young-Turks.

1911, October 1 - Emilianos, Bishop of Grevena, is assassinated by the Turks.

1912 - The Turkish army retreat from East Thrace and loot the villages of the Didimoticho and Andrianopole districts. Villages in the Malgara district are burnt. The same happens in Kessani. Assassinations and massacres accompany the destruction and looting in this predominantly Greek region.

1913 - The re-occupation of Eastern Thrace by the Turkish army leads to atrocities against Greeks. 15,690 are massacred.

1913, February - The Greek inhabitants of Crithea are compelled to leave their village in East Thrace by the Turkish authorities. A brutal looting follows.

1914, January to December - More than 250,000 Greeks are exiled from East Thrace and the region of Smyrna. Their properties are confiscated.

1914, May 27 - The Christian population of Pergamum is ordered to leave the town within two hours by the Turkish authorities. The terrorized inhabitants take refuge in the Greek island of Mytilini.

1914, May and June - The Turkish authorities enact all kind of persecutions in the Greek region of west Asia Minor. The coast of Asia Minor is devastated. In Erithrea and Fokea Greeks are massacred.

1914, July and August - The Turkish government creates "the forced labour battalions". It is a new scheme for the extermination of the Greek-Ottoman citizens drafted in the Turkish army. By this method 400,000 Greeks are exterminated through hunger, hardship, maltreatment and deprivation.

1914, August – 12,000 Assyrians are murdered by Djevdet Khalil Bey. The number of Assyrians of all faiths, massacred by the Turks since 1895 is up to 424,000

1914, September - Greeks of the Makri region are killed by the Turks.

1914, November - By orders of the Turkish government many villages of Eastern Thrace are forcibly evacuated (Neochorio, Galatas, Callipoli etc.). Thousands flee from their ancestral homes to Greece.

1914, November and December - By order of the Turkish government, the region of Visii and part of the Saranda Eklisiae is evacuated. 19,000 Greeks are exiled in Anatolia and their properties looted. According to the Ecumenical Patriarchate records, 119,940 Greeks were expelled from East Thrace.

1915, April - Organized arrests of a large number of Armenian intellectuals and prominent national leaders in Constantinople and the provinces. They are deported to Anatolia and are killed on the way. The Armenian soldiers of the Turkish army are disarmed and massacred by the thousands. The Armenian population is exiled to the Syrian Desert and massacred.

1915 - The Turks initiate a fierce persecution campaign against the Syrian Orthodox and Nestorian inhabitants of Hakkari, Mardin and Midyat regions. One of the first victims was Adai Ser, Archbishop of Sert. This annihilation campaign which included large scale massacres and destruction continued till the end of World War I.

1915, August 20 to 1916, May 6 - The Ottomans hang 35 Lebanese and Syrian national leaders in Al Burj square in Lebanon and Al Marja square in Syria, with the charge of "struggling for freedom". Under Ottoman rule, a total of 130,000 Lebanese and Syrians are killed.

1916 - The Turks force the inhabitants of different regions of Pontus to immigrate to Sivas. Only 550 survived out of 16,750 inhabitants of the Elevi and Tripoli regions. Of the 49,520 inhabitants of Trebizond only 20,300 remained alive.

1916 - Destruction of the region Riseou-Platanou of Pontus.

1917, Spring – 23,000 Greeks, inhabitants of Cydoniae, are deported.

1917, November - 400 Greek families are expelled from S.W. Asia Minor. Their properties are looted.

1918, April - Another 8,000 Greek families are expelled from S.W. Asia Minor.

1920 - Chrisanthos, Bishop of Trebizond, is condemned to death in Adsentia by the Court Martial of Ankara. The Bishop of Zilon dies in jail.

1920 – 30,000 Armenians are massacred in the areas of Kars and

Alexandropole by Kemalists.

1920, September - Kemalist Turkey attacks Armenia. The Armenians fight against the Turkish army, but finally they succumb on the 2nd of December 1920. The Turkish victory is followed by a massacre of the Armenians and the annexation of one half of the Armenia's Independent Republic of May 28, 1918, to Turkey.

1920 to 1921 - Another 50,000 Armenians are executed by Kemalists.

1921, June 3 – 1,320 Greeks, inhabitants of Samsus, are arrested by Kemalists. The next day 701 of the detainees are killed. The victims are buried in mass graves behind the house of Bekir Pasha. The rest are exiled to the interior of Anatolia.

1922, September 9 - The Turks enter Smyrna and ignite it. Massacres of Greeks and Armenians are organized. The death count is around 150,000 persons.

1924, July 10 - The Turkish army suppresses the Kurdish revolt in Hakkari. After 79 days, 36 villages are vandalized and destroyed, and 12 others are erased.

1925, February – 30,000 Kurds are killed during a revolt against the Turkish authorities. It is estimated that the Kurds have suffered the loss of 500,000 people by massacres and displacements by the Turks over the years.

1925, March 3 - The great Kurdish revolution bursts out at Elazig under Seyh - Sait 10.000 Kurds seize Harput and attack Diyarbakir, the Capital of Kurdistan After the complete destruction of 48 villages. The revolution was suppressed at 7/10/1927 drowned in Kurdish blood.

1927, May 30 - 2,000 Kurdish fighters are killed in Amed (Diyarbakir) and Agri. For many days, the waters of the Murat river are turned red by blood.

1937, May 23 - The Turkish government forbids the edition of the newspaper of Constantinople "Son Telegraph", because it has referred to the Kurdish sufferings.

1937-1938 – The Dersim Genocide, Approximately 40.000-70.000 of Kurdish Alawi (also known as Kizilbash) were killed and thousands were taken into exile. The Dersim Genocide was both continuation of the Kizilbash extermination of the Ottoman times and also an extermination of an ethnically distinct and separate people from Turks.

1938 - Turkey annexes the Sanjak of Antiohie-Hatay. Armenian and Arab population is exiled.

1942, November 11 - The law of taxation on property of the non-Muslims of Turkey (Varlik Vergisi) is voted. It is an attempt of economic extermination of the Greek, Armenian and Jewish communities economic authorities.

1955, September 6 - The Turkish authorities organize a great pogrom against the Greeks of Constantinople. 29 churches are burnt and 46 are looted. The graves of the Ecumenical Patriarchs and Christian cemeteries are vandalized. Thousands of shops are destroyed. Hundred of women are raped.

1963 - 1967 - Turkey provokes the stability of the newborn Republic of Cyprus by using agents.

1964 - Turkey unilaterally denounces the Convention of Establishment of Commerce and Navigation of 1930 (between Venizelos and AtaTurk). The Greek citizens are forced to leave Turkey immediately. Their relatives are obliged to expedite their departure from the country. A secret law is issued denying Greek citizens all their property rights in Turkey.

1964 - The Turkish government expels 12,000 Greeks of Constantinople declaring them as spies. Their properties are confiscated.

1964 - All minority schools on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos are closed while Turkish jails are established. The properties of the Greek population are expropriated. The Greek minority flee the islands. It is noteworthy that both the Greek island Sof Imvros and Tenedos are ceded to Turkey according to the Treaty of Lausanne because they lay at the entrance to the Dardanelles. According to Article 14 of the aforementioned treaty the protection of person and property of the native non-Muslim population is guaranteed. However, the intransigent Turkish policy of uprooting and annihilation of non-Turkish ethnic groups, and the systematic efforts to Turkify the islands with mass settlings of Turks are the reasons that today, from the 12,000 Greek inhabitants only 300 elderly people remain, for whom emigration would be pointless.

1967 - Vandalism in St. Anna's church in the village of Agridia in Imvros, another example of the Turkish policy of "national purification".

1973 - 1974 - De facto questioning of Greece's sovereign rights over the Aegean continental shelf, through the granting of research licenses to the Turkish government petroleum company (TRAO) and the sending of the research vessel "CARDALI" to conduct research in the area.

1974 - De facto questioning of Greek air space of 10 n.m., for the first time since 1931. Continuous and massive violations of Greek air space (over 500 in 1995 alone). Over 80 percent of violations occur at less than 6 n.m. from the Greek coast and even over the Greek islands. De facto arbitrary rejection by Turkey of Athens F.I.R. (until 1980).

1974, July 20 - The Turkish army invades the independent and unarmed island of Cyprus, a sovereign member of the U.N. and seizes the 40% of its territory, on the pretext that is necessary for the security of Turkish-Cypriot minority, which comprises the 18% of the whole population. In this campaign called "operation peace" by Ankara, 5,000 Cypriots are killed, 1,619 are kidnapped, hundreds are tortured, raped and exiled to Turkey.

1978, December 25 - Turkish fascists massacre hundreds of Kurds in Marash.

1978, December 28 - Proclamation of Martial Law in 15 provinces of Northern Kurdistan prohibiting for years any information about the suffering of the Kurdish people.

1978, December - 110 Kurds are massacred in the Northern Kurdistan, city of Kahramanmaras.

1979, December to 1980, September - Conflicts between the PKK and the Turkish state provided a distinctively ethnic source of violence. Few thousands Kurds were killed (mostly civilians) in different incidents.

1980, July - An outbreak of violence erupts in Corum, central Anatolia, causing 30 deaths and a mass exodus of terrified Alevis from the region.

1983 - A law banned the use, either in speech or in uniting, of any language not recognized as the official language of another country (in effect, Kurdish).

1984 - Turkey shuts off the supply of water from the Alkuwik river which originates from Turkey and reaches the south of Allepo, Syria, leading to the desertification of the area after its plains dried out.

1988, February - A pogrom night is organized to Armenian population in Baku and Sumgait regions with a replica organization of the terror night of Constantinople in 1955.

1989 - Passage of arbitrary Turkish law establishing Turkish "Search and Rescue" rights over half of the Aegean, in direct violation of ICAO rules.

1991, August to December - The Turkish Air Force and Army attacks the PKK groups in Southern Kurdistan with continuous bombing of Kurdish villages. More than 100 Kurds, including women and children, perished and 150 were injured.

1992 - Ankara builds the "Ataturk" dam on the river Euphrates and severely decreases its flow to Iraq and Syria, thus threatening the agriculture and economic survival of both nations.

1992, January to 1993, October - Turkish bombing of Kurdish villages. 4,800 are injured among which 2,000 eventually perish.

1994, May to August - Renewed Turkish raids on Kurds claim the lives of 400 Kurdish villagers and injure more than 200.

1995 - A pogrom night is organized by the Turkish government at Gari Osman Pascha district in Istanbul against the Alewi, a religious population.

1995, March 20 – 35,000 Turkish soldiers enter Southern Kurdistan under the pretext of fighting the PKK groups that, according to Ankara, had taken refuge there. Through indiscriminate bombing, torture and forced marches on PKK minefields, 200 Kurds are killed, most of whom were non-combatants. More than 50,000 Turkish troops moved into Southern Kurdistan. Along four routes, a 335 kilometres long border was breached and eyewitnesses noted that advanced Turkish teams were sent some 40 kilometres inside South Kurdistan. Civilian Kurds have been killed and refugee camps have been bombarded from the air.

1996, January 31 - The Turkish army lands some of its men on the smaller of the Imia islets which constitutes an integral part of Greek territory according to international treaties and agreements dating back to 1923. It is the first time that Turkey openly lays claims over actual Greek territory.

1996, May 6 - After a renewed, intensive six-week military campaign, Turkey withdraws its last soldiers from southern Kurdistan. The final number of the Kurdish casualties is more than 400. The injured are even more.

1996, August - During a week of peaceful demonstrations on the borders of occupied Nicosia, the Turkish troops opened fire on the demonstrators killing two people and injuring forty.

1997, February - Ankara responds to the Cypriot government's plans to purchase air-defence systems by threatening to invade and occupy the free areas. A threat often adopted since 1974.

1999 - The death toll of Kurds killed in Turkish military operations rises to over 40,000 and according to the figures published by Turkeys own parliament, 6,000 Kurdish villages were systematically evacuated of all inhabitants and 3,000,000 Kurds have been displaced.

Reference

Chomsky, Noam, ‘Alpaslan Isikli to Noam Chomsky – Email Conversations’ archived at: http://www.universite-toplum.org/text.php3?id=61 (22nd October 2006)

Levene, Mark, Creating a Modern "Zone of Genocide": The Impact of Nation- and State-Formation on Eastern Anatolia, 1878–1923, Holocaust Genocide Studies 12: 393-433. Archived at: http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/3/393 (22nd October 2006)

Koivunen, Kristiina, ‘The Invisible War in North Kurdistan’, p.27 archived: http://ethesis.helsinki.fi/julkaisut/val/sospo/vk/koivunen/theinvis.pdf (22nd October 2006)

Lord Avebury, House of Lords, 22nd January 1996

occidentalis.com, The Turkish crime of our century, 22 October 2006, http://www.occidentalis.com/article.php?sid=1939&thold=0

The chronology of the events is taken from a number of sources.

My thanks to Michelle Johnson and Chris Lacey.

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Dr Rebwar Fatah
  • 26/10/2006 00:00:00