Saturday, March 25, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
BOSTON, Mass.—Peace of Art’s 2017 campaign of Genocide awareness has begun. In commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, starting March 10th to April 30, 2017, at seven locations: Route 1A in Lynn, Route 1 in Malden, 495 in Methuen, and on April 1st on South East Expressway Boston, Massachusetts.
Peace of Art will display a message of peace on electronic billboards, calling on the international community to recognize the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide.
“April 2017 is the month of remembrance of the Holocaust and all genocides in the world, and on this occasion we are calling on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide by honoring the memory of the innocent victims of all genocides,” Daniel Varoujan Hejinian, the Peace of Art president said. “The billboards reflect the historical moment, when His Holiness Karekin II, together with Pope Francis on behalf of the Armenian and Catholic community worldwide, released doves soaring towards Mt. Ararat, sending a message of peace to Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide.”
Every year since 1996, Hejinian has been displaying the Armenian Genocide commemorative billboards. In 2003 Peace of Art, Inc., began to sponsor the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Billboards. In 2015, Peace of Art, Inc. launched its Armenian Genocide Centennial awareness billboard campaign, “100 Billboards for 100 Years of Genocide,” in the U.S. and Canada to commemorate not only the victims of the Armenian Genocide but also the victims of all genocides.
Peace of Art is dedicated to the peace keepers and peace achievers around the world, and those who had the courage to place themselves on the line for the betterment of humanity.
Friday, March 10, 2017
ISTANBUL—Selina Dogan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the Republican People’s Party (CHP) used the occasion of International Women’s Day on Wednesday to highlight Armenian women who contributed to Turkish society, reported the Agos newspaper.
Dogan named Armenian intellectuals Elbis Gesaratsyan, Sırpuhi Düsap, Zabel Asadur, Zabel Yesayan ande Hayganuşh Mark, who are considered as the first feminists of Turkey.
The member of parliament stressed that while many statements had been on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the absence of these prominent women gave her pause.
“This means that either the way we discuss this issue is not right or we are not being sincere,” said Dogan who argued that minority women were being forgotten in history of women’s struggle in Turkey/
“While Halide Edip is naturally remembered with respect, her contemporary Zabel Yesayan, with whom she exchanged letters, is ignored. While dear Sabiha Sertel has the place she deserved in the feminism history of this country, nobody remembers her contemporary Elbis Gesaratsyan. While Nezihe Muhiddin, who struggled for enfranchisement of woman and whom I respect deeply, was making feminist history, her counterpart Hayganush Mark, who published a women’s magazine for 14 years, is not remembered at all,” said Dogan.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
George Washington University Law School and the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC) cosponsor talk by Dr. Ümit Kurt
Washington—Dr. Ümit Kurt, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, outlined the complex laws promulgated by Turkey to systematically dispossess Armenians of their properties during and after the Armenian Genocide, in a February 28 talk at George Washington University Law School.
“We were honored to partner with George Washington University Law School and Dean Susan Karamanian on the lecture by Dr. Ümit Kurt, which has revealed many important questions about Armenian property claims that the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights will continue to systematically pursue,” Kate Nahapetian, Executive Director of the Armenian Legal Center noted.
“One of the many unsettled consequences of the Armenian Genocide is the status of the property once held by the Armenians. Dr. Kurt provided critical insight into the laws and practices of the Ottoman Empire as they related to the property of Armenians and their continuation under the Republic of Turkey. His work relied on important original sources and shed new light, in particular, on the liquidation of Armenian assets,” explained Susan Karamanian, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies at George Washington University Law School, who hosted the talk.
In his talk, Dr. Kurt noted that the state-orchestrated plunder and impoverishment of victims was an integral aspect of the Armenian Genocide. “Despite widespread incidents of private plunder and corruption, there is no doubt that the seizure of Armenian property was primarily state-orchestrated genocide. . . . By losing all their … assets… [Armenians] were turned from existence to non-existence,” Dr. Kurt explained. The impoverishment of the victim ensured that they would not be able to return to their native lands and helped fund the genocide machine.
The dispossession did not stop after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but continued into the new Turkish Republic. Dr. Kurt explained that both the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) and Turkish Republic’s Kemalist leaders concocted ways to make the illegal process of property confiscation look legal through complex laws, regulations and decrees.
For instance, the first act of the new Turkish Republic’s Kemalist government was to annul provisions meant to return properties to Armenians. The Kemalist government brought back the liquidation laws of the Ottoman perpetrators and even expanded them.
After the Lausanne Treaty was signed, which required the return of confiscated properties, Turkey created a virtual wall that prohibited Armenians’ return and ability to reclaim their assets, Dr. Kurt observed.
Convoluted laws and regulations were used, once again, to consolidate the fruits of the genocidal crime. Dr. Kurt focused on the US-Turkey Compensation Agreement of 1934 as an example of this. After the genocide, Armenians, who had not received Ottoman permission to become naturalized American citizens, were, for practical purposes, stripped of Turkish citizenship rights and prohibited from returning. However, when the United States tried to resolve their property claims through the US-Turkey Compensation Agreement of 1934, Turkey insisted that Armenian American claims be excluded, refusing to recognize their US citizenship. As a result, Americans of Armenian heritage were denied justice in both their adopted and native countries.
Dr. Kurt also touched on the issue of archival records, noting that the abandoned properties and liquidation commissions set up to dispose of Armenian properties kept meticulous records, but these records are still inaccessible. Dr. Kurt tried unsuccessfully for more than a year to gain access. He was able to publish one record from the commissions, which was maintained by an Armenian family, that detailed the properties down to the spoons and knives that were taken and to whom they were sold.
As for the Land Registry records, which are well-organized and can provide a detailed history to Armenian heirs of their families’ properties, Dr. Kurt explained that plans in 2005 to make them publicly accessible were quickly prohibited by Turkey’s National Security Committee.
Ümit Kurt received his Ph.D. from Clark University, History Department, in 2016. He got his MA and BA degrees in Turkey at Sabancı University and Middle East Technical University respectively. He taught in the Faculty of Arts and Science in Sabancı University and has been a visiting professor in the Armenian Studies Program at California State University. He has published numerous articles on confiscation of Armenian properties during the genocide. More details about Ottoman and Turkish laws surrounding the plunder of Armenian assets can be found in his latest book with Taner Akcam, The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015).
The Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC) fights to redress human rights violations emanating from the Armenian Genocide that continue to this day and undermine stability in a region that has for far too long been marred by policies founded on genocide, not human rights and justice. ALC promotes scholarship on the legal avenues for addressing the challenges emanating from the Armenian Genocide, in addition to pursuing cases in national and international courts, while promoting the protection of Armenian cultural heritage through the return of stolen properties and artifacts.
Video of the lecture will soon be posted on the ALC’s Facebook page.
We write to inform our community about the film The Ottoman Lieutenant, a primarily Turkish-funded production that perpetuates denial of the Armenian Genocide under the guise of neutrality. We urge you to refrain from watching this film in theaters or supporting it in any way, but we do feel it is important for our community to be aware of the fact that genocide denial is present and still a major issue, even outside of the Republic of Turkey.
The Ottoman Lieutenant, starring Michiel Huisman, Hera Hilmar, Josh Hartnett, and Ben Kingsley, pretends to be an “objective” love story set in Ottoman Turkey during World War I, but in reality, the movie furthers the currentRepublic of Turkey’s campaign of genocide denial through feel-good historical revisionism. It portrays the Armenian Genocide as a ‘two-sided’ conflict of equal suffering in the fog of war. At face value, this may signal a willingness to discuss the Armenian Genocide. However, this is a new chapter in the classic state-sponsored genocide denial which seeks to recast the narrative as two-sided suffering.
While one character in this film stated that measures were taken to stamp out the Armenian “rebels” who sided with the Russians against the Ottoman Empire, another character acknowledged that there was, in fact, a campaign to rid Anatolia of its Christian population. It seems the writers of this film aimed to take a neutral stance on the issue, attempting to represent multiple viewpoints. But let this be clear: it is not possible to be neutral on the issue of genocide, and attempting to do so merely supports the modern propaganda of the Turkish government.
A producer of the film is quoted almost verbatim repeating the contemporary Turkish state’s language of genocide denial in a Turkish daily newspaper saying, “As objective and respected to common sufferings of both Turks and Armenians, we wanted to show the audience what happened during World War I in Eastern Anatolia, a subject that has not been handled before.”
While Turks were inherently affected by the state of war in the region — along with all civilians of the Ottoman Empire — their suffering cannot be equated with the systematic massacres and campaign of extermination suffered by the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks living on those lands.
Thankfully, some objective viewers of this film were able to see through the veil of neutrality and soft propaganda it attempts to push. Film critic Dennis Harvey, in a review featured on Variety.com, states, “Violent tensions between Armenian Christians and Turkish Muslims are already beginning to impact this remote area, soon to be exacerbated by the outbreak of WWI. But in this primarily Turkish-funded production, the historical, political, ethnic and other intricacies — not to mention that perpetual elephant in the room, the Armenian Genocide, which commenced in 1915 — are glossed over in favor of a generalized ‘Whattaya gonna do… war is bad’ aura that implies conscience without actually saying anything.”
We cannot stress enough that going to see this film in theaters will only give it support and undeserved positive attention in the long-run. In the coming days, the AYF will be writing letters to theaters and campuses hosting screenings to educate them about our concerns with this film. We recommend others join us, and we are ready to provide resources and language translations for individuals who wish to do so.
Take the creation of this film as a reality-check. Denial is real and is present, and it is now being pushed in new and subtle ways through avenues one would not expect. The Turkish narrative and strategy of evading reparations has changed multiple times in the last 102 years, and has included everything from claiming Armenians committed genocide against the Turks, to minimizing the severity and describing it with words like “civil war” and “common pain.” We must always remain vigilant, and should never tolerate any form of denial no matter how mild or well-disguised it may be. The softer form of denial this film perpetuates is the most dangerous form of all, and it often goes unnoticed.
Founded in 1933 with organizational structures in over 17 regions around the world and a legacy of over eighty years of community involvement, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.
Monday, March 6, 2017
ISTANBUL—Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) will take his case against the Turkish legislature to the European Court of Human Rights after Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejected his appeal, reported Agos.
Paylan was barred from participating in three consecutive session of the Turkish Parliament after he called the events of 1915 Genocide during parliamentary deliberations on Turkey’s new Constitution. He appealed the decision to the Constitutional Court, which rejected his case.
“I wish the court of my country would have solved the problem. If the court would have issued a verdict on eliminating that decision which is a blow to democracy, the situation would be different. In this case I am going to appeal to the ECHR”, Paylan said.
At a parliament session on January 13, Paylan’s speech was interrupted because he used the word “genocide.” The transcript of his speech was subsequently deleted from the parliamentary minutes and he was banned from the legislature for three sessions.
Garo Paylan appealed to the Constitutional Court on the grounds of “violation of parliamentary immunity and abolishment of freedom of expression” and he demanded the decision is reversed. The Court rejected Garo Paylan’s demand on February 27.
The Promise Has a New Trailer. Film to debut in theaters nationwide on April 21