WikiLeaks on Armenian Genocide: Turkey ‘Purged’ Archives to Destroy Evidence


By Gayane Abrahamyan

YEREVAN (ArmeniaNow) — The whistleblowing site WikiLeaks has de-classified documents that demonstrate once again that Turkey has edited its archives relating to 1915-23, however Turkish studies specialist Anush Hovhannisyan is convinced that “even ‘purged’ archives still have papers documenting the Armenian Genocide and are not in favor of Turkey.”

In a WikiLeaks-released cable originating from the US Consulate in Istanbul in July 2004, Consul General David Arnett quoted Turkish Sabançi University Prof. Halil Berktay, according to whom, the archives related to the Ottoman Empire had undergone “purges” destroying all the evidence on the Armenian Genocide.

The cable read, “Berktay claims that there have been two serious efforts to ‘purge’ the archives of any incriminating evidence on the Armenian Genocide. The first was in 1918: during the 1919 Turkish Military Tribunals, it was revealed that documents had been ‘stolen’ from the archives,” wrote Arnett. The second round of ‘closet editing’ was carried out in early 90s, during the tenure of prime minister and then president of Turkey, Turgut Ozal.”

According to Berktay, the archive cleaning was “most probably implemented by Muharrem Nuri Birgi, a former Turkish ambassador to London and NATO and Secretary General of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Berktay claims that “at the time he was combing the archives, Nuri Birgi met regularly with a mutual friend and at one point, referring to the Armenians, ruefully confessed: ‘We really slaughtered them.’”

Hovhannisyan, a senior scientific worker at the National Academy of Sciences, stresses that the importance of the Turkish archives should not be overestimated. “Those archives mainly hold records and orders of the Sultan. There is ample evidence proving that other mechanisms of issuing orders existed during those years, both oral and through encrypted telegrams, the main part of which was burned. It means that whatever survived cannot tell too much anyway, as Turkish historian Taner Akçam stated recently, even the limited documents can prove that what happened was not simply deportation, but genocide,” says Hovhannisyan.

Added Hovhannisyan, “The fact of the Armenian Genocide has been proved by numerous documents preserved at international archives, and the Turkish archives can only change some details in the reality of the Armenian Genocide, that’s all.”