erdogan ottoman
© Adem Altan/Reuters
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdoğan walks down the stairs in between soldiers, wearing traditional army uniforms from the Ottoman Empire.
I was surprised to learn that many Turkish people on social media have been supporting Turkey's President Erdoğan's actions and stance, whether it concerned the unlawful downing of a Russian jet, its cruel treatment of Kurdish civilians living in Turkey, or its oil dealings with terrorists. Some of them even go as far as rooting for a come-back of the Ottoman Empire. But how many of them know about the real recent history of the Late Ottoman Empire, and the many innocent people who died during that time?
"[Professor of Modern History] Christian Gerlach ... claims that societies like the ones in the Late Ottoman Empire or in Nazi Germany are characterized by mass violence against numerous political, religious or ethnic groups instead of only one."
- Dominik J. Schaller and Jürgen Zimmerer
As the quote above suggests, the Young Turk era (1906-1918) of the late Ottoman Empire bore a lot of similarities to Hitler's Germany. In Late Ottoman Genocides, historians Schaller and Zimmerer write: "A new generation of historians working on World War II and the German war of extermination in Eastern Europe have ... shown that the Nazis' "struggle for Lebensraum" was not only directed against the Jews - though they held an out-standing position as ultimate arch enemies in Hitler's ideology - but also affected Poles, Russians, Roma and several other groups." In similar fashion, the Late Ottoman Empire, in its desire to create a homogenous empire consisting of only Turks, set out to exterminate different non-Turkish groups: Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks, and Kurds, among others.

greek genocide turks
The Young Turks leaders' systematic policy of violent 'turkification' first targeted the Greeks: "More than 100,000 Ottoman Greeks were expelled from the Aegean and Thrace to create living space for Muslim refugees who had themselves been brutally driven away from Crete and the Balkans. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks were deported from the coastal regions to the interior due to alleged strategic reasons during the war. Finally the anti-Greek campaign of the Young Turks found its continuation in [Turkey's first President] Mustafa Kemal's expulsion of the Ottoman Greeks. The burning of Smyrna [known today as İzmir, Turkey] and the slaughter of its Christian inhabitants in 1922 marked the symbolic end of Greek presence in Turkey." The massacres and forced deportations had cost the lives of up to one million Greeks.

Approximately 300,000 Assyrians residing in the Ottoman Empire were murdered; their villages were burned, and churches were destroyed. The number of Armenians who were targeted by the Young Turks' policy in 1915 however exceeded that of the others, with up to 1.5 million Armenians meeting their death by either being burned alive - sometimes in groups of only women and children - or dying from starvation and fatigue on the death marches leading to the Syrian desert. While some Kurds joined Ottoman soldiers in murdering, raping and looting Armenians, some Kurdish groups such as the Alevis from Dersim [today Tunceli Provence, Turkey] gave refuge to Armenians. As a result, they too were not exempted from the Young Turks' brutality. During World War I, up to 700,000 Kurds - including the perpetrators - were forcibly removed with approximately half of the displaced perishing.

The genocide of innocent people, simply because of their ethnicity or religious beliefs, by the rulers and agents of the Late Ottoman Empire is horrifying and reminds us of the victims of Nazi atrocities. And while some people deny that the Jewish Holocaust ever happened, so too, the mass murders mentioned above, despite all the evidence collected, are claimed by Turkish elitists as never having taken place. When France, Germany, Russia and Austria described the Turkish slaughter of Armenians as genocide, Erdoğan himself accused them of supporting "claims constructed on Armenian lies." Erdoğan further sought to absolve Turks of the murder of at least 3.5 million innocent civilians by adding that these countries "should first, one-by-one, clean the stains on their own histories"...
armenian genocide
© Agence France Presse
An image from 1915. Turkey deported two thirds of the Armenian population; many were either killed or died of starvation during the journey.
putin armenia
© Пресс-служба Президента России
Russia's President Putin at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex on April 24, 2015. The Russian leader called the 1915 events a “mournful date, related to one of the most horrendous and dramatic events in human history, the genocide of the Armenian people."
Neo-Ottoman Wannabe Sultan Erdoğan

erdogan sultan
While a leader with a conscience would spend the time to review his country's history with a critical eye, and would surely put forth the effort to restore and strengthen relationships with communities who were persecuted, Erdoğan appears to do the opposite and continues the practices of the Late Ottoman Empire, albeit covertly in many cases. Indeed, there are many signs that Erdoğan looks back at the Ottoman Empire with pride, and aspires to reconstruct it, with himself as sultan of course. A few examples:

1) He turned the Yildiz Palace, a historic Ottoman palace in Istanbul into his own private Istanbul residence.

2) He argues that the Ottoman language should be taught at every school, saying that learning the Ottoman language will restore severed ties with "our roots" and added: "There are those who do not want this to be taught. This is a great danger. Whether they like it or not, the Ottoman language will be learned and taught in this country. This religion has a guardian. And this guardian will protect this religion till the end of time."

3) According to French politician Nicolas Dhuicq, Erdoğan seeks, "like the Ottoman Empire did before him, to move people and resettle several villages in northern Syria with Turkic-speaking peoples". Those peoples being the Uyghurs, a Turkish ethnic group primarily living in China. As SOTT editor Joe Quinn wrote on the Uyghurs:
There is substantial evidence of a major US/NATO operation to traffic Chinese Uyghur fighters from Xinjiang to Turkey, and then Syria, and back again to bring 'jihad' to western China. According to Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based satellite news service, abandoned villages in northern Syria have recently been filling up with the families of Muslim Chinese Uyghurs. These Uyghurs, claims the report, are entering the country, along with their wives and children, to fight alongside Al Nusra Front (formerly known as Al Qaeda) and ISIS/Daesh against the Syrian government. In addition to providing a cadre of battle-trained fighters to ship back to China, the influx of 'Turkic' Uyghurs into northern Syria is very likely an attempt by the Turkish government to populate the area with 'Turks' in advance of potential 'peace talks' on the likely future break-up of Syria.
4) Erdoğan seems bent on continuing the Young Turks' policy of destroying the Kurds, who are primarily concentrated in the southeastern part of Turkey. Sputnik reports that "The Turkish military has launched a so called 'anti-terrorist operation' in that region, having deployed about 10,000 servicemen supported by armored units and attack helicopters." Feleknas Uca, a Turkish MP of Yazidi descent told RT: "I'm currently in the city of Diyarbakir, where the police are using tear gas against civilians every day. There are dead bodies lying in the streets. A 16-year old kid was killed only a few days ago. The families of the victims went on a hunger strike in protest." According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) at least 124 Kurdish civilians have been killed since mid-August.

5) Erdoğan has taken a personal interest in insuring that laws are passed that punish anyone insulting "Turkishness" or Turkey, and laws specifically designed to suppress freedom of speech. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights published a report in October 2006, entitled Turkey: A Minority Policy of Systematic Negation, which states:
Article 301(1) took effect in June 2005 and states: "A person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years." Article 301(3) says: "Where insulting being a Turk is committed by a Turkish citizen in a foreign country, the penalty to be imposed shall be increased by one third." Moreover, the interpretation of these provisions by prosecutors and courts has been broad. Several well-known writers, including Orhan Pamuk, have stood and are standing trial under these provisions for citing, for example, the genocide of Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire, or killings of Kurds during the long-lasting conflict between Turkish forces and Kurdish separatists.
If we include the fact that Turkey has been supporting, training, arming, and happily doing 'bloody business' with ISIS and other terrorist groups in the region, then the extent of Erdoğan's corruption and that of his new Ottoman Empire becomes clear. He is not, obviously, on the side of humanity, peace or stability for the people and its neighboring partners, but on the side of imperialism, violent nationalism, oppression and destruction. Erdoğan's comments on New Year's Eve, when he recalled Hitler's Germany as one example in history of an effective presidential system, saying "When you look at Hitler's Germany, you'll see it there", are hardly surprising.

Of course, a glorious Turkified and Islamized empire is unlikely to materialize while Western powers have their own imperialist agendas in the Middle East. But Turkey's recent history and actions inside and outside the country need to be exposed. If only to remember and honor the millions of innocent civilians who died during the 'subterranean Auschwitz', and to prevent it from happening again; whether it involves Syrian civilians, Kurdish civilians, or any other group of people that may fall victim to Turkey's, disgusting, imperialist, anti-human agenda.