Friday, December 30, 2011

France Genocide Bill Sponsor Receives Death Threats

PARIS—“All Frenchmen of Armenian descent, who live in France have the right, to protect the memory of their ancestors slaughtered in 1915,” Valerie Boyer, the French member of parliament who drafted the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, said on her Facebook page.
“This law aims to punish all those, who will question the fact of Genocide in French territory,” she explained.
“The Armenian genocide is recognized in Russia, Canada, Argentina, Italy, Sweden and even in Germany. Its denial is penalized in Switzerland. Yet, none of these states is being threatened in its diplomatic relations or business by Turkey,” Boyer wrote.
Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Monday that Boyer has become a target of death threats and her Web site was hacked by Turks.
According to RFE/RL, Boyer told the BFMTV station that she, her children and parents have received “extremely grave” threats since then. “It’s totally paradoxical to be the author and the rapporteur of a text which speaks of human rights, human dignity, recognition and protection of the weak, and legislate under threat, be threatened by a foreign state and then be subjected to extremely grave personal threats,” she said.
“Death threats, threats of rape and threats of destruction, name-calling and insults. I find this very shocking.”
Boyer added that she will lodge a “complaint” with relevant French authorities but is undaunted by the threats. “This process can only strengthen us in both our beliefs and our resolve,” she said.
An adviser to French Interior Minister Claude Gueant told “Le Figaro” daily on Monday that the lawmaker and her family will be given a “discreet and effective protection for some time.” “The risk is not very high but we are not immune to a disequilibrium,” the official said.
Boyer, who is also the deputy head of French parliamentary caucus promoting ties with Armenia, spoke to the French news channel following a hacker attack on her website.
Visitors to were automatically redirected on Sunday to another website purportedly owned by a Turkish hacker group presenting itself as GrayHatz. It displayed the Turkish national flag and contained a message to the French government and France’s 500,000-strong Armenian community.
“You, the Diaspora Armenians, are such cowards that you don’t have guts to open up the Armenian archives and face the truth,” read the message posted in Turkish and English. “You, the French people, are so pitiful and pathetic that you are disregarding the truths for votes.”
The latter accusation was in tune with the Turkish government’s claims that Sarkozy engineered the bill’s passage to gain the support of French-Armenian voters in next year’s presidential election. Ankara has also denounced the legislation as an infringement of freedom of speech and academic debate.
“Freedom of speech and state propaganda are very different things,” Boyer told the French lower house last Thursday in a clear reference to Turkey’s vehement denial of a government policy to annihilate the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during World War One.
Boyer’s website was still disabled as of Monday evening, displaying a blank page. The UMP deputy’s Facebook page had scores of abusive comments from apparently Turkish users and messages of support from Armenians posted in recent days.
Under the adopted legislation, anyone in France publicly denying the Armenian genocide could face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000). In order to enter into force the law needs to be approved by the French Senate dominated by members of the opposition Socialist Party.
The Paris-based news service reported on Monday that the Senate majority leader, Francois Rebsamen, has demanded that the government include it on the Senate agenda “as soon as possible.”
“Even if this text carries electoral suspicions, nothing would be worse today than to bury it, thereby creating misunderstanding and disappointment of the Armenian community, having raised the indignation and anger of the Turkish community,” Rebsamen said in a statement.
Turkey recalled its ambassador in Paris and imposed political and military sanctions on France following the National Assembly vote. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to take more punitive steps if “the current [French] attitude is maintained.”
Turkish ambassadors from all over the world reportedly gathered in Ankara on Saturday to discuss ways of preventing more countries from taking similar measures ahead of the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian massacres in 1915.
“We should all be prepared also because we will face an intensive campaign from the Armenian diaspora in 2015,” the AFP news agency quoted an unnamed senior Turkish diplomat as saying on Friday. “And we should take history not from 1915 but from 1914 and explain what happened in the Balkans during that period,” said the diplomat.
While criticizing the French bill, some Turkish commentators have urged the authorities in Ankara to address the genocide issue more openly. “We have avoided any talk on 1915 for decades,” Mehmet Tezkan wrote in the “Milliyet” daily.
“One must be blind not to see what will happen four years later,” Tezkan said, according to AFP. “The genocide will be recognized by the entire world in 2015 on its 100th anniversary.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the Socialist majority in the French Senate reportedly demanded that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government submit the bill to the upper house of parliament “as soon as possible.”

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Turkish Journalist: French Vote Is Only A Prelude, Hurricane Coming

From: Mihran Keheyian <>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2011 17:22:06 +0400 (AMT)
TURKISH JOURNALIST: FRENCH VOTE IS ONLY A PRELUDE, HURRICANE COMING PanARMENIAN.NetDecember 22, 2011 - 13:24 AMT PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand describesthe Armenian Genocide bill pending vote in the French parliament as'a signal flare.' "It is the tip of the iceberg that will hit Turkey in 2015," he saysin a piece of opinion published by Hurriyet Daily News. "The French vote is only a prelude. They are preparing to blow likea hurricane in coming years," Birand says. "What do we do? As always, we are trying to prevent what is comingby harsh warning letters and threat-filled statements. We are sendingdelegations to France trying to influence every segment. Next, we willtemporarily withdraw our ambassador and maybe there will be callsto boycott French goods. We will bring forward our significance forEurope, our strategic value, but nothing will change. These methods donot serve their purpose anymore. Moreover, they will be more uselesstoward 2015," he presumes. "Turkey has lost its struggle against the genocide. For almost 100years, first it buried its head in the sand, did not discuss it, ithas even left its own society ignorant. For all those years, it wasnot able make the international community believe that "there was nogenocide." It did not go beyond a total denial. We have missed thattrain," Birand says. "Only bold steps can save us from this accusation. The way to dispersethe genocide wind passes through launching of new "initiatives" thatwill surprise the world public. By publicly apologizing for mutuallosses and taking those steps to activate relations with Yerevan,we can only hold on to the edge of the genocide cliff. Otherwise,2015 will very much batter Turkey." he says. "A question I am very curious to hear the answer is this: "Is therea planned operation in Ankara to mitigate the losses of the coming2015 earthquake?" If not, be sure that we will feel the pain immensely. Actually, we are already late, but again, some things can be done. Let's not forget, the more we postpone taking precautions, the moreit will become expensive and cause risky decisions for us to escapefrom the trap. For once, let's act like a European, not like a Turk,"Birand advises. "To counterbalance 2015, threats such as "we will put an embargo, wewill withdraw our ambassador," will not work or affect anybody. Theonly way to draw the attention of the world public passes from takingbolder steps," he concludes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


What Turkish tour guide Asil Tuncer said, with respect to Apple Inc.'s founder, the late Steve Jobs' visit to Turkey, caused great uproar in the country. The guide claimed that Jobs considered the Turks as enemies, and he did not even shake hands when bidding farewell to the tour guide.
Tuncer noted that when they had approached the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, and he had told that it was a church at first but then it was turned into a mosque, Steve Jobs had asked: "You, Muslims, what did you do to so many Christians? You subjected 1.5 million Armenians to genocide. Tell us, how did it happen?"
And the Turkish tour guide's denials further infuriated Steve Jobs, who left Turkey one day early.
To note, in Steve Jobs' biographical book it is written that, after the Armenian Genocide, his step-mother, Clara Hagopian, had emigrated from Malatya, Turkey.
Apple Inc.'s legendary founder had lost his battle to cancer on October 5, at age of 56.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Turkey has not apologized for Armenian Genocide but demands apology from others – Harvard Prof.

Turkey has not apologized for Armenian Genocide but demands apology from others – Harvard Prof.
December 13, 2011 00:46
Turkey has not apologized for the Armenian Genocide and should not demand that others must apologize for the flotilla clash, said renowned legal expert Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz speaking at the annual business conference in Tel Aviv.
“Turkey has never apologized for the genocide in Armenia. Talk about chutzpah? Talking about Turkey demanding an apology from anybody?” he emphasized.
Dershowitz severely criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for demanding an apology from Israel over the flotilla incident, Israeli Arutz Sheva website reports.
He also added that Israel’s record is better than that of Turkey and NATO and others when it comes to the ratio of civilians to terrorists who are killed in warfare.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sarkisian Urges Turkey to Face its History

MARSEILLES, France—President Serzh Sarkisian urged Turkey to face its own past and “repent” for the Armenian Genocide, saying that it is inevitable for Turkey to eventually recognize the Genocide.
Sarkisian was speaking at an official reception organized by Marseille’s Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin and attended by members of the Armenian community. He was visiting Marseilles to take part in a meeting of the European People’s Party and to inaugurate a new Armenian consulate in that city, where there is a large Armenian population.
“We are confident that Turkey will repent. This is neither a precondition nor a effort to exact revenge. Turkey must face its own history,” said Sarkisian.
The president said that Armenia’s position has not changed and that Yerevan is ready to have friendly relations with its neighbors. He cited the example of post-World War II Germany and Poland, when German Chancellor Willie Brandt visited the Warsaw Ghetto fully cognizant of the crime his country had perpetrated against Poland.
“Sooner or later Turkey, which considers itself a European country, will have a truly European leadership that will bow its head at Dzidzernagapert, The sooner the better, but that is up to the Turkish people,” said Sarkisian.
“One day Turkey’s leadership will find the strength to reassess its approaches to the Armenian Genocide,” added Sarkisian.
He also called a recent visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Armenia “historic.” He added that Sarkozy’s statements in Yerevan, urging Turkey to come to term with its past was unprecedented, adding that no other world leader has never made such statement.

Bill Criminalizing Genocide Denial Passes French Parliament Committee

PARIS—The committee on constitutional law of the French National Assembly approved a draft bill on criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, reported freelance journalist Jean Eckian.
The bill introduced by Valerie Boyer and co-signed by 40 parliament members of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the New Center parties, levies a fine of 45,000 euros and a one year prison sentence for those who deny the Armenian Genocide.
The bill will now be sent to the entire National Assembly for a debate and vote.
“I hope that we will go to the end and that France will always be a country of human rights,” said Boyer.
The resolution amends the law on freedom of press so that racially motivated crimes are now punishable by law.
A similar bill was approved by the National Assembly on October 12, 2006. On May 4 the French Senate rejected the measure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Devilish Marks’ and Rape in the Time of Genocide

“The story of those who didn’t die—the story of young women who survived and stayed behind—has never been told. Men write down history. So it is with Genocide. There is no room for the women. They were impure, tainted, and despised. Yet they were the ones who suffered most. They were the ones who paid a terrible price. They had to carry the heaviest burden of all: they had to regenerate life.”

'Devilish marks'
These powerful words are narrated by Suzanne Khardalian, the director of “Grandma’s Tattoos” (2011). The film chronicles her quest to uncover the atrocities that scarred her grandmother, a woman who bore “devilish marks”—tattoos on her face and hands—that were the persistent reminders of a time in captivity and rape. Much of her experiences remain a mystery to her progeny, but the few tidbits Khardalian discovers years after her grandmother’s death are but a faint yet terrifying echo of the hellish occurrences that haunted the survivors to the grave.
Variations of the “weird” tattoos inked on the grandmother’s face were seen on other female survivors as well. Thousands of these women—documented “cases”—lived and died quietly. Their stories still remain under-documented, and even taboo.
The League of Nations Archives in Geneva houses a collection of intake surveys from the Rescue Home in Aleppo, Syria, between 1922 and 1930. It details the profiles of around 2,000 women, girls, and boys who often escaped captivity—as domestic and sexual slaves—making their way to the Home. The tattoos stood out on many of their faces and hands. They were the fortunate ones who were able to flee from their captors.
Military men, Turks, Kurds, and Arabs would either snatch or bribe the gendarmes escorting the deportation caravans and bring Armenian women, girls, and boys into their homes, and harems, as servants, slaves, wives, or concubines. Others were sent to state-run orphanages where a Turkification process was underway. Accounts from the deportation marches tell of mass mutilations and unimaginable sexual violence. Children were raped then shot, as they became unable to continue on the death marches. The “good looking” deportees were distributed among men in different villages. Girls were sent to high-level government officials for their sexual pleasure, and forced into orgies. The director of the Rescue Home, Karen Jeppe, stated that out of the thousands of women who came her way, only one had been spared sexual abuse, as Matthias Bjornlund notes in his article “A Fate Worse than Dying.”

Khardalian with a tattooed woman and her child in Der Zor.
The Armenian children who were transferred to the perpetrator community—a common phenomenon in genocide—were regarded as slaves by Western humanitarians, since they became a source of free labor, were subjected to forced conversions and child marriages, and were sold on impulse, writes Keith David Watenpaugh in his paper “The League of Nations’ Rescue of Armenian Genocide Survivors and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism, 1920–1927.” Jeppe estimated that there were as many as 30,000 Armenian survivors held in rural Upper Mesopotamia.
“The children and young people arriving in Aleppo told of deportations, separations, mass extrajudicial killings, and repeated rapes, followed by years of unpaid servitude as agricultural workers or domestic servants, servile concubines, unconsenting wives, and involuntary mothers,” writes Wattenpaugh.
These survivors were placed in the bottom of the “gendered hierarchy” within the household, explains Watenpaugh. Because they were unprotected, they could be sold or sent to a different household on a whim. The girls were desirable as brides or second wives as they had neither protectors nor a bride-price. All children born to these girls belonged to the fathers. Furthermore, “unrelated girls and boys in the household—regardless of religious or ethnic origin—were sexually available to senior males.”
The women and children who were finally able to escape and find their way to the rescue shelters and orphanages had to piece together what bits of themselves they could salvage to see to the rebirth of the nation. The hardships were not lacking for the survivors, and as they tried to simply survive, many of the horrors were buried, along with the bones of their loved ones.
Khardalian’s documentary adds another chapter to this story of quiet suffering that many women bore in the decades following the genocide. The loss of lives and land has dominated the discourse on genocide, often at the expense of the stories of the survivors, specifically the women. The mass rapes, enslavement, and servitude were not closed chapters. Those scars remained with the surviving victims, who mostly kept their silence. Sadly, rape remains a taboo topic within Armenian communities. Often it is the victim who is viewed as somehow tainted or incomplete. Furthermore, in an effort to “protect” both victim and honor, lips stay locked and eyes look away. Sometimes it may take more than a lifetime for scars to summon truth, as was the case with the grandmother’s “devilish marks.”

Screenings of “Grandma’s Tattoos” and discussions with the director are being held this month in Detroit, New Jersey, and Boston.