Tuesday, April 24, 2007

American Holocaust Deniers

Robert Fisk (today):
"Could it possibly be that the security men who guard the frontiers of North America are supporting Holocaust denial? Alas, it's true. Here's the story.

Taner Akcam is the distinguished Turkish scholar at the University of Minnesota who, with immense courage, proved the facts of the Armenian genocide - the deliberate mass murder of up to a million and a half Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish authorities in 1915 - from Turkish documents and archives. His book A Shameful Act was published to great critical acclaim in Britain and the United States.

He is now, needless to say, being threatened with legal action in Turkey under the infamous Law 301 - which makes a crime of insulting "Turkishness" - but it's probably par for the course for a man who was granted political asylum in Germany after receiving an eight-year prison sentence in his own country for articles he had written in a student journal; Amnesty International had already named him a prisoner of conscience.

But Mr Akcam has now become a different kind of prisoner: an inmate of the internet hate machine, the circle of hell in which any political filth or personal libel can be hurled at the innocent without any recourse to the law, to libel lawyers or to common decency. The Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was misquoted on the internet for allegedly claiming that Turkish blood was "poisonous"; this total lie - Dink never said such a thing - prompted a young man to murder him in an Istanbul street.

But Taner Akcam's experience is potentially far more serious for all of us. As he wrote in a letter to me this month, "Additional to the criminal investigation (law 301) in Turkey, there is a hate campaign going on here in the USA, as a result of which I cannot travel internationally any more... My recent detention at the Montreal airport - apparently on the basis of anonymous insertions in my Wikipedia biography - signals a disturbing new phase in a Turkish campaign of intimidation that has intensified since the November 2006 publication of my book."

Akcam was travelling to lecture in Montreal and took the Northwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis on 16 February this year. The Canadian immigration officer, Akcam says, was "courteous" - but promptly detained him at Montreal's Trudeau airport. Even odder, the Canadian immigration officer asked him why he needed to be detained. Akcam tells me he gave the man a brief history of the genocide and of the campaign of hatred against him in the US by Turkish groups "controlled by ... Turkish diplomats" who "spread propaganda stating that I am a member of a terrorist organisation".
So let's get this clear. US and Canadian officials now appear to be detaining the innocent on the grounds of hate postings on the internet. And it is the innocent - guilty until proved otherwise, I suppose - who must now pay lawyers to protect them from Homeland Security and the internet. But as Akcam says, there is nothing he can do.
I'm not surprised. There is no end to the internet's circle of hate. What does shock me, however, is that the men and women chosen to guard their nations against Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida are reading this dirt and are prepared to detain an honourable scholar such as Taner Akcam on the basis of it."
Miguel posted about this story while I was away, saying:
"Those familiar with the Sibel Edmonds case will recognize the organization Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), which is mentioned in the letter as using its publication to spread rumors about the author. The ATAA is one of the organizations Sibel has called “semi-legit”- meaning that some of its activities are underground and illegal. This letter provides further evidence that the ATAA is the right-hand of the Deep State in America. In other words, Turkish organizations in America work hand-in-glove with Ankara."

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