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"We will walk hand in hand"

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

We are pleased to share below a speech given by our honorary member Ragip Zarakolu on the occasion of 24 April in Ulm, Germany

By Ragıp Zarakolu


R. Zarakolu at Geneva Genocide Memorial. © D. Sönmez

"Dear Friends,

April 24 is not only the Commemoration of Armenian Genocide, but also the day of organizing of TKP/ML (Communist Party of Turkey/ML), which is considered an important breaking point in the Turkish left’s disengagement from official idology of Kemalism and in accepting the Armenian/Kurdish reality. (*)

This disengagement was perceived as a threat by the Turkish Republican regime and Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, who was the idea father of this disengagement and played a key role in the establishment of the party, was subjected to extrajudicial execution

in Diyarbakır prison on May 18, 1973, where he was detained since he did not breathe a word.

The gang of Yahya Kaptan from Trabzon, who played an active role in the Armenian Genocide in 1915, murdered TKP founder Mustafa Suphi and his friends in 1921 and left them to the Black Sea waters.

He was killed by Topal Osman, who played an active role in the Pontian Genocide, so that he could not speak in the future. Topal Osman’ fate was not any different too. After he has killed Ali Şükrü, Trabzon deputy, he was killed in order not to tip off.

The regime's policy of destruction was inherited from that time. The leaders of the Revolutionary Youth movement of 1968, Mahir Çayan, Deniz Gezmiş and Sinan Cemgil et al. were executed with extrajudicial execution 1972. Thus, the ‘sinistracide’ (annihilation of left in political life) became one of the traditional policies of the state as well as genocide.

The first application of collective detentions and annihilations for the intelligentsia and leaderships had been initiated on April 24, 1915 for the Armenian intellectuals and revolutionaries.

The April 24th has become a model of destruction in terms of regime in Turkey.

In this regard, the establishment of a political movement that challenges this case on 24 April is extremely meaningful.

This approach was more attractive to the young people of different faiths and nationalities.

In the 100th and later anniversaries of the Armenian Genocide, the reality of genocide made a return to the main geography, in which its victims were threatened again.

Denial of reality, and escape from apology and indemnity threaten not only the martyrs, but all the peoples of the region.

The fact that genocides and crimes against humanity were not punished functions as an encouraging function for the reoffending of them, and the perpetrators feel almost untouchable.

Today, the Turkish Republican regime has been trying to dissolve the genocide and brutal ethnic cleansing in 1915-1922 in the list of losses among the warring parties of the First World War and to make them look like a natural result of the war.

The 1915 genocide is tried to be presented as a temporary and compulsory relocation of a population which was considered as "unreliable", in another geographical location.

Today the regime in Turkey has entirely returned to the views of the Union and Progress Party that had realized the 1915 genocide and to the philosophy of Ziya Gökalp, father of the Islamic/Turkish synthesis.

We can define the Committee of Union and Progress as a proto-fascist party. As a matter of fact, the UK and France, the winners of the First World War, set the perpetrators of the Committee free, including Ziya Gökalp, for their regional interests, even though they described the brutality in 1915 as a “crime against humanity” and interned them on the island of Malta to judge. This case encouraged new crimes to be committed, as Lemkin, the creator of the genocide term, noted.

Although Germany, the loser of the First World War, accepted its role in the 1915 disaster and apologized for this, USA and Britain, who took part in the First World War winners camp and possessed the first documents of the genocide, are the countries that are in the first place in denying the genocide reality because of their regional interests. From the winning camp, only France gave up its policy of submitting to Ankara's denial for the sake of its interests.

It is very painful that the Republic of Israel, founded by Holocaust victims, denied the reality for the sake of its regional interests.

Therefore, due to the subordination of Ankara's denial, they are also "responsible" together. And they are not even aware of this. Or they don't care.

But they pay more for this with Islamic fascism rising in the region.

Britain, France, Russia, who were unable to prevent the genocide in 1915, now threatened the children and grandchildren of those who survived this genocide. The USA which entered the war in 1917, is in the same position.

After the destruction of all peoples by the Balkan Wars, CUP’s going to the World War with the obsession to prevent the Armenian Reform caused the heaviest price for Armenian, Syriac and Greek peoples. But just like the Holocaust had other victims such as the Roman Sintis, the Disabled and the different thinkers, the 1915 genocide had other victims such as Jews and Ezidis. A hundred years later, ISIS would introduce genocide to the Ezidi people.

And of course, just as the Nazis eventually left the German people face to face with heavy pay, CUP’s war adventure and genocide practice confronted the Turkish people and Kurdish and Arab peoples with a heavy price.

The destruction in the Anatolian geography caused the economy and culture to go back 1000 years. Epidemics and starvation have caused mass deaths of soldiers and civilians, not only deportees who have been rescued from the slaughter.

The confiscation of the products and animals by CUP, for example, caused the death of 110 thousand people in Lebanon due to starvation.

On 24 April 1915, Talat Pasha imposed a mass arrest on Armenian intellectuals, while Cemal Pasha launched a deportation to Jews in Palestine and attacking Arab intellectuals in Beirut.

Turkish denial of genocide has become one of the most important parts of national security policy. Talat Pasha Committee, one of the executives of this denial, is one of the feet of today's authoritarian, dictatorial regime.

Another pillar is Devlet Bahçeli, general vice president of the Nationalist Movement Party, who is the founding chairman of the Coordination Board Against Unfounded Genocide Allegations, the highest denial institution.

Another victim of the nation-state project of the Islam/Turkish synthesis ideology was the Kurdish people. Claiming to be a positivist, CUP did not avoid exploiting Islam for genocide and declaring "jihad." Now the Kurdish people, whose regime has not been able to melt for 100 years, are paying the heavy price. We can also describe this as the “price” of joining the crime in one way or another.

The regime in Turkey will end like all other authoritarian/totalitarian regime.

A truly democratic, humanist administration will never be established in the Anatolian geography without facing the truth, apologizing and compensating.

This will happen one day.

And, as Martin Luther King said and as Hrant Dink imagined, "We will walk hand in hand."


(*) When he was a university student, Hrant Dik was a sympathizer of Kaypakkaya movement, who was the founder of TKP/ML, April 24th 1972.

Translated by Attila Tuygan.

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