By Hambersom Aghbashian
Ümit Kardas (born in 1950) is a retired Turkish military judge . He completed his high school (Pertevniyal High School) in 1967, and graduated from Istanbul University -Faculty of Law in 1971. He served 20 years as a military judge and meanwhile earned his PhD degree in law. He wrote many articles for newspapers and magazines examining military-civilian relations. Besides law he is interested in literature specially in poetry and has many published books in poetry.(1)(2)
In his article “Do we have to defend the actions of the Committee of Union and Progress?”, Ümit Kardas wrote in Today’s zaman (May 2, 2010), “The German-backed pan-Islamist policy implied a fatal solution for non-Muslims living within the borders of the empire. The conditions for the forced relocation campaign launched in 1915 were different from previous ones. The two-month campaign covered not only Armenians but also all Christians in eastern Anatolia. These relocations could not be considered a resettlement because the specified destinations were not inhabitable. Many people , mostly men, were immediately killed, and others were murdered on the roads. As noted by British social historian David Gaunt, the purpose was to remove a specific population from a specific location. Talat Pasa mistakenly made his last conclusion: “There is no longer an Armenian problem”. Kardas also added that “No justification can be offered for this human tragedy. It is misleading to discuss what happened with reference to genocide*, which is merely a legal and technical term. No technical term is vast enough to contain these incidents, which are therefore indescribable. Atrocities and massacres are incompatible with human values.(3)
Ümit Kardas was one of the Turkish intellectuals who have signed “This Pain is Ours” campaign organized by the “Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism! (Dur De!) initiative”, during the commemoration of the Armenian genocide in April 2011.(4). Also according to Today’s Zaman (Sept. 2014), Ümit Kardas released with a group of Turkish academics, journalists, artists and intellectuals a statement condemning the harshest terms and expressions that include “open hatred and hostility” towards Armenians in Turkish schoolbooks, something which was recently exposed by Agos and Taraf newspapers.(5)
Ümit Kardas reviewed Wolfgang and Sigrid Gust’s book** (German Documents: Armenian Genocide 1915-1916) and stated that “The conclusion confirmed by the documents published by Gust is that German military officers as agents of German militarism endorsed the forced relocation, and they found military justifications for it. And The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) leaders violently implemented its Turkification and Islamification policies with support and connivance from Germany. When the scope of forced relocation was expanded to the entire country, the Germans did not raise objections to it.” Kardas further suggested that “German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan together condemn the atrocities and massacres their ancestors performed”. (6)
Ümit Kardas proposed the unconditional opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, as well as an invitation by the Turkish state to all Armenians living in the Diaspora to settle in their ancestral lands in Turkey.(7)
Concerning the compensations, as Henry Theriault (professor of philosophy, Worcester State University- MA ) said in a groundbreaking two-day conference on the Armenian Genocide, organized by the Ankara Freedom of Thought Initiative in 2010 at the Princess Hotel in Ankara , “Modern Turkey must return or compensate for all expropriated property. It should return land and other wealth, including Armenian Church properties, when that wealth has been preserved. Turkey should also compensate for (a) all destroyed property and wealth that is otherwise no longer accessible, (b) the interest that can be calculated on the original material losses, (c) slave labor, (d) the pain and suffering of those who died and all who survived, (e) the loss of 1.5 million people in general and as specific family and community members, and (f) the loss of cultural, religious, and educational institutions and opportunities”.(8)
As far as we, as Armenians, are concerned, The Armenian Genocide was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its Armenian subjects from their historical homeland. Many other massacres against Armenians took place before that, “Hamidian Massacres, 1894–96”, “The Adana Massacre of 1909” etc. and uprooting of Armenians from their Homeland continued through Ataturk’s era. Hrant Dink’s assassination in Istanbul was the latest. If they were suggested, supported, encouraged or endorsed by others, they can’t be justified in any way. After all the Ottoman Empire and the successive Turkish governments are responsible for all of what happened and any excuse to diminish the official Turkish responsibilities will not be acceptable.
*When Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide in 1944, he cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant by genocide.
**Wolfgang Gust, the foreign news chief of Der Spiegel and the editor of Spiegel-Buch, and his wife, Sigrid Gust, have worked on the German Foreign Ministry’s political archives concerning the disaster and massacre Armenians suffered in 1915 and 1916. Their book (German Documents: Armenian Genocide 1915-1916) was published by Belge Yayýnlarý in Turkey.
5-Asbarez.com, Tuesday, September 30th, 2014.