The Turkish authorities, adhering to the policy of denying the genocide carried out by the Young Turks, try to avoid condemning the crime that was committed and confronting their own past by falsifying history and covering up historical facts in every possible way.
Great Britain, France and Russia issued a joint statement regarding the deportation and massacres of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire on May 24, 1915, describing them as crimes against humanity. This statement on bringing the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide to justice had its logical continuation immediately after the First World War. Within the framework of the Paris Peace Conference, the first international body investigating war crimes was established on January 25, 1919. This was the Commission on the Responsibility and Punishment of the Authors of War. This body was supposed to find out who unleashed the First World War and to impose punishments on those who committed war crimes.
The commission was also presented with a list of perpetrators of crimes against Armenians, in which Enver, Jemal and Talaat Pasha were among the main culprits who were recognised as being responsible for war crimes and crimes against the laws of humanity. The commission, after studying much evidence that had been obtained, stated that during the war, Turkey had committed gross violations of the rights of soldiers and citizens, which were against the laws and customs of war, as well as the laws of humanity and that the individuals who were guilty of these violations should be prosecuted.
Thus, Enver, Jemal and Talaat Pasha, the main architects of the Armenian Genocide, were recognised, after the First World War, as war criminals and responsible for crimes committed against the laws of humanity by the War Crimes Commission.
Leaders and ministers of the Young Turk Party and other persons involved in the implementation of the Armenian Genocide were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment and/or death by the national court (military tribunals) during the Constantinople trials. The Constantinople military tribunal found some of the main culprits, including Talaat, Jemal and Enver Pasha, guilty of dragging Turkey into war, organising massacres as well as a number of other crimes, sentencing them to death in absentia.
The hero-worship of these criminals began immediately in Ankara, the Kemalists’ capital; the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) suspended its activities for 10 minutes on August 5, 1920, as a sign of respect for Nusret, the provincial governor of Urfa, who had been executed on that day. The GNAT later, on March 31, 1923, announced a general amnesty for all those convicted by the Ottoman military tribunals.
The GNAT discussed a bill sent by the Turkish government on May 29, 1926, titled “Law on providing real estate and land to the families of state officials killed or otherwise persecuted by Armenian criminal committees.” It was presented by Haydar Rushtu, a deputy from Denizli and was supported by many other deputies. The bill was unanimously adopted by the GNAT, officially published and entered into force on June 27, 1926 (Law No. 882).
MEHMED TALAAT: TURKEY’S “NATIONAL MARTYR”
Mehmed Talaat was one of the main organisers of the Armenian Genocide and was one of the leaders of the Young Turk “Committee of Union and Progress” (CUP). He was a permanent member of its Central Committee due to his key roles and activities. Talaat held the positions of Minister of Interior of the Ottoman Empire in 1909-1911 and 1913-1918; he was then Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) in 1917-1918.
As the Minister of Interior and a member of the CUP Central Committee, Talaat participated in the adoption of the decision to exterminate the Armenian people and the development of the plan to so. He supervised the arrests of the western Armenian intellectuals starting from April 24, 1915, in particular. He also directly coordinated the implementation of the process of deportation of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire, ordered the extermination of the Armenians who reached the concentration camps in Mesopotamia and issued orders regarding their dispossession, as well as the forced Turkification of Armenian children.
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War and the signature of the Mudros treaty, the new Ottoman government, trying to show its separation from the previous regime and under the political pressure of Great Britain, made the decision to prosecute members of the Young Turk government. An emergency military tribunal was formed in Constantinople for this purpose which, by its verdict on July 5, 1919, found the leaders of the “Committee of Union and Progress” (CUP) guilty of organising the “massacre and annihilation of the Armenian population of the empire” among other charges. Interior Minister Mehmed Talaat and other members of the Young Turk Party were sentenced to death in absentia.
Talaat was shot by Soghomon Tehliryan, within the framework of the “Nemesis” operation, on March 15, 1921. The court in Berlin found Tehliryan innocent; he was released.
Upon receiving the news of Talaat’s murder, Mustafa Kemal, according to Turkish sources, could not hold back his tears and declared: “The country lost a great son, the revolution’s great organiser.” According to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey law of June 27, 1926, Talaat was also declared a “national martyr.”
Nazi Germany’s Chancellor Adolf Hitler, hoping to secure Turkey’s support in World War II, acceded to the Turkish government’s request and authorised the transfer of Talaat’s remains to Turkey in early 1943. This was concluded with a special ceremony near the Freedom Monument in Istanbul on February 25, 1943. The state funeral was attended by the Prime Minister of Turkey Mehmed Şükrü Saraçoğlu and the German Ambassador to Turkey Franz von Papen.
THE MANIFESTATIONS OF TALAAT’S GLORIFICATION AND HERO-WORSHIP IN PUBLIC, EDUCATIONAL AND POLITICAL FIELDS
Talaat is continuously honoured and glorified in republican Turkey as a hero in social, political, educational and cultural fields. With this aim, a number of districts, avenues, streets, alleys, mosques, schools, high schools, buildings, organisations and projects have been named after him. The list is very long, so only a few will be mentioned: his name was given to a number of districts in Edirne, Istanbul, Smyrna, Kayseri and Tekirdagh. Apart from this, about four dozen avenues, streets and alleys in Istanbul, Ankara, Balıkesir, Bursa, Edirne, Smyrna, Konya, Sakarya, Tekirdagh, Eskişehir, etc., were named after him.
Schools, colleges, and mosques have been named to honour and glorify him in the cultural and religious fields, strengthening and confirming his heroic image. About five mosques have been named after him, most of them located in Istanbul and Ankara. The list also includes schools and colleges that were opened in Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, Konya and Tekirdagh.
A number of medical and public institutions, cafes, private houses and residences in Istanbul and other cities have also been named after Talaat.
Organisations and projects have also been named after him, among which are associations dealing with particularly pronounced anti-Armenian propaganda and denial of the Armenian Genocide. The “Talaat Pasha” committee established in 2005 should especially be mentioned, which may be characterised as an institution leading anti-Armenian extremist and nationalist activities, investing huge resources in the context of the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide. Although supposedly one of its key slogans is “Friendship, but not racism,” another used in parallel with this is “The Armenian Genocide is an international political hoax.” That organisation used great resources to disrupt the events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Projects and programmes for building mosques have been named after Talaat (“Construction of the Talaat Pasha Mosque,” an Istanbul-Esenyurt Municipality project and the Ankara “Talaat Pasha Mosque Construction and Confirmation Union” project). The song called the “Berlin-Talaat Pasha March” (composer: Yavuz Daloghlu) should also be noted. This is the anthem used by one of the great initiatives aimed at denying the Armenian Genocide.
THE ABOVE-MENTIONED FACTS ONCE MORE PROVE THAT THE HERO-WORSHIP OF THE AUTHORS OF THE GENOCIDE IS PART OF STATE POLICY IN THE TODAY’S REPUBLIC OF TURKEY.
THE PHOTOGRAPH is of the front page of the Ottoman “Vakit” newspaper issue dated July 13, 1919. It shows the article titled “Judgments” giving the news of the Ottoman military emergency tribunal’s in absentia death sentences of the Young Turk leaders.
THE NEWSPAPER is from Mihran Minassian’s personal collection. He is an advisor to the Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute.