Letter from H.E. The Archbishop of Westminster
Archbishop's House, Westminster, London SW1P 1QJ
Armenian Genocide Trust
London WC1N 3XX
1 May 2007
Dear Mr. Danielyan,
Thank you for your letter concerning the Armenian Genocide of 1915. It was, indeed, a most terrible event and should never be forgotten. It should be universally recognised as much as the Holocaust of Jewish people during the Second World War.
Do be assured of a remembrance in my prayers that the Lord will help you to accept the cross that you and your people have had to bear over so many years.
With my kind wishes and prayer,
Archbishop of Westminster
Letter to Deputy Director-General of the BBC
2 May 2007
Dear Mr Byford:
Following my correspondence with yourself and your colleagues last year I was most disappointed and saddened on April 24th - as were many Armenian and British people who believe that a centrally planned mass murder of over one million civilians does deserve a minute of BBC's broadcasting time once a year.
A letter from one of your colleagues stated that "there is extreme disagreement over whether the events of 1915 were a genocide". There is indeed extreme disagreement - an extreme disagreement between denialist Turkish government and absolute majority of historians and researchers (including the internationally recognised International Association of Genocide Scholars, the only body of historians specialising in genocide studies), an extreme disagreement over whether a publicly funded organisation like the BBC should have the courage of calling things by their names or bow to blackmail by a single state which refuses to acknowledge responsibility for the 20th century's first genocide. Your continuing and persistent silence on this issue is deafening and raises very serious concerns about BBC's impartiality and lack of respect for a tragedy which almost annihilated a nation just 92 years ago. Would you dare to question the reality of the Holocaust, citing extreme disagreement by neo-fascists? I doubt it.
The simple fact at the moment is that the BBC deliberately chooses to stay silent on this historical event which is directly linked to the continuing tragedy in Darfur. By failing to even mention the Armenian Genocide once a year on April 24 you are sending a message to war criminals future and present, a message which says that you can commit a genocide and BBC will not mention it if the perpetrators deny it - it will not be mentioned even if there was a march from Marble Arch to the Cenotaph, presentation of evidence at the House of Lords, memorial service at the Westminster Abbey, murder of a prominent member of the Turkish Armenian community and repeated unequivocal declarations from countless historians, writers and researchers affirming the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and calling for recognition as a requirement for reconciliation. You seem to have chosen to ignore the majority for the sake of not offending a single country. The only thing remaining of the victims is the memory of their unbelievable suffering, and you are contributing to its obliteration by being silent.
This is a very grave concern indeed. The Armenian Genocide Trust has recently written to all Bishops of the Church of England and the crossbencher members of the House of Lords. Our awareness campaign will continue and expand with further events at the Parliament as well as in the media; a petition will be delivered to the new Prime Minister later in the year. I call upon you to reconsider your approach and fulfill your role of reporting objectively and timely on all issues - regardless of what a foreign power may think on a particular issue.
For and on behalf of the Armenian Genocide Trust
Thursday, 31 May 2007
Letter from H.E. The Archbishop of Westminster
Friday, 25 May 2007
If you are an American of Armenian descent or if you are concerned about Genocide issues, please click here to take special action at the request of the Armenian National Committe of America on Memorial Day (Monday, 28th May 2007).
Please help - it will take only a few minutes and your contribution is valuable.
"Official people do not like the Armenians, because in
their hearts they ask: 'Why have the Armenian people
throughout one thousand years . not become Muslims and
have resisted Turkification?"
During the week end of May 17-21, the courageous
"Baadvelee" (Reverend) Krikor Aghabaloghlu, the pastor
of the Gedik Pasha Armenian Evangelical Church in
Istanbul, visited the Armenian American community in
Rev. Aghabaloghlu was invited by Rev. Nerses
Balabanian, the pastor of the Calvary Armenian
Congregational Church of San Francisco.
Rev. Aghabaloghlu delivered enlightening and
insightful remarks during the Saturday evening
banquet. The banquet took place on May 19, at the
jam-packed hall of the church. His speech was
interrupted by thunderous applause and at times with
standing ovations. Rev. Aghabaloghlu also delivered
the Sunday sermon in the church, filled to near
Rev. Aghabaloghlu gave an interview to USA Armenian
Life Magazine on Sunday just before his departure to
New Jersey. The following is the first part of the
interview: (The second and final part will be
published next week.)
USA Armenian Life: "Baadvelee" Welcome to the USA.
What is the primary purpose of your visit to the
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Thank you. The Armenian
Brotherhood church in New Jersey has invited me to
deliver my message to the community. There is a
chapter in the Holy Bible where Isaac's children had
dispersed. So Isaac calls upon his youngest son Joseph
to go see what happened to "your brothers, and what
they are up to? Bring me their news."
So, I think, God has prepared me and said: "Son, I am
sending you to go see your dispersed brothers. See how
they are living. What are they up to, and encourage
them. Talk to them. Preach to them and encourage
them." I thank God for that. For I have many brothers
who are inviting me to come and see them. On Monday, I
will go to New Jersey. I will stay there for one week
and I will preach to the Armenian people.
Once in a while, invitations arrive, and I don't turn
them down, because I am God's and the Armenian
people's servant. What is the duty of the servant? If
the Lord calls, the servant goes. Our Lord has called
me too. So, I shall go and serve Him and my brothers.
USA Armenian Life: You are famous around the world for
being a courageous Armenian spiritual leader in
Turkey, who without any fear states in what is now
called Turkey, that today's Turkey was founded on the
ashes of Western Armenia. During past direct
broadcasts on Turkish national television, you have
intrepidly told the Turks directly: "Enough with your
denialism of the facts of the Armenian Genocide!"
Where does the power for such courage come from?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: For one thing, I was born in
Anatolia and I have experienced many hardships.
USA Armenian Life: By Anatolia, you mean Western
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Let's say Western Armenia.
Because, we are used to and are taught to refer to
Western Armenia as "Anatolia." Now, Western... let's
say historic Armenia. Because, where I was brought up,
it's not an easy thing to stay Armenian and to live as
a Christian. I have experienced too many hardships and
persecutions. I have seen many acts of ill treatment.
You do good deeds but you are "remunerated" by bad
There are very good people who do good deeds and you
become joyful and you say that "yes you understand
that this is human." The human being shall be like
that. But if you do good deeds and you get
maltreatments in return, you do not forget.
... In Turkey there are a few very powerful people who
are like that. There are families. And there are
government officials who do not like the Armenians.
Because the following lies in their hearts: "Why has
the Armenian people throughout one thousand years
[Editor- Since 1071 AD when the Turks first invaded
Armenia] live with us and have not become Muslim and
were not Turkified?" They cannot accept that. That's
why they say: "If they live in Turkey, they should
have become Muslim and been Turkified." If you say,
"I'm Armenian," you touch the eye like a thorn or a
needle. He becomes unsettled. Whether you do something
or not, the man is like that. His nature is like that.
Oh! You shall be tortured. You shall loose your
homeland. You shall loose your schools; and your homes
will be taken away. Your churches shall be
confiscated. Your people shall decrease [Ed-in
numbers]. And then they will curse at you. You shall
listen. And after all that they shall tell you that
For how long, for how long, one can keep quiet? I
don't know. This is my nature since my childhood. But
I could not keep my mouth shut. My father also,
wherever he used to go, he would say: "I'm Armenian
I was very little and I used to say: "Hayrig (father)
why are you saying: "I'm Armenian and Christian?
People are not asking a question like that!" He used
to say: "My child when you grow up, you'll
understand!" When I grew up I began to understand. I
understood that to be Armenian and to be Christian in
Anatolia was a hard thing to do. They always speak
against your religion; against your nation; your
family, your blood. You know, they always talk!"
I have been a teacher, history teacher. I have
encountered many hardships in Western Armenia. And now
God has called me and I have recognized God's power
and have acquired that power. And now that power
brings through my heart such an empowerment that you
can't express with words. It's such a great power.
Jesus said: "The Holy Spirit will remain inside you
and you shall acquire power."
While acquiring that power, Jesus said: "Now, I am
parting to be crucified." His pupils said: "What are
You saying. They will kill you." Jesus replied: "I
have come for that moment. If dying is needed, I'll go
and die." Later, the pupils said: "OK we also will go
and die." If you have that kind of love, you'll learn
For Jesus, dying is nothing. It was a gain. Later, you
too say, for the truth, for the right, for my nation,
dying is a game. If need be, I can die. One and one
half million [Armenians] have been sacrificed. The
odor of their blood permeates my nose. I remember,
because I was a child. During my childhood, the elders
used to narrate how their fathers and mothers were
massacred. They were crying as they were telling. As a
child, I used to hear and hear, and hear these things.
Later, again we were subjected to ill treatment during
the republic era. Up to now, the government has not
changed. It came up with laws in 1941-42. It took away
all the remaining riches from the Armenians. It did
the same thing in 1955.
USA Armenian Life: Are you referring to "Varlic
vergise" (Possession taxes)?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: They did it against the
Greeks in 1955. But also they did it once more,
against the Armenians.
Later, 1974 was unforgettable. It was impossible! I
can't come up with a name for it, even if it needs to
be defined. I can't name it. It was inconceivable. If
you claim that it was a law, it did not fit. Then, the
government says: "The churches' becoming rich hurts
the government." And it confiscates all the properties
from the churches.
Is this possible? So, the church initiated a lawsuit
insisting that it had purchased these properties with
money, therefore, it said: "Compensate us." The
government replied: "There is neither any money, nor
any buildings for you."
We have spoken out. Europe did not understand it. It
is only now that Europe has awakened.
But the government will do bad deeds against the
church and the Armenian people, then shamelessly it
will write in schoolbooks that the "Armenians have
back-stabbed us." How did they backstab you?
Now the era of the republic is laid open in front of
us, isn't it?
Can our government people say: "during the days of the
republic, the Armenian people [Ed- in Turkey] have
done this one bad deed???" Have you heard that they
USA Armenian Life: No!
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Can anybody prove that?
Good! In 1915 one could claim that the Armenians
massacred the Turks. Or you can claim that the
Armenians sided with the Russians.
USA Armenian Life: They are coming up with pretexts.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Now what? This proves one
thing: That is the habit of the Turkish government. It
always likes to confiscate. Look. The people's heart
is good. The majority of the Turkish people are good.
They like the Armenian people. They know the
Armenians. But what happens? The government people,
the official people or the military people always
talk, talk, talk and by talking and talking, they
misguide the people. They fill the people's hearts
with bad stuff, you know my brother. So what will
happen to them? Oh, they will say: "our professors are
advising as such. Undoubtedly they are right, because
they are our professors."
USA Armenian Life: In your remarks yesterday, you
clearly defined the confiscations from the Armenians
during the 50's and the 70's as economic genocide...
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, yes! I'll arrive to
that. Yes, in my opinion, that is economic genocide.
There is no other definition.
You can't define it any other way. They always take
and take. Then they shamelessly say: "we have taken
nothing. We don't say anything and you, (Armenians),
are lying." How do we lie? Right then and there, if
you are a believer, if you recognize Christ, His
courage permeates you. And you say: "If sacrificing is
needed I can not abstain from speaking out."
When I entered into the church and became aware of
these problems, I said to myself: "This is
indigestible! I can't digest it and will speak out."
And I began to speak out.
It is for that reason that I wish to tell the majority
of the Armenian people who live in Europe and America
that they don't know the truth about the situation of
the Armenian people in Turkey. Many among these people
will tell you: "we're doing well. We're obedient,
because, from time to time, they show individuals on
Where do they find them? I don't know! The name sounds
Armenian. But the heart is not Armenian. They say:
"we're obedient and well. There's nothing going on
here." Oh man! What kind of Armenian are you?
USA Armenian Life: Totally enslaved!
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: How can you be an Armenian!
How blind are you that you can't see. Or how cowardly
are you that you can't speak out!
I can't comprehend that an Armenian can be this
cowardly and say: "We're doing well."
Well it shall be good. It's my homeland. I've not come
from the outside. I'm not a beggar. I'm not asking for
mercy from the Turkish nation by saying: "Please, I
have no place to go to, no home to dwell in. I have no
homeland. Accept me in. Let me live here."
I am not like that. Western Armenia is my motherland.
I've been living there since four thousand years and
if money is needed to be paid I'll pay taxes. Is there
a need to serve in the Army? I'll do that as well. I'm
not a beggar. Yes, I'll live well. Why not? Why not?
If others live well, we also will live well in our
ancestral lands. ...
I'm very joyful that the churches are open. What else?
Can you teach Armenian history in your schools?
Now the Turkish people in Europe are erecting mosques.
Is that not true? Europe is Christian. She says:
"You're Muslim. Come and open your mosque. Open your
school and at the same time, during your holidays,
take your Turkish flag and walk in the streets. Can't
they do it? They can! Don't they?
USA Armenian Life: They have freedom.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Aha! Now, can you do it?
USA Armenian Life: In Turkey?
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: For once, can you, as
Armenian in Turkey...
USA Armenian Life: And as an indigenous people...
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, can you take one
Armenian flag and observe a holiday? Can you do it?
What kind of freedom is that? How free are we? Can you
teach your own children in the Armenian school the
In all the schools, the vice-principle must be a Turk,
whose job is to keep an eye on your activities. Now
are you free? How free are you? You like to move the
church from there, because the number of your people
has dwindled here. Now there are other neighborhoods.
Can you relocate your church and build a new church?
Can you build? You can't build! According to the new
law of two years ago, when Turkey was trying to enter
the European Union, "Yes, from now on, the churches
can be repaired. The government people are respecting
to us in every way" Can you repair your church as
result of this new law?
But the Turkish nation in Europe is so comfortable. I
am happy for them, they deserve to be comfortable. Why
not? But I want to do the same thing here in Turkey.
But I can't do it. I can't!
USA Armenian Life: Meaning that in emulation of
whatever freedom the Turkish people are experiencing
here in the free world, the Armenians are not able to
do the same in their own ancestral lands.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Yes, in their ancestral
USA Armenian Life: During the first four months of
this year, two earth-shaking murders took place.
Rev. Krikor Aghabaloghlu: Three of them took place.
Yesterday they killed five more.
USA Armenian Life: Later on, please give some details
of the third murder. The first one was on January 19,
when the extremist Turks murdered the Armenian
journalist and editor of "Agos" Hrant Dink. The second
one, if I'm not mistaken, was on April 18, in Malatia
when three non-Armenian Christians - one German and
two Turkish Christians - were murdered. So, on the
occasion of these murders and according to many
sources, there is a forecast that these events will
become more frequent. Do you agree that this will be
End of PART 1. Part 2 of 2 will be published next
Posted by Seta at 00:21
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
The Armenian Navy Band, founded by percussionist/vocalist Arto Tunçboyaciyan, won the Audience Award at last year's BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music Concert.
You can see Arto's very singular performance when he accepted the award on behalf of the Band on You Tube, where you may also view related video clips of other renditions by the Band, including the very memorable Ararat.
For more information about the award, visit the BBC Radio 3 site, and if you want to gen up on Arto and his Band, you can click here.
The Band have released 3 CDs to date, which are listed on Amazon, and Arto himself has a Web site which has details of all of his recordings and much more besides. You may also wish to have a peek at the Band's Official site.
Long live the Armenian Navy - and its band! :-)
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
1) Divesting Denialist Turkey and Genocidal Sudan;
2) Denialists Frantz and Mango Participate in a Deceptive
Conference on "Turkish Democracy"
The world community must raise the bar in countering
the genocidal denialists and criminal governments
everywhere. It doesn't matter whether they are Turkish
The Armenians, as the victims of the first genocide of
modern times: (1915-1923), have the moral
responsibility to join other activists in stopping the
Genocide in Darfur, and help avert the future ones.
In a May 13 article in the Los Angeles Times, titled,
"How investors can help fight the Darfur genocide,"
Kathy M. Kristof wrote: "Adam Sterling wants
individual investors to know that they are a powerful
force - and they can use that power to help stop
genocide halfway across the world in the Sudanese
region of Darfur. . If American investors pull their
money from companies that fund the Sudanese
government, Sterling believes that government will be
forced to curtail atrocities by its forces and allied
militias in their fight against Darfur rebels. .
'Divestment has been the one real action that the
government of Sudan has responded to. Genocide is
expensive. The Sudanese government relies heavily on
foreign investment to fund its military and the
janjaweed militias,' said Sterling, director of the
Sudan Divestment Task Force in Washington."
Kristof added: "The Sudan divestment campaign
resembles an effort decades ago to press South Africa
to give up its practice of apartheid, which stripped
economic and legal rights from the country's black
majority. That divestment bid isolated South Africa
economically, and in 1992 the government ended
apartheid. The South African divestment effort took
about 15 years to be successful, gaining steam as some
large institutional investors in the U.S. pulled funds
from the country's economy. . Forty-two colleges and
universities and eight states, including California,
have started to sell their Sudan-related investments.
An additional 17 states are considering doing so."
A financial professional and a California resident
Michael Williams, referring to the worldwide boycott
against Turkey, recently initiated by the Boycott
Turkey Committee of America, wrote in this week's
issue of USA Armenian Life (page E3): "I agree with
your boycott of Turkey. I checked my investments and
found that two of my mutual funds owned Turkish
companies. I wrote the mutual fund companies and told
them, I did not want to invest in any fund that owned
Turkish companies. The funds were sold. Who wants to
invest in a country with this type of history and
philosophy! I will be carefully reviewing my spending
and investing to make sure that I am not supporting a
country that denies the Armenian Genocide and
continues to take lightly the murder of other
Speaking of the necessity of socially responsible
investments, Kristof reported that Amy Domini,
president of Domini Social Investments, said: "You are
not just an individual doing your thing; you are part
of a large group. . People are finally beginning to
realize that acting as part of a group can be really
Almost ninety years after the Armenian Genocide of
1915-1923, students at Swarthmore College in
Pennsylvania created in 2004 The Genocide Intervention
The Genocide Intervention Network was created to give
concerned Americans the opportunity to help protect
civilians from genocide. The organization's website
(www.genocideintervention.net) says: "Sometimes it
might feel like there's not much you can do about a
genocide occurring a world away. In fact, you have the
power to help end the genocide. The world's leaders
need support and pressure from you in order to act."
The Genocide Intervention Network proposes its members
a ten-step course of action to end the Genocide in
Darfur or anywhere for that matter: "1) Join the
Genocide Intervention Network because you care deeply
about protecting civilians from genocide; 2) Support
the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur; 3) Sign up
for action alerts; 4) Investigate the actions of your
members of Congress to stop the genocide in Darfur -
thanking those who have stood against genocide, and
urging those who have not taken action to do so - with
GI-Net's Darfur scorecard; 5) If you are a student or
otherwise connected to a college/university or high
school, start a STAND chapter. STAND: A Student
Anti-Genocide Coalition is the student arm of the
Genocide Intervention Network, with 600 high school
and college chapters around the United States, as well
as international chapters; 6) Host a fundraiser and
donate the proceeds to your favorite Darfur
organization - the Genocide Intervention Network, Save
Darfur, STAND, Africa Action, UNICEF, the Darfur
Rehabilitation Project or others; 7) Join the Sudan
divestment campaign in your state; 8) Tell the
television news networks to Be A Witness and fully
cover the genocide - because you can't stop a genocide
if you don't know about it; 9) Organize a Sprint for
Darfur. The international community now faces a final
sprint in what has been a long struggle for human
security in Darfur; 10) Convince your local
municipality to approve a proclamation condemning the
genocide and calling on the United States to get
Sterling, Domini, Williams and the Genocide
Intervention Network are neither Armenian nor
Sudanese. The fact that the number of anti-genocide
activist individuals and organizations is on the rise,
is a clear indication to humanity's growing
intolerance towards genocidal governments.
The courageous and socially responsible position
adopted by Williams, Domeni, Sterling and others
should inspire many others to join them in stopping
the genocide in Darfur by bringing the Sudanese
criminal junta to their knees; and in bringing justice
to the Armenian and other victims in Turkey. Turkey is
long overdue in recognizing the genocide and in
returning the forcibly-occupied lands of Western
Armenia to their rightful owners: the Armenians.
Turkey and other criminal governments should be made
- That the citizens of our global village have not
forgotten the Armenian Genocide and do not tolerate
the Darfur Genocide; and
- That the loot confiscated from the victims by the
criminal enterprises will not remain in their
In emulation of Williams' and Sterling's divestment of
Turkey and Sudan, many more activists and entities
should do the same and intensify the worldwide
campaign to pull out their investments from such
Companies and individuals that directly or indirectly
perpetuate the genocidal governments' stay in power
should be exposed and held accountable. Otherwise, how
could we, as humanity, eradicate atavism?
Denialists Frantz and Mango Participate in a Deceptive
Conference on "Turkish Democracy"
The widely criticized denialist Managing Editor of the
Los Angeles Times, Douglas Frantz just delivered
another deceptive act: On may 12-15, he moderated a
panel at a deceptive conference held in Istanbul. Of
all the names, that conference was called, "Turkey:
Sharing the Democratic Experience."
Are certain readers not fully familiar with Frantz?
Harut Sassounian, the Publisher of The California
Courier wrote an update in his recent column: "Based
on copies of the e-mails received by this writer, the
Los Angeles Times is continuing to receive a steady
stream of complaints from Armenians worldwide. They
are calling for the dismissal of Managing Editor
Douglas Frantz because of his discrimination against
Armenian-American reporter Mark Arax whose article on
the Armenian Genocide was blocked by Frantz.
Meanwhile, several Turkish websites and lobbying
groups have started an e-mail campaign in defense of
Frantz. By sending such e-mails, the Turks are
inadvertently helping to keep the Frantz fiasco alive.
It is clearly counter-productive for Turks to be
rushing to the aid of Frantz. The Turkish support of
Frantz only serves to confirm the accusations that he
is a Turkophile and not an independent journalist."
How can one label Turkey's decades-long undemocratic
behavior as a "model democracy" that "deserves to be
Early this year, in broad daylight, innocent and
defenseless citizens like Armenian journalist Hrant
Dink and three non-Armenian Christians have been
murdered by the same "democratic" Turkish society.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Barely forty days
after Dink's murder, was a pipe bomb thrown on an
Armenian church in Constantinople in a show of
commonplace criminality of certain circles within
Turkey's government and civil sectors.
Just a few days ago, Turkish nationalists sent a
message to "Levon Vardukhian" Armenian school in
Constantinople, shamelessly threatening the
defenseless Armenians of Turkey: "The Last Warning and
Ultimatum . .exclamations 'We are all Armenians, we
are all Hrant Dink' are examples of extreme chauvinism
and summons for revolution. Do not forget that except
Armenian citizens of Turkey, there are also Armenians
from Armenia on our land, and they count over 100
thousand. Both their addresses and their workplaces
are well known. Henceforth we hope to see our Armenian
citizens as advocates of truth [sic], concerning the
Armenian Genocide or any other matter, and as
defenders of the Turkish statehood. We shall keep an
eye on how the Armenians are playing this role.
Otherwise the Armenians shall be those to lie in the
grave and count how many Armenians and how many Turks
there were in the `ages long past'. This land has
never pardoned treachery and shall not. Who does not
stand for our paradise-homeland is against us and
shall be vanquished."
One shouldn't discount the possibility that the
so-called "pro-West" secularists did commit the
heinous Malatya Massacre of three non-Armenian
Christians in order to make the ruling Islamists of
Turkey look bad in the eyes of the International
Currently, the Turkish "nationalists" are still in
control of the government bureaucracy in Turkey. One
shouldn't be surprised that in order to perpetuate
their strangle-hold on Turkey's power infrastructure,
they are willing to undermine Turkey's fledgling
democracy by staging many more criminal acts or by
issuing threats against the minorities - Christian
Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians or Muslim Kurds, Alevi
Arabs and non-Turks. They might even carry out a coup
In a May 6 article in Washington Post, Claire
Berlinski wrote: "In recent weeks, demonstrators have
taken to the streets in massive numbers in support of
Kemalist secularism. Westerners watching the footage
may be tempted to sigh with approval, imagining this
as an outpouring of sympathy with liberal
Enlightenment values. They would be mistaken. The
(Justice and Development Party) AKP's opponents say
they don't want Turkey turned into another Iran. But
it is not clear that the AKP has any intention of
doing that. What is clear is that it poses a threat to
the power, bureaucratic privileges and economic
interests of the secular ruling class, of which a
dismaying number are authoritarian
Berlinski added: "A casual observer might also expect
that because the Turkish protesters are enemies of
Islamic extremism, they are friends of the United
States. Not so. The secularists here are if anything
more hostile to the West than the AKP. (They are often
just as anti-Semitic, too.) Many secularist
legislators voted in 2003 to deny U.S. forces the
right to pass through Turkey on their way to invade
Iraq. At the recent rallies in Ankara and Istanbul,
protesters held up signs denouncing 'ABD-ullah Gul.'
This is an anti-American pun: The letters 'ABD' stand
for 'USA' in Turkish. U.S. camera crews were abused
with chants of 'Go home, CIA spies.' One particularly
lunatic nationalist, Ergun Poyraz, has just published
a book claiming that Erdogan is really an undercover
Jew who is collaborating with the Mossad to destroy
It is against this anti-democratic backdrop that
Frantz moderated the Istanbul conference on the
so-called "Turkish Democracy."
Individuals like Frantz and Mango should stop
insulting the intelligence of the community through
their misguided efforts to mischaracterize Turkey as a
What a sham!
Posted by Seta at 20:11
Monday, 14 May 2007
Those Strange Sounding Armenian Family Names
Most Armenian names end in "ian" or "yan," meaning the "son of ," but
some Diaspora Armenians have changed these endings to blend in their host
societies. Today in Turkey "oglu" often replaces "ian," while Russian
Armenians may change the endings to "ov"; e.g., Gary Kasparov, Serge
A name ending in "ian" is not always exclusively Armenian, since "ian"
ending can also be occasionally found in names in Irish, Persian, English,
Philippine and some other cultures. Armenian last names generally fall into
five specific categories:
Aristocracy, Parent, Geography, Occupation or Trait.
The ancient Armenian aristocracy ("Nakharar" class) was derived from
Parthian-Persian stock and many of their names ended in "uni" or "ooni."
Most of these families were destroyed over the centuries but some still
survive today; e.g., Sasuni, Rshtuni.
Many Armenian names are derived from the first names of an ancestor; e.g.
Davidian, "son of David," Stepanian, "son of Stepan," or Krikorian, "son of
Krikor/Grigor." Until the 19th century, virtually all first names had a
religious origin, so most of those last names are also religious.
Some last names are based on geographic origin and end in "lian" (Turkish)
or "tsian" (Armenian). Typical examples are Sivaslian "from Sivas,"
Urfalian "from Urfa" and Vanetzian "from Van." These names were typically
given to an immigrant who migrated from a different region of Armenia.
Obviously everyone living in Marash would not call himself or herself
Most last names were taken from the professions of an ancestor. These names
frequently originated with the tax collectors who needed to identify all
individuals for tax purposes. Typical examples are Najarian "son of a
carpenter," Arabian "son of a wagon/teamster," and Vosgerichian "son of a
goldsmith." Many of these occupations are not Armenian, since the tax
man(typically a Moslem Turk, Persian, Arab, etc.) would use his own native
word for the occupation; e.g., the name Boyajian is based on the
Arab/Turkish term "boyaji" "one who dyes."
The most confusing and curious names are those based on some trait of an
ancestor. Typical examples are Topalian "son of the cripple," Dilsizian "son
of the tongueless one," or Sinanian "son of the spearpoint." Many of the
origins of these names are unclear unless one understands the original
context. As an example, Dilsizian indicates that an ancestor had his tongue
cut out by the Turks for using the Armenian language, while the term "Sinan"
was a slang term applied to somebody either with a very erect military-like
carriage or who was "hung like a horse."
Some of these traits are not physical, but rather reflect personality or
social status; e.g., Melikian "son of the king or Harutunian "son of the
resurrection." The name Harutunian could be based on an ancestor named
Harutune (so-named because he was born around Eastertime), or adopted by a
convert to Protestantism to show his status as a "born-again Christian."
Many last names today have been shortened or modified to aid pronunciations
by non-Armenians; e.g., the name Mugerditchian/ Mkrtichian" becomes "Mugar,"
"Husseniglian",becomes "Hewsen," and Samourkashian" becomes "Samour." These
abbreviated names often drop the ian" ending, and are not immediately
identifiable as being Armenian to an outsider.
The name categories of Occupation and Trait can differ significantly
between Eastern Armenians and Western Armenians, since the eastern names
often have Persian, Georgian or Russian roots, while the western names may
have Turkish, Arab, or Greek roots. Names with the prefix "Der" or "Ter"
show that one of the ancestors was a "Der Hayr" a married parish priest), a
position of great social status among Armenians; e.g., DerBedrosian, Ter
The study of Armenian Names is a fascinating exercise, since virtually
every aspect of the culture is reflected in names.
There have been extensive studies of Armenian names in the Armenian
language, but little has appeared in English and many Armenians (born
outside of Armenia) do not understand the significance of their own names.
** REPLY from 'gamavor':
The author of this article is Armenian 'wanna be'...
"Ian" simply means "belonging to", "possesson of", 'related to', "comming
from", exactly the same way as the slavonic "OV".
JohanSON, PeterSON, etc.. may mean SON OF as well as IBN or BEN Eliazer,
(son of), or BEN Gurion, etc...
The word for SON in Armenian is VORTI or DGHA. In Armenian there is no word
'IAN'. Ian is just ending just like in Latin and English - example:
BTW, while 'ian' is perfect Armenian native ending indicating possesion,
like in "Nairian aghchigner" or "Hovagimian aiky", it was not the typical
Armenian surname ending until late 18 century. Indeed, before that the
surname was formed eihter by a short father's name of the person or
geographic location, profession, social status, etc..
'Crypto- Armenians' seen as threat in Turkey
Istanbul MILLI GAZETE newspaper (28.12.05) publishes the following
report under the title: "The Crypto-Armenians among us":
The descendants of the "Crypto-Armenians" who hid their identities
and appeared to be Muslims in order to escape from the forced
migration applied during the deportations imposed in 1915 are now
returning to their true identities.
It has been stated that Armenians who changed their religion to be
ostensible Muslims in order to escape from the forced migration due
to the deportation imposed by the Ottoman State in 1915, or else who
were given to various families for adoption, succeeded in hiding
their existence under this "secret identity" for many years. It is
being claimed that there are currently 30 to 40 thousand
"Crypto-Armenians" living in Turkey as Turks or Kurds.
According to Professor Salim Cohce, who is known for his researches
regarding the Armenians, the Crypto-Armenians appear to be Muslims
but still maintain their Gregorian traditions. Cohce, stating that
some studies have been carried out on these people in recent periods,
points out that, in the near future, they are going to be used in
order to realize the dreams of the Armenians.
Cohce says that they identified over 3,500 Crypto-Armenians in
fieldwork conducted in Malatya.
Speaking with Aksiyon magazine, Cohce states that yet another
interesting determination had been made in Tunceli. He stresses that
the population records of two thousand people were taken to Aydin
although they themselves did not emigrate, and that two years later,
these records were modified to read "Muslim" rather than "Christian"
in the religion category, and they were then taken back to Tunceli.
Cohce states that the number of converts to Islam following the
deportation was about 100 thousand.
There are 40 thousand hidden Armenians
According to a study entitled "Armenians in Turkey Today" [provided
in English] written in 2002 by Dr Tessa Hofmann, who serves as an
"expert witness" in the hearings of Turks of Armenian origin who
apply for political asylum in Germany, there are "40 thousand hidden
Armenians" in Turkey. But it is being seen clearly, in the numbers of
people changing their religions, that, apart from certain exceptions,
the Armenians who ostensibly converted to Islam in the past are now
engaged in returning to their actual identities. While 2,630 people
in Turkey changed their religions during the years 1916-2004, 2,172
of these consisted of those returning to their previous religions.
Over 60 percent of those returning to their original religion, or
1,340 people, consisted of Armenians. Those changing their religions
were largely registered in various provinces such as Istanbul,
Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, Batman, Sivas, Tunceli, Malatya, Elazig,
Kayseri, Mersin, and Mardin.
Professor Salim Cohce explains that activities involving hidden and
converted Armenians in Malatya increased after 1995, and that in
2003, some 120 persons of Armenian origin with Muslim names submitted
a petition for the re-opening of the church at Cavusoglu.
Cohce stresses that covert efforts are being made, via citizens of
Armenian origin, to regain deed records and former properties. Cohce
also claims that, during investigations conducted in Malatya, they
identified "converts" [Turkish muhtedi] who had assumed the position
of MHP [Nationalist Action Party] Provincial Chairman.
Could be used in "Urban Terrorism"
Cohce, indicating that there are also, among the converts, those who
truly became Muslims and live accordingly, says that "The 'Crypto-'
or 'secret' Armenians are those who only appear to be Muslim in
identity. Since they have not to date been seen as a threat, they
have not been monitored by the state. Also, they have manipulated
their population records. For this reason, it is very difficult to
determine their actual numbers."
Stressing his belief that the Crypto-Armenians are going to
constitute a danger, Cohce points as examples to the efforts made by
Armenian groups regarding them, particularly in recent years. Cohce
claims that "Efforts are being made to remind them of their
identities. Financial assistance is being provided. I think that,
just like the emergence of the PKK after ASALA [Armenian Secret Army
for the Liberation of Armenia], these people will be used for "urban
terrorism" within Turkey in the post-PKK period. Such a formation
could be brought about by 2010. Likewise, I believe that, by
reminding them consciously of their Armenian identity, these people
are in the future going to come before Turkey with demands for land
Maintain close contact with PKK
Cohce, drawing attention to the close contact between the
Crypto-Armenians and the PKK, says the following: "A meeting was held
in 1980 at the Gulbenkian Foundation, which financed ASALA. It was
decided to use the PKK as a "pawn" organization in order for Turkey's
authority in the region to be weakened, and for its population to be
reduced. The PKK's initial ability to form an effective lobby in
Europe and the United States, and to get support, came about with the
help of these circles. And the existence of individuals of Armenian
origin within the PKK, and even the killing of a number of them,
corroborates this. Likewise, the existence of 'Turks' among the
founders and current leaders of the PKK is thought-provoking."
by Lory Tatoulian
GLENDALE, Calif. -- On Monday May 7, 250 people gathered at the Glendale
Public Library to attend a special symposium titled, "If The Armenian
Genocide is Recognized, What Does the Armenian Community Expect Next?" The
event was organized by the Armenian Professional Society, one of whose many
goals is to bring vibrant programs, thinkers, and speakers to the public
arena. The evening's program brought together a panel of five guests: Ben
Charchian, Mark Chenian, Levon Marashlian, Harut Sassounian, and Hovann
Simonian. The colloquium was moderated by Hrair Dekemejian, professor of
political science at USC and author of many books.
During the forum each panelist was allotted eight minutes to present his
articles and opinions on the matter. The range of thought and abstracts
varied from legal resources to a more opinion-oriented discourse.
Ben Charchian, an attorney representing the law firm Vartkes Yeghiayan and
Associates, spoke first. Charchian's presentation focused on how the courts
can be used to go beyond Genocide recognition. "The court system is an
excellent means to get reparations from companies. These are companies that
unduly profited because of the Armenian Genocide."
The law firm of Vartkes Yeghiayan settled two major lawsuits regarding
reparations; one was with AXA, the other with New York Life. Yeghiayan's law
firm believes in being active now, not waiting for Genocide recognition.
Charchian explained: "These companies issued life insurance policies to
Armenians before the Genocide. After the Genocide they breached their
contracts, didn't pay the beneficiaries of those who were murdered during
the Armenian Genocide. We have to attend to these lawsuits." This is
contract law, he said, "and the Genocide is a background issue."
Yeghiayan's law firm is systematically preparing to file many more
lawsuits against companies to gain reparations. Charchian believes that the
power of the court will be the conduit through which success can be
achieved. "The courts listen to these issues on common law, breaching of
contract; those are the way they decide,. We need to go after these
companies now. The good news is we don't have to wait until Genocide
recognition, we are actually getting reparations as these two companies
show." Charchian also expressed his views on the courts' limitations. He
gave the example of Deutsche Bank's presence in Western Armenia during and
after the Genocide. Deutsche Bank looted the accounts of Armenian patrons'
assets after the Genocide, he said. In addition, the bank used Armenians who
survived the death marches as slave laborers to construct significant
portions of the Berlin-Baghdad railways.
Next in line on the panel was entrepreneur and community activist Mark
Chenian, vice president of an investment firm in Beverly Hills. Chenian is
also serves on the Steering Committee at USC's Institute of Armenian
Studies. Chenian began by reworking the question and posing one of his own.
He asked "What direction will the Armenian community take if and when the
Genocide is recognized?" Chenian presented a series of suggestions.
"Armenians fundamentally have to change their thinking from relying on
others into self-reliance. We need a core of legal scholarship. We should
recruit top-notch students to study the constitutional private law and
combine the students with revered scholars and then be allowed to claim our
case within the sphere of human rights, international law, genocide, and
other related war crimes." Chenian continued a litany of his admonitions,
one being that all Armenians should not only have a sophomoric understanding
of the Genocide, but be able to expand the scope of their knowledge and
understand it with scholarly insight.
Levon Marashilian began by expressing many of his viewpoints "Turkey's
recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not anywhere around the corner. If
there were no financial or territorial consequences for Turkey to worry
about, recognition would be easier." Marashlian teaches at the local
community college here. He has written many newspaper articles on the
Armenian Genocide. Marashlian said that many Armenians wish to have
recognition but feel it is no longer realistic to gain back territory or
financial compensation. "Recognition without justice is nowhere near enough.
Justice is essential for Armenia's survival and prosperity as a country.
Without justice Armenia has a very dark future. The purpose of the Genocide
was to eliminate Armenia as a factor from the region forever. Armenia now is
a landlocked country with little resources. If it weren't for the Genocide,
there would be about 25 million Armenians living there today. Justice for
the Genocide is the only way Armenia can become a country you can be proud
of. The Armenians who say that compensation is out of the picture are
willingly condemning Armenia to remain in its current state." Marashlian's
closing statements were echoed with favorable applause form the audience.
Harut Sassounian, a community activist and prolific writer, has written
many articles on the Armenian Genocide. He is the publisher of the
California Courier and his other roles include serving as the vice president
of the Lincy Foundation and president of the United Armenia Fund. In his
opening remarks, Sassouinian declared "The Armenian Genocide is already
recognized. The whole world already knows that there was a genocide." He
continued, "countries and presidents around the world for years have
recognized the Genocide. President Reagan recognized it in 1981. We have to
get out of the victim mentality, and instead be self-assured and demand our
rights. We have to get on the offensive and take the initiative. The Turkish
government has not officially recognized the Armenian Genocide; that's their
problem. They know its true; we know its true. It would be in their interest
to recognize it." He went on to explain that if Turkey continues to deny the
Genocide, they it will continually have to pay the price with aversive
public opinion on a global scale. "Our dream is not for Turkey to recognize
the Genocide. An entire civilization was annihilated, our ancient lands were
taken from us. We need the return of the looted assets of the Armenian
The last guest on the panel to speak was doctorial candidate Hovann
Simonian. He is co-author of the book, Troubled Waters: The Geopolitics of
the Caspian. He also recently published a book about the Hemshin people
living in Northern Turkey who were forcefully converted to Islam about 300
years ago. Simonian's presentation was more linear. "The type of
compensation Armenian should ask for is private restitution. People should
be able to ask for either the return of their private property or monetary
compensation. The Armenian Church can likewise ask for all its churches ands
monasteries back. That can be negotiated."
The program continued with a dialogue session of questions and answers
with the audience. Academic cadences and sheer concern mixed throughout the
evening, with audience members exploring insightful solutions to this most
Posted by Seta at 23:39
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Press Release - Call for UK Recognition of the Armenian Genocide to further, 'Real' Human Rights in Turkey
British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group
& Nor Serount Publications
Call for UK Recognition of the Armenian Genocide to further real Human Rights in Turkey
Turkish and Kurdish democrats and human rights activists called for change in British Policy on the Armenian Genocide to promote Human Rights Reform in Turkey. At the invitation of Armenia Solidarity, the British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group & Nor Serount Publications on Wednesday, 2nd of May 2007, in the House of Lords, in the UK parliament, they addressed a meeting on British recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians to wider Human Rights issues in Turkey. The meeting was sponsored, chaired and moderated by the Rt Hon Baroness Park of Monmouth.
Ragip Zarakoglu, Turkish author, human rights activist and publisher, characterised Turkey as a 'security state' despite essentially cosmetic changes to some legislation. Notwithstanding changes in names of the courts, the same mindsets in the legal processes were delivering unchanged judgements contrary to the long-term interests of the people in Turkey and their progress towards democratisation.
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide and respect for the Kurds are two important steps that would facilitate real changes needed within the country. Denying the realities of history was the rallying point for ultra-nationalists who were encouraged by the silence of the USA and Britain. This reflected badly on the standing of these countries as it demonstrated double standards compared to the way they approached other human rights issues. The number of Islamists in Turkey was relatively low but the policies of other countries was making them more influential, for example by allowing to attack democrats. The paradox is that Europe is apprehensive of ultra-nationalists yet creates conditions for them to thrive.
Murat Aktas, the Kurdish journalist and political sociologist, referred to the deep-rooted long-standing attitudes in Turkish society that had to be confronted. There is a culture of xenophobia against non-Muslims including Christians and Alevis, and tendency to humiliate anyone not of Turkish origin. Hrant Dink's assassination and other extra-judicial killings gave the message that the ultra-nationalists can kill when they want to in pursuit of their objectives. This is not just a Turkish problem but one that involves all humanity.
According to British author Desmond Fernandes, British parliamentarians should be clear that denial of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey is linked to the repression of non-Turkish minorities. Britain could not continue with its current attitudes of facilitating denial in the face of the unequivocal statements of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and persuading Turkey to move on this would lead to true democratisation and relief from the current state oppression. Britain has a special role because of its contemporaneous judgement that there had been crimes against humanity*.
* May 24, 1915 Joint Declaration of Entente/Allied Powers -- Russia, France & Great Britain:
"In view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied governments announce publicly…that they will hold personally responsible…all members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres."
Guerre 1914-1918, Turquie, 887. Armenie, 1, (May 26, 1915).
FO 371/2488/51010 (May 28, 1915).
British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group - Tel 01494 816 757, email@example.com
Nor Serount Publications - Tel 020 8997 1200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Seta at 11:02
Monday, 7 May 2007
By Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraphic Agency United States Jewish groups are caught in the middle of a growing political struggle between two of their traditional friends, Turks and Armenians.
Top Turkish officials and Turkish Jewish leaders in recent weeks have sought help from U.S. Jewish leaders to stave off an effort in the U.S. Congress to define World War I-era massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a Jewish congressman whose district includes Burbank and Glendale and stretches to Temple City, represents a substantial Armenian constituency. He has tried multiple times to pass such a resolution and this time has garnered nearly 200 co-sponsors for his non-binding resolution (HR106), and believes he has the backing of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), speaker of the House of Representatives. Pelosi has met with U.S. Armenian leaders.
"The fevered intensity of the lobbying shows they realize it has the strongest support in recent years," Schiff said.
Los Angeles-based Jewish World Watch (JWW) this year has also become involved in the issue; on Friday, April 27, the Jewish and Armenian communities will observe the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide in a Shabbat dinner at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, with His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, Western Diocese, American Church of North America as the guest of honor. JWW is also actively urging Congress to support HR106.
The Turkish lobbying has had some effect. B'nai B'rith International, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee and the JewishInstitute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) are set to convey a letter from Turkish Jews who oppose the resolution to U.S. congressional leaders.
The ADL and JINSA have added their own statements opposing the bill.
"I don't think congressional action will help reconcile the issue," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. "The resolution takes a position; it comes to a judgment. "The Turks and Armenians need to revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn't be the arbiter of that history, nor should the U.S. Congress."
Schiff says the resolution reflects the historical reality. He notes that Raphael Lemkin, a Jew who coined the term "genocide" in 1943 to describe Nazi actions against Jews, cited the Armenian massacres as a precedent.
The historical parallels between the two events help explain the Jewish community's reluctance to back the Turkish effort to stop Schiff's resolution.
Off the record, Jewish officials say a community struggling to stem the tide of Holocaust revisionism is hardly in a position to endorse efforts to deny what Lemkin and other Holocaust chroniclers have described as the Holocaust's antecedent.
Estimates of the number of Armenians killed in the massacres vary from 300,000 -- the official Turkish number -- to more than 1 million.
Additionally, Jewish and Armenian community leaders have a history of friendly relations. Armenians, who are Christians, have in the past let Israeli leaders know that if the Old City of Jerusalem is partitioned in a peace agreement with the Palestinians, they would prefer that the Armenian Quarter remain under Israeli control.
"I'm pleased Jewish organizations have resisted efforts by Turkey," Schiff said. "I would encourage them to go beyond resisting pressure to affirmative support to recognize this genocide."
That's not likely. Turkey is the closest Muslim ally to the United States and Israel, and participates in joint military exercises with both nations. Jews also appreciate the relatively safe existence Turkey's Jewish community has enjoyed for centuries.
Significantly, a Jewish community delegation, led by community president Silvyo Ovadya, was one of three delegations Turkey sent to Washington in recent months. The other two were Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's entourage in February, and a multiparty delegation of six senior lawmakers that arrived this week. All three met with U.S. Jewish leaders, as well as
administration and congressional officials.
The Jewish delegation, whose visit coincided with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual policy forum in March, warned U.S. Jewish leaders that passage of the resolution would harm Turkey's Western tilt and could make things uncomfortable for the country's Jews.
The parliamentary delegation predicted no such backlash against the Jews, appreciating the Jewish decision to hold back and Israel's own reluctance to characterize the 1915 massacres as genocide.
"Turkey and Israel have a vested interest in each other's welfare and safety," said Sukru Mustafa Elekdag of the opposition Republican People's Party.
Instead, they warned of broader consequences for the U.S.-Turkish alliance.
"It will hurt the feelings of Turks," said Yasar Yakis, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party and the delegation's leader. The delegates cited the experience of France, where the National Assembly last year recognized the massacres as genocide. Turkey has since rolled back some commercial ties with France.
"If it passes, I cannot exclude very important negative consequences on all aspects of relations, including defense relations," Yakis said.
If so, it would typify Turkey's behavior toward Israel. Turkey frequently issues harsh denunciations of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, yet bristles and threatens consequences over the merest hint of Israeli criticism of Turkey.
Elekdag said the genocide resolution could become an issue in elections later this year. "Our public is extremely sensitive on these matters. Unwanted events could happen," he said.
Turks perceive the push as a show of Armenia's muscle, the lawmakers said. They believe the Armenian government wants to distract international attention from its treatment of its native Azerbaijanis. Turks feel close to Azerbaijanis, Muslims who speak a Turkic language.
The parliamentarians wondered why U.S. Jews were holding back from fully opposing the resolution, and speculated that it might have to do with the Turkish government's decision last year to meet with leaders of Hamas, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority that rejects Israel's existence and embraces terrorism.
Onur Oymen, vice president of the opposition Republican People's Party, said Israel had moved on from the Hamas controversy, and so should U.S. Jews.
"The Jewish community should not change its position because of one moment," he said, noting that his party had vehemently opposed the meeting.
The Turkish Embassy in Washington ran a full-page ad in Monday's New York Times calling for a commission of historians from Armenia, Turkey and other nations to investigate the World War I-era events.
"Support efforts to examine history, not legislate it," the ad said.
Turkey would abide by whatever the commission concludes, the visiting delegations have said. Schiff ridiculed the idea. He likened it to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent conference to provide an "objective" opinion on the Holocaust, essentially an exercise in Holocaust denial.
"It's somewhat akin to Ahmadinejad hosting a conference on the Holocaust to invite people to deny it," he said. "The idea of a conference I find an offensive stratagem."
Posted by Seta at 12:55
Turkey's continued refusal to address the Armenian Genocide remains a
source of tension between U.S. and other Western democracies and
Turkey, said the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
(USCIRF) in its annual recommendations released on May 2.
USCIRF is a bi-partisan federal body created by Congress through the
International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 "to monitor the status of
freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, [...] and
to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the
Secretary of State, and the Congress."
In the Turkey portion of its 2007 report, USCIRF details formal
restrictions and other violations of freedom of religion for both
majority Muslims and minority Christian communities. It notes,
however, that "the consequences of some of Turkey's state policies
toward religion have been particularly detrimental for religious
minorities," such as Armenians.
"Built into the founding of Turkish identity was the implicit
understanding that citizens other than ethnic Turks residing in Turkey
are potentially suspect, since they allegedly harbor a secret desire
to secede from and hence, dismember the country," says the report.
"This fear of dismemberment, which has fueled a strain of virulent
nationalism in Turkey, continues to hold sway in some sectors of
society, resulting in state policies that actively undermine ethnic
and minority religious communities, and, in some cases, threaten
their very existence. The Commission learned in meetings that the
Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox communities are focal
points for this perception and its resultant policies."
The report points to prosecution and subsequent murder Hrant Dink
over ""insulting" the Turkish state because of his use of the term
"Armenian genocide" in his public remarks and written publications" as
"just one example" of such policies.
The report says that even though "during the Commission's visit, the
issue of the Armenian genocide was not raised by any interlocutors,
the continued refusal of the Turkish government to recognize the event
continues to be a source of controversy in Turkey's relations with
other western countries, including the United States." Visit
http://www.uscirf.gov to read the full report.
UNITED NATIONS, April 30 (Reuters) - An exhibit on the lessons of the
genocide in Rwanda opened on Monday, three weeks after Turkey forced
its delay because of references to the murders of Armenians during
World War One.
The language on the Armenians was changed to say "Ottoman Empire"
instead of "Turkey" and does not include the number of people killed
on panels in the exhibit that include photos, statements and video
There was no immediate reaction from Turkey but Armenian envoys and
sponsors of the exhibit, the British-based Aegis, said they were
satisfied with the compromise.
Originally, the lettering on a panel said: "Following World War One,
during which 1 million Armenians were murdered in Turkey, Polish
lawyer Raphael Lemkin urged the League of Nations to recognize crimes
of barbarity as international crimes," Smith said.
The new wording says: "In 1933, the lawyer Raphael Lemkin, a Polish
Jew, urged the League of Nations to recognize mass atrocities against
a particular group as an international crime. He cited mass killings
of Armenians in the Ottoman empire in World War I and other mass
killings in history. He was ignored."
Some 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of Ottoman Turks,
according to historians. Turkey, whose diplomats had protested the
exhibit, denies any systematic genocide, saying large numbers of
both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in a partisan conflict
raging at that time.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the exhibit in commemoration
of the 13th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, in which 800,000
people, mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were massacred by militant
Hutus in April 1994.
Ban recalled how he visited Rwanda last year and talk to "those
who had endured one of humankind's darkest chapters."
But Ban, in a gesture to Turkey, said the exhibit did not "attempt
to make historical judgments on other issues."
He said the United Nations "has taken no position on events"
that took place before World War Two "that led to the birth of the
Ban also said the post of special advisor on genocide, now held by
Juan Mendez of Argentina, would be elevated to a full-time rather
than a part-time position.
He said governments had agreed in principle of the "responsibility
to protect" civilians when their governments could or would not do so.
"Our challenge now is to give real meaning to the concept by taking
steps to make it operational," Ban said. "Only then will it truly give
hope to those facing genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity
and ethnic cleansing."
The exhibit was installed in the U.N. visitors lobby by the
British-based Aegis Trust. The trust campaigns for the prevention
of genocide and runs a center in Kigali, the Rwandan capital,
memorializing the victims of the massacres.
While Ban did not mention the deaths in Sudan's western region of
Darfur, Aegis made clear that Darfur was on its agenda and that
learning from the Holocaust or from Rwanda meant "had practical
implications for the world today."
"Genocide never happens by chance. It takes time to plan and
organize. The warning signs are always there," one of the panels in
the exhibit said.
Saturday, 5 May 2007
A military coup was avoided, but an early election looms. Turkey's problems are postponed, not solved
ITS prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it was “a shot fired at democracy.” Others labelled it an “e-coup”. Whatever you call it, a threat to intervene against Turkey's mildly Islamist government posted on the general staff's website on April 27th has hurt democracy and deepened the chasm between the secular and the pious. A defiant Mr Erdogan has called for an early general election. It may take place in July, instead of the scheduled date, November 4th. Opinion polls suggest that his AK Party will again beat its secular rivals.
How would the army respond to that? Seasoned Turkey-watchers who once scoffed at the notion of another coup say that it now can't be ruled out. Many admit that the European Union is partly to blame. EU dithering over Turkish membership has dented enthusiasm: when Olli Rehn, the enlargement commissioner, scolded the army for its meddling, few paid attention.
The row began when Mr Erdogan nominated his foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, to replace President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who steps down on May 16th. Mr Gul once flirted with political Islam; his wife wears a headscarf (as do 55% of Turkish women). That was deemed to pose an existential threat to the secular republic. Deniz Baykal, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), succeeded in blocking Mr Gul's election in a first parliamentary vote on April 27th, claiming, dubiously, to the constitutional court that parliament lacked a quorum.
It was up to the court to decide if Mr Baykal was right. But the generals were taking no chances. In their ultimatum, delivered before the 11 judges gave their verdict on May 1st, the army listed examples of how the government was supposedly allowing the country to drift towards an Islamic theocracy. When the court then ruled in favour of the opposition, nobody was surprised.
Nearly a million secularist Turks gathered in Istanbul on April 29th, to stage their second mass protest against the government in a fortnight. That makes it hard for Mr Erdogan and his AK Party to dismiss the crisis as a brazen attempt by the army to reassert its influence. Chanting “no to coups” and “no to sharia” the demonstrators said their free-wheeling lifestyles were under threat. Many were women who say they are the most vulnerable of all. Some cited attempts by the AK to create “alcohol-free zones”, others a bid to outlaw adultery. Many declared that an AK president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker was more than they could bear.
Yet none was able to name a single law promoted by the party that directly challenged the secular tenets of the constitution—because there is none.
The deeper malaise felt by these urban secular “white Turks” is really rooted in the millions-strong migration from rural Anatolia to the big cities in past decades. Assertively pious and aggressively entrepreneurial, this new class, championed by Mr Erdogan, has been steadily chipping away at the economic and political power of the secular elite. “The white Turks see women with headscarves walking dogs [and] jogging in their neighbourhoods and it drives them mad,” says Baskin Oran, a liberal academic in Ankara. That shock may fade; in time it will become more difficult for the generals to turn secular hostility to Anatolian carpetbaggers into paranoia about creeping Islam, he reckons.
The secularists have weaknesses too. The CHP, founded by Turkey's republican hero, Kemal Ataturk, has been out of power for more than a decade. Kemalism once transformed Turkey, but has now failed to transform itself, says Mr Oran.
While the cocky Mr Baykal shows no signs of self-reproach, an unprecedented bout of soul-searching prompted by the cyber-coup is beginning to grip the AK. During four and a half years it has failed to assuage secular suspicions and to reach out to the opposition. The party should have realised that the country was not ready to have an AK president, a party chief concedes. The present rumpus could have been averted had Mr Erdogan picked a presidential candidate outside his party. Now the prime minister suggests changing the constitution to let the people choose the head of state themselves.
That might be a step forward, but sceptical liberals say Mr Erdogan's views on democracy are selective. “Where was he when Kurdish politicians were being arrested and beaten and Nokta [a dissident magazine] raided by police?” asks one.
The government's response to the army's ultimatum was unusually crisp. Cemil Cicek, the justice minister, called it “unacceptable” and reminded the generals that they were constitutionally bound to take their orders from the prime minister, not vice versa.
It is not just the army's taste for politics that is worrying. The top general recently said a military attack on Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq was “necessary” and “useful”. Though he agreed that the constitution gave parliament authority over the armed forces, many fear that the army may decide to attack all the same. “They are itching to,” whispers a westerner who observes Turkish security. This may explain why America's response to the political crisis has been so lame. “The last thing they want is a quarrel with the Turkish military,” a European official observes. The nightmare for America is Turkish and American soldiers exchanging fire in Iraq. Based on the past week's events, nothing can be ruled out.
Posted by Seta at 11:12
If Turks have to choose, democracy is more important than secularism
At a time when Muslim fundamentalism seems to be on the rise all around the world, the sight of somewhere between half a million and a million people marching through Istanbul in defence of secularism is a remarkable one. But then Turkey is a remarkable place. As a mainly Muslim country that practises full secular democracy, it is a working refutation of the widespread belief that Islam and democracy are incompatible.
That's not the only reason why Turkey matters. It is a big and strategically important country, has the largest army in NATO after America's, offers a crucial energy route into Europe that avoids Russia and is the source of much of the water in the Middle East. If the negotiations under way for its entry into the European Union succeed, it will be the EU's biggest country by population. But the reason that the world's eyes are fixed on it this week is the possibility that the army might intervene to limit Islam's role in government. For if Turkey cannot reconcile Islam and democracy, who can?
Over the years Turkish democracy has shown itself to be vibrant yet fragile. A string of military coups and interventions stand as testimony to the army's self-appointed role as the guardian of Kemal Ataturk's secular republic. The most recent instance came a mere ten years ago—the so-called post-modern coup that led to the ousting of a previous moderate Islamist government.
On April 27th the army suggested that it might do the same again. Just before midnight, after a day of inconclusive parliamentary voting for a new president, the army's general staff posted a declaration on its website that attacked the nomination of Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister, for the presidency, and hinted none too subtly at a possible coup against the mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister who nominated Mr Gul. On May 1st the constitutional court annulled the first round of parliamentary voting for the president, saying not enough members were present. Mr Erdogan promptly said he would call a snap parliamentary election. Street protests, first in Ankara and then in Istanbul, have heightened tension. The cities' coffee houses are buzzing with conspiracy theories.
Given the fractious state of the main opposition parties, and his government's record over the past four years, pollsters expect Mr Erdogan to win another thumping majority. He may then choose to stick with Mr Gul for the presidency, or he may look for another candidate. But he is unlikely to pick one who meets the objections of the army and the secularists.
Turkey's secularists have always mistrusted the AK Party, which has Islamist roots and in government has sometimes toyed with moderate Islamist measures. They especially dislike Mr Gul and Mr Erdogan because their wives sport the Muslim headscarf, which in Ataturk's republic is banned in public buildings. They fret at the prospect of such people controlling not only the government and parliament, as now, but the presidency as well. They fear that once the AK Party has got that triple crown, it will show its true colours—and that they will be rather greener. Given that a fundamental reading of Islamic texts sees no distinction between religion and the state, and that fundamentalism is spreading in the Muslim world, it is understandable that people should entertain such fears.
Yet they do not justify a military intervention such as that of April 27th. However desirable it may be to preserve Ataturk's secular legacy, that cannot come at the expense of overriding the normal process of democracy—even if that process produces bad, ineffective, corrupt or mildly Islamist governments. Algeria, where 150,000 people died in a civil war after an election which Islamists won was annulled in 1992, holds a sharp lesson about what can happen when soldiers suppress popular will. Of course, Turkey is not Algeria; but armies everywhere should beware of subverting elections. It is up to voters, not soldiers, to punish governments—and they will now have the opportunity to do so in Turkey.
They may not want to. Mr Erdogan's government has been Turkey's most successful in half a century. After years of macroeconomic instability, growth has been steady and strong, inflation has been controlled and foreign investment has shot up. Even more impressive are the judicial and constitutional reforms that the AK government has pushed through. Corruption remains a blemish, but there is no sign of the government trying to overturn Turkey's secular order. The record amply justifies Mr Erdogan's biggest achievement: to persuade the EU to open membership talks, over 40 years after a much less impressive Turkey first expressed its wish to join.
Unfortunately, the EU's enthusiasm for Turkish entry, never high, has visibly waned. Were Nicolas Sarkozy to win the French presidency on May 6th, that would be another setback to Turkey's ambitions: he is categorically against the notion of it ever joining the EU.
In practice there is no chance of Turkey actually signing on the dotted line for another decade. But the perception in the country that so many current members are against it matters, for it reduces the EU's influence. Were the prospects of EU membership obviously brighter, the army would not have intervened as brutally. As it is, the EU's mild condemnation was shrugged off in Ankara, especially when the Americans said nothing at all. Their influence in Turkey is also much diminished, mainly because the war in Iraq has inflamed anti-American feeling.
Given the West's declining influence on their country's actions, Turks themselves must resolve their political crisis. The best way to do that would be to reject the army's intervention by re-electing the AK Party. The secularists' fears of the creeping Islamisation are understandable; but the AK Party's record does not justify it, and military intervention is no way to avert it. For the sake of the state they are trying to protect, Turkey's soldiers should stay out of politics.
Friday, 4 May 2007
PRESS AND INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
Government House # 2, Republic SquareYerevan 0010, Republic of Armenia
Telephone: +37410. 544041 ext 202
Fax: +37410. 562543
Speech by H. E. Vartan Oskanian
Minister of Foreign Affairs
At a Commemorative Evening
Brussels, April 25, 2007
Thank you Mr. du Vivier, for sharing this evening with us and conveying
your message from the halls of Brussels. And thank you Sergey and
Lusine. Sergey graciously accepted my invitation to join us this evening,
because I knew well that Sergey's message will resonate in this
hall and stay with us as the context for an evening of commemoration.
This is an evening of commemoration, much like those that are being
held in nearly every major city around the world this week. It is a day
of remembrance much like those that have been held every year for
the last half century.
But over these years, and especially since independence, the nature
and the purpose of our remembering have changed.
I would like to speak with you today not just about our past, but about
our future. I want to set the record straight about what we want for our
people, our country and our neighborhood. And I want to do that here
in this European capital that is the symbol of unity and not divisiveness.
Today, I want to talk about what we remember, how we remember and
how the reasons for remembering have evolved, just as our communities,
our country and the world around us have evolved. We have had a difficult,
painful past that we will continue to remember and honor. But let me be
clear, we don't want to live in the past. We want to reconcile with the
past, as we forge a future.
In Aleppo, Syria, where I grew up, remembering rituals consisted mainly of
gathering to hear the stories of someone who had suffered things we could
not really imagine. Aleppo was the end of the road for those who were
deported and marched thru the deserts. This is where those with no hope
of returning to their homes set up ramshackle, flimsy refugee camps,
trying to cope with enormous loss, with wounds that refused to heal.
I think back now at our nave efforts to lessen the grief of the survivors
by encouraging them to forget and not to speak of their experiences. We
did not understand that their lives and outlooks, memories and
experiences were forever traumatized. That is how they lived, how they
raised their children, how they interacted with the societies and countries
in which they found refuge. This we learned years later, as we read about
Holocaust survivors trying to cope.
Only when solitary memories were transformed into formal, community-
wide tributes, did the survivors begin to feel that their own individual
histories of horror had significance beyond the personal. Remembering
became a shared activity, a commemoration. Decades later, programs
such as Remembering the Cambodian Genocide, and the Remembering
Rwanda Project served the same purpose.
For Armenians, commemorations became the outlet for the disbelief and
outrage at how this historical event deeply affected our way of being in
the world, our sense of personal and collective identity. This was a new
generation, no longer victims, a generation that had come to understand
that what had been done had been done not to 1.5 million individual
Armenians who comprised 2/3 of a nation, but to an entire people who
had been massacred, uprooted, deported and whose way of life, whose
culture and history, had forever been altered. And all this, by
For a long time, we memorialized these events by ourselves.
We were left alone because there were two versions of history
the official and the alleged. The acknowledged and the denied.
The Ottoman Empire that fell was succeeded by a Republic
with an immaculate, almost divine, self-image. Such murderous
acts and their tolerance could not fit within this self-definition.
Therefore, a new history was invented in which these acts
never happened. The crimes were never committed. The records
of their own military tribunals were ignored, the eye-witness
reports of missionaries and diplomats were disputed.
Our history became the Oalleged truth. Their history was the official
truth. And since the official truth had the backing of the entire state
apparatus, ours became the forgotten genocide.
Occasionally, some would raise their voices against forgetting, and for
condemnation. In 1987, Mr. du Villier and others introduced a resolution
at the European Parliament, calling the events of 1915, Genocide. Since
then, a host of countries have joined us in recognition and in
These commemorations are very critical in the face of growing threat of
genocide in the world today from Bosnia to Rwanda to Darfur.
Commemoration is a way of countering the distortion of history,
countering the subversion of truth by power.
Commemoration is the victory of truth over expediency.
Commemoration is a condemnation of the violence.
Commemoration is a call to responsibility, and therefore to prevention.
Commemoration is an acknowledgement of the past, and even the
present, but not an obstacle to the future.
And herein lies the irony , I don't want to say impasse in our relations
today, with Turkey.
We cannot build a future alone. But neither can we build a future
together with a neighbor that is disingenuous about the past, our
This Monday's International Herald Tribune carried an advert that
also ran in many major newspapers around the world. It is a perfect
distillation of Turkey's willful blindness to historical and political
processes surrounding it. Just as it succeeded in creating a new
history for itself, it wants the world and us to dismiss all other
histories not in line with its own.
Turkey calls for Armenians to agree to a historical commission
to study the genocide. Not because none have ever convened,
but because Turkey does not like their conclusions! Reputable
institutions such as the International Association of Genocide
Scholars, the International Center for Transitional Justice have
seriously studied these historic events, independent of political
pressures, and independently arrived at the conclusion that the
events of 1915 constituted Genocide.
Does Turkey want to go shopping for yet another commission,
hoping for different results? It has gagged its writers and
historians with a criminal code that punishes free speech.
What does it expect these historians to study? And with a
closed border between our two countries, how does it expect
these historians will meet to explore this topic? This is why we
wonder about the sincerity and usefulness of the historical
Despite these obvious obstacles to serious scholarly exchange, we have
agreed to an intergovernmental commission that can discuss everything,
so long as there are open borders between our two countries. If Turkey
need discussion, we are ready to cooperate. But we don't want
discussion for discussion's sake; we don't want discussion of the past to
replace today's vital political processes that are essential for us, for
Turkey, for the region. Yes, we want to explore and understand our
common past, together. But we don't want that past to be the sole
link between our peoples and our countries. We don't want that
past to condition the future.
We, the victims of Genocide, have not made Turkey's recognition
of that act conditional for our present or future relations. Turkey,
however, wants Armenians in and out of Armenia to renounce our
past, to understand their denial of our past, as a condition for
moving forward. Who is trapped in the past?
I welcome the words of a Turkish intellectual who has said, I am neither
guilty nor responsible for what was done 90 years ago. But I feel
responsible for what can be done now.
I, too, believe that we must distinguish between the Ottoman
Empire and today's government of Turkey. But I must say that
although that is possible to do when speaking of the events of
1915, it becomes increasingly difficult to do when speaking
about the denial of the Turkish state today.
As Elie Wiesel said, the denial of genocide is the continuation of
genocide So, how do we distinguish between the two states, if the
ideology that is put forth and defended is the same?. This policy of
denial is both intellectually and morally bankrupt. And it is costing us
all time. The later they get around to making a distinction between their
stand and that of their predecessors, the harder it will be to dissociate
the two regimes in people's minds.
It is absurd that 92 years later, Turkey can say, in public, that the
Armenian allegations of genocide have never been historically or
Armenians were one of the largest minorities of the Ottoman Empire.
Where did they go? Is it possible that all our grandmothers and
grandfathers colluded and created stories? Where are the descendants
of the Armenians who built the hundreds of churches and monasteries
whose ruins still stand today? What kind of open and honest discussion
is possible with a government that loudly and proudly announces its
renovation of the medieval Armenian jewel of a church, Akhtamar in
Lake Van, while it carefully, consistently, removes every reference to its
Armenianness from all literature and signs?
What is Turkey afraid of?
It is a political reality that Armenia is not a security threat to Turkey.
It is a political reality that both Turkey and Armenia exist today in the
international community with their current borders.
Today, as the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia, as the
grandson of genocide survivors, I can only say that Armenia and
Turkey are neighbors who will remain neighbors. We share a border.
We can only move forward together.
There is no national history in a vacuum. It can neither be created nor
transcended in a vacuum. For France and Germany, England and
France, Poland and Germany, in order to transcend their histories of
conflict, they had to transcend the past together to transform their
future. That, too, can only be done together.
Not always does history give mankind a second chance. In this
neighborhood, with our neighbors, we have a second chance.
We can make history, again, by transcending boundaries and
opening the last closed border in Europe and moving forward,
Europe , the premise of Europe and the legacy of Europe is the
distinct promise of our age. Europe is where one takes from the
past whatever is necessary to move forward. Europe is where
former enemies and adversaries can dismiss and condemn
actions, policies and processes, but not peoples. Instead, people
in Europe move from remorse to reconciliation, and embrace
the future. This is precisely what we want to do in our region.
Posted by Seta at 06:53