Journalist Uzay Bulut Unveils Turkey’s Genocidal Past, Ongoing Human Rights Violations

Author: Jackie Abramian

Publication Date: 24/4/2021

Source: Forbes

Today U.S. President, Joe Biden formally recognized the massacre of Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman Empire during WWI as an act of genocide, as Armenians worldwide commemorate the 1915 Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians.

Turkey is a “dictatorship” that harshly penalizes citizens for criticizing the military, the Turkish nation, president, government institutions, or national heroes, says journalist Uzay Bulut. In an era of ‘alternative facts’ Bulut upholds truth and justice for the oppressed minorities in her homeland of Turkey by defying the autocratic government. Endangering her own safety and living in self-imposed exile is the sacrifice for continuing to unearth and publish articles on Turkey’s genocidal past and ongoing human rights violations.

Turkey’s systematic violations to a fair trial and misuse of “terrorism” charges restrict freedom of speech for its citizens. Some 80 media workers await in pre-trial detention or serving a “terrorism” sentence, reports The Platform for Independent Journalism (P24). With over 281,000 people in Turkish prisons, Amnesty International labeled Turkey as the world’s largest prison for journalists–ranking second after China says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“There is no free press in Turkey. Meanwhile, many perpetrators of actual war crimes walk around free in Turkey as international observers report how jihadist terrorists, involved in Syria and Iraq wars, use Turkish territory for transit, refuge, human and goods trafficking,” says Bulut.

Un-Brainwashing Turkish Education
A Turkish citizen, Bulut earned a degree in translation studies from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, and a Master’s in media and cultural studies from Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. She began publishing articles, and after a brief stay in the U.S., returned to Turkey to renew her visa and has, since 2016, lived abroad–currently studying at the Israel Studies Department in the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

“Attending university was a turning point in my life–it introduced me to new ideas and information I hadn’t known before. But deconstructing false narratives taught from childhood does not happen overnight. The more I learned, the more I supported people exposed to genocide and severe persecution at the hands of my country,” Bulut says. "Turkey’s education system upholds nationalism as its dominant state ideology, denying the true history of persecutions against minorities, and indigenous peoples of Asia Minor as the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. Turkish schoolchildren learn revisionist history about the 1913-23 genocide when Ottoman Turkey massacred Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Yezidis.”

One of the first historic truths Bulut learned about was Ottoman Turkey’s 1915 Genocide against 1.5 million Armenians. Commemorated worldwide on April 24, it remains the last century’s first, best documented, and least recognized crime against humanity which Turkey has yet to recognize.

Unpacking Turkish revisionism, Bulut explains how Armenian history is “denied in Turkish textbooks”–students learn how during WWI, Turkey’s “war of independence,” Armenians joined “harmful” organizations to “damage or divide” so Turks had to “deal with” them. During last September’s 44-day Turkey-led Azerbaijan’s genocidal war against the indigenous Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), Bulut was “extremely infuriated” that Turks and Azeris blamed the war on Armenia.

“It was my ethical duty to cover the war as objectively as I could–both as a journalist and a human being. Azerbaijan and Turkey jointly attacked Artsakh on September 27 while people were sleeping,” Bulut says. “Carpet bombing Artsakh for 44 days, they murdered thousands of people, destroyed civilian settlements, hospitals, churches and cultural centers, among other non-military targets. Witnessing the brutalities felt like Turks were repeating the Genocide all over again.”

Bulut says much of the mainstream media coverage of the Artsakh war was “misleading and agenda-driven.” Since the conflict occurred in an area few journalists have expertise on, she says, the international media had a misguided understanding of ‘objectivity’ or ‘neutrality’ and blamed both sides for attacking.

“Much of the media were unwilling or unable to say that Azerbaijan and Turkey were the aggressors. This misleading ‘both-sided’ narrative cost thousands of innocent lives in Artsakh, and displaced tens of thousands of indigenous Armenians–and speaks volumes about the ‘free press’ in the West,” Bulut says. “As journalists, we have a responsibility to do soul searching, uphold, and honor journalistic ethics–particularly on what our reports mean to those targeted in war zones. Our readers have the right to know the truth.”

Turkey’s Continued Human Rights Violations

Frustrated at NATO and the superpowers’ silence at Turkey’s continued human rights violations against its journalists, citizens and other countries, Bulut says this “policy of impunity towards Turkey,” emboldens the regime. Raising these issues purely because of her love for Turkey, she hopes her homeland can acknowledge the “dark parts of its past, ensuring they’re not repeated” so to succeed, flourish, and build a healthy society.

Bulut considers Turkey’s support and empowerment of violent jihadists in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere a threat to the West and the world–threatening human rights and human dignity while damaging “regional and global security.” As is honoring perpetrators of ethnic massacres–the norm in Turkey where names of perpetrators of crimes adorn many streets, schools, squares, and airports.

“It would not be an overstatement to say that Turkey was largely established on the blood and property of the Armenians and other Christians,” Bulut quotes writer Raffi Bedrosyan on the confiscated Armenian properties.

During the 11th century Byzantine Empire, central Asian Turks invaded historic Armenia (modern eastern Turkey) and Turkified/Islamized the predominantly Christian community throughout the centuries. The fact that Turkish school children learn that during WWI Christian Genocide, Turks’ self-defense against criminal, violent Greeks and Armenians–is even more tragic, Bulut says since many Turks are descendants of Islamized Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews and other non-Turks.

“By showing hatred against minorities, Turks are hating their own ancestors. The dark tradition of violence and severe abuse against citizens and other nations continues in my country,” Bulut considers Turkey a propagandist state. “Teaching denialist narratives, dehumanizes the indigenous peoples of the land, for whose destruction Turkey is responsible.”

Destruction of indigenous lives and exploitation of their cultural heritage is a governmental, cultural, and societal problem in Turkey, explains Bulut. Having “run out of Christians, Jews and Yezidis to persecute,” she says the government now has turned on its own fellow Muslims. Until Turks learn and embrace these truths, Bulut believes they will continue dehumanizing, attack and violate other nations–as the Armenian Republic of Artsakh last September.

“Only the truth will set my people free and make my country a truly civilized place. We must break this tradition of death and destruction we constantly bring upon the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and others,” Bulut points how Turkey’s ethnic cleansing in Northern Cyprus since 1974, has destroyed innocent lives and ancient civilizations. “It chips away at our own humanity. A nation whose history and current affairs are largely shaped by massacres and destruction of other nations cannot be truly respected by the international community.”

She calls on the Turkish intelligentsia to focus on the Turkish treatment of its indigenous minorities–including the Christian massacres in the 1840s and 1890s and WWI Christian Genocides in Ottoman Turkey, the 1934 anti-Jewish pogrom in eastern Thrace, the 1941 forced labor battalions of Jews and Christians, the 1942 wealth tax law that largely impoverished its Christian and Jewish citizens, the 1955 anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul, 1964 forced deportations of Greeks from Istanbul, the continued confiscations of Christian and Jewish properties, and the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus.

Such crimes as the near annihilation of southeast Turkey’s Yezidi and Assyrian communities due to government policies and local Muslims’ hostility are “almost the norm in Turkey,” Bulut challenges Turkey’s militaristic state, reciting a revised version of pastor Martin Niemöller’s opposition to the Nazi’s.

“First, they came for the Armenians and Assyrians, and I did not speak out—because I was neither. Then they came for the Greeks, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Greek. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The deeply rooted racism, Bulut explains, is a systematic problem since the 1923 founding of modern Turkey. Derogatory statements against minorities as “the remnants (leftovers) of the swords” are common. Last May Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We do not allow terrorist leftovers of the sword in our country…to carry out [terrorist] activities. Their number has decreased a lot, but they still exist."

“The genocidal mindset targeting Armenians is alive and well in Turkey,” Bulut points out how Turkish police proudly posed with the assassins of the Turkish-Armenian editor, Hrant Dink, assassinated in 2007. On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Turkish nationalist groups celebrated how the ‘glorious ancestors’ cleansed the country of the Armenians. “Turkey not only denies but dehumanizes the Genocide victims by accusing them as perpetrators–killing the victims all over again."

Similarly, Azerbaijan honored Ramil Safarov with a “People’s Hero” medal for having axed to death the Armenian soldier, Gurgen Margaryan, at the 2004 Partnership for Peace NATO-sponsored program in Hungary. A Hungarian judge convicted and sentenced Safarov to life in prison–but eight years later, after Viktor Orban visited Baku, Safarov was extradited to Azerbaijan, pardoned, promoted, given eight years’ back pay, and a new apartment.

“Azerbaijan made it clear what its citizens should do to become national heroes: Kill Armenians,” Bulut points to Azerbaijan’s systematic cultural and religious genocide of the past 30 years against the indigenous Armenian heritage. A report published in Hyperallergic, confirmed the destruction exceeded ISIS’s dynamiting of Palmyra, in Syria.

Bulut admits Turkey’s “vengeful” regime’s zero tolerance for criticisms is to be feared. She has often considered not publishing–admitting it is challenging.

“Justice and human dignity can only be preserved by courageously upholding the truth. The evil ideology of Nazism would not have been defeated if decent people, including governments, had not acted and spoken out against it. Our world will be a safer, more just place as long as we value and stand up for the truth about the Armenian, Greek, Assyrian Genocides, the Holocaust and antisemitism, China’s persecution of its citizens, the Uyghur, Christians and against Hong Kong and Tibet, and Azerbaijan’s murderous attacks against indigenous Armenians,” says Bulut. “Moral leaders don’t fear press freedom–they protect and promote it. It is the criminals who oppose free press and punish journalists, so their crimes are not exposed.”


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