Armenian Genocide resolution introduced in U.S. Senate
15.03.2007 14:29 GMT+04:00
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Senators Dick Durbin and John Ensign introduced the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the U.S. Senate. ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) reports more than 20 senators joined in efforts supporting the Resolution, which calls upon the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The measure is similar to the House Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res.106), introduced by Adam Schiff January 29. More than 180 congressmen support the Resolution. “We must honor those who died in the Armenian Genocide by recognizing their suffering and by dedicating ourselves to preventing human suffering and tragedy in the future,” Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin noted. In his part Sen. John Ensign added that “the murder and torture of the Armenian people was undeniably genocide, and we must recognize this terrible reality. We are a nation that embraces freedom and justice, and we have a responsibility to uphold these values in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past. This important resolution officially recognizes history and the truth of the crime of genocide perpetuated against the Armenians.”

“We appreciate the leadership of Richard Durbin and John Ensign and value the strong support of their Senate colleagues for the introduction of this anti-genocide legislation,” Executive Director of the ANCA Aram Hamparian said.

The resolution calls upon the President “to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues to the Armenian Genocide
# 12236
Focus on genocide in Congress

Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents Glendale and Burbank, pressured Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice about the State Department's stance on the Armenian genocide at a House Appropriations hearing subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.

Though administration officials frequently acknowledge the mass killings of Armenians in 1915, the State Department does not officially recognize the events as genocide.


Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sent a letter to chairs of certain Congressional committees stating their opposition to recognizing the Armenian genocide on March 7, which prompted Schiff to broach the topic on Wednesday, he said.

"Do you have any doubt in your mind that the murder of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 constituted genocide?" Schiff said, speaking directly to Rice, who was speaking before the subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on budget matters.

Without saying directly whether the events constituted genocide, Rice stated repeatedly that the issue should be dealt with by the Turkish and Armenian governments.

"I think that the best way to have this proceed is for the United States not to be in the position of making this judgment, but rather for the Turks and the Armenians to come to their own terms about this," Rice said.

The exchange between Schiff and Rice happened on the same day that the House Financial Services Committee debated a bill — the Accountability and Divestment in Darfur Act — that would prohibit United States government contracts with companies that conduct business operations in Sudan.

Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America, provided testimony at the hearing in support of the bill.

"Armenian Americans, as descendants of the survivors of the Armenian genocide, cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of the people of Darfur," Ardouny said.

The State Department's recognition of the genocide in Sudan and simultaneous opposition to recognizing the Armenian genocide sends a mixed message, Schiff said.

"I don't see how we can have the moral authority that we need to condemn the genocide going on in Darfur if we're unwilling to recognize other genocides that have taken place," he said.

Burbank Democrats elect officers

The Burbank Democratic Club has selected its officers for the 2007 year. Club member Janet Reynolds was elected president and David Dobson was elected vice president.

Club secretary Larry Nemecek and treasurer Ken Ahern will retain their posts. Outgoing president Lee Wochner is taking a seat on the executive board.

Wochner and club member Dana Ragle will travel to the 2007 state Democratic Convention in April.

The club's next meeting on March 28 at the Hill Street Café will feature former Assemblyman Dario Frommer, who will speak about his career and future plans. For more information, call (818) 288-2649.

Endorsements announced

The Armenian Council of America, a federally registered political action committee, has announced its endorsements for the April 3 Glendale municipal elections.

For the Glendale City Council, the group endorsed current Glendale Unified School District board member Greg Krikorian and former Public Information Officer for the Glendale Police Department Chahe Keuroghelian.

"We need city councilmen that will listen to the people," said Peter Darakjian, executive director of the Armenian Council of America. "[Krikorian and Keuroghelian's] management style is to listen to the people and then make a decision."

For the Glendale Unified School District governing board, the group endorsed candidate Elizabeth Manasserian. Manasserian is one of six candidates running for two open seats on the board.

Tony Tartaglia won the group's endorsement for the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees race, which has three candidates vying for two open seats.

The Armenian Council of America endorsements were made by the group's nine-member board of directors, Darakjian said. The group announced the endorsements on March 7.

College Guild makes endorsement

The Glendale College Guild, which represents faculty at Glendale Community College, has endorsed Glendale Community College Board of Trustees candidate Christine Rodriguez.

Currently a full-time professor at East Los Angeles College, Rodriguez is a former member of the Glendale College Guild. She is also a practicing labor lawyer.

Senator keeps an eye on college spending

State Sen. Jack Scott, who represents Glendale and Burbank, chaired a joint hearing of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education on Wednesday regarding executive spending practices at the University of California and the California State University.

The hearing is part of an effort by the Budget Subcommittee to crack down on state education institutions' practice of not disclosing the financial perks they give to school executives.

It was revealed at a Senate Education Committee hearing last year that the University of California spent tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses and perks for some executives without fully disclosing them, said Wendy Gordon, press aid to Scott.

"It is the public's money, after all, and [Scott] would like to see the University of California and California State University make sure that there is transparency in programs for top executives," Gordon said.

On Thursday, the committees heard testimony from Robert Dynes, president of the University of California, and Chancellor Charles Reed of California State University.

Both leaders reported changes in executive compensation practices since last year's hearing.

Reed reported that a California State University program that entitled departing executives to one year's salary when they retired or quit, regardless of whether they started a new job, is no longer applicable, Gordon said.

Policy changes within the University of California include a new rule that restricts future campus presidents from sitting on more than three outside corporate boards. Current presidents who serve on more than three outside boards will not be bound by the rule, Gordon said.
# 15061
12 % of Turkey’s population says Armenian Genocide is historically proved fact

09.04.2007 17:43

YEREVAN (YERKIR) - An overwhelming majority of Turks oppose the Armenian Genocide Resolution currently pending in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as another resolution, which demands from Turkey to normalize its relations with neighboring Armenia, Zaman reports.

The poll, recently conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, revealed, that if the U.S. Congress approves the Genocide Resolution, 83 percent of respondents would oppose or strongly oppose Turkey assisting the United States in Iraq.

Almost four-fifths of Turks favor strong action by the Turkish government if the Genocide Resolution is passed, including suspension of diplomatic relations. Asked why the U.S. Congress would approve the Resolution on the Genocide, 42 percent of the respondents cited anti-Muslim feelings in the U.S. and some 31 percent said it was due to domestic politics in the United States. Another 12 percent said the “Armenian Genocide” was a proven historical fact.

If the U.S. Congress approves the Armenian Genocide Resolution, 78 percent said they would boycott American products, vote for candidates that oppose the United States or demonstrate. Only 11 percent said they would take no action. On relations with Armenia, 73 percent said they think the passage of the resolution would worsen relations between Turkey and Armenia. 84 percent of those who now have a very favorable opinion of the U.S. would change their opinion for the worse. The poll was conducted among 1200 people in 15 provinces of Turkey, PanARMENIAN.Net reported.
# 15062
Poll Warns US Over Armenian Resolution
Monday , 09 April 2007 digg Furl Reddit YahooMyWeb Google

An overwhelming majority of Turks oppose two different resolutions on Armenian claims of genocide currently pending in the US Senate and House of Representatives, and a massive portion of Turkish society believes relations with Armenia and the United States will be negatively affected if Congress passes the resolutions, a survey of opinion conducted by a US-based group has shown.

The poll, recently conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, revealed that Turks felt so powerfully about this issue that should a resolution pass, 83 percent would oppose Turkey assisting the United States in Iraq. Almost four-fifths of Turks favor strong action by the Turkish government if a resolution is passed, including suspension of diplomatic relations.

Two similar resolutions, both urging the US administration to recognize an alleged genocide of Armenians, have been presented to both the House of Representatives and the Senate and they are now awaiting a vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a strong supporter of the resolution and, contrary to the past, when interventions from the US administration stopped passage of similar resolutions, analysts say chances are high that the resolutions will this time be passed.

Turkey has warned that passage of any such resolution would seriously harm relations with Washington, calling the move "poisonous." Ankara categorically denies Armenian allegations of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire and says there were killings on both sides when Anatolian Armenians took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army in hope of claiming some part of eastern Anatolia for an independent Armenian state.

Terror Free Tomorrow, whose advisory board is led by Republican Senator John McCain and former 9/11 Commission chairs Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, acknowledges that the alleged genocide took place. "The genocide of innocent Armenian civilians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire must be universally acknowledged - even if condemning the mass killings as genocide provokes ire of most Turks," wrote Kenneth Ballen, president of Terror Free Tomorrow, in an editorial for the study. "That fact must never be the issue."

He says, however, that passing a resolution on the issue would harden public attitudes in Turkey, as Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, assassinated by a teenage gunman in January in İstanbul, had said.

Analysts say given the widespread sympathy among the US congressmen toward the Armenian allegations, the only way to prevent the passage of a "genocide" resolution is to convince the congressmen on the devastating impacts it would deliver in US-Turkish relations.The Terror Free Tomorrow survey, conducted in 15 provinces in Turkey between January 27, 2007 and February 8, 2007 with a total of 1,021 interviews, showed that some 78 percent of Turks oppose the resolution by the US Congress on the alleged genocide. The most important reason why Turks oppose such a resolution is they do not consider the US Congress to be a neutral judge of this historical issue (42 percent). Some 36 percent say an Armenian genocide never happened and another 18 percent say the issue should be resolved by historians.

Asked why the US Congress would approve a resolution on the alleged genocide, 42 percent of the respondents cited anti-Muslim feelings in the US and some 31 percent said it was due to domestic politics in the United States. Another 12 percent said the “Armenian genocide” was a proven historical fact, according to the poll.

If the US Congress approves a “genocide” resolution, 83 percent said they would oppose or strongly oppose Turkey assisting the United States in Iraq; 73 percent said it would worsen their opinion of the United States; 78 percent said they would boycott American products, vote for candidates that oppose the United States or demonstrate. Only 11 percent said they would take no action.

Asked what measures the Turkish government should take in case the Congress passes the resolution, 24 percent said it should issue an official protest to the US and 29.9 percent said it should suspend diplomatic ties with Washington. Only 6.7 percent said the government should take no action.

On relations with Armenia, 73 percent said they think the passage of the resolution would worsen relations between Turkey and Armenia. 84 percent of those who now have a very favorable opinion of the US would change their opinion for the worse.

The survey also found that although most Turks are opposed to a Congress resolution on the issue, three-quarters of all Turks would accept scholarly study on what happened in that period of history.

Armenian Issue
# 15063
Resolution on Armenian genocide risks foreign policy Backlash could compromise Turkey's role as gateway for supply of U.S. forces in Iraq

April 7, 2007
Congress is on the verge of inflicting a devastating blow to U.S. foreign policy. At issue is a resolution introduced in the House of Representatives that brands as genocide the deaths and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Turkey is the gateway for supply of U.S. forces in Iraq as well as supplier of basic necessities -- food, water, gas, electricity -- to Iraq. Turkey has been a staunch American ally in NATO; Turkish forces play an important role in Afghanistan.

Passage of the resolution -- which Turks see as officially adjudging them to be a nation of barbarians -- will produce popular indignation that no Turkish government could ignore. As Professor Soner Cagaptay of Princeton University says, ''This backlash would inevitably cripple U.S.-Turkish military cooperation.''

The modern Turkish Republic, successor to the Ottoman Empire within shrunken borders, is the only Muslim country in the Middle East that maintains a functioning democracy. Turkey borders Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia. Passing a self-serving resolution condemning Turks for horrific things that occurred 90 years ago would alienate an important ally without achieving anything of substance for the United States. An American rebuff, added to recent European actions hostile to Turkey, would only strengthen malign anti-Western Islamist and nationalist minorities in Turkey.

Armenians contend 1.5 million or more people were systematically killed between 1915 and 1923. Turks say a far smaller number of people died, not by deliberate extermination, but as a consequence of a brutal war in which Armenians were deported because they sided militarily with invading Russians. There is no doubt that large numbers of Armenians suffered terrible deaths and deportations; Muslim civilians were also ravaged.

The weight of opinion outside Turkey has favored Armenian claims. But Chris Morris, British author of The New Turkey, says: ''Both sides produce stacks of documents to back up their arguments . . .'' Respected historian Guenter Lewy concludes, ''The primary intent of the [Ottoman] deportation order was undoubtedly not to eradicate an entire people but to deny support for the Armenian guerrilla bands and to remove Armenians from war zones.'' The tragic consequences for Armenian civilians should be remembered. But politicians have no qualifications to judge Ottoman intentions nine decades ago.

Similar congressional resolutions have failed to pass in recent years. The reason the current resolution is being pushed by more than 160 House co-sponsors is that the November elections empowered California Democrats, and there are many Armenian Americans residing in California and elsewhere who are actively lobbying. They deserve respect for keeping alive the memory of what happened to their ancestors, but not at the price of rupturing relations with a key American ally.

Turkish Americans are too few to lobby effectively. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ignoring concerns persuasive to prior House leadership, has scheduled a rushed vote for this month. Pelosi should ask the Department of Defense what would happen if Turkey curtailed co-operation with U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

There is much Turkey can do to prevent congressional resolutions from becoming a perennial irritant, e.g., tempering anti-American propaganda in media close to the ruling AKP party and increasing protection of human rights. Turkey is not improving its image by cozying up to Hamas terrorists.

But passage of this resolution would inflict a major foreign policy disaster on America by rupturing relations with a country vital to execution of our foreign policy.

CChicago lawyer Joel J. Sprayregen participates annually in a symposium in Istanbul to advance civil society in Turkey.
# 15064
Howard Berman sent letter on Armenian Genocide to U.S. House of Representatives
06.04.2007 18:01 GMT+04:00 Print version Send to mail In Russian In Armenian

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region and the East San Fernando Valley ANC Chapter jointly issued a statement this week praising Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA-28) for sending a Dear Colleague letter on the Armenian Genocide to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Berman received an “A” in the ANCA Congressional Report Card for 2006, the ANCA reports.

The letter to House members included a reference to a recent statement issued by the respected International Association of Genocide Scholars that encouraged House member to cosponsor H.Res.106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution. In his Dear Colleague letter, Congressman Berman writes, “…it is now time for Turkey to accept the reality of the Armenian Genocide.”

“Our community commends Congressman Berman for his leadership role in educating Members of Congress on the Armenian Genocide,” commented ANCA-WR Executive Director Andrew Kzirian. “The fact that Congressman Berman joined with the International Association of Genocide Scholars in support of H.Res.106 is fresh proof of his longstanding commitment to this human rights issue so important to tens of thousands of his constituents in the 28th Congressional District,” Kzirian added.
# 39415
America should recognize the Armenian Genocide

The American government has continuously refused to recognize one of the first Genocides because of political motivations.

The Turkish PM Erdogan has warned Bush that the Armenian Genocide resolution would harm ties. A resolution that should have been recognized years ago, even if Turkey is a ally, a well-known documented fact should be recognized and taught widely in American schools and around the world, because it can also shed some light on modern genocides educate more people and the Armenian Genocide influenced Hitler to go ahead with the Holocaust.

Hitlers famous speech:

"I have issued the command -- and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad -- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?" (Source: Lochner, Louis P.What About Germany? Dodd, Mead & Company, 1942 pp. 11-12.)

Some backround information on the word 'Genocide':

The term “genocide” was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Jew born in Poland, who as a law student in his native country was struck by a paradox on reading about the trial of Talaat Pasha’s killer in Berlin. “It is a crime for Tehlirian to kill a man, but it is not a crime for his oppressor to kill more than a million men?” Lemkin is said to have asked at the time. Although the word itself did not exist in 1915, most qualified historians today agree that the events of 1915–20 constituted genocide. In 2003, the International Center for Transitional Justice, a non-governmental human rights organization headquartered in New York, commissioned a legal opinion that concluded that the killing of Armenians did fit the accepted legal definition of the term. (Source: Turks, Armenians, and the "G-Word" - Belinda Cooper and Taner Akcam)
# 39418
Bush reiterates opposition to Armenian genocide measure in Congress
The Associated Press
Published: October 5, 2007

WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush told the Turkish prime minister on Friday that he strongly opposes a resolution in Congress that would label the World War I-era deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians genocide.

Bush and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked by telephone about the legislation, which is to go before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. It is expected to be approved.

Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said Bush "reiterated his opposition to this resolution, the passage of which would be harmful to U.S. relations with Turkey."

Johndroe said Bush believes the Armenian episode ranks among the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, but the determination whether "the events constitute a genocide should be a matter for historical inquiry, not legislation."

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

The Armenians, a minority in Ottoman Turkey, died from 1915 to 1923, the year modern Turkey was born from the remains of the 600-year-old empire.

At the U.S. State Department, the senior official who deals with Turkish relations said the United States position is not to deny or accept that genocide occurred. Nevertheless, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said, "We do not believe this bill would advance either the cause of historical truth or Turkish-Armenian reconciliation or the interests of the United States."

The Turkish reaction to passage of the bill would be extremely strong, Fried said. It would do "grave harm" to relations with Turkey, a NATO ally, and damage the U.S. war effort in Iraq, Turkey's neighbor.

The resolution is largely symbolic and would not be binding on foreign policy. Similar measures have been offered before and never passed, but it appears to have a good chance of passage in the Democratic-controlled House if it is brought to a vote.
# 39591
US envoy to Ankara: Turkey needs to make careful calculations on Incirlik
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 12:24

The US Ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, has replied to statements from a top level AKP foreign affairs consultant, Egemen Bagis, regarding Ankara's plans to cut logistic support to the US endeavors in Iraq if the US Congress passes the Armenian genocide bill. In regards to the US use of Turkey's Incirlik Air Force base for logistical efforts throughout Iraq, Wilson noted yesterday that Turkey needed to plan carefully on its next moves.

Responding to questions on CNN Turk, Wilson noted "We are worried that our relations could be damaged. Of course, the Turkish administration will make its own calculations. But these calculations better be good. The logistical support coming out of Incirlik for our troops in Iraq, and even for non-military Iraqis, is very important. But here is what I think: If the stability and land unity of Iraq weren't important also for Turkey, it wouldn't have offered its support in the first place."
the genocide resolution vote is approaching...
# 39593
Genocide bill first step toward restitution, says ret. US ambassador
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

'The Armenians’ absolute rejection (of a joint commission) rather tells me that they don’t really want to have really careful analysis of what happened,' President of the ATC says

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

A resolution submitted to the United States Congress is a first step by Armenians toward territorial demands from Turkey, warned retired U.S. Ambassador James Holmes in an interview with the Turkish Daily News ahead of a crucial vote in the House today.

�I believe that many in the Diaspora see this in terms of step by step, which is very threatening for Turkey. You finally get the U.S. Congress to say that Turkey is guilty of genocide, step A. Step B, okay, the world now says that Turkey is guilty of genocide. What's the proper compensation for that action?� said Holmes, who is currently president of the American Turkish Council (ATC).

Despite Turkey's efforts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to take the resolution to the Foreign Affairs Committee to start the process of approval. The resolution says Ottoman Turks committed genocide during World War I, killing more than a million Ottoman Armenians during a forced migration.

Restitution, insurance payments and territorial claims are next on the list, said Holmes, noting the reluctance of the Armenian Diaspora to come to grips with the fact that the �genocide cause� is not a disinterested one. �Now some of the Diaspora has been candid enough to say so. Most of them don't. When they go to senators and congressman they don't say these things,� he said.

Stick to the �Joint Commission of Historians'

Holmes considered the refusal of Armenia to deliver a positive response to Turkey's offer to set up a commission of historians as its insincerity concerning the discovery of historic facts. �If you really want to address this issue, this (founding a commission of historians) is the way to do it. The Armenians' absolute rejection rather tells me that they don't really want to have careful analysis of what happened,� he said. Holmes urged Turkish authorities to engage in more ardent endeavors for the establishment of the �Joint Commission of Historians� proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharyan in 2005.

Notwithstanding the push in Congress for the passage of the bill, Holmes reiterated that the bill is not consistent with the position of the U.S. Administration, as reflected in a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives by the chairman of the American-Turkish Council, Brent Scowcroft. �Our purpose is to draw the attention of the committee members that the bill is not consistent with our foreign policy. It is not in the interest of U.S. national security and it is not a fair treatment of a reliable ally,� Holmes said. The letter warns that the welfare of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan might be jeopardized if the bill passes since Turkey provides a major supply line to them. Commercial relations are very likely to be dealt a serious blow as well, added Holmes.

Holmes did not give up hope that the bill will be rejected, but he is cautious nonetheless. �We will continue to argue in favor of the joint commission of historians but unless we are able to defeat this resolution, the commission won't happen,� he said. Holmes underlined that the bill does not require the president to do anything and argued that it will not have any practical consequences in itself. However, its impact will be great. �The consequence is on Turkey's psyche. It is a finger in the eye for Turkey. Besides, it will have negative commercial consequences,� he said. The resolution must be stopped, said Holmes, since Turkey is �one of our handful of partners with whom the U.S. has this sort of thick relationship.�

US failed its task as an ally

Commenting on Sunday's attacks on Turkish soldiers by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Holmes affirmed that the U.S. did not appreciate fully the intensity with which the PKK problem is felt in Turkey. �The U.S. has not responded to the pain of Turkey in a way that I think an ally should,� he said.

Holmes gave one reason of his own for the discrepancy between the threat perceptions of two Cold-War allies with regard to PKK terrorism. �Turkey and the U.S. on a military to military relationship have been used to each other through the EUCOM (U.S. European Command). But the connection in Iraq is through CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command). It is a different command, command structure and people. Part of the problem is the lack of understanding the Turkish-U.S. relationship faces in CENTCOM's command,� he said.

Whatever the enduring hardships, Turkey must continue its progress toward the West, Holmes said. �Turkey has shared visions and shared values with the U.S. and the West. I think that there is a surpassing of shared interests on the part of Turkey and the U.S. which can overcome these problems,� he said.
# 39661
passed! 27 in favor vs 21 against. the genocide bill will be voted in congress.
# 39665
House committee approves Armenian genocide resolution

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Rice to call Turkish leaders to express "deep disappointment" with vote
* House panel approves Armenian genocide resolution with 27-21 vote
* Decision called "unacceptable" in statement on Web site of Turkey's president
* House resolution calls killing of Armenians during World War I "genocide"

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Top Bush administration officials are shifting into damage-control mode after a House committee narrowly approved a resolution that labels the killings of Armenians in Turkey during World War I as "genocide."

President Bush urges lawmakers not to pass a resolution he says would harm U.S. relations with Turkey.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the measure 27-21 Wednesday evening, even though President Bush and key figures lobbied hard against it.

The Web site of Turkish President Abdullah Gul carried a statement calling the decision "unacceptable," saying it "doesn't fit a major power like the United States."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement expressing "regret" for the committee's action, warning the resolution "may do grave harm to U.S.-Turkish relations and to U.S. interests in Europe and the Middle East."

The nonbinding House resolution says the deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians from the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923, resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million of them, amounted to "genocide."

Turks strongly reject the genocide label, insisting there was no organized campaign against the Armenians and that many Turks also died in the chaos and violence of the period.

Turkish officials had warned approval of the resolution could jeopardize U.S. relations with their country, a NATO member that has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East and a conduit for sending supplies into Iraq.

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Undersecretary of State Nick Burns said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would call the Turkish leadership Thursday to express "deep disappointment" with the vote. Video Watch why Rice and Gates oppose the resolution »

"We want to convey to the Turkish people and the Turkish government a message of respect and a message of support for them and the hope we can continue to work together with them," Burns said.

The president, Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates all warned against passing the resolution.

"We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915. This resolution is not the right response to those historic mass killings," Bush said at the White House.

Rice and Gates said Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military officer in Iraq; U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker; and Adm. William Fallon, head of the U.S. Central Command, also raised concerns about the resolution.

Gates said good relations with Turkey are vital because 70 percent of the air cargo intended for U.S. forces in Iraq and 30 percent of the fuel consumed by those forces flies through Turkey.

U.S. commanders, Gates said, "believe clearly that access to airfields and roads and so on in Turkey would very much be put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will."

Nabi Sensoy, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, said the resolution's passage would be a "very injurious move to the psyche of the Turkish people."

He predicted a "backlash" in the country, saying there would be setbacks on several fronts: Turkish-American relations, Turkish-Armenian relations and the normalization of relations between the nations of Turkey and Armenia.

But House Democratic leaders said earlier if the Foreign Affairs Committee passed the resolution, they intended to bring it to the House floor.

The resolution's sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said the measure already had 226 co-sponsors, more than enough votes to pass "and the most support an Armenian genocide resolution has ever received."

The resolution calls on the president "to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian genocide, and for other purposes."

A similar resolution passed the committee by a 40-7 vote two years ago, but it never reached the full House floor. House Republican leader John Boehner, noting the critical military and strategic alliance with Turkey, said bringing the resolution to the floor would be "totally irresponsible."

"Let the historians decide what happened 90 years ago," Boehner said in a written statement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer met with Turkish officials in Pelosi's office Wednesday morning. Hoyer said he and Pelosi informed the officials that they support the resolution.

Hoyer said he told officials that while he considers Turkey a strong ally, "this was about another government at another time."

"I believe that our government's position is clear -- that genocide was perpetrated against the Armenian people approximately 90 years ago and during the course of the First World War. And I believe that remembering that, noting that, is important so that we not paper over or allow the Ahmadinejads of the next decade or decades to deny a fact," Hoyer said.

The term genocide is defined in as "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group."

But the description is hotly disputed in Turkey, the predominantly Muslim, but modern and secular, pro-Western ally of the United States.

Turks argue that all peoples -- Armenians and Turks -- suffered during the warfare. But Armenians maintain there was an organized genocide by the Ottoman Turkish authorities, and have been campaigning across the world for official recognition of the genocide.

The resolution arrives at a particularly sensitive juncture in U.S.-Turkish relations. The United States has urged Turkey not to send its troops over the border into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish separatist rebels, who have launched some cross-border attacks against Turkish targets.

Observers of U.S.-Turkish relations have argued the House resolution could make Turkey less inclined to use restraint in dealing with its longstanding problems with the Kurdistan Workers Party.

"The United States has a compelling historical and moral reason to recognize the Armenian genocide, which cost a million and a half people their lives," Schiff said. "But we also have a powerful contemporary reason as well. How can we take effective action against the genocide in Darfur if we lack the will to condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs?"

(there's also a video)
# 39668
October 10, 2007

Verbatim, as delivered

Opening Statement by Chairman Lantos at markup of
H. Res. 106

Today we are not considering whether the Armenian people were persecuted and died in huge numbers at the hands of Ottoman troops in the early 20th Century. There is unanimity in the Congress and across the country that these atrocities took place. If the resolution before us stated that fact alone, it would pass unanimously.

The controversy lies in whether to make it United States policy at this moment in history to apply a single word – genocide – to encompass this enormous blot on human history.

The United Nations Convention on Genocide defines the term as a number of actions, and I quote, “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” These actions include killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, in whole or in part.

Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time of the atrocities, wrote -- and I am quoting -- “I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.”

The leadership of the United States has been in universal agreement in condemning the atrocities but has been divided about using the term “genocide.”

On one occasion, President Ronald Reagan referred to, I quote, “the genocide of the Armenians.”

But subsequent Presidents -- George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have refrained from using the word out of deference to Turkish sentiments on the matter.

In recognizing this tragedy, some in Congress have seen common themes with the debate our committee held earlier this year on a resolution about another historic injustice – the tens of thousands of so-called “Comfort Women” forced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan. The current Japanese government went to great length to attempt to prevent debate on that matter, and dire predictions were made that passage of such a resolution would harm U.S.-Japan relations. Those dire consequences never materialized.

A key feature distinguishing today’s debate from the one on the “Comfort Women” resolution is that U.S. troops are currently engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our troops depend on a major Turkish airbase for access to the fighting fronts, and it serves as a critical part of the supply lines to those fronts. A growing majority in Congress, and I am among them, strongly oppose continued U.S. troop involvement in the civil war in Iraq, but none of us wants to see those supply lines threatened or abruptly cut.

All eight living former secretaries of state recently cautioned Congress on this matter. And I quote, “It is our view,” write former Secretaries Albright, Baker, Christopher, Eagleburger, Haig, Kissinger, Powell and Shultz, “that passage of this resolution … could endanger our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey.”

Three former secretaries of defense – Carlucci, Cohen and Perry – this week advised Congress that passage of this resolution, and I quote again, “would have a direct, detrimental effect on the operational capabilities, safety and well being of our armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan.”

Members of this committee have a sobering choice to make. We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn this historic nightmare through the use of the word “genocide” against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying. This is a vote of conscience, and the Committee will work its will.
# 39670
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey is a secondary issue – interview with Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian is a prominent public figure, author, publisher of The California Courier newspaper, President of the United Armenian Fund, Lincy Foundation Vice President.

REGNUM: A number of the US-based Armenian organizations are currently advocating the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. At present, 226 US Congressmen are reportedly advocating the adoption of a resolution on the Armenian Genocide. What is your opinion of the prospects for the adoption of the resolution? What is the importance of the resolution, considering the fact that Armenian political circles have no clear idea of their further steps after the worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide?

Regarding your question about the prospects for the adoption of the resolution by the US Congress, I can say that more than half of the 435 Members of Congress have co-sponsored the resolution. This means that, if the resolution is submitted to a vote even tomorrow morning, it will be adopted without any problems. I think that around 350 Congressmen will vote for the resolution and just a few will vote against it. The major problem is whether the leadership of the US Congress will submit the resolution to a vote or, under Bush administration pressure, the resolution will be shelved, which was the case in 2000, when Speaker Hastert withdrew the resolution at the last moment. Otherwise, it would have certainly been adopted. The question is whether the scandal similar to that in 2000 will recur or the resolution will be submitted to a vote. I think that this time the resolution will be submitted to a vote, and its adoption has almost a hundred-per-cent chance, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been making statements advocating the recognition of the Armenian Genocide for 20 years. Besides, when I contacted her last November, before she was elected Speaker, she stated that she had been advocating the recognition of the Armenian Genocide for many years and intended to do so in the next year as well. Thus, we have a promise made by Nancy Pelosi who has not changed her position for many years. Also, a majority in the US Congress favors the adoption of the resolution. The submission of the resolution to a vote was postponed because of the parliamentary and, later, presidential elections in Turkey. We did not want the Armenian side to be accused of aiding the radicals in the Turkish elections. Now we have nothing to wait for and the resolution will certainly be submitted to a vote.

Of course, a tough struggle over the resolution has started. The Turkish Government is constantly blackmailing the United States, making statements on severing relations, putting obstacles for US troops in Iraq, and so on. The blackmail is actually senseless, as each statement like that damages the image of Turkey itself. Turkish commentators have recently pointed out that the time of threats have passed, and the blackmail damages Turkey itself. Alternative ways of admitting past events need to be found. We are now witnessing the formation of a favorable atmosphere both in the US Congress and in Turkey. However, the Turkish side still does not find the courage to admit this Crime Against Humanity, and the most likely reason is a psychological barrier – it is difficult to admit the fact that their forefathers committed such a barbaric act against another people. Turkish leaders realize that the Genocide is a fact, and their statements on the necessity for “studying and discussing” the issue are a political game. They do not need either historians or studies, they know the truth. However, Turkish authorities fear that the admission of the Armenian Genocide will cause a negative reaction by their public and radical forces. But for this fear, the Genocide would have been admitted long ago.

The United Nations has recognized the Armenian Genocide. Over 20 countries, the European Parliament, hundreds of specialists in genocide and Holocaust, historians and other scholars recognized the Armenian Genocide long ago. But, the most important thing is that the US Congress has already approved a similar resolution on the Armenian Genocide in 1975 and 1984. Moreover, in 1981, US President Ronald Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the events of 1915 as Genocide. Since the US President has admitted the fact of the Armenian Genocide by signing an official declaration and the US Congress has approved the aforementioned resolution twice, the adoption of the resolution for the third time is of little importance. The Armenian Genocide has already been recognized and the resolution will not add anything new.

The only problem is that the Turkish side is fighting the resolution, claiming that it is the first resolution of this kind. If the Turkish side did not fight it, I would not care about whether the resolution would be adopted or not. However, since the Turkish side is waging a political struggle, and the resolution has been submitted, we cannot retreat. Otherwise, it will be viewed as the Armenian side’s defeat. The real purpose of the resolution is not recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but a political struggle – the issue of which side has a larger political capital in Washington.

So we must not give up the struggle and allow Turkey to gain victory by exerting pressure. We must struggle for the adoption of the resolution so that Turkey’s political strength should be sapped once and for all.

As regards your question about the potential benefit from the adoption of the resolution and further steps, the following can be said: the recognition of the Genocide is not the Armenians’ demand. The Genocide did take place, and we know it. The Genocide was admitted as far back as 1915-1923, when it was actually taking place. When our forefathers were being killed, no one had any doubts about what was going on. The Turks, who organized the Genocide, were well aware of what they were doing. So the recognition of the Genocide is not a step to be viewed as a great achievement. No, the recognition is an actuality – for 92 years. The issue should be considered from quite a different angle, and the Armenian people must come to realize it. If the resolution is passed, and should Turkey admit the Armenian Genocide, Armenians who are not well-grounded in politics will think that they have achieved their cherished dream. No, the admission of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey is an issue of secondary importance for us. The following issue must be raised: a cruel crime was committed against the Armenian people. The whole nation was actually annihilated, our lands were seized and our 3,000-year-old culture was destroyed. This is not only a cruel crime, but also a great injustice. Therefore, our true demand is compensation for this injustice. The world must know about what happened, and we have to a great extent succeeded. The Turkish side is well aware that the step to follow the admission of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey will be a demand for compensation and return of the lands. This is the reason why Turkey will not admit the Armenian Genocide, thereby trying to force the Armenians to stop at this stage, so that we keep demanding the admission of the Genocide for hundreds of years and will be unable to go to the next step. I declare with all responsibility that it is not so, the admission of the Armenian Genocide is of no value. Our demands are: Turkey must compensate for the damages and return our lands. Our demands do not depend on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide before going on to the next steps. This is the reason that a symposium recently was held at the University of Southern California. Renowned specialists in international law were invited. They explained the rights the Armenian people have under international law, and to which courts Armenians could apply to settle this issue. Now specialists must study the lawyers’ advice and decide which issue should be submitted to which court, as there is the International Court of Justice, European Court of Human Rights, US Federal Courts, etc. This is a most important issue. It must be studied with all seriousness, because, if we lose in court, Turkey will claim that Armenians have no legal demands.

REGNUM: There is an opinion that Armenian Diasporan organizations, while dealing with the issue of the Armenian Genocide, do not pay enough attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Do you agree with this viewpoint, and is it possible that the international community should recognize the Armenian Genocide, without saying anything about the necessity for compensations, and oblige the Armenian side to make certain concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue instead?

I disagree with the opinion that the Diaspora is ignoring the Artsakh problem (In our conversation, I would prefer using the historical name of Nagorno-Karabakh – Artsakh). I have heard such an opinion, but I can state with confidence that not only this point of view is wrong, but also the real situation is quite the opposite. Our people, neither in Armenia nor in the Diaspora, have political sophistication. This has been true throughout our history. Armenians have always had an advanced culture, we have many excellent musicians, a rich literary and architectural heritage, but, in contrast to Turkey, we have never had political maturity. And no wonder. Turks ruled an empire for 600 years. We never had such an experience. We have always been under other nations’ yoke. All that we do in the political arena, including on the issue of the Armenian Genocide, is unprofessional and insufficient. We speak of the Armenian Genocide everywhere, make statements and give the impression that we are making great efforts towards the settlement of this issue. However, these are mere words without any value. The same is true in the Artsakh problem. Everybody says: “We are for Artsakh. This is our historical land.” But what is really being done for Artsakh? Yes, some young men went to war and sacrificed their lives for Artsakh’s freedom, which is the most valuable thing they could do. But what are others doing? They are only talking. We are always only talking. So I do not agree that we do more in this area than in another, and this is the reality.

As regards the possibility of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide in exchange for certain concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, such an idea does not exist, it is senseless. I have said that the Genocide is a fact, and its recognition is not a concession, as we do not benefit anything from it. If anyone, guided by political games, denies this fact, then this is that person’s problem. Moreover, we have reached a stage where the admission of the Armenian Genocide is more in Turkey’s interests than that of Armenians. If Turkey should admit the Armenian Genocide even tomorrow, the Armenians, who are politically naive, would think that they have achieved their dream. That is, the Armenian side will just relax and stop trying to achieve its true goals, namely, the return of lands and compensation. The Armenian people must be mature enough to realize their true goals. In this context, if Turkey admits the Armenian Genocide, it will be the first to benefit. Although no official demand for the admission of the Armenian Genocide is made on Turkey in the context of the country’s admission to the European Union, this issue is constantly raised and used as a lever for exerting pressure on Turkey. That is why, if a Turkish leader admits the Armenian Genocide today, the next day the entire world will praise him as liberal and progressive, for having admitted his forefathers’ crimes. He will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and many other prizes. Moreover, even if Turkey fails to meet all requirements for the admission to the European Union, the positive reaction to its admission of the Armenian Genocide will be so great that a blind eye will be turned to other shortfalls, thereby facilitating the process of Turkey’s entry into the EU. Thus, Turkey will benefit much, without losing anything. The principal error of both Armenians and Turks is that they think that, in case Turkey admits the Armenian Genocide, Armenians will demand their lands. In fact, the two issues have nothing in common. If, in conformity with international law, the Armenian people can demand their territories, it is not at all necessary to wait for Turkey to admit the Armenian Genocide for 90 or 900 years. Even if tomorrow we apply to court and demand our territories, no court will say: “no, you cannot demand territories until Turkey admits the Genocide.” This is tantamount to refusing to convict a murderer until he admits his guilt.

REGNUM: You often visit Armenia and, naturally, are acquainted with the situation. If you had to enumerate the priorities of the country’s foreign policy, which issues would you first of all point out?

If we establish certain problems as priorities, the first thing to note is, of course, Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, as the conflict over Artsakh is unresolved. The major problem is a state of war or rather a bloody ceasefire with Azerbaijan – shots can be heard on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, both sides sustain losses.

The second issue is the Armenian-Turkish relations – from the viewpoint of both the past and the current blockade of Armenia

The third item is, I think, the Armenian-Georgian relations, which are not problematic in general, but we have a problem of the Javakhk Armenians – not a territorial issue. However, the problem is the observation of the rights of the Armenians residing there. Of course, some problems of human rights, social conditions, schools and churches must be resolved in the context of friendly relations with Georgia.

REGNUM: The necessity for concessions has recently been spoken of more and more often in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. From the viewpoint of the Armenian Diaspora, what is the degree of concessions?

Conflict can be settled through compromises – this is a fundamental principle. Another way of settling conflicts is a decisive victory over the enemy in military operations. The issue is settled either at the negotiating table or on the battlefield. We gained a victory on the battlefield, and cannot be defeated at the negotiating table. I do not think that there exists any threat of resumption of hostilities. Azerbaijan is not ready for war. If they were, they would resume military operations without asking anyone. If hostilities are resumed now, Azerbaijan may lose all the other territories, particularly Shahumyan. That is, if Azerbaijan unleashes a war now, it will lose more than it may gain. I disagree with the opinion that the Armenian side must not cede even an inch of land. Some territories surrounding Artsakh, which are of no strategic importance or historically Armenian lands, may be ceded. It is not up to us to decide which particular region, town or village may be ceded to the Azerbaijani side. Time will come, and representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Artsakh, standing over a map, will draw a border. However, we must not just cede the territories to them, stating that this is our concession. In exchange, we must have them recognize Artsakh as an independent state or as part of Armenia. A relevant document must be signed, and an international peacekeeping force must be stationed in adjacent territories. That is, concessions are only possible in case of concessions on the part of Azerbaijan and observation of the aforementioned terms. I think it must be a comprehensive solution.

REGNUM: Do you think that the Azerbaijani side will agree to such a solution?

If they do not, we have nothing to propose to them. We gained a victory, and the Artsakh problem is resolved for us. We have nothing else to solve. We are quite satisfied with the present-day situation – Artsakh was liberated, full stop! It is in Azerbaijan’s interest to propose something to us, and concessions on our part will be possible in exchange for that “something.”

REGNUM: At present, Northern Martakert, Shahumyan and Getashen – the last named is part of Nagorno-Karabakh — are under Azerbaijan’s control. In your opinion, what is the solution to the problem of the regions in question?

A solution to the problem of the territories may be based on the principle of territorial swap. If we cede part of some territories under Artsakh’s control to Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani side returns the aforementioned territories. Another way is the resumption of hostilities and return of the territories by force.

REGNUM: Nevertheless, you rule out the possibility of resumption of hostilities in the immediate prospect. How long can this neither-peace-nor-war state last?

I am not a prophet. However, I personally rule out the possibility of such developments in the next few years. But we must always be ready for an attack.

REGNUM: What is your description of Armenia’s present-day foreign policy – nationalistic, liberal?

Once again I have to say what I have already said. I am not delighted with the political maturity of Armenians, both inside and outside Armenia. In general, I am not satisfied. I would not like to criticize Armenia’s authorities, because they have the same problem as all Armenians. Armenia’s policy in the international arena is not impressive. I can neither say that they committed major blunders nor can their work be called brilliant.

REGNUM: As a specialist in the field of communication, what is your opinion of Armenian information policy? If we consider the presence of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia in the sphere of information activities, what problems can you see?

Our work in most fields lacks professionalism. Whatever field you ask about, I will have to repeat the same phrase. The work carried out in the information field is equal to zero.

REGNUM: To what do you attribute this deficiency and how can it be improved?

To improve in an area, one should first of all realize its value. Neither the Armenian people nor the authorities realize the value of the information field. For example, when Presidents Aliyev and Kocharyan agree on specific issues, and Aliyev then goes back on his word, it takes our authorities almost a year to reveal this fact. This information must be spread within 24 hours through all media outlets, PR-companies should be employed to flood Western newspapers with analytical articles, to show the world that we are a peaceful nation and ready for negotiations and concessions. And it is not us, but Azerbaijanis, who are the cause of war. We must clearly realize that information is power. It must be collected and used at the right moment.

REGNUM: As seen from Armenia, the Diaspora seems to be strong, but disunited? We have a 3-million-strong community in Russia, rather strong communities in the US and Europe. However, they do not cooperate. In your opinion, is there a necessity for at least these communities to cooperate, or the currently applied method is right and no need for coordination of Armenian communities’ activities exists?

What is going on now is both wrong and a waste of energy. We are a small nation, and cannot afford to be disunited. We need centralization of forces, cooperation not only between the aforementioned three communities, but also among Armenian communities worldwide. I have some ideas of how to organize Armenians worldwide, but I would not like to go into the details at this time. The unification of Armenians around common national ideas is a goal that can be attained. Members of Armenian communities worldwide must set themselves tasks and determine the ways of accomplishing them. Armenians worldwide can elect their leaders by democratic principles, by means of a vote. No one in the Diaspora should declare himself to be a leader without the vote of the Armenian public. Thus, we will have an elected body in the Diaspora that will cooperate with the elected leaders of Armenia and Artsakh.

REGNUM: You are also a representative of the Lincy Foundation. I would like to ask you a question. It is a hypothetical question, to be exact. In your opinion, in the context of the current situation, when Armenia’s borderline villages are hardly populated, would not it be better to direct the Foundation’s resources to the implementation of a repatriation program for Armenians, which is of paramount importance, rather than to the renovation of Armenia’s roads, which is important as well?

It is not up to me to decide where our Foundation’s resources must be directed. In Armenia, I supervise the work carried out under the Foundation’s programs. I am well acquainted with what is going on in Armenia, and if I had the authority, funds would have been directed to the resolution of some other problems. The process of allocating funds is as follows: Armenia’s top-level authorities propose the direction and a schedule of necessary works. The Lincy Foundation considers the authorities’ proposals under the following principle: “If we want to do anything good for Armenia, who is better informed of the country’s needs – those living in far away Los Angeles or the ones that grew up in this land, who are governing the country and are responsible for their people’s future?”
13:34 10/10/2007
# 40256
Acknowledging The Armenian Genocide

October 15, 2007

America has moral and strategic purposes in denouncing the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as a horrendous genocide perpetrated by Turks.

The facts are not in dispute. Ample documentation shows that for two years, hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians were forcibly marched out of their towns and villages, killed, starved, and crucified until death as part of a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign by the Young Turks government of the dying Ottoman Empire. Twenty-two countries, including those of the European Union — which Turkey aspires to join — have marked those events as genocide.

For Americans, the moral imperative is intuitive. Which Greek, Jewish, Italian, Irish, Hispanic, or black American in this kaleidoscopically diverse nation of immigrants — all touched in one way or another by discrimination — can look in the mirror and say, "It's okay with me to kill people because of their religion, ethnicity, or origin"?

In that sense, the American Congress, which occasionally rises above its partisan instincts, was right to draft the resolution condemning the Turkish massacre nine decades after the fact. The Congress should now vote it in.

The American government's strategic imperative to do so is even more compelling, regardless of the protests by Turkey and the Arab world.

Turkey lives in a region where many governments and terrorist groups are actively engaged in a variety of ethnic cleansings. These are directed especially but not exclusively at the 20 million Arab Christian minorities. Another 50 million people, including some 20 million Kurds living in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey are sitting ducks; not to mention the Druze, Yazidis, Bahais, Maronites, Christian Palestinian Arabs, and Sudanese Africans, all of whom are in the process of being killed or evicted from their places of origin right now.

These ethnic cleansings guarantee the obsolescence of American interests and Western interests in the greater Middle East.

Arab Christians of the Middle East, to cite one minority, have acted ever since the late 18th century as the cultural bridge upon which civilizing Western influences have crossed into the Arab Muslim world. Works of literature, politics, and the grand civic values of Western civilization were translated, adapted, and implemented largely by those minorities, which thrived until the early 1950s in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq.

Protecting what is left of those Christians and the even larger groups of other ethnicities is not charity work but is essential for preserving Western interests. Indeed, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, in protesting Western pressure to own up to the massacres of Armenian Christians in 1915 threatened on Saturday to go after the Kurds in northern Iraq. Four years after the war in Iraq began, the fanatical Shiite majority government there has waged an ethnic cleansing war of its own, targeting both Sunni Muslims and Iraqi Christians. It has been savagely successful. Half of Iraq's entire Christian minorities of 2 million — who represent 5% of the 25 million Iraqis, are now out of the country altogether, refugees looking for a new home.

In Lebanon, the combination of Hezbollah and Syria have set their sight on cleansing that country of Maronite Christians and their other Western allies as a new civil war looms.

In the grand scheme of modern Middle East history, the entire concept behind the Arab and Muslim world's rejection of Israel is premised on Israel's identity as a "Jewish state." It is a rejection grounded within the notion of ethnic and religious cleansing. Now that Turkey has become an ascending democracy run by an Islamist party, it is imperative that Turkey signals its accord with the broader Western project of civil society and respect for minorities. That is why Turkey's friendship and its NATO affiliation should come second to its assumption of responsibility for past crimes against humanity. The future is a reflection and a continuation of the past.

Indeed, not only should Turkey issue its mea culpa to Armenian Christians, but move energetically to eliminate from its laws all discrimination against the Kurdish minority, their language, and full participation as Turks.

The American president, the State Department, and the Pentagon were short-sighted to oppose Congress on this Armenian issue just because we need Turkey as a transit point to Iraq. The whole idea of going to Iraq was to create long-term interests in stable, civil, multicultural societies across the greater Middle East.
# 40257
New Israeli ambassador to Turkey on the genocide issue: ‘lobbying has limits’
EJP Updated: 15/Oct/2007 17:16

Gabby Levy, new Israeli ambassador to Turkey.

ANKARA (EJP)---Emphasizing that Israel gives utmost importance to its relations with Turkey, Gabby Levy, the newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Turkey said that Israel has done everything it could to stop the Armenian genocide resolution at the US Congress.

Born in Turkey and son of a Turkish Jewish family, Levy told Turkey’s English-language Today’s Zaman newspaper that the US government is also against the resolution and that it is wrong to blame the Jewish lobby in the United States.

A New York-based Jewish organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), recently reversed its long-time policy and said the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 "were indeed tantamount to genocide."

Levy said "lobbying has limits" and that the resolution is a result of US domestic politics.

He added that he did not believe the resolution’s passage would harm relations between Israel and Turkey in the long run and cited the invitation to Ankara of Hamas officials and the short-term crisis created by it as an example.

Gabby Levy was born in 1948 in an old neighborhood of Bergama, a tiny town in the Aegean region.

His Turkish-Jewish family migrated to Israel when Levy was four.

He still has a number of close relatives living in İzmir and Istanbul.

The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs last week approved a resolution calling the 1915 killings of Armenians genocide, despite White House warnings that it would do great harm to ties with NATO ally Turkey, a key supporter in the Iraq war.

The vote outraged the Turkish government which issued a statement stating that the "irresponsible" resolution was likely to endanger bilateral relations. Turkey rejects the Armenian claims and says the genocide issue should be tackled by historians.

Levy said Israel was pleased about Turkey’s role between his country and the Palestinians. "The Western countries send money to the Palestinians, but Turkey brings lasting solutions by establishing industrial areas," he said.
# 40258
From Times Online
October 11, 2007
From The Times archives: 'the Armenian massacres'
How The Times reported the story on Friday October 8, 1915
How The Times reported the massacre in 1915

A Correspondent

From The Times, Friday October 8, 1915




To one who remembers the rejoicings which welcomed the bloodless Turkish Revolution of 1908, the fraternization of Moslem and Christian, the confidence in a better future for the Armenians which survived even the Adana massacre of 1909, the story of the systematic persecution of the Armenians of Turkey is a bitter tale to tell. Talaat Bey and his extremist allies have out-Hamided Abdul Hamid. They have even shocked their German friends, thus attaining eminence in “frightfulness” to which the “Red Sultan” never soared.

When the Committee of Union and Progress finally decided to mobilize its forces against the Triple Entente, one of its first steps was to make an end of “all that nonsense about Armenian reforms,” as the Grand Vizier styled the latest reform scheme imposed by the Powers. One of the two European Inspectors-General, who were to watch over the Administration of the six Eastern Provinces of Turkey-in-Asia, had already set forth on his journey, greeted on his way by salaaming officials and escorted by respectful gendarmes. Then came the mobilization of the Turkish Army, and before he had even reached his destination he was bundled off, returning the Constantinople with a minimum of pomp and ceremony. At once occasional raids on Armenian villages began to be reported from the “Six Villayets”.

No massacre took place during the Turkish mobilization or the early stages of the Caucasus campaign. It was not until Enver Pasha’s Army had invaded Russian territory, and another Turkish force, composed in part of Kurdish irregulars, had invaded Azerbaijan, that massacres began. At Ardahan the Turkish regulars are said by the Russians to have killed 15 civilians during their brief occupation of the town, but their irregular allies and bands of Turkish fedais committed horrible crimes at Oity, Ardanush, Artum, and other places which they occupied, unchecked by the regulars. Armenians were thrown over cliffs, their women violated and abducted, their children frequently Islamised. The invasion of Azerbaijan was attended by similar excesses. The bulk of the Armenian population, after suffering great privations, escaped into Russian territory. According to Russian newspapers and American missionaries, over 2,000 were killed, often by order of Turkish Consuls, in North-West Persia. Kurdish tribesmen committed gruesome atrocities near Bayesid, and, when the worst of the winter was over, began to raid the Armenian villages near Van. The defeat of Sary Kamish, inflicted by an army which included many Armenians, had infuriated Enver’s ruthless temper. The systematic massacre of the 25,000 Armenians of the Bashkala district, of whom less than 10 per cent are said by Russian newspapers to have escaped slaughter or forced conversion, appears to have been ordered and carried out at this period.

The full description of the horrors that ensued along the frontier must be left to our Russian allies. Suffice it to say that late in April the Armenians in the Van district who had collected arms to defend themselves against the Kurds before the war were attacked by Kurds and Turkish gendarmes. In some places they were massacred; in others they more than held their own, and finally they captured the town of Van and took a bloody vengeance on their enemies. Early in May a Russo-Armenian army entered Van.


It is said by the Turks in their defence that the decision to deport the Eastern Armenians was only arrived at after the discovery of an Armenian plot in Constantinople and after the Van outbreak. But the Armenians executed in Constantinople in April were men of the Hintchak society who had been in prison for over a year, and the deportation or massacre of Armenians had begun at many places before the Van Armenians were criminal enough to help themselves. There can be no doubt that Enver, who has never shrunk from violent methods, approved of the policy that was adopted. Commanding officers in the provinces received orders in April and May authorising them to deport all individuals or families whose presence might be regarded as politically or militarily dangerous, and in the case of some of the Cilician Armenians, deportation had begun earlier. But Talaat, who was in all probability the chief mover in the expulsion of Greeks from Western Anatolia, who has never scrupled to lie to an Ambassador or to encourage pro-Turkish intrigue in the dominions of friendly Powers, is the chief author of these crimes. “I intend to prevent any talk of Armenian autonomy for 50 years” and “The Armenians are a…race; their disappearance would be no loss” are sayings attributed to him on excellent authority. He has had worthy supporters among the extremists of the Committee of Union and Progress, such as Mukhlis Bey, Carusso Effendi and his Jewish revolutionary supporters, Midhat Shukri and others, among officials such as the Valis of Diarbekr and Angora, and among the officers of gendarmerie, who, if one-tenth of the tales told by European and American refugees is true, have cast off all trace of the European training which French and British officers laboriously tried to instil in them and have too often become little better than licentious banditti.


Eastern Anatolia, Cilicia, and the Anti-Taurus region have been the scene of the worst cruelties on the part of the authorities and the population. In many cases the massacres were absolutely unprovoked. Thus at Marsovan, where there is an important American college, the authorities early in June ordered the Armenians to meet outside the town. They surrounded them there and the police and an armed mob killed, according to the Americans, 1,200 of the younger and more active Armenians whom the local Committee leaders and the gendarmerie most feared. The richer Armenians were allowed to avoid death by conversion to Islam, for which doubtful privilege they paid heavily. The poorer in some cases begged to be allowed to deny their faith and thus save their families, but as they had no money they were killed, or exiled. The younger women were distributed among the rabble. The rest of the community were driven across country to Northern Mesopotamia.

At Angora the Vali arrested the Armenian manager of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, who was sent away in a carriage and killed by the Vali’s orders some miles from the town. Mukhlis Bey, a prominent member of the Committee of Union and Progress, then produced an order from the Central Executive of the Committee ordering the slaughter of the most prominent Armenians whether Gregorian or Catholic. The order was served on the Military Commandant, who refused to obey it. Mukhlis then armed the rabble and 683 unarmed Armenians were killed. Many were Catholics, whose cruel fate is known to have aroused vigorous protests on the part of the Vatican.

At Bitlis and Mush a large number, according to some accounts 12,000 Armenians, many of them women, are reported to have been shot or drowned. At Sivas, Kaisari, and Diarbekr there were many executions, and several Armenian villages are reported completely wiped out. At Mosul the unhappy Armenians who were brought from the north in gangs were set upon by the mob. Many were killed and turks and Kurds came from as far as the Persian border to buy the women.

At Urfa, where the male Allied subjects formerly resident in Syria and one of two prisoners of war are now interned by Djemal Pasha’s orders, the first massacre took place in the third week of August. It was witnessed by the some of the Allied women and children who recently escaped from Syria. An English girl of 10 years of age saw an Armenian’s brains blown out and the bodies of women and children burnt with kerosene. Several smaller massacres followed the first outbreak, in which about 150 Armenians were killed. The military took no part in it, but left full freedom to the rabble, who slightly wounded several French prisoners who has been allowed to walk in the town. It is not surprising that the British, French, and Russian women who have escaped from Uría should express the liveliest apprehensions as to the fate of their menfolk prisoners in what is probably the most fanatical town in Turkey, and the scene of the burning of about 6,000 Armenians of both sexes in the Cathedral during the Hamidian massacres.

Related Links

* Turkey recalls its US envoy over 'genocide'

The massacred Armenians had mostly given up their arms in accordance with the advice of their clergy. At four widely separated places resistance was offered. At Shaban Karahissar in North-East Anatolia, the Armenians took up arms, held off the Turkish troops for some time, and were finally overwhelmed. Some 4,000 were believed to have been killed or sold – the fate of the women and children – at this place. At Kharput, on hearing of the intention of the authorities to deport them, the Armenians rose on June 3, and for a week held the town. They were then overpowered by troops with artillery, and were mostly killed. The outbreak at Zeitun seems to have taken place in March and to have been a very trivial affair. The Armenians of the town of Zeitun, though formerly a turbulent race, handed over the few insurgents to the Turks, hoping thus to be spared, but Fakhry Pasha, the author of the second Adana massacre, nevertheless killed a few of the townsmen on the spot, and may have drafted the rest into labour battalions. The women, children, and infirm were sent to Zor – described by a most competent authority as a “human dustbin” where they are reported to by dying in large numbers.

The Armenians of Jebel Musa were ordered to quit their homes late in July. Believing very naturally that the Turks proposed to make away with them, they rose in revolt to the number of 600. Though poorly provided with arms, they held out for a month against about 4,000 Turkish troops. Their losses were slight. Those of the Turks, who seem to have been troops of inferior quality, are said by refugees from Syria to have amounted to from 300 to 400. The fighting was ruthlessly waged. The Turks carried off some 20 Armenian women and children, and executed 2 prisoners before the Armenian position. The Armenians retaliated by executing a Turkish major, a notable who had plundered one of their villages, and other prisoners whom they took. Ammunition was running low early in September, and a massacre seemed inevitable when French warships and a British vessel arrived and took off the Armenians to the number of 4,000, mostly women and children.

It may be noted that the only massacres reported in the Arab countries – namely, north of Baghdad, where about 1,000 Armenians are said on Armenian authority to have been killed at the end of their long journey from the North; and at Kebusie, in the Homs district, where a body of 250 Armenian deportees were killed, forcibly converted or, in the case of the girls, sold – were committed by the military, apparently Turks and Kurds.


It remains to describe Talaat Bey’s methods in detail. Massacre was followed by a crueller system of persecution than Abdul Hamid ever invented. The Red Sultan’s abominations were seldom accompanied by the wholesale deportation of the survivors; the violation and abduction of women and the conversion of children, though sadly frequent in some places, were by no means general in the massacres of 1894-1896. Then the wild beast was allowed to run amok for 24 hours, and was then usually chained up.

In Talaat Bey’s campaign the preliminary massacre, which was sometimes omitted, was followed by the separation of the able-bodied men from their women folk. The former were drafted into labour battalions or simply disappeared. The women, children, and old men were next driven slowly across country. They were permitted to take no carts, baggage animals, or any large stock of provisions with them. They were shepherded from place to place by gendarmes, who violated some of the women, sold others, and robbed most. Infirm or aged folk, women great with child, and children were driven along till they dropped and died by the way. Gendarmes who returned to Alexandretta described with glee to Europeans how they robbed the fugitives. If these refused to give up their money their escort sometimes pushed them into streams or abandoned them in desolate places.

A European who witnessed the exodus of some of the Armenians of Cilicia says that most were footsore, all looked half starved, and no able-bodied man could be seen among them. At Osmanic on the road between Aleppo and Adana they were given only 8 hours’ notice by the town crier to make ready for their departure. The French and British refugees from Urfa saw the bodies of “hundreds” of women and children lying by the road and met another of these lamentable half-starved caravans. An American who accompanied a group of Armenian exiles from Malatia reports that the road to Urfa was marked all along its course by the bodies of those who had died. Travellers by the Anatolian Railway report that the hills near Bilejik Geive, and other stations in the hinterland of Brusa were crowded with Armenians from Brusa, Ismid, and other settlements near Constantinople, who had no shelter and were begging their bread. Large bodies of the exiles are said to have been simply led into the desert south of the Euphrates and left there to starve.

The policy which lost the Committee leaders Macedonia and is as old as King Tarquin, seems to have been revived by Talaat. Just who had been amnestied fell frequent victims to the bravi of the Committee, so now the Armenians who had cooperated most loyally with the Turkish Revolutionaries were among the first to feel the weight of Talaat’s hand.

Haladijian Effendi, ex-Minister of Public Works, was arrested in Constantinople after the discovery of an alleged Armenian plot, and in spite of his friendly relations with the Committee, of which he was a member, and his friendship with Talaat and Djavid Beys, was hurried into Anatolia, where he has disappeared. It is not known whether he is dead or alive. Garo Pasdermatjian, who took part in the attack on the Imperial Ottoman Bank in 1896, and was one of Talaat’s intimates, was also arrested. So were Vartkes, as popular a member of the Turkish Chamber of Deputies as Pasdermatjian, Aghnuni, the very able leader if the Dashnakist Society in Constantinople, Zohrab Effendi, M.P for Constantinople, an able but unpopular lawyer, who belonged to the Committee Party, Vartan Papazian, and other Armenians, several of whom were members of Parliament.

According to Armenian refugees from Syria, whose story is largely borne out by independent evidence, several of the prisoners arrived at Urfa in July. They were there entertained to dinner by the Chief of Police, who during the meal received a telegram from the Vali of Diarbekr bidding him send the prisoners to Diarbekr at once. They started before midnight, and early next morning were killed on the way by ‘brigands’. Zohrab is known to have met his fate there, and it is believed that Aghuni, Vartkes, Papazian and Pasdermatiijian died with him. Of Aghnuni’s death and that of Vartkes and Papazian there seems no doubt. A number of priests and at least one bishop wren reported executed by military courts.

Related Links

* Turkey recalls its US envoy over 'genocide'

Torture has been frequently used in the case of Armenian prisoners and suspects. The sale by Bird’s police of Armenian children of both sexes to the keepers of disorderly houses and Turks of bad moral character has provoked protest in Constantinople. The object of the conversion of children reported from some districts and the very general sale of women and girls appears to be political. Foreigners believe that Talaat has countenanced these crimes with the object of breaking up the strong social structure of the Armenian community in Turkey.

There are Turcophils who aver that the Armenians do not really object to such proceedings. One is reminded of a youthful and “highly well-born” traveller who, returning from Macedonia in the days of band warfare, reported as proof of Ottoman lenity that he had seen Slav girls dancing with Turkish irregulars. This cruel comedy had, of course, been arranged by an officer of gendarmerie, for the average Christian peasant girl in Macedonia would as soon dance with a Turk as an Anglo-Indian lady would consent to divert an Afghan with the danse du ventre. The belief that Armenians “do not mind” is a cruel falsehood. The Armenian woman of the country towns is nowadays often quite well educated and always strictly brought up, and her sufferings are doubtless as great as those of the average English or French farmer’s daughter would be were she subjected to similar cruelty.


The attempts of the American Ambassador to procure some alleviation of the lot of Armenians have thus far proved unsuccessful. Mr Morganthau, in the opinion of good observers, wasted too much diplomatic energy on behalf of the Zionists of Palestine, who were in no danger of massacre, to have any force to spare. Talaat and Bedri simply own that persecuting Armenians amuses them and turn a deaf ear to American pleadings. German and Austro-Hungarian residents in Turkey at first approved of the punishment of Armenian “traitors”, but the methods of the Turkish extremists have sickened even Prussian stomachs. True the Jewish Baron von Oppendeim, now in Syria, has been preaching massacre, and the German Consular officials al Aleppo and Alexandretta have followed suit, perhaps with the idea of planting German colonists in the void left b the disappearance of the Armenians when the war is over. But the German Government has grown nervous. On August 31 the German and Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors protested to the Grand Vizier against the massacre of Armenians and demanded a written communication to the effects that neither of the Government had any connexion with these crimes. Turkey has not, so far, given her Allies a certificate of unblemished character, and the bestowal of the Ordro pour la Mérite on Envor Pahsa by the Kaiser is not likely to give the impression that Germany is in earnest.

There has been some Turkish protests against these abominations. The Turks of Aintab refused to permit the exile of the local Armenians. One of the Turkish Provincial Governors-General, who name had best not be mentioned lest he be transferred to another post – or world – has saved many exiles from starvation. Rahmi Boy, the bold Vali of Smyrna who has treated the interned British and French residents of the town right well, has repeatedly protested to the Porto against these crimes and has refused to hand over suspected Armenians for trial. The Sheikh-ul-Islam has salved his conscience by a tardy resignation, and Djahid and Djavid Boys have uttered plaintive protests when it was too late. In a few days’ time Parliament will meet and Talaat and his colleagues will then explain and defend their Armenian policy to the House. One can imagine what line their defence will follow – the necessity of securing national unity at this critical hour, the importance of checking dangerous and unpatriotic agitation, the deplorable crimes committed by the Armenians, the sufferings of tortured Muslims under British and Russian rule, and much more rhetoric of this kind. One cannot, unfortunately, imagine the Chamber of Deputies refusing to vote the fullest confidence in Talaat and Enver. Massacres will probably cease and the Armenians to be left to starve quietly.
# 41006
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A EurasiaNet Partner Post from BBC Monitoring

An Armenian newspaper has cautioned the public against dramatizing the obvious postponement of a vote in the full US House of Representatives on a draft resolution recognizing mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman empire as genocide. The paper explained the postponement by the present state of US-Turkish relations where both sides are trying to reach a compromise in the context of a looming Turkish invasion of northern Iraq. The paper proposed waiting for an opportune time where the passage of the genocide resolution could be guaranteed in the US legislature. It also highlighted the long-term interests of parties involved in securing the ultimate approval of the resolution. The following is the text of an article by Vardan Grigoryan entitled "The vote postponement won’t be a tragedy" and published in the Armenian newspaper Hayots Ashkharh on 19 October:

The results of discussions between the US legislative and executive authorities in recent days suggest that the final approval of resolution 106 on the recognition of Armenian genocide in the US House of Representatives could be postponed for a while.

In our previous analyses we predicted the possibility of such developments and concluded that the moment of the resolution’s final approval should absolutely coincide with the developments in Iraq and, as a result of this, with the crisis period in worsening Turkey-US relations. It was clear from the beginning that by the vote in the Foreign Relations Committee [of the US House of Representatives] US legislators in fact did not satisfy the demands of the Armenian lobby, but took a preventive measure to restrain Turkey, which has amassed an army on Iraqi borders.

About a half-month break has been currently announced in the Turkey-US confrontation over northern Iraq. It is natural that under these conditions none of the sides will take steps that would aggravate the situation. Thus, it is not by chance that the number of those who are in favour of the soonest vote on resolution 106 on the recognition of Armenian genocide in the House of Representatives, is decreasing.

Does it mean that we should remain as euphoric we were as right after 10 October [the vote in the congressional committee] - waiting for the victory of the Armenian lobby, or on the opposite - claim that the Foreign Relations Committee’s approval of resolution 106 on the recognition of Armenian genocide does not benefit us in any way and that the US legislature has cheated the Armenian people yet again?

We believe that these two points of view circulating among us currently are limited and clearly biased. This could either inspire or dash the hopes of only those who believed up to the present time that the reason for our success is Armenians’ being a serious factor in global politics, and those who cannot abandon this point of view, or on the contrary those who absolutely deny the inevitable positive outcome of the approval of resolution 106.

Instead of being guided by these superficial and clearly politicized assessments, it is necessary to precisely calculate the convenient moment when it will be possible to achieve the approval of resolution 106 in the US House of Representatives. It is clear that the crisis in US-Turkey relations has objective reasons, which will not disappear even if the [Turkish] Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan visits US 100 times. In its turn, the demonstration of Ankara’s frank wish to move troops into northern Iraq is surely related not only to the intention to destroy PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] fighters.

Thus, the problem is whether Turkey, which is threatening a military invasion, will manage to postpone the implementation of Iraq’s federalization programme, already approved by the US Senate, and if yes, by what time? On the other hand, will the US, via creating a real threat of recognition of Armenian genocide, will manage to gradually accommodate the stubborn Turkey to the idea of implementating Iraq’s federalization programme and as its outcome the prospect of the establishment of an independent Kurdish state.

Temporary "ceasefires" are possible in Turkey-US relations in the nearest future, but they will inevitably be followed by a deeper crisis. Thus, from the point of view of the super task of ensuring the recognition of Armenian genocide there is no need today to be discontent or impatient. On the contrary - resolution 106 must be put to the vote when 100 per cent support is ensured for its approval in the House of Representatives.

It is clear that the forces which ensured the approval of resolution 106 on the recognition of Armenian genocide in Foreign Relations Committee of US House of Representatives - primarily, the Democratic Party - currently are somewhat cautious to take dramatic steps. They could benefit from the game started against the current administration. The US Jewish lobby and Israel, which are using it to lead things towards the establishment of a Kurdish state, have also found themselves in a beneficial situation. Thus, both of them need time to ensure a smooth change in US policy and implement the expected referendum on the issue of Kirkuk’s status.

Afterwards, when the inevitable new crisis of the US policy in Iraq takes place on one side and in Turkish-US relations on the other side, it will not be difficult for the Armenian side to again ensure a prevailing majority in House of Representatives for the final approval of resolution 106.

Editor’s Note: Source: Hayots Ashkharh, Yerevan, in Armenian 19 Oct 07, pp 1, 3
# 41009
There's a word for it: genocide

First published: Sunday, October 21, 2007

From almost the very beginning, the United States has been clear about what happened to the Armenians living in Turkey during the First World War. But when Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, cabled the State Department in 1915 that "a campaign of race extermination" was being inflicted on the Armenian minority, there was no epitomizing word to describe the atrocity that was to take 1.5 million lives.

It wasn't until a relentless advocate, Raphael Lemkin, invented a name for it in 1944 -- a name now embodied in the official lexicon of the United Nations and the world's governments, as well as among ordinary people. The name Lemkin came up with, and tirelessly lobbied the United Nations to formally adopt, was genocide.

Lemkin's extended family had perished in Hitler's extermination campaign only a few years earlier, and he hoped that the descriptive name would help to prevent future ones. It did not, as demonstrated by what befell Europe's Jews and arguably Asia's Cambodians and Africa's Darfurians.

From 1915 onward, the U.S. government in one form or another of congressional actions or in presidential statements, has cited the fate of those Armenians who were deported in a death march by the Turks as dangerous to the war then being waged. Many officials, including President Ronald Reagan, had no problem with using the word genocide.

However, when a committee of the House of Representatives made the latest effort in a series for the U.S. "to accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide," Realpolitik intruded to block the nonbinding resolution as it had thwarted past efforts.

In an Op-Ed piece in Friday's Wall Street Journal, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, accurately wrote that "Turkey and the U.S. have been friends, partners and allies for decades." Turkey today indeed is not the country it was under the Ottomans. It is the most democratic and moderate Muslim country, plays a stabilizing role in the volatile Middle East and is the supply lifeline for American troops in Iraq.

All that was being put at risk by the congressional action "that is acutely offensive and unjust to Turks," the prime minister wrote.

Even today, Turkey officially describes what happened in 1915 as a tragedy, but one that also took many Turkish lives. The documentation of the slaughter of the Armenians is voluminous, including some from Germany, Turkey's World War I ally. There is little if any support of the prime minister's invocation of Turkish suffering at the hands of a beleaguered Armenian community.

Ninety years later that is where the problem resides and the issue festers. Even modern Turkey, a much more democratic and less corrupt regime than in the neighboring Republic of Armenia, is not willing to acknowledge its own history, although at first there were some limited efforts to punish some officials held responsible for the genocide.

The House resolution could not have been to make crystal clear the United States' position on the Armenian genocide. That has been done throughout the years. What the stalled resolution more likely was aimed at was to encourage Turkey to face up to the terrible actions in its past.

Perhaps even in failure the resolution might serve this purpose, helping the present rulers to better understand the burden their country's past exacts to this day. In contrast, contemporary Germany has confronted the horrors of its past, acknowledging the murder of 6 million Jews and others, and is the better for it today within its own borders and among the nations of the world.

There are elements in Turkey working to open their society up to modify the norms that continue to be a stumbling block in their country's efforts to join the European Union. As for the U.S., it has reciprocated the Turkish commitment to the alliance with encouragement and support, going to far as to block the congressional resolutions.

This controversy probably will simmer down as others like it have in days past. But it will reappear time and again, through the efforts of Armenians scattered around the world who can never forget what happened to their forbearers and who will find support among people of conscience.

The resolution stated that it "will help to prevent future genocides." Experience tells us that it will always take more than words, but that words can have inherent power and influence, as witness Lemkin's coinage.

Harry Rosenfeld is editor-at-large of the Times Union. He can be reached at 454-5450 or by e-mail at
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