Turkey has had within its modern borders many people who are not Turks. Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks all have roots going back centuries within the borders of the Turkish Republic. PanArmenian.Net reports that the Turkish government has taken a page from the Arabs in Israel and is destroying artifacts that would prove the presence of non Turks within the borders of Turkey.
At news conference in Yerevan, Ruben Melkonyan, a Turkish studies expert gave several examples of neglect and mistreatment of historic artifacts and cultural heritage sites in the Turkish Republic.
Under the sultans, Turkey was a patchwork quilt of ethnic groups. Loyalty to the sultan was what defined good citizzenship, rather than necessarily being the “right” nationality. It is ironic that Turkey’s Islamist government continues the misguided policies of previous administrations headed by and inspired by Kemal Ataturk, who followed a policy of “Turkey for the Turks”, which translated into hostility towards Turkey’s national minorities.
Turkey under the sultans considered ethnic diversity to add to the greatness of an empire rather than detract from it. The modern day Islamist government in Turkey is in reality taking the one part of Kemal Ataturk’s political philosophy that should be questioned and leaving it unchanged by pursuing a policy of hostility and historical revisionism towards its national minorities.
Destroying artifacts, whether in Israel by the Arabs or in Turkey by the Turkish government should be considered a crime. It is an attempt to silence the earth itself as it speaks the truth to falsified history. Crimes of archaeological falsification go hand in hand with ethnic cleansing and with crimes against living peoples. In addition to being wrong in and of themselves, crimes of archaeological falsification are a warning sign that living human beings are in danger. It is for this reason that we must not be silent.