By Edmond Y. Azadian
An independent judiciary is sometimes a contradiction in terms, especially in international relations. Most of the time, politics determines the outcome of any litigation. International law is analogous to a shoe that fits the feet of the strong and mighty.
A country named Turkey or the Ottoman Turkey, gets rid of an indigenous ethnic group, murders two-thirds of that nation, takes over its homeland and deports the survivors and yet, after a full century, remains a respectable member of the civilized world while the victims and the survivors cannot find legal recourse against the murderers. All legal avenues in international law lead nowhere.
Political expediency defies logic and supersedes historic truths.
Many of today’s trying problems are resolved in this manner, with the decision coming to favor the interests of the powerful. Yugoslavia was broken down when the historic Balkan fault lines were exploited and thus, the barrage of bombs gave birth to Kosovo, whose leaders are behind some of the terrors gripping Europe now. This tiny state, with no historic precedence unlike the other countries carved out of the former Yugoslavia, which cannot stand on its own without the crutches of NATO, is behind much of the extremist Islamic terror aimed at Europe.
When this is the political reality, it only generates despair for nations seeking justice.
Similarly, Azerbaijan, through its powerful friends at the United Nations, turns a historic lie into a political reality, including the Khojali massacre and the carving out of Nakhichevan and the autonomous enclave of Nagorno Karabakh out of Armenia and grafting it onto its own territory, crating a dilemma of territorial integrity versus self-determination of the indigenous population. The Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and even Armenia’s friends, namely Russia and Iran, subscribe to that political untruth, which became the basis of any future settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Armenia’s position that Karabakh has never been an integral part of historic Azerbaijan and that the Karabakh people have seceded from Azeri control through rights enshrined in the constitution of the Soviet Union do not cut ice.
Every April Armenians begin to count how many nations have recognized the Armenian Genocide and whether or not the US president will use the term “genocide” in his address to Armenian-Americans. We have been playing this game for decades and perhaps will continue to be caught in its spell for another century or two.
The Turks blame Armenians, saying that they keep promoting the Genocide issue as the sole goal which binds their identity, a statement which is true and will remain true until the end of history, though it is not the only bond for Armenians.
When there is a wound in a living organism, all the healthy blood cells go to that wound to heal it. If that is a scientific truth, it also has to make sense in social science.
The Armenian Genocide, whose 102nd anniversary is being marked on April 24, was a calamity of enormous proportions; it actually destroyed a nation and left the survivors to make sense of their history and their identity, looking for their place in the family of civilized nations. But rampant political expediency always plays in Turkey’s favor and hinders our struggle two-fold: recognition of genocide and denial of denialism.
With the help of major world forces, Turkey has become a regional power, enjoying tremendous resources at its hand. It has been defying the east and the west, while waging a genocidal domestic war against its Kurdish minority. It is also fighting against Armenians lobbying for the recognition of the Genocide, trying to preempt the impact of some of the measures Armenians are engaged in internationally.
Predicting full well how the oncoming tsunami in the news media in 2015, the Turkish government organized the celebration of the Gallipoli campaign to blunt the effect of the Genocide centennial commemorations, which drew four presidents and 50 political delegations to Yerevan in 2015.
After successfully fighting the realization of the film “Forty Days of Musa Dagh” in the 1930s, Turkey now instead has funded the release of a movie called “The Ottoman Lieutenant” to promote its distorted message on the Armenian Genocide. The lead producer of the “Ottoman Lieutenant,” Stephen Joel Brown, speaking to Hurriyet Daily News, stated: “As objective and respectful common sufferings of both Turks and Armenians, we wanted to show the audience what happened during World War I in Eastern Anatolia, a subject that has not been handled before.”
This is the exact political paradigm which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have been advocating in recent years: The common pain; there is no telling which party caused the pain and which suffered more, etc.
But it seems that this propaganda movie in which Erdogan’s son Bilal was involved has not achieved its objective.
There is a scathing article this week in the Daily Beast titled “Hollywood’s New Armenian Genocide Denial Epic,” by Michael Daly, who tears to pieces the “Ottoman Lieutenant” as so much denialist fluff.
The article begins: “Ben Kingsley and Josh Hartnett and Hera Hilmar surely would not have signed on to star in the ‘Ottoman Lieutenant’ if they even imagined they would be parties to genocide denial.”
The screenwriter, Jeff Stockwell, seems also to have been duped into getting involved in this piece of propaganda.
The Turkish individuals involved in the production of the movie have avoided being interviewed, but Mr. Daly was able to interview Stockwell, who, he believes, is a decent human being. In his interview, Stockwell has confessed, “’The Promise’ and beating it to release was never mentioned to me. I have read the recent comments that the project was generated to somehow to beat ‘The Promise’ to the screen — but I don’t know why, if that was the case, they wouldn’t have told me. Producers generally use info about ‘competing” projects as a goad to working faster.”
By all indications, it seems that Stockwell was duped by the Turkish side, as the Daily Beast article continues. “Stockwell seems to have had only good intentions and the same may be true of Brown, but the involvement of ES film suggests that the ‘Ottoman Lieutenant’ may not have been just another example of Hollywood being Hollywood. Stockwell says that the only Turkish producers he dealt with were with YProductions and that he was unaware of ES Film — also known as Eastern Sunrise Films (“From the East we rise upon the world, where the sun rises First.”) — co-produced the ‘Ottoman Lieutenant.’ No, I had no knowledge of ES Film until I saw its logo on the finished film a few weeks ago.”
This duplicity, added to the intent of the “Ottoman Lieutenant” has directed Michael Daly to dig further into the historic background of genocide and has come up with the devastating and incriminating statements by US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and many respected historians.
The Daily Beast has turned the tables on the Turks who will never relent in their zeal to deny the genocide. The Turkish state, in an organized manner, will use its impressive resources to counter every initiative taken by the Armenians. Moreover, it will even try to pre-empt some projects such as in the case of “The Promise.” The only possible answer is the recent mobilization of talents and resources to restore justice and to stand by historic truth. There are numerous documentaries and movies about the Holocaust, yet many Jews complain that the world is not fully aware of the Holocaust. (The recent clueless comments by White House Spokesman Sean Spicer seem to lend some credence to this statement.)
Armenians have yet to have a single movie which can pass the test of international criteria. Where are the next Kirk Kerkorians for the next “Promise?”
We have to fight and wait until justice is restored in commemorating the lives of our saints — our former martyrs. Because justice delayed is justice denied.