19 October 2006

1149) Letter to Las Vegas Mayor Protesting the City's Decision to Erect an "Armenian Genocide Memorial" in Centennial Plaza

October 16, 2006 . . . .

ATAA President’s Letter to Las Vegas Mayor Protesting the City’s Decision to Erect an “Armenian Genocide Memorial” in Centennial Plaza

Dear Mayor Goodman,

On behalf of more than half a million Americans of Turkish heritage, represented through 57 component associations under our umbrella, I must protest the ill-advised decision by you and/or your city councils to dedicate land for an "alleged" Armenian Genocide Memorial in Centennial Plaza in downtown Las Vegas.

More than 69 historians and experts who dedicated their lives to researching the subject have concluded in a public statement published in New York Times and Washington Post on May 19, 1985 that the Turkish-Armenian conflict of World War One could not be characterized as genocide, as the current research pointed to an inter-communal warfare (1). Most recently, another known historian Guenter Lewy, published a detailed study, also disputing the characterization of the tragic events where both Turks and Armenians suffered as genocide. (2)

The term genocide is also not supported by legal considerations, as the "intent" was never proven. No competent court of law has ever tried and convicted Turks of this heinous crime, except partisan scholars, diplomats, journalists, and politicians. I am sure you would agree, Mr. Mayor, that conviction without due process boils down to lynching. I would submit to you and your Armenian supporters (like Tarkanian) the need to either produce a court document legitimizing their partisan charges of genocide or abandon this monument projects that represents little more than lynching.(3)

Last but not least, this lynch-monument is a deliberate insult to 2.5 million Turkish dead (over half million of them at the hands of Armenian militias) during WWI as well as to more than 70 innocent victims of Armenian terrorism in our midst since 1973. (4)

While we do not wish to minimize Armenian suffering during WWI, we also feel that Turkish suffering at the hands of Armenians must also be honored, if values like truth, honesty, and fairness are to be cherished.

Sorting out complex history of a century ago in a faraway country is hardly the task suited best for politicians. We must turn to historians, scholars, and researchers for that. (5). Erecting partisan monuments do not help world peace; it only aggravates the division and polarization in our society.

We would not oppose if Armenians wanted to recognize Armenian losses by calling their memorial a "war memorial." The moment the term "genocide" is used without historical substantiation and legal verdict by a competent tribunal, then, a line is clearly crossed. Call it partisanship, or selective morality, or religious discrimination, or bias against Turks, or anything else you wish; such behavior does not help peace and harmony among the Armenians and Turks.

It was a terrible human tragedy that victimized all the people of the area, without discriminating on the basis of ethnicity or religion. Just like Armenians, all members of our community had lost loved ones in that terrible war. The hurt is painful enough without politicians fanning the flames of hatred with partisan memorials.

Please abandon this ill-advised monument dedicated to a bogus genocide and save Las Vegas from this future shame.

Mr. Mayor, don't you think you should strive to give peace and harmony a chance?


Vural Cengiz
Washington, DC


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