LETTERS TO THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA 2001
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Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 04:31:23 -0800 (PST)
To Whom It May Concern:
When anyone such as myself is interested in the facts and only the real facts, I turn to Encyclopedia Britannica. I have believed that being such a respectable publication with such a long history, considered to be the number one and most comprehensive source of scholarship, all its contents could be trusted without any further checking and re-checking. However, I have become gravely disappointed and my trust completely shattered when encountered a rather miswritten, if not biased, treatment of a subject, I know well, and have spent years researching and writing on. The subject(s) in question are printed in the "Armenia. Modern Armenia. Armenia and Europe" article of the online Encyclopedia Britannica, at URL
http://search.eb.com/eb/article?query=modern+armenia&eu=115474&tocid=44274#44274.toc written by two authors, one of whom is Ronald Grigor Suny, an Armenian professor in the US.
I will not cite all the facts, since this is not a research paper and I still think it is a job to be performed by the EB editorial staff. Neither do I want to raise the legitimacy of an ethnic Armenian writing not only about Armenia, but also about the neighboring states, such as Azerbaijan and Georgia, relations with which are not always exemplary. However, there are three main points I would like to emphasize upon:
1) "In 1813 the Persians were obliged to acknowledge Russia's authority over Georgia, northern Azerbaijan, and Karabakh, and in 1828 they ceded Yerevan and Nakhichevan."
The above statement is very vague, since despite the fact that some of the entities listed above were in (nominal) dependence from Persia and its Shah, others were not. For example, the Karabakh khanate (an Azerbaijani kingdom), was independent from Persia from the day it was founded till its last days in 1805. Not only does history remember that Qajar Shah of Iran tried to subjugate the khanate in 1797 and failed, and in fact, died near Shusha (the largest city in Karabakh), but at the time of Karabakh khanate's incorporation into the Russian Empire, a treaty was concluded between Ibrahim khan, the sole ruler of Karabakh, and the czar of Russia. Moreover, when after the wars, Persia tried to claim the khanates of Northern Azerbaijan (including Karabakh) back from Russia, citing illegality of their incorporation, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwarded a letter to the Shah which stated that these khanates were independent at the time of their inclusion into Russia, and thus Persia's claims are null and void.
In addition, why is only Karabakh so clearly separated from (other khanates of) Northern Azerbaijan? There were some 15 khanates and sultanates on the territory of Northern Azerbaijan, and Karabakh was one of them, with its Azerbaijani ruler, population, army, etc. In this context, Prof. Suny is clearly preparing the reader for further groundless Armenia territorial claims revolving around Karabakh.
2) "In what would later be known as the 'first genocide' of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were driven from their homes, massacred, or marched until they died."
Prof. Suny is definitely and clearly wrong here. Not only the charge of genocide is fiercely debated by scholars, and is indeed better identified as massacres on both sides, but the very categorization of the event as being "first" in the 20th century does not do any honor to such a respectable publication. It is well-known that the first true genocide of the 20th century has happened to the Hereros people in Southwest Africa in 1904, when over 80% of the nation was destroyed. There is no debate about it, no counter-arguments -- it is very clear, and any respectable genocide-related encyclopedia and publication will unequivocally state so.
Incidentally, it is not the first occurrence of the chronological order misuse in regards to Armenia. Examples such as "Armenia was the first Christian kingdom," had the "first church build" or had "world's first alphabet" are rampant, and equally incorrect. There are many pressures in the society to be "first" in everything, including in a tragedy, for added emotional and political impact. It is important not to fall into such traps and let only facts to speak for themselves.
3) "In March 1922 Armenia joined Georgia and Azerbaijan to form the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, which joined the U.S.S.R. on Dec. 30, 1922. Nakhichevan, a largely Muslim region, was awarded to Soviet Azerbaijan, as was Nagorno-Karabakh, an overwhelmingly Armenian district."
It is well known that neither Nakhichevan nor Karabakh, were "awarded" to Soviet Azerbaijan. How can these lands be awarded when they belonged to Azerbaijan and its people from times primordial? Both these regions were part of ancient and medieval Azerbaijani states, as well as independent Azerbaijani khanates in 18th and 19th centuries, and were part of the first Azerbaijani Democratic Republic (ADR) of 1918, which was recognized by the League of Nations and several leading states. At the time of Soviet invasion in 1920 both these regions, as well as Zangezur (awarded to Armenia in 1920) and others were part of Azerbaijan. Therefore, quite the contrary, it is Soviet Armenia that was awarded Zangezur region, as all documents unequivocally prove, along with other Azerbaijani lands, and autonomous status for Karabakh (albeit still within Azerbaijan). Meanwhile Nakhichevan's status was determined first by Alexandropol Treaty of 1920 and then by the Turkish-Russian Treaty of Moscow and subsequently Treaty of Kars of 1921, which Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed. According to the treaties Nakhichevan was to remain within Azerbaijan. It is exactly these two treaties that saved Nakhchivan from being awarded to Armenia like the rest of the Azerbaijani lands.
I hope these facts will be noted and necessary corrections implemented soon to restore the Encyclopedia's good name, credibility and trustworthiness.
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Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 23:07:53 +0100
To Whom It May Concern,
This letter is to draw your attention to the factual inaccuracies that your respectable publication has made it possible to appear by publishing the on-line article "Armenia, Modern Armenia, Armenia and Europe" (re: http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/4/0,5716,115474+8,00.html)
1) The very beginning of the article has no chance but to immediately catch the eyes of any historian who has more or less deeply studied history of South Caucasus. Your author, Prof. Ronald Suny, writes "in 1813 the Persians were obliged to acknowledge Russia's authority over Georgia, northern Azerbaijan, and Karabakh, and in 1828 they ceded Yerevan and Nakhichevan." Without going too deep into the history and turning this letter into an academic paper, I would like to note that Karabakh, as well as Nakhichevan and, historically, Yerevan [Irevan] too, have been parts of northern Azerbaijan and constituted semi-independent from Iran overwhelmingly Muslim-populated khanates (feudal principalities). Along with Karabakh, Nakhichevan and Irevan, northern Azerbaijan comprised of Quba, Shamakhy, Talysh, Baku, Sheki, Gence, Derbend, Shirvan khanates and other lands. Separating Karabakh (Qarabagh), Nakhichevan and Irevan from the rest of northern Azerbaijan by the ethnically Armenian historian Ronald Suny has little to do with academia and carries rather political implications, especially in the light of the recent Armenian territorial claims to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
It is interesting that Prof. Suny was the editor of the book "Transcaucasia, Nationalism and Social Change" which fairly admitted that the majority of population of what Armenians today call "Eastern Armenia" was Muslim [read Azeri]. In this regard, it is relevant to make a reference to the Armenian scholars T.Kh.Hakobian and G.A. Bournoutian (T.Kh.Hakobian, Erivani Patmutiene, 1801-1879, Erevan, 1959, pp.523-525 - referred by George A. Bournoutian in "The Ethnic Composition and the Socio-Economic Condition of Eastern Armenia in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century", in Ronald Suny "Transcaucasia, Nationalism and Social Change", pp.80). For you information and according to George Bournoutian, "[a] number of Armenian historians, quoting the post-1830 figures, have incorrectly estimated the number of Armenians in Eastern Armenia in Persian times to have been between 30 to 50 percent of the total population. In reality - based on the official figures of the Russian survey following the conquest - the Armenians barely formed 20 percent of the population of Eastern Armenia, while the Muslims exceeded 80 percent. In any case, the Armenian population at no time prior to the Russian takeover formed a majority in Eastern Armenia. In fact, although the Kameral'noe Opisanie indicates the existence of an Armenian majority in a few mahals of Eastern Armenia, this is only after the emigration of over 35,000 Muslims from the region; thus there is no concrete evidence of there being an Armenian majority in any of the districts during the Persian administration." (Ibid, pp.77-79)
There can be presented thousands of historical evidence that Karabakh, Irevan and Nakhichevan were parts of northern Azerbaijan. One of them is the treaty between the khan of Qarabagh and the Russian Empire on transfer of the Qarabagh Khanate to Russia (1805). The treaty was signed by the Azeri ruler of the Azeri-populated Qarabagh Khanate (the full text of the treaty is published in http://www.geocities.com/seidovv/treaty-intro.html). What makes then Prof. Suny separate Karabakh as well as Nakhichevan and Irevan from the rest of northern Azerbaijan?
Therefore, the correct wording of the sentence could be as follows: "in 1813 the Persians were obliged to acknowledge Russia's authority over Georgia and part of northern Azerbaijan, and in 1828 they ceded the rest of northern Azerbaijan - the Nakhichevan and Irevan Khanates."
2) Furthermore, the author refers to the civil war of 1915 in Eastern Anatolia as "the first genocide of the 20th century." Not only is the very notion of the so-called Armenian genocide (let alone the first in the 20th century) disputable, unproven and rejected by academia, it also disregards hundreds of thousand, if not millions, of ethnic Muslims killed by the Armenian guerillas during the same civil war. The notion of genocide is just as much inappropriate in this context as it would have been if we refer to the civil war in North America as "the first genocide of the 19th century" followed by another "genocide" in today's Northern Ireland and East Timor. There were hostilities, there were casualties from both sides, there was a resettlement from Eastern Anatolia to Syria, but no evidence has been found proving that the Ottoman leaders gave a direct order to exterminate the entire nation. Therefore, the phrase referring to the "first genocide of the 20th century" must be removed from the text altogether.
3) Finally, Prof. Suny writes "on Dec. 30, 1922. Nakhichevan, a largely Muslim region, was awarded to Soviet Azerbaijan, as was Nagorno-Karabakh, an overwhelmingly Armenian district." The author ignores the historical documents that clearly show that when the Russian Bolsheviks started territorial segregation after the Red Army's occupation of Transcaucasia, the Kavburo decided on 5 July 1921 to 'preserve Karabakh' within, but not to 'award' it (in Armenian words) to, Azerbaijan. The document clearly says "preserve" and not "award" or "transfer". Prominent Bolshevik member Anastas Mikoyan, originally Armenian, in his report to Lenin on 22 May 1919 pointed out: "The Dashnaks, the agents of the Armenian government, strive to join Karabakh to Armenia. This would deprive the population of Karabakh of the source of life in Baku and connect it with Erivan, with which it has never been connected before." [The Central Party Archive (Moscow), file 461, list 1, doc.45252, p.1, from Chiraq, No 1, 1989, p.38.]
As a result, on the referendum in August 1923 the population of the NKAO (the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh) voted against secession to Armenia. Moreover, the very notion of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) did not exist prior to the creation of the NKAO in 1923. Throughout the history it had been the integral part of entire Karabakh where, according to the American scholar Tadeusz Swietochowski, the majority was Azeri. It was not until the Kavburo's resolution to preserve Karabakh within Azerbaijan and to create Armenian autonomy in the mountainous part, that the notion of Nagorno-Karabakh came to existence.
Therefore, it would be historically accurate to change the wording of the above phrase as follows: "on Dec. 30, 1922, Nakhichevan, a largely Muslim region, was left within Soviet Azerbaijan, as was Nagorno-Karabakh, ethnically Armenian part of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan."
I believe, your respectful publication will consider the above remarks and make all the necessary changes in the article.
Vugar Seidov, PhD in History
Central European University (Hungary)
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Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2001 08:30:06 -0000Dear Encyclopedia Britannica editors and staff,
EB has always had a reputation of the most credible and comprehensive source of information and references in the world. I wish it remains such for long years ahead and that’s why, I apply to you to substantially revise the “History of Armenia” section in EB (http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/4/0,5716,115474+1+108699,00.html), which, being co-written by an ethnic Armenian professor, has a number of incorrect assessments and ungrounded claims.
I understand that you have limited time, but I ask you to consider thoroughly the arguments I made below, since they are crucial for EB to keep the quality of its work. I thank you in advance for your time and attention.
1) I strongly urge you to reconsider the map of “Greater Armenia” (http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/single_image/ 0,5716,4788+bin%5Fid,00.html). The borders shown in this map, which is basically an enlarged and exaggerated compilation of all the Armenian or claimed-to-be-Armenian states and state formations has no historical grounds, Armenian state, even in its largest borders, never had such vast territory. The only thing this map serves to, is propaganda and rousing of nationalistic ambitions and ethnic strife. Moreover, it is indisputable that “Greater Armenia”, even if to assume it existed in the borders shown in the map, was an empire and not a monoethnic state.
Here is what Strabo wrote about ancient Armenia: «...Armenia, being a small country before, was enlarged by the warfare carried out by Artaksi (Artashes) and Zariadrij... Together they expanded their possessions by occupying part of the lands belonging to the surrounding peoples…» (Strabo XI, 14, 5) (translation from Russian source).
2) In “The Artaxiads” subsection of the “History of Armenia” the author wrote: “Iberia (Georgia), Albania, and Atropatene had already accepted Tigranes' suzerainty”.
This is not correct. Albania and Iberia, albeit had underwent Armenian invasions in various periods of history, however, never were subordinated to Armenia. Moreover, In I-IV cc AD Albania’s situation was far better than that of Armenia. Whereas the Romans conquered Armenia in I c AD, Albania was the only state in the Caucasus to keep its sovereignty. As far as the territories of present day Karabakh and the whole left bank of the Kura river in Azerbaijan is concerned, I cite below ancient Armenian author Moses Khorenatsi, who wrote about the borders of ancient Albania: [Albanian ruler, presumably Arran] «inherited the Albanian plain with its mountainous part, beginning from the river of Yeraskh (Araz) till the fortress called Khunarakert... » «the tribes of Utis, Gardmans, Tsavdeys and the Gargarian principality derives from! ! the descendants of Arran». ( Moses Khorenatsi II, 8) (all the named tribes were the inhabitants of present-day Karabakh region).
As you see, the historical evidence is contrary to the Armenian belonging of the present-day Karabakh and the whole left bank of the Kura river, which were historically a part of the Caucasus Albania.
3) The author of the “History of Armenia” writes in the “Ottomans and Safavids” subsection: “In mountainous Karabakh a group of five Armenian maliks (princes) succeeded in conserving their autonomy and maintained a short period of independence.”
The author definitely tends to exaggerate the historical role of the Armenian meliks, most of whom were not even locals and arrived in Karabakh after XVII-XVIII cc. Below is the origins of the Armenian melikdoms in Karabakh in XVII-XVIII cc. according to the historical work “Karabakhnameh”, one of the most valuable sources on the history of Karabakh by XIX c. Azerbaijanian historian Mirza Adigezal bey (1770-1848):
The founder of the Dizak melikdom was Yegan originally from the Lori region in Armenia. He moved to Karabakh and got the melik title by Nadir shah's farman (in XVIII c).
The founder of the Varanda melikdom was Mirza Shahnazar originally from the Sevan region in present-day Armenia. He moved to Karabakh in the beginning of XVII c. during the Safavid-Ottoman war and in 1603 got «the melik of Varanda» title from the Safavid shah Abbas I.
The melik of Chelaberd was melik Allahkulu from the clan of Yesayi. He was originally from Syunik in Armenia and moved to Karabakh in 1637.
The Talish (Gulistan) melikdom was established in the beginning of XVIII c. Its melik was melik Usub from the Beyleryan clan of the village of Nij in Kabala region of Azerbaijan where the Udins live.
And, at last, the Khachin melikdom was the only local melikdom in Karabakh. Its possessors claimed to be the heirs of Hasan Jalal, the descendants of local Christian Albanians. The melik of Khachin Mirza, like the melik of Varanda, was the Karabakh khan's ally.
You can check this information further in Mirza Adigezal bey’s “Karabakhnameh”, preferably using the Russian, or better, the Azeri version.
4) In the “Armenia and Europe” subsection the Author writes: “In 1813 the Persians were obliged to acknowledge Russia's authority over Georgia, northern Azerbaijan, and Karabakh, and in 1828 they ceded Yerevan and Nakhichevan.”
I can understand that the author, being an ethnic Armenian, naturally, doesn’t want to associate Karabakh with Azerbaijan and therefore, puts Karabakh separate from Azerbaijan, even though it’s the historical fact, that Karabakh khanate was one of the 18 state formations that emerged in the territory of present day Azerbaijan in XVIII c. But I was astonished that Prof. Suny contrived to pass over such a historical event in the history of Armenia (and not only of Armenia alone), as the massive resettlement of Armenians from Iran and the Ottoman Empire to the territory of South Caucasus, particularly to Azerbaijan in 1828-1830.
Here is what XIX c. Russian authors write about resettlement of Armenians in the Caucasus:
N.I. Shavrov: «After the war of 1826-1828 ended, during the period of 1828-1930 we (i.e. Russia) have resettled to the Transcaucasus more than 40.000 Persian and 84.600 Turkish Armenians and placed them in the best state lands of Yelizavetpol and Erivan provinces, where [the number of] the Armenian population was miserable, and in Tiflis, Borchaly, Akhaltsiki and Akhalkalaki districts» (all mentioned districts are the territory of present-day Georgia). Shavrov continues: «Of 1 million 300 thousand Armenians living nowadays in South Caucasus, more than 1 million don't belong to the indigenous population of the region and were settled by us» (Shavrov N.I. «New threat to the Russian affairs in the Transcaucasus: forthcoming sale of Mughan to strangers» (Novaya ugroza russkomu delu v Zakavkazye: predstoyashaya rasprodazha Mugani inorodcam) Saint Petersburg 1911 p.59-61 (in Russian)
And here is what great Russian writer, ambassador of Russia to Iran in 1818-1829 A.S. Griboyedov, wrote: «Armenians, in most of their part, were settled in the lands of the Muslim landowners...The settlers are by themselves in very constrained situation and constraint the Muslims, which grumble, and with good reason...we discussed a lot about the influences which we have to exercise on the Muslims [i.e. the Azeris who accepted the Armenian settlers] to reconcile them with their present burdened situation, which will not last long, and to eradicate their fear concerning that the Armenians will seize forever the territory, where they were allowed to for the first time»
(Griboyedov A.S. Works (Sochineniya) in 2 volumes, vol. 2 Moscow 1971 pp. 339-341, translation from the original Russian source)
I hope you will consider these facts when revising the material as well.
4) Further in “History>The republic of Armenia” subsection the author wrote: “on Dec. 30, 1922. Nakhichevan, a largely Muslim region, was awarded to Soviet Azerbaijan, as was Nagorno-Karabakh, an overwhelmingly (!) Armenian district.”
The very structure of the sentence explicitly implies that the historical truth here has been intentionally distorted. “Awarded” is definitely not the right term here. Below is the decision of the Kavburo on Karabakh dated June 5 1921:
«Proceeding from the necessity of national peace between the Muslims and Armenians, and economic links of the upland and lowland Karabakh, its constant link with Azerbaijan, to leave the Mountainous Karabakh within the Azerbaijan SSR, having granted it a broad regional autonomy with the administrative center in the town of Shusha included in the autonomous region» ([Azerbaijan Communist] Party Archive [PAAF IML] reserve 1, inventory 74, folder 123, list 64, also cited in many other sources)
I could continue the list of inaccuracies in the material (e.g. the presenting of alleged “Armenian genocide” as a historical fact without substantiating it, ignorance of the factor of the Azeri Turks (and not "Turkmens" or "Persians" as prof. Suny put it) in the history of Armenia etc) but don’t want to overuse your attention. I really hope that the facts I cited in this message will be seriously considered and the material on the history of Armenia spoiling EB’s reputation will be revised.Sincerely Yours,
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THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION AUGUST 18, 2000 (p.20)
"The Other Side of Genocide"
Covering up genocide is a tricky business. Probably the best place to start is with the word itself. Coined in 1944 to describe Nazi Germany's systematic murder of millions, it's since been disputed in nearly every other usage, from the U.S. government's early waffling on whether Rwanda's Hutu annihilation of the Tutsis qualified, to the Turkish government's continuing campaign to convince the world that several hundred thousand starved Armenians does not a genocide make.
That's where Microsoft's Encarta comes in. Helen Fein, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, says the online encyclopedia almost helped deny the genocide.
In 1996, Encarta asked Ms. Fein to write an entry on genocide. Her short essay, which included a brief mention of the murder or deportation of at least 1.1 million Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman government during World War I, was accepted and published.
But this past June, Encarta called Ms. Fein and asked her to revise her entry, in response to "customer complaints." She learned that Ronald Grigor Suny, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, had been asked to revise his entry on Armenia as well.
Ms. Fein says Encarta wanted her to include a few lines on the "other side of the story" - the Turkish government's side, that is Mr. Suny says an Encarta editor named Frank Manning explained to him that the revision would leave the facts in place, but remove the word "genocide."
"Their proposed changes suggested that all narratives are equal, that we can't know for sure whether or not the Armenians brought the massacres on themselves," says Ms. Fein.
According to Mr. Suny, Mr. Manning told him that the Turkish government had threatened to arrest local Microsoft officials and ban Microsoft products unless the who, what, and why of the massacres were presented as topics open to debate. Microsoft representatives would neither confirm nor deny the threats, but Namik Tan, a spokesman for the Turkish Embassy called the charge "so ridiculous I cannot speak."
He acknowledged that the embassy wrote at least two letters to Microsoft urging it to remove the term "genocide" from the two entries, and to cite Armenian rebellion as the cause of any suffering, but he insists that the Turkish government "does not make threats."
When Ms. Fein and Mr. Suny threatened to remove their names from the article and to publicize Microsoft's censorship, however, Encarta editors backed down. Ms. Fein and Mr. Suny agreed to add that the Turkish government denies the genocide, but held firm to the facts of its occurrence.
When the Chronicle attempted to reach Encarta's editors, a publicist from the company said they were all on vacation. A second publicist added that every story has two sides, even one about genocide.
Indeed, Ms. Fein notes that the Encarta entry on Turkey, which is unsigned, still does not mention the Armenian genocide at all.
CNN Moneyline Newshour
Monday, August 21, 2000 -- 6:30 p.m.
Host: Willow Bay
Willow Bay (Host): Scholars are charging that Microsoft changed an article in its digital encyclopedia to hang on to a key market. The Encarta Encyclopedia calls the death of thousands of Armenians during the late Ottoman Empire the first genocide of the 20th century.
Most historians agree. But some authors say that Encarta asked them to consider another point of view, after pressure from the Turkish government. Steve Young reports.
Steve Young (CNN reporter): 1915, the height of World War I. According to most historians, at least 600,000 to 800,000 Armenians were killed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire during massacres, or as the result of forced deportation. Now, in 2000, while most historians call it a genocide, the Turkish government complains to Microsoft about use of the word in describing the Armenian slaughter in Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia. The scholars say Encarta asked them to tone down their articles.
Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny (Univ. of Chicago): I said "well, what if we don't agree to these revisions?" Then Microsoft said, "Well, we own these articles and we'll just publish it with our revisions and without your name."
Prof. Helen Fein (Director of Genocide Institute): What was unacceptable was that they wanted me to insert a counter-story which would make it appear that the Armenian Genocide never occurred; that it's simply a fiction, an allegation of Armenians, which is not the case.
Steve Young: Encarta examines hundreds of complaints about its content each year, but Microsoft may have felt a special urgency about this one.
Ronald Grigor Suny: They indicated that, in fact, there have been some threats from the Turkish government to arrest Microsoft officials in Turkey and even ban Microsoft products.
Steve Young: When we asked, Microsoft denied receiving such threats and the Turkish government denied making them.
Gary Alt (Encarta, Editor in Chief): We had a controversy. We looked into it. We investigated it from all sides, and in the end, we worked with our content experts to come up with an agreeable solution that represents the truth fairly and objectively.
Steve Young: In the end the revised Encarta still refers to Armenian Genocide, but says that the Turkish government disputes there was one, adding many Western nations have no doubt. The Encarta authors believe their editors were being pressured by Microsoft management.
Helen Fein: Oh, definitely, this was a management decision. What's important here is to make clear that staff rebelled when they were convinced that this was improper pressure.
Steve Young: Microsoft now proudly points to its latest encyclopedia, claiming some competitors cast more doubt about the nature of the Armenian mass deaths than Encarta does. The authors say Microsoft, unwisely for a time, seemed ready to compromise the integrity of its product. Bottom line: historical revisionism is bad business.
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Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 14:28:34 +0200
From: TIMUR KOCAOGLU <TKOCAOGLU@KU.EDU.TR>
Dear Samuel Hassid,
Your name has been mentioned during a discussion. An article in
Mirror-Spectator newspaper published in Ann Arbor by Daphne Abeel claimed
that "Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny, professor of political science at the
University of Chicago, traveled to Koc University in Istanbul to lecture on
the Armenian Genocide." As an academic staff of the Koc University since
1994, I have contested this wrong information stating that Prof. Ronald
Grigor Suny came to Koc University in 1998 as guest speaker to lecture on
the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but not specifically on the so-called
"Armenian Genocide." There has been no lecture, no seminar, no conference or
work-shop on this issue at Koc University at all at any date!
When I tried to inform that the information given by Mirror-Spectator and
Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny is incorrect, the editor of another electronic
group mentioned your name to me as if you have written an article about this
issue that Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny traveled to Koc University in Istanbul
just to lecture on the so-called "Armenian Genocide." Personally, I have not
read your article, so I don't know in what context you had mentioned our
"Koc University" in your writings.
Someone gave me the following site to read your article
But, when you logg in to that site the following warning message appears:
"NIET GEVONDEN / NOT FOUND. The requested object does not exist on this
server. The link you followed is either outdated, inaccurate, or not
It means either your article was taken away from that site or there is some
Could you help me to clarify these points: Have you mentioned the name of
our "Koc University" in your article and have you also claimed that Prof.
Ronald Grigor Suny lectured on the so-called "Armenian genocide" issue at
our university? Or not?
Your help in this respect would be very helpful. Because as a Professor at
Koc University, I know very well that Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny came to Koc
University in 1998 to lecture on a very different topic, but not on the
Armenian issue. Why was this false information spread, I really don't
Timur Kocaoglu, Associate Professor of Central Asian Studies, Koc Univesrity
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 11:11:59 +0200 (IST)
From: Samuel Hassid <email@example.com>
Subject: [sephardic-list] Armenian Genocide
Perhaps as a balance to two messages that appeared recently, let it be
known that there ARE turkish scholars who acknowledge that something wrong
happened in Turkish Armenia (the expression for a lack of a better word)
during WWI ... And they are NOT the only ones.
Azg/Mirror On-Line 03-22-2000
Turkish Scholars Acknowledge the Genocide
By Daphne Abeel
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In 1998, Prof. Ronald Grigor Suny, professor of political
science at the University of Chicago, traveled to Koc University in Istanbul
to lecture on the Armenian Genocide. That trip and the ensuing contact with
Turkish scholars was the genesis of a three-day workshop this past
weekend(March 17-19), held at Wilder House, University of Michigan.
"What was so extraordinary and unexpected," said Suny, in an interview
following the workshop, "was that within just a few minutes into the first
panel, there was a discussion on the highest level, free of political bias.
This is what we had sought - the creation of a community of scholars who
could talk openly about these issues. The Turkish participants, except for
one, used the word 'genocide' repeatedly."
Titled "Armenians and the End of the Ottoman Empire," it brought Armenian
and Turkish scholars together for the first time to engage in an open
discussion of how Armenians contributed, adjusted, and, ultimately, felt
victim to the transformation from Ottoman Empire to the modern Turkish
Said Suny, "My trip to Istanbul had excited me about the possibilities of
engaging with Turkish scholars." With the assistance of his academic
colleagues at the University of Michigan, Kevork B. Bardakjian, Fatma Muge
Gocek, Stephanie Platz, and Kenneth Church, a broad invitation was issued to
scholars in the Armenian and Turkish communities to come together.
"We got a good response, even from Turkish scholars in Turkey, although
there were some from the Armenian community who did not feel ready for this
type of discussion," said Suny.
The workshops attracted participants from Istanbul, Germany, New York City,
California, Minnesota, Boston, and Princeton, N.J.
Suny, in his opening remarks, praised the participants' courage, saying,
"This is a small, humble and historic meeting. It is the first time scholars
of different nationalities, including Armenia and Turkey, have gathered to
present papers and discuss, in a scholarly fashion, the fate of the peoples
of the Ottoman Empire as that state declined and disintegrated."
While the workshops touched on the fates of Jews, Circassians, Arabs and
Greeks, Suny said, "The principal focus was on the people and events that
have been elided- the massacre and deportations of Armenians by the Ottoman
Empire, which constituted the first genocide of the 20th century."
Suny singled out several speakers for comment. Among them was Dr. Gerard J.
Libaridian, an historian based in Boston, who served as senior advisor to
the former president of Armenia, Lebon Ter-Petrossian. Libaridian
participated on a panel titled "The Young Turks and the Armenians." and
opened his remarks with the reading of a poem, "The Crossroads" by Eghishe
Charents. Using the poem as a touchstone for his talk, he said, "It is
important not only what happened, but what we make of what happened. Why do
some people like the problem and not the solution? We share a common past
that has been hijacked by the nationalists."
Suny also reported on the comments of several Turkish scholars. Salim
Deringil from Bosphorus University in Istanbul said, "This was the most
difficult paper I've written in my life. Venturing into the Armenian crisis
is like wandering into a mine field." Suny praised Deringil for producing
"wonderful documents relative to the situation of Armenians and Turks in the
Engin Akarli of Brown University called for "a dialogue with the documents
and the need to move away from universally normalized concepts like the
Halil Berktay of Sabanci University in Istanbul presented a paper in which
he explored "the stereotypes of others presented in Turkish literature
during the World War I period."
Borrowing a term from another Turkish scholar, Taner Akcam, Berktay spoke of
"a collapse panic" in the Ottoman Empire and said, "Today, there are
illusions about Turkish Armenia. It looks as though Anatolia is normal
territory for the Turks. But in 1915, Anatolia was unknown by the Turks, a
backward place. The Turks had to reoccupy it after World War I."
Suny reserved special mention for Akcam, who is affiliated with Stiftung zu
Forderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur in Hamburg. Akcam, a radical student
leader who opposed the Turkish military regime and escaped from a prison in
Ankara was "the first important Turkish scholar to study the Armenian
Genocide and to use the word 'genocide'," said Suny. During his
presentation, Akcam used Turkish documents to pinpoint the actual decision
to carry out the deportations early in March 1915, after the defeat of the
Turkish army on the Caucasian front.
To his Turkish colleagues, Akcam said, "I am so happy to be here. I don't
feel so alone now."
Encouraged by the content and participation in this workshop, Suny said that
plans for additional workshops and discussion were in the making.
"We should go on and invite others to join us. It is so important that we
not think of ourselves as Armenian or Turkish historians, but as scholars
who are coming together for a mutual discussion."
The tentative title for the next workshop is "World War I and the Ottoman
Empire: Imperial Dissolution in a Transnational Conjuncture."
"Several universities have expressed interest. I have high hopes that this
dialogue will continue," said Suny.
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