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080529|HS|Armenians Should Take $20 Mil. Offered by Turkey
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May 29, 2008 | The California Courier | Harut Sassounian, Publisher

Commentary

Armenians Should Take $20 Million
Offered by Turkey as Partial Payment



The largest Turkish daily newspaper, Hurriyet, carried the following sensational headline in its May 20, 2008 edition: "Turkey offers $20 million aid to open Armenian archives." Yusuf Halacoglu, chairman of Turkey's state-funded Turkish Historical Society, told Hurriyet that he had offered Armenians $20 million to open the ARF archives in Boston which he says include "very important documents" regarding the Armenian Genocide. Halacoglu said that he made this financial offer after Armenians allegedly told him that they do not have the necessary funds to organize these archives.

He claimed that "Armenians do not want to have the archives opened because such efforts will start a real debate over the genocide claims." In recent years, Halacoglu has made many bizarre statements on the Armenian Genocide, bringing nothing but ridicule upon himself, his fellow genocide denialists, and the Turkish Historical Society. This latest offer is yet another wacky statement by this charlatan, masquerading as a historian. It shows his own, and his government's desperation in trying to counter what Hurriyet describes as the Armenian Diaspora's increasing worldwide activities in recent years for the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

There are several falsehoods in Halacoglu's statement. First, he does not say which Armenians, if any, had told him that they lack the necessary funds to catalogue the ARF archives in Boston. It is a pretty sure bet that he has nevercontacted a single ARF official regarding the status of these archives. If he had, he would have learned that these archives are already open to any serious scholar. I am also quite certain that no ARF official has ever told Halacoglu that the archives are not catalogued due to funding issues, because many of the documents have already been published in several volumes. Since Halacoglu knows neither Armenian nor any other language besides Turkish, he would be unable to read a single document located in these archives.

Halacoglu claims that he had conveyed his offer of $20 million to "two Armenian historians, Ara Sarafian and Hilmar Kaiser," and had not received an answer. Betraying the depth of his ignorance, Halacoglu cannot even tell that Hilmar Kaiser is a German and not an Armenian!

Tatul Sonentz-Papazian, who managed the ARF archives in Boston until 2000, was quoted by the Armenian Reporter as saying that, contrary to Halacoglu's claims, the cataloguing of the ARF documents through 1925 were completed in1995. Mr. Sonentz-Papazian told the Armenian Reporter that Hilmar Kaiser, whom he had seen as recently as a month ago, did not convey such an offer from Halacoglu.

Ara Sarafian also contradicted Halacoglu's claims by telling the Reporter that he had not been asked to convey such an offer to the ARF. "This is obviously a publicity stunt," Sarafian was quoted as saying. "Halacoglu thrives on such publicity."

Furthermore, there is no evidence that the ARF archives will lend any credence to the cause of genocide denialists. Gerard Libaridian, who was incharge of the ARF archives in Boston from 1982 to 1988, posted the following explanation on the armworkshop website on March 26, 2007: "I doubt that they [ARF archives] will shed much light on the genocidal process itself, since the leaders of that party, both national and local, were among the first victims of that process=80¦. These archives, of course, cannot be lumped in the same basket as state archives, since the Dashnaktsutiune [ARF] is a political organization and not a state."

Halacoglu would do well to be more concerned about the accessibility and integrity of Ottoman/Turkish archives rather than those of the ARF. In the May 25, 2008 issue of the Turkish newspaper, Taraf, researcher Ayse Hur, in a detailed and lengthy report, courageously exposed the destruction and manipulation of the Ottoman archives. The Taraf article is appropriately titled, "Leave the Tashnak archives alone and look at the Ottoman archives." Over the past nine decades, the Ottoman archives have been cleansed from all incriminating documents and made available mostly to denialist "scholars" hired by the Turkish government.

My advice to the officials in charge of the ARF archives is to take the $20 million being offered by the Turkish government and declare that sum to be a partial compensation for the billions of dollars of damages suffered by Armenians during the Genocide. Whenever Armenians have an opportunity to recover even
a small portion of their immense losses during the genocide, be it money, personal property or other assets, they should grab it without hesitation!

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