Last week, Canadian Turkish Associations organized a panel titled “WWI 100th Anniversary: Human Suffering in Eastern Anatolia” at The University of Toronto. The event featured two speakers, University of Louisville professor Justin McCarthy and lawyer Bruce Fein.
Before the event, Armenian organizations submitted a petition to force the University to cancel the panel. However the University declined based on the grounds that cancelling the event would be against freedom of speech.
Armenian Students’ Association together with the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Canada and the Armen Karo Student Association then attempted to sabotage the panel.
Justin A. McCarthy, a professor from the University of Louisville, and Bruce Fein, a prominent lawyer, were the two speakers invited to the panel.
The protestors sat in the audience during the talk. At the first mention of genocide by Bruce Fein, the protesting group stood up and turned their backs to the speaker in silence. The audience members were upset by this protest. They knew it was strategically planned to disrupt the event however despite the provocation of Armenian protestors, the audience did not participate in their provacation and the speakers resumed their discussion. Disappointed with the outcome of their protest, the protestors walked out from the panel discussion to cheers and applause from the other audience members.
Similar attempts to block panels or speakers from Turkish side of the argument have been going on for years. One of the speakers, Justin McCarthy was also blocked from expressing his opinion when he was visiting Australia in 2013. In the last decade in some Western parliaments, a special law was passed where refusing to call the Armenian tragedy “a genocide” was now considered a crime.
Whatever happened to Turks and Armenians in 1915 was awful and tragic. The Armenian and Turkish people who have lived together for 1000 years on same land, must address the tragedy and help each other heal their wounds. However one side using this as a leverage to take revenge from the other side and play the role of the innocent victim at the expense of the other side is truly disturbing. While Armenians still ride on the propaganda wave around the world and in Australia, they don’t want to address that there was also the other side of the story in fact they use all their energy to block the other side to express their opinion on the matter.
The Armenian diaspora’s efforts to ban or to block the expression of the Turkish side of the story set a dangerous precedent. To censor the Turkish side of the story, to have it entirely forbidden from discussion is, as George Orwell warns, merely “to exchange one orthodoxy for another.”
Before demanding Turkey to accept Armenian side of the story, shouldn’t Armenians, for example, acknowledge and condemn the terrorist attacks of Armenian terrorist organization ASALA?
Most Australians are not aware the first act of terrorism on Australian soil was initiated by ASALA. The Turkish consul-general Consul-General Şarik Ariyak and his security officer Engin Sever were murdered by Armenian terrorists in Sydney on 17 December 1980.
Will the Armenians ever condemn the Khocaly genocide, or the invasion of Azerbaijani territories (Karabagh) by the Armenian army? When one demands justice, shouldn’t one first look at his own history? What is the difference between Armenia’s justification of Khocaly, ASALA, Karabagh and the justification of the 1915 Tragedy by the Turkish government?
Armenians’ enemy is not the malicious Turks, but rather, in the words of George Orwell “the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.”
Armenians and Turks – let’s stop playing that gramophone.