Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Armenian Genocide

Lord Avebury, Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, said today:

I very much regret the failure of every one of the 550 MPs of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) to reply to an invitation to discuss the events of 1915-16, in which a million and a half Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire lost their lives.

Following a Letter from the TGNA to the British Parliament challenging the veracity of the evidence published by the British Government in 1916 in the Blue Book ‘The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16’, a group of MPs and peers wrote proposing a dialogue between British and Turkish MPs, with academic experts on both sides, to examine the authenticity of that evidence.

When no reply was received, I wrote to every Turkish MP individually, asking if they would be willing to participate in such a dialogue. Not a single one replied.

Since neither the TGNA collectively, nor any of its Members, was ready to defend their position in an open and critical forum, it obviously would not stand up to an intellectually rigorous examination. I believe the original Letter was an attempt to stimulate wider Turkish denialism, rather than to establish communication between Turkish and UK Parliamentarians which might have clarified interpretation of the events of 1915-16. But the invitation remains open, and I hope that by publishing this statement, I may yet prompt some Turkish MPs with the courage to engage in dialogue.

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