American Turks have launched the “Let History Decide” campaign in the U.S. to counter Armenian allegations over the events of 1915 involving the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
The campaign has been organized by the Turkish American Steering Committee, which consists of 145 Turkish American organizations. Several events have been planned under the campaign that will take place in different parts of the U.S., including Washington DC, New York and Texas.
The main slogan of the campaign is: “Unite us, not divide us.” According to the Turkish American Steering Committee’s website, a peace and solidarity walk is being organized on April 24 in Washington DC, which will begin in front of the White House and end at the Turkish Embassy.
After the walk, American Turks and their campaign supporters will remain in front of the embassy in response to the Armenian groups, who too gather there on April 24 each year to “occupy the sidewalk,” a committee representative says.
The committee has said it will also launch a Twitter hashtag #lethistorydecide on April 18.
Already, the campaign has a strong social media presence, including Twitter (@historydecide), Instagram and Facebook. Moreover, it has its own website: www.lethistorydecide.org
Turkish citizens at home and abroad feel that smear campaigns involving the 1915 events have turned into attacks against Turkey.
In early March when a group of Congressmen introduced the “Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution”, Republican Congressman Curt Clawson called President Barack Obama to form a committee to reconcile Turkish-Armenian relations and seek support for his resolution in Congress.
” Turkey andArmenia are very important to the American interests,” Clawson wrote in a letter to House colleagues. “U.S interests (in the region) can be advanced by both countries acting to cultivate peace and understanding.”
The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted against the empire.
A decision by the Ottoman Empire to relocate Armenians in eastern Anatolia followed the revolts and there were some Armenian casualties during the relocation process.
Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey officially refutes Armenian allegations over the incidents, saying that, although Armenians died during relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.
The debate and differing opinions between present day Turkish government and the Armenian diaspora, along with the current administration in Yerevan, still generates political tension between Turks and Armenians.
Ankara acknowledges that past experiences were a great tragedy and that both parties suffered heavy casualties, including hundreds of Muslim Turks.
Turkey also agrees that there were certainly Armenian casualties during World War I.
In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent invitation letters to more than 100 leaders, including Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, to participate in the commemoration of the Battle of Canakkale on April 24.
Sargsyan reportedly denounced Erdogan’s invitation as a “short-sighted” attempt to overshadow the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events, according to armenianow.com.