LOS ANGELES — At a recent lecture at the University of Southern California (USC), historian Taner Akçam said the trove of documents he discovered in a once-obscure archive in 2015 “blows up this main Turkish denialist argument. “For a century, the Turkish government has denied that the atrocities that killed 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman military constituted a genocide. One of its most oft-stated claims: there is no proof that the World War I-era death marches and massacres were carried out on orders from the Ottoman government.
But then came along a man whom the New York Times has dubbed the “Sherlock Holmes of Armenian Genocide.”
Akçam of Clark University has unearthed documents that prove what virtually all genocide scholars have already long asserted: The killing orders came directly from the Ottoman government.
At a recent lecture at USC, Akçam said the trove of documents he discovered in a once-obscure archive in 2015 “blows up this main Turkish denialist argument.”
“It’s a bombshell, really,” he said.
Akçam has been a thorn in the side of the Turkish government for decades. One of the first Turkish scholars to call the atrocities that befell the Armenians a genocide, he was arrested in 1976 and sentenced to 10 years in a Turkish prison for becoming the editor of a Marxist publication that opposed the government. He escaped from prison after a year, using the leg of a stove to tunnel his way out.