Monday, 4 May 2015

Armenian News ... A Topalian ... It is easier to reject and deny 'genocide' It exonerates one mentally but not morally


Today's Zaman, Turkey
April 30 2015

As Armenians have stepped up efforts toward global recognition of
the mass killings and forced relocations of Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire as "genocide" on the centenary of the events, an Armenian
religious institution in Lebanon has filed a lawsuit in Turkey's
Constitutional Court, seeking to reclaim a piece of land within Turkey.

A statement, which was released by the official website of Armenian
church Catholicosate of Cilicia on Tuesday, reads, "The attorney
of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Turkey submitted a brief to the
Constitutional Court, requesting the return of its Centre in Sis

Aram Keshishian, the head of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia,
one of the two largest Armenian churches in the world, has personally
applied to the Constitutional Court for the return of the land,
on which the historic headquarters of Catholicosate of Cilicia
once stood. The church complex, located in the town of Kozan in the
south-eastern province of Adana, was reportedly seized by Ottoman
authorities in 1921.

After so many years spent seeking international acknowledgment of
the events of 1915 as genocide, attempting to recover land is a new
step for Armenia, which is expected to begin a new global campaign
focused on finding support for reparative action.

The New York Times quoted Payam Akhavan, the lead figure who had
prepared the lawsuit on behalf of the Armenian Catholicosate, as saying
that the lawsuit was an unprecedented effort by the Armenian Church to
use the Turkish legal system to recover property seized 100 years ago.

100 years after the alleged genocide of 1915, the European Parliament
(EP) passed a resolution calling on all EU members to recognize the
Armenian genocide, following Pope Francis' description of the events
as "the first genocide of 20th century" during a Sunday Mass in the
beginning of April. The same month witnessed a number of states, such
as Germany, Austria, Russia and Bulgaria, recognizing the events as
genocide. This year the total number of states officially recognizing
the genocide exceeded 20.

Turkish officials have always denied the use of the term genocide to
describe the events, and have responded to the embracing of the term
by summoning the ambassadors of the countries that have used the term
for an explanation.

Turkey's official standpoint on the events of 1915 is that both
Turks and Armenians died during the civil strife that resulted in
the forced deportation of Armenians. Turkish officials also maintain
that the number of Armenians said to have died before and during the
deportations is inflated.

If Turkey were to accept the claims of genocide, it would be expected
to pay reparations worth tens of billions of dollars to the families
who lost their loved ones, as well as their properties in Turkey,
during the events.
Armenian Church Files Lawsuit for Return of Headquarters 
From Turkey;
'Not an Iota" Will be Given, Responds Turkish Mayor
By  Anugrah Kumar
May 2, 2015

Armenian Christians won't get "an iota of land," the mayor of a
Turkish city says in response to a lawsuit filed by an Armenian Church
in Turkey's Constitutional Court to reclaim its headquarters that
existed before the 1915 Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire.

"Not even an iota of land is to be handed over to anyone," as
Armenians have no proof of ownership of a monastery that was allegedly
the church's headquarters, Musa Ozturk, the mayor of Turkey's Kozan
district, said Friday, according to Daily Sabah.

The mayor's statement comes three days after the Lebanon-based
Armenian Church Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia filed the
lawsuit, which carries telegrams from Talat Pasha and Cemal Pasha, two
senior figures of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, as evidence
of ownership of the monastery.

April 21 marked the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, which refers
to the Ottoman Empire's alleged systematic extermination of its
minority Armenian subjects in their historic homeland within Ottoman
Turkey and of those who lived in other parts of the territory
constituting the present-day Turkey. About 1.5 million people were
killed in the genocide, according to estimates.

As they observe the centenary of the genocide, Armenians want the
world to recognize the mass killings and forced relocations as

"Armenian churches belong to the Armenian Church," Aram Hamparian,
Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, said
at a press conference at the National Press club in Washington, D.C.,
on Wednesday. "In 2011 the U.S. House passed a resolution HR306
calling on the Secretary of State to press Turkey to return the
churches. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has
also constructively addressed the issue."

"This is a remarkable story of hope and a remarkable story of
resilience of human spirit," Payam Akhavan, the church's lead
international counsel in the case, added, of the church's efforts to
reclaim the monastery. "We hope the Turkish government sees this as an
opportunity for reconciliation and returns these properties. However,
His Holiness Aram the 1st has made it very clear that we are
determined to go all the way to the European court of human rights."

In the genocide, Akhavan sent on to say, "Turkey adopted a series of
laws on abandoned properties'and of course, abandoned properties is a
euphemism used to confiscate the properties of millions of Armenians
that once were inhabitants of Ottoman Turkey." He referred to the 1923
Treaty of Lausanne, which Turkey signed to respect the rights of
non-Muslim minorities.

"This ancient and sacred site must be returned to its rightful owners
nearly a century after it was pillaged. Armenians are right to pursue
all legal avenues to obtain justice and to seek the return of what is
rightfully theirs," Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from
California, said in a statement.

"The restoration of the Catholicosate of Sis would represent an act of
justice, a first step toward the legal return of the Armenian Church
and its faithful to their lawful place in their rightful homeland,"
Hamparian added. "It would, as well, mark a meaningful milestone in
the Armenian nation's journey toward a just resolution of the Armenian

Haykaram Nahapetyan contributed reporting to this article. 

Armenian Archpriest Says Armenians Never Guests In Turkey
Daily Sabah, Turkey
April 24 2015

Armenians have never been guests in Turkey and never will they be
guests in the future, a spiritual leader of the Armenian Patriarchate
of Istanbul has said on Thursday with regards to the recent controversy
surrounding the 1915 events.

Archpriest Tatul Anushyan, spiritual leader of Armenian Patriarchate
of Istanbul, Tatul Anushyan, conducted a religious ceremony at Akdamar
Church in Turkey's eastern province of Van in front of 40 Turkish-born
Christian Armenians.

"We have never been guests in this country. We are happy to live on
this land," he said.

Last week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing
the 1915 events as "genocide." It came three days after Pope Francis
also called the 1915 incidents a "genocide," drawing sharp criticism
from the Turkish government.

On Wednesday, Turkey summoned its ambassador in Vienna hours after
the Austrian Parliament described the 1915 events as "genocide."

The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of
the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the
invading Russians and revolted.

The relocation by the Ottomans of Armenians in eastern Anatolia
following the revolts resulted in numerous casualties. Turkey does
not dispute that there were casualties on both sides, but rejects
the definition of "genocide." 
May 1, 2015 - 19:09 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkish Hurriyet magazine published an article
by journalist Ahmet Hakan, complete with 7 points confirming the
Armenian Genocide.

The points listed by the journalist are as follows:

1. The word genocide is said to be used by imperialists only. The U.S.,
being the greatest imperialist, still doesn't use the word.

2. We keep mentioning the Armenian's armed attacks. Was it a reason
enough to deport and massacre all the Armenians? Why was the whole
nation made responsible for the actions of a group of people?

3. Why do we pronounce genocidal leaders of the Young Turks movement
our ancestors, instead of Rashid Bay, Mehmet Bay and Faik Ali Bey
who protected Armenians?

4. Whoever is calling the Genocide a lie - could they tell what
happened to the Armenians - the most ancient nation inhabiting those
lands? Where did they all go? What happened to their property? Who
took it from them?

5. We keep telling the countries with a history of massacres and
genocides they cannot preach anything to us. But would blaming the
formers cleanse our own history?

6. We're offended at the word 'Armenian,' we even apologize before
pronouncing it. On April 24, we lay a black wreath outside the Agos
office to commemorate the assassinated journalist Hrant Dink. How on
earth are we going to persuade the world we're so humane we wouldn't
hurt a fly?

7. Would the refusal to recognize the Genocide save us from facing
our past? Will it wash away our sins and the blood we shed? 

International Business Times, UK Edition
April 23 2015
By Lydia Smith

There were two million Armenians in the declining Ottoman Empire on the
eve of the First World War. By 1922, there were fewer than 400,000. Up
to 1.5 million were killed in what historians describe as one of
the most flagrant mass violations of human rights in modern history;
a massacre that some believe was a contributing factor in allowing
Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe a quarter of a century later.

The mass killings were carried out in two phases. Able-bodied men were
killed through murder and forced labour, followed by the deportation
of women, children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled on death
marches into the Syrian desert. Rape, torture and other atrocities
were common, particularly among girls, and children were forcibly
converted to Islam. Around 2,500 Armenian churches and monasteries
were burned to the ground, and 2,000 schools destroyed.

Yet Turkey has never accepted the term "genocide". Although the
Turkish government recognises killings that occurred in wartime,
it maintains they were a regrettable consequence of war - denying
ethnic Armenians were systematically targeted, despite opposing
views by modern research. So what effect has this had on Armenia,
the descendants of the victims and the history of the killings?

Genocide is the final stage of genocide

"Firstly, we have to understand denial is an encapsulating word for
Turkey's refusal to take any responsibility, to have any accountability
and to offer and humane gesture or acknowledgement of the enormity
of the crime," says Peter Balakian, author of The Burning Tigris:
The Armenian Genocide And America's Response; and a professor of
humanities at Colgate University.

"Scholars of the genocide continually note that denial of genocide
is the final stage of genocide," Balakian tells IBTimes UK. "It
seeks to demonise the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators and
it sends a message, of course, to the wider world that such human
rights crimes demand no accountability. I think this also emboldens
future génocidaires ideas."

Turkey's position has indeed softened in the past few years. In 2014,
the now-Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered his condolences
to Armenia, describing the mass killings as inhumane. But once again,
relations have taken a turn for the worse since Turkey's announcement
that it would mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings on 24 April
- which critics have called a political manoeuvre to overshadow the
100th anniversary of the Armenian killings.

Activists say Turkey's refusal to acknowledge the Armenian massacre
as a genocide deepens the wound(Getty)

"For Armenians, the sense of moral outrage in part stems from absolute
absence of acknowledgement, reparations, repair and social justice
is one that keeps the wound deep and keeps the sense of moral anger
ongoing," Balakian says. "Replace Turkey with Germany and Armenians
with Jews and you get another sense of the situation."

Bilateral relations continue to be sour between the two countries. In
1993, Turkey closed its border with Armenia because of the conflict in
Nagorno-Karabakh, the site of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan,
in which it lies, and its ethnic Armenian majority.

Although Turkey recognised the state of Armenia shortly after its 1991
independence, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the two countries
failed to establish formal diplomatic relations.


Armenian Turkish citizens have a legal minority status as defined by
the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 for all non-Muslim minority groups
and there are around 70,000 living in Turkey. Yet the refusal to
recognise the massacre as a genocide is, as argued by some, still
discriminatory. Denying genocide is denying memory, educational
discourse and public remembrance.

"Memory is so very important," says Raffi Sarkissian, co-chair of the
Armenian Genocide Centenary Commemoration Committee. "It is probably
the best method to help convey the message about genocide to people
who may find it impossible to imagine or comprehend what it actually
means, and how it affects generations to follow."

"It is probably the best method to help convey the message about
genocide to people who may find it impossible to imagine or comprehend
what it actually means, and how it affects generations to follow" -
Raffi Sarkissian

Other mass killings, such as the systematic murder of six million
Jews during the Holocaust, are widely taught in schools.

Education yields critical information into the failures that led
to the establishment of the Nazi regime and into human behaviour,
essential to preventing history from repeating itself. In Turkey's
state-mandated education system, Armenian history is reduced to a
few sentences in which Armenians are vilified.

Public debate has also been stifled. In Article 301 of the penal code
on "insulting Turkishness", writers who highlight the mass killings of
Armenians have been prosecuted, including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

It is this falsification of history that keeps the wound bleeding,
Balakian points out. "The Armenian genocide is the cornerstone of
genocide as we understand it in the modern era," he says.

"It is the foundation upon which Raphael Lemkin built his concept
of genocide. The refusal of the perpetrators legacy to acknowledge
it or deal with it, to show any respect or gesture to the survivor
legacy community it deepens the wound. Pope Francis put it well when
he described Turkish denial recently as 'covering over evil'."

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II on the
anniversary of the Armenian mass killings(Reuters)

Repair and restitution

Businesses, farms, schools, hospitals, orphanages, churches and
monasteries were all lost or became Turkish state property during Medz
Yeghern, an Armenian term that translates as the "Great Catastrophe".

A group called Armenian Genocide Losses estimated the total harm
caused and benefit gained from the massacre is in excess of $3tn,
constituting of reversible harm such as land and property, and
irreversible harm including lost lives and destroyed property.

As the demands for repair and reparations increase, are they hindered
by Turkey's denial of the massacre?

"Turkey is responsible for around 4,500 destroyed churches, monasteries
and schools, and the moveable and immovable wealth of about 2.5 million
people and their properties," Balakian says. "That is a conversation
that is large and complex, and how reparations there happen remains
to be seen, but some of them are in motion irrespective of the Turkish
state's stance. It will be interesting to see how they play out."

"The Turkish government should understand that whatever it chooses
to call the event, their stance to the event does not stand in the
way of reparation processes" - Peter Balakian

"The Turkish government should understand that whatever it chooses
to call the event, their stance to the event does not stand in the
way of reparation processes," Balakian adds. "There are some lawsuits
going on in Europe now, for some church properties."

States have increasingly recognised the mass killings as genocide,
which has assisted with reparations. In 1997, the International
Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution unanimously
recognising the Ottoman massacres of Armenians as genocide.

As of 2015, the governments of 24 countries, including France, Russia
and 43 states of the United States, have recognised the events as
genocide. In April, the EU Parliament urged Turkey to recognise
the Armenian genocide for "genuine reconciliation" between the two
nations but Erdogan said Ankara would disregard any of the decisions
from Brussels.

"Scholarly work done in the last 25 years has been important in a
major way because it has been done in archives from all over Europe;
all that work has been important to clarifying the moral realities
of the event and the restitution urgencies," Balakian says.

"But the demands for various forms of repair and restitution become
increasingly urgent and those demands will not go away. Until Turkey
can face the human and historical reality of the crime and its
aftermath, then those processes can't go forward."

Arutz Sheva, Israel
April 23 2015

The Turkish president's 'hot-headedness' is becoming more and more
a sideshow as the world recognizes the genocide, says Louis Fishman.

By Gedalyah Reback

What is Turkey thinking?

That is the question some analysts are asking themselves in the days
following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's condemnation of
Pope Francis I. Francis referred to the Armenian "Genocide" as one
of the three greatest mass murders of the 20th century in a joint
mass with Armenian priests. He grouped the Armenian Genocide with
the Holocaust and Stalinism in the same breath. Just yesterday,
Austria also recognized the Armenian Genocide, prompting Turkey to
recall its ambassador.

As Erdogan has reacted in the past, he was furious. He said the Pope
would be wise not to make the same mistake again. In that, Erdogan
extended the same angry response he had used against France several
years ago against one of the most popular social and political figures
on the planet.

It is a public relations disaster says Professor Louis Fishman of
Brooklyn College, who focuses on Turkish Affairs.

"Due to the elections, the 'angry' part was revived. But, it's not
like it used to be."

That is the assessment of the International Crisis Group's Nigar
Goksel, who wrote this week, "The nationalist vote is up for grabs
in this June's general election, leaving the incumbent AKP especially
wary of being seen as bowing to foreign parliamentary resolutions."

Yet these reactions have not been isolated to election cycles.

Generally speaking, Fishman emphasizes that "Turkey should understand
its reaction is really bad for public relations."

Yet paradoxically, Erdogan's Islamist AKP party has been given a lot
more credit recognizing anything happened at all to the Armenians
than previous Turkish governments.

Even if the government refuses to recognize it as a genocide,
there are groups within its supporters that do openly recognize it
as a genocide," says Fishman. "In fact, if one reads PM Davutoglu's
recent statement, it is clear that the government has taken steps in
recognizing the injustice. However, of course, the words need to be
met with actions."

"Beginning last year, it expressed condolences to the Armenians on
the anniversary of the killings," says Amberin Zaman of the Economist.

"Yet there is a strong whiff of political expediency about its

But the politics cuts both ways. The main Kurdish HDP party in Turkey
has formally apologized to Armenians for acts conducted by Kurds in
the genocide. Again, political expediency is leading to an opening.

But still, the Kurdish party is to the left of Erdogan, who is courting
votes on the other side of the spectrum.

So does Erdogan represent an older way of thinking in Turkey?

"Let us remember that Erdogan is the President, and even if the
full powers are vested in the PM, he does set the trend. There is no
doubt that his hot-headed reactions do not help, and partially set
the stage."

"However, the recalling of ambassadors is a short-sighted policy and
regardless of who setting the stage, this seems simply to be motivated
by a flawed policy. "

When asked if the Turkish president understood the ramifications of
taking on such a massive figure like the Pope, Fishman said that he
probably thought the Pope was a soft target.

Fishman is referring to the reverse effect the warning has had. Since
Erdogan's backlash at the Pope, the European Parliament has also
voted in favor of recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The language
referred several times to using "the commemoration of the centenary
of the Armenian genocide" as a launching point for political
reconciliation, but the message was clearer than ever that Europe
wants that reconciliation to involve acknowledgement.

However, the fallout has its limits. President Obama is still hesitant
to use the term, presumably because of Turkey's strategic value in
American efforts against ISIS or in any number of other regional

Yet, people like the President of the United States and perhaps the
Prime Minister of Israel might take into account that any fallout
over this issue alone would likely be temporary (not withstanding
other issues between Israel and Turkey).

When asked if the repercussions for Turkish public relations were
quantifiable, Fishman said the Turks' reaction is not having the
impact President Erdogan would like it to have.

"To be frank, it seems that the world is no longer surprised by the
short-sighted actions of the Turkish government. Many countries are
thus dealing with it accordingly, knowing that Turkey's bark is much
worse than its bite."

The Sofia Globe, Bulgaria
April 23 2015

Bulgaria's Parliament is embroiled in controversy over a proposal to
formally recognise the Armenian Genocide - though it appears that plans
for the vote to be held on April 24, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day,
will be thwarted.

The proposal for Bulgaria's National Assembly to vote on recognition
of the Armenian Genocide was tabled, as it has been repeatedly for
several years, by far-right ultra-nationalist minority party Ataka,
which has a generally anti-Turkey policy, invoking the centuries
during which Bulgaria was under Ottoman rule.

In previous years, the proposed recognition has been defeated,
being opposed especially by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms,
throughout a succession of parliaments the third-largest party and
one led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish descent.

Initially, the 2015 motion by Ataka was placed as the first item on
the order paper of the National Assembly's April 24 sitting. But on
April 23, two other items were given priority, respectively, voting
on amendment legislation tabled by the centre-right Reformist Bloc
and by the centre-right majority partner in the governing coalition,
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov's GERB.

Given that the Friday sitting has limited time for motions and
legislation because it is the day on which Question Time takes up
most of Parliament's time, the precedence given to the other items
makes it highly unlikely that MPs will deal with the motion on the
"Armenian Genocide".

MPs from Ataka have been irked by this, with senior Ataka MP Dessislav
Chukolov alleging that other parliamentary groups had succumbed to
political pressure against the draft declaration.

He alleged that the Turkish embassy had "panicked and exercised
every means of influence" so that the item would not be considered by
Parliament. The MRF also had a hand in the reshuffle of parliamentary
business, Chukulov said.

He said that Ataka had sought eight times since 2006 to get the motion
passed, and contrasted the move by the Bulgarian Parliament to the
planned vote on April 24 in the German parliament, the Bundestag, which
chancellor Angela Merkels' centre-right CDU has said it would support.

Currently, 23 countries and 43 US states have adopted resolutions
acknowledging the "Armenian Genocide". EU member states who lawmakers
have adopted recognitions, in some cases with prison or fines for
denying the event, include Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech
Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland,
Slovakia and Sweden.

Among a number of international, political and religious organisations
that recognise the event under the name Armenian Genocide is the
EU-level political group the centre-right European People's Party,
of which Bulgaria's GERB party is a member.

Earlier in April, Roman Catholic church head Pope Francis offended
Ankara by referring to the Armenian Genocide by that name and calling
it the first genocide of the 20th century.

Pope Francis also called on all heads of state and international
organizations to recognise "the truth of what transpired and oppose
such crimes without ceding to ambiguity or compromise."

In a resolution adopted on April 25, the European Parliament commended
the statement pronounced by the Pope and encouraged Turkey to recognise
the genocide and so pave the way for a "genuine reconciliation between
the Turkish and Armenian peoples".

Ankara vehemently denies the charge of genocide, saying the deaths
occurred in a civil war, in which many Turks died, too. But, according
to a report by the Voice of America, Turkish prime minister Ahmet
Davutoglu this week expressed condolences to Armenians whose relatives
were killed.

New Statesman
April 24 2015
by Anoosh Chakelian

The global activity around the Armenian genocide centenary
is unprecedented - reality TV stars, western lawyers, Turkish
intellectuals, metalheads and the Pope have all spoken out. But has
this brought international recognition any closer?

When I mention that I'm Armenian to new people I meet, I usually
receive one of two reactions. One involves Kim Kardashian. The other
is a vague awareness of something horrible that happened during the
First World War. It's particularly noticeable this year, as the world
(including cousin Kim) has lingered a little longer than usual on
the events of the Armenian genocide as it reaches its centenary.

Today is 24 April, a date that has resonated for me ever since I was
born. Well, the Armenian pronunciation of it has, anyway ("Uhbril
Ksan Chors"). Today marks 100 years since the Ottoman Turks rounded
up hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals in
Constantinople, and executed them.

This was the first phase of a genocide that lasted throughout the
First World War. The ensuing century has perpetuated the pain with
silence and denial.

The facts are already out there - pretty much every western journalist
or historian who has written about this subject, and many Turkish
ones at that, will give you a similar account. During death marches
and massacres perpetrated by the Young Turk regime as the bloody
conclusion of its "Turkification" programme, 1.5m Armenians were
killed of an estimated population of 2.1 million.

A collapsing empire, war, religious hegemony, and a rumbling
resentment towards the flourishing Christian people living in the
heart of their empire, led the Ottomans to this final solution to the
"Armenian question".

And every Armenian in the vast diaspora today has been touched by the
story. My grandparents on my father's side were both born in Cilicia -
a historic Armenian community to the south of Turkey. Their families
both managed first to flee to Iskenderun, which was then part of Syria,
when my grandparents were very young. Just before the Second World
War, when Iskenderun fell into Turkish hands, they then escaped to
Lebanon. My grandparents only met and married years later, in Beirut.

The Turkish government has always denied that its ancestors committed
genocide. It maintains there were deaths on both sides (or, what the
Independent's Robert Fisk calls, "the old 'chaos of war' nonsense").

This has led to certain countries (like Britain) and leaders (like
Barack Obama) being too craven to use the word "genocide", for fear
of angering a strategically useful ally.

Those writing about the genocide will repeat the same telling
quotations from history: Winston Churchill calling it "an
administrative holocaust" and "a crime planned and executed for
political reasons"; Adolf Hitler asking his generals ahead of his
invasion of Poland: "Kill without mercy men, women and children... Who,
after all, today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?"; the
lawyer Raphael Lemkin who coined the term "genocide" using the case
of the Armenians to formulate his definition, which was adopted by
the UN in 1948.

All compelling, but it's time to focus on the present. The global
activity around the Armenian genocide centenary is unprecedented. Will
it change anything?

Kim Kardashian, the Pope and some metalheads

The coalition of people and institutions urging Turkey's government to
move on from denial is now overwhelming. The Pope angered the Turkish
regime by using the term genocide to describe the events during a
mass two weeks ago. The European Parliament adopted a resolution last
week calling on Turkey to recognise the Armenian genocide. Germany
is poised to recognise it this week.

And aside from politics, Kim Kardashian caused hysteria on her visit
to Armenia as she tweeted and broadcasted to an adoring audience
the truth about her family's past. Simultaneously, the popular
Armenian-American metal band System of a Down has been on a world
tour raising awareness of the Armenian genocide, playing a special
free set in the land of their ancestors for the first time.

Plus countless books and articles have been published by western,
Armenian and Turkish scholars alike giving ever more forensic
examinations of the crimes against humanity committed 100 years ago. A
prominent British example is the QC and judge Geoffrey Robertson, who
recently represented Armenia alongside the barrister Amal Alamuddin
(now Clooney) at the European Court of Human Rights. He has written a
book called An Inconvenient Genocide, which contains reams of evidence.

"The deaths of Armenians were not a 'tragedy'," he says at an event
to promote his book in London. "They were a crime, a crime against
humanity - the class that we now call genocide."

So an odd army of top British barristers, wildly popular reality TV
stars, the Pope and headbanging goths around the world are just a
few examples of an eclectic, broad-based side in a debate that is
becoming increasingly difficult for the Turkish government to win.

"I think, for the coming years, that the Turkish political elite will
be alone in denying the genocide, because the Turkish intellectual
elite is moving on," Vicken Cheterian, the historian and author of
Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide, tells me.

"From my research, I've been discovering new people - so many Turkish
and Kurdish individuals, scholars, writers, historians ­- who are
dedicating their professional life, and sometimes more than that,
to the study of Armenian history as part of their own history, and
this is extremely encouraging."

Robertson too is optimistic. He tells me: "There's a terrific amount
of literature coming out for the centenary, and I've met a lot of
the authors. We're getting over this silly, pointless argument over
whether it was or wasn't genocide, and instead exploring how it can
be rectified...

"I think that the signs are good. The lack of response, very little
response from Turkey, is significant. They don't seem to have anything
more to say. I sense the truth is now out."

A rattled response

Turkey's response has given the Armenian community and its
international supporters reasons to be cheerful. The President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's clunky efforts to distract the world from
the centenary have been embarrassing. They include rescheduling the
date for the Gallipoli commemoration to fall on 24 April, inviting
over 100 world leaders to Turkey for the day. The date should be,
and always has been, 18 March.

To seal his "PR disaster", as Simon Heffer describes it, Erdogan
recalled the Turkish ambassador to the Vatican following the Pope's
intervention, threatened to convert the ancient and venerated Orthodox
church Hagia Sophia in Turkey into a mosque, and his foreign affairs
ministry accused the EU of succumbing to "Armenian propaganda".

When multitudes of Turkish people mourn the Armenians each year,
urge their leaders to accept the truth, and protest that "We are all
Armenians" - with the world echoing the sentiment - the Turkish regime
looks increasingly neurotic, paranoid, rattled and alone.

Wake up, world

But does the world really echo the sentiment? There are currently
more than 20 countries that officially describe the events as
genocide. Yet the UK has shied away from doing so, in spite of an
unofficial political consensus that it did take place.

This is clear in Robertson's Freedom of Information request that
threw up a memorandum from the Foreign Office: "Turkey is neuralgic on
this subject; our position is unethical. But given the importance of
strategic, political and commercial relations with Turkey, it would
be inconvenient to acknowledge the genocide."

The US is slightly different. It does recognise the Armenian genocide,
in the sense that 43 of its states do, and its House of Representatives
has adopted three resolutions commemorating the Armenian genocide in
1975, 1984 and 1996. Obama, in a 2008 campaign speech, used the G-word:

The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or
a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an
overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An
official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts
is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of
the Armenian Genocide Resolution, as president I will recognise the
Armenian Genocide.

He hasn't used the word since becoming President, instead referring
to the genocide as "Meds Yeghern" ("great catastrophe" in Armenian)
- a phrase that merely inspires hollow laughter among Armenians
frustrated by our politicians' semantic dances.

Moving on

As a British-Armenian, I would like to see the UK recognise the
Armenian genocide, hear Obama use the word before he stands down as
President, and for Turkey finally to come to terms with its history.

Even if you discount the injustice felt by Armenians around the world,
the deathly cycle of annihilation should be reason enough to force
the world to recognise the genocide. Places like Deir ez-Zor in the
Syrian desert, where mass graves of Armenians were found, are the
exact same killing fields occupied by Islamic State today.

So not only did the Armenian genocide give Hitler his idea for the
Holocaust, but a century of impunity has made the very land where it
took place ripe turf for further massacres of civilians.

Yet ultimately Turkey and its fearful Nato allies must call the crime
by its name for the sake of Armenian identity. As if the culture
hasn't come under enough strain throughout history, it is weighed
down by the burden of constantly being associated with death, sorrow
and endless injustice.

The lead singer of System of a Down and modern Armenian hero Serj
Tankian is reticent about Armenians being defined by their bloody

I think, with justice prevailing, I would like to see the Armenian
culture move on from talking about the genocide," he tells me. "We
don't want to be known as the lost orphans of the near east forever.

We want to be known for what we are today, and for what we've
represented through our history in general."

I find that encouraging, as someone who has attempted to bring the
unique and joyous nature of Armenian culture to the attention of
friends and fellow journalists.

Armenia has its own language and alphabet that is part of no other
language family. It also boasts a formidable mastery of chess, a
curious cultural obsession with pomegranates, numerous madcap proverbs,
and lays claim to a delicious smorgasbord of enigmatically-named dishes
("The Priest Who Fainted" is a personal favourite). The country
itself is a compelling clash of Soviet brutalism with the pretty
symmetrical solemnity of its Orthodox churches. And you should see
it take on Eurovision.

Only when denial turns to recognition can the genocide become part of
that list, rather than always being the headline. And only when the
silence on this issue is drowned out will Armenians be truly able to
define themselves as survivors, and no longer victims.

Otago Daily Times, New Zealand
May 1 2015

Not all sacrifice is equal, writes Stuart Crosson.

Last weekend, my family joined thousands in Dunedin and around the
country who gathered to remember the terrible loss that took place
100 years ago on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey.

Two of my brothers and three nieces and nephews attended the service
in Gallipoli to remember the battle on April 25, 1915, where so many
lives were lost, including two of our great-uncles.

At the dawn service in Dunedin it was moving to be with so many people,
young and old, to remember.

As a Christian, I am urged by God in the Scriptures to remember.

There is something very divine and human about remembrance.

The Bible reveals a great deal about the need to remember.

It speaks of God remembering His people and His covenant.

To remember is a part of God's plan.

So what are we to remember with regards to Gallipoli?

We recall the great human sacrifice made: 44,000 Allied and 86,000
Ottoman soldiers died.

Very few communities in New Zealand were spared the grief of losing
sons and daughters on the other side of the world.

Our own church community of St Matthew's had 18 parishioners killed
in World War 1 (17 soldiers and one nurse).

One hundred years on, it is disturbing to reflect on the ongoing
bloodshed happening in these nearby lands of North Africa, Iraq and
Syria in the name of power, religion and who knows what.

The brutal execution of 28 Ethiopian Christians at the hands of an
Isis-aligned group in Libya disturbs all but the most radical Muslim.

I thank God for moderate Muslims in our city who actively support an
expression of their faith that seeks to allow Sunni and Shi'a Muslims
to exist side by side and seek the way of peace for all.

But, the One whom I follow invites me to remember that, ultimately,
the only way to overcome death, hatred and violence is to come to
Him who is the way, the truth, and the life.

The secular vision of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot was an even worse road
map than the religious fanaticism of Isis in terms of bloodshed,
oppression and death.

God invites us to remember not all acts of sacrifice are created
equal; that war, violence and economic growth are not the way to
truth and freedom.

God reminds us the ultimate sacrifice came 2000 years ago, not on a
Turkish peninsula, but on a hill outside Jerusalem where God's Son
gave His life willingly that we might know forgiveness and life in
all its fullness.

This great sacrifice, where the depth of God's love met the depth of
human depravity, paved the way for us to experience reconciliation
with God and with each other.

As the escalating violence of the Middle East shows us, the human
appetite for revenge, hatred and war is ingrained.

But Jesus showed, just as there is a need to remember God's love,
there is also a time for us to forget and even forgive.

Recently, 20 Turkish citizens travelled to Armenia seeking forgiveness
for the genocide carried out by their forebears (the Ottoman Empire)
in 1915.

More than one million Armenians were killed.

They were not speaking on behalf of all their country, as officially
Turkey denies that genocide took place.

But in Yerevan, at the Armenian national genocide memorial, this
small delegation spoke out simply and repeatedly: "We plead with you,
if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers."

I am unsure how their request was received, but I pray the Armenians
were able to let go of the past and extend forgiveness.

Such an act is one of the most powerful things we can know in this
life - to say "I forgive you".

The basis on which these Turkish people sought this reconciliation
was the Christian faith.

They had experienced the power of God to forgive in their own lives
through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, today, let us remember that not all sacrifice is equal. True
justice begins at the cross of Calvary, where Jesus died.

Let us affirm there is a time to remember and a time to forget,
especially if that memory is leading us into bitterness, hatred
and revenge.

With hope, let us remember the love God has for all people.

* The Rev Stuart Crosson is the vicar of St Matthew's, Dunedin.

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