Noam Chomsky Discusses Turkey with David Barsamian

The Armenian Weekly has posted the transcript of a recent interview with Noam Chomsky, in which he discusses current human rights issues in Turkey, Turkey’s international role and Turkish-Israeli relations with founder of Alternative Radio and author David Barsamian:

Chomsky is the internationally renowned Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT. In addition to his pioneering work in linguistics, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. “The New Statesman” calls him “the conscience of the American people.” Howard Zinn described him as “the nation’s most distinguished intellectual rebel.” He’s the author of scores of books including Failed States, What We Say Goes, and Hopes and Prospects.

Chomsky and David Barsamian have collaborated on a series of best-selling books.

Their latest is How the World Works. This interview will be part of Demand the Impossible, to be published later this year.

The Armenian Weekly thanks David Barsamian for providing a transcript of the interview.

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D.B.: Let’s talk about Turkey. The country for a number of years strove to get into the European Union, and did not succeed. There’s a front-page New York Times article [Jan. 5, 2012] entitled “Turkey’s Glow Dims as Press Faces Charges.” Turkish human rights advocates say that there’s been a “crackdown” on journalists that “is part of an ominous trend.” Further, it says, “The arrests threaten to darken the image of the prime minister, Erdogan, who is lionized in the Middle East as a powerful regional leader who can stand up to Israel and the West.” According to this report, “There are now 97 members of the news media in jail in Turkey, including journalists, publishers, and distributors,” a figure that human “rights groups say exceeds the number detained in China.” One of those imprisoned is Nadim Sener, an award-winning journalist, for his reporting on the murder of Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul in January 2007.

N.C.: First of all, that this report should appear in the New York Times has ample ironic connotations. What’s going on in Turkey is pretty bad. On the other hand, it doesn’t begin to compare with what was going on in the 1990’s. The Turkish state was carrying out a major terrorist war against the Kurdish population: tens of thousands of people killed, thousands of towns and villages destroyed, probably millions of refugees, torture, every kind of atrocity you can think of. The Times barely reported it.

They certainly didn’t report—or if they did, it was very marginal—the fact that 80 percent of the weapons were coming from the U.S., and that Clinton was so supportive of the atrocities that in 1997, kind of when they were peaking, that single year Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than in the entire Cold War period combined up until the onset of the counterinsurgency campaign. That’s pretty serious. You won’t find it in the New York Times. Their correspondent in Ankara, Stephen Kinzer, barely reported anything. Not that he didn’t know. Everybody knew. (…)

Read the interview in full here

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