Revisiting the Turkification of Confiscated Armenian Assets

Armenian Weekly 18 April 2012
By Raffi Bedrosyan

If one person murders another, then takes over that murdered person’s property and possessions, he would be living off the proceeds of his crime. Once authorities discover his crime, he would be found guilty—by any court, anywhere—and then sentenced, punished, and forced to return the unlawfully obtained property and possessions. But if a people murders another people, and takes over the property and possessions of the murdered people, it seems that different rules apply, and the guilty—and their children—can continue living off the proceeds of the crime. It also seems that their successors can continue to threaten the successors of the murdered people with new murders, if, that is, they dared to mention the murder, or dared to demand the return of their property and possessions. This is the evolving saga of the Turkish and Armenian peoples from 1915 to today.

Revisiting the Turkification of Confiscated Armenian Assets

The 1915 murder of a people—or perhaps, more correctly, the attempted murder of a people—not only resulted in wiping out the Armenians from their 4,000-year-old homeland within a matter of 1-2 years, but also initiated an ongoing process of wealth, property, and asset transfer from the Armenians to the Turks. This process, started in 1915 by the Ittihadist leadership of Ottoman Turkey, continued uninterrupted with the successor Turkish Republic for many decades using various legislative decrees. It was completed with the total and legal Turkification of all Armenian assets and properties—of the Armenians’ economic presence—in Anatolia.

This essay will attempt to explain the legal Turkification process, provide examples illustrating the enormity of the assets involved, and discuss recent initiatives to reverse this process (including steps taken by the Armenians, and steps announced by the present Turkish government).

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Kilifina uydurmak, in Turkish, means to "fit the sword to the sheath.” One would normally expect that the sword is made first, and the sheath to fit it. But if there is an unacceptable action first, followed by other actions needed to give it the appearance of a proper action—that is, to "make right” the original action—then this phrase is used to define the situation. "Fit the sword to the sheath” is a perfect description of the legislative process of the Turkification of Armenian assets. (...)