Friday, 11 January 2008

2007’s Top 10 Influential Comments or Events in the Armenian World

Executive Publisher/Managing Editor
The year 2007 will go down in the Armenian history annals as a ground-breaking year. In many ways, the year brought an impressive number of victories for the Armenians. How can one talk of 2007 and not mention the valiant individuals who significantly impacted our collective life, in the service of Justice and Humanity?

Can one overlook the hold placed by Sen. Menedez on Amb. Dick Hoagland’s nomination as U.S. Amb. to Armenia? Can you overlook the strong ties that some of our leaders have with world leaders? How can one undervalue the famous presidential letter by French Pres. Nicholas Sarkozy to His Holiness Aram I, the Catholicos of The Great House of Cilicia? Our readers vividly remember the reaffirmation of France’s commitment to Truth and Justice for the Armenian people. Sarkozy blatantly criticized Turkey
for its obstinate denial of the Armenian Genocide and urged it to recognize the Turkish state-sponsored calamity that befell the Armenians.
Another '07 unforgettable event: The "Knock At The Door," the book on an intimate mother-daughter Armenian Genocide-related story earned international acclaim. Its well-known Armenian-American author Margaret Ahnert Ajemian became a target for denialist Turkish violence in New York City in 2007. Contrary to her parents' generation saying "mortseer" ("forget"), Ahnert urges "heesh'eh" ("remember!").

Besides being impressive, the list of influential comments and events that came to life in 2007 in the pages of this weekly, is also encouragingly long. However, because of space and time limitations, this writer had to narrow down to a compressed list of ten. May be in the future, a fellow media worker can expand on this idea and present a comprehensive list. For now here’s the short list of the top comments and/or events in chronological order:
#1. Ahmet Ertegun Knew What’s Good for Turkey: Genocide Recognition

Ahmet Ertegun passed away on
December 14, 2006. On Jan. 5, 2007, Harut Sassounian, the Publisher of The California Courier, wrote: “Ahmet Ertegun was a music magnate who launched the careers of many great singers and groups, such as Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. … He surprised me by saying that he could not understand why Turkish officials denied the Armenian Genocide - a fact known to the entire world. He made it clear that he was not acknowledging the Genocide in order to appease the Armenians. He believed that it was, first of all, in Turkey’s interest to acknowledge the Genocide, because doing so would help Ankara’s application for membership in the European Union and get rid of the stigma that had haunted his native land for so many years. Ertegun said he had read about the Armenian Genocide in many Western books, but had not seen a single reputable book that denied its occurrence. He referred to Turkish officials who denied the Genocide as being ‘Turk ghafali,’ implying that they had a stubborn Turkish mentality.”
#2. TIME EUROPE: Truth Prevails over Millions Spent By Turks to Lie about the Genocide

Feb 9, 2007, Sassounian wrote: “It took a little more than a year and a half, but it was well worth the wait. After lengthy, sometimes complex, but mostly amicable discussions, the European edition of TIME magazine, in its Feb. 12, 2007 issue, published a full-page text on the Armenian Genocide and distributed a complimentary DVD, in English and French, which contains a compelling 52-minute documentary on the Armenian Genocide by French director Laurence Jourdan. The DVD also includes a 46-minute interview with Dr. Yves Ternon, a leading expert on the Armenian Genocide. This issue of the magazine, which has been on newsstands since Feb. 2 in 67 countries throughout Europe, parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, was sold out within the first 48 hours of its availability. When scores of TIME subscribers, the Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) and this columnist complained to TIME executives, Managing Editor James Kelly in a letter to SAA dated Sept. 2, 2005, apologized for having disseminated the Turkish DVD which he said ‘was not adequately reviewed by anyone at TIME.” Furthermore, he acknowledged that the Turkish DVD did not “meet TIME’s standards for fairness and accuracy.’”

#3. Convicted Turkish Denialist Becomes Unwitting Publicist for Genocide

March 16, 2007, Sassounian wrote: “ The Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) and its co-president, Sarkis Shahinian should be commended for initiating the court proceeding against Perincek and sparing no effort in attaining this successful outcome. Given the special role of the SAA in this case, the Judge ordered Perincek to pay to the Swiss Armenian organization an additional $9,000 for legal expenses and ‘moral compensation.’ Clearly, this court case is bound to have far-reaching consequences for the Armenian Cause. For years, Turkish denialists gleefully noted that the Armenian Genocide could not be qualified as such, since there were no court verdicts to that effect. Furthermore, this verdict transcended the conviction of Perincek as a lone Turkish individual. … Despite his limited income, Perincek somehow had managed to charter a large airliner to transport his supporters from Turkey to Switzerland. Since it was obvious that the Turkish authorities were backing Perincek in a variety of ways, his conviction was a major setback for the Turkish state as well. In a written statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared: “The court case was inappropriate, groundless and controversial in every sense.”

#4. A NEW BOOK: “British Reports on Ethnic Cleansing in
Anatolia, 1919-1922: The Armenian-Greek Section”

When in May, 2007, world-famous attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan presented this book, USA Armenian Life reported: “British Reports on Ethnic Cleansing in Anatolia, 1919-1922: Minutes of the Armenian Greek Section, forms a continuum with the “Blue Book” by Viscount Bryce that chronicled the massacres and ethnic cleansing of Armenians in 1915. When it became clear to the British that they couldn’t neutralize Ataturk, they shut down the A.G.S., abandoned
Constantinople, abandoned the Armenians and Greeks still stuck under the yoke of triumphant Turks, declared victory, and returned to England - after having secured rights to Mosul oil. Soon after, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk became the President of the Republic and ever since, successive Turkish governments have denied that, their “War of Independence” was nothing else but the ethnic cleansing of Greeks and Armenians from their millennia-old natural habitats. This important book sets the record straight.”

TURKEY: Who wants to invest in a country with this type of history and philosophy!

May 18, 2007, Michael Williams from Colton, California, a reader of USA Armenian Life, wrote in his letter to Boycott Turkey Committee of America: “The Turkish media claims that their government is secular and that the army would overthrow any Islamic-based government. I have watched a few travel programs where Turkey is highlighted as a peaceful and safe place to travel again emphasizing the secular nature of the government and the fact that they want to and will some day join the European Union. This is not consistent with the facts. It was reported that the Interior Minister of Turkey was smirking as he spoke of the murder of the three missionaries. 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 Christians today.”
#6. Rev. Krikor Aghabaloglu of Istanbul: How free are we?

During the week end of May 17-21, the courageous "Baadvelee" (Reverend) Krikor Aghabaloglu, the pastor of the
Beyoglu Pasha Armenian Evangelical Church in Istanbul, visited the Armenian American community in San Francisco. Rev. Aghabaloglu was invited by Rev. Nerses Balabanian, the pastor of the Calvary Armenian Congregational Church of San Francisco.

Rev. Aghabaloglu 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. Aghabaloglu gave an interview to USA Armenian Life Magazine on Sunday just before his departure to
New Jersey. He told this writer: “Official people do not like the Armenians, because the following lies in their hearts: ‘Why have the Armenian people throughout one thousand years … not become Muslim and were not Turkified?’ ... Now the Turkish people in Europe are erecting mosques. Is it 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?

“For once, can you, as Armenian in
Turkey 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 Armenian history? ... I do not want the Armenian people to get lost in Europe. I do not want them to go into oblivion. They should flourish even more. They should be awakened even more.”
#7. L.A. Times Managing Editor Resigns After Killing Article on Armenian Genocide

July 6, 2007 Sassounian wrote: “Douglas Frantz, Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Times, resigned last week following his controversial decision in April to block the publication of a major article on the Armenian Genocide, written by reporter Mark Arax. In a press release, the ANCA characterized Frantz’s resignation as ‘an appropriate answer to his unprofessional behavior and anti-Armenian posture in the newsroom. The Los Angeles Times is a fine newspaper and deserves better than to have a genocide denier as a member of its senior staff. The fact that Frantz is returning to Istanbul tells the full story of where he stands.’ … Armenians will now have to monitor Frantz’s reportage from Istanbul in the Wall Street Journal. The Armenian community’s concern is justified in view of the fact that for many years the Wall Street Journal has been more pro-Turkish than even the Turkish Daily News! …During the past two months, Frantz’s unwarranted actions created considerable tension between the Los Angeles Times and over half million Armenian American residents of Southern California. With his departure, the Armenian community can now look forward to the renewal of the constructive relationship that had developed in recent months with Publisher Hiller and other senior executives of one of America’s most prominent newspapers.”

#8. How would NPFH and the ADL react if Armenian organizations blocked acknowledgement of the Holocaust?”

Friday, July 6, 2007, The Watertown TAB published a far-reaching letter by David Boyajian, one of USA Armenian Life’s contributing writers. Boyajian very eloquently and effectively exposed the most recent anti-Armenian development at the Jewish "Anti-Defamation League.” Boyajian wrote: “’No Place for Hate’ (NPFH) programs, such as Watertown’s, are tarnished by the fact that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has authored and sponsored them. The ADL, you see, has made the Holocaust and its denial key pieces of NPFH while at the same time hypocritically working with Turkey to oppose recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915-23. This has been known for years. One underlying reason is the Israeli-Turkish alliance. Opposing affirmation of the Armenian genocide is an affront to all fair-minded people. How would NPFH and the ADL react if Armenian organizations blocked acknowledgement of the Holocaust?”

Boyajian concluded: “I say these things with deep sorrow. After all, many distinguished Jewish individuals and organizations, such as the Jewish War Veterans of the
USA, support Armenian genocide recognition. But the ADL’s dishonest policies toward Christian Armenians and their genocide violate NPFH’s own principles. NPFH is, therefore, ethically obligated to sever its ties to the ADL.”
#9. Aznavour: The Patriarch of French Songs

The much anticipated concert day for thousands of Aznavour fans in
Paris finally arrived on October 19, 2007. This writer attended the concert. The ever youthful Aznavour at 83 years of age, widely known as "The Patriarch of French Songs," just before the start of his much anticipated performance that night, quipped that the document for his funeral arrangement, prepared by the funeral company, will end up being drowned in dust, because the Patriarch of French songs has no intention to depart anytime soon. And one can tell, from his resilient tenacity, that this legendary artist means business!

#10. Turkish Law Prof. Lucidly Recognizes The Fairness Of The Armenian Demand For Justice
On Dec. 7, 2007, Sassounian wrote: “The Armenian Cause is not about genocide recognition, but the pursuit of justice which entails that the Armenian victims receive reparations. Remembering the Genocide is also about keeping the hopes and dreams alive for succeeding generations of Armenians - that some day, they will regain their historic lands.”

In response to Sassounian's article, Prof. Ugurhan Berkok asked the following interesting question to the Michigan University-based 'armworkshop' members: "Beyond the politics, ethics and morals, I have some legal questions on this RRR discussion. Forget about R1 [Recognition] for a moment and concentrate on law. Can't victims' descendants file claims under current Turkish laws? After all, deportation is acknowledged by the
Republic of Turkey. Now assume R1. No political (legally non-binding) statements to the effect of 'no claims will be made' are credible because R1 will legally enable victims' descendants to make claims. Thus Sassounian's opinion is in fact reality, whether the intention is there or not because no organization can coerce individual descendants to sign legally-binding 'no-claim' promises. Thus the three R's are not legally splittable. Am I not right?"

Apparently, the Turkish law Prof. Berkok has lucidly come to realize the essence of the fairness of the Armenian demand for Justice.

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