“Media en politici illustreren totaal misplaatst superioriteitsgevoel t.o.v. Turkije”, aldus Professor Dries Lesage, naar aanleiding van de stemming over de Armeense kwestie in het Duits Parlement.
ON THE GERMAN 1915 VOTE
By referring to the Armenian genocide as the first genocide of the 20th century, some opinion leaders and big (Belgian) media simply deny the genocide on the Namibian Herero and Namaqua people by Germany in 1904-1907.
I thought denying genocides was a socially unacceptable activity that shocks all our enlightened intellectuals. But I must be missing something.
Good journalism should then ask: what is the current status of the recognition of the Namibian genocides at the level of the Bundestag and Merkel’s Bundesregierung and party CDU/CSU? Does anyone know? Does anyone care ?
For me, all large-scale massacres of people just because they were members of an ethnic group can be labelled genocides. On the basis of what I know then, there is the Armenian genocide, but also the Turkish and other Muslim genocides (by Greek, Serbian, Armenian and other perpetrators) in the Ottoman empire in the period 1820-1923. But in the West, there is no interest in the latter whatsoever from politicians or media.
We also see a perverse game on the basis of words. I can imagine that legally-technically speaking, it is hard to call Belgian, French and American mass killings in places such as Congo (millions of victims?), Philippines, Algeria, Indochina and Vietnam ‘genocide’ – extermination was probably not the purpose – who else would work in Leopold’s rubber plantations? But is this such a good reason not to do parliamentary votes and moments of silence, not to go after the governments of the countries involved to have them apologize and recognize what they have to recognize? Why are they left off the hook?
Politicians & Journalists
What is the status of coming to terms, recognition, in the parliaments of Belgium, France and USA? Does anybody know, care? If the public and big media think this is all okay by now, they are badly wrong. And the fact that you do not call it genocide, does not mean that fewer innocents perished – often to the contrary. This is a very smart Western trick, also applied by progressive European politicans. But Western journalists and scholars should not go along with this.
I have looked into what the Belgian parliament has already done with regard to Leopold’s massacres in Congo, but I did not found much. I only heard (progressive) politicans say
“let us not polarize things, let historians do their jobs…”
– sounds quite Turkish. But on the Turks and 1915, we do have quite forceful resolutions and government statements.
Last time I heard François Hollande about Algeria, he said (in Algeria) “we are not going to apologize.” According to Algeria, 1.5 million people were killed in a brutal and illegitimate colonial war (1945/54-1962). Did anyone see a moment of silence or resolution in the Belgian, German or any other western parliament ? Don’t our journalists find this double standard a little bit odd ?
First World War
I also regret the defiant way Turkey deals with this. Still, the Turkish state has already recognized quite a lot with regard to Armenian suffering under Ottoman responsibility during the First World War (also a fact that is widely downplayed in the Western anti-Turkish propaganda). But the Turkish leadership should engage in more creative politics. I think they should confront many others with historical genocides and other mass killings wearing other labels. Let them all come to terms, let them all recognize and apologize, let resolutions be voted everywhere on all cases – not only on Turks. Then Turkey itself could become more flexible.
But this ain’t gonna happen. Because this is not really about remembering, this is about Turkey bashing, this is about satisfying orientalist and totally misplaced feelings of superiority.
This highly politicized and perverse approach is not respectful vis-à-vis the hundreds of thousands Armenian victims and millions of others, including Namibians and Turks, in many historical episodes of mass atrocities.