Turks haven’t learned the British way of denying atrocities
By George Monbiot
LONDON: In reading reports of the trial of the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, you are struck by two things. The first, of course, is the anachronistic brutality of the countrx’s laws. Mr Pamuk, like scores of other writers and journalists, is being prosecuted for “denigrating Turkishness”, which means that he dared to mention the killing of Armenians in the first world war and the killing of the Kurds in the past decade. The second is its staggering, blithering stupidity. If there is one course of action that could be calculated to turn these massacres into live issues, it is the trial of the countrx’s foremost novelist for mentioning them.
As it prepares for accession, the Turkish government will discover that the other members of the EU have found a more effective means of suppression. Without legal coercion, without the use of baying mobs to drive writers from their homes, we have developed an almost infinite capacity to forget our own atrocities. Atrocities? Which atrocities?
When a Turkish writer uses that word, everyone in Turkey knows what he is talking about, even if they deny it vehemently. But most British people will stare at you blankly. So let me give you two examples, both of which are as well documented as the Armenian killing.
In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, published in 2001, Mike Davis tells the story of famines that killed between 12 and 29 million Indians. These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy. When an El Ni