Sunday, September 21, 2014

‘New Turkey’ A Scary Place and Armenian Genocide Reparations Study

‘New Turkey’ A Scary Place, Says Dink Award Winner

ISTANBUL (Today’s Zaman)—Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) oft-quoted promise of a “new Turkey” is a scary place, where rights violations and threats against opponents are common, according to Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the winner of the International Hrant Dink Award and head of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV).
In an interview with Today’s Zaman, Fincancı shared her opinions about the government’s new slogan — “New Turkey.” She said: “The new Turkey rhetoric is very scary. This means new violations and more threats, and we are already seeing the signs of this. We know about the actions of this government that promotes the new Turkey. The new Turkey is about having crowds jeer at the mention of a mother who has lost her son.”
The TİHV head was referring to a rally speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had his audience boo at the mention of the name Gülsüm Elvan, the mother of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan. Berkin died last year after being in a months-long coma that was caused by a tear gas canister being fired at him by the police during last year’s Gezi protests when he was out buying bread. The canister struck him in the head.
The International Hrant Dink Award was presented to Professor Fincancı on Sept. 15 — Hrant Dink’s birthday — for her activism regarding the plight of the Saturday Mothers, a group of women whose children disappeared while under state custody.
In response to a question about what she felt about the Dink award, Fincancı said: “I am flattered and humbled because I have been given an award that was earlier given to the Saturday Mothers. I am also a bit heartbroken. They are the ones who have suffered and are still suffering. What would our murdered brother [Dink] have done if he were with us at this time? I felt confused emotions that day.”
She also shared her opinions about the future of the murder trial of Hrant Dink, who was shot dead by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper in Istanbul in January 2007.
“I don’t think the murder will be illuminated at this time. It looks like it will become one of the many trials that will be stonewalled with one trial after another. The course of the trial and the stance of the government on this issue indicates that. Temizöz’s release gives an idea about the future of the Hrant Dink trial.”
The activist was referring to the release of Col. Cemal Temizöz on Sept. 12. Temizöz, notoriously known as the “death well colonel” due to his role in the death of more than a dozen people in acid wells in the early ‘90s, was released by a high court. The trial against him was launched after investigators found human bones in wells in the Cizre district of Şırnak province, believed to be the remains of people killed by the illegal structure established by Temizöz.
She also said that she has no hopes that the current government will take steps to improve Turkey’s human rights records because “we know that they [the government] are the main actors who commit rights’ violations.”
Fincancı said activists and democrats should make their best efforts to change this course. “Detentions period were shortened because people demanded this. That was a result of the fight for human rights. We have to keep the government and the state at work. There can be reversals at times, and there can be disappointments, but we should continue to speak out about the negatives,” she said.
A medical doctor, Fincancı has dedicated her professional career to the struggle against torture in Turkey. She has been the president of TİHV since 2009. In the 1990s, when torture was prevalent in Turkey, she was subjected to oppression at the hands of the state since she wrote articles on medical ethics and penned reports documenting torture. Fincancı currently teaches and serves as a dissertation advisor at the graduate and postgraduate levels in the department of forensic medicine at Istanbul University’s medical college, and she teaches in Galatasaray University’s school of law.
The International Hrant Dink Award is presented annually by the International Hrant Dink Foundation at a ceremony held on Dink’s birthday.

Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group Publishes Final Report

YEREVAN—The Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group (AGRSG) has just completed its final report, “Resolution with Justice – Reparations for the Armenian Genocide.” The report offers an unprecedented comprehensive analysis of the legal, historical, political, and ethical dimensions of the question of reparations for the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, including specific recommendations for the components of a complete reparations package.
Prior to formation of the AGRSG in 2007, the limited discourse on reparations for the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide included abstract notions of territorial return, consideration of particular aspects such as insurance lawsuits, academic and other works focused on a specific part of the overall topic, and sometimes valuable short works treating the issue but without comprehensive or detailed analysis.
The AGRSG was formed in 2007 by four experts in different areas of reparations theory and practice. Their mission was to produce the first systematic, comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the reparations issues raised by the Armenian Genocide. Funded initially by a grant from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, the AGRSG members are Alfred de Zayas, Jermaine O. McCalpin, Ara Papian, and Henry C. Theriault (Chair). George Aghjayan has served as a special consultant.
After early agreement that some form of repair is an appropriate remedy for the legacy of the Armenian Genocide as it stands today, the AGRSG prepared a preliminary report, which was released for limited distribution in 2009. Completion of the draft was followed by three symposia. The first was a panel discussion featuring three of the report authors, held on May 15, 2010 at George Mason University in the United States, in conjunction with the university’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. The second was a major day-long symposium featuring the four co-authors and a number of other experts on reparations for the Armenian Genocide, conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law through its International Human Rights Law Association, on October 23, 2010. The third was a panel by two of the report authors held in Yerevan, Armenia, on December 11, 2010. The AGRSG is now issuing for broad distribution its final report, an extensive revision and updating of the 2009 preliminary report.
The AGRSG final report remains the only systematic, all-encompassing, in-depth approach to Armenian Genocide Reparations. The report examines the case for reparations from legal, historical, and ethical perspectives (Parts 4, 5, and 6, respectively), offers a plan for a productive reparative process drawing on transitional justice theory and practice (Part 7), and proposes a concrete reparations package (Parts 3 and 8). The report also includes background on the Armenian Genocide (Part 1) and the damages inflicted by it and their impacts today (Part 2). Through its broad dissemination, this report fills a crucial gap in the scholarly work and policy discourse on the Armenian Genocide. It will give Turkish and Armenian individuals as well as civil society and political institutions the information, analysis, and tools to engage the Armenian Genocide issue in a systematic manner that supports meaningful resolution.
The present time is optimal for release of the report. The 100th anniversary year of the beginning of the Genocide, 2015, will see greatly heightened international political, academic, media, artistic, and public interest in the Genocide. In addition, in the past few years, reparations for the Genocide have gone from a marginal concern to a central focus in popular and academic circles. Much of that focus has been on piecemeal individual reparation legal cases. This report represents a decisive step toward a much broader and all-embracing process of repair that is adequate to resolve the extensive outstanding damages of the Genocide. Furthermore, genuine, non-denialist engagement with the legacy of the Genocide is growing in Turkey. Finally, in the past decade, there has emerged a global reparations movement involving numerous victim groups across an array of mass human rights violations. The Armenian case has a place within that movement.
The complete final report will be available in PDF format online. The Executive Summary and Introduction of the final report are already available on the site.
Inquiries about the AGRSG and its report can be directed to Henry Theriault at, +1 (508) 929-8612, or Department of Philosophy, Worcester State University, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA 01602, U.S.A.
1. The positions taken and perspectives expressed in the report are those of the AGRSG members alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

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