“On Dec. 17, 2008 a group of Trabzonspor fans chanted, ‘Genocide to Armenian Oğuz in Trabzon,’ targeting Oğuz Sarvan, then-head of the Referees Board. The Trabzon stands where Emre is being accused of racism have since had their own incident with similar remarks made three weeks ago.” Altınsay continues giving as examples “The chanting by the Bursaspor fans of ‘Armenian dogs support Beşiktaş’ and the threats reading ‘Wait for us, negro Eagle [meaning Beşiktaş]; wait for us Arab Eagle; we are coming’ that they posted on the Internet before a Beşiktaş vs. Bursa game in İstanbul. And of course, the turmoil in the stands two years ago at a Bursa-Diyarbakır match. The Turkish flags that all Bursaspor fans held and the huge placard reading ‘How happy is he who calls himself a Turk’ [as opposed to the Diyarbakır team].”
Do not our reactions at home and on the streets exclude or deny the identity of those who fall outside the definition of a nation designed by İttihadist and Kemalist elites? This would include almost every citizen of Turkey! And do not we even go sometimes as far as keeping out all others in the world who are not Turks? Is not this the manifestation of a deep identity crisis caused by Kemalist trauma? What could be the reason for the recurrence of this denial mechanism despite the obviously racist language and environment? Could it be the unbearable magnitude, gravity and significance of the truth?
Tuesday was another April 24. That was the 97th anniversary of the day when in 1915 the Young Turk government took the decision to collectively deport Armenians to Syrian deserts, which ended up in the annihilation of Armenian and Assyrian existence in these lands. Regardless of what you call it, what happened to Armenians and Assyrians has taken our soul and brain hostage since then. Their annihilation became the very source that keeps promoting our widespread denial. This source is probably the primary reason for the widespread schizophrenia that is repeated on a daily basis at home, at work or on the street. We deny by all means what each and everyone either knows or guesses. There is a chilling statement that has been coined recently: “In this land, Kurds try to prove that they exist; Armenians try to prove that they are dead.”
Denial is a schizophrenic struggle to maintain contradictions. It is a state of mind and soul that is hard to sustain and must be worked at endlessly. Otherwise, what could be the reason for such extensive efforts to prove that it has never happened, if it really did not? What could be the reason for the countrywide outrage in the face of documented doubts in the face of denial? What could be the reason for large sums of money for lobbying activities and publications to plead for understanding from others? For inventing a “Turkic world” to rally support?
Despite this, I am of the opinion that the denial is ailing. Each April 24, it is getting less sustainable. Several grassroots initiatives are burgeoning across Anatolia to make sure that memory is duly honored. Critical inquiries by young people in particular, from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs, tell us that it is high time to deal with our clichés, taboos, myths, legends and hypocrisies. Youngsters are aware that unless this is done, their future cannot be bright and secure. Each April 24, they further outgrow the state of “childhood” of April 23, a mindset that refuses to grow up, a self-imposed immaturity. And they are multiplying. Just like a pomegranate…