Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yuri Khachaturov: we won’t cede an inch of our land

Yuri Khachaturov: we won’t cede an inch of our land
May 29, 2010 - 14:38 AMT 09:38 GMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Head of RA Armed Forces General Staff, Colonel General Yuri Khachaturov congratulated Armenian peacekeeping brigade on being conferred the military unit status at the official battle standard award ceremony.
“I congratulate you and your brothers-in-arms serving in Afghanistan and Kosovo on being awarded with battle standard,” Colonel General Khachaturov said.
He called on peacekeepers serving in foreign countries to never forget the main task of protecting their native land.
Commemorating the soldiers who died in Karabakh war, Yuri Khachaturov emphasized that the war was imposed on them by the enemy. “We love peace. We don’t want anything belonging to others. Karabakh is our land and we won’t cede an inch of it.”
At the end of the ceremony, RA Armed Forces peacekeeping brigade officers were awarded efficiency medals by the order of Armenian Minister of Defense.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Azerbaijan Has a Lot to Lose Should It Unleash a War: Guardian

Azerbaijan Has a Lot to Lose Should It Unleash a War: Guardian
18:35 • 19.05.10

There is a sense that the situation over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict might be changing, writies british newspaper Guardian.

"Would the Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, go to war for Karabakh? It is a big question. The defence minister, Safar Abiyev, spoke in February of the growing likelihood of a "great war" with Armenia. Azerbaijan has a lot to lose if it does so. It has got rich quick due to its energy resource development and is the only CIS country that sustained positive economic growth during the financial crisis,"reads the article.

The state, according to the author Anna Matveeva, "started to build roads, rehabilitate schools and resettle its displaced people. The newly found prosperity conveyed a "feel-good" atmosphere, but it also brought a new confidence that finally "the game is ours." It cannot let 15% of its territory be lost for ever without making an earnest effort to win something back. Any leader with a sense of history would be mindful that future generations would not forgive him this."

"So Azerbaijan builds up its military capabilities, procures modern weaponry and trains troops. It also unleashes bellicose rhetoric on Azerbaijani TV channels, both in the Azeri language and in Russian. Whether this propaganda is aimed at preparing society for war is unclear, but it certainly instils trepidation in the Armenian public of a threat of an imminent attack."

"The military build-up and aggressive rhetoric is a pressure tactic of presenting a credible threat, if Armenia does not move. It is effective in projecting a fear that the war, fresh in the memory, can restart, but ineffective in forcing a will for concessions. The public attitude is that because so much has been sacrificed to gain these lands, giving them back would be a betrayal of the memory of heroes who died for them. Following this line of reasoning, the destiny is to continue to sacrifice development for the sake of defence, even if the price could be economic stagnation and social depression," writes the author.

Further Matveeva writes that Azerbaijan's leadership is risk-averse and not prone to impulsive moves to suit a nationalist agenda. It does not need a war to boost its popularity, because it is already popular. Rationally speaking, the war is unlikely. But military games and sabre-rattling have a tendency to get out of hand. Armenia's internal political problems can give rise to a "now or never" attitude: since the adversary appears weak, the time for a decisive push has arrived.

"If it comes to it, the crucial issue is what Russia would do. There is a fashionable belief that Moscow holds the key to a Karabakh settlement, but a scenario in which Vladimir Putin calls the Armenian president, Serzh Sargsyan, and orders him to withdraw from Karabakh seems truly fantastic. In the current stalemate, Russia cannot do more than the US and France, the other Minsk group co-chairs. However, if fighting were to start, Moscow would be presented with an awkward choice as to whether it defends Armenia militarily."

According to her, on the one hand, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, which, like Nato, operates on the collective defence principle: an attack against one member is regarded as an attack on all members.

"On the other hand, Moscow does not have the same problems with Baku as it has with Tbilisi: the political relationship is good, trade is rampant, Azerbaijan benefits from Russian investment and the two states co-operate in combating terrorism. In the case of deterioration, diplomatic rather than military pressure would be Moscow's most likely option.

"Voices of the Azerbaijani intelligentsia standing against the war are unpopular, as peacebuilding is equated in public wisdom with surrendering Karabakh to the Armenians. Those who advocate peace need to see a readiness from the Armenian side to make steps towards compromise - otherwise "peacebuilding" amounts to an acceptance of defeat. Such signs of compromise are yet to emerge. The danger is that it might be getting too late for them to be noticed."

ANCA Marks Anniversary of Pontian Genocide

By: Weekly Staff
Reaffirms Commitment to a Truthful and Just Resolution of all of Turkey’s Genocidal Crimes
WASHINGTON, DC–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) joined today with Pontian Greeks–and all Hellenes, Assyrians, Syriacs, and other communities representing the victims of Turkey’s genocidal campaign against its Christian minorities–in commemorating May 19th, the international day of remembrance for the genocide initiated by the Ottoman Empire and continued by Kemalist Turkey against the historic Greek population of Pontus along the southeastern coast of the Black Sea.
“We join with all our brothers and sisters –in the Hellenic, Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, and other Christian communities subjected to genocide under Ottoman and Turkish rule – in solemnly marking the anniversary of the Pontian Genocide–a genocide that remains unrecognized by its perpetrator and unpunished by the international community,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the ANCA. “In commemorating this date, we reaffirm our determination to work in concert with all the victims of Turkey’s genocidal campaigns to secure full recognition and justice for these crimes.”
The Ottoman Empire, under the cover of World War I, undertook a systematic and deliberate effort to eliminate its minority Christian populations. This genocidal campaign resulted in the death and deportation of well over 2,000,000 Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Greeks.
The Pontian Genocide has been formally acknowledged by Greece and Cyprus and, within the United States, by the states of New York, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, among others.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Armenian community to organize protest action at French Senate on May 18

Armenian community to organize protest action at French Senate on May 18
May 15, 2010 - 18:12 AMT 13:12 GMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - French-Armenians will hold a protest action at the French Senate on May 18 to demand from senators that they approve the draft law foreseeing criminal liability for the Armenian Genocide denial.
The event is initiated by the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF), member of the Armenian community of France Asbed Harmandayan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
On October 12, 2006, the French National Assembly adopted a draft law foreseeing criminal liability for denial of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. To put the draft law into effect, it should be approved by the French Senate and signed by President. The draft law foresees 1-year imprisonment or fine at the amount of 45,000 euros.
Armenians have repeatedly faced the problem of the Armenian Genocide denial at educational institutions of France.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sassounian: Turkish Scholar Taner Akcam Advocates Change in Policy of Genocide Denial

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Sassounian: Turkish Scholar Taner Akcam Advocates Change in Policy of Genocide Denial
By: Harut Sassounian
Dr. Taner Akcam, one of the first Turkish scholars acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, delivered two important lectures in Southern California last week. Based on historical research, he analyzed the underpinnings of Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and proposed solutions for its official acknowledgment.
Prof. Akcam made his first presentation at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino on May 6, before the screening of Dr. J. Michael Hagopian’s Genocide documentary “The River Ran Red.” Rabbis Harold Schulweis and Edward Feinstein, Jewish World Watch President Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Dr. Hagopian, 96, a genocide survivor, and Archbishop Hovnan Derderian made brief remarks.
Dr. Akcam, Associate Professor of History and Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University, explained that the “continuity” of the “military and civilian bureaucracy,” which has been ruling Turkey ever since the inception of the Republic in 1923, is a key reason for denial of the Armenian Genocide. “The founders perceived the ethnic-cultural plurality of society at that time to constitute a problem for the continuity and security of the state.”
Specifically, the Professor identified Hasan Fehmi Bey, a leader of the Union and Progress party that implemented the Armenian Genocide, who had confessed in a speech to Parliament in 1920 that his group knew the international community would call them “murderers” for eliminating the Armenians. However, he indicated that his party’s leaders were prepared to accept being called “murderers,” as their aim was securing “the future of the fatherland.”
In his second presentation on May 7, organized by the Armenian Rights Council of America in Altadena, Dr. Akcam disclosed that “Ergenekon,” the recently exposed criminal group that enjoyed support of the Turkish military, had prepared a hit list of five individuals, including journalist Hrant Dink, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, and Akcam himself, all targeted for assassination because they spoke out on the Armenian Genocide. They were condemned to death as “Traitors to National Security.”
In Akcam’s view, this mindset was not simply the perverted view of an isolated terror group, but that of Turkey’s legal establishment. During the sentencing of two Turkish-Armenian journalists in 2007 for using the term genocide, a Judge ruled that: “Talk about genocide, both in Turkey and in other countries, unfavorably affects national security and the national interest. The claim of genocide… has become part of and the means of special plans aiming to change the geographic, political boundaries of Turkey… and a campaign to demolish its physical and legal structure.” The ruling further stated that the Republic of Turkey is under “a hostile diplomatic siege consisting of genocide resolutions.… The acceptance of this claim may lead in future centuries to a questioning of the sovereignty rights of the Republic of Turkey over the lands on which it is claimed these events occurred.”
According to Akcam, the United States is avoiding the official recognition of the Armenian Genocide out of a similar misguided concern for national security in the Middle East. He stated that “Morality is a very real issue, and for realpolitik to be successful in the region; moral values, in this instance, the specific one of acknowledging historic wrongdoings, must be integrated into a policy of national security…. Failure to confront history honestly is one of the major reasons for insecurity and instability in the region.”
Akcam revealed that after World War I, Turkey’s leaders, including Mustafa Kemal, acknowledged the Armenian massacres and favored the prosecution of their perpetrators in order to gain support of the Allies for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Ottoman Turkey.
However, the hopes of Turkey’s leaders were dashed on both counts. The Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 called for dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, while the Istanbul Court Martial sentenced to death in absentia the Turkish national leadership, including Mustafa Kemal.
Akcam indicated that the Turkish mindset to this day views “democratization, freedom of thought and speech, open and frank debate about history, [and] acknowledgment of one’s past historical misdeeds, as a threat to national security. Those who invite society to engage in an open examination of the past are therefore labeled ‘traitors’ and made targets of smear campaigns—dragged into courts and prosecuted under Turkish Criminal Code Article 301 for ‘insulting Turkishness.’”
Akcam warned the United States that any policy “that ignores morality and forgets the addressing of historic wrongdoings is doomed to fail in the end.” He suggested that Turkey should be made to understand that “bullying and threatening others is not the behavior of an international actor. Turkey cannot continue with the same repressive domestic policies towards its own history and minorities under the guise of national security and cannot threaten other countries in expressing their thoughts on 1915, and at the same time pretend to be a member of democratic countries in the world. An open, official acknowledgment by the US government might force Turkey to understand that blackmailing and threatening other states and suppressing and persecuting its own intellectuals do not offer solutions for historical problems and for security.”
At a small gathering, after the May 7 lecture, Akcam disclosed for the first time an alarming incident that had taken place in 1995, following a talk he had delivered on the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan. At the last minute, he had cautiously decided to give a milder version of his prepared remarks. Upon his return to Istanbul, he was shocked when confronted at the airport by Turkish police who had in their possession the harsher version of his talk. He had handed that original version to Armenian officials—the organizers of the Genocide conference. Someone in Armenia must have leaked his text to the Turkish authorities. Dr. Akcam was able to save his neck from Turkish intelligence agents by showing them the copy of the milder speech that he had actually delivered!

David Phillips: Turkey should not have signed the protocols based on wishful thinking

David Phillips: Turkey should not have signed the protocols based on wishful thinking
May 11, 2010 - 21:08 AMT 16:08 GMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey acted with political naivety during the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process since its actions were based on wishful thinking, an American expert on conflict prevention and peace building said over the weekend.
"Turkey acted on two assumptions. First, Turkey thought the reconciliation process would galvanize the Minsk Group to find a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh," said David Phillips, director of the program on Conflict Prevention and Peace-building at American University.
Turkey also acted on the assumption that efforts to gain international recognition of Armenian Genocide will end, said Phillips, adding that both assumptions of Turkey were wishful thinking. "There was no linkage between the protocols and the Nagorno-Karabakh problem," said the former adviser to the U.S. State Department, adding that Turkey should not have signed the protocols based on wishful thinking.
Turkey was not serious about ratifying the protocols and therefore made no significant effort to see them ratified, Phillips told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
Armenia could not wait forever and hence suspended the ratification process, according to Phillips, who is pessimistic about the near future. "I don't see what Turkey gains if it ratifies the protocols. They will loose support if they do it before the elections," said Phillips

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Boyajian: The Woodrow Wilson Center Desecrates Its Namesake’s Legacy and Violates Its Congressional Mandate

Boyajian: The Woodrow Wilson Center Desecrates Its Namesake’s Legacy and Violates Its Congressional Mandate
By: David Boyajian
Is the Woodrow Wilson Center seeking to discredit the Treaty of Sèvres on its 90th anniversary by honoring Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu?

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th American president, is looking down in horror at what the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWC) is doing in his name.

Most Americans are not aware of the D.C.-based organization, or that their taxes comprise one-third of its multi-million dollar annual budget.

The WWC was created by Congress in 1968 through the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Act to commemorate the late president’s “ideals and concerns” and memorialize “his accomplishments.”

The WWC has in several ways, however, violated its Congressional mandate.

The WWC itself claims that it “takes seriously [Wilson’s] views.” In fact, it has knowingly disregarded many of his views.

And while it professes “to take a historical perspective,” the WWC often closes its eyes to history.

Case in point: In mid-June of this year, the WWC plans to travel to Turkey to bestow its coveted Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service on Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Curiously, the WWC won’t provide this writer with a press release about it. We know about the award only from the Turkish media and a call to the WWC’s communications chief.

An undeserved award

The WWC’s president/director, former Congressman Lee Hamilton (who recently announced he would be leaving the organization), says that Davutoglu “personifies the attributes we seek to honor at the Woodrow Wilson Center” and has “catalyzed” Turkish policy.

It is appalling that the WWC would honor a top official of a country that in so many ways is a major human rights violator. Moreover, Davutoglu’s own record—including his much-ballyhooed “zero problems with neighbors” policy—is undistinguished.

But even more to the point, Davutoglu’s policies are the very antithesis of Woodrow Wilson’s “ideals and concerns.”

Turkish temper tantrums

Let us start with Davutoglu’s eruption against America due to a U.S. House committee’s approval in March of a resolution (H.Res.252) that reaffirmed the factuality of, and historic U.S. interest in, the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 committed by Turkey.

Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador. Davutoglu then announced that the House committee vote was an insult to his country’s “honor,” as if Turkey’s continuing cover-up of genocide is somehow honorable. A top official of Turkey’s ruling AK Party threatened the U.S. with “consequences.” Turkey’s relationship with America, he warned, “would be downgraded at every level…from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iraq to the Middle East process…there would be a major disruption.”

These were not just nasty overreactions by Turkey. They were also nonsensical. The U.S. has, after all, reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide as “genocide” at least five times: three resolutions passed by the full House (1975, 1984, and 1996); an official proclamation (No. 4838) by President Ronald Reagan (1981); and a U.S. legal filing with the International Court of Justice (1951).

More tantrums

Davutoglu threw the same sort of tantrum a week later—withdrawing his ambassador and making threats—when the Swedish Parliament recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey has thrown similar fits when some 20 other countries, the European Parliament, a UN sub-commission, the Vatican, and others recognized the genocide.

No other alleged “ally” threatens the U.S. as frequently and consistently as does Turkey.

Thus, far from “catalyzing” Turkey’s policies, the foreign minister is carrying on his government’s tradition of threats and genocide denial. If such behavior “personifies the attributes” that the WWC “seeks to honor,” the center’s standards must be low indeed.

Davutoglu’s double standards

“Turkey will not allow anyone else to evaluate its history,” Davutoglu blustered after the House committee and Swedish Parliament votes.

He seems unaware that countries constantly evaluate other countries’ histories. Davutoglu evidently thinks that Turkey should be uniquely exempt from the judgments of others.

Davutoglu also seems blissfully unaware that the UN, the U.S., and many other nations and international organizations have condemned and continue to condemn various countries’ past (and present) crimes, such as the Holocaust, genocides, bloody revolutions, and crimes against humanity. These include the genocide now taking place in Sudan.

Not surprisingly, Turkey and Davutoglu have a horrendous record regarding Sudan.

The Turkey-Sudan genocide axis

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was invited to visit Turkey two years ago while he was under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, blasted Turkey for inviting the Sudanese dictator. Turkey defiantly proceeded to welcome al-Bashir with a red carpet, an honor guard, and a 21-gun salute.

True to Turkey’s tradition of genocide denial, Turkish President Abdullah Gul downplayed the Sudanese mass killings, attributing them solely to “politics…poverty and environmental conditions.”

Then last year, after Davutoglu’s appointment, the Turkish government once again invited al-Bashir, the target of an ICC international arrest warrant. Only after a huge international outcry was the visit eventually canceled. Davutoglu, like his country, has a blind spot when it comes to genocides.

In the meantime, of course, Davutoglu’s Turkey has been busy accusing other countries—notably China and Israel—of genocide. The hypocrisy is incredible. Should not Turkey first acknowledge its own genocides against not only Armenians but also Assyrians, Greeks, and Kurds?

Now we know why some have dubbed Turkey and Sudan the “axis of genocide.”

But Davutoglu and Turkey’s failures involve much more than tantrums, threats, genocide, and hypocrisy.

Davutoglu’s other failures

Despite Turkey’s so-called “zero problems with neighbors” policy, Davutoglu has largely continued, not “catalyzed,” his country’s failed policies.

For example, there is no end in sight to Turkey’s 36-year long military occupation of northern Cyprus. “Zero problems with neighbors”?

Turkey’s alleged rapprochement last year with Armenia, which Turkey has blockaded since 1993, also disproves the WWC’s assertions about Davutoglu. When he negotiated and signed a set of controversial protocols with Armenia last year, Turkey said these would open a new chapter with its eastern neighbor. Both countries’ parliaments were then supposed to quickly ratify the protocols.

Though many Armenians believe that parts of the protocols are contrary to Armenia’s interests, the Armenian Parliament has been ready to ratify them.

Davutoglu, however, quickly reverted to his government’s old precondition: Turkey would neither ratify the protocols nor open its border with Armenia unless Armenians concluded an agreement with Azerbaijan regarding Nagorno-Karabagh, the Armenian region that Stalin handed to Soviet Azerbaijan, and which declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.

Turkey’s backpedaling was condemned by the parties that mediated the protocols—the U.S., Russia, and Switzerland—as well as the European Union. Due to Davutoglu’s duplicity, the protocols have stalled and may die. “Zero problems with neighbors”?

And regardless of one’s views on American policy towards Iran and Israel, it is known that Turkey’s overheated, undiplomatic rhetoric is designed primarily to please a Muslim audience at home and in the Middle East. Turkey’s intemperate language has simply poured oil on fires and complicated American efforts in the region.

Turkey’s Kurdish problems, both within the country and across the border in Iraq, remain unsolved. Raids into northern Iraq by Turkish troops are not a solution.

Even Turkey’s offers to “mediate” regional disputes look rather contrived given that Turkey has not faced many of its own problems with neighbors.

“Zero problems with neighbors” is a hollow catchphrase. A more accurate name would be Turkey’s longstanding “zero Armenians as neighbors” policy.

Aside, perhaps, from improved Turkish relations with Syria, and a lot of braggadocio and spin, Davutoglu has “catalyzed” essentially nothing for the better. He is surely grateful, though, to Lee Hamilton and the WWC for implying otherwise.

Let us now examine President Woodrow Wilson’s record to see how the WWC has besmirched his name and violated its Congressional mandate.

Desecrating Wilson’s ideals and concerns

President Wilson advocated the right to self-determination of all the nations, particularly Armenia, that suffered under Turkey’s corrupt, violent yoke.

His and America’s support for Armenians—politically, financially, and verbally—was immense and is well-documented. Yet the WWC chooses to desecrate that record by honoring a Turkish official who denies the Armenian Genocide, threatens the American people, plays games with the protocols it signed with Armenia, and continues to blockade Armenia.

Wilson enunciated his famous Fourteen Points, based on a just peace, in 1918, before the end of World War I. Point Twelve left no room for doubt: The non-Turkish “nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development.” He was referring to Armenians, Arabs, Assyrians, Greeks, Kurds, and others.

Unlike the proposed award to Davutoglu, Wilson’s was well-deserved: He received the Nobel Peace Prize of 1919 because of his Fourteen Points and his advocacy of the League of Nations.

Reporting to Wilson during the genocide was his good friend and ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, Sr. The ambassador cabled Washington in 1915 that Turkey was engaged in a “campaign of race extermination” against Armenians. The American Embassy served as a channel for Armenian massacre reports arriving from various parts of the Turkish empire. U.S. Consul Leslie A. Davis, who actually witnessed the genocide in the interior, wrote, “I do not believe there has ever been a massacre in the history of the world so general and thorough.”

At Wilson’s direction, Morgenthau gave to Turkish leaders the British-French-Russian declaration of 1915 that dealt specifically with the Armenian mass murders. “All members of the Ottoman Government and those of its agents who are implicated in such massacres,” read the declaration, will be held “personally responsible” for “the new crimes of Turkey.”

By proposing to honor a genocide denier, the WWC’s Lee Hamilton is implying that Ambassador Morgenthau and American consuls were lying.

Referring to Turkey’s crimes against humanity, Wilson spoke these words in Salt Lake City a year after World War I: “Armenia is to be redeemed so that at last this great people, struggling through this night of terror…are now given a promise of safety, a promise of justice.”

America and Armenia

In the spring of 1920, under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, the European Allies asked Wilson to arbitrate the boundary between Turkey and Armenia within the four Armenian provinces of “Erzerum, Trebizond, Van, and Bitlis.” Wilson agreed. He had already sent 50 American researchers to survey the people and land.

In November, the president delivered the U.S. decision: Armenia would include more than 40,000 square miles within those four provinces and a Black Sea coastline. Europe also asked America to accept a mandate over Armenia—that is, physical protection from Turkey while Armenians got back on their feet.

Though Congress, in a post-war isolationist mood, eventually declined his appeal for the Armenian mandate, Wilson’s written request noted that “the hearings conducted by the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have clearly established the truth of the reported massacres and other atrocities from which the Armenian people have suffered.”

The Senate report, Wilson went on, embodied his “own convictions and feelings with regard to Armenia and its people.”

Americans, he said, “have made the cause of Armenia their own” and had responded with “extraordinary spontaneity and sincerity.” These were understatements.

Turkey signed the Treaty of Sèvres but later repudiated it.

Incidentally, had Turkey fulfilled its obligations under Sèvres and Wilson’s binding arbitration, much of the Kurdish issue would have been resolved 90 years ago. The treaty stipulated an autonomous Kurdish zone—just below the Armenian provinces—in southeastern Turkey and, conditionally, in northern Iraq that may eventually have become independent.

Under Turkish and Soviet attack, in December 1920 independent Armenia was forcibly Sovietized and cut to a fraction of its size, and became landlocked. The Armenian provinces remain under Turkish occupation to this day, while Turkey blockades what remains of Armenia.

The WWC defies Congress

The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Act of 1968 was unambiguous: The WWC was meant to express the 28th president’s “ideals and concerns” and memorialize “his accomplishments.”

If it proceeds with its award to Davutoglu, the WWC will be reaffirming its disregard for Wilson’s “ideals and concerns” regarding the genocide, America’s support for Armenians, and liberating their land from Turkish rule.

Similarly, Wilson’s “accomplishments”—securing aid for Armenian survivors,

U.S. arbitration of Armenia’s boundaries under the Sèvres Treaty, and more—are being ignored and mocked by the WWC.

The WWC is insulting Armenian Americans and all those who survived the Turkish nightmare.

If Lee Hamilton’s own claim that the WWC takes “a historical perspective” were true, it would not honor a man—and by extension a Turkish government—who unashamedly negate the historical record.

Is the Wilson Center seeking to discredit the Treaty of Sèvres on its 90th anniversary by honoring Davutoglu?

Massacring history

The WWC may try to claim that it has dealt substantially and fairly with its namesake’s views and accomplishments regarding the Armenian Genocide.

As much as can be determined from a search of the WWC’s public records, however, that claim would be false. This writer has found very little about the genocide, and most of that is from a Turkish revisionist perspective.

Two years ago, the WWC’s Southeast Europe division hosted a scholar who discussed Turkish policy and the Armenian Genocide. And 24 years ago, the WWC’s Wilson Quarterly had a one-page piece about an article published elsewhere that discussed the genocide.

In contrast, four years ago, the Wilson Quarterly published a sycophantic review praising a widely criticized book by a notorious genocide denier. And two years back, a former U.S. State Department official who dealt with Turkey (and is presently an advisor for the Turkish Policy Quarterly) wrote a mere two sentences about the Sèvres Treaty—solely from the Turkish perspective—in a WWC-sponsored paper about Turkey. The Center’s website ( contains a nine-year old article written by a former U.S. Army officer who denies the genocide.

This is a disgraceful record.

A year ago, the editors of the journal Genocide Studies and Prevention initiated a symposium that critiqued the report of the U.S.-sponsored Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF). While the symposium used the WWC’s facilities, the WWC was not a co-sponsor, reportedly took little or no part, and thus cannot claim credit for it.

In any case, nothing can justify the Wilson Center’s proposed award for Davutoglu.

The question begs to be asked: Does the WWC have any questionable links to Turkey or Armenian Genocide deniers?

Turkish-tainted corporate cash

A look at the WWC’s funding sources reveals that it is up to its neck in corporate cash, including Turkish-tainted cash.

One major corporation—Boeing—that is a member of the WWC’s so-called WilsonAlliances wrote a letter to Congress asking it to defeat the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.252).

Two other WilsonAlliances members—BAE and Chevron—have reportedly lobbied Congress to defeat the Armenian resolution.

Four WilsonAlliances members—Alcoa, Boeing, Bombardier, and Honeywell—are dues-paying members of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), which has asked President Obama and Congress to ensure that Res. 252 “doesn’t go to the House floor for a vote.” AIA refers to the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians as merely “the events.”

Six WilsonAlliances members—BAE, Bechtel, Boeing, Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon-Mobil—are also dues-paying members of the American Turkish Council (ATC). The ATC calls itself a “business association.” Its membership includes over 100 major Turkish and American corporations. Among its leadership team of some 100 Turks and Americans, it is nearly impossible to find even one person who is not a top corporate executive, former military officer, or former government official. The ATC has long lobbied against Armenian Genocide resolutions. Former Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the chairman of its Executive Committee, once told Congress that what happened to Armenians is “widely disputed.”

ATC member Lockheed-Martin Corp., which penned a letter opposing the Armenian resolution, has also contributed money to the WWC.

DLA Piper and other Turkish lobbyists

DLA Piper is a gigantic, worldwide legal and corporate services firm that has registered with the U.S. government as a foreign agent for Turkey. The firm is well-known for having lobbied against Armenian Americans and is currently setting up an office in Istanbul.

Ignacio Sanchez is a lawyer employed by DLA Piper. He “represents national and international clients on a broad range of issues…before Congress” for his firm.

Sanchez also happens to sit on the Wilson Center’s Board of Trustees.

DLA Piper’s contract with Turkey states that its “services shall include…preventing the introduction, debate, and passage of legislation and other U.S. government action that harms Turkey’s interests and image.”

DLA Piper has partially subcontracted its Turkish role to the Livingston Group. Headed by former disgraced House Speaker Robert Livingston, who denies the Armenian Genocide and lobbies against Armenian Genocide resolutions, it has been a registered agent of Turkey.

DLA Piper also has what it terms a “strategic alliance” with The Cohen Group (TCG), headed by former Defense Secretary William Cohen. TCG represents large corporations who do business with Turkey. It is an ATC member, and two of its employees sit on the ATC Advisory Board.

TCG’s vice president, Marc Grossman, was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1994-97. Among former diplomats, he is probably Turkey’s biggest defender.

He has opposed passage of Armenian Genocide resolutions. A few years ago, Grossman reportedly joined Ilhas Holding, a Turkish firm.

It is also known that whistleblower and former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds has made very serious allegations about the ATC, Grossman, and Turkey. These have not yet been adjudicated in a court of law.

And whom did the WWC recently select to be one of its “Public Policy Scholars”? Marc Grossman.

The WWC seems to be quite fond of corporations (and their money), lobbying firms, and people strongly affiliated with Turkey that in many cases oppose acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.

The above barely skims the surface of the Wilson Center’s cozy financial relationships with huge corporations.

Playing with genocide inquiries

We must digress briefly for an example of how former government officials work their way into genocide inquiries that are best left to those more suitable.

Former Defense Secretary William Cohen (of the Turkish-affiliated TCG) and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright chaired the Genocide Prevention Task Force mentioned above.

As private citizens, Cohen and Albright opposed the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Their appointment to the GPTF was thus justifiably criticized as incompatible with its very purpose.

The GPTF was jointly convened by the Congressionally funded, so-called U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD).

The latter is composed of former high-level U.S. State Department officials. AAD’s chairman is retired ambassador Thomas Pickering. He was formerly a vice president of Boeing, the same company that has beseeched Congress not to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

The GPTF’s final 147-page report (“Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers”) contained just two miniscule references to the Armenian Genocide. Sure enough, they used the terms “forced exile” and “atrocities,” not genocide. The report was also widely criticized by scholars.

Incidentally, who sits on the AAD’s Board? If you guessed the ubiquitous Marc Grossman of the Wilson Center and pro-Turkish TCG, you’d be correct.

Corporate perks

The WWC provides many benefits to corporations that contribute money to its WilsonAlliances. For example, they receive “complimentary use” of the WWC’s facilities, the Reagan Federal Building, blocks from the White House. They also get “private customized meetings with [WWC] staff and scholars to discuss policy issues that are specific to your business interests.”

Did WWC/Turkish-affiliated corporations use “private customized meetings” to urge the WWC to honor Davutoglu, perhaps in expectation that it would enhance their “business interests” with Turkey?

Did any WWC/Turkish-affiliated lobbying firm or person ask the WWC to give Davutoglu an award?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. Only those corporations, lobbyists, and other figures, together with Lee Hamilton and WWC personnel, can answer them, preferably under oath.

In a phone message, Sharon Coleman McCarter, the WWC communications director, said that the center is honoring the Turkish Foreign Minister because of “public service to his country and the world.” Turkey, or some Turks, may like its foreign minister, but, as this writer has shown, he has certainly done nothing to benefit “the world.”

McCarter also claimed that Davutoglu “is in the Wilsonian tradition” because, like Wilson, he has been in academia and government. If you teach and then enter government service, you’re automatically “Wilsonian” and thus a candidate for the WWC award? This is preposterous.

Insulting previous awardees

Who have the nearly 150 previous WWC awardees been? Mostly Americans: philanthropists, doctors, members of Congress, former diplomats, architects, actors, and the like.

They range from James Baker, Dr. Denton Cooley, Betty Ford, Frank Gehry, John Glenn, and Ambassador Howard Leach, to Janet Napolitano, Dolly Parton, Gen. Colin Powell (and his wife), Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Andrew Young.

There are also some foreign political honorees, such as former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and some relatively non-controversial figures from Brazil and South Korea.

The threatening, blustering, genocide-denying Davutoglu, from a country with a wretched human rights record, would stand out in the Wilson Center’s Public Service roster like a sore thumb.

It would be an insult to previous awardees.

For its Public Service Award, the WWC had its pick of thousands of principled individuals from the U.S. or elsewhere doing vital humanitarian work, including the recognition and prevention of genocide. Instead, the WWC has engaged in the worst kind of political pandering by selecting Davutoglu.

The Smithsonian and the ATC

The rot may go even higher, up to the WWC‘s parent, the famed Smithsonian Institution, three-quarters of whose annual $1 billion budget comes from taxpayers. It, too, is a member of the genocide-denying American Turkish Council.

The Smithsonian is supposed to be respectful of America’s multi-ethnic heritage and pay homage to our country’s history, part of which is Wilson’s support of Armenians and condemnation of Turkey for committing genocide. There is no good reason for the Smithsonian to be a member of the ATC, which is primarily a lobby for Turkish-affiliated corporations. It should withdraw from the ATC.

And what must the WWC do to return to its Wilsonian roots?

Reforming the WWC

The WWC must abandon its plans to honor Davutoglu. Those who care about Wilson’s legacy—members of Congress, ordinary Americans, and those whose relatives were lost to Turkish genocidal acts—must contact the WWC and insist on this.

Congress and the attorney general must launch investigations into possible conflicts of interest at the WWC, particularly regarding its corporate and Turkish connections. The WWC director and staff must testify under oath.

Wilson Center personnel, and those affiliated with it, particularly scholars, must speak out publicly against pandering to corporations and lobbying organizations.

Those whose business or personal interests may conflict with their WWC role should resign.

The WWC must reject all tainted corporate cash.

Recognized genocide scholars should be invited to speak at the Wilson Center and write in its Wilson Quarterly. The WWC should create a principled program on genocide.

The WWC must establish a meaningful, ongoing dialogue with those persons and their descendants who have been victimized by Turkey’s genocides.

The WWC must return to its Congressional mandate by truly rededicating itself to Wilson’s “ideals, concerns, and accomplishments,” and by advocating against genocide and for the human rights and dignity of all people.

David Boyajian is an Armenian American freelance journalist. He recommends that readers contact the following to protest the WWC’s proposed award to Davutoglu, and the WWC’s overly close relationships with Turkish-affiliated corporations, lobbying organizations, and individuals:

Woodrow Wilson Center:

- President/Director:

- Executive VP:

- Outreach VP:

- Public Affairs:

- Assistant to the Director:

- Special Assistant to the Director:


- Linda St.Thomas, Spokesperson, Smithsonian Institution:

- The Armenian National Committee of America:

- The Armenian Assembly of America:

- Your U.S. Senator:

- Your U.S. Congressman:

Monday, May 10, 2010

International Conference on Armenian Genocide Held in Brazil

Latin America’s largest university hosts international conference on “The Prototype Genocide of Modern Times” in partnership with Zoryan Institute and governments of the State of Sao Paulo and the Republic of Armenia
Scholars from Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States participated in an international conference, the first of its kind in Brazil, on “The Prototype Genocide of Modern Times,” held at the University of Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil, April 22-24, in commemoration of the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Opening panel (L to R): M. Tucci Carneiro, M. Florenzano, K. Sarkissian, A. Harutyunyan, Dom V. Boghossian, Archbishop D. Karibian, C. Lafer, M. Marcilio, E. Negrão, L. Yeghiazaryan.
The conference was co-organized by the University of Sao Paulo Laboratory for the Study of Ethnicity Racism and Discrimination, the State Government of Sao Paulo Secretary of Institutional Affairs, the Consulate General in Sao Paulo representing the Government of Armenia, and the Zoryan Institute.
The conference was opened by Prof. Dra. Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro, associate professor at the Department of History, USP, and coordinator of the Laboratory for the Study of Ethnicity Racism and Discrimination. She welcomed everyone and described the reasons for the university’s partnership in this conference.
Prof. Dr. Celso Lafer, former Brazilian foreign and commerce minister, professor of Philosophy of Law at USP and President of the Research Foundation of the State of Sao Paulo, spoke strongly in affirming the Armenian Genocide. He was followed by Prof. Dr. Dalmo de Abreu Dallari, Emeritus, Faculty of Law of USP, and a jurist with the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal. He noted that the Verdict of the Tribunal’s hearing in Paris in 1984 on the Armenian Genocide was key in the UN Subcommission of Human Rights Report of 1985, affirming that the World War I Armenian experience at the hands of the Ottoman Turks was genocide.
K.M. Greg Sarkissian, President of the Zoryan Institute, in his opening presentation of the academic portion of the conference, explained the rationale for the theme, “the prototype of modern genocide.” He described the phenomenon, whereby a government turns against an identifiable ethnic minority among its own citizens with the intention of destroying them, as a perceived solution to its political problems. This marked a change from the mass slaughter of populations that occurred many times throughout history, associated with war, imperialism and conquest. The Armenian Genocide is now widely understood to be the “prototype” of modern genocide, as labelled by Prof. Robert Melson, who first coined the term.
Sarkissian explained the meaning of April 24, which the beginning of deportation and mass killings of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek population of the Ottoman Empire. He added, “The year 1915 was the beginning of the Ottoman genocidal policy of ethnic cleansing and massacres, which continues in Turkey today because of its official state policy of denial.” He noted that Prof. Roger W. Smith first pointed out some years ago, and it is now recognized by scholars, that denial is the last stage of genocide, since it continues to victimize the survivors and their descendants. Noting that Brazil was among the first countries to vote for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and sign the UN Genocide Convention in 1948, Sarkissian called upon Brazil to be among those countries who refuse to be complicit in the ongoing crime of genocide denial by officially recognizing it.
Prof. Steven L. Jacobs of the University of Alabama gave a comprehensive explanation about Raphael Lemkin, the man who conceptualized and coined the term “genocide.” He pointed out Lemkin’s obsession with the fact that there were no laws to punish the mass killing of a whole people, such as the Armenians, by their own government, Ottoman Turkey, even though there were laws for punishing the killing of a single person. The 1921 trial in Berlin for the assassination of Talat Pasha, one of the architects of the Armenian Genocide, by Soghomon Tehlirian and his acquittal was a major influence on Lemkin and his determination to secure international support outlawing the crime of genocide through the United Nations. Lemkin considered the Armenian case so important that it is the only case in all of his papers where a full-length manuscript has been written independently and accompanied by a shorter manuscript. In that study he noted, “A strong parallel may be drawn between the extermination of the Armenians by the Turks and the extermination of the Jews by the Germans.”
Dr. Sévane Garibian, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Law at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, spoke on “The Armenian Genocide and the Development of the Modern Concept of Crimes against Humanity.” She described the declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, which said, in essence, “In view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied governments announce publicly … that they will hold personally responsible … all the members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres,” and explained how this was a major event in bringing the concept of “crimes against humanity” into modern international law.
Mr. Ragip Zarakolu, renowned human rights activist and publisher in Turkey, spoke about “Modern Turkey and the Armenian Genocide.” He made insightful comments about the nature and motives of denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish State. He drew parallels with the State’s problematic treatment of other subjects in the political and social life of the country, specifically in relation to minorities and their rights. For example, currently about 1,000 mid-level Kurdish politicians are jailed, preventing them from running in the next election. Zarakolu emphasized that the AKP, Turkey’s current ruling party, has made some progress in adopting certain European standards into Turkey’s constitution, under the pretext of democratization. However, the gag order imposed on the Armenian Genocide issue, coupled with the replacement of military hegemony in the country’s institutions by a new hegemony of a police state, has raised fear among Kurds, Alevis and non-Muslim minorities of the outbreak of mass violence against them, just like the Armenians 95 years ago.
Prof. Dra. Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro, of the USP, spoke about “Brazil in Front of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and the UN Resolution.” She analyzed Brazil’s political position—government, press and Brazilian diplomats—since the Armenian Genocide until the integration of the crime of genocide in International Law. Through diplomatic documents and articles published by important Brazilian newspapers, she related the multiple discourses about the Armenian Genocide as prototype of the modern genocide, from 1915 to 1948. She referred to historical archives that documented Armenian refugees fleeing the Genocide and coming to Brazil. She explained how politicians during the debate at the UN on the Genocide Convention felt that issue did not concern them, stating, “Brazilian people are homogeneous, made up of heterogeneous races. Therefore, the problem of genocide does not concern us directly. It is a crime the common Brazilian man cannot figure out, but it horrifies him anyway.” However, in 1956, Brazilian law accepted genocide as a crime, adopting the same definition ratified by the UN Convention.
Prof. Emeritus Robert F. Melson of Purdue University discussed “The Armenian Genocide as Precursor and Prototype of Modern Genocide,” taking a comparative approach. He put forward the position that the Armenian Genocide was not only the first total genocide of the 20th century, but that it also served as the prototype for genocides that came after. In particular, the Armenian Genocide approximates the Holocaust, but at the same time, its territorial and national aspects, which distinguish it from the Holocaust, make it an archetype for ethnic and national genocide. In both the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, a deliberate attempt was made by the government of the day to destroy an ethno-religious community of ancient provenance. When comparing the two cases, a pattern becomes apparent. This pattern shows some differences, however, and it is those differences that link the Armenian Genocide not only to the Holocaust but also to later instances of that crime.
Prof. Vahakn N. Dadrian, director of genocide research at the Zoryan Institute, analyzed “The Armenian Genocide as a Dual Problem of National and International Law.” He described first the elements of the Armenian Genocide within Turkish national law after the end of WWI. These include the charge of crimes against humanity by the Allied Powers, the post-war debates in the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies and Senate about what had happened to the Armenians, and the Military Tribunal and Courts Martial, which prosecuted the perpetrators of “crimes against the Armenians.” Within international law, he pointed out that principles arising out the Armenian case are found in the Nuremberg charter and in the UN Genocide Convention, and in comparison with the Eichmann case, the principle of state succession. Thus, Turkey is responsible for acts committed by the Ottoman State.
Prof. Dr. Marcio Seligmann-Silva, lecturer of literary theory at the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo and researcher at the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development, spoke on “The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Evil Memory in the XX Century.” He dealt with the question of the necessity of bearing witness after genocide as a way to give meaning to the event and to allow for the progression from victim to citizen with rights, including the right to sue in court those responsible for the genocide. Bearing witness is often confronted with denial. Nevertheless, it is a process that encompasses individual, collective and national trauma and allows the victim to work through the envisaging of justice, truth and the reconstruction of the person and of post-genocide societies. The Armenian Genocide occupies a key position in the history of genocides and of denial. As an example of extreme genocide denial, it argues for the necessity of bearing witness.
Prof. Emeritus Roger W. Smith of the College of William and Mary, and also chairman of the academic board of directors of the Zoryan Institute, spoke on “Remembrance and Denial.” Without remembrance of past examples of genocide, there would be no sense of urgency in the present, no perceived need to prevent future atrocities. We would cut ourselves off from the knowledge of the causes and sequences of genocide, knowledge that might help prevent other peoples from being subjected to this crime against humanity. Denial of genocide has become the universal strategy of perpetrators. Those who initiate or otherwise participate in genocide typically deny that the events took place, that they bear any responsibility for the destruction, or that the term “genocide” is applicable to what occurred. Denial, unchecked, turns politically imposed death into a “non-event.” The Armenian Genocide, in fact, illuminates with special clarity the dangers inherent in the political manipulation of truth through distortion, denial, intimidation, and economic blackmail. No other regime has gone to such extreme lengths to deny that a massive genocide took place as Turkey. That democratic governments (the United States, Great Britain, and Israel) have supported Turkey in that effort, raises significant questions about governmental accountability and the role of citizenship in a world in which truth increasingly comes in two forms – “official” and “alleged.”
Prof. Khatchik Der Ghougassian teaches international relations at the University of San Andrés in Buenos Aires and is a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the American University of Armenia. He analyzed the complexities of “The Armenian Genocide and international power relations.” In the 19th century, the European Powers utilized the struggle for the rights of the non-Muslim minorities as one of their pretexts for involvement in the Ottoman Empire. After the start of World War I, the Allied Powers made the first international attempt at humanitarian intervention by warning the Young Turk leaders that they would be called to account for their wholesale massacre of Turkey’s Armenian population. After the post-WWI peace negotiations, Armenia dropped from the international agenda until 1965, 50 years after the Genocide, when Armenians around the world began to revive the world’s attention and conscience on that injustice. The Armenian Genocide has come increasingly on the world stage as an issue in the United Nations, as a subject of official recognition by national and international governments and official bodies, and even as an issue for Turkey’s accession to the European Union. He discussed the place of the Armenian Genocide in Armenia’s foreign policy and suggested how it could be employed more effectively.
Prof. Herbert Hirsch, professor of government and public affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, explored “The Lessons of the Armenian Genocide for the Prevention of Genocide.” Within the last ten years, at least four major international and national prescriptions have appeared outlining the mechanisms necessary to prevent genocide. Hirsch analyzed their strengths, weaknesses, confirming that action lags behind academic forums. This is because the overriding principles in international relations are state sovereignty and national interest. The study of the genocides of the 20th century has suggested to analysts certain models for the prevention of genocide. These include humanitarian intervention, protection of civilians, peacemaking, and punishment of the perpetrators. This has led to calls for creating an early warning system which would alert the public and exert pressure on nations or groups to stop atrocities, and the creation of a UN Rapid Reaction force. Each of these has its shortcomings that limit freedom of action, to monitor, follow prescription, and establish rules of engagement while doing no harm, and including the ability to build. The adoption of the Responsibility to Protect has been a step in the right direction, but this has not been effective because of the lack of political will. Hirsch explored the sources of this lack of political will.
Prof. Dr. Anita Novinsky, historian and lecturer of the department of history and president of the Laboratory of Studies on Intolerance, USP, spoke on “Education for Life.” She described the profound questions philosophers and theoreticians have wrestled with in modern times regarding how man can commit such violence against fellow humans. In the words of Theodor Adorno, the fight against war and aggression will be in vain if we do not change our educational systems. We can find the reasons of the genocides in the 20th century in the resurrection of aggressive nationalisms. She described how perpetrators of genocide are formed during their childhood years, and proposed the need for an educational system that teaches the value and the sanctity of human life.
The Zoryan Institute is the parent organization of the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, which runs an annual, accredited university program on the subject and is co-publisher of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal in partnership with the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the University of Toronto Press. It is the first non-profit, international center devoted to the research and documentation of contemporary issues with a focus on Genocide, Diaspora and Armenia. For more information please contact the Zoryan Institute by email or telephone (416) 250-9807.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Minutes of Ankara Symposium on Genocide, Consequences

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Minutes of Ankara Symposium on Genocide, Consequences
By: Weekly Staff
ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—On April 24, as genocide commemoration events were being held one after the other in different locations in Istanbul, a groundbreaking two-day symposium on the Armenian Genocide began at the Princess Hotel in Ankara. It was the first time a conference on the Armenian Genocide that did not host any genocide deniers was held in Ankara. Moreover, the conference did not simply deal with the historical aspect of 1915; for the first time in Turkey, a substantial part of the proceedings was dedicated to topics such as confiscated Armenian property, reparations, and the challenges of moving forward and confronting the past in Turkey.

The poster of the symposium
Below are the minutes from the symposium, prepared by Yucel Demirer and read at the closing. The minutes are translated from Turkish by the Armenian Weekly staff.


After two days of intense, tiring, but productive meetings, we are at the end. I want to start by thanking every contributing person, institution, and group, especially Sait Cetinoglu and Mahmut Konuk, and by emphasizing the somber excitement we felt at the vigil for the victims of the genocide in Ankara on April 24, 2010.

It is important to say a few words about the situation our organizers found themselves in when they were preparing the meeting, in order to understand the process. Our meeting was organized by volunteers. In November 2009 we made a reservation for a hall, and in December paid the sum. However, a week before the meeting, we were informed that they wouldn’t let us use the space because they were “repairing” it. That must have made Teoman Ozturk, in whose name the hall is called, turn in his grave. We faced a similar difficulty regarding the hall we are in today. First we had to announce that we had canceled the meeting. Then we started it again, and yesterday we were before you with the participants that we could gather.

I felt I had to say this to underline the continuity in state policies, rather than to complain.

Our meeting was important, as Fikret Baskaya pointed out, in virtue of bringing the subject to the level of its real owners—ordinary people like us. It has been a modest but significant step for contributing to the common honorable history of peoples against the official historian, whose mission is to darken and polish.

As Baskin Oran stated in his talk, there are complex but inter-related aspects of the issue. Even though we are only at the start of the process of understanding and interpreting the slaughter and raid that advanced by a domino effect—as Oran expressed, by “whoever was struck in Anatolia, struck the Armenians”—the Ankara symposium was also important because it pointed to critical academic and social opportunities.

As it has been stated in the two-day long meeting, to understand the process, internal and external factors must be examined calmly and separately. The shameful “one-way passport” example that Adil Okay referred to should not be seen merely as a problem of the past, in Mahir Sayin’s words; it must be studied in all the aspects that damage our collective psychology. What underlies this is the necessity today of keeping our Kurdish brothers away from what the Armenians faced in the past…

In the second session, Ismail Besikci drew attention to the archive fetish, and stressed a crucial methodological point by his deduction that the order for two prison massacres in the 1990’s would not be found in the archives in 2080.

Sait Cetinoglu took the unending issue of continuity and discontinuity in the Ottoman and the Turkish Republic mentalities, which is usually discussed on an abstract level, to the level of continuities in the officials with the examples he provided.

Tuma Celik, from the European Assyrian Union, spoke of the past and present victimhood of people other than Armenians, and deeply moved us when he told us how he had to change his name to Tuna at high school.

Besikci’s note regarding how the concept of an archive is used and abused by official history writing was answered in the third session in the afternoon by young researchers Mehmet Polatel and Asli Comu. Polatel discussed how emval-i metruke (abandoned properties) were plundered, to whom they were distributed, and how the capital was Turkified. Comu discussed, on the basis of archive material, how and to whom the Armenian properties were distributed in the cases of Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin.

On the second day, in the panel titled “The Armenian Question: What to Do and How to Do It?”, Khatchig Mouradian began his talk by stating that it was not possible to define the Turkish people as a monolithic bloc, and emphasized that the 1915 genocide should be discussed as an issue of justice rather than an issue of democracy. He noted that, contrary to customary opinion, apology and reparation are not divisive of peoples, but rather constitute the beginning of a healthy relationship.

Ragip Zarakolu started by talking about the people from Maras and Diyarbakir whom he met in Sao Paulo, and stated that the Diaspora Armenians, who are always seen as a problem in Turkey, in fact reflect well on Turkey and refute false generalizations. Zarakolu stated that in Turkey, the institutions and committees that are interested in the Armenian Question are kept a secret, and that they should be brought to light.

Henry Theriault referred to the many examples of confrontation and apology in the world, and discussed the negative effects of genocide denial on large sections of the society. He argued that it was wrong to take the politically influential Armenia and Turkey as equals, and that the only way to make real political progress was through reparations for the victims of the genocide.

Eilian Williams discussed the process of public opinion formation in the smaller European countries, and stressed the prejudices that were entrenched in, and could be traced from, culture and folklore, which was an important reminder for future research.

Sevan Nisanyan objected to Theriault’s opinion about reparations, and stated that, as a tax-paying citizen of Turkey, compensation to great-grandchildren would not be a solution. Drawing attention to the principle that crime is personal, Nisanyan argued that such demands would not be conducive to the process, but rather would hurt the chances of living together in this country. Nisanyan suggested, instead, that symbolic and moral endeavors such as renaming the Halaskargazi Street as Hrant Dink Street be taken. He stated that real understanding could be achieved through a socio-economic reading of the process.

Temel Demirer began his talk with Arat Dink’s words—“a hundred years ago we were prey, now we are bait”—and claimed that the reality of massacre was a standing preference in the history of the state and could be only dealt with by confronting the official ideology. He stated that the republic was founded by the Malta exiles, and that at the foundation of the capital reserves lay genocide plunders. He described the denial as an ongoing pro-Ittihad attitude of the Turkish Republic, and concluded that the source of the solution would be a radical confrontation and the mutual support of the peoples.

Harry Parsekian, the son of an immigrant to the U.S. in 1911, said that he didn’t blame the people of Turkey and that mutual understanding was necessary, but that without an official apology the process would come to a halt.

Sarkis Hatspanian, who is in prison in Armenia, said in his statement that it was appropriate to view the genocide on the basis of destruction and denial, and that the genocide was the elimination of the idea of Armenia, which was seen as an obstacle to Turkish expansion.

Recep Marasli discussed the role of the Kurds in the Armenian Genocide in his poster statement. Even though the Kurds did not participate in the planning and decision-making process, he said, they were not mere collaborators, but part of a strategic alliance with the genocide committers, an alliance that had a historical background.

In a statement by Garbis Altinoglu, it was emphasized that the Turkish-Armenian problem had deep and highly complex roots, and that it would be impossible to confront the perpetrators of the genocide without objecting to and fighting with the manifestations of persecution on the national basis and social injustice.

In the closing session, Tayfun Isci, Ali Ulger from the Kizilbas Journal, Zeynel Sabaz from the Kaldirac Journal, Barista Erdost from the Socialist Democracy Party, Partizan representative Kenan Ozyurek, Cemal Dogan from the Federation of Democratic Peoples, Mustafa Kahya from the Socialist Party, Nur Yilmaz from Alinteri Journal, Yasar Batman, Huriye Sahin, and Mahmut Konuk from the Ankara Freedom of Thought Initiative, spoke.

In these two days, even though there have been those who characterized the massacre of the Armenians as something other than genocide, the majority of the symposium organizers and speakers described it as genocide, and stressed the need for decriminalizing the genocide label, for the state to face this reality and fulfill its responsibilities, and for a democratic constitution that can end single-minded approaches and treat all differences on an equal basis.

The participants stated that the Armenian Question had an historical background that went beyond the question “What Happened in 1915?” and that its solution would originate from the evolutionary dynamics of social history—not by the interference of the EU or the U.S., but by the peoples themselves and according to the principle of the fellowship of the peoples. And they expressed their hopes that there be no more genocides Turkey.

Theriault: The Global Reparations Movement and Meaningful Resolution of the Armenian Genocide

By: Henry Theriault
The Armenian WeeklyApril 2010 Magazine
Over the past half millennium, genocide, slavery, Apartheid, mass rape, imperial conquest and occupation, aggressive war targeting non-combatants, population expulsions, and other mass human rights violations have proliferated. Individual processes have ranged from months to centuries. While the bulk of perpetrator societies have been traditional European countries or European settler states in Australia, Africa, and the Americas, Asian and African states and societies are also represented among them. These processes have been the decisive force shaping the demographics, economics, political structures and forces, and cultural features of the world we live in today, and the conflicts and challenges we face in it. For instance, understanding why the population of the United States is as it is—why there are African Americans in it, where millions of Native Americans have “disappeared” to, why Vietnamese and Cambodian people have immigrated to the United States, etc.—requires recognizing the fundamental role of genocide, slavery, and aggressive war in shaping the United States and those areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, affected by it.
Around the globe, those in poverty, those victimized by war after war, small residuals of once numerous groups, and others have recognized that their current difficulties, their current misery, is a direct result of these powerful forces of exploitation, subjugation, and destruction. Out of the compelling logic of “necessary fairness”—fair treatment that is necessary to their basic material survival and to their dignity as human beings—many have recognized that the devastating effects of these past wrongs must be addressed in a meaningful way if their groups and societies can hope to exist in sustainable forms in the future. This recognition has led to various reparations movements. Native Americans lay claim to lands taken through brutal conquest, genocide, and fraud. African Americans demand compensation for their contribution of a significant share of the labor that built the United States, labor stolen from them and repaid only with cruelty, violence, and individual and community destruction. Formerly colonized societies whose people’s labor was exploited to build Europe and North America, whose raw materials were stolen to provide the materials, and whose societies were “de-developed,” now struggle to survive as the global Northern societies built on their losses capitalize on the previous thefts to consolidate their dominance. And so on.
In the past decade those engaged in these various struggles have begun to recognize their common cause and a global reparations movement has emerged. In 2005, for instance, Massachusetts’ Worcester State College held an international conference on reparations featuring renowned human rights activist Dennis Brutus, with papers on reparations for South African Apartheid; African American slavery, Jim Crow, and beyond; Native American genocide and land theft; the “comfort women” system of sexual slavery implemented by Japan; the use of global debt as a “post-colonial” tool of domination; and the Armenian Genocide. While there are dozens if not hundreds of major reparations processes in the world today, it will be instructive to consider these cases in detail, as illustrations of these many struggles.
U.S. slavery destroyed African societies and exploited and abused violently millions of human beings for 250 years. At its dissolution, it pushed former slaves into the U.S. economy without land, capital, and education. Initial recognition of the need to provide some compensation for slavery in order to give former slaves a chance toward basic economic self-sufficiency gave way to violent and discriminatory racism. Former slaves were forced into the economic order at the lowest level. Wealth is preserved across generations through inheritance. Those whose people begin with little and who do not enslave or exploit others will remain with little. Reparations for African Americans recognizes that the poverty, discrimination, and other challenges facing African Americans today result from injustices more than 100 years ago that have never been corrected, and the subsequent racist violence and discrimination that has preserved the post-slavery status quo every since.
The South African case revolved around the fact that, as the world had divested from South Africa in the 1980’s, the Afrikaner government borrowed money, especially from Switzerland, to continue to finance Apartheid. Against the international embargo, bankers’ loans paid for the guns and other military hardware that were used to kill black activists and keep their people in slavery. The fall of Apartheid did not mean an end to the debt. Today’s South Africans live in poverty as their country is forced to pay off the tens of billions of U.S. dollars in loans incurred to keep them in slavery before. They pay yet further billions for the pensions of Afrikaner government, military, and police officials living out their days in quiet comfort after murdering, torturing, and raping with impunity for decades. What is more, U.S. and other corporations drew immense profits from South African labor. Many victims of Apartheid reject the loan debt and demand reparation for all they suffered and all that was expropriated from them as the just means for bringing their society out of poverty. After years of refusal, the South African government itself has recently reversed its position based on the desire to curry favor with large corporations and has begun to support U.S. court cases for reparations from corporations enriched by Apartheid.
In the aftermath of decolonization, societies devastated by decades or centuries of occupation, exploitation, cultural and familial destruction, and genocide were left in poverty and without the most basic resources needed to meet the minimum needs of their people. Forced suddenly to compete with those who had enriched themselves and grown militarily and culturally powerful through colonialism, they had no chance. Their only option was to borrow money in the hope of “catching up.” But corrupt and selfish leaders diverted billions to private bank accounts (with winks from former colonial powers), invested in foolish and irrelevant public works projects, and otherwise misappropriated money that was supposed to help these societies. Loan makers, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, imposed conditions to push these societies into a new servitude to the economies of the United States and other great powers. Servicing the loans that have not helped their economies develop now means sacrificing basic human services and healthcare in these desperate societies and accepting extensive outside control of their societies to benefit former colonizers and multinational corporations at the expense of further degradation of the dignity and material conditions of their populations. The Jubilee movement calls for debt cancellation as a crucial step toward justice for the devastation of colonialism and post-colonialism and a path toward a sustainable and fair global economy.
Former comfort women have long faced assaults on their dignity in their home countries and by Japan. They were often impoverished by their devastating experiences of being raped on average thousands of times in permanent rape camps as sexual slaves to the Japanese military. Physical damage from incessant forced intercourse and the brutal violence soldiers subjected them to, the aftermath of coerced drug addiction, and intense psychological trauma have frequently followed the women into their old age. They have needed medical care as well as acknowledgment of the inhuman injustice done to them. In the early 1990’s, surviving “comfort women” began calling for reparations to address the effects of what they had suffered.
Native Americans and Armenians share certain similarities in their past experiences and challenges today, from being crushed by competing as well as sequential imperial power-games and conquests, and a series of broken or unfair treaties, to a history of being subject to massacre, sexual violence, and societal destruction. Members of both groups have been sent on their “long marches” to death. In the aftermath of active genocide through direct killing and deadly deportation, even the remnants of these peoples on their own lands have been erased, through the raiding and destruction of hundreds of thousands to millions of Native American graves as a policy of the U.S. “scientific” establishment, and the continuing destruction of remaining Armenian Church and other structures throughout Turkey. For Native Americans, the continuing expropriation of land and resources, the blocking of Native American social structures and economic activity, and the dramatic demographic destruction (an estimated 97 percent in the continental United States) has left behind a set of Indian nations subject to the whims of the U.S. government and struggling to retain identity and material survival in a hostile world. Reparations, particularly of traditional lands, are essential to the survival of Native peoples and cultures. Similarly, from its status as the major minority in the Ottoman Empire a century ago, today an Armenian population of below 3 million in the new republic faces a Turkey of 70 million with tremendous economic resources built on the plunder of Armenian wealth and land—through genocide and the century of oppression and massacre that preceded it—and tremendous military power awarded it through aid from the United States in recognition of its regional power—also gained through genocide. The Armenian Diaspora of perhaps five million is dispersed across the globe and slowly losing cohesion and relevance as powerful forces of assimilation and fragmentation take their toll. Reparations in the form of compensation for the wealth taken, which in many cases can be traced to Turkish families and business today, and lands depopulated of Armenians and thus “Turkified” through genocide, are crucial to the viability of Armenian society and culture in the future. Without the kind of secure cradle the Treaty of Sevres was supposed to give Armenians, true regeneration is impossible: Turkish power, still violently hostile to Armenians, grows each day, as the post-genocide residual Armenia degenerates.
Of course, reparations are not simply about mitigating the damage done to human collectivities in order to make possible at least some level of regeneration or future survival, however important this is. Reparations also represent a concrete, material, permanent, and thus not merely rhetorical recognition by perpetrator groups or their progeny of the ethical wrongness of what was done, and of the human dignity and legitimacy of the victim groups. They are the form that true apologies take, and the act through which members who supported the original assault on human rights or who benefited from it—economically, politically, militarily, culturally, and in terms of the security of personal and group identity—decisively break with the past and refuse to countenance genocide, slavery, Apartheid, mass rape, imperial conquest and occupation, aggressive war focused on civilians, forced expulsions, or any other form of mass human rights violation.
It is with both dimensions in mind that in 2007 Jermaine McCalpin, a political scientist with a recent Ph.D. from Brown University specializing in long-term justice and democratic transformation of societies after mass human rights violations; Ara Papian, former Armenian ambassador to Canada and expert on the relevant treaty history and law; Alfred de Zayas, former senior lawyer with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Chief of Petitions, and currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations; and I came together to study the issue of reparations for the Armenian Genocide in concrete terms. The Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group’s (AGRSG) work has culminated in a draft report on the legal, treaty, and ethical justifications for reparations and offers concrete proposals for the political process that will support meaningful reparations. The following are some of the elements of the AGRSG findings, arguments, and proposals.
International law makes clear that victim groups have the right to remedies for harms done to them. This applies to the Armenian Genocide for two reasons. First, the acts against Armenians were illegal under international law at the time of the genocide. Second, the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide applies retroactively. While the term “genocide” had not yet been coined when the 1915 Armenian Genocide was committed, the Convention subsumes relevant preexisting international laws and agreements, such as the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions. Since the genocide was illegal under those conventions, it remains illegal under the 1948 Convention. What is more, the current Turkish Republic, as successor state to the Ottoman Empire and as beneficiary of the wealth and land expropriations made through the 1915 genocide, is responsible for reparations.
While the 1920 Sevres Treaty, which recognized an Armenian state much larger than what exists today, was never ratified, some of its elements retain the force of law and the treaty itself is not superseded by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. In particular, the fixing of the proper borders of an Armenian state was undertaken pursuant to the treaty and determined by a binding arbital award. Regardless of whether the treaty was ultimately ratified, the committee process determining the arbital award was agreed to by the parties to the treaty and, according to international law, the resulting determination has legal force regardless of the ultimate fate of the treaty. This means that, under international law, the so-called “Wilsonian boundaries” are the proper boundaries of the Armenian state that should exist in Asia Minor today.
Various ethical arguments have been raised against reparations generally and especially for harms done decades or centuries in the past. Two of particular salience are that (1) a contemporary state and society that did not perpetrate a past mass human rights violation but merely succeeded the state and society that did, does not bear responsibility for the crime nor for repairing the damage done, for this would be penalizing innocent people; and (2) those pursuing Armenian Genocide land reparations are enacting a territorial nationalist irredentism that is similar to the Turkish nationalism that drove Turkification of the land through the genocide, and is thus not legitimate.
To the first objection, the report responds that because current members of Turkish society benefit directly from the destruction of Armenians in terms of increased political and cultural power as well as a significantly larger “Turkish” territory and a great deal of personal and state wealth that has been the basis of generations of economic growth, they have a link to the genocide. While they cannot be blamed morally for it, they are responsible for the return of wealth and making compensation to Armenians for other dimensions of the genocide. To the second objection, the report responds that the lands in question became “Turkish” precisely through the ultranationalist project of the genocide. Retaining lands “Turkified” in this way indicates implicit approval of that genocidal ultra-nationalism, while removing Turkish control is the only route to a rejection of that ideology.
In addition to the legal, political, and ethical arguments justifying reparations, the report also proposes a complex model for the political process for determining and giving reparations. The report makes clear that material reparations and symbolic reparations, including an apology and dissemination of the truth about what happened in 1915, as well as rehabilitation of the perpetrator society are crucial components of a reparations process if it is to result in a stable and human rights-respecting resolution. The report proposes convening an Armenian Genocide Truth and Reparations Commission with Turkish, Armenian, and other involvement that will work toward both developing a workable reparations package and a rehabilitative process that will tie reparations to a positive democratic, other-respecting transformation of the Turkish state and society. As much as reparations will be a resolution of the Armenian Genocide legacy, they will also be an occasion for productive social transformation in Turkey that will benefit Turks.
Finally, the report makes preliminary recommendations for specific financial compensation and land reparations. The former is based in part on the detailed reparations estimate made as part of the Paris Peace Conference, supplemented by additional calculations for elements not sufficiently covered by the conference’s estimation of the material financial losses suffered by Armenians. The report also discusses multiple options regarding land return, from a symbolic return of church and other cultural properties in Turkey to full return of the lands designated by the Wilsonian arbital award. The report includes the highly innovative option of allowing Turkey to retain political sovereignty over the lands in question but demilitarizing them and allowing Armenians to join present inhabitants with full political protection and business and residency rights. This model is interesting in part because it suggests a human rights-respecting, post-national concept of politics that some might see as part of a transition away from the kinds of aggressive territorial nationalisms—such as that which was embraced by the Young Turks—that so frequently produce genocide and conflict.
On May 15, 2010, the AGRSG will present its draft report formally in a public event at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Arlington, Va.

French Senate to consider bill on penalty for Genocide negation

French Senate to consider bill on penalty for Genocide negation13:00 / 05/08/2010
Senate of France will discuss draft law on criminal responsibility for Genocide negation.
Representative of Hay Dat French office Harut Martirosyan told that presently Armenian community is exerting constant efforts no the matter and relevant documents are submitted to Senators. According to him, it will be uneasy to pass the bill in the Senate.
October 12, 2006 the French National Assembly with 106 ayes and 19 nays adopted a bill on criminal responsibility and €45.000 fine for denial of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire. However, as a result of pressure from French government and Ankara’s discontent the resolution was not considered by Senate.
News from Armenia -

Aliyev boycotted Medvedev’s invitation

Aliyev boycotted Medvedev’s invitation
14:25 / 05/08/2010

Ruling New Azerbaijan party (NAP) put high value on President Ilham Aliyev’s back out of an informal summit of CIS member states.

“It is a right step taken by President Aliyev. The main reason for such a step is that the persons who participated in the occupation of Shusha, leads Armenia. Aliyev’s step is a signal to Armenia,” Trend quotes NAP Deputy Chairman Ali Ahmadov.

“Azerbaijan once again shows that any relations with Armenia are out of question before the liberation of the occupied land. This means that it is necessary to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan to achieve peace in the South Caucasus,” Ahmadov stated.

Today is the 18th anniversary of Shushi liberation. The operation was conducted under the “Wedding in mountains” code name.


News from Armenia -

Armenian poet takes prize in Istanbul poetry festival

Friday, May 7, 2010

St. Stephen’s School Takes Literary Approach to Armenian Genocide

No CommentsFri, May 7 2010 Published in New England Email This Article
St. Stephen’s School Takes Literary Approach to Armenian Genocide
By: Weekly Staff
WATERTOWN, Mass.—Every April brings sadness to Armenians all over the world as commemorations of the Armenian Genocide ensue. This is no different for our youth, the next generation of survivors. Armenian communities across the globe have been entrusted with educating the next generation on what took place and to never forget. But the education for children is particularly a difficult dilemma. How do we teach something so dark and horrific? How do we impart the facts and history of the time without the scary details? How do we help them understand the harsh cruelty and emotional toll the many survivor stories have left without creating another generation of victims? This has been a struggle for those responsible for developing an Armenian Genocide Curriculum appropriate for elementary students at St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School.

A picture of St. Stephen’s Grade 4 students with author Marsh Skrypuch, principal Houry Boyamian, and teachers Julia Kramer and Kacie Carli
The search for finding age appropriate literature for just such a curriculum is over. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, a Ukrainian-Canadian children’s author, has researched many books for children. Her award winning book Aram’s Choice is part of the New Beginnings series of historical chapter books. Every title is researched, illustrated in full color throughout, and accompanied by a bibliography, index, and glossary.
Aram’s Choice is used in the Grade 4 curriculum at St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown and has been a wonderful addition to the school curriculum, particularly on presenting the sensitive subject matter of the Armenian Genocide, thoughtfully evoking a conversation about what happened to those who survived. Aram’s Choice has been recognized for the CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award, shortlist, 2007; Silver Birch Express Award shortlist, 2007; Golden Oak Award shortlist, 2008; and Resource Link Best Book, 2006. The sequel to Aram’s Choice is Call Me Aram. Both books are based on the story of Kevork Kevorkian, one of the original Georgetown Boys, a group of Armenian orphans brought to Georgetown, Ontario in 1923.
In Grade 5 the students use the Newbery Honor book The Road From Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl, by David Kherdian, told from his mother’s perspective about her childhood in an Armenian community in Turkey and her eventual arrival in America. The book also won the Jane Addams Peace Award, the Friends of American Writers Award, and the Banta Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and was nominated for the American Book Award. Kherdian has visited St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in the past.
On Mon., April 12, St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School was fortunate to have author Marsha Skrypuch visit with Grades 3, 4, and 5 to discuss her books and her research on the orphans of Georgetown Ontario, and read her writing aloud to the students. This was a very special day for the children; meaningful discussions and questions developed out of their conversations together.
To further enrich the genocide curriculum and students’ understanding of the Georgetown Boys story, Grades 4 and 5 took a field trip to Cranston, R.I. on Sun., April 11 to watch the performance of the “Georgetown Boys” directed by Dr. Markarian of the New Jersey Hamazkain Theatre group. This was an excellent performance for Armenians of all ages to understand the hardship the boys went through after their exile. It was an added dimension for the students to understand the story of the Georgetown Boys and the Armenian Genocide, prior to Marsha Skrpuch’s visit the following day.
For those who grapple with how to present this subject to students, children, or grandchildren, Aram’s Choice and Call Me Aram are age appropriate children’s literature on the difficult subject of the Armenian Genocide. The story allows one to open the door on a very dark chapter in history and look inside with a lens for young audiences everywhere. St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School is grateful for these two books, which are now a part of the literature component of the Armenian Genocide Curriculum, and most appreciative to Skrypuch and her diligent research and thirst for the truth regarding this tragedy in Armenian history. She is a diamond in the rough and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary school is proud to have found her.
For more information on the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, call (617) 923-0501, email, or visit