Turkey’s Hands Won’t Ever Wash Clean

Turkey has recalled its ambassadors to France and Canada. It’s that fictional Armenian genocide thing again. Seems like people just won’t let that story die, no matter how the Turks stonewall.

And stonewall they do. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the central planning, the release of murderers from prisons to carry out the butchering, and the deaths of at least one million people, Turkey continues with its “that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.”

The latest dust up is the result of remarks by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the debate currently going on in France to have the Armenian genocide placed in the same legal category as the Jewish Holocaust carried out by the Germans.

Turkey recalled its envoy to France prior to a debate by French lawmakers on May 18 about a law that foresees a one-year jail term and a 45,000-euro ($58,000) fine for persons who deny that genocide took place. Turkey’s parliament is sending a delegation to France…in order to convince their French counterparts not to pass the bill…

Canada’s PM came in for his share of Turkish wrath when he said that Canada will continue to acknowledge that the genocide took place.

The world has been “acknowledging” Turkey’s mass butchering, starvation, and forced displacement of its Christian population since 1915.

In May 1915, Great Britain, France, and Russia advised the Young Turk leaders that they would be held personally responsible for this crime against humanity. There was a strong public outcry in the United States against the mistreatment of the Armenians. At the end of the war, the Allied victors demanded that the Ottoman government prosecute the Young Turks accused of wartime crimes. Relief efforts were also mounted to save “the starving Armenians.” The American, British, and German governments sponsored the preparation of reports on the atrocities and numerous accounts were published.

Unfortunately, that’s all they did: publish reports. Reports which Turkey continues to deny to this day.

Nor has Turkey finished with its minority populations. Massed on the border of Iraq, and in cahoots with Iran, Turkey is carrying out its annual Spring cleaning of the Kurds in its midst.

What Turkey cannot face is its continuing denial and its ongoing culpability in the murders and silencing of those who dissent.

The Armenians were unfortunate enough to be a Christian minority in a country suffering the loss of the last shreds of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was determined to get rid of them to ensure its monolithic hold on the state.

The Kurds are largely Muslims, but that will not save them. They insist on speaking their own language and preserving their own culture. For that, even the Kurds elected to the Turkish parliament may be jailed and tortured.

You see, they got away with mass murder almost a hundred years ago. Except for a few “reports” and tut-tuts, Turkey paid no real price:

…despite the moral outrage of the international community, no strong actions were taken against the Ottoman Empire either to sanction its brutal policies or to salvage the Armenian people from the grip of extermination. Moreover, no steps were taken to require the postwar Turkish governments to make restitution to the Armenian people for their immense material and human losses.

As a matter of fact, Turkey now has the nerve to threaten France with economic sanctions should it continue to tell the truth.

Our Secretary of State was recently in Turkey. In fact she was there as Turkish troops were massing on the border of Iraq for the Spring activities. Don’t you wonder how the Turks interpret her visit? And what does President Bush have to say about this treatment of our allies, France, Canada, and Iraq?


26 thoughts on “Turkey’s Hands Won’t Ever Wash Clean

  1. Dymphna:
    Well Turkey has just killed off its candidacy to enter into Europe. Looks like sin makes you stupid- in this case pride.
    At least, the islamojihadists dreams are temporaily thwarted but Turkey’s denial to the EU will really hurt the country.


  2. One of the great ironies is that the Kurds were willing pawns in the Armenian genocide and did a lot of killing themselves.

    (When I was in Turkish Kurdistan last year an English- speaking Kurd told me in all seriousness that Turkey’s image problem was all because of “Jews, Greeks, and Armenians”. I refrained from asking him how many Armenians were able to complain).

  3. Sad to say, the Kurds are no princes either. Under coalition cover in Iraq they have been ethnically cleansing Kirkuk of Arabs (which is understandable if unfortunate, previously the process was in reverse under Saddam) and the Turkmen (also understandable considering justifiable paranoia of the long hand of Turkey, also unjust and unfortunate).

    What cannot be understood or forgiven is Kurdish oppressive actions against the christian Assyrians.

  4. Mr. Bodio and Fellowpeacekeeper:

    I agree with your estimation of the Kurds. Not only that, their govt in Kirkuk seems to be corrupt.

    Not to make excuses, but I think they’re driven to their excess by the whole area’s refusal to let them have a piece of territory, to speak their own language, to celebrate their own culture.

    It is not only pride that is doing in the Turks, it is the sense of scarcity which seems to permeate the Arab culture.

    Many of their problems with Kurdish terrorism would go away if there was a Kurdistan…which there well may be if Iraq ends up with a de facto partition and a weak federal system.

    Funny, their thing about the Jews since Joos are the nearest blood kin to the Kurds…

  5. Aw heck! Just Muslims doing their level best to carry out their religious obligations. Surely, we in the West need to be a bit more sensitive in approaching the Hitler’s dress rehersal – the Armenian massacre.

  6. The irony is this story has already died, save the efforts of the Turks to deny it. Were they to remain silent it would simply go away.

  7. I think Turkey should be divided equally between the Armenians and the Kurds. The Turkmen should pack and go to Turkmenistan, where they have a country ready made for them.

    Armenians should have the part of Turkey closest to Europe, since they are closest in traditions to Europeans. Kurds should also be given large chunks of Syria and Iran. Iran? Why does Iran even have a country? Don’t get me started.

  8. Hmmm…I do not know anything about an Armenian genocide. Any good books or online resources you would suggest?

  9. “Why does Iran have a country”? Hasn’t Persia been pretty much a unified country for 2600 years? (as opposed to parvenus like Saudi Arabia and Iraq). Westerners love to draw lines on maps and divide some people up and lump others together. That’s how the Brits created a lot of the woe in the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq.

  10. Megan: Google “Armenian Genocide” with the quotes on.

    You’ll get over a million and a half hits.

    Wander in the material and pictures until you can’t look at them any longer….

    Hitler had nothing on the Young Turks except for numbers. Same quality of merciless slaughter.

  11. …all of which is just one more reason why Turkey probably doesn’t belong in the EU. There is not the same consciousness of human life and it’s value in Middle Eastern culture as there is in the northern and European cultures. Even moreso in those that are Christian. This will inevitably come up and Turkey’s over-reaction to an event so long now in the past that few are still alive who went through it. Turkey would, in essence, be acknowledging an event by ancestors and we can’t be responsible for our ancestors’ behaviour. Can we? Turkey’s utter refusal to discuss it hints at a deep sensitivity there which may not do well in the give and take of the marketplace culture of the EU.

  12. BTW, I read a French anthropological psychologist who interviewed many Armenian immigrants and their survivors. She said the women gravitated in larger #s than the general population toward hair dressing. She wondered if it had anything to do with all the beheadings, all those indelible images of women’s heads on sticks…

    Their children suffered in larger #s from sore throats…

    The definitve book has yet to be written on transgenerational trauma. As Cato mentioned a few weeks ago, we just ignored the Flu Epidemic of 1918…and I think that it helped bring on the Roaring Twenties. As did the slaughter of WWI.

  13. I wouldn’t be too optimistic about Turkey’s being barred from the EU. Even when it’s not that Turkey is not European, of course it isn’t, it’s that during centuries “Turkey” equalled “anti-Europe”, in a political, religious, social, ideologic… sense.

  14. Dymphna:
    Which is doubly ironical since Kurds are IndoEuropeans. Very interesting to note intermarriage between both ethnos


  15. We travel through Turkey regularly on the way to Iraq. The Turkish Kurds do have a terrible time. We are sorry for them. Wish there was more we could do.

  16. Don’t mind me, guys. I just had a few comments.

    People are now finding out that Kurds are not angels. Very good. You should also know that Kurds are not devils. Kurds are simply human.

    One difference between Kurds and Turks that I find striking, and illuminating, is that whereas Turks invented and still operate the Turkish Denial Machine, most of the Kurds I know admit to Kurdish participation in the Armenian genocide, regret it and apologize for the actions of the ancestors who were involved. This is definitely the way to go because, although some Armenians might slam the door in your face over it, there are a lot of others who open up to it and it provides a great opportunity to get to learn from each other, compare both situations and work on common solutions. Also, I feel that if Turkey ever comes to the point of being able to face the past with regard to the Armenian Genocide, it will be that much closer to facing its Kurdish “problem.” Therefore, I see reconciliation between Kurds and Armenians as good all around. It will also give a chance to those Kurds who have Armenian grand parents or great grand parents to openly explore their personal history and that might also serve to bring more understanding between the two peoples.

    Now, I don’t hang out with assimilated “Kurds” when I’m in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. After all, I do have my reputation to think of, and everyone that I know knows exactly why Turkey has an image problem and it has nothing to do with Jews, Armenians, Greeks, or “terrorist” Kurds. We don’t listen to Turkish propaganda and we’re not the ones who put Mein Kampf on the Turkish bestseller list last year, either. Hehehe. . . I actually saw that book in Amed last year, in one of those fancy new grocery stores that they built to service the TSK and their families, so that tells me who it is that’s been buying it.

    Funny, the one Kurdish organization that I know of that has publicly and formally apologized for Kurdish participation in the Armenian Genocide is the PKK, and if anyone cares to do it, they can go to the Armenian forum ( http://www.gomidas.org/forum/af4kurds.htm) , brought to you by the Gomidas Institute, and check out a little write up on a seminar about the Armenian and Kurdish genocides that was held in London back in 1999. Excellent news, as far as I’m concerned, because it proves yet again that Kurds are trying to learn from their history and that is a direct benefit of the radicalization/politicization of the Kurdish people. The reawakening of a strong Kurdish identity and the whole process of politicization came about because of the influence of the PKK, and if you bother to check the Armenian forum on that seminar, you will see a name that’s probably pretty foreign to you in more ways than one: Mizgîn Sen (no relation), who was the spokeswoman for the PKK in Europe at the time, indicating that the PKK was a participant at the seminar.

    Scary, huh?

    Yeah, probably pretty scary if you’re a Kemalist or a supporter of Turkish state policies and you would probably do your damndest to condemn anyone involved with Armenian or Kurdish nationalism. But then, I don’t have a problem with PKK, and I didn’t have a problem with ASALA. And I didn’t have a problem with PKK/ASALA cooperation.

    You might also want to google one Reverend Henry Riggs. He was an American missionary in Armenia during the genocide and he wrote his memoirs of the genocide. Gomidas also published the memoirs. He is at least one source that speaks of the Dersimî Kurds and their acts that saved a lot of Armenians from certain death. Dersim has always been a very different kind of place, but you won’t find it on a map today. The city still exists, but the Turks changed the name after they slaughtered 40,000 beautiful, defiant Dersimîs in 1937-38.

    Good reads on the Armenian Genocide? The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian and A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power, although some of you may not like my second selection. But you can try the first, or you can try Rev. Riggs.

    Then we have South Kurdistan and its president, Masud Barzanî, offering refuge to all Christians fleeing murder in Arab Iraq, either on a temporary or permanent basis, something which he just reiterated in his unification speech. This statement was a mere formality, however, since Iraqi Christians had been fleeing either to Kurdistan or Syria since 2003.

    There are Christians all over South Kurdistan, with a big chunk of them (oh, like 10,000 or so) in Ainkawa, which used to be a little village and is now a suburb of Hewlêr. All through Bahdinan there are Christian villages, some Chaldean, others Armenian. The Armenians have recently asked Armenia to send teachers for their schools so the children can learn Armenian language. Oh, yeah, Christians get to have their own schools. Turkmen get to have their own schools. Whoever wants can have their own schools, their own political parties, their own media, whatever.

    Man. . . that evil Muslim Kurd Barzanî. It’s no wonder the Arab Sunni clerics declared Kurds halal, right, and Kurds were getting beheaded in Mûsil, with alarming frequency, in 2003-2004.

    I have to agree there’s a lot of corruption in the KRG, but who is most upset about that? Who has been trying to demonstrate against that? Who is going to ultimately change that? Kurds themselves, especially young Kurds. No one really wants to see it happen but Kurds either, because whenever there is a protest against the KRG, it means that democracy is viable and no one wants that for Kurds.

    But what the hell do I know?

    My condolences on your loss, Dymphna.

  17. Mizgîn, et al. —

    The behavior of the Kurds in 1915 should be viewed the same way as that of the Lithuanians and Ukrainians in 1943. The latter provided significant aid (as well as passive assent) to the Eastern European branch of the Final Solution.

    The important thing is what the Turks and the Kurds are doing in the here and now. As you say, the Kurds acknowledge their past and express regret, while the Turks do neither.

    We have some Baltic readers occasionally — do any of you know Lithuania’s or Ukraine’s current position vis-a-vis their part in the Holocaust?

    And then there’s France…

  18. While I hesitate to presume to write on behalf of my southern cousins, I will note that the Lithuanian President was present in Israel on the opening of the new Yad Vashem holocaust museum last year. His presence there should be understood as highly significant, as was his speech. Follows here the text of that speech :

    Your Excellency President Moshe Katsav,
    Chairman Avner Shalev,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I deeply thank you for the privilege of taking part in this highly significant event. This new museum puts man face-to-face with conscience and with history.

    The 20th century always will be also remembered for human sufferings and lost lives. No other nation has faced greater losses that befell the European Jewish communities. The Jews of Europe had fallen victim to the downfall of civilization and culture which had brought the Third Reich to barbaric racism.

    In Lithuania, this tragedy of SHOA is alive in the museums, in the published testimonies of survivors of Vilnius and Kaunas ghettoes and concentration camps, in school textbooks and the latest historians works leaving no blank spots in the history of the 20th century.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Personal belongings of the Holocaust victims – these silent reminders of once peaceful life, resting in the halls of this Memorial on the Mount of Remembrance – Har Hazichron — in Jerusalem, deeply shock the heart and the mind.

    As a Lithuanian I feel a heavy burden of history that in the first days of the war between the Nazis and the Soviets Lithuania became the place of most violent attacks against the Jews and bloodshed.

    Regrettably, during those days we have failed to protect our own citizens Jews persecuted by the Nazis; we failed to stop a local Nazi collaborators, a number of volunteers among them, who readily served the terrible Nazi design, made use of the hopeless situation of their neighbors Jews, yielded to instigations, participated in killings and looted Jewish houses. It was about these collaborators that Dr. Elkhanan Elkes, the Head of the Judenrat in Kaunas ghetto, wrote to his children in 1943: “No one else but those who followed German orders destroyed entire communities”

    Today, looking at the trees in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nation with the names of Lithuanians who saved the Jews, it restores my hopes and belief in a mankind.

    This belief guides us today in Lithuania as we open the Centers of Tolerance and Holocaust Education, send our school teachers to Yad Vashem, teach our young people about the Holocaust and tell them about the life of Jews in Lithuania before the war. We proceed with the restitution and return to Jewish organizations of religious buildings and Torahs scrolls. We work to preserve in Lithuania the Jewish heritage, and we hope our Old Town stands witness to our efforts.

    The loss of once thriving Jewish communities in Lithuania has impoverished us all. This loss is also a warning to Europe and the global community. Let me assure that my country will resolutely fight against old and new anti-Semitism, treasuring the memory of hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian Jews brutally murdered by Nazis and local collaborators. We must act so that nobody would doubt our resolve. As a member of the European Union and NATO, Lithuania will support every effort to bring peace and security to the nations in the Middle East.

    Your Excellency President Katsav,
    Chairman Shalev,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    In May, in Lithuania we will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the victory of the anti-fascist coalition against Nazism. I am certain that this Day of Victory will also be the Day of Remembrance uniting Europe and the whole of the world.

    Thank you.
    H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania

    So much for the official attitude of Lithuania. Latvian President Vaira Viķe-Freiburga has also made thematically similar (i.e. non-denial) statements both visiting Israel and outside .

    Speech by H.E. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, President of Latvia,
    Remembrance and understanding of the Holocaust in Latvia
    Stockholm, 27 January 2000

    Europe has been a major cradle of civilization on our planet. It has also been the scene of many episodes of barbarity, fit to rival in this any other part of the world. Not just in the dim, remote, uncivilized past, but also within the living memory of generations still living. The Holocaust, an indelible stain on Europe’s escutcheon, has left deep scars on Latvia as well.

    Beginning with the 16th century, the first Jewish traders and craftsmen arrived in the territories that are now Latvia. Fleeing from repression in other parts of Europe, they were accepted there and found their place in the local economy and cultural life. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Latvia could pride itself as one of the few dominions of the Russian Empire where pogroms simply did not happen.

    Latvia’s first period as a nation-state, from 1918 to 1940, was a time of peace and prosperity for our Jewish population. Together with other ethnic minorities, the Jews enjoyed a degree of cultural autonomy that would be considered as progressive even by today’s standards. It certainly surpassed that offered by Latvia’s Western neighbours to their minorities at that time. Latvia’s Jews were entitled to state-subsidised education in Hebrew and in Yiddish. They were active participants in the country’s cultural and political life and made important contributions to its economy.

    Most notably, during the late 1930s, Latvia chose to implement an open-door policy and provided sanctuary for European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. Latvia is proud to be one among the very few countries to have done so, while many others closed their frontiers to the flow of desperate Jewish refugees.

    Unfortunately, in 1939, the signing of the secret Molotov-Ribentropp Pact paved the way for Latvia’s occupation and annexation by Soviet Russian forces in June of 1940. Over the following year, a period known as the Red Terror ensued. Arbitrary arrests, torture, executions and deportations cost the lives of tens of thousands of Latvian citizens, including 3000 Jews.

    Between 1941 and 1945, the Nazi German occupation forces planned, organized and oversaw the mass murder of over 100,000 Latvian citizens, out of a pre-war population of 1.5 million. At least 60,000 of those killed were either fully or partly of Jewish origin. Another 18,000 were ethnic Latvians, 2000 were Roma, and 3000 were mentally handicapped with no recorded nationality. The Germans shipped an additional 21,000 Jewish prisoners to Latvia from other parts of Europe, and over half of these prisoners were then executed on Latvian soil.

    As a result of the Holocaust, Latvia lost over 90% of its pre-war Jewish population. This is an irreparable loss. This is an enduring sorrow. In spite of the grave risk to their personal safety and that of their relatives, scores of Latvian families managed to save the lives of more than 300 Jews during the German occupation. A number of those who provided shelter to their Jewish friends and acquaintances were discovered and executed for their defiance of Nazi ordinances.

    Through an aggressive campaign of racist anti-Jewish propaganda, the Nazi German regime succeeded in recruiting local collaborators to carry out some of the worst crimes ever committed on Latvian territory. The precise number of Latvian citizens who participated in the murder of Jewish and other civilians under Nazi German command is not known, but is estimated to exceed 1000.

    Latvia as a country having ceased to exist at the time, the Nazi German occupying powers bear the ultimate responsibility for the crimes they committed or instigated on Latvian soil. We as Latvians denounce the mass murders of the Holocaust as uniquely heinous crimes against humanity, we condemn genocide as a horror and an abomination, we condemn and unconditionally renounce the individuals having perpetrated such crimes. We accept no excuse for their actions. We accept no mitigation to their guilt.

    In 1990, shortly after officially declaring our intention to secede from the Soviet Union, Latvia’s parliament openly condemned the events of the Holocaust in Latvia and expressed deep regret that Latvian individuals had participated in it.

    Latvia has assumed its sacred responsibility of condemning the Holocaust. Our criminal code specifically condemns genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, regardless of the ideology in whose name such crimes were perpetrated, – whether Nazi or Communist – and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator. Latvia holds no statute of limitations on these crimes and is committed to the prosecution and punishment of those found guilty through the due process of law. We stand ready to receive any additional evidence that will help us to initiate criminal proceedings against any individual suspected of committing war crimes in Latvia.

    At this moment in history, Latvia is engaged in consolidating a free, open and democratic society. For only democracy allows us to shape our future, and to make our own free choices. We need to remember the past, to understand it, to tame it, to make it truly ours. We need to reevaluate it, so that we may learn its lessons, and ensure that the worst errors of the past may never ever be repeated.

    We wish to live in a civilized society, renouncing barbarity and the rule of brute force. Barbarity stems from a refusal to identify with others, from blindness in recognizing the brotherhood of mankind. It thrives on excluding the Other, on branding, finger-pointing, name-calling, on blaming the Other for our own ills. Barbarity feeds on paranoid suspicions and delusions of grandeur, it wallows in sadism and the psychopathic enjoyment of power over others. Barbarity lies deep within the reptilian recoils of our human brains. We must ever be alert to maintain the civilized human being in control over the sleeping reptile. We must use training and education to help us in this task.

    In Latvia, we intend to do this through a wide variety of means. In 1994, a memorial dedicated to those killed during the Holocaust was erected by the ruins of a synagogue, which the Nazi and their collaborators incinerated on July 4th, 1941. Since 1990, this date has been officially designated as Holocaust Memorial Day in Latvia, when Latvian flags with a black ribbon are raised in front of every private and public building in the country.

    In 1998, my predecessor President Guntis Ulmanis, founded the Latvian History Commission, an international body assigned to investigate those crimes against humanity that took place on Latvian territory under both the Nazi and Soviet regimes between 1940 and 1956.

    Among its projects are:
    The translation into Latvian of a Swedish textbook on the Holocaust, Tell Ye Your Children. This in co-operation with the Embassy of Sweden in Latvia;
    The organisation of a conference on the Holocaust in the Baltic countries;
    A conference for Latvian schoolteachers on the events of the Second World War, including the Holocaust, and on teaching methodology.

    In 1999 the Latvian Ministry of Education has sent two history teachers to the Yad Vashem Centre in Israel. While the Holocaust is already taught as a subject in Latvian schools and included in elementary and high school graduation history exams, Latvia’s teachers believe its treatment should be even more thorough than it is at present.

    May I take this opportunity to congratulate the Swedish, British and US Governments for their initiative in establishing the “Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research”? I am pleased to affirm Latvia’s readiness to take part in its activities.

    At the memorial to the Holocaust in Salaspils there is an enormous symbolic gate bearing the inscription: “Behind this gate, the earth moans”. Latvian soil, slaked in innocent blood, will continue to moan forever and ever. The sacred duty of the living is to remember the dead, to honour their suffering and to reassert their dignity as human beings. We pledge ourselves to this task. We undertake to teach our children that to be truly human means to accept every other human being as your blood brother or sister. No one is to be excluded from the human race. No one can be spared. Each human life is unique, precious and irreplaceable. We must build our civilisation and our future on the firm acceptance of that sacred trust.

  19. FellowPeacekeeper —

    Thanks for the info and links. Those were just what I was looking for. When I get time (hah!) I’ll use them for a post.

  20. Thank you Dymphna…I googled as you suggested and found this site with survivor testimonies that is as moving as any holocaust survivor memorial. They need to include a memorial to the Armenian genocide near the Holocaust Museum I think.

    http://www.theforgotten.org … this is the site that affected me deeply.

  21. “Yeah, probably pretty scary if you’re a Kemalist or a supporter of Turkish state policies and you would probably do your damndest to condemn anyone involved with Armenian or Kurdish nationalism. But then, I don’t have a problem with PKK, and I didn’t have a problem with ASALA. And I didn’t have a problem with PKK/ASALA cooperation.”
    I cannot understand the logic behing these sentences, according to this i don’t have a problem with the al-kaida… but thank god i dont have the same logic with the writer of these sentences, just a couple of weeks ago PKK bombed a school bus which was carrying the soldiers’ children and you don’t have a problem with PKK.
    Second, stop talking about the history of this region with your limited knowledge. Ottoman archives have documents which shows the order of the abdulhamit about the protection of armenians. Turks do not deny exiles and killings of armenians by some of the turkish and kurdish mobs, but we deny the idea of a systematic killing. At that time Ottoman was falling apart, it is natural that there were clashes(after armenians greeks also started to use the genocide cliche) between the “millet”s of an old multi-national empire, my grandfather lost his father and uncle to the bulgarians without a trial, his family fled to Turkey after that, also nobody is talking about the crimea turks who were exiled to siberia, too. Even Armenian writers in Turkey state that it wasnt a genocide, but all the world who doesnt know shit is jumping on the topic with their racist and anti-islamist insticts, i already believe that it is very important to research the armenian exiles and killings, but thanks to the western world who used this for their political benefit, it is losing its importance and believability.

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