Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Turkey Interferes in Lawsuit Against German Banks on Genocide Assets

Defying all acceptable legal norms, Turkey's ambassador to the U.S.,
Nabi Sensoy, recently sent a highly inappropriate letter to U.S.
District Judge Margaret M. Morrow (Federal Court), asking her to
dismiss a lawsuit by Armenian plaintiffs against the German Deutsche
Bank and Dresdner Bank. A copy of this previously undisclosed letter
was obtained by this writer.In a class action lawsuit, filed by
Yeghiayan & Associates; Kabateck, Brown, Kellner, and Geragos &
Geragos, Armenian plaintiffs had accused the two German banks of
concealing and preventing the recovery of assets which were deposited
by Armenians in these banks "prior to World War I and the Armenian
Genocide." The plaintiffs had further alleged that the banks
"accepted looted assets,forcibly taken by the government of the
Ottoman Turkey during World War I andthe Armenian Genocide."
Ever since the filing of this lawsuit in 2004 (amended in 2006),
these German banks have done everything possible to have it
dismissed. They have challenged the constitutionality of the law
passed by the California Legislature which extended the Statute
of Limitations and created standing for plaintiffs to sue the
German banks and other institutions until 2016. In their attempt
to counter the charge that they are the beneficiaries of ill-gotten
gains, theGerman banks, through their legal counsel, Milbank,
Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, have claimed that the California law
"is an unconstitutional encroachment on the federal government's
exclusive power over foreign affairs."

It now appears that in order to back up their claim, the German
banks have succeeded in getting Turkey to instruct its ambassador
to the U.S. to send a letter to the Judge Morrow telling her that
the District Court is interfering in a matter involving U.S.
-Turkish relations. This modern-day German-Turkish collaboration
reminds one of the alliance forged some 90 years ago between the
German and Turkish governments during the Armenian Genocide. By
reviving this unholy union, the German banks hope to keep their
"loot," while the Turkish government can continue to cover up
the genocide and attemptto preempt anyfuture claims against
Turkey itself.

However, the German banks and the Turkish government apparently
were oblivious to the fact that by writing a letter directly to
the Federal Judge, the Turkish ambassador was interfering in a
judicial process to which the Turkish side is not a legal party.

It is noteworthy that the Turkish Ambassador's letter, dated
February 23-2007, came on the heels of Foreign Minister Abdullah
Gul's latest visit to Washington, leading one to speculate that
the Ambassador may have been pressured into this improper act by
his political superiors, possibly against the advice of his
American attorneys. It is noteworthy that, during the court
hearing on February 27, 2007, the German banks' attorney
disclosed that David Saltzman, the attorney for the Turkish
Embassy, had been in close communication with him for several
years since the lawsuit was first filed.

In his letter to Judge Morrow, Amb. Sensoy wrote: "I am deeply
concerned that the plaintiffs have asked you to sit in judgment
on Turkey's sovereign acts carried out within its territory,
from which I would request that you refrain. Specifically, the
plaintiffs have made allegations that require this court to
delve into whether there was a governmental plan to commit
crimes against Armenians living in the late Ottoman Empire,
including the looting of property. The plaintiffs have made
clear that they wish their allegations to span the demise of
the Ottoman Empire and carry over into modern Turkey. For
example, the plaintiffs allege that the Armenian tragedy
extended from 1915 to 1923, insinuating that any wrongful
acts that contributed to it are not only the responsibility
of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor state, but also its
successor, Republic of Turkey, which was founded in 1923."

The Turkish ambassador then unabashedly offered the Judge his
embassy's services as an unimpeachable source for documentation
on the Armenian Genocide! "My embassy places itself at your
disposal to provide references to scholarly works that disagree
with the current orthodoxy that the Armenian tragedy ought to be
termed genocide," the letter said.

Amb. Sensoy then chastised Judge Morrow by instructing her that
her "use of the term 'Armenian Genocide,' is inappropriate."
He said he was unhappy that in her September 11 opinion, the
Judge had made a reference to the "Historical Background of the
Armenian Genocide." He also accused the Judge of "being an
advocate of one side in a genuine historic controversy=80¦."

In response to this unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of
the court, the attorneys for the Armenian side -- the plaintiffs
-- filed an affidavit with the court on March 7, 2007, that
stated: "The letter from the Turkish Ambassador is replete with
inaccuracies and erroneous suppositions=80¦. The Republic of
Turkey is not a party to this lawsuit, nor has it appeared in any
capacity in such a way to allow it any voice in this process=80¦.
There is no legal justification for this Court to consider any
position presented by the Republic of Turkey in this case.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs recommend that the Court disregard the
Turkish Ambassador's letter."

On the other hand, the attorneys for the German banks -- the
defendants - claimed in their affidavit that the Turkish
ambassador's letter was "relevant evidence." Not surprisingly,
the defendants used that letter to buttress their allegation
that the lawsuit could have to "negative implications" on U.S.
relations with Turkey. They claimed that the Turkish ambassador's
letter demonstrates that the court's consideration of "the degree
of Turkey's culpability for its treatment of Armenians during the
WWI period implicate[s] sensitive foreign policy concerns between
the United States and Turkey even to this date."

While the Turkish government's intent in sending such a letter
to the Judge may have been to defend its interests, it may
actually result in the following unintended and detrimental
consequences for Turkey:

1) The Ambassador's unwarranted interference in the affairs of
a U.S. Federal Court could result in the Judge not only rejecting
his unsolicited intervention but also negatively disposing her
towards the German banks fortheirpossible role in orchestrating
that letter;

2) Should the judge reject the letter, her ruling would imply
that a straightforward case of seeking the return of Armenian
assets held by German banks, would become, as the Turkish
ambassador himself stated, a legal case with far reaching
consequences for the Turkish side, including the reaffirmation
of the Armenian Genocide by a U.S. Federal Court and holding
today's Republic of Turkey responsible for the losses suffered
by genocide victims.

Once again, by its emotional over-reaction to all issues dealing
with the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish government may have shot
itself in the foot!


- ARMENIANS TODAY. The rich library of Melkonian Seminary (Cyprus) which has about 25 thousand books, as well as collections of the 20th century Diasporan Armenian periodical press, books published in the 19th century, will be moved into the library of Cyprus University and be open to the public. According to "Marmara", Vartkes Mahdessian, deputy of Armenian descent of the parliament of Greek Cyprus, reached such an agreement with the management of Cyprus University. V. Mahdessian sent a letter to Berch Sedrakian, Chairman of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), informing him that the university heads promised to keep the library with care and will be prepared to return it to Armenians when requested. The deputy urged the AGBU Chairman to take care of this valuable library.

Friday, 23 March 2007


When has any publisher ever tried to avoid publicity for his book?

Stand by for a quotation to take your breath away. It's from a
letter from my Istanbul publishers, who are chickening out of
publishing the Turkish-language edition of my book The Great
War for Civilisation. The reason, of course, is a chapter
entitled "The First Holocaust", which records the genocide of
one and a half million Armenians by Nthe Ottoman Turks in 1915,
a crime against humanity that even Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara
tried to hide by initially refusing to invite Armenian survivors
to his Holocaust Day in London.

It is, I hasten to add, only one chapter in my book about the
Middle East, but the fears of my Turkish friends were being
expressed even before the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink
was so cruelly murdered outside his Istanbul office in January.
And when you read the following, from their message to my London
publishers Harper Collins, remember it is written by the citizen
of a country that seriouslywishes to enter the European Community.
Since I do not speak Turkish, I am in no position to criticise
the occasional lapses in Mr Osman's otherwise excellent English.

"We would like to denote that the political situation in Turkey
concerning several issues such as Armenian and Kurdish Problems,
Cyprus issue, European Union etc do not improve, conversely
getting worser and worser due to the escalating nationalist
upheaval that has reached its apex with the Nobel Prize of Orhan
Pamuk and the political disagreements with the EU. Most probably,
this political atmosphere will be effective until the coming
presidency elections of April 2007... Therefore we would like to
undertake the publication quietly, which means there will be no
press campaign for Mr Fisk's book. Thus, our request from [for]
Mr Fisk is to show his support to us if any trial [is] ...
held against his book. We hope that Mr Fisk and Harper Collins
can understand our reservations."

Well indeedydoody, I can. Here is a publisher in a country
negotiating for EU membership for whom Armenian history, the
Kurds, Cyprus(unmentioned in my book) - even Turkey's bid to
join the EU, for heaven's sake - is reason enough to try to
sneak my book out in silence. When in the history of bookselling,
I ask myself, has any publisher tried to avoid publicity for his
book? Well, I can give you an example. When Taner Akcam's
magnificent A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the
Question of Turkish Responsibility was first published in
Turkish -it uses Ottoman Turkish state documents and contemporary
Turkish statements to prove that the genocide was a terrifying
historical fact - the Turkish historian experienced an almost
identical reaction. His work was published "quietly" in Turkey-
and without a single book review.

Now I'm not entirely unsympathetic with my Turkish publishers.
It is one thing for me to rage and roar about their pusillanimity.
But I live in Beirut, not in Istanbul. And after Hrant Dink's foul
murder, I'm in no position to lecture my colleagues in Turkey to
stand up to the racism that killed Dink.

While I'm sipping my morning coffee on the Beirut Corniche,
Mr Osman could be assaulted in the former capital of the Ottoman
empire. But there's a problem nonetheless.

Some months earlier, my Turkish publishers said that their lawyers
thought that the notorious Law 301 would be brought against them -
it is used to punish writers for being "unTurkish" - in which case
they wanted to know if I, as a foreigner (who cannot be charged under
301), would apply to the court to stand trial with them. I wrote that
I would be honoured to stand in a Turkish court and talk about the
genocide. Now, it seems, my Turkish publishers want to bring my
book out like illicit pornography - but still have me standing with
them in the dock if right-wing lawyers bring charges under 301!

I understand, as they write in their own letter, that they do not want
to have to take political sides in the "nonsensical collision between
nationalists and neo-liberals", but I fear that the roots of this
problem go deeper than this. The sinister photograph of the Turkish
police guards standing proudly next to Dink's alleged murderer after
his arrest shows just what we are up against here. Yet still our own
Western reporters won't come clean about the Ottoman empire's foul
actions in 1915. When, for example, Reuters sent a reporter, Gareth
Jones, off to the Turkish city of Trabzon - where Dink's supposed
killer lived - he quoted the city's governor as saying that Dink's
murder was related to "social problems linked to fast urbanisation".
A "strong gun culture and the fiery character of the people" might
be to blame.

Ho hum. I wonder why Reuters didn't mention a much more direct
and terrible link between Trabzon and the Armenians. For in 1915,
the Turkish authorities of the city herded thousands of Armenian
women and children on to boats, set off into the Black Sea - the
details are contained in an original Ottoman document unearthed by
Akcam - "and thrown off to drown". Historians may like to know that
the man in charge of these murder boats was called Niyazi Effendi.

No doubt he had a "fiery character".

Yet still this denial goes on. The Associated Press this week ran
a story from Ankara in which its reporter, Selcan Hacaoglu,
repeated the same old mantra about there being a "bitter dispute"
between Armenia and Turkey over the 1915 slaughter, in which
Turkey "vehemently denies that the killings were genocide". When
will the Associated Press wake up and cut this cowardly nonsense
from its reports? Would the AP insert in all its references to the
equally real and horrific murder of six million European Jews that
right-wing Holocaust negationists "vehemently deny" that there
was a genocide? No, they would not.

But real history will win. Last October, according to local
newspaper reports, villagers of Kuru in eastern Turkey were digging
a grave for one of their relatives when they came across a cave
containing the skulls and bones of around 40 people - almost
certainly the remains of 150 Armenians from the town of Oguz who
were murdered in Kuru on 14 June 1915. The local Turkish
gendarmerie turned up to examine the cave last year, sealed its
entrance and ordered villagers not to speak of what they found. But
there are hundreds of other Kurus in Turkey and their bones, too,
will return to haunt us all. Publishing books "quietly" will not save us.

Attempts to intimidate a Turk who speaks out about the Genocide.

A shameful campaign

For many who challenge their government's official version of events, slander, e-mailed threats, and other forms of harassment are all too familiar. As a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in Turkey, I should not have been surprised. But 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, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.
At the invitation of the McGill University Faculty of Law and Concordia University, I flew from Minneapolis to Montreal on Friday, February 16, to lecture on A Shameful Act. As the Northwest Airlines jet touched down at Trudeau International Airport about 11:20 a.m., I assumed I had plenty of time to get to campus for the 5:00 p.m. event. Nearly four hours later, I was still at the airport, detained without any explanation.
"Where are you going? Where are you staying? How many days are you staying here?" asked the courteous officer from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. "Do you have a return ticket? Do you have enough money with you?"
As the border control authorities were surely aware, I travel frequently to Canada: three or four trips a year since 2000, most recently with my daughter in October 2006, just before the publication of A Shameful Act. Not once in all that time had I been singled out for interrogation.
"I'm not sure myself why you need to be detained," the officer finally admitted. "After making some phone calls, I'll let you know."
While he was gone, my cell phone rang. The friend who had arranged to pick me up at the airport had gotten worried when I failed to emerge from Customs. I explained the situation as well as I could, asking him to inform my hosts, the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill and the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia, that I might be late for the lecture. The Zoryan Institute and the Armenian Students' Associations of Montreal, co-presenters of the event, would also need to be updated.
The immigration officer returned with a strange request: could I help him figure out why I was being detained? You're the one detaining me, I was tempted to say. If you don't know the reason, how do you expect me to know? You tell me. It was like a scene from Atom Egoyan's Ararat. I knew better than to challenge him, giving the impression that I had something to hide.
"Let me guess," I answered. "Do you know who Hrant Dink was? Did you hear about the Armenian journalist who was killed in Istanbul?" He hadn't.
"I'm a historian," I explained. "I work on the subject of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. There's a very heavy campaign being waged by extreme nationalist and fascist forces in Turkey against those individuals who are critical of the events that occurred in 1915. Hrant Dink was killed because of it. The lives of people like me are in danger because of it. Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's Nobel Laureate, couldn't tolerate the attacks against him and had to leave the country. Many intellectuals in Turkey are now living under police protection." The officer took notes.
"In connection with these attacks there has been a serious campaign against me in the U.S.," I went on. "I know that the groups running this campaign are given directives and are controlled by the Turkish diplomats. They spread propaganda stating that I am a member of a terrorist organization. Some rumors to that effect must have reached you." The officer continued to write.
"For your information, in 1976, while I was a master's degree student and teaching assistant at Middle East Technical University, I was arrested for articles I had written in a journal and sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison. I later escaped to Germany, where I became a citizen. The Turkish criminal statute that was the basis for my prosecution, together with similar laws, was repealed in 1991. I travel to Turkey freely now and went there most recently for Hrant Dink's funeral."
The officer finished his notes. "I'm sorry, but I have to make some more phone calls," he said, and left.
My cell phone rang again. It was McGill legal scholar Payam Akhavan, an authority on human rights and genocide, who was to have introduced my lecture. Apologizing for my situation, Prof. Akhavan let me know that he had contacted the offices of Canadian Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney. Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, also called to confirm that he too had been in touch with Secretary Kenney's office. I was going to be released.
About 3:30 p.m. the officer returned with a special one-week visa. Upon my insistence that I had a right to know exactly why I had been detained, he showed me a sheet of paper with my photograph on top and a short block of text, in English, below.
I recognized the page at once. The photo was a still from the 2005 documentary Armenian Genocide: 90 Years Later, a co-production of the University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Twin Cities Public Television. A series of outtakes from the film, originally posted on the CHGS website, could be found on the popular Internet video site YouTube and elsewhere in cyberspace. The still photo and the text beneath it comprised my biography in the English-language edition of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia which anyone in the world can modify at any time. For the last year - most recently on Christmas Eve, 2006 - my Wikipedia biography had been persistently vandalized by anonymous "contributors" intent on labeling me as a terrorist. The same allegations had been repeatedly scrawled, like gangland graffiti, as "customer reviews" of A Shameful Act and my other books at Amazon.com.
It was unlikely, to say the least, that a Canadian immigration officer found out that I was coming to Montreal, took the sole initiative to research my identity on the Internet, discovered the archived Christmas Eve version of my Wikipedia biography, printed it out seven weeks later on February 16, and showed it to me - voilà! - as a result.
The fact is that my upcoming lecture had been publicized well in advance in the Canadian print and broadcast media. An announcement had even been inserted in Wikipedia five days before my arrival. Moreover, two Turkish-American websites hostile to my work - the 500-page Tall Armenian Tale, and the 19,000-member Turkish Forum listserv - had been hinting for months that my "terrorist" activities ought to be of interest to American immigration authorities. It seemed far more likely that one or more individuals had seized the opportunity to denounce me to the Canadians. Although I was forced to cancel two radio interviews, I made it to the McGill campus in time to lecture on A Shameful Act.

On Sunday, February 18, before boarding my return flight to Minneapolis, I was detained for another hour. It was obvious that the American customs and border authorities knew what had happened at the adjacent offices on the Canadian side. "Mr. Akçam," I was gently advised, "if you don't retain an attorney and correct this issue, every entry and exit from the country is going to be problematic. We recommend that you do not travel in the meantime and that you try to get this information removed from your customs dossier."
The well-meaning American customs official could hardly have known the extent of the problem. Wikipedia and Amazon are but two examples. Allegations against me, posted mainly by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), Turkish Forum, and Tall Armenian Tale, have been copy-pasted and recycled in innumerable websites and e-groups ever since I arrived in America. By now, for example, my name in close proximity to the English word "terrorist" turns up in well over 10,000 web pages.
The first salvo in this campaign came in response to the English translation of my essay, "The Genocide of the Armenians and the Silence of the Turks." In a sensational March 19, 2001, commentary from the ATAA Turkish Times ("From Terrorism to Armenian Propagandist: The Taner Akçam Story"), one Mustafa Artun introduced me to Turkish-Americans as a mastermind of terrorist violence, including the assassinations of American and NATO military personnel.
Among the next salvos was an announcement from Turkish Forum: "For the attention of friends in Minnesota.... Taner Akçam has started working in America.... It is expected that the conferences about so-called Genocide will increase in and around Minnesota. Please follow the Armenian (Taner Akçam's) activities very closely." My contact information at home and at work was conveniently provided "in case people would like to send their 'greetings' to this traitor." Soon enough, harassing e-mails were sent anonymously to my employer, the University of Minnesota, and to me personally.
With the publication of A Shameful Act, the circle began to close in. On November 1, 2006, the City University of New York Center for the Humanities organized a gathering at the CUNY Graduate Center to introduce my book. Before I rose to speak, unauthorized leaflets bearing an assault rifle, skull, and the communist hammer and sickle were distributed in the hall. In rhetoric obviously inspired by Mustafa Artun's commentary, I was labeled as a "former terrorist leader" and a fanatic enemy of America who had organized "attacks against the United States" and was "responsible for the death of American citizens."
As soon as I finished my lecture, a pack of some 15 to 20 individuals, who had strategically positioned themselves in small groups throughout the hall, tried to break up the meeting. Brandishing pictures of corpses (either Muslims killed by revenge-seeking Armenians in 1919 or Kurdish victims of Iraqi gas attacks on the town of Halabja in 1988), they loudly demanded to know why I had not lectured on the deaths of "a million Muslims."
Shouting and swearing in Turkish and English, they completely disrupted the discussion in the lecture hall and the book-signing session nearby. I was verbally assaulted as a "terrorist-communist" and lashed with the vilest Turkish profanities. Two individuals dogged my footsteps from the podium to the elevator doors, howling, "We are the soldiers of Alparslan Türkes!" (A Turkish politician who was arrested in 1944 for spreading Nazi propaganda, Türkes later founded the Nationalist Movement Party.) The security guards surrounding me had to intervene when I was physically attacked.
A month later, on December 4, I was scheduled to speak at another New York event, a symposium at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law on "Denying Genocide: Law, Identity and Historical Memory in the Face of Mass Atrocity." As if to illustrate this very theme, a 4,400-word letter was sent to the law school dean and faculty three weeks in advance, urging the cancellation of the symposium and labeling me as "a propagandistic tool of the Armenians."
The Turkish Forum mobilized an e-mail campaign against the "Taner Akcam conference." Members were also urged to attend the symposium and a "pre-meeting for Turks," coordinated by Ibrahim Kurtulus.
I forwarded this information to the event organizers with a request that appropriate precautions be taken. Yeshiva was concerned. An organizer who had attended the CUNY gathering on November 1 assured me that security would be increased.
As a pre-emptive step, the event committee informed the Turkish Consulate that the law school symposium was intended to be general in scope, comparative and scholarly in approach, and not focused on either Taner Akçam or Turkey. They made it clear that any disruption similar to the CUNY incident would not put Turkey in a favorable light. A Turkish consular official disavowed any government involvement in the disruption at CUNY, which he attributed to "the actions of civilians" in grassroots organizations. There was nothing the Consulate could do about them, he said. The organizers stressed that they intended to take extra security precautions and that the Consulate ought to think hard about what would happen if the symposium was invaded and its participants attacked.
Just one day before the symposium there was another phone conversation between the Turkish consular official and the organizers. He assured them that no disruption would take place and only two or three Turkish representatives would attend.
The government kept its word. The symposium was peaceful and no leaflets were distributed. The Turkish consular official attended with ATAA President-elect Gunay Evinch, both of whom were scrupulously polite. It was as though three intense weeks of mobilization had never happened.
For many Turkish intellectuals, freedom of speech has become a struggle in North America as well as in our native country. What is happening to me now could happen to any scholar who dissents from the official state version of history.
Since my return from Montreal, the Canadian immigration authorities have refused to say exactly why I was detained. As a result, I am unable to face my accusers or examine whatever "evidence" may be filed against me. Although I have formally requested access both to my Canadian and American dossiers - a process that could take months - I have had to cancel all international appearances. Meanwhile, my Wikipedia biography and Amazon book pages remain open to malicious insertions at any time.
Nevertheless, my American book tour continues under tightened security. Although it is stressful and very sad to have to lecture under police protection, I have no intention of canceling any of my domestic appearances. After all, the United States is not the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish authorities whether directly or through their grassroots agents have no right to harass scholars exercising their academic freedom of speech at American universities. Throughout my life I have learned in unforgettable ways the worth of such freedom, and I intend to use it at every opportunity.

Bush Presses Congress To Block Armenian Genocide Bill

Can this be Turkish Thuggery in operation?

A senior U.S. State Department issued a forceful appeal Thursday
for Congress to reject a proposed resolution defining as genocide
the mass killings of Armenians in the closing days of the
Ottoman Empire.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said Turkish officials
have informed the United States that approval of the resolution
could lead to shutdown of the U.S. base at Incirlik or a restric-
tion on U.S. overflight rights granted by Turkey.

Fried said the United States also has been informed that the
Turkish Parliament would respond with "extreme emotion" if the
Armenian resolution were approved. He added that such a step would
undercut voices in Turkey calling for a "truthful exploration of
these events in pursuit of Turkey's reconciliation with its own
past and with Armenia."

Fried testified before a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcom-
mittee on Europe. He highlighted what he said were growing calls in
Turkey for changes to Article 301 of the Turkish Constitution, which
criminalizes "insulting Turkishness."

The resolution, Fried said, runs counter to the views of the
60,000-70,000 Turkish-Armenian community which, he added, has
been warning that the measure would "raise popular emotions so
dramatically as to threaten their personal security." He also said
the U.S. fear is that "passage of any such resolution would close
minds and harden hearts."

In joint identical letters to the speaker of the House of
Representatives and two other senior members, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the
resolution also could inflict significant damage on U.S. efforts
to reconcile the long-standing dispute between the West Asian
neighbors. The appeals went to Democratic House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi; Rep. John Boehner, leader of the House's Republican
minority; and Rep. Tom Lantos, the Democrat who chairs the
House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of one of the letters
Wednesday. It was dated March 7, two days after Armenian
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian was in Washington to visit
Rice and said afterward that "Turkish lobbying at a government
level" threatened to scuttle the resolution.

A Democratic aide said Pelosi, who controls the House agenda,
has no plan to bring the proposal before the House soon. The
aide spoke anonymously because final plans have not been approved.

A congressional staff aide, also speaking without attribution,
said it is understood that Lantos, whose committee would deal
with the resolution, was awaiting word from Pelosi. Both the
speaker and Lantos have been supporters of the legislation.
The bipartisan resolution was introduced on January 30.

Passage of the resolution would harm "U.S. efforts to promote
reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and to advance reco-
nition by Turkey of the tragic events that occurred to ethnic
Armenians under the Ottoman Empire," the letters said. They
said the United States is encouraging "our friends in Turkey
to re-examine their past with honesty and to reconcile with
Armenia, as well as security and stability in the broader
Middle East and Europe."

Rice and Gates reminded the lawmakers of repercussions from
a vote in the French National Assembly last October to
criminalize denial of Armenian genocide. "The Turkish military
cut all contacts with the French military and terminated defense
contracts under negotiation," the letters said.

Similar reaction against passage of the House resolution
"could harm American troops in the field, constrain our ability
to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and significantly
damage our efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and
Turkey at a key turning point in their relations."

Turkey has NATO's second-largest army. The U.S. Air Force has a
major base in southern Turkey near Iraq, which it has used for
operations inthe Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Between the Persian
Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq war, warplanes from Incirlik Air
Base enforced a flight ban in Northern Iraq against the Iraqi
air force.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the family of slain Turkish-Armenian
journalist Hrant Dink on Thursday filed a motion for a judicial
probe into officials they accused of being implicated in the murder.

"We submitted to the prosecutor a request for a (judicial) inves-
tigation against all public officials already facing administrative
charges in connection with the case," Lawyer Bahri Bayram Belen told
reporters in Istanbul. "We believe it will not be possible to shed
light on this political assassination if all the blame is put on a few
children from poor families," he added.

The January 19 murder of the editor of the Turkish-Armenian weekly
Agos is the work of a "well-structured organization... that aims to
prevent democracy from functioning in Turkey," Belen said.

Police have so far arrested 11 suspects in connection with the
killing, including Ogun Samast, an unemployed 17-year-old a high
school dropout who, officials say, has confessed to gunning down
Dink, 52, outside the Agos offices in Istanbul. Most of the suspects
are from the Black Sea city of Trabzon -- a bastion of nationalism --
and are believed to be close to ultranationalist groups who hated
Dink for his views on the World War I killings of Armenians under
Ottoman rule.

Dink described the 1915-1918 killings as genocide, a label that
Turkey, the Ottoman Empire's successor, categorically rejects. I
nterior ministry inspectors are currently looking into allegations
that Istanbul police received a tip-off last year about a plot to
kill Dink being organized in Trabzon, but did not follow up.

Showing a copy of a note from Trabzon police informing their
colleagues in Istanbul of a plot to murder Dink, lawyer Fethiye
Cetin said 17 similar messages in all had been sent to the Istanbul
police. "These prove that it was not negligence or forgetfulness,
but the conscious participation of the authorities in this crime,"
she said.

A preliminary investigation has been launched against Istanbul
police chief Celalettin Cerrah and another senior officer on charges
that they failed to act on the intelligence received from Trabzon.
Another investigation is under way against Trabzon's governor and
police chief, already removed from office amid accusations that they
failed to seriously investigate groups of ultra-nationalist youths
in the city.

Thursday, 15 March 2007


I read it in Fatih Altaylý's column in Sabah daily yesterday.

Turkish History Institute (TTK) President Yusuf Halacoðlu was
supposed meet with Ara Sarafyan, the author of Blue Book,
which is seen as one of the most important documents backing
Armenian claims.

Both sides were supposed to produce various documents to
argue their case, the first such meeting.

I was very excited about it.

Armenians usually don't participate in such meetings.
"The whole world accepts the genocide. Why should we open
a case over something already accepted," they usually asked.
Sarafyan was very important in this respect. His visit was
supposed to provide a huge boost to Turkey's call for
historians focusing on the matter, discussing and
debating it.

Suddenly, we were all told the meeting was cancelled.
Professor Halacoðlu held a press conference and said Sarafyan
had cancelled the trip, presenting an article in weekly AGOS
that said the Armeniandiaspora was furious about Sarafyan's
trip. That was the reason of cancellation, he said.

Now we learn from Altaylý that the real reason why the
meeting was cancelled was very different. It appears Halacoðlu
refused to open the archives without limits and objected to
presenting certain documents.

What was this all about?

If you were not going to show the documents, why would you
ask for a meeting? Why do you organize such a meeting before
agreeing on the conditions of opening of the archives? Why do
you initiate a process you cannot go take to the finish?

Turkey is already on the defensive on this issue and this
latest development means another point scored against us. No
one will ever believe Turkey when it proposes to open the
archives and share allthe documents so that historians can
discuss the matter.


WASHINGTON: The U.S. secretaries of state and defense contend
that the security of the United States is at risk from proposed
legislation that would declare up to 1.5 million Armenians
victims of a genocide on Turkish soil almost a century ago.

In joint identical letters to the speaker of the House of
Representatives and two other senior members, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the
resolution also could inflict significant damage on U.S. efforts
to reconcilethe long-standing dispute between the
West Asian neighbours.

The appeals went to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Rep.
John Boehner, leader of the House's Republican minority; and Rep.
Tom Lantos, the Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs

The Associated Press obtained a copy of one of the letters

It was dated March 7, two days after Armenian Foreign
Minister VardanOskanian was in Washington to visit Rice and
said afterward that "Turkish lobbying at a government level"
threatened to scuttle there solution.

A Democratic aide said Pelosi, who controls the House agenda,
has no plan to bring the proposal before the House soon.
The aide spokeanonymously because final plans have not
been approved.

A congressional staff aide, also speaking without attribution,
said it is understood that Lantos, whose committee would deal
with the resolution, was awaiting word from Pelosi. Both the
speaker and Lantos have been supporters of the legislation.

The dispute involves the deaths of hundreds of thousands of
Armenians during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, the
predecessor of the Turkish state. Armenian advocates contend
they died in an organized genocide; the Turks say they were
victims of widespread chaos and governmental breakdown as
the 600-year-old empire collapsed in the years before Turkey
was born in 1923.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced on Jan. 30.

Passage of the resolution would harm "U.S. efforts to promote
reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and to advance
recognition by Turkey of the tragic events that occurred to
ethnic Armenians under the Ottoman Empire," the letters said.

They said the United States is encouraging "our friends in
Turkey to re-examine their past with honesty and to reconcile
with Armenia, as well as security and stability in the broader
Middle East and Europe."

Rice and Gates reminded the lawmakers of repercussions from a
vote in the French National Assembly last October to criminalize
denial of Armenian genocide. "The Turkish military cut all
contacts with the French military and terminated defense
contracts under negotiation, "the letters said.

Similar reaction against passage of the House resolution
"could harm American troops in the field, constrain our ability
to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and significantly
damage our efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia
and Turkey at a key turning point in their relations."

Turkey has NATO's second-largest army. The U.S. Air Force has
a major base in southern Turkey near Iraq, which it has used
for operations in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Between the
Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq war, warplanes from
Incirlik Air Base enforced a flight ban in Northern Iraq
against the Iraqi air force.

Israel Parliament Rejects Armenian Genocide Bill

Israel's parliament on Wednesday 14th March 2007, rejected a
motion recognizing the Turkish mass killings of Armenians
dating back to 1915 as a genocide.

"Stop ignoring and rejecting the catastrophe of another people,
"MP Haim Oron, who submitted the motion, told the plenum before
the vote.

"We refuse to accept the turning of a blind eye to the Armenian
genocide," the opposition left-wing Meretz party MP said.
"We owe this vote not only to the Armenian people, we owe it
to ourselves, especially in a period where we are struggling
to prolong the memory"of the Nazi Holocaust of six million Jews
during World War II.

The motion was nevertheless rejected by parliament in a vote
of 16 against 12, with a low turnout by MPs. It would have
needed a second ratification if it had passed.

The issue of the Armenian massacre has been raised several
times in the past in Israel's Knesset, but there has never
been an implicit vote branding it as genocide. If approved,
Israel would have joined a growing list of countries which
have recognized the killings as genocide. It would have
marked April 24,the day when the massacres started in 1915,
as Armenian genocide memorial day.

Israel has close diplomatic ties with Turkey -- one of the
few Muslim countries with which it has relations -- and has
in the past steered clear of the recognition issue.

Oron told AFP he had been under heavy pressure from Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office and the foreign ministry
to withdraw his motion. "I have been under a lot of pressure,
but that is something any MP must face," Oron said. "Turkey
has been exerting its pressure everywhere.This is their right.
But they can not set the agenda of the Israeli parliament."

Government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said that Israel "did not
intend to place itself at the forefront of this issue, which
is being handled by the international community."

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Republic Of Armenia - Foreign Minister address to UN Human Rights Council

Information Desk
Tel: (374-10) 52-35-31
Email: information@armeniaForeignMinistry.com
Web: http://www.ArmeniaForeignMinistry.am
Statement of H.E. Vartan Oskanian

In this first year of this new Council, together with the human
Rights community, we have been refining the processes that
will empower this body in order for it to meet our shared high
expectations. The expectations of this Council were high at
the outset. They would have remained high, even if the world
were not embroiled in destructive explosive conflicts. It is
no surprise that at the heart of most of those conflicts,
lies an absence of a respect for basic human rights.

Our collective responsibility is to those individuals and groups,
those millions represented through their governments here,
as well as to those whose voices remain muted. They are not
interested in our debates, they know little about the nuance
and the detail, but our seriousness and sincerity will be
judged either by their trust and confidence or by their
cynicism and disdain.

With this realization, the strengths of the Commission on Human
Rights drove the need for an even more powerful body. The
limitations of that Commission compelled the creation of a more
effective structure with broader reach. The Universal Periodic
Review process, if it lives up to its name, holds the promise
of the impartiality and inclusiveness we seek and require, in
order for the process to transform itself from a means to an
end - from a way of investigating the human rights environment
to enabling an environment where there are human rights.

Our objective is a world where the rights of individuals and
groups are respected, where each neighborhood and each community,
each city and country, each region and continent, are safe havens
for all who live or travel there. Religion does tear people apart,
as do economic disparities,language and ideology. But the
frustrating and fascinating contradiction is that faith has also
bound people together, prosperity has been a common goal,language
and ideology have been shared.

Mr.President, this universal truism is also true in our region.
Unfortunately, the human rights record in our whole region
during the past fifteen years is nothing to be envied; it is a
case study in how human rights abuses lead to conflict and how
conflicts heighten human rights abuses. From pogroms to ethnic
cleansing, from destruction of spiritual markers to vilification
of ethnic groups, we have lived through the worst that man can
do to man. It is no wonder that the region has been mired
inconflict since the first days of independence. As we search
for ways to build a peace atop this pain and destruction,
however, it is clear that solutions can only be found through
the genuine and universal acceptance and application of basic,
fundamental individual and collective human rights. There is
the formula for peace: The violation of human rights brought
us to this quagmire; the respect for human rights will
get us out.

Indeed it is an entangled web of human rights abuses of varied
scope, nature and depth that has brought our region to this
situation. First,there is the total disrespect of the cultural
values of other people. When a government intentionally plans
and executes the destruction of centuries-old monuments of
profound cultural, artistic and religious significance, that
government has violated the spirits of the dead and the trust
of the living. Five thousand Armenian monuments have been
destroyed by the Azerbaijani government in the region of
Nakhichevan in the past few years, simply to eliminate the
trace of a whole nation from that territory.

Second, there is the violation of the right of people to
self-determination. In the waning days of the USSR, the people
of Nagorno Karabakh opted for self-determination. The
Azerbaijani authorities decided to attack their own citizens
to suppress those calls. And by doing so, they lost the
political and moral right to govern people they considered
their own citizens.

Third, there are the negative consequences of the double
denialism of the Turkish government. The denial of the right
of their own people to freely discuss and debate their common
past with Armenians, and the denial to both Armenians and
Turks to forge a common future, by keeping borders closed.
Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist who fell victim
to an assassin's bullet, was the embodiment of both Turkishness
and Armenianness. Hrant Dink had two missions in his life - to
break all taboos within his own society, Turkish society, and to
forge a dialog between Turks and Armenians to reach
understanding and reconciliation.

Indeed, that's exactly what we want today. There needs to be
an open society within Turkey so that their people can, without
the fear of persecution, freely debate the past, and there has to
be an open border between us so that our two peoples can
interact and engage. Only in this way can we transcend our
differences and reconcile.

Now, Mr. President, a word about our own commitment to human
rights and democracy. In this, our 16th year of independence,
our people will be going to the polls to elect a parliament
whose powers the people chose toenhance, to invest them with
broad authorities for social and economic advances. The task
of our next government is clear: to stay the course and more
aggressively promote human rights, alleviate poverty and
build effective governing institutions, to enable our society
to embrace democracy individually and collectively.

But the cruelties inherent in the process of massive economic
readjustment that we have been undergoing have led to a sense
of powerlessness on the part of ordinary citizens. As a
consequence, they are cynical about the value of expressing
their voice. This means we must work harder to strengthen
democratic institutions and processes, including elections,
because they are not just ends. They are also means to
creating the necessary political and economic environment
which lead to distributed growth and dignified development.

Finally Mr. President, this Council and each of us, its
members, have a responsibility to promote the human rights
we hold so dear in the world, in our regions and in our own
societies. There is nothing new in this formula. Our
challenge is to commit to it and make it work.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

No joint study with Turkish state historian Ara Sarafian

In press releases that have been picked up by the Turkish media,
historian Ara Sarafian (Gomidas Institute UK) and Yusuf Halaçoglu,
the head of the official Turkish Historical Society, have been
negotiating a joint study on the events of 1915. (See "A joint
Armenian-Turkish study on the Genocide is proposed - but will it
go forward?," by Chris Zakian, Armenian Reporter, March 3).
On March 8, we asked Mr. Sarafianabout the status of the affair.

ARMENIAN REPORTER: Is there a joint study going on between
Ara Sarafian or the Gomidas Institute and Yusuf Halaçoglu,
the headof the Turkish Historical Society?

ARA SARAFIAN: No, there is no joint study going on.

Q: As I understand it, Mr. Halaçoglu proposed a collaborative study.
You responded by proposing a public, transparent exchange of key
documents as a first step. Mr. Halaçoglu responded that the
documents you want do not exist. Is that the situation in a nutshell?

A: Yes, that is correct.

Q: Please describe the documents you asked for.

A: The documents I asked for are linked to the ostensible deportation
of Armenians in 1915. According to Turkish historians arguing the
official Turkish thesis, Armenians were deported in 1915 according to
two key set of regulations. One concerned the systematic deportation
of people, and the other the resettlement of these people, and their
compensation in relation of what they had left behind. We have
reproduced these regulations on the Gomidas Institute web page

According to these two regulations, there should be two sets of
registers (as well as scores of other documents), for each village,
in each administrative region, giving detailed information on
Armenians who were deported in 1915.

As you know, I do not subscribe to the official Turkish thesis
denying the Armenian Genocide. However, I would be interested to
see any such records that were kept in 1915, as well as all the
gapswithin these records.

Q: What do you think such records would yield if they were available?

A: I would expect to find significant records on deportations and
confiscation of Armenian properties, but with no commensurate
records on resettlement and compensation. This would tell us about
the nature of the "deportations," that is, the expropriation of
Ottoman Armenians by the state, the colonization of their villages
by non-Armenians, and the obfuscation of the historical record.

Q: Do you believe Mr. Halaçoglu when he says these records don't exist?

A: I doubt Dr. Halaçoglu can account for the content of all Ottoman
archives in Turkey. There are several such archives in Istanbul and
Ankara, as well as provincial ones. These archives include
catalogued, as well as uncataloged materials.

I believe Dr. Halaçoglu found the focus of the proposed joint study
worrisome. After all, he is the head of an official state body which
is entrusted with upholding the foundation myths of modern Turkey.
The denial of the Armenian Genocide is part of those foundation myths.

Q: What questions, if any, does the absence of these documents raise
for historians?

A: The absence of these documents suggests that even according to
Ottoman records in Turkey, the deportation of Armenians in 1915
was not a law-governed process. It also suggests the bad faith
of modern Turkish state intellectuals who have published official
Ottoman regulations concerning the deportation of Armenians,
intimating that these regulations were enforced. As Dr. Halaçoglu
has admitted, there are no such records - or rather, there are no
such records, any suchrecords, available for the scrutiny of
historians. This sounds like a cover-up.

From Washington, in brief
by Emil Sanamyan
Turkey boosters admit they've "lost the battle for history,"
but carry on lobbying

Turkish Parliament members will be lobbying the U.S. Congress
against the Armenian Genocide resolution with the help of a
"Pink Book," the Turkish Daily News reported on March 2.
This colorful document "includes detailed information and
documents concerning the genocide allegation."

But even veteran Turkey boosters don't buy into this approach.
At a February 28 Open Society Institute roundtable discussion,
former U.S. ambassador to Turkey (1989-91) Morton Abramowitz
counseled on Turkish efforts to deny the Armenian Genocide:

"I think Turkey has lost, here at least, the battle of history.
I don't think there is anything you can do here which will convince
legislators that this is an open question, that you got to leave it
to the historians. I don't that it is, rightly or wrongly, an
effective argument here.

"And the basic argument and one that has been made repeatedly,
one that I made before the [1991] Gulf War . . . is the extraordinary
and important ties between the two countries which legislators must
understand and balance against whatever [are] their moral feelings.
This is the only reasonable argument that can have an impact."

Journalist Cem Sey with the Turkish service of Deutsche Welle
(Germany) added: "You said that Turkey has lost the historical
battlein the United States already. I believe Turkey lost it
everywhere in the world, including Turkey." Abramowitz appeared
to agree with that, as Sey continued: "Because after Turks
understood that there had been some hundred thousands people
died, everybody knew what happened. So, I think this is not
the debate.

"Therefore I don't believe a resolution in the United States, like
it was in Germany and other countries, that it will cause a big
problem between the two countries. There will be serious
[nationalist] backlash, I'm sure, but it will be temporary."

* * *

Another former Ambassador to Turkey, Mark Parris (1997-2000),
used the "Abramowitz argument" in his "Don't go cold on Turkey"
op-ed in the March 3 edition of the Wall Street Journal.
In its response, the ANCA recalled that souring of U.S.-
Turkish relations were "loudly but falsely predicted" when
President Reagan publicly affirmed the Genocide in 1981 and
whenever U.S. legislation referred to the Genocide, but
never materialized.

"Despite threats of retribution, Turkey has taken only token
steps against the European Parliament, Canada, France, Germany,
Italy, Belgium, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland,
Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and other states and international
bodies that have recognized the Armenian Genocide. In fact,
despite all its threats in 2001 against France's recognition of
the Armenian Genocide, tradebetween France and Turkey grew 22%
the following year, and has grown by 131% over the past five
years," the ANCA response went on.

In his response letter, USAPAC's Executive Director Ross Vartian
argued that "it is long past due for the United States to reaffirm
Armenian and American history despite Turkish threats and to
support those in Turkey who serve democracy and reform by speaking freely."

Dr. Arman Kirakossian Presents His Publication at the Library of Congress

Dr. Arman J. Kirakossian, the Armenian ambassador to Washington, delivered a lecture on October 30 at the Library of Congress in Washington coinciding with the publication of the English translation of his book, British Diplomacy and the Armenian Question: From the 1830s to 1914. A historian by training, the ambassador has published over ten books and monographs, as well as dozens of articles and reviews, all on the history of the Armenian Question.
In introducing the author, Dr. Levon Avdoyan, the Armenian and Georgian area specialist at the Library of Congress, lauded the ambassador's commitment to the historical exploration of a complicated and insufficiently addressed subject of modern Armenian history.

Ambassador Kirakossian thanked the Library of Congress for hosting the occasion and expressed his gratitude to the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund for making possible the book's publication. He explained that the original of the book was published in Armenian in 1999 and that the current English-language translation incorporates some additional research carried out at the Library of Congress.

Dr. Kirakossian then delivered a lecture on the international and political context of the book, focusing on the source material and the historical implications of his research. He explained that as the Ottoman Empire became an object of competition between the major powers in the nineteenth century, Britain, as the major power, assumed a major role in the international politics of the Near East. "Britain asserted its economic and political influence over Turkey while protecting its territorial integrity from encroachment by other powers, most notably Russia," Dr. Kirakossian explained.

"The Armenian Question, or the fate of Western Armenia, is a key issue in the modern history of the Armenian people, emerging as a factor in international politics in 1878 and signifying the historical challenges to Armenia, and as such, would have a broader ideological meaning and scope," Dr. Kirakossian noted. He said he analyzed Britain's foreign policy in the context of international and regional dynamics: against the backdrop of Britain's political system and public opinion, the internal and foreign policy of the Ottoman government, the state of affairs in Western Armenia, and the Armenian national movement. The book presented the development and evolution of British foreign policy–making as it impacted on the Ottoman Empire and its Armenian population and other ethnic elements, as well as delineating British diplomatic activities and the British government's role at various stages of the Armenian Question from the 1830s to 1914.

The book reveals, he continued, that the British policy of pressing for reforms from above did not work, and in fact, the situation in the Ottoman provinces populated by the Armenians deteriorated steadily. Further, to remove the threat of potential European intervention, Abdul Hamid II’s government took the radical step in 1894–96 of carrying out persecution and large-scale massacres of the Armenian population that served as a precursor to the policy of genocide that exterminated one and a half million Armenians in 1915.

Dr. Kirakossian also discussed the interaction between the Armenian Question and domestic politics in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, when public opinion grew increasingly concerned with the plight of Armenians and pressed the government for intervention. He noted that his book complements prominent Armenian-Cypriot historian Akaby Nassibian's Britain and the Armenian Question, 1915–1923 in documenting the domestic and international policies of the British government relating to the Armenian Question in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and makes extensive use of British Foreign Office archival and published materials, and other relevant literature and documents. Dr. Kirakossian concluded by pointing out that his book contains some fascinating accounts of international diplomatic negotiations in 1877–78, 1894–96, as well as on the eve of World War I, that seemingly came close to resolving the Armenian Question but collapsed at the last moment.

British Diplomacy and the Armenian Question: From the 1830s to 1914, published by the Gomidas Institute (Princeton and London) is available in bookstores and directly from the publisher.

Missing Ottoman Archival Records on the Genocide of the Armenians in 1915

An anlysis of the real issues:

London, 7 March 2007: Today the Gomidas Institute issued its third
statement on its proposal to work on a case study with Turkish
historians regarding the treatment of Armenians in Harput in 1915.
The Institute's latest statement follows a comment made by Dr. Yusuf
Halaço?lu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, that vital
Ottoman records on the 1915 deportation of Armenians--including in
Harput--do not exist in Turkish archives today.

These "non-existent" records are directly related to two Ottoman
decrees which Turkish official historians have claimed regulated the
deportation and resettlement of Ottoman Armenians in 1915. These
were the 30 May 1915 regulations on deportations.

...And the 10 June 1915
regulations on the resettlement of deportees, the liquidation of
their properties, and their compensation in their places of exile.

The Gomidas Institute had asked, based on these regulations, to
examine the registers showing details of Armenians who were
deported from the Harput plain, as well as the resettlement records
accounting for the fate of these deportees further a field. According
to these regulations, all deported Armenian had to be registered,
person by person (or household by household), village by village; the
properties of deportees had to be recorded and liquidated; when the
deported were resettled in their places of exile, they had to be
compensated in proportion to their original assets. According to
these regulations, Ottoman officials had to generate meticulous
deportation, resettlement and compensation records which
accounted for Armenians who were deported in 1915.

On Monday 26 February 2007 Dr. Halaço?lu appeared on CNN-
Turk's "Manþe" programme where he stated, categorically, that
the Ottoman records the Gomidas Institute had asked to examine
did not exist. Halaço?lu stated that : "He [Sarafian] well knows
about the archives. He also knows that there are no records for
each village listing persons by name. There are no such records.
If there were, they would not pose a problem for us. It would be
better to produce them."

To date Dr. Halaço?lu has not contacted and explained himself to the
Gomidas Institute.

It is not clear how Dr. Halaço?lu could make such a categorical
statement about the non-existence of the Ottoman records we had
asked for, given the texts of the Ottoman regulations governing
deportations in 1915, or the fact that there are many Ottoman
archives in Turkey, and not all Ottoman records in these archives
are catalogued. Until there is further clarification,
Dr. Halaço?lu's statement only raises some fundamental questions:

1. Were Ottoman regulations on the 1915 deportations implemented
according to the letter of the law? If so, why are we told that the
registers related to this mass transfer of people are missing? Are
all records missing, for the whole Empire, in both local as well as
central archives?

2. If these regulations were not implemented, how was the movement
of Armenians, the liquidation of their properties, and the
resettlement of deportees regulated? Is it conceivable that none
of these regulations were implemented for the whole of the Ottoman
Empire from Erzeroum to Yozgat, Izmit and Kayseri? If so, where
is the archival trail in Ottoman archives associated with the
actual course of events?

3. Is it possible that no records were kept for either deportation or
resettlement? If so, was this the case for the whole of the Ottoman
Empire, and why were no records kept?

4. If records were kept and then destroyed, why and when were they
destroyed? And were they destroyed for the whole of the Ottoman
Empire, in both local as well as central archives in Turkey?

5. Is it possible that Dr. Halaço?lu might be mistaken? Might some of
the records we have asked for exist? Is it possible that there might
be deportation records, as well as records related to the liquidation
of Armenian properties, but no corresponding resettlement records?

According to Ara Sarafian (Gomidas Institute, London), "Primary
sources outside of Turkey indicate that the 1915 deportation of
Armenians and the liquidation of their properties were regulated by
Ottoman state authorities. Armenians were deported under the
auspices of Ottoman officials. And most deportees were killed
through privations and outright massacres on their way or in their
places of exile (most notably Der Zor). Our sources indicate that
there never was a resettlement programme as historians defending
the official Turkish thesis suggest."

The Gomidas Institute hopes that Dr. Halaço?lu will explain why he
thinks that the Ottoman deportation and resettlement registers the
Gomidas Institute requested do not exist--especially those on Harput
and its environs.

Sunday, 11 March 2007


Istanbul, 9 March (AKI) - A revelation by a Turkish magazine of the
existence of a list that classified journalists on the basis of their
perceived attitude towards Turkey's powerful military establishment
has prompted a judicial inquiry as well as widespread outrage in the
country's media. The 17-page report listing journalists depending on
their alleged 'pro-military' or 'anti-military' bias was published on
Thursday by the magazine Nokta.

The Turkish military has not denied the existence of the document
and has launched a judicial probe to discover who leaked the
'black list'to the magazine.

The document, dated November 2006, was prepared by the Office of
the Chief of General Staff Public and Press Relations Bureau and is
entitled 'A reassessment of accredited press and media organs'.

Journalists and media organisations that want to follow the
activities of the Office of the Chief of General Staff need to be
accredited by the office.

The document lists all the country's mainstream national broadscast
and print media outlets and journalists, categorising them according
to their comments and reports on the Turkish military. It also
includes comments and recommendations on whether the media
accreditation handed out to individuals should be granted, denied or

"The report is a shame for our democracy. It is a new obstacle for
freedom of expression and freedom of press," the main body
representing journalists in the country, the Turkish Journalists
Association, said in its response.

Umur Talu, a veteran columnist for the daily Sabah and a renowned
critic of the influence of the military in Turkey asked Friday why he
is described as "treacherous" on the list.

"Is it 'normal' for a 21-year-old junior officer to commit suicide in
his military unit because he was being humiliated? No, then why
should I be described as 'treacherous' for having reported on it,"
Talu asked in his column.

Other famous journalists and columnists that appear on the list in
the 'anti-military' category include Murat Belge, Mehmet Ali Birand
and Can Dundar. Murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and
his weekly Agos are not included in the document.

Another prominent journalist, Mehmet Altan from the Star daily, said
that while he was scandalised by the the existence of the list "there
is at least a group of high-ranking military officials who think that
this report is a serious mistake and that's why they've leaked it."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other government officials
have not commented on the report.

Media outlets with more radical positions, such as the socialist and
Islamist newspapers and television stations are not given
accreditation to follow the Office of the Chief of General Staff and
hence do not are already not accredited to military's media events
and are not included in the 'black list.'

Turkish shooting suspect says his target was Armenian patriarch

A Turkish man accused of firing in the air outside an Armenian
church claimed Wednesday his real target had been Patriarch
Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the tiny Armenian community,
the Anatolia news agency reported.

"I had prepared it for (Mesrob) Mutafyan II," Volkan Karova shouted
to reporters here as he and fellow suspect Yýlmaz Can Özalp were
being escorted to the prosecutor's office to give their testimony,
the agency reported.

It was not clear whether he had intended to physically attack the
patriarch or scare him. Later Wednesday, a court charged the two
men with "threatening by firing shots" and "carrying an unlicensed
gun" and sent them to jail pending trial, the agency said. The pair
were arrested late Sunday just hours after two men fired a shot in
the air outside a church in the city's Kumkapý district. At the time,
a ceremony was being held for slain ethnic Armenian journalist
Hrant Dink.


As reported from Istanbul governor's office, they cannot ensure
security of numerous Armenian establishments. This statement
was made in response to the application of the Armenian
Patriarch of Constantinople Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian. The
governor office's letter says that each establishment shall
ensure its own security. Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian on March 8
inviated heads of Armenian establishments to the Patriarchate
in order to discuss this issue. According to the newspaper
"Marmara" (Istanbul), the patriarch noted that cooperation
necessary to create a fund for this purpose. It was decided
to form a commission to deal with the problem of funds.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Swiss Court Finds Turkish Politician Guilty

LAUSANNE (Swissinfo)--

A Turkish politician was found guilty on Friday by a Swiss criminal court of denying that mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 amounted to genocide, the first such conviction under Swiss law.

The court in Lausanne agreed handed Dogu Perincek a suspended fine of SFr9,000 ($7,336) as well as a one-off financial penalty of SFr3,000.

The court also ruled that Perincek would have to pay SFr1,000 to the Swiss-Armenian Association as a symbolic gesture.

The politician, whose left-wing Turkish Workers'Party has no seats in the Turkish parliament, was brought to court after calling the genocide "an international lie" during a public speech in Lausanne in July 2005.

Under the Swiss penal code any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of the country's anti-racism legislation.

And Lausanne is the capital of canton Vaud, one of two Swiss cantons along with Geneva where the parliaments have voted in recent years to recognize the Armenian massacre as genocide.

Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap accused Perincek of being "a racist" and "an arrogant provocateur" who was familiar with Swiss law on historical revisionism.

According to Winzap, the politician's action "appears to have racist and nationalist motives". The Armenian genocide is "an established historical fact according to the Swiss public," he added.

Perincek's lawyers have called into question the authority of the district court to hear such a case. The Turkish politician said he would appeal against the verdict, which he called "racist and imperialist".

He admitted in court earlier in the week that there had been massacres but said there could be no talk of genocide. "I have not denied genocide because there was no genocide," he argued.


Sarkis Shahinian, co-president of the Swiss-Armenian Association, said there was "great relief" among the community. Shahinian said it was deplorable that the Turkish state had let itself get involved with ultra-nationalists like Perincek.

"It is a big problem. It is necessary that Turkey recognizes the genocide."

Ferai Tinc, a foreign affairs columnist with Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, told swissinfo the case had been widely followed in the country because it was the first time a Turkish citizen had been tried abroad for expressing their opinion.

"We see it as a trial of freedom of thought, and freedom of opinion," Tinc said.

"Whether we agree or not with Perincek, we find these type of [penal] articles against freedom of opinion dangerous because we are struggling in our country to achieve freedom of thought."

Tinc added that the decision to make Perincek stand trial would "create a problem of confidence" between Switzerland and Turkey.


Shaky ties between Bern and Ankara reached a peak in 2005 after Turkey criticized the Swiss authorities'decision to investigate Perincek. Ankara followed it up by canceling an official trip to Turkey by the then Swiss economics minister, Joseph Deiss.

The next event to raise eyebrows was a visit to Turkey by Swiss Justice Minister Christopher Blocher last October when he announced that Switzerland's anti-racism legislation was incompatible with freedom of expression.

The comments were welcomed by Ankara but caused a storm of protest in Switzerland.

Blocher came in for renewed criticism by the media and some politicians last weekend when he received his Turkish counterpart Cemil Cicek in Bern. According to the justice ministry, bilateral issues -- and not the trial -- were discussed.

On Friday Blocher said he did not want to comment on the trial directly, but did not expect the verdict to lead to a serious deterioration in Swiss-Turkish relations.

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Turkish nationalism

Waving Ataturk's flag

There has been a lethal upsurge in ultra-nationalist feeling in Turkey

SITTING in an office plastered with Ottoman pennants, portraits of Ataturk and the Turkish flag, Kemal Kerincsiz, a lawyer, says his mission in life is to protect the Turkish nation from “Western imperialism and global forces that want to dismember and destroy us”. In the past two years Mr Kerincsiz and his Turkish Jurists' Union have launched a slew of cases against Turkish intellectuals under article 301 of the penal code, which makes “insulting Turkishness” a criminal offence.

Mr Kerincsiz has confined his nationalism to the courts. But elsewhere new ultra-nationalist groups, some of them led by retired army officers, have been vowing over guns and copies of the Koran to make Turks “the masters of the world” and even “to die and kill” in the process. In January one of Mr Kerincsiz's targets, a Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor, Hrant Dink, was shot dead by a 17-year-old, Ogun Samast, because he had “insulted the Turks”. The murder, in broad daylight on one of Istanbul's busiest streets, was a chilling manifestation of a resurgence of xenophobic nationalism aimed at Turkey's non-Muslim minorities and the Kurds—plus their defenders in the liberal elite.

The upsurge threatens to undo the good of four years of reforms by the mildly Islamist government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Indeed, it is partly in response to these reforms—more freedom for the Kurds, a trimming of the army's powers, concessions on Cyprus—that nationalist passions have been roused. The knowledge that many members of the European Union do not want Turkey to join has inflamed them further (the EU partially suspended membership talks with Turkey in December because of its refusal to open its ports and airspace to Greek-Cypriots).

Another factor is America's refusal to move against separatist PKK guerrillas who are based in northern Iraq. If the United States Congress delivers its pledge to adopt a resolution calling the mass slaughter of the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 genocide, Turkey's relationship with its ally would suffer “lasting damage”, says the foreign minister, Abdullah Gul.

Murat Belge, a leftist intellectual who is being hounded by Mr Kerincsiz, sees disturbing similarities between the racist nationalism espoused by the “Young Turks” in the dying days of the Ottoman empire (who ordered the mass slaughter of its Armenian subjects), and the siege mentality gripping Turkey today. The perception, now as then, is that Western powers are pressing for changes to empower their local collaborators (ie, Kurds and non-Muslims), with the aim of breaking up the country. “This social Darwinist mindset that implies it's OK to kill your enemies in order to survive” has been perpetuated through an education system that tells young Turks that “they have no other friend than the Turks,” says Mr Belge. And it has been cynically exploited by politicians and generals alike.

Mr Erdogan and Deniz Baykal, the leader of the opposition Republican People's Party, have proved no exception. When more than 100,000 Turks gathered at Mr Dink's funeral chanting “We are all Armenians”, Mr Erdogan opined that they had gone “too far”. Both he and Mr Baykal have resisted calls to scrap article 301, though there have been hints that it will be amended.

The politicians are keen to court nationalist votes in the run-up to November's parliamentary election. Mr Erdogan also hopes that burnishing his nationalist credentials will help him to coax a blessing from Turkey's hawkish generals for his hopes of succeeding the fiercely secular Ahmet Necdet Sezer as president in May.

Yet a recent outburst by the chief of the general staff, Yasar Buyukanit, suggests otherwise. He declared that Turkey faced more threats to its national security than at any time in its modern history and added that only its “dynamic forces” [ie, the army] could prevent efforts to “partition the country”. These words, uttered during an official trip to America, were widely seen as a direct warning to Mr Erdogan to shelve his presidential ambitions.

Others do not rule out possible collusion between nationalist elements within the army and retired officers who are organising new ultra-nationalist groups (one is said to be training nationalist youths in Trabzon, where Dink's alleged murderers came from). “The real purpose is to sow chaos, to polarise society so they can regain ground [lost with the EU reforms],” argues Belma Akcura, an investigative journalist whose recent book about rogue security forces known as the “deep state” earned her a three-month jail sentence. It would not be surprising if their next target were a nationalist, she adds.

Meanwhile prominent writers and academics, including Mr Belge, continue to be bombarded with death threats. Some are under police protection. Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel prize-winning author whom Mr Kerincsiz took to court over his comments about the persecution of the Armenians and the Kurds, has fled to New York.

Where will matters go from here? This week one court banned access to YouTube after clips calling Ataturk gay appeared on it; and another sentenced a Kurdish politician to six months' jail for giving the PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, an honorific Mr. But a private television station also withdrew a popular series, “The Valley of the Wolves”, that glorifies gun-toting nationalists who mow down their mainly Kurdish enemies, after the channel was inundated with calls for the show's axing. The battle for Turkey's soul is not over yet.

Economist's Background to Article

The election in 2002 of the Justice and Development (AK) party as Turkey's first single-party government in 15 years changed the political landscape. Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became prime minister in 2003, the conservative AK party has undertook ambitious reforms with the long-term aim of bringing Turkey into the European Union. These weakened the country's meddlesome generals and began reversing decades of corruption, economic mess and authoritarian abuse of power.

But formal talks on EU membership, which began in 2005, have since stumbled badly. The EU complains that Turkey is backsliding on reforms in areas such as freedom of expression. Meanwhile, the long-term future of Cyprus and a festering Kurdish problem remain unresolved and damaging to relations with America and the EU. Discouraged by the lukewarm reception, Turkey's government seems to be having second thoughts on further integration. An upsurge in ultra-nationalism is making the going all the trickier.

Friday, 9 March 2007

Reproduced with thanks from the Hall of Fame in the Online Armenia Encyclopedia, with one addition by me

Scattered all over the world as refugees, the Armenians have made their mark in many places and many fields:

Dennis Agajanian Singer

One of America's most popular gospel singers. Sings at the "Harvest Crusade".

Andre Agassi Tennis Star

Ranked no 1 in the world in 1995. Has won the Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and an Olympic Gold Medal.

Ivan Aivazovsky Painter

Famous for his seascapes. Paintings are featured on numerous postage stamps around the world.

Charles Aznavour Singer

French Singer and Actor with worldwide popularity. Listen to his Greatest Golden Hits, and his Autobiographie.

Ross Bagdasarian Cartoonist

Creator of "The Chipmunks", Alvin Simon and Theodore, a popular children's cartoon. The "Chipmunks Christmas Album” is a classic.

Eric Bogosian Writer/Actor

Known for Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and Talk Radio.

Cher (Cherylin Sarkissian) Actress/Singer

Sonny & Cher Show, The Witches of Eastwick, Songs I Got You Babe, Believe. Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck.

Mike Connors (Ohanian) Actor

Star of "Mannix".

Princess Diana Princess of Wales

1/64th Armenian! The most widely known living person in the world before the fatal car accident, she was well loved for not being aloof. She made removal of landmines worldwide her cause.

Dr. Raymond Damadian Inventor

MRI diagnosis machine. Magnetic Resonance Imaging allows the insides of the body to be viewed without actually using surgery.

Atom Egoyan Director

Won 1997 Cannes Grand Prize & 2 Oscar Nominations for "The Sweet Hereafter". This Cairo-born and Canadian-bred director also produced award winning "The Adjustor", "Exotica", "Ararat" and others.

Arshile Gorky Painter

Gorky has been called both the last of the great Surrealists and the first of the Abstract Expressionists. His work was vital to the emergence of a specifically American school of abstract art.

Calouste Gulbenkian Oil Baron

"Mr. 5%" Made his fortune in Iraqi oil earlier this century after gaining 5% ownership of BP, and 3 other major companies. Set up a large enduring foundation.

George Gurdjieff Spiritual Leader

Gurdjieff's basic teaching is that human life is lived in waking sleep; transcendence of the sleeping state requires a specific inner work, which is practiced in private quiet conditions, and in the midst of life with others.

Alan Hovhaness Composer

The Prayer of St. Gregory, Symphonies, Magnificat.

Viktor Hambartsumian Astrophysicist

Developed theories of young star clusters, and computing the mass ejected from nova stars. Headed Byurakan Observatory in Armenia, & International Astrophysicist Organization.

Kevork Hovnanian Homebuilder

One of top 10 US homebuilders.

Garry Kasparov Chess Player

Ranked 1 in world. Serving in Russian Parliament. Was defeated for the first time by a chess computer built by IBM.

Howard Kazanjian Film Producer

Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian Doctor

A Father of Plastic Surgery and Harvard Professor. Pioneer of new techniques to repair damage to WWI soldiers. Known in his day as the "Miracle Man of the Western Front."

Kirk Kerkorian Businessman, Investor

Founded airlines, built world’s largest casinos, owned MGM studios and still owns MGM Grand, plus large share of Daimler-Chrysler. Funds Lincy Foundation.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian Physician

Physician Proponent of assisted suicide. Helped dozens of terminally ill patients end their lives with his suicide machine. In Michigan jail for his work.

Aram Khachaturian Composer

Gayane, Spartacus, The Battle of >Stalingrad / Othello, The Sabre Dance.

Emile Lahoud President

President of Lebanon, former Lebanese general who united the religious factions of the Lebanese army.

Alex Manoogian Inventor, Businessman

Invented single handle faucet, founded Masco. Huge philanthropist during his life, with strong ties to the Armenian General Benevolent Union.

Rouben Mamoulian Director

First to use a mobile camera, Technicolor and a multiple channel sound track. Directed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Mark of Zorro, and Silk Stalkings.

Artem Mikoyan Aircraft Designer

Creator and namesake of "MiG" Fighters of the Soviet Union and Russia.

Sergei Parajanov Surrealist Artist/Producer

Soviet Armenian Surrealist Producer. Works include: Fire Horses/The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Color of Pomegranates/Sayat Nova, The Legend of the Suram Fortress, Ashik Kerib.

Ara Parseghian Coach

Previous Notre Dame Football Coach, national championships in 1966 and 1973.

Alain Prost Race Car Driver

Won Formula 1 Race 4 times.

Raffi (Cavoukian) Songwriter/Singer

Children's Songwriter. Probably the most popular in the world. Albums include Singable Songs for the children, More Singable Songs for the children Raffi's Christmas Album, Baby Beluga, and others.

William Saroyan Novelist, Playwright

Won a Pulitzer Prize for the play "The Time of Your Life" which he turned down. Wrote "The Human Comedy", "My Name is Aram", and directed a prize winning movie.

Setrak Setrakian Composer, Pianist

Born in Beirut in 1938, Setrak is a lifelong scholar and teacher at professorial level, with some 400 original compositions to his name. His musical interpretations are inimitably his own and, although finely reflecting the essence of the pieces he plays, his masterly eloquence and joie de vivre shine through in breathtaking manner.

Luther Simjian Inventor

Inventor of Medical photography systems, Autofocus camera, Automatic Developing machine, ATM, Military flight simulator, Postage Meter.

Seymour Skinner (Armen Tamzarian) School Principal

Bart and Lisa's Principal on the "Simpson's". On one episode he relates he is not actually Seymour Skinner, but actually Armen Tamzarian. The town decides to never discuss his dark past again.

System of a Down Music Group

Music Group with growing popularity. Performed on one track of the Southpark CD, and Ozzfest. Proud Armenians, as their System of a Down album shows.

Jerry Tarkanian Coach

Turned the UNLV basketball team, the "Runnin Rebels" into a west coast powerhouse, reaching the finals and winning a few times. Then coached his hometown Fresno State team.

Steven Zaillian Screenwriter

Received Oscar for Schindlers List, also screen wrote: Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, Awakenings.

Zildjian Family Manufacturers

Manufacturers World's Largest Cymbal Manufacturer, by using secret family production technique that produces excellent sound and very strong metal. The two brothers founded the Sabian cymbal factory, in Meductic, New Brunswick, Canada, before an argument led one brother to quit the company and form a rival brand carrying the family name, Zildjian.