More irrefutable Armenian Genocide evidence comes to light via Germany’s archives

July 31, 2012

Noted Turkish scholar Taner Akcam has said that the government archives of the US, Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as Turkey, contain a wealth of Armenian Genocide documentation. (The Armenian Church also has extensive records in Yerevan and Jerusalem, but the Church’s archives are not open.)

A new window into the German archives has opened with the publication of “Alman Belgeleri: Ermeni Soykirimi 1915-1916 (German Documents: Armenian Genocide 1915-1916). This 1,000-page book is printed in Turkish. Issued on January 12, 2012 by Belge Publishing House – whose owner Ragip Zarakolu has been imprisoned and put on trial for speaking out on behalf of the Kurds and Armenians in Turkey – the book contains translations “into an extremely comprehensible and beautiful Turkish” of documents from the German Foreign Ministry archives during the First World War. First published in German in 2005, Wolfgang Gust, “the famous German journalist and writer,” put it together.

Read more in the Armenian Reporter here:

German archive material raises stir in Turkey
Armenian Reporter | July 31, 2012


Astrid Aghajanian survived the Armenian Genocide

June 14, 2012

When we focus on the number, 1,500,000 massacred in the Armenian Genocide, it is easy to lose sight of the individual lives touched by this man-made tragedy. Learning the stories of individuals is a meaningful way to come to know history.

The UK’s Independent published this powerful obituary which honors the life of Helen Astrid ‘Astghig’ Aghajanian, nee Gaidzakian:

Astrid Aghajanian: Survivor of the Armenian genocide who narrowly escaped death
June 14, 2012 | Independent.co.uk

Helen (Astghig/Astrid) Gaidzakian was born in Albistan, Turkey, March 28, 1913. She survived the deportation and massacre of the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. In 1942, she married Gaspar Aghajanian. The Aghajanians had two daughters. Widowed in 2007, Mrs. Aghajanian died in Gloucester May 11, 2012. Read about her life.


Armenian Patriarchate sues Turkey for land

March 20, 2012

Most people think the Armenian Genocide was purely about Turks killing Armenians. However, a prime motivator for the killing of 1.5 million Armenians living in Turkey was greed and the redistribution of wealth. The Ottoman Turkish rulers wanted to take possession of the property belonging to  its wealthy Armenian minority. They succeeded.

Throughout the deportation, eyewitness testimonies repeat stories of Turkish officials seeking bribes in the form of gold coins, rugs, jewelry, and so on.

Talaat Pasha (one of the architects of the Armenian Genocide) had the audacity to ask the American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau for the life insurance policies of his victims, because he reasoned the Turkish Government had become the beneficiary of the policies since his victims left no heirs. 

Contrary to common belief, not all killings were perpetrated by chetes (criminal gangs) and Turkish soldiers. Townsfolk throughout Anatolia were promised the homes and belongings of their Armenian neighbors. After they were taught to hate the Armenians for being giavurs or gavoors, which means ‘infidels’ or ‘non-believers’, it was frighteningly easy to whip the people into frenzied kitchen-knife welding mobs capable of murdering their neighbors.

The Turkish government enabled and encouraged the mass looting that took place everywhere the Armenians had once lived. In many instances, Turkey’s governing leaders relocated Kurds and Muslim peoples from the Balkans and other areas to depopulated Armenian communities (immediately following their mass killing and deportation). The Ottoman Turks’ destruction of its Armenian Christian minority created an ‘instant’ Muslim middle class.

Ottoman government archives containing records of land deeds are not accessible to descendants of the Armenian Turkish citizens who were either killed or expelled from their land. One of the obstacles to Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide is its fear of reparations.

Many of the Armenian churches not destroyed by the Turks were converted to Mosques. Some Armenian churches (including the sacred Aktamar site) are profitable enterprises employed by Turkey as part of its thriving tourism industry.

Even Mount Ararat, the ancestral homeland and pride of the Armenian people, now lies within Turkey’s borders. A few weeks ago, I saw a Turkish tourism advertisement prominently featuring Mount Ararat with a depiction of Noah’s Ark. Of course, there was no mention of the Armenians, believed to be the descendants of Noah’s son, Japheth.

Related News:

Armenian Patriarchate files suit in Turkey for return of property
March 20, 2012 | Public Radio of Armenia (armradio.com)

Ervin Staub to deliver lecture at Armenian Genocide Commemoration
March 20, 2012 | Wickedlocal.com

Mr. Staub is the author of “Overcoming Evil”, a book which describes the origins or influences leading to genocide, violent conflict and terrorism. It identifies principles and practices of prevention, and of reconciliation between groups after violence, or before violence thereby to prevent violence. 

 


The Power of Celebrity and Armenian Genocide Awareness

March 13, 2012

‘Khloe and Lamar’ Raise Public Awareness of Armenian Genocide
March 13, 2012 | The Armenian Weekly

Thanks to the ‘Khloe and Lamar’ program aired on the E! Network last Sunday (March 11, 2012), ‘Armenian Genocide’ was the tenth most-searched term on Google. The Armenian Weekly reports 2.1 million people watched the episode. Coincidentally, unaware of the episode, I checked my site statistics for that day and could not figure out why there was such a spike in the number of visits to my blog.

Thank you Khloe Kardashian, Lamar Odom, and E! Network producers for bringing awareness oo the Armenian Genocide history and the issue of  Turkey’s ongoing Armenian Genocide denial to your viewers. Thanks also to the Genocide Education Project (GenEd) and the Armenian Youth Federation for your roles fighting against Armenian Genocide denial.


Bernard-Henri Levy on French Constitutional Council’s Armenian Genocide Denial Law Decision

March 6, 2012

Armenian Genocide: The French Constitutional Council’s Mistake by Bernard-Henri Lévy
Huffington Post | March 6, 2012


97th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide: Times Square — April 22, 2012

February 28, 2012

Click link for details:

97th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide to Be Held in Times Square, Sunday, April 22, 2-4 pm
Theme “Turkey Is Guilty of Genocide: Denying the Undeniable Is a Crime”; Armenian Genocide experts and survivors available for interviews
Wall Street Journal Market Watch | February 6, 2012


Protect free speech for Turk Ragip Zarakolu: Imprisoned for publishing books about Armenian Genocide, Kurds

February 3, 2012

Do you know Ragip Zarakolu? He is in prison in Turkey for publishing books which ‘insult Turkishness’ because they are sympathetic to the human rights of minorities in Turkey. Zarakolu has suffered the wrath of the Turkish government for publishing books, including a Turkish translation of British author George Jerjian’s, The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks and Professor Dora Zakayan’s, An American Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922.

Prime Minister Erdogan is Turkey’s leading demagogue (a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument). He twists truths as he shines the spotlight on human rights issues, including inhumane blockades and freedom of speech. Rather than looking in the direction he points (as the media tends to do as if by reflex), learn more about Turkey’s nearly 20-year illegal blockade strangling the Republic of Armenia and look-up Article 301 which renders free speech in Turkey a crime.

Until Turkey acknowledges and apologies for perpetrating the Armenian Genocide, let’s use the publicity surrounding the Turkish Government’s interference in France’s legislative process (protesting France’s pending genocide denial legislation which would give  Armenian Genocide denial the same legal status as Holocaust denial in France) as another opportunity to educate the world about genocide and crimes against humanity.

You can protect the human right of free speech by supporting courageous righteous Turks such as Ragip Zarakolu. Read more about Ragip Zarakolu and his case on the PEN American Center website. Please send a letter on his behalf (there is a link on the PEN webpage).


Free Speech and Armenian Genocide Denial

January 31, 2012

A new development has occurred in France concerning the signing into law of a bill passed by both houses of France’s parliament. The spotlight has shifted to the question of free speech rather than the crime of genocide. 

At the moment, the most vocal defender of free speech in France appears to be the Turkish Government. This is because Turkey does not want France’s president to sign the “Armenian Genocide Denial bill” into law. One fact which seems to have been lost in the muddied waters of this spectacle is that France already has a Holocaust Denial law on its books.

France legally recognizes the Armenian Genocide (tens of thousands of Armenian survivors sought refuge in France in the aftermath of the mass deportation of all Armenians from Turkey) and the Holocaust. As the New York Times correctly points out, “the bill criminalizes the denial of officially recognized genocides…The bill does not make specific reference to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered under the Ottoman Turks, but France recognizes only those deaths and the Holocaust as genocides and already specifically bans Holocaust denial.

The same Turkish Government who is now France’s newest proponent of free speech in France, does not champion free speech in Turkey. Within Turkey’s borders, the Turkish Government censors the press and the Internet, and criminally prosecutes those who “insult Turkishness” with their words, this includes openly commenting about the Armenian Genocide. While the facts about Turkey’s human and civil rights abuses are well known, Turkey’s aggressive multi-decade, multi-national, multi-million dollar lobbying efforts aimed at blocking Armenian Genocide recognition are less frequently in the headlines.

Do we have free speech when an outside government dictates what we can and cannot say under the guise of foreign diplomacy? Questions raised about free speech are fair and essential. However, we must not limit this discussion to the passing of a law in France. Michael Bobelian’s book, Children of Armenia, which is painstakingly documented, illuminates the dark side of genocide denial and illustrates how it is possible to forget (or never learn) about seismic events in modern history.

If criminalizing genocide denial is not the answer, how do we combat hate speech and state-sponsored genocide denial?

Here are a few articles about today’s news from France:

France’s Armenian Genocide Law Put On Hold
Armenian Weekly | January 31, 2012

Top French court asked to weigh in on bill making it a crime to deny Armenian genocide
Washington Post | January 31, 2012

France Turkey row: Genocide bill faces court hurdle
BBC News | January 31, 2012

 


Passage of France’s Armenian Genocide Denial Law is an Opportunity for Education

January 24, 2012

According to the organization Genocide Watch, the last stage of genocide is denial. Seen through the prism of any Southern Poverty Law Center newsletter, yesterday’s passage of the Armenian Genocide Denial law by France’s Senate is easier to understand. Holocaust denial and genocide denial laws are not a new concept. Similar laws to the one passed yesterday in France already exist in several European countries (including France) and Israel. 

As I was seeking answers to address the multitude of questions raised by France’s historic genocide denial vote, I came across this paper, “Holocaust Denial Laws and Other Legislation Criminalizing Promotion of Nazism“, written by Michael J. Bazyler. Professor Bazyler is a von Oppenheim Research Fellow International Institute for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem, and Professor of Law, Whittier Law School. Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem is committed to four pillars of remembrance:

  1. Commemoration
  2. Documentation
  3. Research
  4. Education

Unfortunately, the Turkish Government is the primary perpetrator of Armenian Genocide denial. Its intense and emotional reaction to yesterday’s vote in France includes lashing out at France’s leaders with accusations of racism and being ‘anti-Islam’. Once again, Turkey’s elected leaders are inciting Turkish nationalist sentiment, rather than doing what is necessary as a nation to make amends for the crimes against humanity committed almost a century ago. This counterproductive behavior ensures that Turkey’s shameful Armenian Genocide history remains very much alive in the present and in our collective consciousness.

Within Turkey, a major obstacle to real solutions for moving forward is Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which is used to prosecute individuals who “insult Turkishness”. In Turkey, acknowledging and discussing the Armenian Genocide is grounds for imprisonment and large fines. Nobel Prize winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted for a statement he made in an interview, which referenced the Armenian Genocide.

While it remains a challenge for Turkey to acknowledge and apologize for the Armenian Genocide, the time must come. This is necessary for Turkey to take the place it aspires to have on the world stage, and as a member of the European Union. After reading about last week’s groundswell of Turkish outrage at the outcome of Hrant Dink murder trial in Istanbul, I do believe such a time is not far off. It is also not fanciful thinking to imagine the day when Turkey passes a law forbidding Armenian Genocide denial.

France, Germany, and Spain are among the countries that have apologized for their countries’ past atrocities. They are also setting an example for Turkey to follow regarding how to educate the world about the evils of genocide, hate speech, racism, and xenophobia. In a past blog post, Armenian Genocide denial doesn’t make it go away, I mentioned seeing the topic of slavery incorporated into the educational displays at the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall historical sites in Philadelphia, which are part of the U.S. National park service.

Sadly, I do not hold out hope that Holocaust or Genocide denial will be outlawed in the United States, because the right to free speech is a value which Americans cherish more than safeguarding the rights of victims of hate speech, as the US Supreme Court 8-1 decision in the matter of Snyder v. Phelps clarified.

 


France’s Senate Passes Armenian Genocide Denial Law!

January 23, 2012

Despite aggressive threats and protests from the Turkish Government, France’s Senate passed a bill outlawing Armenian Genocide denial. In Turkey it is against the law to speak about the Armenian Genocide. Ironically, Turkey’s leaders accused the French of trying to stifle free speech.

France and several other European countries already have laws against Holocaust denial. Webster’s dictionary defines Genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.”

Extensive records documenting the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey, which began on April 24, 1915 and claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, exist in the archives of governments including the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Turkey. Many of the world’s countries officially recognize the mass atrocities committed upon Turkey’s minority Armenian Christian population by its then ruling Ottoman Turkish government as genocide.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers

%d bloggers like this: