A matter of debate
On March 19, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced Senate Resolution 399 that seeks to legislate a one-sided historical allegation without a proper legal ground. More specifically, S. Res. 399 incorrectly characterizes the World War I era interethnic strife in the Ottoman Empire as the “Armenian genocide” and calls upon the United States President to do the same.
The World War I-era atrocities in the Ottoman Empire were never tried by any competent tribunal and the intent to exterminate Armenians was never established. No sentences or court verdicts were issued to interpret these events in terms of the nonretroactive 1948 United Nations Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Furthermore, the International Court of Justice — a sole authority to determine the applicability of the ‘genocide’ term to any crime — has never opened any case or drawn any conclusion on the Armenian allegations.
According to a renowned American expert of Ottoman history, Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, there was no “deliberate preconceived decision of the Ottoman government” to eliminate Armenians, and the claim that the inter-communal warfare atrocities were a genocide constitutes only “the Armenian version of the history.” During the same period of World War I, over 518,000 Muslim Turks and Kurds were massacred. S. Res. 399 fails to reflect on that Turkish suffering, instead insulting the Turkish people by baselessly accusing them of committing a grave crime.
Commenting on a recent similar legislation in France, determined to be unconstitutional, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that the Turkish-Armenian issue is a matter of historical debate by scholars.
I join all Turkic-Americans and members of the Pax Turcica Institute to oppose S. Res. 399.