Friday, January 19, 2007

The past isn't past...

Some distinguished individual once said of history, "the past isn't prologue--it isn't even past." I was reminded of that just now in learning of the murder of a prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, in Istanbul.

Probably a lot of people already know that a million Armenians died in Turkey in l9l5 in a series of attacks by Turkish troops and police. Sometimes these were mass killings, other times women and children were driven out into the wilderness with no food or water, a death sentence. In any event, there is plenty of evidence that all of this happened, and that it was a deliberate attempt to get rid of a perenially successful and assertive(read: troublesome) minority. But the Turkish government denies to this day that it had any role in these events, or if they did happen, "rogue elements" were responsible.

This journalist and many others have refused to be silent on the issue. The Turkish government has responded by harassing and/or trying them under a catch-all criminal statute called "insulting Turkishness." They have promised to stop doing this, because they want admission to the EU and persecuting writers for their beliefs isn't acceptable in Europe. But the Turkish government still hasn't admitted any culpability, and the genocide issue remains a flashpoint in Turkish politics, so individuals inclined to take action against "unpatriotic" people are emboldened. That seems to be what happened in this case.

The past isn't past, just in case you had the full story at


jodmeister said...

Wow, interesting behavior for a country who wants to join the EU. Does Turkey have a realistic chance (just wondering outloud since I haven't researched it)? I also wondered if they would have to admit to the Armenian genocide as a condition to gain enterance but if countries like Poland have not admitted it, I guess the Turks would not have to either.

moville said...

Everyone WANTS them to, as a sign that there is at least one predominantly Muslim nation that is moderate and democratic. It's thought that this would signal to the rest of the world that yes, Muslims are welcome into the "club." But Turkey has some blind/sore spots that it tends to deal with viscerally, like the genocide, like people who are inclined to oppose the powers that be. You can't have those tendencies, or at least you can't openly express them, if you want to join Europe. The same thing applies to Russia, btw.

Interestingly, a friend of mine said this poses a new question: does Turkey belong more properly to the New Europe or the New Russia(Putin's)?