Thursday, 16 April 2015

Armenian News...A Topalian - Dear Reader...Now we have momentum...How can we reach our goal on the 11th Hour? All comments welcome

Channel 4 News on Vatican Servic
including an interview with Assadour Guzelian

A clip of just the Assadour Guzelian interview on 
Channel 4 News 

Film of one of London's centenary commemorative events
'Circle of Life' in Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and 
Atrocities around the World in the 20th and 21st centuries


Documentary Film (20 min.): 

London university students and community members, representing
Turkish, Armenian, Kurdish, Greek, Assyrian and other nationalities, 
joined hands in solidarity and dignity to commemorate all victims of 
atrocities around the world, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary 
of the Armenian Genocide. 

Shakeh Major Tchilingirian led "The Circle of Life" dance ceremony 
at SOAS on 11 March 2015 . The event was hosted by the Armenian 
and Kurdish student societies. The film captures the emotionally 
charged circle dances in the program that brought young and old 
people with diverse backgrounds together around a large candle in 
the centre. Participants wore butterfly shaped badges that bore the 
names of over 50 victim peoples who were subjected to systematic 
destruction in the last one hundred years.

The Armenian Weekly
European Parliament Adopts Bill on Genocide Centennial, 
Calls on Turkey to Reconcile with Past 
April 15, 2015 

BRUSSELS—During its plenary session, the European Parliament 
today adopted a resolution on the Centennial of the Armenian 
Genocide, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and 
Democracy (EAFJD) reported. The European Council was 
represented by Kalinina Lukaševica and the European Commission 
by Kristalina Georgieva, vice-president of the European Commission 
and commissioner for the Budget and Human Resources.

The resolution on the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, which 
was supported by all political groups in the European Parliament, 

“Whereas an increasing number of member states and national 
parliaments recognize the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the 
Ottoman Empire;

“whereas one of the main motivations of the European unification 
movement is the will to prevent the recurrence of wars and crimes 
against humanity in Europe…

“whereas the importance of keeping the memories of the past 
is paramount, since there can be no reconciliation without the 
truth and remembrance;

“Pays tribute, on the eve of the Centenary, to the memory of the 
one-and-a-half million innocent Armenian victims who perished 
in the Ottoman Empire; joins the commemoration of the centenary 
of the Armenian Genocide in a spirit of European solidarity and 
justice; calls on the Commission and Council to join the 

In calling on its member states to recognize the Armenian Genocide, 
the resolution referred to the Annual Report on Human Rights and 
Democracy in the World 2013, adopted on March 12, and the 
European Union’s policy on the matter.

The resolution further stated that “the European Parliament calls 
on Turkey to come to terms with its past by recognizing the 
Armenian Genocide and thus pave way for a genuine reconciliation.”

It also mentioned the European Parliament’s resolution of June 18, 
1987, in which inter alia it recognized that the tragic events that 
took place in 1915-17 against the Armenians in the territory of the 
Ottoman Empire represented a genocide as defined in the U.N. 
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of 
Genocide of 1948, and further condemns all occurrences of crimes 
against humanity and genocide, strongly deploring any attempts 
of their denial. 

Today’s resolution further called for the establishment of an 
“International Remembrance Day for Genocides” and stressed 
that the timely prevention and effective punishment of genocide 
and crimes against humanity should be among the main priorities 
of the international community and the EU.

An unprecedented number of members of the European Parliament 
took the stage and showed their solidarity to the Armenian nation 
and support of the resolution, and specifically called what befell the 
Armenians a genocide. Pope Francis’ message of reconciliation 
and peace was also mentioned and included in the final version 
of the resolution.

Kaspar Karampetian, the president of EAFJD, said, “Armenians
 all over the world welcome this resolution in this Centennial year 
of the Armenian Genocide. The European Union is a union of 
values, dignity, and human rights, and we expect all countries 
willing to join it, to have reconciled with their past, have friendly 
relations with their neighbors, and look forward to a brighter and 
peaceful future without [such] crimes, without genocide. We expect 
Turkey come to terms with its past and acknowledge the crime it 
has committed against the Armenian population 100 years ago, 
with all its consequences.” 

Karampetian stressed the need for the EU Council and Commission 
to show more courage, to acknowledge the crime with its proper 
name, and to not hide behind EU member countries that have 
not yet recognized the Armenian Genocide. 

Karampetian also said that Armenians support those democratic 
forces in Turkey that challenge the Turkish state’s denial policy, a
nd push for recognition of the crime of genocide against the 
Armenians. He highlighted the well-coordinated and organized 
work of the Republic of Armenia’s Permanent Mission to the EU,
the Armenian National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign 
Relations, and the European Friends of Armenia, whose efforts 
led to having this resolution adopted.
Humeyra Pamuk

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has condemned a planned European
Parliament's vote on the 1915 mass killings of Armenians, which the
pope this week described as "genocide".

The European Parliament is due to debate a resolution to mark the
100th anniversary of the killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians
under Turkish Ottoman rule.

"Whatever decision the European Parliament takes on Armenian genocide
claims, it would go in one ear and out the other," Erdogan told a
news conference at Ankara airport before departing on an official
visit to Kazakhstan.

"It is out of the question for there to a stain, a shadow called
'genocide' on Turkey," he said.

Armenia, some Western historians and foreign parliaments refer to
the mass killings as genocide.

Muslim Turkey agrees Christian Armenians were killed in clashes
with Ottoman soldiers that began on April 15, 1915, when Armenians
lived in the empire ruled by Istanbul, but denies that this amounted
to genocide.

Around 100,000 Armenians still reside in Turkey including those who are
Turkish citizens and those who are not and they are never mistreated,
Erdogan said.

"Both citizens and non-citizen Armenians are enjoying the opportunities
of our country. We could have deported them, but we didn't,"
Erdogan said.

Hurriyet Daily News
April 14 2015

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoðan has condemned Pope Francis,
warning him to not repeat the "mistake" of describing the mass killings
of Ottoman Armenians as "genocide."

"Whenever politicians, religious functionaries assume the duties of
historians, then delirium comes out, not fact. Hereby, I want to
repeat our call to establish a joint commission of historians and
stress we are ready to open our archives. I want to warn the pope to
not repeat this mistake and condemn him," Erdoðan said at a meeting
of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TÝM) on April 14.

Erdoðan said he greatly regretted the pontiff's weekend remarks in
which the leader of the world's Catholics referred to the killings of
Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as "the first genocide of the 20th century."

"In the past century our human family has lived through three
massive and unprecedented tragedies," the pope said. "The first,
which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the 20th century,'
struck your own Armenian people," he said in the presence of Armenian
President Serzh Sargsyan.

Recalling the pope's visit to Turkey in 2014, the president said
he thought the pope was "a different politician." "I don't say a
religious functionary," he added.

"His remarks display the appearance of a mentality different to that
of a religious functionary," Erdoðan said. "I won't let historical
events be brought out of their own course and turned into a campaign
against our country and nation."

The pope made the pronouncement during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica
commemorating the centenary that was attended by Armenian church
leaders and Sargsyan. Francis said it was his duty to honor the
memory of the innocent men, women and children who were "senselessly"
murdered by Ottoman Turks.

On April 13 the European Union urged Turkey and Armenia to normalize

EU foreign affairs spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said the EU was
encouraging the countries "to consider additional, meaningful steps
that would pave the way toward full reconciliation."

Armenia says up to 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians were killed in a
genocide starting in 1915. Turkey denies that the deaths amounted
to genocide, saying the death toll of Armenians killed during mass
deportations has been inflated and that those killed in 1915 and 1916
were victims of general unrest during World War I.
15 Apr 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Plans to install a sculpture commemorating the Armenian Genocide in
one of Copenhagen's busiest squares have Turkish officials up in arms,
The Local reports.

A sculpture that will be placed in the heart of Copenhagen in
commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
threatens to further derail the already-strained relations between
Denmark and Turkey.

The nine-metre high sculpture, entitled 'The Draem' (Danish Remembrance
Armenian Empathy Messenger), is to be placed in the square Kultorvet
for ten days in May to mark 100 years since upwards of 1.5 million
Armenians were killed by the Ottoman regime.

The plans have elicited a protest from the Turkish Embassy in

"We are disappointed that a sculpture that describes the actions of
1915 as a 'genocide' will be displayed in one of Copenhagen's large
squares," the embassy wrote in an email to Politiken, adding that
the sculpture is "morally indefensible".

"The Danish government does not keep silent about the tragic events of
1915 but has not officially acknowledged the events as genocide. Our
opinion is that that distinction is better left to historians,"
Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard told Politiken.

The city's deputy mayor for culture, the Danish People's Party's Carl
Christian Ebbesen, said Turkey should stay out of local decisions.

"Turkey should completely stay out of what we do in Copenhagen and
what sort of freedoms of expression and freedoms of art that we have,"
Ebbesen told Politiken. 

April 14 2015
April 14, 2015 
by Dorian Jones

The upcoming 100th anniversary of the Medz Yeghern, or the "Great
Catastrophe," is highlighting the mixed feelings that Turkey's tiny
ethnic Armenian minority has for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's

On April 24, Armenians around the world will mark the World-War-I-era
deaths of hundreds of thousands ethnic Armenians in Ottoman-era
Turkey. It is a tragedy that for many historians and analysts
constitutes an act of genocide.

Turkey denies the claim of genocide. On April 12, Ankara withdrew its
ambassador from the Vatican after Pope Francis termed the massacre
"the first genocide of the 20th century."

Ankara's official position is that the number of reported deaths is
exaggerated and that the victims died during a wartime attempt to
put down a domestic uprising.

Until recently, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP)
seemed increasingly open to public acknowledgement of the massacre.

For example, for the past five years at Taksim Square, in the heart
of Istanbul, hundreds of ethnic Armenians and Turks held an annual
vigil on April 24 to commemorate the slayings.

"The state's perception of 1915, of Armenians, has changed in
a positive way from before," claimed Markar Esaian, a prominent
Turkish-Armenian columnist for the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper.

"There is an unacknowledged fact that for the last 90 years, on April
24 we were not able to commemorate the people we lost in 1915. We
could not do commemoration ceremonies in the churches or visit the
cemeteries because it was very dangerous. It was not officially banned,
but if we had done it, it would have been seriously dangerous for
us. Now we can and do all these things."

Last year, in a first for a senior Turkish official, then-Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences to the relatives
of those who had died during the mass killings of 1915. The statement
was widely described as groundbreaking.

But as international preparations began for marking the centennial of
the killings, there has been a marked shift in the Turkish leadership's

Armenia and Turkey are locked in a verbal tussle not only over claims
of genocide, but over allegations that they are both trying to upstage
each other on April 24. On that day, Ankara plans to mark the World
War I triumph of Turkish troops over allied forces at Gallipoli. The
commemoration of that victory in previous years had been held in March.

The recent maneuvering has caused unease in Turkey's ethnic Armenian
minority. "The atmosphere is changing," claimed Yetvart Danzikian,
editor of the Turkish-Armenian-language weekly Agos. "We can see
hard language about Armenians again. Yes, the AKP did some reforms,
but we have entered a new period."

During his presidential campaign last August, Erdogan termed being
called an Armenian "even worse" than the usual political insults.

Nationalist rhetoric often marks Turkish political campaigns, but
some fear that, in addition to the tension surrounding April 24,
anti-Armenian slurs could incite nationalist attacks. In March,
an Armenian church in Istanbul was covered in anti-Armenian graffiti.

The experience of the Jewish minority also provides cause for concern.

In March, a pro-AKP television station broadcast a 90-minute
documentary about alleged international Jewish conspiracies against

Political scientist Ayhan Aktar of Istanbul's Bilgi University sees
the AKP's nationalist remarks as rooted in Erdogan's desire "to be
the defining leader of Turkey of the 21st century." There is also a
pragmatic reason for Erdogan's shift: for the past two years, he has
been engaged in a political struggle with former ally Fetullah Gulen,
an influential Islamic cleric who lives in self-imposed exile in the
United States. Some local observers believe that to win such a battle,
the president is trying to woo a new ally - the military.

Erdogan has had a tense relationship with the military, spending
much of his tenure as prime minister trying to diminish the political
influence of Turkey's generals. But in March, Erdogan apologized to
generals arrested as part of a wide-ranging coup investigation for
wrongful prosecution. In April, the courts overturned all 236 related
convictions and released all those jailed.

Some of these individuals are popularly believed to have been part of
the so-called derin devlet, or deep state, a shadowy group of officials
and military brass that ran extra-legal operations. The deep state
is widely blamed for being behind assassinations and attacks against
Turkey's ethnic Armenians.

"With the jailing, the attacks and intimidation [against ethnic
Armenians] stopped," Agos Editor Danzikian noted. But now, the
president "is making an alliance with the army."

"The consequence of this alliance is that Erdogan is much closer
to army thoughts, secular authoritarian thoughts and state

Consequently, the releases pose a dilemma for ethnic Armenians about
how to view the AKP.

"They recognize this government has done more than their predecessors
[to normalize ties with the country's ethnic Armenians]. That
is clear," argued political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's
Suleyman Å~^ah University. "But [ethnic Armenians] also recognize
the present policies of the government on democracy, human rights,
and opening up of the public space are getting worrisome."

Some Armenians still appear willing to give the government the
benefit of the doubt. Before the AKP came to power, "I felt ... like a
foreigner, even a dangerous foreigner, but now I feel like an equal
citizen" in Turkey, declared columnist Esaian." I am talking for
myself, but there are many who feel like me and we see that it will
get better."

Hope persists that with the conclusion of the two centennials and
the June elections, tensions will subside. But some prefer to stay
cautious. "I want to believe the steps [toward better relations
with ethnic Armenians] are permanent, but I am not sure," said Agos'

Editor's note: Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul. 

April 14 2015
The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon considers the slaughter
of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago "atrocity crimes," but
he isn't supporting Pope Francis' description of the killings as "the
first genocide of the 20th century," the U.N. spokesman said Monday.

Turkey denies the killings were genocide and in response to the pope's
comments on Sunday Ankara recalled its Vatican ambassador and accused
Francis of spreading hatred.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed
by Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by
scholars as genocide. But Turkey insists the death toll has been
inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Ban took note of
the pope's comments and is fully aware of "the sensitivities related
to the characterization of what happened" in 1915 and the April
24 commemoration of the 100th anniversary of "the tragic events"
by Armenia and others around the world.

He said the secretary-general firmly believes that the commemoration
and continuing cooperation between Armenians and Turks "with a view
to establishing the facts about what happened should strengthen our
collective determination to prevent similar atrocity crimes from ever
happening in the future."

Dujarric said in response to a question that Ban did not envision an
international commission to examine the facts, saying: "There've been
discussions with the countries concerned, and communities concerned
and I think it's important that those discussions continue."

He sidestepped several questions on whether the secretary-general
agreed with the pope's characterization, and whether Francis was
right to raise the issue.

"The U.N. has sought to strengthen the capacity of the international
community to prevent such atrocity crimes from ever occurring,"
Dujarric said.

The pope made the pronouncement during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica
commemorating the centenary that was attended by Armenian church
leaders and President Serge Sarkisian. Francis said it was his duty
to honor the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were
"senselessly" murdered by Ottoman Turks.

Earlier Monday, the European Union urged Turkey and Armenia to
normalize ties.

The two countries signed an agreement in 2009 to open their borders
and establish diplomatic relations but it has not been implemented.

EU foreign affairs spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said the EU encourages
the countries "to consider additional, meaningful steps that would
pave the way toward full reconciliation."

The Sunday Times (London)
April 12, 2015 Sunday
Dominic Lawson

Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide 
£20/ebook £19.99 pp312

A History of the Armenian Genocide by RONALD GRIGOR SUNY 
Princeton £24.95 ebook £24.95 pp526

Sometimes it is not the images of genocide that chill the blood, but
the evidence of the perpetrators' ordinary courtesies as they embark on
mass murder. In Thomas de Waal's Great Catastrophe, there is a copy of
a handwritten letter sent by Talat Pasha, one of the three leaders of
the so-called "Young Turks" government, gracefully accepting a dinner
invitation that evening from the US Ambassador to Constantinople and
offering compliments to "Madame Morgenthau". The date of the letter
(and the dinner)is April 24, 1915: the very day on which Talat's
"final solution to the Armenian problem" went into action, with the
rounding up of Armenian civic and intellectual leaders, followed by
their murder.

The letter comes from the Henry Morgenthau archive, as does a
subsequent account of the response by Talat in August 2015, when the
US envoy called on him to protest at the programme of deportation and
murder of the Armenian population: "'It is no use for you to argue,'
Talat answered. 'We have already disposed of three-quarters of the
Armenians; there are none at all left in Bitlis, Van and Erzerum. The
hatred between the Turks and the Armenians is now so intense that
we have got to finish with them. If we don't, they will plan their

De Waal's book, which is largely devoted to the aftermath of
the genocide and the attempts at some sort of resolution of the
outstanding moral debt (unacknowledged by any subsequent Turkish
government), provides details of the futile acts of revenge in the
1970s by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia
(Asala), a tiny Beirut-based group. Asala assassinated a handful of
blameless Turkish diplomats - with the result that Ronald Reagan,
Enhanced Coverage LinkingRonald Reagan, -Search using:News, Most
Recent 60 DaysBiographies Plus NewsFind An Executivedespite his long
acquaintance with the Armenian diaspora in California, abandoned his
earlier commitment to recognise the Armenian claim that they had been
victims of genocide.

He was just one of a number of American presidents (Barack Obama is
only the most recent) who solicited the Armenian-American vote with
such a promise, but then avoided all mention of the G-word once in
office and having been apprised by their generals how vital it was
to keep Turkey's goodwill as a strategic ally.

In truth, the Armenians have always been the victims of bigpower
politics. Ronald Suny's They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else
puts the extermination of approximately 1.5m souls 100 years ago in
exactly this context, but with a powerful personal introduction: "By
the end of the war, 90% of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire were
gone, a culture and a civilisation wiped out never to return. Those
who observed the killings, as well as the Allied powers engaged in
a war against the Ottomans, repeatedly claimed that they had never
witnessed anything like it. The word for what happened had not
yet been invented. There was no concept to mark the state-targeted
killing of a designated ethnoreligious people. At the time those who
needed a word borrowed from the Bible and called it 'holocaust'. My
great-grandparents were among the victims."

Despite this familial link, Suny is admirably dispassionate
in explaining the particular circumstances that led the Ottoman
government to embark on a policy of mass extermination - a mixture of
outright slaughter of males and death marches of women and children
into the desert. The Ottomans had suffered catastrophic defeat in the
Balkan wars of 1912-13, with the result that millions of their Muslim
compatriots had been displaced and fled eastwards. The "Young Turks"
conceived of the Anatolian provinces as a new "homeland" - so it was
necessary, in effect, to empty of Armenians the historic homeland of
what was once an Armenian nation.

The other cause was their series of defeats at the hands of the vast
tsarist army during the First World War. Not only was this a further
shattering of the Ottoman Empire, but the Armenians were believed to
be sympathetic to their Christian co-religionists. In fact it was
remarkable how loyal Armenians were to their Ottoman rulers, even
though they had been the victims of a series of massacres in the 1890s
and in 1909. Like the Jews of Central Europe, the Christian Armenians
had prospered in trade and finance: this had aroused resentment among
the much larger Muslim population. Germany, in fact, is linked to
both genocides: the "Young Turks" were in alliance with Berlin while
they carried out their holocaust of the Armenians.

German diplomats, horrified at what they were witnessing, were told
to keep quiet by their government: and after the collapse of the
Ottoman regime, the main perpetrators of the genocide ("The Three
Pashas") were allowed to settle in peaceful retirement in Germany. It
was in Berlin on March 15, 1921 that Talat was shot dead by Soghoman
Tehlirian, a 23- year-old Armenian almost deranged with grief at what
he had witnessed a few years earlier. The German jury, who had known
little of what had happened, were so affected by the eyewitnesses'
accounts brought by the defence, that they acquitted Tehlirian after
just one hour of deliberation.

Yet, as Suny points out, one of the Germans, Max von Scheubner-Richter
(who as vice-consul in Erzerum had sent reports to Berlin highly
critical of what he termed the "annihilation" of the Armenians) later
became a leading member of the Nazi party: "[He] became famous, not
for his resistance to Ottoman atrocities, but when in 1923 he marched
arm-in-arm with Adolf Hitler during the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.

Scheubner-Richter was shot in the lung and killed immediately; as he
fell, he pulled Hitler down with him, dislocating Hitler's shoulder.

He probably saved the future dictator's life when the second volley
was fired."

So, from witnessing the first genocide of the 20th century to
accidentally enabling the second: what an astonishing footnote to
the history of mass murder.

Available at the Bookshop price of £18 (de Waal) and £21.95
(inc p&p) and £19.99 and £24.95 (ebooks) on 0845 271 2135 and at . Bookshop price of £18 (de Waal)
and £21.95 (inc p&p) and £19.99 and £24.95 (ebooks) on 0845 271 2135
and at 

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