The largest Turkish group in the United States has prepared a plan to counter efforts by Armenian lobby groups and their supporters on the eve of centennial anniversary of the 1915 events known internationally as the Armenian Genocide and disputed by Turkey.
Armenians and most mainstream, objective historians agree that up to 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in 1915 and 1916 by the forces of the Ottoman Empire in a systematic campaign to eradicate non-Muslims from the face of the newly forming Turkish Republic.
The Allies of World War I condemned the Ottoman government-sponsored massacres as crimes against humanity. More recently, the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution in 2007 affirming that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire, including the Greeks, was genocide.
Hundreds of thousands of Pontian Greeks were also impacted by these events and their plight is often overlooked, owing to the greater number of Armenians that were massacred or forced to flee.
Turkey disputes the figure, arguing that only 500,000 died and denies this was “genocide,” ascribing the toll to fighting and starvation during World War I. The country has, in the past, undertaken a systematic campaign to combat the genocide claim, investing millions of dollars in American academic institutions via “donations” and endowing historians and professors and university chairs that are friendly to the Turkish point of view.
The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), a Washington-based group founded in 1979, has prepared a “master plan” to “respond to the Armenians’ claims on every front.”
The Turkish campaign, which will include “both proactive and reactive responses,” will be introduced to all Turkish groups that will be invited to Washington in September and a conference and training effort.
“Proactive” measures include the forming of “activist committees” who will visit lawmakers in each state, conduct social media campaigns, keep in touch with traditional media outlets, prepare online courses and organize countrywide networking meetings for Americans.
One part of the initiative consists of the organization of at least 20 “day-long conferences” in partnership with local universities and with the participation of famous Turkish-Americans like Dr. Mehmet Öz and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent.
“Reactive” responses will include immediately countering when the claims from Armenians are published or featured in panels, conferences and exhibitions organized by the Armenian lobby groups. The ATAA will request from the writers and publishers to include the Turkish claims in their books or documentaries based on the Armenian claims.
Another aspect of the Turkish campaign will focus on Capitol Hill. The ATAA will cooperate with PaxTurcica for a joint educational program for the members of Congress. Members of the U.S. Congress will be instantly informed when they are presented with what organizers claim to be “an anti-Turkish bill.”