Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vatican: "Unspeakable" Armenian Suffering

ANSA English Media Service

November 24, 2008 Monday 1:09 PM CET

(ANSA) - Vatican City, November 24 - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday spoke
of the "unspeakable suffering" of the Armenian people but did not
use the word "genocide", a term rejected by Turkey but widely used by
historians. Meeting with the religious head of the Armenian diaspora
in Lebanon, Aram I, the pope said the Armenians had experienced a
"period of unspeakable suffering" during the last century. In Aram's
previous visit to Rome in 1997, Pope John Paul II spoke openly of the
Armenian "genocide". On Monday Aram urged all states to recognise
"all genocides, including that of the Armenians". The use of the
word is strongly contested by Turkey and is one of the stumbling
blocks to Turkey's bid to join the European Union. France passed a
bill two years ago making it an offence to deny that Armenia suffered
"genocide" at the hands of the Turks, but the bill was subsequently
buried in the French Senate after furious Turkish reactions. Armenia
says Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million people systematically in 1915 -
a claim strongly denied by Turkey.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Scores of highly sympathetic articles about the Armenian Genocide have appeared in the Turkish press in recent months, despite Turkey’s repressive laws that make it a crime to discuss this taboo subject.

One such article appeared in the October 30 issue of the liberal newspaper Taraf. It was authored by a very unlikely writer -- Judge Faruk Ozsu from Odemish, near Izmir. This is probably the first time that a sitting Turkish judge publicly expresses such daring thoughts in violation of article 301 of the penal code. He criticizes and mocks the Turkish government’s distorted version of the Armenian Genocide that has been fed to the public for decades.

Judge Ozsu asserts that Turkish denialists contradict themselves by first denying that anything happened in 1915 and then stating that those killings were committed "in defense of the homeland."

Referring to the three Turks, recently sentenced by a Swiss Court for denying the Armenian Genocide, Judge Ozsu writes that contrary to widespread Turkish misrepresentation Switzerland did not restrict freedom of expression, but in fact upheld human dignity. Moreover, he ridicules all those who claim that "from the point of view of freedom of expression, Turkey is more advanced that Switzerland" -- a statement he characterizes as a hilarious comedy! In his judgment, those toeing the official Turkish line on the Armenian Genocide are "blind patriots" who accuse of treason anyone expressing the slightest human sensibility on this subject.

Judge Ozsu describes himself as "a simple man who has not lost his conscience, despite his nationalistic education." He explains that since Switzerland has acknowledged 1915 as genocide, everyone in that country is obliged to obey the law of the land. He goes on to quote Elie Wiesel as saying that the denial of genocide is the continuation of genocide. That is why, the Judge writes, "it is mandatory that denial be deemed a crime."

The Honorable Judge further contends that the denial of genocide is unrelated to the scholarly investigation of facts. He condemns French historian Gilles Weinstein and Turkish Professor Baskin Oran for claiming that "there are no documents proving that the killings were committed according to a government plan, therefore it is not possible to qualify these events as genocide." In the Judge’s view, those making such comments are simply trying to save their necks from "the claws of article 301."

In a direct reference to Dogu Perincek who was convicted by the Swiss Supreme Court last year for denying the Armenian Genocide, Judge Ozsu made the following observations:

- "Perincek’s association bears the name of Talaat Pasha who is viewed as a ‘Turkish Hitler.’"

- "Those who declare that the Armenian Genocide is ‘an imperialist lie,’ show no respect for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, but exclaim: ‘Long live the Ittihadists; we were right [to kill the Armenians] and we can do the same thing now,’ then the only person who will pay attention to them is a Swiss judge."

- "Disputing the genocide, making racist statements, and praising the commission of a crime is now a legal issue in Switzerland, and not an attempt to seek the truth through scientific inquiry."

To be sure, the Judge takes a dim view of his country’s educational system which keeps Turks in a state of ignorance about 1915, while people outside Turkey, who have not had a "Turkish education," view things differently. Explaining that the term genocide was coined by a Polish-Jewish attorney named Raphael Lemkin in 1933, in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, and before the Holocaust had taken place, which means that "the Genocide Convention signed by Turkey was inspired by the Armenian Genocide."

The Judge is particularly irate at the Turkish government’s insensitivity toward the mass killings of Armenians. He states: "The official Turkish position is that during the war Armenians from certain regions were temporarily sent to the Southern region and during that period about 300,000 Armenians perished due to different circumstances. Any Turk who has not been through ‘Turkish education’ and has kept his conscience intact, upon hearing the 300,000 figure, would say, ‘Oh My God’ and will start thinking about that number."

Consequently, the Judge suggests that the first thing Turks should do is "to state that we feel terrible regarding these events…. Those who died at that time were not our enemies, but our citizens. Some of those who died were children. No one can speak of children as enemies."

Judge Ozsu concludes: "The Swiss Court’s verdict is neither against democracy nor freedom of expression. Switzerland simply does not allow the events leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people to be characterized by racist and insensitive words that insult people’s dignity. Switzerland simply does not allow that the victim be victimized for a second time!"

Given the Turkish government’s well-established record of punishing all factual references to the Armenian Genocide, we fear that this righteous judge may be dismissed from his job and even get imprisoned for simply telling the truth!

By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The US Department of State recently discovered a document proving
that over 1934 the Turkish government continued its genocide policy
towards the Armenian population.

In a letter sent from the US Embassy in Ankara, Ambassador Robert
P. Skinner summarizes the way in which the Turkish government
constrained the remaining Armenians living in Anatolia, to give up
their properties before being exiled from their hearths, independent
correspondent Jean Eckian informed.

Robert P. Skinner indicates that: "It is probable, that their expulsion
is quite simply a step moreover of the Turkish government in its
policy stated to make of Anatolia a space purely inhabited by Turks."

Moreover, the dating of this letter shows that the crime committed
against the Armenians is not something which can simply be relegated
to the Ottoman time.

The full text of Ambassador Robert P. Skinner's letter, dated March 2,
1934, is presented below:

"I have the honor to bring to the Department's attention such details
as have reached the Embassy from several sources concerning the recent
deportations of Armenians from the interior of Anatolia to Istanbul.

The deportees began to arrive at Istanbul some six weeks ago and
they are quartered by the Armenian Church and its auxiliary relief
organizations in Churches, school houses and abandoned buildings in
the villages of Oteköy and Yeniköy. About 600 Armenians are now being
taken care of. They are from various towns and villages of Anatolia.

It is assumed by most of the deportees that their expulsion from
their homes in Anatolia is a part of the Government's program of
making Anatolia a pure Turkish district.

They relate that the Turkish police, in towns and villages where
Armenians lived, attempted to instigate local Moslem people to drive
the Armenians away. These efforts failed completely. The authorities
then brought in Turks from Rumeli and intimated to them that they
could take over the Armenian possessions. This new element, however,
instead of taking a hostile attitude toward the Armenians became
most congenial with them. These two means failing, the Armenians
were told that they had to leave at once for Istanbul. They sold
their possessions receiving for them ruinous price. I have been told
that cattle worth several hundred liras a head had been sold for as
little as five liras a head. My informant stated that the Armenians
were permitted to sell their property in order that no one of them
could say that they were forced to abandon it. However, the sale
under these conditions amounted to a practical abandonment.

The Armenians were obliged to walk from their villages to the
railways and then they were shipped by train to Istanbul. Local relief
organizations are doing their best to attempt to find employment is
found. However, the size of the task is staggering. Local sympathetic
people have been canvassed to contribute money for their relief.

The real reasons for the deportations are unknown. A few Armenians
believe that it is due to their superior business methods which
arouses jealousy among certain Turkish elements. The Armenians are
know for their energy and thoroughness in business and many of them
believe that they suffering now for these qualities. It is likely,
though, that their removal is simply one step in the government's
avowed policy of making Anatolia purely Turkish."