Friday, 13 November 2009

Armenian singer to represent Turkey?‏

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PanARMENIAN.Net 09/11/2009 - The process for who will represent the country in the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest has already begun in Turkey. Turkish TV broadcaster NTV, during the second initial stage, asked website visitors to vote for their favourite contestant.
About 15,000 people voted with first place going to Haiko Chefkin, a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, who garnered 15.94% of the votes. Haiko, in particular, beat Tarkan, who fell behind by 4%.
The 55th Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Oslo, Norway, from May 12–16, 2010.


03/09/2009 - David Leigh, The Guardian - Britain was accused of "genocide denial", today after the disclosure, of Foreign Office documents revealing the government's refusal to recognise the so-called Armenian massacre of 1915, in which up to a million people died.
The documents, dating back over the last 15 years, say Anglo-Turkish relations are too important to be jeopardised by the issue because "Turkey is neuralgic and defensive about the charge of genocide".
One Foreign Office briefing for Ministers conceded that the British government "is open to criticism in terms of the ethical dimension", but goes on to say: "The current line is the only feasible option" owing to "the importance of our relations (political, strategic and commercial) with Turkey". The 1999 briefing said: "Recognising the genocide would provide no practical benefit to the UK."
Britain's stance, stretching back over Labour and Tory administrations, was called a cynical "genocide denial" by Geoffrey Robertson, the QC who served as first President of the UN War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone. Robertson was commissioned by Armenian expatriate groups in London to review the Foreign office files, obtained in heavily redacted form from freedom of information requests. He published a report today which says: "Parliament has been routinely misinformed by Ministers who have recited FCO briefs without questioning their accuracy."
The allegation that the Armenian massacres during the first world war were a form of genocide, carried out by the Ottoman empire, is a bitterly contested issue that has soured relations between Turkey and Armenia. The border between the two countries was re-opened last month after being closed since 1993, thanks to an accord which includes a promise to set up a commission of historians to re-examine the affair. Turkish and Armenian Parliaments still have to ratify the accord.
The Foreign Office documents include advice in 1995 to the then Tory Foreign Minister, Douglas Hogg, that he should refuse to attend a memorial service for the victims, and attempts to encourage the idea that historians were in disagreement over the facts. The government refused to include the Armenian massacres as part of holocaust memorial day.
Robertson's report says: "There is no doubt that in 1915 the Ottoman government ordered the deportation of up to 2 million Armenians … hundreds of thousands died en route from starvation, disease, and armed attack."
The 1948 genocide convention was drawn up with the specific case of the Armenians in mind, he says, and most scholars and European parliaments have described their fate as genocide. "But recent British governments … have resolutely refused to do so," resorting instead, he says, to the legally meaningless expression that "insufficiently unequivocal evidence" of genocide exists.
Britain is a keen supporter of Turkey's attempts to join the EU. But the Armenian question has become a touchstone for critics, who argue that Turkey should not be allowed into the EU until it admits the truth about its past. Turkey refuses to allow any of its citizens to call the Armenian massacres genocide. When Nobel prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk did so, he was charged with "insulting Turkishness" in 2005, although the Justice Ministry refused to let a trial proceed, following an embarrassing international outcry.
Three scholars, Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran and Cengiz Aktar, and a journalist, Ali Bayramoglu, published an open letter, inviting Turks to sign an online petition supporting its sentiments. It reads: "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathise with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologise to them."
But while academics edge towards openness, Robertson says Britain's official policy has merely been "to evade truthful answers, because the truth would discomfort the Turkish government".


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Delivered at ANC Banquet

By Harut Sassounian - Publisher, The California Courier

At its annual banquet on November 8, the Armenian National Committee (Western U.S.), honoured California Attorney General Jerry Brown, former governor and current gubernatorial candidate, with the Freedom Award; California State Senator Mark Wyland, and California State Assembly Assistant Majority Leader and candidate for L.A. City Council Paul Krekorian as Legislators of the Year; and Harut Sassounian, Publisher of the California Courier, with the Legacy Award. California State Assemblyman Anthony Protantino was master of ceremonies. More than 700 guests attended the event held at the Pasadena Convention Center.
The honorees received special commendations from members of Congress, State Senators and the L.A. City Council. Cong. Brad Sherman presented Harut Sassounian with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol. Among the many congratulatory letters received by ANC was a message from Mr. Kirk Kerkorian: “I have known Harut for many years, and I am proud of the good work he has done for Armenia and on behalf of the Armenian community worldwide. I congratulate the ANC for honouring him.”
In introducing this columnist, ANC Board Member Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian stated:
“What is it about Harut Sassounian that draws such a large number of admirers from all walks of life to follow the stroke of his pen? The word activist or visionary hardly explains it. Tireless leader and devoted teacher to generations of Armenian-Americans start to scratch the surface. The attraction to Harut lies in his passion with a direct magnetic draw to his courage, exuberance and resolve.
“Harut is a highly respected name in many circles. He has helped define the political fabric of our time, championed free speech and fought on local, national and international grounds for justice. His persistence has received national media attention and has gently pushed open the gates of reform.
“His first major activism proved successful at the U.N. in the 1970’s. From that day forward, Harut has served as a timeless moral voice -- an author, publisher, speaker, community activist and leader.
“Through his columns, Harut is one of the first to diagnose a problem and write a prescription. Countless examples come to mind: The campaign against the L.A. Times and its Managing Editor Douglas Frantz; lobbying against Time magazine for inserting a Turkish denialist DVD; blocking the nomination of Amb. Hoagland after the dismissal of Amb. Evans; initiating a letter writing campaign to counter the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the British Ambassador to Armenia; and opposing plans by PBS stations to air a panel discussion with denialists of the Armenian Genocide. And the list goes on to cover more than 30 years of activism.”
In accepting the award, I made the following remarks:
“Our collective efforts on behalf of the Armenian Cause stem from the tragic fact that a terrible injustice was committed against our people more than 90 years ago.
“The Genocide and the loss of our homeland went unnoticed by the international community for many decades, until our people, led by our political organizations, rose from the ashes of decimation and defeat, and struggled to regain their rights. As a result, the Armenian Genocide is universally recognised, and is no longer a forgotten episode.
“Nevertheless, today’s Turkish Government, the successor of the regime that committed the Genocide, continues to deny this massive crime, benefiting to this day from our looted assets and properties.
“This injustice cannot and must not go on! We need to do everything in our power to restore justice! We demand the return of the stolen properties and occupied territories to their proper owners -- the Armenian nation!
“To accomplish this monumental task, we need the participation of every Armenian, as well as the support of all those who side with truth and justice.
“As we have seen in recent months, Armenia’s leaders are under tremendous international pressure to make major concessions to both Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia is too small and too weak to be able to withstand such powerful pressures all by itself! Diaspora-Armenians on the other hand, are under no such constraints.
“It is incumbent on all of us to lend a helping hand to reduce the pressures on Armenia. Armenians in all countries, particularly those in the United States, Russia and Europe, should lobby their respective governments to counter their unjust and one-sided support for Turkey and Azerbaijan.
“We should make this effort, regardless of whether our help is requested or even appreciated by the Armenian government.
“Of course, our lobbying efforts would be much more effective, if carried out in a cooperative and coordinated manner both within the Diaspora and between the Diaspora and Armenia.
“We should also not hold back any political, economic or humanitarian assistance from our people in the homeland, because of disagreements with Armenia’s leadership.
“Regimes and leaders come and go, but the nation is eternal!
“Let us remain vigilant, engaged and united in our purpose. Let us carry on the torch of our Cause, until justice is restored to our long-suffering nation.”


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