Archive for the 'Racism' Category

The Annual Vandalize Armenia’s Holocaust Memorial Event

This time it’s a big swastika and “Death to the Jew” in Armenian.  This is at least the 3rd time in the past five years that Armenia’s tiny Jewish Holocaust memorial has been vandalized. I blogged about earlier desecrations in 2006 and 2007

It seems like it has become a tradition in Armenia to vandalize the monument (which has been replaced a few times – the newest one commemorates both Armenian and Jewish victims of WWI and WWII, respectively), which I call “Annual Vandalize Armenia’s Holocaust Memorial” event.

Sure, this is the work of a few. Sure, Armenians should be more sensitive to the Holocaust because of their own experience of genocide. Sure, vandals actually hurt Armenia by such an act of racism. Sure, these hate attacks might have been rare if Israel wasn’t maliciously denying the Armenian genocide.

These are statements we hear every time the monument is vandalized. We are missing the point though. What we need is acknowledgment that there is troubling anti-Semitism in Armenia (and among Armenian communities around the world). The repeated vandalisms are but one example.

Thousands of Turks Apologize to Armenians

While I have received a number of personal letters from individual Turks apologizing for the Genocide, this one is addressed to all Armenians: “My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them.”


The thousands of Turkish signatories of the apology statement are not saying sorry for the genocide itself (which they call “the Great Catastrophe,” translating from the Armenian Metz Yeghern). The apology is for the convenient “ignorance” and “denial” about the WWI extermination of Ottoman Empire’s indigenous Armenians for about nine decades. The message, as I see it, is not recognizing a historical fact but recognizing humanity. To recognize genocide means to recognize a victim group’s humanity. The reverse can, apparently, be true as well.


What is also true is that there are thousands of Turks who are willing to risk their lives and comfort in order to break an ancient silence. As one Turkish friend told me, “[i]t’s a bit like putting your name on a ‘wanted’ list.” The “wanted list” is pretty big: over 22,000 signatures on the main website,, by December 24, 2008, and over 3,400 on Facebook  (as of Dec 20) with their real names and photographs (the Facebook event list seems to have since become a private one).


On the other hand, all that Armenians have received for losing a homeland and memory through genocide is a 90-year-late “apology” by a group of people some of whose signatories don’t hide its strategy. One initiator, for instance, has been quoted as suggesting in one Turkish-language newspaper that the apology is a service to the Republic of Turkey in the sense that it will kill genocide recognition by other countries.  Furthermore, earlier this year, in my indigenous politics class, the professor and many students were not satisfied with Australia’s and Canada’s official apology to their indigenous peoples for genocidal policies. So in general, an “apology” is not well received by victim groups.


What is undeniable, nonetheless, is that this apology has full of potential. One would not even imagine such an apology five years ago. One would not imagine that Turkish parliamentarians would discuss the matter, even some of them using the Kurdish term “genocide” to refer to the Armenian extermination.


The apology has also brought out the paradoxical Turkish society. Turkey’s ceremonial president Abdullah Gul has defended the signatories (unlike the “real” Turkish leader, vice president Erdogan). At the same time, though, Gul is suing a nationalist Turkish parliamentarian for saying the president has Armenian roots and that’s why he defends the apology.  This is also the same Gul who has attended a ceremonial killing of Armenian soldiers in Turkey. But this is also the same Gul who visited Armenia this year and wanted to improve relations.


Nevertheless, Turkish media are openly calling Canan Arıtman, the female member of a social-democratic party who suggested Gul is a traitor because of his alleged Armenian origin, a “fascist” and a “racist.” Suggesting that the politician be expelled from her party, one Turkish columnist writing for Sabah says, “Arıtman is racist. What place can racism and questioning ethnic origins have in social democracy, an ideology that has freedom, equality and brotherhood as its fundamental tenets?”


Writing even harsher, a liberal Turkish columnist asks what if all Turks have Armenian origin:


“Arıtman and those like her are the strongest reason we have to apologize to the Armenian community. If these people can readily put into circulation statements that are racist, low and self-aggrandizing, the entire community is responsible for that. We all have a share in this crime. I have questions to ask people who approach this issue reluctantly and who think that it is unnecessary as an agenda item. Have you ever thought about this? Maybe we are all really Armenians. We may all have people in our lineage who were forced to act like Muslim Turks.”


A Zaman columnist says Turks “should thank the racist CHP deputy” for reminding the history of her political party. Apparently that political party is the hereditary of the chauvinist “Union and Progress” that committed the Genocide in 1915.  


Furthermore, some of Arıtman’s colleagues in the parliament have compared her to Hitler: “”It was a similar stance that led German dictator Adolf Hitler to burn thousands of people of Jewish origin. Arıtman sees Armenians as enemies.”  


When was the last time when any media in Turkey was outraged against insulting Armenians? Indeed this is unprecedented and demonstrates the power of the apology – no matte how vague and not-enough it may be.  This maybe the reason why there is so much ultranationalist outrage in Turkey against the apology (even if some self-perceived progressives silently suggest the apology serves Turkey’s national interests). The website of the apology, for instance, was “suspended” according to a message which appeared on it around 1:30 AM standard US eastern time on December 23, 2008. Days ago it was also hacked. Furthermore, a group of nationalists have opened their own website called “I don’t apologize.” Almost 50,000 nationalists have signed it as of December 24. Another counter campaign claims twice as many supporters, although neither websites have received much – if any coverage – in Turkish or other media.


Hated by Turkish ultranationalists, the apology initiative has inspired similar (though low-profile) campaigns in the region. I have received a text that is being circulated among Cypriot Turks and Greeks asking both communities to apologize to each other:


“Initiative for Apologizing for the atrocities committed by ones’ own community

1.     This is an initiative to collect signatures on a document apologizing for the atrocities committed by ones’ own community against the other. Following the initiative of 200 Turkish intellectuals, who found the courage to apologize for the Armenian genocide, we believe it is time for Cypriots to assume responsibility for the crimes allegedly committed in their name and to express regret and condemnation.

2.     The initiative also aims at putting an end to the decades- long practice of concealing the truth about the events, of denying that they ever took place or attempt to justify them. This amounts to a crime of massacre denial which can no longer be tolerated. At the same time each one of us must assume responsibility for the actions we can take as parents, teachers, activists, journalists, politicians to put an end to the decades-long conspiracy of silence about our regrettable past.

3.     We call on all interested persons and organizations to engage in a process of consultation on how best to promote this initiative and to formulate the text to be signed.”


Full of more potential for good than for bad, the Turkish apology is one that surprises many. In fact, it might not have been possible without one person. According to the Irish Times:




Others attribute the initiative to the shock that followed the murder of the Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink. A leading advocate of a more humane debate on the Armenian issue, Dink was gunned down by a nationalist teenager in January 2007.


“When he died, it was as if a veil had been torn from the eyes of the democratic-minded citizens of this country,” says Nil Mutluer, a feminist activist who signed the letter. “People realised there was no time to be lost.”


The road ahead looks hard. The chief organisers of the 1915 massacres continue to be commemorated in street names across the country….”


The road is a hard one, but not unprecedented. Around the globe, there is a global recognition of indigenous rights which have often been repressed through genocidal policies. One such injustice was recently corrected by the country of Nicaragua when it gave title of traditional land to a native nation. A simple apology seems to please many Armenians, though, even it comes froma group of liberal Turks who are ashamed of a 90-year-old campaign to silence and rewrite history.


When I gave my father a print-out of the apology in western Armenian, his initial reaction was: “They took all of our land and memory and all they give us is an apology by a group of small people who don’t even use the word genocide?” To my surprise, he then added, “I accept their apology.”


And earlier this April, when a group of Turkish lobbyists and community organizers denied the Armenian genocide during a commemorative lecture at University of Denver, an Armenian friend of mine (who openly calls himself a nationalist), said to the audience that if a Turk told him “sorry” for the Genocide he would give that Turk a “big, Armenian hug.”


My friend owes 20,000 Turks big, Armenian hugs. Let’s hope the number grows so big that he will never be able to give so many hugs in 90 years.

Enough of the Racism, Mr. Petrosyan!

Former Armenian president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan ...

Image: Former Armenian president and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan greets supporters during a rally in central Yerevan, June 20, 2008. This is the first mass opposition rally since March 1 violent clashes with government forces when several people were killed. REUTERS/Photolure/Hayk Badalyan


While they are not the only one, Armenia’s opposition in its new protests continues to polarize the society in the smallest ex-Soviet republic by making racist statements about the current government.


According to a transcript posted on an opposition website , former president and opposition Levon-Ter Petrosyan called Armenia’s current administration a “Tatar-Mongolian” regime, a euphemism for “invading Turks,” just seconds into his speech on Friday, June 20, 2008.


By calling Armenia’s leaders “Tatar-Mongols,” Petrosyan is not only insulting his own nation, the fight for Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia’s society, but also millions of people around the world who have Turkic origin. The worst thing is that this kind of racism doesn’t turn the thousand protesters off. So is Levon just a racist himself or is he catering a racist audience?


Bitter, oppressed and poor people often find scapegoats. But how long are we going to tolerate this kind of racism? What right do we have to mock Azerbaijan – where the word Armenian is purposely spelled with a lower-case “a” and condemn its institutionalized racism – when our own “leaders” accuse each other of being a Turk?

Armenia: Nasty Politics

When, on March 1, 2008, a high school friend from Yerevan woke me up with text messages urging me to update Blogian, I asked him why he was involved in the opposition movement. His answer was that Robert Kocharyan (the president at the time who was going to be replaced by Serzh Sargsyan) was a Turk! My friend’s reference was to Kocharyan’s and Sargsyan’s origin in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Turkic Azerbaijan that sustained its independence through a bloody war in the 1990s. Ironically, my friend’s father also hails from Karabakh.

Days after ten people died on the streets, I asked my friend again why he was supporting Levon Ter-Petrosyan (Armenia’s first president and the current leader of the opposition). His answer was that he was fighting for freedom of speech.

While there is a sense of working for justice among people on either aisle of Armenia’s post-election conflict (pro-government people arguing for stability and opposition people arguing for more democracy), there has been an awful hatred in both sides. That hatred, unfortunately, doesn’t only show the division but implies prejudices in Armenia’s society – hating Turks, anti-Semitism, sexism and other kind of biases.

This morning, for instance, I received a fake photo (posted above) of Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan with a kippah with the Star of David on his hand. Ironically, I didn’t receive the photo from a teenager but from a self-perceived intellectual from Iran’s Armenian community (and a reader of this blog). While Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s wife is Jewish, attacks against the opposition have often used anti-Semitic remarks.

More ironically, a self-declared anarchist website, which loudly supports the opposition, also has fake photos depicting Armenia’s government not as Turks, despite the popular sentiment among opposition radicals, but as Nazis.


And Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s official blog posts an image by Ara Aslanyan that depicts Armenia’s current president Serzh Sargsyan’s chest as a vagina (suggesting that the president is a “pussy”). This is after the opposition’s strategy to use women in their protests.


Until Armenia’s society condemns this kind of racism and sexism, their work for justice is not going to prevail.

Istanbul: Historic Roma District Faces Destruction

Turkey’s Prime Minister has called a historic Roma (Gypsy) district in Istanbul “ugly” as the government plans to evict its ancient residents in the name of development.


A U.S. government agency has sent a letter of protest to PM Erdogan urging to reconsider planned destruction of Sulukule, one of the oldest Romani settlments in Europe.

A petition is available for your signatures.

Russia: Alarming Data of Hate Crimes

Vladivostok News has posted a data of hate crimes committed in Russia from 2005-2007. According to the report, Moscow is the most dangerous place for its immigrant communities where the number of registered hate killings has grown from 16 in 2005 to 42 in 2007.

Azerbaijan’s Pan-Turkist Ambitions

Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president Ilham Aliyev’s recent statement that neighboring Armenia can’t give anything to the world “from the political, economic, transport or cultural points of view” has attracted little attention.

That’s because there is nothing new in a racist statement coming from official Azerbaijan that says Armenia has no cultural contributions to the world. In fact, Aliyev’s regime has done everything possible to prove that point: in December of 2005, the largest Armenian archaeological site in the world – the medieval cemetery of Djulfa – was reduced to dust by a contingent of Azerbaijan’s army. President Aliyev says the destruction never happened because there had never been any Armenia cultural monument in Djulfa in the first place.

And although the deliberate demolition of Djulfa has not attracted much concern from the international community – some suggest the oil factor – there is now a growing concern about Azerbaijan’s ambitions of “uniting Turkic countries” which is usually followed by statements against Armenia and primarily seeks a common identity with the Republic of Turkey.

Mathew Bryza, the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State, has said at a recent conference that “[t]he slogan ‘one nation, two states’ reigning in Turkey and Azerbaijan should be changed. “ Although Bryza’s statement at face is a reference to stopping the common hate toward Armenia it comes amid apparent concerns for growing Pan-Turkism in Eurasia and so creation of a “racial” and possibly Islamic unity.

A recent article in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, titled “The Rebirth of Pan-Turkism?” states:

As the USSR recedes further into history, the post-Soviet Turkic nations of the Caucasus and Central Asia are rediscovering their linguistic and cultural affinities with Turkey, and activists are promoting closer cultural, economic, and political ties.

Among the states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, the pan-Turkic sentiment is most pronounced in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s most ardent support of closer Turkic ties is Nizami Jafarov, director of Baku’s Ataturk Center, a corresponding member of Azerbaijan’s Academy of Science, and head of the Azerbaijani Permanent Parliamentary Commission on the Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Jafarov’s latest project is setting up a new Turkish language TV channel in Azerbaijan to broadcast to the Turkish-speaking world and foster further integration in the Turkic world. “It is possible to say that this idea has become a reality,” Jafarov said during a recent interview. “The issues of the opportunities, main topics, and language of this TV channel have been defined after long discussions. No one is against the creation of such a channel.” According to Jafarov, the only thing currently lacking is money. “ The issue will be fully elaborated after one of the Turkic countries or any international company undertakes the financing of the TV channel,” but he added optimistically, “I think the issue of the channel opening will be settled this year.”

The concern for Pan-Turkism is not the cultural integration of countries with somewhat closer heritage but old ambitions for a Pan-Turkic “empire” that some scholars believe was the ideology behind eliminating the Armenian people from the Ottoman Empire. 

Jafarov is also chairman of the Turkish-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Friendship Group, which has been promoting the idea of closer Turkish-Azeri relations for some time. In 2006 Jafarov maintained, the idea of a Parliamentary Assembly of Turkish States began to gain serious traction, commenting, “Azerbaijan’s suggestion of establishing a Parliamentary Assembly of Turkish States has been approved by all. The format of the Assembly is to be discussed. Creation of this assembly is inevitable. The ongoing processes in the world make it necessary to set up an organization of Turkish states at least on parliament level” (, February 28, 2006). As envisaged, the Turkish States’ Parliamentary Assembly would consist of delegates from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.

Although the article fails to directly mention the “role” of Armenia in the Pan-Turkic ambition – that is Armenia would need to be physically annihilated because it is the only country that geographically seperates the Turkic nations –  it does reference the anti-Armenian rhetoric of the Pan-Turkic agenda:

An important element of Jafarov’s plan was Armenia’s reaction to such an assembly. The following month Jafarov said, “The Armenian media writes that Turk nations will create a Turanian State and claims that and this state will be against Armenians… The establishment of such an assembly is important for the maintenance of harmony in the world and is not in contradiction with the norms and principles of international law. On the other hand, Armenians are far fewer in number than Turks. There are 100 million Turks in the world and only about 10 million Armenians. Despite this we will discuss the ‘Armenian issue’ after the formation of the Assembly.”

Azerbaijan’s successful destruction of Armenian cultural heritage and an unprecended hate campaign – partially because of losing a recent war to Armenia – toward the people who, even after the Armenian Genocide – stand on the way of Pan-Turkism – has led to convinctions on the part of Azerbaijan’s officials that they should become the leader of the Turkic world:

But the concept has already brushed up against political reality, with both Turkey and Azerbaijan claiming credit for the concept and eventual leadership of the organization. For the Azeris, the recent Congress solidified Azerbaijan’s leadership. According to Nazim Ibrahimov, head of the State Committee on Work with Azerbaijanis Living Abroad, “This congress, which was held on the initiative of President Ilham Aliyev, brought new tone to the Turkish world. In the worldwide Turkish diaspora all Turks are speaking about the congress in Baku. They consider the Azerbaijani President as a new leader of Turkish world” (APA, December 30).

While Azerbaijan’s immense oil wealth gives it a rising presence in the Turkic world, it remains to be seen if that will translate into substantial political power in the Inter-Parliamentary Council and Advisory Council, proposed by Turkey, and whether the heads of the five former Soviet Turkic states will, in fact, be ready to surrender any national sovereignty to such a body. If Azerbaijan and Turkey cannot even agree regarding who provided the impetus for the idea, further integration of the Turkish-speaking world still seems a distant goal.

Armenia’s good relationship with some of the Central Asian “Turkic” countries may also be a factor to the thwart of the political aspect of the Pan-Turkist ambition. Armenian culture is widely spread in many of these former Soviet Union countries and most would disagree with Aliyev’s racist statement that Armenia culturally offers nothing to the world.  Moreover, Armenians and Azeris are genetically more related than Azeris and their “Turkic brothers” in Central Asia so hopes for Pan-Turkist racial unity are embedded in myths and prejudice.

Nonetheless, Azerbaijan’s ambitions for greater rule and influence are alarming, as the State Department has finally noticed, even if no one – including Turkey – refuse to participate in the Pan-Turkist agenda.  Azerbaijan’s militarization needs to be put to an end. And that must start with activating Section 907 of the Freedom of Support Act.

Racism in the U.S. – From Judge Judy to Everyone Else

Image:Romany girl from cz 2005.jpg

A Romani woman from the Czech Republic.  For her and the other 15 million members of world’s Roma community the term “gypsy” is like the term “nigger” for African-Americans.  

I must confess that the only show I watch on American TV is Judge Judy.  I must say she is very entertaining, but often racist too.  Don’t get me wrong, that racism is not personal at all. Almost everyone else in the United States like Judge Judy uses the word “gypsy” to offend someone else.

I can’t recall the exact date and the case, but I have heard Judge Judy calling someone a “gypsy” as a derogatory term at least once this fall on My20 in Denver, Colorado.

Doing a Google search, I found another observation of Judge Judy’s usage of the g-word:

My name is Hilda and I’m from Australia. I admired Judge Judy and watched her show every day. Last week I got a shock of her comment. Judge Judy said to one of her client “she doesn’t look like a Gypsy thief does she?” I always thought Judge Judy was an inteligent women but how can a person with high inteligence make such an ignorant racist comment in national television?
I want a public apology from Judge Judy televised in national tv. about her racist comment of my race. I’m a Gypsy and I can assure Judge Judy I’m not a thief. I’m shure if she would of say “she doesn’t look like a Jewish thief or a Nigger thief” she would lose her job over it.. but is it ok to say Gypsy Thief?

Few people realize that “Gypsy” is actually reference to an ethnic group – just like Armenians, Russians, Germans.  There are about 15 million “Gypsies” in the world who prefer to be called Romani.

Judge Judy and the rest of America should go and educate themselves before making derogatory comments against an entire people who have been marginalized throughout centuries and due to omnipresent racism often hide their identities.

Why is AOL Censoring Stormfront Hatesite?

After coming across to Stormfront, a “white nationalist” hatesite, through a Google search, I realized that my Internet provider AOL has blocked it off.

I am actually very upset wit AOL’s censorship. There are plenty of racist websites out there, especially having to do with the KKK, and if AOL starts banning one it should ban others too.  Even more stupid is the excuse for the ban of the hatesite: “The page you are trying to view was linked with e-mail determined to be spam.” 

For those of us who want to research racism what are we supposed to?

AOL Safety Alert: Known Spam Solicitation Site
The page you are trying to view was linked with e-mail determined to be spam.

For your protection, we have blocked access to this site from AOL.

To learn more about this threat and AOL’s protections, visit AOL Keyword: Site Security.

Note to site owner: If you feel your site is being blocked in error, please visit

The Denial of Racism

A Turkish Daily News Column by Orhan Kemal Cengiz (“Kunta Kinte, ‘Armenian Seed,’ the Denial of Racism,” June 22, 2007) resonates with the recent revealing of racist denier “Holdwater” (the ghostmaster of hatesite) as cartoonist Murad Gumen.

Cengiz writes:

I have never come across any Turkish person who considers himself a racist. However, racist remarks are just flying in the air in the daily conversations in this country. Our language is full of racist remarks. For example, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, is called an “Armenian seed” (Ermeni Dölü). If you consider how much Öcalan is hated in this country then you can imagine how “flattering” being an “Armenian seed” may be. “Jews are cowards!” “Arabs are back stabbing people”! Not to mention very offensive vocabulary about the Roma people!

What Cengiz says is true, but not only for Turks. I don’t think any person in this world would admit they are racist, not even a single member of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet Cengiz is particularly upset with the denial of racism in Turkey for the simple fact that Ottoman Empire’s desendant Turkey sees itself a victim and hence doesn’t see its minorities as vulnerable to hate in Turkey:

I believe this feeling of ‘being a victim’ serves as a kind of block in our collective unconscious. It is a way of turning upside down some historical facts in this country. It is a way of not confronting what had happened to non-Muslim citizens of this country. “I am the victim, not the Armenian, or Greek, or Jew!” Today we still have this feeling and it is getting stronger. We are again the victims of the Western powers’ conspiracies against us! We are the Kunta Kintes of the modern times, surrounded by enemies and about to be victimized again by the white man! Are we really!?

Interestingly, racist Murad Gumen has been doing exactly whatCengiz writes about.  Shamelessly comparing Armenians to rodents (“Armeni-lemmings identify with this [photographed] rodent”) and hatefully denying the Armenian Genocide (“I have 100% hatred of the deception of Armenians’ age-old propaganda”), Murad Gumen is fast to proclaim he is not a racist (“I have zero hatred of Armenians”).  You are what you do, would respond the French philosopher.

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