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Letters to the Editor: A Letter from Professor S R Sonyel and Replies - March 2005

The Original Letter from Professor S R Sonyel:

Nouritza Matossiann claims the Ottoman government 'systematically deported, tortured and killed two million Armenians', which she labels as genocide, without a shred of scholarly and legally admissible evidence. The claim has not been impartially and judicially established, and does not meet the provisions of the United Nations Prevention and Repression of Genocide Resolution of December 1948.

The Turkish government is being accused of denying the Armenian genocide; but one can only deny what has been impartially and expertly examined and fully established through research and judicial process.

Could Ms Matossiann tell us as to when and how were the Turco-Armenian incidents of 1915-16 subjected to such a process and which international court of justice decided that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to anything that amounts to 'genocide' under the UN convention?

Professor SR Sonyel - Camberley Surrey

A sample of three responses to the Professor's letter:  

Dear Sir , I am surprised to see (on the internet) that you printed an article by the genocide denier Professor Sonyel. I am all in favour of the media giving us 'both sides' when there is a topical controversy. There can be no 'other side' to the Armenian Genocide any more than there can be an 'other side' to the Holocaust. The infamous Holocaust denier, David Irving, and his supporters finally learnt this to their cost in the legal proceedings of Irving v Lipstadt. I have no doubt that the deviousness and denials of professor Sonyel and all the other deniers of the Armenian Genocide will eventually be exposed for what they are. The tide is already turning, if only slightly and gradually. This is shown through the Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk's recent novel "Snow". Another example is the cartoon printed in the Turkish newspaper "Cumhuriyet" and reprinted in the Independent of March 3rd 05. Not only does the cartoon show the Turkish Prime Minister as a kitten irremediably entangled in a ball of (political) wool, but the very appearance of such criticism in a cartoon shows that even the Turkish people are not going to allow themselves to have the wool of denial and devious distortion pulled over them indefinitely.

Professor Sonyel, just like David Irving before him, has all the proof he needs to recognise the Armenian Genocide. The issue is not about proof. It is about Professor Sonyel living his own self-created version of history and demanding that everyone else join him in his pathologically distorted world. Perhaps the pressure is on him as more and more evidence of the Armenian Genocide is being presented in the media leading up to the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th of this year.

Sincerely - Ruth Barnett, London NW6

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Dear Sir, In response to the letter of Prof Sonyel in the 6 March edition (The Big Issue: Turkey's Bloody Past) in which he asked for evidence from Nouritza Matossian that the Armenian Genocide had taken place, please note that this has been affirmed again by the Association of Genocide Scholars in the following terms:

"That this assembly of the Association of Genocide Scholars in its conference held in Montreal, June 11-13 1997, reaffirms that the mass murder of Armenians in Turkey in 1915 is a case of genocide which conforms to the statutes of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.  It further condemns the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government and its official and unofficial agents and supporte rs."

There is no need for the article's author to take any further action but there is a requirement for the professor to take on board the opinions of his learned colleagues and experts in this topic.

Yours faithfully - Armenag Topalian 

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Nouritza Matossiann (News, last week) draws attention, for possibly the first time in this country, to the courageous words of the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk on something still being denied by Britain, the US and Turkey ... the extermination of Armenians in 1915-16.

Most countries have a murky past and now, with an ever-growing European Union and an easier acceptance of different ethnicities and religions, the way forward has been not the suppression of history but an acknowledgement of past genocides. There can only be a yawning gap if the Armenian legacy is left out of Turkish history.

Sylvie Howse - Maidenhead, Berks

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