December 29th, 2008 by hyeoctane
By Daren Djirikian
“I haven’t committed any crime. Why should I apologize?” asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan in response to an online petition in which thousands of Turks apologized for the brutal killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Erdogan rejected the petition, stating further that an apology would actually have to come from the Ottoman perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide, who in truth are responsible for killing 1.5 million Armenians during World War I, and several thousands of Armenians before and after the war. Former Turkish ambassadors support rejecting the petition by declaring it against Turkey’s national interests.
Calling the killings the “Great Catastrophe,” more than 22,000 Turks, including journalists and academics have signed the petition on the Website www.ozurdiliyoruz.com. The petition states “I cannot accept the denial of the great catastrophe of 1915
that Ottoman Armenians were subjected to. I condemn this injustice and acting on my own behalf I share the feelings of pain of my Armenian brothers.” The petition flies in the face of official Turkish policy that denies the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The Turkish state continues to assert that the murders were the result of civil uprisings during World War I, which continues to add to Turkey’s identity crisis as it moved from an empire to a republic. An ongoing impact of Turkish denial is that Turkey and Armenia do not have a diplomatic relationship. However, in order for justice to be served in the long run, Armenians and Turkish citizens alike must continue to speak out against Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide.
Theodore Bagosora, a former army official during the Rwandan genocide was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday, January 18 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Such a conviction can give hope to Armenians worldwide that Turkey may be held responsible for apologizing for the Armenian genocide and perhaps offering reparations to descendants of Armenians killed during the genocide.