September 14, 2011

Turkey should remember its past crimes against humanity, scholar says


PanARMENIAN.NetTaner Akcam, an associate professor of history at Clark University, referred to changes needed in Turkey’s policy to achieve greater regional role.

“Crimes against humanity is a very important international legal norm. As a legal term, it was used for the first time on May 24, 1915 in connection with the Armenian genocide, and it comprised the moral and legal background for the Nuremberg trials as well as the more recent Yugoslavian, Rwandan and other international prosecutions of war crimes. This is common knowledge, but what is not so commonly known is that the expression was first drafted as crimes against Christianity,” prof. Akcam writes in an article published by The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

“In order to change this perception, the AKP has to confront history and take a clear position regarding the crimes that were committed against Christians. The AKP, however, is very far from being capable of doing this and for this reason will continue to be perceived as a potential repeat actor of 1915 to Christians in the region. Therein lays the irony. Turkey, which wants to get involved in the region as an intervener on behalf of freedom and democracy, is going to be a reminder of its past crimes against humanity,” he writes.

“Herein lies the importance of including Armenia in the address to the nation. If the AKP wants to defend freedom and democracy in the region and wants to walk a path towards universal humanitarian values by way of Islamic sensitivities, it needs to learn how to look at Islam’s recent past with a more critical eye.”