Friday, 13 March 2015

Armenian News - Hollande of France & Putin of Russia to attend Genocide Commemoration

With this issue of news, it is now known that both Presidents 
Hollande of France and Putin of Russia will be in Armenia on 24 April 
to participate at the Armenian Genocide commemoration.

The May 1915 Tripartite Statement specifying the actions of
Ottoman Turkey as 'crimes against humanity' was also signed by 
Great Britain. It would be hugely symbolic if the UK was also 
represented in Yerevan. Such high-level attendance would clearly 
demonstrate that the United Kingdom believed that the declaration 
of that time which they repeatedly refer to is as valid today as it was 

Do write to the Prime Minster, or your MP making this points 
using if you wish some of the highlighted arguments in the European 
Parliament report.

Don't Deny - Armenia's entry for the Eurovision song contest 

12 Mar 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend ceremonies marking 100
years since the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire
in April, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

Armenia is hosting the commemoration for those killed by Ottoman
forces in World War I in its capital on April 24.

"Yes, he will fly to Yerevan," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told
AFP, adding the Russian leader had discussed the issue with his
Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian by telephone on Thursday.
European Parliament calls on EU member states to acknowledge 
Armenian Genocide

Today on March 12 the European Parliament has adopted the Annual 
Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013. Several 
clauses of this document are relevant to Armenia, especially the 
paragraph that "calls, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian 
genocide, on all the Member States to acknowledge it, and encourages 
the Member States and the EU institutions to contribute further to its 

European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) warmly welcomes this 
European Parliament report. EuFoA Director, Mr Eduardo Lorenzo 
Ochoa, comments: 
“After a long break, the European Parliament reasserts its 
position on the Armenian Genocide, and again reaffirms that 
genocides and their denials are a human rights matter. During 
this special year, we are thankful for this strong signal of 
European solidarity with the Armenian people.” 

In addition, the text adopted by the EP puts a particular focus on the 
question of human rights in the relations with EU partners. Indeed, 
the very first paragraph of the report states that “the preamble to the 
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union affirms that the 
EU 'places the individual and human dignity at the heart of its activities'”. 
The reports then adds that “the performance-driven 'more for more' 
approach should guide the EU's relations with all third countries, that 
the EU should grant partner countries advanced status only if clear 
human rights and democracy requirements are met, and that it should 
not hesitate to freeze this status if those requirements are no longer 

In practical terms it means that the European Parliament does 
not want the EU to compromise its stance on human rights, 
democracy and rule of law when dealing with third countries., 
comments Mr Lorenzo Ochoa. “With these two paragraphs in mind, 
it becomes clear why the report insists on human rights clauses in 
EU international agreements, including trade agreements. This is 
also why the report, with its 215 paragraphs, is much longer than
the previous yearly reports on that matter. We are very pleased that 
the EU reasserts its moral authority with this lengthy but clear report.” 

The adopted text also recalls the situation of religious minorities, 
particularly in the Middle East, mentioning among others the 
Apostolic Armenians. In that particular paragraphs, the Parliament 
“calls for the EU and its Member States to ensure that religious 
minorities are respected worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, 
where Christians, including Catholics, Apostolic Armenians, Copts 
and Yezidis, and Muslim minorities are being persecuted by ISIS and 
other terrorist groups.” 

The report was drafted by MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, Italy) and 
adopted at the committee level on 9 February and will be published 
by the European Parliament in the coming days. 

On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the remembrance
of its victims will take place in four main directions.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, noted
the aforesaid in an interview with Delo daily of Slovenia.

"First, a tribute will be paid in memory of the Genocide victims. The
Armenian Apostolic Church is going to canonize the Armenian Genocide

"Second is our word of gratitude to all those who lend a hand to the
Armenian people at the times of our ordeals.

"Third is the efforts to prevent new genocides, new crimes against

"And the fourth direction: rebirth. The Armenian people not only
survived the genocide, but they were able to born again," Nalbandian
stressed, in particular.

He added that Armenians across the world, and together with the
international community, will observe the Armenian Genocide centennial
under the slogan, "Never again!"

Boston Globe, MA
March 9 2015
by Chris Bohjalian

One night in November, 2009, I heard Gerda Weissmann Klein speak at
the University of Texas. A Holocaust survivor, Gerda's 1957 memoir,
"All But My Life," chronicles her harrowing ordeal in labor camps and
death marches during World War II. During the question and answer
period, someone asked, "What do you say to Holocaust deniers?" She
shrugged and said, "I really don't have to say much. I simply tell
them to ask Germany. Germany doesn't deny it."

I recalled that exchange last month when President Recep Erdogan
of Turkey was asked about the Armenian genocide. He responded,
"Let's remove the 1915 events from the area of politics and refer
to science and scientists." He then chastised the Armenian president
Serzh Sargsyan for rejecting his invitation to visit Turkey on April
24 for the centennial commemoration of the Battle of Gallipoli,
saying the rebuff "violated protocols of courtesy."

Why did the Armenian president pass on the chance to join Erdogan on
the site of the battle? Because April 24 is also the centennial of
the start of the Armenian genocide, and he will be at the Armenian
Genocide Memorial that day. It was the night of April 24, 1915, when
the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors, and religious
leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by the Ottoman authorities,
and almost all of them were executed. In the years that followed,
three out of every four Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were
systematically annihilated by their own government: 1.5 million
people. The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of
those few who survived.

But Turkey denies the facts -- as does oil-rich Azerbaijan. (Moreover,
some of Turkey's allies, including the United States, find euphemisms
for the word "genocide.") And while there are many thousands of Turkish
citizens who want their country to face its past and acknowledge
the crimes of its World War I leaders, no one expects Ankara to
follow Berlin's lead anytime soon and build -- to use the name of the
poignant and powerful Holocaust monument near the Brandenburg Gate --
a Memorial to the Murdered Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.

The reality is that for nearly a century, Turkish leaders have worked
fanatically to falsify the historical record. President Erdogan asking
scientists or historians to weigh in on the genocide is rather like
asking scientists to weigh on global climate change. They have. The
International Association of Genocide Scholars unanimously considers
the cataclysmic ethnic cleansing of the Anatolian Plains genocide.

Just last month, a Kurdish member of the Turkish Parliament, Ahmet
Turk, acknowledged his Kurdish ancestors' role in the nightmare and
apologized to the Armenians for the "blood on our hands." Even the
first postwar Turkish government convicted the three architects of
the genocide of "crimes against humanity" in 1919 and sentenced them
to death in absentia. It was not until the second postwar government
took over in 1924 -- the government led by Gallipoli hero Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk -- that Turkey began to rewrite history and sweep under
the rug the death of 1.5 million people.

And why do they get away with it? It's not merely that our memories
are short and news cycles move on; it's the political reality that
so many Western nations viewed Turkey as the last stop against Soviet
expansion during the Cold War.

Holding the Gallipoli commemoration on the very day that is
acknowledged by Armenians around the world as Genocide Memorial Day
is too offensive and obvious to be Machiavellian. It's appalling. It
is emblematic of the Turkish government's aggressive and insulting
approach to reconciliation with Armenia.

But it does raise a question: Where will our American leaders be on
April 24? Will they be in Armenia, standing in memory for those whose
stories were silenced in Der-el-Zor and Ras-el-Ain and the Dudan
Crevasse? Or will they be in Turkey, at a commemoration designed
specifically to keep those Armenian voices forever stilled?

Chris Bohjalian is the author of 17 novels, including one about the
Armenian genocide, "The Sandcastle Girls." 
9 March, 2015

JERUSALEM, MARCH 9, ARMENPRESS: The main event in Jerusalem, devoted to
the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, will take place on April 24
at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, where a liturgy of
commemoration will be held. The Head of the Armenian National Committee
of Israel Georgette Avagian told Armenpress that an agreement was
reached and the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin promised to attend
the Church on that day and commemorate the innocent victims of the
Armenian Genocide.

"He is the friend of the Armenian people. He talked about the Armenian
Genocide a lot and condemned it. Recently he has delivered a speech on
the Genocide at the UN. He promised to visit the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre of Jerusalem on April 24 to pay tribute to the innocent
victims of the Genocide", - said Georgette Avagian, adding that the
participation of other authorities of Israel in the events is being
9 March, 2015

YEREVAN, MARCH 9, ARMENPRESS. How does one 'think about the
unthinkable?' How does one 'describe the indescribable?' These are
among the analytical and moral challenges in trying to understand
genocide. As Raphael Lemkin, the originator of the concept of genocide,
noted: genocide occurred in history before the word 'genocide' was
created. The history of humans is marked by episodes of great cruelty
and mass killings where groups that were different were targeted for
persecution and slaughter.

The mass deportations and killings of the Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire peaked during WW I, but occurred before the term genocide
emerged in 1944. In fact, the Young Turk regime's slaughter of the
Armenians would be a catalyst for Lemkin to develop such a legal
concept, in a preliminary way in the 1930s and in final phrasing in
the 1940s.

When trying to understand the events of 1915 onwards, it is useful
to ask: What words and phrases were used by the Armenian survivors,
domestic and foreign witnesses, and newspaper writers to describe
what happened? The challenge was how to describe the indescribable,
or what Churchill would later in 1941 call "the crime without a name".

The influential international newspaper The New York Times reported
extensively on the massacres of the Armenians under the Young Turk
dictatorship. A content analysis overview of The New York Times for
the year 1915 (the peak year of the deportations and killings) reveals
that a variety of words and phrases were used to try to describe the
horrific scenes and deeds. Reviewing the range of the words employed
can assist in conveying the magnitude of the man-made catastrophe
that befell the Armenians.

Among the terms and phrases offered in the articles in The New York
Times in 1915 were the following: "pillage", "great exodus", "great
deportation", "completely depopulated", "wholesale deportations",
"systematically uprooted", "wholesale uprooting of the native
population", "young women and girls appropriated by the Turks, thrown
into harems, attacked or else sold to the highest bidder", "children
are being kidnapped by the wholesale", "kidnapping of attractive
young girls", "rape", "unparalleled savagery", "acts of horror",
"murder, rape, and other savageries", "endure terrible tortures",
"revolting tortures", "their breasts cut off, their nails pulled
out, their feet cut off, or they hammer nails into them just as
they do to horses", "burned to death", "helpless women and children
were roasted to death", "massacres", "slaughter", "atrocities",
"unbelievable atrocities", "systematically murdered men and turned
women and children out into the desert, where thousands perished
of starvation", "million Armenians killed or in exile", "1,500,000
Armenians starve", "dying in prison camps", "wholesale massacres",
"slaughtered wholesale", "fiendish massacres", "massacre was planned",
"most thoroughly organized and effective massacres this country has
ever known", "extirpating the million and a half Armenians in the
Ottoman Empire", "policy of extermination", "plan for extirpating
Christianity by killing off Christians of the Armenian race", "plan to
exterminate the whole Armenian people", "deliberately exterminated",
"virtually the whole nation had been wiped out", "annihilation
of a whole people", "organized system of pillage, deportations,
wholesale executions, and massacres", "pillage, rape, murder, wholesale
expulsion and deportation, and massacre", "systematic, authorized and
desperate effort on the part of the rulers of Turkey to wipe out the
Armenians", "deliberate murder of a nation", "war of extermination",
"race extermination", "intention was to exterminate the Armenian race",
"Armenia without Armenians", "extinction menaces Armenia", "death of
Armenia", "deportation order and the resulting war of extinction",
and "aim at the complete elimination of all non-Moslem races from
Asiatic Turkey", and "crimes against civilization and morality".

There are at least ten examples (five in the decades before 1915
and five in the years after) where the biblical word "holocaust"
in the generic sense is used to describe either the mass burning of
Armenians alive, massacres of Christians or attempt at annihilation of
the Armenian people. The New York Times' references in the 1915-1922
era to the Armenians' fate include the phrasing "holocaust", "war's
holocaust of horror", "great holocaust" and "final holocaust".

Clearly authors strained for the words that could explain the magnitude
of such horrific scenes and deeds. Witnesses were often overwhelmed,
particularly at the time of the deadly deeds, but also in the retelling
of the painful accounts. For many who witnessed such atrocities,
it was a life-altering experience.

Within a month of the Ottoman Empire's April 24, 1915 arrest,
deportation and later killing of key Armenian leaders in Constantinople
and increasing reports of mass deportations and massacres, the allied
Entente countries of Britain, France and Russia used the ominous phrase
"crimes against civilization and humanity".

This description officially issued on May 24, 1915 (printed in The
New York Times on the same day) was part of a semi-judicial warning
to the Young Turk regime about its crimes and would become a key term
in international law. It was an important step in the development of
the legal concept of genocide.

However, no single word or combination of words or phrases could
adequately convey the magnitude of suffering and horror of what
transpired. Even today, we search for ways to "describe the

Alan Whitehorn

An excerpt from Alan Whitehorn, ed., The Armenian Genocide: The
Essential Reference Guide (Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2015) to be
published in April.

book: 978-1-61069-687-6
e-book: 978-1-61069-688-3 
10 Mar 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Leaders in the Armenian diaspora, preparing to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the Armenian genocide, have collaborated with Hollywood
celebrities and human rights advocates to create a prize to be awarded
annually to those who put themselves at risk to ensure that others
survive, The New York Timesreports.

The humanitarian prize, to be announced on Tuesday in New York, is
part of an expansive effort by prominent Armenians to ensure that
the history of the genocide by Turkish Ottoman troops, which is still
disputed by Turkey's government, is documented and archived through
the stories of survivors and their saviors, in ways similar to the
chronicling of the Jews' suffering in the Holocaust.

The effort, the Armenian sponsors said, will emphasize how survivors of
the genocide -- people who in some cases were protected by sympathetic
Turks -- went on to lead successful lives as they and their descendants
spread throughout the world, many of them relocating to Russia and
the United States.

About 1.5 million Armenians died from 1915 to 1923 in what is widely
acknowledged as the 20th century's first genocide. About 500,000
survived, many because of interventions by foreign individuals and
institutions. The official commemoration of the genocide in Armenia
begins next month.

"The humanity, generosity, strength and sacrifice shown by those who
saved so many Armenians compels us to tell these stories," said Ruben
Vardanyan, an Armenian investment banker and philanthropist who grew
up in Russia and is a co-sponsor of the commemoration effort, known
as the 100 Lives Initiative.

"My grandfather was saved by a missionary," Mr. Vardanyan said in an
interview, crediting his existence today to that event.

Along with commemorating the survivors and those who saved them, the
effort will establish a $1 million award, to be called the Aurora Prize
for Awakening Humanity, to be given starting next year. The winners
will not keep the money, instead presenting it to the organizations
that they identify as the inspirations for their work.

The award is named after a survivor of the genocide, Aurora
Mardiganian, who as a child was forced to witness the deaths of family
members. She devoted her life to raising awareness of the genocide
and starred in a 1919 film called "Ravished Armenia."

Mr. Vardanyan and his associates collaborated with Not On Our Watch,
an organization founded by George Clooney and other celebrities --
including Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt -- that seeks to
prevent mass atrocities. Its principal undertaking in the past few
years has been to document, through satellite imagery, evidence of
possible atrocities in parts of Africa; the effort is known as the
Satellite Sentinel Project.

In a statement, Mr. Clooney said his group shared a common goal with
the Armenian sponsors, "to focus global attention on the impact of
genocide as well as putting resources toward ending mass atrocities
around the world."

Members of the selection committee for the prize, which has yet to
be finalized, resembles a Who's Who of personalities in human rights
advocacy and Armenian success. They include Mr. Clooney as well as the
Nobel Peace Prize winners Elie Wiesel and Óscar Arias; Mary Robinson,
a former United Nations high commissioner for human rights; Gareth
Evans, an adviser to the United Nations on genocide prevention; and
Vartan Gregorian, an Iranian-born American academic who is president
of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Mr. Clooney is to award the inaugural prize at a ceremony to be held
in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, on April 24, 2016, the sponsors
said in a statement.

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