/** headlines: 132.0 **/
** Topic: Armenian Genocide Debate Goes On the Web **
** Written 7:16 AM Aug 18, 1997 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 10:18 AM Aug 17, 1997 by DEBRA@OLN.comlink.apc.org in hrnet.mideast*/
/* ---------- "ARM: Genocide on the Web" ---------- */
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## date : 03.08.97
[This article has been excerpted.]
(Asbury Park Press): AT THE HEIGHT of the massacres that claimed about 1.5 million Armenians living under Ottoman Turkish rule, the plight of the victims was conveyed worldwide through almost daily reports by New York Times journalists on the scene.
In the 82 years since the start of the massacres, the Turkish government...denied its involvement in the genocide that took place between 1915 and 1918. Armenian historians gave voice to the victims by noting official documents, correspondence from U.S. officials and missionaries who witnessed the atrocities, and survivors' testimony that pointed to a scheme by the Young Turk faction of the Ottoman Turkish government to wipe out the Armenian minority.
The heated debate has now found a new forum in cyberspace. "The Armenian genocide doesn't interest the major press, and because it's so far away, non-European in a sense, people didn't pay attention," Michael D. Dunn, director of the Cybrary of the Holocaust, said last week.
"...the Web brings us a cost-effective publishing medium where these interests can speak out," Dunn said. An Internet search by the Asbury Park Press using the _Excite_ search engine turned up 20,009 sites for the search string "Armenian genocide." A search engine points a user to the Internet sites that contain the word or word combination, called a search string, entered.
The count is heavy on sites that challenge efforts to broadcast a revisionist history of the period by some Turkish scholars and the Turkish government.
In a program...Turkey has called a deportation, 1.5 million Armenians died between 1915 and 1918 at the hands of government officials and their agents in firing squads, public hangings and death marches, according to Armenian genocide historians.
The Turkish government has argued...the high Armenian death toll was due to civil war among the Armenians, not an attempted extermination, Holocaust scholar Robert Jay Lifton said at a Drew University Armenian Genocide conference. Four photographs discovered in a collection at the university in 1994 were thought by Drew's president, Thomas H. Kean, the former governor, to be of historical importance. Kean called for the conference in April to bring out facts and quell the political controversy which surrounds the plight of Armenians under Ottoman rule. Three of the photos found in the United Methodist Church Archives at the university, located in Madison, depict skeletal remains and the shallow graves of dead Armenians in dried river beds. A fourth photo shows bodies of Armenians who appear to have died of starvation. The photos were taken by a photographer on a rail journey through central Turkey in 1919.
Kean, Lifton and several scholars at the conference support researchers who say the images dispute the continuing denial by Turkey.
The photographer documented...he took the photos in Pozanti, an area known to have been inhabited by Armenians, said L. Dale Patterson, archivist and records administrator at the UMC Archives.
William B. Rogers, assistant dean of the Drew University Graduate School, said the school received no response to the conference from Turkish authorities or Turkish Americans. Turkish American Assembly offices in Washington and the Turkish American Historical Society in North Jersey did not return telephone messages seeking comment for this story. However, challenges to the perspective widely held by Armenians and period scholars are titled "Armenian Allegations" at the Republic of Turkey's World Wide Web site (www.turkey.org/turkey/p_armn).
Written by University of Pennsylvania professor Hasan Ozbekhan, the paper is part of Turkey's politics and policy statement. Ozbekhan serves as president of the Turkish American Friendship Society of the United States. Calling the view of scholars like Lifton "biased," Ozbekhan contends in his article...using the word "genocide" in reference to the plight of Ottoman Armenians during World War I is a "distortion of history." The number of deaths were inflated and the losses sustained by Ottoman Muslims were ignored, the article said.
Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site also seeks to cast doubt on the genocide issue in a question-and-answer format (_http://www.access.ch/tuerkei/GRUPF/9soru.htm_). "The Turks, seeing the success of the Web pages in broadcasting the truth, decided to extend their widespread (public relations) campaign to include the Web to counter the Armenians, as they have attempted to counter the Armenians all over the media," Dennis R. Papazian, a University of Michigan history professor, said last week. Papazian, director of the university's Center for Armenian Research, said there is no factual evidence or published accounts of an Armenian civil war during the time of the massacres. A World Wide Web site maintained by the center(_http://www.umd.umich.edu/dept/armenian_) offers a wealth of resources on the issue.
Heath Lowry, Princeton University's director of Near Eastern Studies, is a key figure in the controversy and a subject in many of the Web pages. Lowry has been outspoken in promoting the Turkish government's account of the period.
Lowry's 1994 appointment as Ataturk Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton has come under fire by scholars in a wide range of disciplines, because the position was paid for by a $700,000 endowment from the Turkish government, with matching grants from private donors in the United States and Turkey, according to Mary Caffrey, a Princeton University spokeswoman.
Drew University conference sponsors said their photographs, taken in the Taurus Mountains in central Turkey, disprove Lowry's claim...the dead were confined to an "eastern war zone."
Greg Arzoomanian, a Princeton graduate who lives in Rhode Island, maintains a World Wide Web site about the Lowry controversy at _http://users.ids.net/gregan/_. Arzoomanian has spearheaded a petition drive among Princeton alumni, including Kean, which calls for Lowry's removal. The site outlines the Lowry situation and points to several published accounts by Lowry and his adversaries.
Last year, 100 scholars and prominent international literary figures published in the Chronicle of Higher Education a letter calling for Lowry's resignation.
Two years of pressure by the academic community has drawn a response from Lowry. In November, he released a statement saying he would consider any new evidence presented to disprove his version of history, which concurs with the current Turkish account.
Lowry did not return telephone messages left last month. Caffrey said he did not respond to inquiries by the press in the months since the conference and has not commented on the discovery of the photographs.
Lowry's recent resignation from the Ataturk chair was part of the academic rotation at Princeton which traditionally limits chairmanships to two years. He continues as director of Near East studies, Caffrey said.