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9.7.13

For the Benefit of the Turkish Ambassador: An Exchange

Marsha Skrypuch's Interest in the Topic
 
(June 16, 2013)
Marsha Skrypuch here, author of three novels set during the Armenian Genocide (The Hunger, Nobody's Child, Daughter of War), two chapter books about the Georgetown Boys (Aram's Choice and Call Me Aram) as well as author of two books set during the internment of Ukrainians in WWI (Silver Threads, Prisoners in the Promised Land).
My own Ukrainian grandfather was interned as an enemy alien in WWI and this topic is of deep interest to me.
I am in the midst of writing a novel about the Kapuskasing internees.
My novel will clearly show who actually was interned and why their relationship to the Armenians of Brantford was so close.
I take exception to the slam on the Ukrainian Canadian community. Those who ask for tolerance should also demonstrate it. Shed light, not heat.

Thank You

(JirairT, June 26, 2013)
Thank you Ms. Skrypuch for your letter and for the books you've written about Armenians and the Genocide. You say your grandfather was an internee during WWII. Sad as it is, the information does not add anything to the editorial which was about WWI internees. You say you are writing a book about the Kapuskasing internees. I hope you sell many copies of the book. However, that you are writing a book is of little relevance to the editorial. You say that you take exception to the slam on the Ukrainian Canadian community. Please read the editorial more carefully. It didn't criticize the Ukrainian Canadian community. It criticized certain Ukrainian Canadians who have seen fit to invite a Turk from an Armenian Genocide-denying organization ("Anatolian Heritage") to represent the non-Turkish Ottoman immigrants to Canada who were interned because Canadian authorities assumed they were Turks. The fact that many of these non-Turkish immigrants had left/fled the Ottoman Empire because of Turkish oppression of non-Turkish minorities makes the invitation surreal. Your aversion to criticizing the fund council (dominated by Ukrainian Canadians) is most disturbing, to say the least. People who don't know you might even deduce that you are giving a pass to fellow Ukrainians.

WWI Internment

Dear Jirair
Something you may not know is that Mr. Kilic is no longer on the Endowment Council. The spot is currently vacant.
My Ukrainian grandfather was an internee during World War ONE, in Canada. I have written two books about the internment of enemy aliens in World War ONE Canada and am in the midst of writing my third.
The reason that the endowment council has many Ukrainians on it is because the majority of internees were Ukrainian and it was the Ukrainian community that spearheaded acknowledgement of this historical injustice. Representatives of other affected communities are encouraged to sit on the council. Instead of complaining, why not contact the council and suggest an appropriate representative?
One shouldn't look for conspiracies where none exist.
The slam on the Ukrainian community I took exception to was this:
The move was probably a reprisal for Armenian lack of support for a Ukrainian pet project. Shame on the petty Ukrainian representatives who have embraced an organization which denies the Genocide of Armenians.
And what was this "pet project"? I suspect it was recognition of the Holodomor, the Stalin-initiated genocide of millions of Ukrainians. I am appalled that Armenians, who have also suffered a genocide that evil people deny, would demean themselves by referring to one of the largest genocides of the 20th century as a "pet project." How shameful.

"Pet Project"
Dear Marsha,
I am glad Mr. Kilic is no longer on the endowment board. The publication of the Keghart editorial preceded his departure. I hope his replacement isn't another member of the Anatolian Heritage or a similar organization which denies the Genocide of Armenians.
The small type of WWI blurred to WWII to my eyesight. That's why I thought your father was interned in the Second World War. Sorry for the misunderstanding due to optical illusion.
The editorial didn't suggest there was a conspiracy at the endowment board. It correctly pointed out that the majority of board members are Ukrainian, since it was the Ukrainian community which highlighted the WWI internment scandal to the Canadian government.
The editorial didn't slam the Ukrainian community, as I said in my earlier reply to you. The editorial criticized Ukrainian community representatives who saw it fit to invite to their board a representative of the notorious Anatolian Heritage.
I find it incomprehensible, puzzling that you--who knows better--would accuse Armenians of denying or even diminishing the horrific Holodomor, the genocide of the Ukrainians in the '30s. You also incorrectly concluded by "pet project" the editorial meant the Holodomor. The reference was to the disagreement of Ukrainians and Armenians about the proper way to display the major genocides of the 20th century--the Armenian, Ukrainian, Jewish, Cambodian, and Rwandan--at the Winnipeg museum.
I see the Turkish consul is still trying to make headlines by referring to interned Ottoman citizens (overwhelmingly non-Turks) as Turks while "Canadaturk" publication claims that a single Turk (Alex Ossman), who was buried in Brantford, was wrapped in the Turkish flag and the Turkish flag was raised at the funeral. As you might know (certainly the honorable diplomat and the editor of "Canadaturk" would know), there was no Turkish flag in 1912 when Ossman died. If a flag was present at the funeral of Ossman, it was the Ottoman flag, not a Turkish flag. Of course, making "Ottoman" and "Turk" synonyms is a brazen Ankara attempt to appropriate the culture, history, accomplishments and identity of Ottoman citizens who were not Turks. Any day now, we will hear that the grandparents of most Diaspora Armenians were Turks. Already the foreign minister of Turkey has changed the "Diaspora Armenian" identifier with the newfangled and deceptive "Turkish Diaspora" tag. We are all Turks now.
I am surprised that in your comments to Keghart you have shied away from writing about the manipulations of the Turkish side. I hope when your books are published, if not earlier, you will expose the games Turkish officials and media are playing.
 
Clarification and Friendship
 
The person buried in 1912 in Brantford's Mount Hope was listed in the local newspaper of the time as "Ahemed Osmon". Since he died in 1912, he certainly wasn't interned in 1914. So who this particular sojourner was isn't the point. One person buried in Kapuskasing was Alex Hassan--from the Ottoman Empire but definitely not a Turkish name.
I would urge you to encourage members of interned groups to offer their services to the endowment board. There is still a vacancy. Other reps don't appoint. That's not the way a government-mandated board works. The reason there are many Ukrainians on the board is because most of the people interned were Ukrainian. Out of 8,000 interned, more than 5,000 were Ukrainian. There were fewer than 200 Ottoman citizens interned.
I am relieved that the "pet project" was not the Holodomor. Of all the injustices I've written about, I've only received hate mail and death threats for writing about one--the Holodomor. The Holodomor denial machine is alive and well, alas. I have never received death threats or hate mail for writing about the Armenian Genocide, although my books have been "challenged" by Turkish groups-- i.e. a legal process to have them pulled from schools. The challenges were not successful.
Ukrainians and Armenians should be working together for recognition of their eerily parallel histories. Please know that I am a true friend of the Armenian community.

"Keghart" (www.keghart.com)

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