- Israel's Decision To Discuss Armenian Genocide Was Quite Predictable
- 12-Vote Armenian Genocide Surprise in Israeli Parliament Knesset
- Sydney & Melbourne Photo Exhibition & Peter Balakian Armenian Genocide Lectures Noyan Tapan
- Peaceful Resolution Of Caucasus Conflicts Discussed In Istanbul
- Ankara Hopes Serge Sargsyan Will Help Open A New Page In Armenian-Turkish Relations
- Justice For All by Andrew Finkel
- “I’m Officially Declaring That - We Have No Justice” Vahe Sarukhanyan
- Open Letter from the Wives, Mothers, and Sisters of Victims of Political Persecution
- Genocide Of Yezidi People In Osmanian Turkey Carried Out In 1915-1918
- San Francisco Jewish Organizations Stand For Armenian Genocide Recognition
- An Interview with Hilmar Kaiser By Khatchig Mouradian
- Accession of Genocide Denying Turkey In EU Would Be Equal To Holocaust Denial
- Letter to the Editor: HETQ.AM
- Turkish Ruling Party Cracks Down On Free Press by Michael Rubin Turkey: What Difference Does The Latest Foundations Law Make? By Dr. Otmar Oehring
- Turkey Urgently Needs Peace Journalism!
- Trabzon Gendarmerie Knew of Dink Murder Plans!
- The View From Air Force Two Andrew Finkel
- Colored Revolutions and the Political Turmoil in Armenia by Rovshan Ibrahimov
- Turkish "Aksion" Periodical Encouraged By Petrosian's Return To Politics AZG
- Karabagh Resolution Of The United Nations General AssemblyÖmer Engin LÜTEM
- The Caucasus Canopy by Dogu Ergil
- The Armenian Mirror-Spectator: Un Decision Important Weapon For Reaching International Recognition For Armenian Genocide by Noyan Tapan
- An urgent call to support the silent protest in Yerevan by HETQ.AM
- A Levon Ter-Petrosyan Campaign Official is Sentenced to 7 Years Imprisonment by K.T. HETQ.AM
- They Were Brutally Beaten by Lena Nazaryan - HETQ.AM
- Developments in Armenia After March 1st by Ararat Davtyan - HETQ.AM
- The “Shameless Lie” Becomes a Reality by Ararat Davtyan - HETQ.AM
- March 1st - The Testimony of an Eyewitness by Ararat Davtyan - HETQ.AM
- Turkey-Armenia Opposition Ideological by Panarmenian
- Turkish Cartoon: "Democracy Cannot Enter The Turkish State! There is Shari'a"
- Turkish MP: “Detentions, Sound Of The Footsteps Of The Coming Shari’a”
- A Yes,ilçam Star Fades Away by Vercihan Zifliog(lu
- Veteran Actor-Director Kenan Pars Laid To Rest
- Our Turkish Trial Site Post on Kenan Pars Had Over 68.000 Hits in 4 days
- Turkish Prof: PKK & ASALA Terrorist Organizations Work Together Against Turkey & Azerbaijan
- Armenia Should Recognize Karabakh Independence PanArmenian
- U.S. May Suspend Millennium Challenge Account PanArmenian
- Prof Justin McCarthy Denies Armenian Genocide Claims
- Decision Of The Armenian Constitutional CourtLutem
- Better Late Than Never
- Why Do Armenian Genocide Allegations Outrage Turkish Public?
- PACE Observer: Ankara Wants Armenia Tensions To Ease PanArmenian
- In Armenia, Blogs Step In As News Source
- US Sharply Condemns Armenian Government AP
- Dink Lawyers To Take Case Against Police To European Court
- Three Conditions For Armenia On The Borders
- The Armenians, Who Are Treated As Puppets
- Amnesty International: 2007 A “Lost Year” for Turkey BIA
- Photographs Unravel Turkey's Ethnic Tapestry By Sabrina Tavernise
- US Report Condemns Increase in Torture and Self-Censorship in Journalism
- The ICJ And The Armenian Genocide Dispute by Cenap Çakmak*
- A Legendary City Of Armenia Vercihan Ziflioglu,
- Bringing Armenian Lecturers To Turkish Universities
- Imprudent Journalism, Or What Ankara, Appo, Ashot And Other Have In CommonNoyan Tapan
- Kocharian: There Are Four Scenarios For Development Of Armenia Domestic Situation
- Turkish-Armenian Relations And The European Union by Ali Yurttagül
- Armenia, A Neighbor Behind Closed Borders Vercihan Ziflioglu
- Tour Of Friendship From Turkish, Armenian Musicians Hurriyet
- Repentance For Armenian Genocide Perpetration Will Do Good To Turkish Society /PanARMENIAN.Net
- Dark Days in Armenia Editorial, New York Times
- Armenia: The United States Is Muted On The Armenian Political CrisisBy Joshua Kucera
- Silence On Armenia By Levon Ter-Petrossian Washington Post
- The Mentality That Killed Hrant Dink by Mehmet Ali Birand
- Armenian Navy Band Plays Avant-Garde Folk
- Human Rights Defenders Position On The Existing Situation In The Country - Hetq.am
Israel's Decision To Discuss Armenian Genocide Was Quite Predictable
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Israeli-Turkish relations leave much to be desired in recent times. In this view, Knesset's decision to discuss the Armenian Genocide issue was quite predictable, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the RA Academy of Sciences, Dr Ruben Safrastyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
"With Islamists coming to power, Turkey is experiencing reconsideration of the Middle East policy, especially relations with Israel," he said.
"The crack in relations emerged in 2006, during the Israeli-Lebanese collisions. The initiative of Israeli MPs might be also linked to the activity of the Jewish organizations in the United States. Even if Knesset votes the motion down, it will do good. The more people speak about the necessity to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the better."
On March 26, the Knesset decided that a parliamentary committee will discuss whether to recognize the World War I-era mass murder of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as Genocide.
12-vote Armenian Genocide Surprise in Israeli Knesset
FULYA ÖZERKAN, ANKARA - Turkish Daily News, March 28, 2008
Turkey engages in diplomatic efforts with the Israeli government and the Foreign Ministry to block the genocide initiative, and is assured that the motion will die in the Israeli panel before reaching the full parliament floor
The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, decided Wednesday to hold an unprecedented debate over the killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, confirmed an Israeli diplomat.
The move was led by Israel's left wing Meretz leader, Haim Oron, who calls for the Jewish state's recognition of Armenian genocide allegations. The parliamentary debate will first take place in the Knesset's education or foreign affairs and defense committee and later may be forwarded to the General Assembly for a final vote.
“It is not a decision of the Israeli government. The policy and the attitude of the government and the state of Israel toward this issue remain as it is: Israel thinks it is the job of historians to determine exactly what happened in the past between the Turks and Armenians,” the Israeli diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity told the Turkish Daily News.
Although the members of the left wing party come up with similar motions every year ahead of April 24, the day of commemoration of Armenian deaths, it is the first time that the genocide claims will be opened to debate in an Israeli parliamentary committee.
“In the committee, the government of Israel is going to use its power and vote according to its policy,” said the diplomat.
The vote will not be on the recognition or non-recognition of the genocide claims but on whether it will be discussed in the General Assembly, he noted. “It is all preliminary discussions about a possible decision.”
Turkey assured motion will die
Turkey described the move a “fait accompli” that came at a time when only 12 lawmakers were present in the 122-seat Knesset. Among them only one deputy – Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon – was representing the Israeli government, learnt the TDN.
Simhon explained the Israeli position during the session and said Israel is not interested in taking a side but he did not oppose the proposal considering his objection would not change the result given the other 11 in favor.
Turkey engaged in diplomatic efforts both at the level of the Israeli government and the Israeli Foreign Ministry to bloc the initiative.
“We were assured [by Israel] that the motion will die in the committee before reaching the Assembly floor,” said a Turkish diplomat. “Israel is fully aware that relations will be seriously harmed otherwise.”
The Israeli diplomat emphasized that Israel understood the sensitivity of Turkey on the Armenian question and reiterated that the Israeli government would “walk according to its lines and also convince members of the Knesset to vote down the motion.”
“The Turkish government and the Foreign Ministry know very well the position of the Israeli government,” he said.
There are 5,000 Armenians living in Israel. The Armenian diaspora has been lobbying for the recognition of genocide claims by the parliaments of the countries where Armenians reside. A number of parliaments have so far passed genocide resolutions. Turkey believes it is an issue that should be decided not by politicians but historians and calls for a joint committee with Armenia to study the allegations, a proposal that has not received a response from Yerevan.
Sydney & Melbourne Photo Exhibition & Peter Balakian Armenian Genocide Lectures Noyan Tapan, March 25, 2008
The Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies organizes a photo exhibition on Australia's relief effort to save the survivors of the Armenian Genocide (1915 to 1929). As the informant of the "Hye Hoki" of Sydney reports, the photo exhibition will take place in the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts (SMSA) on April 21.
American Armenian prominent author Peter Balakian is the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee's (which is operating in Australia) (AGCC) special guest speaker for this year's Armenian Genocide Commemorative events.
As the "Hye Hoki" informant of Sydney reports, Professor Balakian will be in Australia for two weeks, lecturing and speaking in Sydney and Melbourne about the Armenian Genocide. He is the keynote speaker of the Sydney Armenian Genocide Commemoration, which will be held at the University of Technologies of Sydney (UTS) Greenhalgh Theatre on April 20. Prof.
Balakian is the author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response (2003), which received the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize (best book in English on the subject of human rights and genocide) and was a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times bestseller.
Peaceful Resolution Of Caucasus Conflicts Discussed In Istanbul
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ With assistance of European states, representatives of Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations met in Istanbul to discuss possibilities of peaceful settlement of conflicts in the Caucasus.
The purpose of the conference is to prepare publics for peace.
The other two gatherings will be held in Istanbul in June and September, IA Regnum reports.
Ankara Hopes Serge Sargsyan Will Help Open A New Page In Armenian-Turkish Relations
Ankara hopes that Armenian President-Elect Serge Sargsyan "will help to open a new page in the relations between Armenia and Turkey," Turkish Ambassador to Russia Kurtulush Tashkent said, Mediamax reports.
"Looking into future, we hope that Mr. Sargsyan will be a realist politician and will take steps to expel the reasons that hinder the normalization of relations with Turkey. We are neighbor countries and will remain such. That is why the development of normal relations meets the political interests of our countries. We hope that Mr. Sargsyan will help us to open a new page in the relations between Turkey and Armenia. We also hope that during Mr. Sargsyan's presidency Armenia will end its occupation of Azerbaijan and the given issue will be solved in a peaceful way and on the basis of international law," Kurtulush Tashkent declared.
"Unfortunately, Armenia is the only country in the CIS we have no diplomatic relations with. The reason is that the Armenian Constitution and the Declaration of Independence include certain provisions, which make territorial claims on Turkey. The second reason is that Armenia is trying to do so that parliaments of third countries adopt decisions on the so-called Armenian Genocide. We refute any decision on the so-called Armenian Genocide. The Turkish leadership has suggested to create a joint commission featuring both Armenian and Turkish historians, as well as historians from third countries, if necessary. Let that commission study the Armenian archives, the Turkish archives and state what has happened in reality.
Turkey is not afraid of the truth. The third reason is that Armenia has occupied part of Azerbaijani territory," the Turkish diplomat said.
Justice For All by Andrew Finkel email@example.com
The legal writs and indictments are flying through the air like paper darts in a particularly unruly kindergarten class.
The chief prosecutor prepares a case to shut down the governing party. A week later, the police show up with Stasi-like timing at 4:30 a.m. to question the 80-something-year-old lead writer of the country's main opposition newspaper for purported involvement in a plot to overthrow the elected government. The Constitutional Court considers annulling a constitutional amendment that would allow headscarves to be worn in universities. A staunch opponent of headscarves and former rector of Istanbul University is detained over the weekend for his involvement in a criminal conspiracy that included the assassination of the Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink…
So thick is the atmosphere of bitterness and accusation that it has become difficult to decide whether we are witnessing the wheels of justice grinding slowly or the second act of some grotesque tale of revenge.
There is a long legal road ahead before the courts rule on the legality of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The first step (which seems probable) is that the Constitutional Court must agree to hear the case -- even though this would be in defiance of precedent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The government has the means at its disposal to escape from the threat that it violated the secular nature of the Constitution. It may or may not be able to change the Constitution retrospectively with yet another amendment to make it more difficult for the courts to convict. However, it can more easily change the penalty. To take an example, when the government abolished the death penalty, all those convicted of capital crimes -- including Abdullah Öcalan -- benefited from the lighter sentence. By lifting the sanction of party closure and the banning of convicted politicians from holding public office for five years, the government can convert the threat facing it into a souped-up parking fine.
This does not, however, alter the harm that has been done to the prestige of the Turkish legal system. That the criminal courts now stand accused in public opinion (if not convicted) of using their powers to extract retribution from the government's opponents only makes this crisis worse. Until the case has been made in court, it is hard to know how serious the charges are against a new wave of suspects in the Ergenekon investigation into a murderous conspiracy to destabilize the government. If the case against them is weak, then further damage to the majesty of the law will have been done.
On trial, one highly respected lawyer put to me, is the quality of Turkish democracy -- can the will of the people through their elected representative rule in accordance with respect for inalienable human rights, or is Turkey to be run by those whose only mandate is a belief that only they know best?
However this is not the only issue. Also at stake is the principle that "the best defense of one's own rights is the defense of others." A cursory look through the back issues of the papers reveals a whole series of trials in which justice is seen to be denied. The trial of two noncommissioned gendarmes accused of an act of political provocation in the Kurdish town of Semdinli -- the bombing of a bookstore in which one person died and several others were injured -- continues to be postponed, hearing after hearing. Is it entirely a coincidence that when police tried to break up a demonstration over the Nevruz holiday in the city of Van (the site of that trial), it escalated into an ugly confrontation?
Another trial, which did not even make most of the papers, was the sentencing to 10 months' imprisonment (now pending appeal) of Eren Keskin, founder of the "Legal Aid for Victims of Sexual Harassment and Rape Under Detention Project." Ms. Keskin, herself a lawyer, was tried for her contribution to a public discussion in Cologne, Germany. She was accused of insulting the military under Article 301 -- a law which the government refuses even to amend.
“I’m Officially Declaring That - We Have No Justice” Vahe Sarukhanyan March 24, 2008
Attorney Hovik Arsenyan is currently representing several opposition figures being sought by law-enforcement officials.
Q - Mr. Arsenyan, just how many individuals are you representing?
A - 15 in all. 5 of them had been detained regarding the events in Talin on January 27th. The authorities had presented the case as one of “hooliganism”, which in fact isn’t true. It appears that their aim was something totally different. My clients stated that they had been pursued for political reasons and that they were in fact political prisoners.
Mkrtich Sapeyan was the organizer of the Talin rally. As\such he was responsible for ensuring the safety of the crowds and to see that order was maintained. Naturally, he would have been responsible for any dissident or slanderous comments made during the rally. Sadly, they characterized what took place as hooliganism. From a criminal justice viewpoint the article of the law to be cited should have been selected on the basis of the results of what transpired. Essentially, they had Article 118, that dealt with ‘assault and bodily harm’, in mind. But since that Article didn’t allow for imprisonment they artificially brought forth Article 258 Section 3 in order to secure the imprisonment of members of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s campaign headquarters in Talin.
In addition to freedom fighter Mkrtich Sapeyan they imprisoned Zhora Sapeyan, who also fought for this country, and Tigran Baghdasaryan. Hayk Gevorgyan, a student was also arrested, as was Mkrtich’s teenaged son Antranik.
Q - How many of the 5 are still in jail?
Other than Tigran Baghdasaryan and Antranik Sapeyan, who were released, the others remain jailed. Their trail is scheduled for March 25th in the Aragadzodn Court. The machinations of the authorities were just the first phase of the intrigue. The second phase occurred on Election Day itself. Marzpetuni Ayvazyan, whom I’m defending, was a proxy of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s. On February 19th he was taken into custody at the polling station and later arrested. The person who arrested him was an official of the State Tax Service’s Investigations Division. It turns out that the Tax Service had suspicions that an illegal commercial deal had taken place and that they wished to conduct an investigation. They had contacted the police to inform Ayvazyan that he should appear as requested. No one ever assumed that on the day Ayvazyan appeared that the investigator would prepare papers for his arrest. On Election Day they tried to coax Ayvazyan out of the polling station. When this failed they resorted to more drastic measures, without taking my client’s rights into account. A person cannot be jailed solely on the suspicion that an illegal business deal took place. And indeed, the Court of First Instance rejected the intercession of the Chief Prosecutor regarding the arrest of Ayvazyan. Within 48 hours the Chief Prosecutor’s Office had again petitioned the Court of Appeals which then sustained the intercession for his arrest. This despite the fact that my client had a stable social situation, a permanent residence, was the sole breadwinner of the family and cared for many young kids and pupils. Mr. Ayvazyan participated and was wounded in the Artsakh Liberation War, for which he received many commendations. Let’s put all this aside for the moment. Just picture that on March 14th the Tax Service official decided to open a new investigation. In other words, they’re still not clear exactly what laws Ayvazyan might have violated and to what degree?
The case of Shota Saghatelyan is also connected to the elections. It is alleged that he prevented the elections committee at the 34/06 polling station from normally carrying out its duties. In the indictment it is noted that Saghatelyan forced his way into the station and caused a ruckus for about ten minutes. This is the allegation even though Saghatelyan was an official proxy there. The proxy already on the scene had telephoned Saghatelyan to say that ballot stuffing was taking place. My client drove to the spot to see for himself. He demanded that the Committee Secretary formally register his observations but they weren’t. This is how he ‘interrupted’ the normal workings of the Committee. He is now being detained at the Nubarashen jail.
On February 24th a special detachment of the Organized Crime Division stopped Smbat Ayvazyan’s car and forcibly took him to the 6th Police Precinct. It is noted in the police records that he was picked up on the suspicion of carrying firearms and munitions. They searched Ayvazyan and found a “Markarov” type pistol on his person for which he had a permanent police license to carry. Even though the gun charge turned out to be false Armenian Public TV continued to air photos of that revolver. Why? Their aim was to create an atmosphere of fear and to discredit both the movement and Ayvazyan. More perplexing was the fact that on the morning of the 24th Ayvazyan was taken into custody and later that evening he was transferred to the Central Police Station. He was taken there in handcuffs by three officers on the pretext that they suspected Ayvazyan of using drugs and that they needed to take some forensic samples. The police then concocted a story that Ayvazyan resisted and threatened the police in the car on the way back. The man had been illegally held for some 12 hours and the police were claiming that he resisted and wouldn’t submit to their legal demands. This was the absurd basis on which the police fabricated a criminal case against Ayvazyan who remains locked up in the Vardashen Prison.
The Investigations Unit of the Central Police is handling Smbat Ayvazyan’s case. However, when I visited Vardashen Prison to see him they showed my a document stating that on March 12th the Chief Prosecutor’s Special Investigative Agency had barred all visits and telephone conversations. But what was the role of the Special Agency in this affair given that it was reviewing the events of March 1st and 2nd? Ayvazyan had been taken into custody much earlier, on February 24th. Basically, the two cases were being illegally linked together. My fear that another travesty of the law was about to take place was well founded given that rather than the rule of law being observed it was the rule of political will and political whim that was primary. I couldn’t rule out the possibility that Smbat Ayvazyan, just like Suren Surenyan, would also be charged with violating Article 300 of the Criminal Code.
Surenyan, who had been arrested on February 26th, was charged with organizing illegal rallies on February 24th and the 25th and for making public calls of ‘struggle, struggle till the end’. He was charged with Article 225 of the Criminal Code and the court ruled in favor of detaining him even though the law in question doesn’t call for it. As\soon as his 20-day detention ended the Special Investigative Agency placed his case file within the criminal docket of the March 1st-2nd events and charged him with Articles 300 and 225. In essence, the authorities are claiming that even though Surenyan was in detention at the time he still seized government power, organized rallies and incited disorder. Such balderdash. Presently, Suren Surenyan is serving out a two-month sentence at Nubarashen prison.
There were arrests after March 1st as well
Right now I’m also defending Karapet Rubinyan, Alexandre Arzumanyan, Norayr Norikyan and Khachatur Simonyan. All have been charged with Article 300 Section 1 of the Criminal Code and Article 225 Sections 2 and 3. It is claimed that they usurped government authority and incited and organized mass public disorder. These are the charges despite the fact that their homes had been searched and nothing to substantiate those charges was found. They couldn’t even turn up any tangible evidence on which to arrest them.
What has happened is that lists of those to be arrested and the charges to be levied have been drawn up. These individuals are the ones with clear political viewpoints and principles, members of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s campaign headquarters or his proxies. These are the true reasons for the political witch-hunts being pursued. These people have been taken into custody according to a premeditated plan of action on the pretext that they have violated this or that criminal code. All these individuals have done is to exercise their right to voice their political opinions, which is their constitutional right. Naturally, all of my clients have refused to offer any kind of testimony and have declared that the criminal charges against them are fabricated and that, indeed, they are essentially political prisoners.
Another particular manifestation of this entire farce involves Aleksan Vardanyan, a resident of the village of Ararat. For 50 years he had been a close neighbor of Vazgen Sargsyan and now he’s on good terms with Aram Sargsyan. The Ararat Regional Police took him into custody on March 2nd and on the evening of the following day they transferred him to the National Security Service’s Investigations Division. They arrested him on the basis of Article 300 and later charged him with Article 225, Section 2. Mr. Vardanyan is now incarcerated in the Nubarashen Prison.
The fact remains that Mr. Vardanyan was at home on the night of February 29th and the early morning of the next day, March 1st. He didn’t leave his house all that day. He gave evidence to the fact that he wasn’t in Yerevan at the time but as yet this hasn’t been looked into. Mr. Vardanyan suffers from diabetes and was recently released from the hospital after experiencing a stroke.
Another person I am defending is Gagik Hovhannisyan, the Deputy Director of the Vardashen Prison. The allegation is that in September of last year Mr. Hovhannisyan, along with two other prison officials, exercised physical force against a certain inmate. Amazingly, they are just getting around to arrest him for an incident that allegedly happened six months ago. They approached his father, General Hamlet Hovhannisyan, a person who has held the post of Deputy to the Chief of Internal Forces and an Administrative Director of the Police Force, with the following proposition - Publicly declare your support for Serzh Sargsyan’s nomination and we’ll let your son go. General Hovhannisyan stuck to his principles and refused the overture. As a result his son, Gagik, was arrested and is now locked-up in the Yerevan Central Prison. The other two Vardashen Prison officials who supposedly participated in the mistreating of the inmate are still at their old jobs.
These are just some examples of the conspiracies and plots that abound. As an attorney, I can state without reservation that we do not have courts or juridical justice and thus, neither do we have a working legal profession.
Copyright © 2002-2008 Hetq Online
Open Letter from the Wives, Mothers, and Sisters of Victims of Political Persecution in Connection with the 2008 Armenian Presidential Election, March 24, 2008
We are writing this letter as the wives, mothers, and sisters of those citizens of the Republic of Armenia who have been subjected to illegal measures by the authorities in connection with the February 19, 2008 presidential election, during the pre-election process, at the time of the election, and in the days since then.
These measures include violence, brutality, kidnapping, unlawful detention, home searches without any legal justification accompanied by extensive damage to property, and the arrests of our husbands, sons, and brothers, almost all on similar charges: “Criminal actions against the state with the aim of overthrowing the government.”
We believe that these arrests have been purely political in nature, given that the detainees are members of political parties, proxies of opposition candidates, or participants in the peaceful demonstrations held by the democratic opposition.
The measures taken by the authorities are in contradiction to national law and are incompatible with international norms and obligations undertaken by the Armenian Government. They are acts of political persecution aimed at destroying democratic opposition, and as such represent a gross violation of human rights.
We call upon the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United States of America to organize an independent and impartial investigation of all of the cases connected with the February 19 presidential election, including both the killing of innocent people and the arrests of our family members. Finally, we note with alarm that these arrests are continuing to this day.
With respect and in hope of support,
Wife of Alexander Arzoumanian, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, former Representative to the United Nations, director of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 10, 2008.
Wife of Nikol Pashinyan, Editor-in Chief of Haykakan Zhamanak, representative of the Aylantrank Civil Initiative, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.
Wife of Grigor Voskerchyan, former deputy head of the National Security Service, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Abovyan Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 8, 2008.
Wife of Suren Surenyants, Republic Party board member, arrested on February 25, 2008.
Mother of Karapet Rubinyan, former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, former Chief of Staff of the President, deputy head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Shengavit District Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008
Wife of Ashot Manukyan, head of the Armenian National Movement Lori branch, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Lori Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Sasun Mikaelyan, National Assembly Deputy, member of the Spirit Challenge NGO, arrested on March 12, 2008.
Wife of Grigor Harutyunyan, political secretary of the People’s Party of Armenia, in hiding since March 1, 2008.
Wife of Masis Ayvazyan, Armenian National Movement board member, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Mushegh Saghatelyan, member of the Spirit Challenge NGO, former head of the Interior Ministry Detention Center Department, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Ani Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Aram Sargsyan, Chairman of the Republic Party, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.
Wife of Hovhannes Ghazaryan, Armenian National Movement board member, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Aram Manukyan, Armenian National Movement board member, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Arabkir District Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.
Wife of Smbat Ayvazyan, Republic Party board member, former Minister of State Income, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on February 24, 2008.
Wife of Davit Matevosyan, former Meghri Police Chief, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Gagik Jhangiryan, former Deputy Prosecutor General, former Military Prosecutor, arrested on February 23, 2008.
Wife of Levik Khachatryan, Armenian National Movement board member, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Vahagn Hayotsyan, Armenian National Movement executive secretary, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Khachatur Sukiasyan, National Assembly Deputy, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Yerevan Campaign Headquarters, in hiding since March 1, 2008.
Mother of Aram Karapetyan, Chairman of the New Times Party, arrested on February 24, 2008.
Wife of Davit Arakelyan, head of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Kentron District Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 1, 2008.
Wife of Ararat Zurabyan, Chairman of the Armenian National Movement, former Head of the Kentron District Administration, member of the Levon Ter-Petrossian Central Campaign Headquarters, arrested on March 10, 2008.
Wife of Yerjanik Abgaryan, Armenian National Movement board member, former head of RA Customs Service, Levon Ter-Petrossian Campaign Headquarters regional coordinator, arrested on March 3, 2008.
March 18, 2008, Copyright © 2002-2008 Hetq Online
March 14, 2008
On March 2, following the day of announcing a state of emergency in Yerevan, the employees of National Security Service (NSS) visited editorial offices of newspapers and presented a short letter, without a signature and a seal, warning that the activities of newspapers would be suspended if the newspaper publications contained information that was different from the official information. On the same night, the materials of newspapers taken to the printing house were checked in detail by NSS employees, and there was a verbal instruction to prohibit the printing.
Taking into consideration that the information called official is at least one-sided and does not reflect the whole picture, being continuously broadcast by about a dozen TV channels, certain newspapers simply decided not to get published, and the others turned up in a forced idle time.
This becomes a basis for us to announce that the RA authorities have just prohibited the activities of the media that are undesirable for them, especially when the demand to publish exclusively official information has not in the least concerned “their own” media that are being published in the conditions of state of emergency.
To make the information terror complete, Internet web sites have also been blocked. Moreover, advertising is being broadcast instead of the CNN and Euronews newscasts covering the events in Armenia. The broadcasting of Liberty radio station was totally suspended.
We announce that all these things not only do not contribute to toning down the tension existing in the public but also deepen the atmosphere of hatred and hostility. The overwhelming majority of the media spreading information that is called official and, especially, the press speakers with their aggression just contribute to igniting unhealthy moods and deepening the mistrust in the government.
In the created situation, our constitutional right to spread and receive information has been violated; the universally-acknowledged principles of freedom of speech and the press freedom have been infringed; the media sustain material losses; censorship is being implemented in Armenia, and our country has turned up in a complete informational blockade.
Aravot daily newspaper editor-in-chief
Yerevan Press Club president
Zhamanak Yerevan daily newspaper editor-in-chief
Internews managing director
Haykakan Zhamanak daily newspaper deputy editor-in-chief
Hayk daily newspaper editor-in-chief
Lragir web site editor-in-chief
168 Zham newspaper editor-in-chief
Hetk online newspaper editor-in-chief
Hraparak daily newspaper editor-in-chief
Chorrord Ishkhanutyun newspaper editor-in-chief
Taregir newspaper editor-in-chief
ArmeniaNow online magazine editor
Copyright © 2002-2008 Hetq Online.
Genocide Of Yezidi People In Osmanian Turkey Carried Out In 1915-1918
DeFacto Agency, Armenia March 24 2008
Bill of complaint
To the U. N.,
U. S. President
President of the Russian Federation
U. K. PM
Federal Chancellor of Germany
President of France
President of Turkey
President of Iraq
In 1915-1918 the upper circles of the Osmanian Empire, taking advantage of the conditions of the World War, organized and realized the genocide of Turkey's national minorities. During a few years the Osmanian Empire actually completely slaughtered the native peoples of the country: Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks. Nowadays the world is aware of numerous facts and details of these terrible atrocities committed by Turkey's authorities endowed with state power. The world's most progressive countries condemned the Armenian Genocide in the Osmanian Empire on the state level and mark mournful data of the Genocide's beginning together with Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians.
However, Yezidis, a distinctive and native nation on the territory of the Osmanian Empire, are actually never mentioned in this sorrowful list of peoples destroyed by Turks. Meanwhile, even an incomplete list of settlements of Yezdistan (a territory in the north of Iraq), where Turkish vandals slaughtered Yezidis, is quite and quite impressive. According to the territorial regions, the picture of those killed is as follows:
1. Iraq, the territory of Yezdistan, Sinjar, Sinoun, Gobal, Dgour, Gali Ali Bage, Dhok, Zorava, Karse and Bare, Siba, Tlizer, Tlzafe, Khrbade Kavala, Grzark, Rmbousi, Sharok, Tlkazab, Tlbanta, Kocho, Khotmi, Mosoul, Rndavan, Amadia. Over 200,000 Yezidis were slaughtered in the above-mentioned settlements.
2. Western Armenia, Van province: about 100,000 Yezidis were killed in the Khanasori field and surrounding villages: Avagh, Akhourik, Angouzak, Anzava, Ajali, Srchak, Begrib, Havasi, Bejarmo, Bertis, Giadin, Gondurma, Zeva, Derjamada Zherin, Derjamada Zhorin, Duavan, Ghndi, Erjis (Archesh), Tondurak, Khachan, Khojaghshlagh, Khasamiajn, Kujapnar, Karakale, Kirato, Kolzot, Kjucheq qej, Mervane, Mollahasan, Muchs, Muradin, Jarmka, Noshar, Shahmanis, Sherefkhane, Shikefti, Chaldran, Chragh, Chibukhchlu, Pshikumbat, Janik, Saraj, Simar (Timar), Uste, Orene, etc. About 100,000 Yezidis were killed.
3. Moush province (Kavane qere), the provinces of Avakhe, Diarbeqir (Dashta Bsheri), Mardini Khazalie (Kharza), Jgire. Azka Zherin, Azka Zhorin, Alka, Bazidane, Basmute, Bakhms, Berkle, Galie Zilan, Geduke, Dusha, Ered, Zakhorae, Zeik, Zerine, Khnus, Kakharine, Kavrozje, Koboldor, Korkhe, Tchneria, Yaduna, Yajre, Yasktiva, Majmunie, Shmze, Shkavta, Jnaskar, Rame, Frkira, etc. About 60, 000 Yezidis were killed.
4. Erzroum province (Bayazet-Alashkert province), Ortla, Diadin, etc. About 7,500 Yezidis were killed.
5. Kars province: about 5,000 Yezidis were killed in the Ozrlu (Oghuzlu), Alajay canyon of the Kars province.
6. About 3,000 Yezidis were killed in the Kakizmani Kolpe (Koghb) settlement of the Kaghzvan province, the region of Kars.
7. In Digor province, the region of Kars, other villages: Alashgr, Alashkert, Amankoyi, Amanchayir, Aylasinjo, Aqar, Bayramqoum, Bajali, Bashqedikver, Belihamed, Gogormas, Digor (Tekor), Douzgeli, Tokhubur, Kharaba, Digor Khataba Tchibukhl, Kjundo, Hasanjan, Noka, Shandrkhghli, Sousoul, Tashnika, Yezdika, Touzak, Ulikand, Pasharjik, etc. 9, 000 Yezidis from about 70 villages were forcedly converted to Islam.
8. The region of Sourmalu, Igdir province: Kharfalu, Alchalu, Aslanlu, Bandamourad, Bash Sinak, Gli, Gyarmashve, Damskhan, Zaribkhan, Zore, Khane, Khrbesor, Karakhtin, Karaku, Kutch, Makhsudja, Majri, Shekheri, Sayiblakh, Taoushan, Tashkorpi, Kalo, etc. About 10,000 Yezidis were killed.
9. In 1918, while crossing the Arpachai (Akhurian) and Arax rivers about 4, 000 Yezidis drowned and starved to death.
10. The region of Aparan, Eastern Armenia: in the vicinity of the villages of Alagyaz, Doundaghsaz, Ghuruboghaz and Jarjaris Yezidis were killed by the bands of Kjandale bash and Navala ajale Kurd Prince Tajo: in 1918 about 800 people were killed, only 19 of which were from the family of Rashiteh Ayoy. 54 people were killed in the village of Amre Taza (Posht) of the same region.
11. Kurd prince Tajo expelled about 600 people from other villages of the same region to Turkey's distant regions.
12. 24 people, one of which was a woman, were killed in the region of Grasor, situated in the vicinity of the Shamiram village, Ashtarak region, in 1918, within a day.
Thus, according to the total verified number about 500, 000 Yezidi people were killed.
The Turkish historiographer Katib Tchelebi also informs that in 1915-1918 about 300,000 Yezidis were massacred on the territory of the Osmanian Empire. However, according to verified data, those years over 500,000 Yezidis were slaughtered by Turkish and Kurd barbarians, and the fact has not been condemned by the progressive countries of the world.
Naturally, it would be especially interesting for specialists to learn in what settlements and how many Yezidis became the victims of the Turkish state. So, before the World War I, according to reliable sources, over 750,000 Yezidis were killed on the territory of the Osmanian Empire, and over 500,000 of which were massacred and 250,000 more were forcedly deported and found shelter in:
1. Iraq, in the vicinity of Sinjar Mountain, Mousoul, Rndavan, the
village of Fakirs, Amadia, Dhok, the sacred place of Lalysh, Bashika,
Bahzan and other settlements - 100,000.
2. Turkey, in the provinces of Batman and Diarbeqir, 120,000.
3. Syria, in the settlement of El-Kamishli, 15,000.
4. Armenia, 12,500.
5. Georgia, 3,000.
The list of literature
1. Yezdikhana Monthly, 2004, number 8, 2005, number 1.
2. A. Goge `The Voice of Our Great-Great-Grandfathers', Yerevan, 1997, in Yezidi.
3. A. Tamoyan `We are Yezidi', Yerevan, 2001.
4. Yezdikhana Monthly, 2006, number 2.
Once again appealing to you, Yezidi people request and demand that the crime committed against their people should be recognized. Nowadays the Kurdish Yezidi people scattered by the whole territory of Northern Asia and Near East require the reestablishment of justice and recognition of events of 1915-1918 as Genocide. We are convinced that the defiance of historic crimes against mankind will inevitably result in a precedent for new crimes. Actually, it is already taking place. In August and September of 2007 over a thousand of innocent Yezidis, peaceful inhabitants of the region, were destroyed in the north of Iraq, in historical Yezdistan.
We urge to restore historical justice and condemn the genocide of Yezidi people, which took place in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1918. We do not lay any territorial claim, but request that compensation for damage caused to our people be appropriate.
Chair -Aziz TAMOYAN - Doctor-Professor of national history and theology,
The President of the National Unity of Yezidis of the World
San Francisco Jewish Organizations Stand For Armenian Genocide Recognition
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, and Alameda Counties (JCRC) reiterated its previous support for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.
The organization overwhelmingly approved a policy statement reissuing a 1989 letter to Armenian community leader Bishop Aris Shirvanian, expressing support for the Armenian Genocide resolution pending in the U.S. Senate at that time. Senate Joint Resolution 212 sought to designate April 24th as a national day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
“The JCRC’s policy statement is welcome and encouraging, especially at this time of intensified denial of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and the U.S. administration’s willingness to support the dangerous policy,” said Roxanne Makasdjian, Bay Area ANC Chairperson.
“The JCRC’s position reflects the broad majority of opinions we’ve encountered by members of Jewish-American organizations, and we hope this action will act as a moral beacon for Jewish American organizations in Washington, DC,” she concluded.
The JCRC represents more than 80 Jewish organizations across the Bay Area of San Francisco.
An Interview with Hilmar Kaiser By Khatchig Mouradian
Hilmar Kaiser is a scholar of the Armenian genocide who is also known in scholarly circles and the Armenian community for the controversy he generates with some of his lectures and interviews. We first sat down at the editorial offices of the Aztag Daily in Beirut on Sept. 22, 2005, for a fascinating interview about the Ottoman archives and the Armenian genocide.
Kaiser received his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He specializes in Ottoman social and economic history as well as the Armenian genocide. He has done research in more than 60 archives worldwide, including the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul.
His published works—monographs, edited volumes and articles—include “Imperialism, Racism, and Development Theories: The Construction of a Dominant Paradigm on Ottoman Armenians,” “At the Crossroads of Der Zor: Death Survival and Humanitarian Resistance in Aleppo, 1915-1917,” “The Baghdad Railway and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1916: A Case Study in German Resistance and Complicity,” “1915-1916 Ermeni Soykirimi Sirasinda Ermeni Mulkleri, Osmanli Hukuku ve Milliyet Politikalari,” “Le genocide armenien: negation a ‘l'allemande’” and “From Empire to Republic: The Continuities for Turkish Denial.”
In this interview, conducted in Boston in Dec. 2007, Kaiser discusses the archives and speaks about his views on Turkish scholars—both the liberals and state-sponsored genocide deniers.
Khatchig Mouradian—Let’s talk about your Turkish colleagues and how they approach the Armenian issue.
Hilmar Kaiser—When I looked in Turkey over the past year for organized “academic” treatment of the Armenian issue, I could identify at least eight centers, which are in competition with each other; and then, within the centers there is competition. What you have there is a flourishing chaos. This is also understandable because the Turkish government puts money into it. The government puts money into the project without having a right assessment, so they burn a lot of money on staff that has zero impact.
There has to be a realization in certain circles—especially at the Turkish Historical Society—that this level doesn’t suffice. Some people claim “our product is inefficient because it’s only in Turkish and no one can read it.” They should understand that it is good that no one can read it, because once it is translated, it will do more damage than anything else. Some authors areas if talking in their own bathroom.
But now within the Turkish Historical Society and among some others there is agreement that production has to meet U.S. University press standards and anything else is a total waste of time.
We agreed that we disagree, and then we had discussions about the concept of genocide, we have now discussed joint projects. It’s something else if that will happen or not, but we at least explored what can be done together, in areas where basically you wouldn’t burn the house. After two and a half years in the Turkish archives, they got used to me being in Turkey, there was no scandal, slowly they got used that I am a reality and they get more comfortable and confident about the situation.
Personally, I have no problem talking to official historians or genocide deniers because these guys have the nationalist credentials. They don’t have to prove that they’re not Armenian spies so they are very cool about it. They are very surprised that I don’t talk to the “liberals” about it, and I tell them very clearly that it is, in my view, a self-deception to think that a few Turkish scholars—regardless of how good or how bad their work is, how respectable or unrespectable they are—who represent a very small layer, a very privileged layer of Turkish society, the société, the upper one percent, will change the country.
These people teach at very few places where very few students go to and they basically dismiss a whole state university system with tens of thousands of history students. So I just ignore them. If you want to talk to people who train the teachers in Turkey, who go to countrywide universities, you have to talk to other people.
From a German perspective—I am German and it inspires me given the dialogue of the 1970s and 1980s between east and west—it was always clear that engaging the other side is inevitable and you make them part of the solution. We can’t get rid of all of those we don’t like and then start everything from the beginning, because these people will fight to the end if they have nothing to lose. Respectable scholarship has nothing to do with the name of the person who has written it—it is assessed on its own merit. So people might change and agreements might replace disagreements. Never give up too easy.
There’s a substance on which you can move on and I have been involved in it during the last few years. There are hopeless cases among historians in Turkey, of course. At one dinner, one outed himself as a fan of Adolf Hitler. In Germany, I would report him to the police and he wouldn’t leave the country for what he said. This was, at the same time, Holocaust denial, racism and a call for inter-ethnic violence. You don’t have to deal with those guys. There are clear standards. These standards are not to be compromised. But the other guys, I don’t boycott them, clearly.
K.M.—You criticize the liberal scholars. But most of the decent scholarship by Turks on the Armenian genocide is done by the liberal scholars and not the ones on the state’s payroll, am I wrong?
H.K.—You have to look at the footnotes. Every book tells you what you have done, at least what you claim to have done. Much of it is based on published resources. It shows that they are not at the cutting edge. If you want original research on a certain issue, given the low state of our knowledge because of archival issues and other issues, you have to put in the time. All these concepts about the Armenian genocide are developed on generalization of a very narrow source basis. We have developed a lot of Holy Grail items that we hear over and over again, but these are generalizations of local events that didn’t necessarily spread. There is a lot of crap that we have to throw out, and we have the documents to make that point. One has to be more humble and more relaxed about it and be careful about one’s findings.
K.M.—Talk about your relation with the head of the Turkish Historical Society Yusuf Halacoglu
H.K.—I met him at the Istanbul conference almost two years ago. Then I visited him at the Historical Society’s conference about a year ago, where he received me in a very friendly manner. Then we had little contact and I visited him in June and in November again. Halacoglu is the only Turkish historian who has put material on the table I cannot reconcile with my current knowledge. He is an extremely smart guy, very professional. He is ahead of me in some regards.
K.M.—Why do you say that?
H.K.—He has the material on the prosecution of war criminals during the war. Meanwhile, I have obtained my own copy of the material, but there has to be academic respect—it means, he has the right to publish it first.
According to this material, people who stole money, killed etc., were punished. The list identifies the perpetrators, what they did and what their punishment was. We know, for example, that the murderers of Zohrab and Vartkes Effendi were executed by Djemal, and there were other executions. People who stole money from the Armenian population and put it in their own pocket instead of transferring it to the government got punished. We know this but we need a careful analysis of it. We have no decisive answer yet.
K.M.—But they aren’t punishing them for stealing from the Armenians, are they?
H.K.—We haven’t researched that. This element is surely part of it, but do we really fully account for it?
K.M.—How would you qualify Halacoglu’s scholarship…
H.K.—The book on the 16th century is very good…
K.M.—No, I mean his scholarship on the Armenian genocide…
H.K.—This is not so easy, you have to see who is he. He is the representative of the Turkish state. If there is a real debate between persons with intellect and command of sources, Halacoglu leads the Turkish team.
Dismissing him for past weak scholarship or political fanaticism—or whatever argument you want to bring up and you may even have something in support of your point—will not necessarily be productive. Don’t underestimate Yusuf Halacoglu. I respect him. I might disagree with him emphatically but I’m comfortable that I don’t have a fight with him at this point. The academic resources of an entire state converge on this one person. The Armenians have nobody coming even close to the shadow of him.
On the other hand, he is not antagonistic like the fascist I just mentioned. Halacoglu is interested in dialogue, the question is on what terms. He has no problem to talk with me, to talk with others…
K.M.—The way you are describing a notorious genocide denier might come as a surprise to many…
H.K.—First of all, the description of deniers as a group is false. You have people who are fully paid talking heads who have nothing to offer; they are, unfortunately, the people who write the briefs for Erdogan when he goes abroad. Then you have the kind of politically well-connected third-rate academic creatures who are only interested in escalating the situation because they can only live on escalation, because they have nothing to offer. And then you have people who have serious disagreements with you.
The way Turkish materials have been used in one recent English-language publication in this country—which is celebrated as great research—is totally unscholarly. The celebration is there because no one is able to check the sources. If that publication had been an Armenian genocide denial publication, there would have been an outcry. Same methods of misrepresentation of sources, speculation, you name it. It’s all there.
K.M.—Can you give a concrete example?
H.K.—For example, one scholar claims that the president of the Ottoman Chamber was going to Germany in March 1915 to coordinate the decision of the Armenian genocide, and he gives the source. The source says exactly the opposite. I don’t want to go now into detail because I am publishing it.
K.M.—Talk about the Ottoman archives. What has changed in the past couple of years?
H.K.—The Directorate for Demography in the Ministry of the Interior was reopened. This collection was open for some time in the 1990s and was closed for at least two years since 2005. This was a reopening, not a new opening of collections.
The opening of other files is rapid, tremendous. They have opened the Ministry of the Interior files for the Abdul-Hamidian period until the second constitutional period. This is massive.
They have also opened the files of the Paris embassy and they are opening more embassy files now. This is at a pace that has never been there.
However, there are still files—collections we spoke of in our previous interview, like the files of the so-called abandoned property commissions—that are not made available. We also don’t have possibly the most crucial files on WWI concerning the Armenians, because they were removed in 1919 from the files that were opened so far and have been put in a new collection for the purposes of the government. So this is not—as some people now claim—a cleansing of archives. This is just that certain files were carried from one office to another office in the context of administrative organization. This stuff, from what I understand, is not going to be opened soon, not because the archivists are not motivated, not because they are not interested, but simply because you have so many people and so much work. There is a lack of resources.
There is no political opposition now towards declassification and processing. What they simply don’t have is sufficient resources, which is regrettable.
K.M.—What is the significance of the embassy files regarding the Armenian issue?
H.K.—I haven’t worked with this, but, for example, the catalogs indicate that the embassy files of London, St. Petersburg, Paris provide a lot of insight into the massacres of the 1890s. Also, the embassies were spying outposts. They were spying on the Armenian diaspora communities and the spying was directed by the Ministry of the Interior through the embassies. So you find a lot of Ministry of the Interior material in embassy files and you find embassy reports to the Ministry of the Interior. This is very important because we might have lost some material—physically totally rotten—because of maintenance problems. So you might lose the draft in the Ministry of Interior file but since the letter went out to the embassy, you can have it in the embassy file, because the Paris embassy had a better storage facility. Some of these files have been very recently repatriated, which is exciting.
K.M.—You are talking about hundreds of thousands of files, and among them, thousands of files might have relevance regarding the Armenian issue. How many people are actually involved in researching these files?
H.K.—There is increasing interest among Turkish historians in Istanbul and the provinces who have not been involved in organized campaigns so far against Turkish “traitors” who say it was a genocide or against “Armenian allegations.” But what has transpired now during my talks is that the Armenians have become a topic. One scholar is publishing 16th-century tax registers from Yerevan—in Istanbul, not Yerevan. This has nothing to do with the genocide but is very important for Armenian history. We have 19th-century income tax registers, 1840s, very important again. So where we are going right now is a periodization of the Armenian cause/issue/problem, as it is called in Turkey. The people no longer mix together the Tanzimat era, Abdul-Hamid era, second constitutional period with the genocide and then the occupation period. We see now increasingly very well-respected and motivated scholars working on it not just because they want to prove or disprove something—that might be just one aspect in it—but because there is interest in the material.
From the outside, Dr. Taner Akcam was there some time ago for three weeks, and now he lectures us on the Ottoman archives, for which I’m very thankful. Then, Garabed Moumdjian was there with me in 2006 for two weeks working on the Young Turks on the ARF. He has sent shock waves through the whole establishment. Every time I think about it I’m laughing. An Armenian walked in, he spoke better Turkish than the Turks, he read Ottoman, handwritten documents like we read the New York Times, he talked to the archival staff in Arabic... The idea of the ARF, fanatic, blood-drinking killer and so on got a devastating blow. There’s no one else. He’s the only Armenian who went there possibly in decades (before, only Ara Sarafian went). Which shows that these programs, whatever they do, don’t do one thing: They don’t bring people to that point where many people had hoped they would bring them. So we’re at that point and, this year, it seems I was alone.
K.M.—There’s so much research that needs to be done in these archives. Why is the interest by scholars from outside Turkey so little?
H.K.—I was criticized by some less-informed elements in the Armenian diaspora for going to the archives because now they cannot say it’s closed anymore. Why did we push for having it open if we don’t want it open? For some people, this was obviously just political talk. I have to be very critical about this. All these donations the community put into research, obviously none of it is coming there. So when I am going there, people should not think that I am going on an Armenian ticket. If there was five percent Armenian money in it, it would be nice.
My colleagues ask me in Turkey where all these Armenians are. They feared that the moment they opened the door, a mob would raid their place. So you had basically the cavalry waiting for the Indians to attack and in four to five years one lone Indian has showed up. And so they understand that their projections of a big Armenian conspiracy is just a formulation of their own fears that has relatively little to do with reality.
When I say the archives are open, it’s limited, clear, but there certainly is no excuse not to do it. It’s a very simple thing. Crucial evidence, about whose existence we know, is not available at this time. But there is no excuse not to exhaust what they have made available, because this has to be done anyhow. If people say, Well we want to see the rest and then we’ll do something, well that is unprofessional. One has to be at the cutting edge of research. I think this kind of concept is not present.
K.M.—What do you think about Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s proposal for a joint historical commission?
H.K.—A commission would have little to do. We have gone pretty well through the Ottoman archives and not much is left on World War I. So what should a commission do? Xerox the documents a second time? That would be perfect nonsense. The cataloging of WWI files has to make rapid progress to provide an archival basis for a commission. The issue is an illustration that Erdogan does not have the best advisors when it comes to the Armenian genocide. These people develop ideas without checking first whether the pre-conditions for their own proposal exist within their own institutions.
Another matter is getting rid of such obstacles as Article 301. I cannot expect anyone to agree with me when that would mean he would be regarded as a criminal for doing so. The AKP government in Ankara has inherited a mess created by its predecessors over decades. So it is small steps for the time being, while hoping that the AKP does its homework and continues its overall positive course.
The Armenian Weekly 25.3.2008
Accession of Genocide Denying Turkey In EU Would Be Equal To Holocaust Denial
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ It is a cause of concern that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt hesitates to recognize the genocide of Christians during the First World War by Ottoman Turks, writes Pierre A. Karatzian, the media spokesperson for the Union of Armenian Associations of Sweden.
As the author of the article told PanARMENIAN.Net, he also describes a new study from Uppsala University showing that, very early on, Swedish authorities had information about the occurring genocide.
“In the shadow of the First World War the Christian population of Ottoman Turkey and its surrounding regions, which then included parts of Northern Iraq and Syria, became the victims of a holocaust. The genocide was carried out through deportations, with death as the conclusion and veritable massacres. In eastern Turkey, the historical Armenian Highlands, the territories where drained of the Armenian populations. There were even a large number of Assyrians, Syriancs and Chaldeans murdered, or expelled, as a result of the genocidal wave that swept in over the country.
In this territory there were a number of Swedes who witnessed these assaults. Amongst them we find the missionary Alma Johansson and reports from the official representatives of Sweden. A brand new study at Uppsala University of the Swedish archive, written by Vahagn Avedian, reveals a genuine Swedish reporting from Constantinople (Istanbul). Within these we find ambassador Cosswa Anckarsvard’s writings to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those of military attaché Einar af Wirsen to the general staff. Both of them sent detailed reports about the occurring genocide. The rest are merely occasional quotations from the material found in the Swedish archive:
– Anckarsvard, 6 July 1915: “Mr. Minister, persecutions of the Armenians have assumed hair raising proportions and everything points to that the young Turks wish to use the opportunity, as for different reasons no effective external pressure needs to be feared, to end the Armenian question once and for all. The means hereby are quite simple and comprise the elimination of the Armenian nation.”
– Anckarsvard, 6 July 1915: “It does not seem to be the Turkish population who voluntarily initiates [it], but the entire movement emanates from the authorities and the Young Turkish committee which stands behind them…”
– Wirsen, 13 May 1916: “Health conditions in Iraq are horrifying. The Typhus claims numerous victims. The persecutions of Armenians have contributed to the spread of the disease to a high degree, since hundreds of thousands of the deported have died of hunger and hardship along the way.”
Wrisen: “Annihilation of the Armenian nation in Asia Minor must upset all human feelings. It belongs without a doubt to the biggest crimes that have been committed during recent centuries. The way by which the Armenian problem was resolved was hair raising.”
During modern times the genocide has received a very bitter consequence. The murder of the Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, Hrant Dink, is an example. There have even been murders and attacks on many Christian priests in Turkey during the ensuing years. Those assaults, coupled with severe restrictions on religion and freedom of speech, as well as the fact that Turkey is characterized by a widespread extreme nationalism, results in that numerous minorities find themselves in a vulnerable position.
The genocide during the First World War, even the massacres that happened at the end of the 19th century has never been recognized by Turkey. Instead, through large amounts of effort, it has been denied, distorted and targeted disrespect mostly towards Armenians. One depicts Armenians in governmental campaigns as Fifth Columnists and by this indirectly legitimatizing the genocide that is simultaneously denied.
The recognition of the genocide is one of the keys to the democratization process of the Turkish republic. Germany underwent a similar process, which Turkey needs today, after the Second World War and Adolf Hitler. Germany and Europe came to terms with the aftermath of the Holocaust and created a protective-net for ethnic minorities. The rest of Europe started to gradually condemn and enlighten about Nazi driven veritable assaults of European Jews and any other groups that were undesirable. Today there is multitude of books and we are constantly fed with information about the suffering that took place in the heart of Europe. The Holocaust provided an insight to the necessity of having laws which punished those who express disrespect towards a specific group. Turkey is in urgent need for such laws, and not the kind that criminalizes recognition of the genocide.
Turkey has never undergone the process that Europe has undergone. After the Turkish republic was founded in 1923 on the remains of the Ottoman Empire where the territories that were part of Armenia, as well as those that were Kurdish and Assyrian became incorporated. The Turkish put the lid on and has since confiscated churches and extensively limited the human rights of minority groups. In the republic of Turkey there was no space for minorities and everyone was supposed to be a Turk. The politics of assimilation was a fact.
Recognition of the genocide reinforces both religious freedom and the democratization process in Turkey. It is not a question that the Turks decide about, but rather the external forces must pressure Turkey, just like they have done with Nazi Germany, into coming to terms with its past. To have a Turkey in EU which denies the genocide is the same as denying the genocide of the 6 million Jews. At the same time as one legitimizes the concentration camps by claiming that the Jews were conspiring, and that they needed to be controlled.
At the same time as one legitimizes the concentration camps by claiming that the Jews were conspiring, and that they needed to be controlled. Regrettably, this is exactly what the ethnic groups which were affected by the genocide in Ottoman Turkey got to consistently experience through official Turkish state propaganda. This is not and can never be acceptable.
The hesitation of Carl Bildt, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, concerning the truth and his recalcitrance to recognize the genocide with the motivation that politicians should not be writing history is meaningless and alarming. Is Bildt avoiding to call what happened to European Jews during the Second World War a genocide? This, as well as the situation of the Kurds in present day Turkey and the attack of Iraq are, perhaps, a series of “incidents” for the Minister of Foreign Affairs? There is a strong need for clear sight and precision in Swedish ‘Turkeypolitics’,” the article says.
Letter to the Editor: HETQ.AM March 25, 2008
Presidential elections in any country represent the only time that a people's voice can have a true meaning or value or importance. If that vote is not respected by a ruling regime, one can not expect
The present dictatorial regime in Armenia operates behind a facade of Democracy? Therefore by accepting the nature of the present regime in Armenia, we are negating the essence of dialogue, national unity and national security.
How can one have dialogue with Serge Sargsyan who on March 7 said: "What I want to speak about is the elimination of the consequences of the disaster."
Why isn't S. Sargsyan trying to find the CAUSES of the disaster and the causes of the hatred first? And one of the major causes is that Sargsyan was NOT elected by the people of Armenia. And the responsibility for the consequences of that injustice remains solely on the shoulders of the ruling regime in Armenia. How can there be 2.3 million eligible voters when the population of Armenia does not exceed 2 million, or say 2.5 million if you like? The unrest started when, within the same day, Serge Sargsyan was declared the "winner".
Prof. Balakirian, in an article published in Massis Weekly of March 22 (see the web site below), clearly proves that the actual votes that Sargsyan could have gotten would not exceed 314,000 and the actual number of people voted were 1,123,000. http://www.massisweekly.com/Vol28/issue09/pg2.pdf
Not only did Serge Sargsyan declare himself the winner the same day of the falsified "elections", but also the Catholicos Karekin II congratulated him soon afterwards, proving that the latter is nothing but a puppet of the regime and not a servant of the people. How could Levon Ter-Petrosyan welcome the Catholicos in his house?
Armenia's ruling regime should serve the people and not the other way around. Unfortunately we are very far from being civilized to reach that level since a mafia rules the country. Is today's Armenia what our grandparents dreamed of? AZAD ANKAKH HAYASTAN?? Is this the country of our grandparents’ dreams?
Also read what Sargsyan has said on March 7.
"Firstly I must underscore that most international organizations haven't responded negatively. There are only one, two cases of similar proposals, the reason of which is either lack of information or even disinformation. This also means the activity of some representatives of international organizations in our country are far from perfect. Our authorities provide large-scale unbiased information for all the international organizations acting in Armenia and have expressed readiness to give additional information in case of necessity, regarding the materials they are interested in."
What "facts" and "large-scale unbiased information" is he talking about? Until when will S. Sargsyan cover up the truth?
How can one have dialogue with him? What is the premise or requirements for a dialogue? I suggest that intellectuals in Armenia and the Diaspora prepare proposals for dialogue and urge the formation of a national unity government that will organize a truly democratic elections in Armenia.
Peaceful demonstrations cannot be a coup attempt or an attempt to instigate civil war. The real coup attempt to keep their power was done, as usual, by the Kocharyan/Sargsyan regime against their own people by falsifying the elections. And I side with the people. Months ago S. Sargsyan was declaring that he would win. In that case why go through all this "election" facade. Oh yes, in order to give him legitimacy and as a show to the world.
The joint statement on March 18 by the Armenian Assembly of America, the AGBU, the ANCA (behind which the ARF stands), the Diocese and Prelacy on the recent events in Armenia is disappointing to say the least. Instead of accusing the Kocharyan/Sargsyan regime for the vast falsifications of the election results, they concentrated on the events of March 1 blaming the peaceful demonstrators. The joint statement talk about the need for the "rule of law, social and economic justice, freedom of expression and the media, and equal opportunity for all". That is exactly what the people of Armenia were demonstrating about and look what were the results. By taking this position, the signatories of this statement are encouraging the present regime to continue on its path of dictatorship. Instead, these organizations should have refused to accept the "election" results. Only through pressure we could have obtained positive change in Armenia. But it seems that another mafia exists in our midst.
Harout Sassounian's Lincy Foundation was another organization that quickly congratulated Sargsyan as the president elect. One wonders what Sassounian will get in return?
Attached is a picture of a Turkish demonstration in Istanbul on February 25 in front of a Turkish court in support of justice for the murder of Hrant Dink. While Armenian peaceful demonstrators are treated as the enemy by the so-called "Armenian" regime, in Turkey, Armenians are being supported by the.... Turks. I can only say that I am glad that Kocharyan or Sargsyan or anyone like them is not the President of Turkey or any other country for that matter.
Levon Ter-Petrosyan also falsified the elections in his 2nd term in 1996 and he made many mistakes. But he had the dignity to resign. If Kocharyan was any better, why didn't he correct those mistakes? On the contrary, not only did he continue those mistakes, but he brought them to an even higher level. The October 1999 massacre in the Armenian parliament was the greatest threat to the Armenian national security executed in broad daylight. You all know how well it was covered up. Kocharyan and Sargsyan both falsified their "elections" creating huge financial illegal empires. Enough is enough. The people of Armenia are human beings not slaves.
Armenia is being depopulated, what is the present regime doing about it? It is productive people who make a country grow and not a few individuals who suck the blood of the people.
Social justice must prevail in Armenia if we want to survive and prosper socially, economically and politically and be able to confront future obstacles and plan for the future. Otherwise we are doomed.
Azerbaijan has a population of 8.6 million, with a 2007 GDP of $31 billion. What is the profile for Armenia? Kheghjali vijag. Iraroo mis goodenk yev besdig hashivnerov g’zpaghvink. Instead of bringing together the Armenian people in Armenia and Diaspora and build a strong densely populated country, the present regime has destroyed the country, with emigration rampant in Armenia and Karabakh, and total lack of interest towards Javakhk and the destruction of Armenian cultural and historical monuments in Nakhichevan.
Armenians all over the world should denounce the so called Presidential "Elections" in Armenia and stop supporting this illegal regime and ALL their supporters in Armenia and Diaspora. This can be done through continuous political pressure and peaceful civil disobedience.
We have a lot to do for sure.
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Turkish Ruling Party Cracks Down On Free Press by Michael Rubin
An e-mail from a Turkish professor:
Today's Turkish newspaper headlines are all about how Mr I.lhan Selçuk's house was raided at 4 AM yesterday morning. Mr Selçuk is an 83 year old journalist, the chief editor of Cumhuriyet, an 80 year old newspaper, the oldest major national paper. He has had two heart operations. He is rather fragile and depends on regular medication and doctor's care. Yet the public prosecutor refused his release and even refused him the right to an attorney for 24 hours (which can be extended). The appeals judge went along with the prosecutor and also rejected an appeal by his lawyers to continue his detention at home or even a hospital bed.
Legally the judge is right because the public prosecutor arrested him under 2 articles of the penal code (perhaps the only 2 articles) which was put there for terrorists planning an immediate attack, which isolates them from outside contact. He is charged with inciting the people to riot against the state (read that as AKP) and secretly organizing armed rebellion. Nothing could be more absurd for a man who has always advocated peace and democracy.
Mr Selcuk, was imprisoned by the military coup of 1980. He has been known for his socialist views throughout his career, but lately he has been very critical of AKP policies. It seems he has suffered so far, the same fate of other journalists, writers, party activists and public figures who have been very critical of AKP policies.
Yesterday morning 12 other people were arrested together with Mr Selcuk, in simultaneous raids in Ankara and Istanbul. One is Professor Alemdaroglu, the previous president of Istanbul University, the largest in Turkey, where he served the amximum legal term of 8 years. The other is the leader of the labor party, Dogu Perincek. Others are journalists and media people. They all share a common attribute of being very outspoken anti AKP, public figures. They are all accused by the same 2 articles of the penal code, .inciting to riot against the state and forming secret organizations for that purpose. These people have joined about 30 others who were arrested in the previous months charged with the same offense. These people have been waiting to be brought to trial. I wonder how long it will take the prosecutor to bring all those people to trial. Until then they just stay accused and in prison.
As a Turkish journalist points out in a private e-mail, for all the talk within the State Department of Prime Minister Erdogan and his Islamist-leaning party as representing democracy, he has now sued or jailed more journalists than any other government in Turkey. Most of those taken to court committed offenses such as depicting Erdogan unfavorably in political cartoons or editorializing against Mr. Erdogan's efforts to purge judges and financial officials who questioned his policies.
A Turkish historian comments wryly that Turkey in 2008 is like Iran in 1978. All that is needed now is the return of Fethullah Gulen who, just as Ayatollah Khomeini was in Tehran, could be met by a crowd of one million at the Istanbul airport.
Turkey: What Difference Does The Latest Foundations Law Make? By Dr. Otmar Oehring, Head of the Human Rights Office 15.3.2008
Turkey has passed the long-promised new Foundations Law. However, it does not allow Muslim or non-Muslim religious communities to legally exist as themselves, Otmar Oehring of the German Catholic charity Missio http://www.missio-aachen.de/menschen-kulturen/themen/menschenrechte notes in a commentary for Forum 18 News Service http://www.forum18.org. Bizarrely, religious communities are therefore not themselves allowed to own their own places of worship. For most non-Muslim communities, these are owned by community foundations. This leads to serious problems. For example, only the state can legally make even basic building repairs. As Dilek Kurban of the respected Turkish TESEV Foundation noted, the Law is "incompatible with the principle of freedom of association, which is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution and the  Treaty of Lausanne". Dr Oehring argues that the way to guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and belief is to make the European Convention on Human Rights' commitments a concrete reality in Turkey.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally managed to push the long-promised revised Foundations Law (No. 5737) through a reluctant parliament in mid-February. President Abdullah Gul signed it into law on 26 February. The new Law will make life slightly easier for the community foundations allowed to some of Turkey's non-Muslim communities, which the Turkish Republic has always understood in ethnic/religious terms. Yet it does nothing to change the legal position of non-Muslim religious communities.
As before, religious communities themselves – including Muslims - have no legal status in their own right and therefore no right to own property in their own name. Sadly, the many observers who are not legal specialists fail to realise this – and its huge implications for the life of Turkey's non-Muslim religious communities.
Indeed, a closely-argued analysis of the then-draft Foundations Law - prepared in December 2007 by Dilek Kurban of the Istanbul-based TESEV Foundation http://www.tesev.org.tr on the basis of views from Turkey's smaller communities – criticised many elements of it. The TESEV analysis noted that although provisions in the Law "introduce some improvement, they are far from solving the most basic and urgent problems of these foundations". It also warned that some provisions might "pose the risk of exacerbating the existing problems of non-Muslim foundations and providing legal legitimacy to unlawful bureaucratic practices".
Laws and bureaucratic practices operate in a social context which, in Turkey, has seen violent attacks on and even murders of members of the country's smaller communities. Three trends have been identified as lying behind this intolerance and violence: disinformation by public figures and the mass media; the rise of Turkish nationalism; and the marginalisation of smaller groups from Turkish society. All three trends feed off each other, and all of Turkey's smaller religious communities - those within Islam and Christianity, as well as Baha'is and Jehovah's Witnesses - are affected by this (see F18News 29 November 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1053).
The new Foundations Law allows – in theory - community foundations (which only belong to some non-Muslim communities) to apply to recover seized properties, if they are still in the hands of the state, and Muslim and non-Muslim foundations to receive foreign funding. It also theoretically permits non-Muslim foundations to "engage in international activities and opportunities for cooperation, establish branches and representation offices abroad, set up umbrella organisations and become members of organisations established abroad," on condition that these activities are mentioned in their charter (vakif senedi).
However, Kurban of the TESEV Foundation has pointed out that non-Muslim foundations do not have charters. The term and legal status of community foundation was invented by the Turkish Republic to provide a legal framework for the properties of non-Muslim minorities that existed in Ottoman times. For all these properties, the only legal document that existed and referred to the ownership was a decree (firman) issued by one of the sultans granting the right to a piece of land and - for example – to build a church on it. So as Kurban noted, "non-Muslim foundations cannot satisfy the condition set forth by the Law." She described this as "an example of direct discrimination against non-Muslim foundations" and "incompatible with the principle of freedom of association, which is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution and the  Treaty of Lausanne."
The new Law has had a tortuous passage. Originally adopted by parliament in 2006 under heavy pressure from the European Union (EU), it was promptly vetoed by the then President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a committed secularist, who complained that "it could serve to strengthen minority foundations". It was reintroduced to parliament in spring 2007 but the process soon ground to a halt (see F18News 10 July 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=990). After the July 2007 parliamentary election and the appointment of a new president, work on the Foundations Law was revived. The text approved by parliament in early February 2008 was the same as the text vetoed by President Sezer.
Media reports indicate that unhappiness over the new Foundations Law remained endemic, with many in the ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), opposed. Also opposed were members of other parties, especially the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Erdogan was probably afraid to go any further than he did. Many thought earlier that he was prepared to end smaller religious communities' problems, especially over their "seized properties", but it seems he thought this would have been too costly for the state in financial compensation to those communities. Few in society would have welcomed large-scale state compensation for injustices such as property seizures.
It is possible to argue that some good will come of this Law – at the least it demonstrates that the current government is keen to show that it is concerned for the country's non-Muslim communities. Yet whether this is a real concern or merely a show for the outside world is not known.
The new Law covers foundations of all kinds - including Muslim foundations - under the control of the Directorate-General for Foundations, not only those allowed to some of Turkey's non-Muslim communities. Many Muslim foundations exist, for example those that offer food to the poor in exchange for their prayers for the deceased founder. In recent years many large companies have launched charitable foundations. But the focus of most comment, inside and outside Turkey, has been on the foundations of the non-Muslim communities.
Mosques are mostly the property of the so-called Diyanet Vakfi, which is a foundation (vakif) under the Civil Code, established on 13 March 1975. Its purpose is to foster knowledge of Islam and religion, to build mosques where necessary, and to support people in need (see its website http://www.diyanetvakfi.org.tr). The President of the board is Professor Ali Bardakoglu, who also heads the Presidency of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet (see F18News 12 October 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=670). There are also mosques which are owned by, for example, municipalities.
The non-Muslim religious communities are generally not allowed to own property – the handful of exceptions are those that have slipped through over the years and exist in a legal grey zone (see F18News 13 December 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=704). For example, the Istanbul Protestan Kilisesi Vakfi (http://www.ipkv.org) was founded on 10 November 1999. According to the State Gazette, this gained legal recognition on 24 June 2001 in accordance with the Civil Code.
However, Article 101 of the Civil Code does not allow the establishment of a foundation with a religious goal. In 2005, the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara finally rejected the Seventh-day Adventist Church's application to establish a foundation, basing its judgment on Article 101. The Court found that the purpose of the foundation was to "meet the religious needs of Turkish citizens who adopt the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, and foreigners of the same belief who are domiciled or are temporarily staying in Turkey", which it regarded as unacceptable and illegal.
This argument could even be applied to the Diyanet Vakfi, whose goals include "fostering Islam and the building of mosques". The court's argument could also be applied to the Istanbul Protestan Kilisesi Vakfi and to the Syrian Catholic Church Foundation. This latter foundation uses property in Istanbul seized from the Jesuits. According to the Turkish state, this is now the property of the State Treasury and is separate from the Syrian Catholic community foundation.
In Ottoman times the then existing non-Muslim communities were allowed to acquire property on the basis of a firman issued by the Sultan. These covered only Armenian Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Protestant, Bulgarian Orthodox, Chaldean Catholic, Georgian Catholic, Greek Catholic, Greek Melkite Orthodox, Jewish, Syrian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Protestant foundations. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, community foundations were created by the state as a legal framework for those properties. Such foundations typically owned not just places of worship but religious colleges, hospitals, orphanages and old people's homes. Some have been given property since 1923 – such as private homes bequeathed to foundations in wills – which they use as sources of funds, but most properties are directly used to provide community services.
The situation of Latin-rite Catholics is different, as they were in Ottoman times under the protection of the non-Turkish "Powers". Therefore the Latin-rite Catholic Church has today no community foundations, which is a major problem. Land-titles do exist for many Latin-rite Catholic properties, but it is unclear whether or not these are recognised by the state. This is because the Turkish state does not legally recognise either the Latin-rite Catholic Church or Catholic religious orders. And an owner who does not legally exist cannot legally own property.
No new community foundations have been permitted to be started since the state created the legal framework of community foundations. Because of the origins and ethnic/religious ownership of the community foundations, this perpetuates the Ottoman-era idea that people of one ethnicity can only belong to one faith. So, ethnic Turks cannot be anything other than Sunni Muslims (preferably Sunni rather than Alevi). Turkish nationalists today strongly promote this idea, which has dangerous consequences for Turkish citizens who are not Sunni Muslim Turkish nationalists (see F18News 29 November 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1053).
Turkish government hostility to non-Muslim communities led over the decades since the foundation of the Republic to tight control over the Boards which ran the community foundations, a de facto ban on maintaining their property in good repair and the stripping away of much of the property under various pretexts. The state would often remove Board members it did not like.
If all the Board members died the state would often prevent new members being appointed and seize the property. The state often argued that a community foundation no longer needed its facilities and confiscated them. The TESEV report notes that the Greek Orthodox have suffered the most from such seizures – they say 24 community foundations and hundreds of properties they owned have been seized. One Greek Orthodox community foundation had its property on one of the Princes' Islands seized and handed to a Muslim foundation, which the Greek Orthodox are still trying to challenge through the courts (see F18News 18 January 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=901).
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in January 2007 found in favour of a Greek Orthodox community foundation (Fener Rum Erkek Lisesi Vakfi), whose high school buildings had been seized. The ECHR imposed a large fine on the Turkish government. In the similar case of the Armenian Yedikule Surp Pirgic Ermeni Hastanesi Vakfi, the Turkish government in June 2007 reached a friendly settlement with the foundation (see F18News 10 July 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=990). The Greek Orthodox foundation has received the fine awarded by the ECHR, which so far as the foundation is concerned settles the case, and the Armenian foundation has now received both its costs and the return of its buildings.
Such arbitrary seizures seem to have stopped in recent years, though lack of information about every community foundation makes it difficult to be sure. Muslim foundations have faced no such problems.
The new Law will – at least in theory – allow community foundations to apply to recover these "seized properties", provided they are still in the hands of the state. This is a positive step. However, thousands of community foundation buildings – now worth millions of Euros – were seized by the state over decades and have now been sold on to third parties. The new Law makes no provision for their return or for possible compensation in lieu.
However, one Turkish observer suggested to Forum 18 on 12 March that – as in the cases of the Greek Orthodox Fener Rum Erkek Lisesi Vakfi and Armenian Yedikule Surp Pirgic Ermeni Hastanesi Vakfi – the ECHR in Strasbourg is now the best route to resolving past property seizures. This suggestion matches my own observations of the situation (see F18News 18 January 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=901).
The government's insistence that only non-Muslim communities recognised before 1923 can own property leads to the bizarre consequence that a religious community and its leaders have no legal control over the worship buildings they use. In hierarchical communities – such as the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches – this means the bishop has no control over places of worship. Normally, such leaders do have jurisdiction over their community's property.
The Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul's Fener District – the seat of the most senior cleric in the Orthodox world – has no legal status and does not own its own headquarters. A community foundation owns the land and the older buildings – including the Patriarchal Church of St George. But the legal status of the imposing new patriarchal offices – which the Turkish authorities allowed to be rebuilt only in the late 1980s, nearly fifty years after they were burnt down – has never been clarified. The building is not listed on the land register.
The building of the Halki Seminary – the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate's world-renowned theological college until, along with the Armenian Seminary, it was forced to close by the government in 1971 – also remains in the hands of a community foundation. If, as the Patriarchate sincerely hopes, the government allows it to reopen, again the Church which uses the building will not be the formal owner of it.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate – as the Turkish state refuses to use the word "Ecumenical" - is described on the land register as the formal owner only of a handful of properties. Yet the Turkish authorities refuse to acknowledge even this direct ownership. Indeed, a case over a directly-owned orphanage at Buyukada is now with the ECHR in Strasbourg.
Perhaps it is Islam's lack of a formal hierarchy that leads Turkish officials to fail to recognise that other religious communities may be structured differently. In particular, they fail to understand the needs of hierarchically-organised religious communities.
The particular problem for places of worship owned by community foundations is that the religious community cannot even repair holes in the roof, or repaint the interior, let alone restore or extend them. Under the Treaty of Lausanne, which enshrined ethnic/religious community rights, such repairs are the responsibility of the state. The Directorate-General for Foundations had to decide if such repairs were necessary – and invariably said they were not. State hostility to non-Muslim communities since 1923 has meant that the state has undertaken no such repairs. The state was waiting until such properties fell apart and all the people died or left the country.
Officials have recently pledged to repair community foundations' property, but it is unknown if they will keep their word.
For decades priests were afraid to go ahead and make even urgent repairs unilaterally when churches needed them. Such fear was even more engrained in schools, which are forced to have an ethnic Turk as deputy director. Since the 1990s, such redecoration or repairs require municipal approval, which has gradually become easier to obtain. The police normally turn a blind eye to these breaches of the law.
Yet such petty controls are absurd. Either the state should carry out repairs, in which case it should make sure properties are well-maintained, or should leave the community foundations to get on with them unobstructed.
The new Law should make it easier for community foundations to sell their properties if they wish to and use the money to maintain other properties.
The refusal to allow non-Muslim communities legal status as such leaves them vulnerable over property. Religious communities without community foundations – such as the Latin-rite Catholics or the Presbyterian Churches, as well as communities that have existed in Turkey only recently, such as Baha'is, Jehovah's Witnesses and many Protestant denominations – have only a precarious legal hold on their property that could be challenged in court by malicious officials or individuals.
Latin-rite Catholics (a special case owing to their pre-1923 status) own their churches and some other property directly, but as indicated above with little legal security.
A change to the Associations Law in 2004 allowed religious communities to gain legal status as associations, a route recently followed – albeit with difficulty - by some Protestants and Jehovah's Witnesses (see F18News 12 October 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=670). In theory such associations have legal personality and can own property in their own name, though religious communities have problems asserting these rights.
Protestant churches built by individual pastors in recent years have often been subjected to protracted and tortuous legal battles to be allowed to use them officially. Some have been successful, though again the legal ownership and use is never secure in law. Other Protestant churches meet in what is officially domestic or office premises – which technically is illegal.
Turkey missed an opportunity to resolve the lack of legal status for non-Muslim communities and the impossibility for them to gain secure property rights. In 2003 an official in the Foreign Ministry in Ankara asked a respected Istanbul law professor to prepare a draft Foundations Law that would have resolved these problems. The idea was to remove the restrictions through an amended law in a quiet way, so as not to arouse the attention and wrath of Islamists and nationalists. The authorities later suppressed or – to put it more mildly – buried this proposed draft. The issue was too hot for them.
It remains to be seen how this new Foundations Law will be implemented. Some members of the smaller communities have already complained – as did the TESEV report – of Article 2 (2), which specified that "reciprocity shall be reserved in the implementation of this law". They question the inclusion of this Article, given that the foundations were established and are run by Turkish citizens for Turkish citizens. They fear the government will use the continuing (and unjust) restrictions on Greece's Turkish and Muslim population to allow it to wriggle out of respecting the rights of its non-Muslim communities.
The TESEV report reserved perhaps its fiercest criticism for Article 5 (1), which subjects new foundations to the provisions of the Civil Code. Given the effective ban in its Article 101 (4) on foundations pursuing religious goals, this bars religious communities from directly establishing foundations and using them to acquire and maintain places of worship. The TESEV report insisted this violates freedom of association and called for the Article to be removed from the Law. Yet, when the Law was adopted, the Article remained. This remains a potential problem for the Protestant and other religious communities who gained legal status as associations in recent years.
So Turkey's non-Muslim communities will not be able to gain the right to buy, sell and maintain places of worship and other property through the new Foundations Law, as this right is reserved exclusively for the existing community foundations. Their basic position has remained unchanged. They are still not free to – in accordance with international human rights standards - act as they like, do what they want to do, or organise themselves as they choose.
Abolishing Article 101 (4) of the Civil Code would be a start, but many argue that without the removal from the Turkish Constitution of the provision enshrining secularism – or even better, reshaping it to fully incorporate Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights - this too would not be enough. As a revision of the Constitution is already being discussed, amid many delays, this could in theory be done.
In my view, the best method to introduce true religious freedom in Turkey would be to introduce into the Constitution commitments to religious freedom in line with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights – which came into force for Turkey in 1954 - and for these commitments to be made a concrete reality for all Turkish citizens. The history of Turkey's advances towards true religious freedom clearly demonstrates this (see F18News 13 December 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=704).
Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution already states that: "In the case of a conflict between international agreements in the area of fundamental rights and freedoms duly put into effect and the domestic laws due to differences in provisions on the same matter, the provisions of international agreements shall prevail." However, what seems to be lacking in Turkey is the will to translate "international agreements in the area of fundamental rights and freedoms" into concrete reality. The challenges of intolerance and violence that Turkish society faces makes this an increasingly urgent question (see F18News 29 November 2007 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1053).
If the European Convention's human rights commitments were made a living reality in Turkey, this would at least resolve the non-Muslim communities' legal problems and also be a very significant step in addressing the serious Turkish social issues of intolerance and violence. (END)
- Dr Otmar Oehring, head of the human rights office of Missio http://www.missio-aachen.de/menschen-kulturen/themen/menschenrechte, a Catholic charity based in Germany, contributed this comment to Forum 18 News Service. Commentaries are personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of F18News or Forum 18.
A printer-friendly map of Turkey is available at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas/index.html?Parent=mideast&Rootmap=turkey.
Dr. Otmar Oehring, Head of the Human Rights Office of Missio , contributed this comment to Forum 18 News Service.
Turkey Urgently Needs Peace Journalism!
Bia News Centre 13-02-2008 Erol Önderoglu
A reaction in the Turkish press to the fire in Ludwigshafen which killed nine Turks shows how great the need for more balanced reporting is. A newspaper accusing Germany of covering up a neo-Nazi attack is perpetrating racism itself.
Yesterday's headline in a Turkish tabloid was a worrying example of the interpretation of current affairs in a manner which reinforces a sense of victimhood as well as nationalist aggression in Turkey. The article in question was a reaction to the fire in Ludwigshafen, Germany, which had killed nine Turks, five of them children. The cause of the fire is as yet unknown.
German criticism of Turkish prejudice
The German press has been commenting on Turkish reactions to the fire, saying “the Turkish media is prejudiced and Erdogan has confused mourning with elections,” referring to the wide-spread belief in Turkey that the fire in Germany was neo-Nazi arson, and also referring to Prime Minister Erdogan’s speech in Cologne, in which he opposed assimilation.
The Westdeutsche Zeitung in Germany had criticised a “prejudiced Turkish press” and the fact that Erdogan seemed to use the occasion of the funeral for too much speechifying. The Flensburger Tagesblatt had also written about Erdogan’s mistiming, confusing mourning and election campaigning.
Partly in reaction to this, the tabloid newspaper Günes (Sun) made disturbing comments about the fire in Germany this month which killed nine Turks and the murder of journalist Hrant Dink in Turkey last year on its front page yesterday (12 February).
Inciting to racism
Its headline read, “9 Turks are not considered worth 1 Hrant”, followed by the following text: “When Hrant Dink became the victim of a heinous assassination, Turkey stood up in protest. But for the 9 Turkish victims of Nazis, no one is raising their voice.”
It is not difficult to translate the headline into what the editors of the newspaper really think, i.e. “9 Turks were not considered worth 1 Armenian.” It is ironic that the newspaper complains about lack of empathy for “Nazi victims”, although arson has not been proven and investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing, while at the same time encouraging another kind of racism.
It is precisely this kind of racism which has led to the murders of priest Andrea Santoro, journalist Hrant Dink and three Christian publishers in Malatya.
Accusing Germany and Turkey of hypocrisy
Referring to the crowds in front of the court building at the third hearing of the Dink murder case on 11 February as well as the crowds at his funeral last year, the Günes said: “At least as heinous an attack was experienced in Germany. Nine Turks died when their house was burnt down. Their names were Ilyas…Belma…Karanfil….When they were buried in Gaziantep yesterday, there were no tens of thousands of people who ‘felt the pain in their heart.’
The newspaper was also incensed at the fact that Germans did not march saying “We are all Turkish,” again a reference to the funeral procession of Hrant Dink, where people had carried banners of empathy, saying “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian.” Günes also accuses the German media of a cover-up.
The newspaper is thus perpetrating the common Turkish nationalist discourse of looking for enemies without and within.
A very different interpretation...
In a very different vein was the article by Mehmet Yilmaz in the Hürriyet newspaper yesterday (12 February). He pointed out that because of the possibility of a racist attack, there were German representatives at the funeral in Gaziantep. He added:
“Priest Santoro was killed in Trabzon as the result of a religious-racist attack. No high-level state official participated in his funeral.”
“Hrant Dink was killed in a religious-racist attack. The Prime Minister visited the Dink family in their home to express his condolences after the funeral. You imagine why he could not attend the funeral and why he felt he had to express his condolences behind closed doors.”
“The Turkish and German Christians working in a bookshop which published bibles in Malatya were slain in a religious-racist attack, three people died. There were no state officials at the funerals.”
Media reinforcing racism and xenophobia
A regional newspaper in Gaziantep, where all the nine fire victims were from, the Hakimiyet newspaper, reported on the funeral. It quoted the German ambassador Eckart Cuntz in Ankara, who attended the funeral, as saying: “The people who lost their lives where the children of both the cities of Gaziantep and Ludwigshafen.”
The mayor of Greater Gaziantep, Asim Güzelbey, was cited in the same article: “On my visit to Germany immediately after the fire, I saw that German society was at least as affected as we were by the event. I saw that everything is being done to find the cause of the event. I want this to be known.”
However, as if ignoring these mutual expressions of respect and goodwill, the newspaper then chose to head the article thus: “From the German Hell to God’s Heaven”…
Regional and national newspapers have not grasped the concept of peace journalism, which is vital in the struggle against racism and xenophobia. It is high time they did, however; otherwise how can we understand who is sowing the seeds of discord? (EÖ/TK/AG)
Trabzon Gendarmerie Knew of Dink Murder Plans!
Bia news centre 24-03-2008
The two gendarmerie officers on trial in Trabzon have stated that they had informed their superiors of the planned Dink murder. The superiors are said to have faked documents to hide their previous knowledge.
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered on 19 January 2007, shot down in front of his office. The suspected gunman and several other young men implicated in the case were from Trabzon, northern Turkey, and soon it became obvious that the Trabzon gendarmerie had been informed of murder plans before it happened.
However, despite efforts by the lawyers of the Dink family to have more gendarmerie officers prosecuted, and to have the Trabzon part of the case joined to the main trial in Istanbul, only two officers were put on trial and the case is being heard in Trabzon.
Gendarmerie defendants implicate superiors
On Thursday, 20 March, was the second hearing in the case against Trabzon gendarmerie officers Okan Simsek and Veysel Sahin, both of whom stand accused of gross negligence.
During the hearing, the defendants stated that they had told their superiors, former Trabzon Province Gendarmerie Commander Colonel Ali Öz and Captain Metin Yildiz, about intelligence concerning the planned murder of Hrant Dink.
The two defendants said that Yasin Hayal, on trial in Istanbul as an instigator to the murder, had come to Istanbul in July 2006 in order to research Hrant Dink’s home and his office, the Agos newspaper.
The statement corresponds to what gendarmerie informant and relative of Yasin Hayal, Coskun Igci, told the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court. Igci is being tried without detention.
Fake documents prepared
At the first hearing in Trabzon on 22 January, Igci had told the court that he had informed the two defendants 3-4 months earlier that Hayal was planning to murder Hrant Dink. Igci said that they had told him they would follow up the case.
The joint attorneys in the Dink trial have found out that Gendarmerie Commander Öz ordered the preparation of fake documents, which showed that the information received by Coskun Igci before the murder was actually received a day later, that is on 20 January. This was confirmed by witness statements.
In addition, so the defendants, they were warned by Öz and Yildiz not to tell anyone about the information received by Igci before.
It was also learnt that Gendarmerie Sergeant Major Hüseying Yilmaz had been assigned the task of monitoring Yasin Hayal after his involvement in the bombing of the Trabzon McDonald’s in October 2004.
The judge of the Trabzon court, Izzet Kabal, decided that the Trabzon Chief Public Prosecution would evaluate whether any of the names mentioned in the hearing would be investigated.
The court decided that the ten people mentioned would have to notify the court of their current place of employment, and that they would be called to make statements.
The next hearing of the case will be on 19 June, while the fifth hearing in the main Dink murder trial in Istanbul is on 28 April.
CHP members of parliamentary sub-committee withdraw
Meanwhile, some members of the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Sub-Committee looking into controversies in the Hrant Dink murder investigation so far have withdrawn from their posts after the committee had announced that it had collected all the information it needed.
Those resigning are the members from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the commission, and they have argued that “there is no possibility left to question the darkness.”
CHP Izmir MP Amet Ersin told NTV news on Thursday (20 March), “I think someone warned them. Or they thought they had started a job they could not finish and ended their investigation.”
When asked who he thought “someone” was, Ersin said he did not know, but thought it was someone outside of parliament.
The CHP members of the commission gave a press statement on Thursday. Istanbul MP Cetin Soysal said the investigation had not been Professional: “Why did the research of the commission end so fast? The commission founded to investigate the darkness, to find the truth, has been overshadowed by the deep darkness it was questioning.”
The commission had been working under the leadership of Bursa MP Mehmet Ocaktan from the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP), and it had announced that information and statements had been collected. Soysal had argued that the commission was ging too fast and had demanded that the statements be examined first.
Ocaktan had further said that seven people involved in the Dink murder, including suspect gunman O.S. and Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, could not be questioned by the commission because they were still on trial. (EÖ/GG)
The View From Air Force Two Andrew Finkel firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no such thing as a casual visit from an American vice president, but the addition of Ankara to Richard Cheney's whistle stop schedule of Middle Eastern capitals was clearly an attempt not to offend Turkey through neglect. Cheney could not really have expected that a Turkish government in mortal combat with its own judiciary would have used the occasion to up its commitment in Afghanistan by sending combat troops or to declare its support for armed intervention against Iran's nuclear program. As more than one person noticed, this was the vice president's first appearance in the Turkish capital since March 2002, when he came to firm up support for a Turkish second front for the invasion of Iraq. That support of course never happened, and led to a profound crisis in Turkish-American relations. With the Bush administration now in its final days, Cheney's stopover had something of the air of deathbed reconciliation.
Cheney's visit coincided with the 4,000th US fatality in Iraq. The fifth anniversary of the US' fateful invasion has been an occasion for commemoration, not celebration, a time to ponder the unintended consequences of war and occupation and to calculate the arduous road ahead. One can only imagine the thoughts racing through Cheney's mind as he surveyed the region from the Olympian heights of Air Force Two. Although not at the top of any column, the cost-benefit analysis of the recourse to military force will have included the long-term effect of the war on Turkey itself.
Washington's uncompromising determination to remove Saddam Hussein was, famously, the first major foreign policy challenge faced by the newly elected Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, a test from which Ankara at the last minute decided to withdraw. How Turkey's decision to rally to the support of its most important post-war ally came not to be taken is a subject on which a great deal of instant history has already been penned. Even at the time, there were those who prophesied -- and with good reason -- that the interests which bound the United States and Turkey together were far too tightly intertwined to be severed even by this serious blow. Five years, while just a blink for historians, is an eternity in the weighty field of international relations, and there remains a school of thought which holds that the cycle of mistrust and recrimination has finally been exhausted. The rift that opened when the Turkish Parliament on March 1, 2003 refused to allow its territory to be used as a stepping stone for invasion has now greatly narrowed after the US finally relented to allowing the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to invade Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases inside northern Iraq at the end of February this year.
There is a lot of evidence that the glass of Turkish-American relations is half full. As much as it dislikes being likened to the French, Turkey was not the only ally which failed to endorse President Bush's mission in Iraq. And unlike the French, the US Congress never concluded that the fate of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 constituted genocide -- the obscenely bizarre weather vane that Turkey watchers use to decide whether sentiment in Washington is pointing Ankara's way. Congress's decision to cast the genocide resolution back into darkness was based on a calculation that Turkish logistic support for US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan took precedence over efforts to write an official history of World War I. It demonstrated what many in Turkey long to hear -- that their country managed despite the end of the Cold War and despite an open conflict of interest with the US over the growing political self-reliance of the Iraqi Kurds, to retain its strategic significance. No less than any other nation, Turkey is engrossed by the American primaries and cheerful at the prospect that the successful candidate will see the world through a lens that begins to resemble their own.
Colored Revolutions and the Political Turmoil in Armenia by Rovshan Ibrahimov
As a result of presidential elections in Armenia, the third president of this country has become Prime Minister Serg Sarkisian. Sarkisian was the successor to the old authorities and Kocharian in particular. Both are from Karabakh, in this case coming to power Sarkisian was also guarantee the continuation of the course of governance and the interests of the Karabakh clan. Superfluous proof of this thesis is . . in the position of the main opponent of Sarkisian in the presidential race Ter-Petrossian, who explained their accusations that the current authority with their actions only worsens the plight of the country and not in its policies in the name of Armenia, but for the sake of their own interests.
The results of elections in Armenia can be analyzed from two perspectives: on the one hand through comparison with similar election conducted in the countries, the post-Soviet space, on the other, identifying the distinctive features of the electoral process in Armenia.
Sarkisian, as a member of the current government, and thus have the opportunity to use the extensive public resource, in the end, was elected the new President of Armenia. The transition of power to the receiver, widely used in the post-Soviet space, including in Russia, was also implemented in Armenia. In principle, this fact is rather typical, than specific.
The transition from one authority to another in the post-Soviet space interrupted only in two cases: when, immediately after independence, in some states, using the general confusion have came reactionary forces. An example of this Gamsakhurdiya serves regimes in Georgia; Elchibey in Azerbaijan may be shown. However, referring to the lack of experience in the state ruling and existed domestic political chaos, the return to power previous leaders of these republics, during the Soviet period with enormous experience of government. Other regimes that came after collapsing of the Soviet Union under the force-major circumstances might also be included governments of Ter-Petrosian in Armenia and Yeltsin in Russia. But these two leaders for many reasons have been forced to resign, never having completed their legal deadline of government, also appointing a successor to their seats of power.
Another case is the so-called "velvet revolutions" after which new regimes have come to power in such countries as Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. But whether changing of leader in Kyrgyzstan occurred early in the wake of developments in Georgia and Ukraine, than with the support of the "outside", in the last two cases, countries had clearly felt the support of Western countries, mainly the United States.
However, even in these cases, “non-standard” abandonment chain management countries with one team have its loopholes. So the new leaders of all three countries have experience of government in previous regimes, holding any positions in the government. In other words, the "new" regimes also failed to come to power from the outside, but were part of the nomenclature of previous commands. Furthermore, the new government time to take root in power and already own an interest in turn of the conversation of their regimes: so Saakashvili was re-elected for a second term, and President Yushchenko appointed to the post of Prime Minister Timoshenko, his fellow at the recent "Orange Revolution".
In short, some countries of the former Soviet Union have experience to implement practice of the transfer of power to a successor. It will be applied in the future again especially to the countries of Central Asia, where some leaders remain in power from Soviet times.
Referring specifically Armenia, in my earlier comment on Turkishweekly "Presidential Elections in Armenia and Its Uniqueness" dated February 8, 2008, I have noted that non-standard provisions in the country after the nomination of Ter-Petrossian his candidacy for the presidency of this country. This step completely changed the situation in the country and the electoral process has withdrawn from the formal transition of power to a successor to the intransigent confrontation between the government and opposition supporters of Ter-Petrossian.
Ter-Petrosian has experience in governance and a politician who could consolidate the opposition forces. That is what happened in Armenia, where tens of thousands of supporters of Ter-Petrosian immediately took to the streets in support of their candidate. Situation has changed to the fact that the authorities had to resort to force to disperse the demonstrators, resulting in accordance to the official figures with 8 killed people. The authorities have imposed censorship on the information, even limiting access to the Internet. The situation remains unstable.
As the situation Sarkisian be able to retain power and become the next President of Armenia. This is due primarily to the fact that Ter-Petrosian has not received the support of Western countries, and the demonstrations did not escalate into another "a color revolution". Incidentally Ter-Petrosian has already been publicly accuse the West that they did not support the democratic forces in Armenia, thereby helped advance the liberal values in the country.
Now in Armenia is relatively silent. Perhaps soon Sarkisian will receive from the powers of the President Kocharian, but not stable governance, which was in the time of Kocharian. The current government should realize that in today's Armenia there is a strong opposition and a strong leader who will not fall behind. So, Sarkisian regime will therefore be respected to the reality.
Rovshan Ibrahimov, Phd.
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Copyright © 2005 Journal of Turkish Weekly
On the Steps: "Democracy"
On The Throne: "Shari'a"
Source: Cumhuriyet, Turkey, March 18, 2008
Turkish Cartoon: "Democracy Is A Vehicle, Not The Goal" by RT Erdogan, 1997
Turkish "Aksion" Periodical Encouraged By Levon Ter-Petrosian's Return To Politics
14 March 2008 Azg
Some of the Turkey’ circles are encouraged by Levon Ter-Petrosian’s return to politics. Some of the leading Turkish newspapers consider his return to be a proper occasion most likely in the issues of restoring the diplomatic relations with Armenia, in ceasing the international recognition of the Armenian genocide, as well as in the pro-Turkish-Azeri settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
By the end of the presidential elections in Armenia, the Turkish newspapers not only accepted the victory of RA PM Serge Sarkisian, but also expressed hope that the newly elected president will find new approaches for the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and for restoration of diplomatic relations with Turkey.
The current change of attitude toward Serge Sarkisian is conditioned by several factor. Firstly, by the February 21 congratulatory message of Turkish President Abdullah Gyul to newly elected RA president Serge Sarkisian. Another important reason for the change of attitude is Turkish PM Erdoghan’s and his party’s unfavourable attitude to the Turkish "grey wolves" and Zionist circles who are in friendly and close relations with Levon Ter-Petrosian and his family.
Anyway, "Aksion"Turkish weekly again touched upon the post-electoral political developments in Armenia and came to noteworthy conclusions.
According to the weekly, Armenia was at a loss after the February 19 presidential elections. The supporters of Levon ter-Petrosian who didn’t accept the victory of Serge Sargisan flooded the streets. The newspaper enumerates the loses and the distractions in the streets of Yerevan, as well as the number of wounded and dead. It also points out the recent clashes at the Armenian-Azeri border and the deaths of many soldiers from both sides. The weekly draws the attention to the accusations of Serge Sarkisian’s government, according to which they want to concentrate the attention of the society from inner issues to the external ones.
Even though Levon Ter-Petrosian failed to win the elections, it is expected that Sarsgian will contribute to improvement of Armenia’s relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Hasan Kanbolat, expert at the Eurasian strategic center, also shares this opinion, adding that Sarsgian is more committed to reconciliation in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict than his opponents from LTP’s team.
The loser in the presidential elections Levon Ter-Petrosian also began commenting on the recent events. In his article for "The Washington Press" LTP conditions the tolerance of the West to the disorder in Armenia by several reasons. According to him, the most important is that "the leaders of Karabakh origin(Kocharian and Sarkisian) are able to settle the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. LTP also accuses the international observers failing to properly carry out their duties.
Ömer Engin LÜTEM / Karabagh Resolution Of The United Nations General Assembly
17 March 2008, Eraren
The United Nations General Assembly affirmed the territorial integrity of Karabagh in its 14th March resolution and asked for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories, recognized on the other hand, the right of return for the people who left those territories due to the war conditions.
The resolution is in accordance with Azerbaijan (and Turkey) views but in contradiction with Armenia’s attitude. One should say that, this resolution should be considered as a great success for Azerbaijan diplomacy.
39 countries accepted the resolution while 7 countries opposed to it and 150 countries abstained. 47 countries did not participate to the voting.
The 7 countries which rejected the resolution, apart from Armenia, are Angola, Vanuatu, India, France, the Russian Federation and the USA. The last three countries are the Minsk Group’s vice-presidents which are responsible for finding a solution to the Karabagh issue. These three countries, just from the beginning were against to the intervention of the United Nations to the Karabagh issue by claiming that such an intervention will make it more difficult to find a solution. By voting against the resolution, they tried to diminish the effects of Armenia’s defeat.
The reason behind the rejection of India is the close contacts of Azerbaijan with Pakistan. The motive of African Angola and Vanuatu which is at Pacific is not known. But it is very common for the small countries to take side at the voting of the General Assembly, for the issues which are not related to them.
What draws the most attention at the voting was the abstention of 150 countries. This is most probably due to the advices of Russia and the USA. In this case also, the effort for diminishing the effect of the Armenian defeat is obvious.
Islamic Conference Organization is a full supporter of Azerbaijan for Karabagh issue and it was expected that all its members will vote in favor of Azerbaijan. However, the members of this organization were divided to three due to the pressure of Russia and USA. Some of them supported the resolution some rejected, while others abstained and some of them were not participated to the voting.
After the voting, the Foreign Ministry of Armenia claimed that most of the members of the United Nations were not supporting Azerbaijan for the Karabagh issue. However, the number of the members who opposed to the resolution is only seven. It is impossible to say that those who abstained opposed to the resolution.
As a result we can say that the United Nations General Assembly has accepted a resolution which reflects Azerbaijan point of view. Although the resolution is not binding, from now on it will be difficult for Armenia to defend its thesis especially on the public opinion sphere.
The Caucasus Canopy by Dogu Ergil firstname.lastname@example.org
Turks have emotional links to the Caucasus but often know little about the region. The nationalists' jargon was to "deliver the captive Turkic people from Soviet enslavement," but few could think beyond the plotting of coups in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan for administrations closer to their hearts after the dismantling of the Soviet system. But they made a major miscalculation -- since these unfortunate events we do not hear about the deliverance of Turks in distant lands, while Turkey proper waits for its salvation!
The term "Caucasian" was coined as an ethnic category by the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who wrote the treatise titled "On the Natural Variety of Mankind" (1775). In this book he tried to link physical characteristics such as skull size, shape of the nose, arms and leg length to culture. Although Caucasians come in all shapes, sizes, hair and skin color, Blumenbach considered Caucasians to be the world's oldest and most beautiful white people. The term Caucasian for identifying white-skinned Western people (especially in the US) stems from this source.
The dominant landscape feature of the Caucasus is the mountain ranges of Eurasia with their deposits of oil and gas. Ethnically the region is a tossed salad of indigenous peoples and invaders that have culturally and genetically intermingled, creating a colorful canopy of people in the villages and towns stretching between the Black and Caspian seas. The invaders were many: Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Huns, Avars, Mongols, Arabs, Turks under different names (but lastly Ottomans and Turks), Russians, British, Germans and others. The indigenous people mainly consisted of feudal clans and feuding vassalages, satrapies and suzerain client states with shifting alliances. Alliances did not change based on interests only but also on whom the dominating power was at the time. Now, the new superpower that is exerting its power is the US. No one knows who will follow suit -- Russia again or China, or even Turkey if it elevates its status to a regional power.
Boundaries have constantly changed in the Caucasus. For example Azerbaijan is only a 20th-century construct. Formerly it was northwest of Iran. So sovereignty is and has always been a relative term in the region. Battles were seldom open field engagements; rather they were irregular wars, which come in the form of insurgencies and guerilla warfare. So ambushes rather than gallantry marked the nature of conflicts and chivalry was exaggerated in word rather than in deed. That is why Caucasian poeticism and legend telling is very elaborate and colorful.
The Caucasus harbored Jewish and Zoroastrian communities in the past, just as it did pagans, who still survive in smaller communities. Christian and Muslim communities and their states live side by side, although in conflict most of the time. Definitely not a haven of tolerance, the Caucasus has so far avoided an all-out war of cultures and ethnicities thanks to its heterogeneity. Every group is either a minority or harbors minorities within it. A regional war could be the end of the groups involved.
There are three centers in the Caucasus. The representatives of Tsarist Russia, especially Vorontsov, thought that a "new Russia" had to be created in order to rule by example. He chose Tiflis for the occasion. During the 1850s Tiflis was built as the cultural center of the Caucasus (designed as an imperial outpost) and was embellished with theaters and opera and ballet houses. Baku soon flourished thanks to its oil richness, while Yerevan grew from a small town to the size and functioning of a city with the coming of the Armenians who were uprooted from Ottoman Turkey during and after World War I.
Population shifts have been a regular affair in the Caucasus. The 19th century is rife with mass expulsion by Russians of Circassians and other groups from the northwestern Caucasus and Black Sea coast. Highlanders and Abkhaz were forced into Anatolia, the Balkans and the outermost corners of the Ottoman Empire. Up to 500,000 Caucasian people (referred to as Circassians, regardless of origin) left in the 1860s. Around 2 million had to immigrate to Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Europe and the US in the 1870s and 1880s.
The political environment is one filled with instances of police brutality, citizen "disappearances," executions, sectarian in-fighting and terrorism, such as the occupation of the Beslan Elementary School in North Ossetia. These things undermine the security and stability of the region, including that of Russia; but they also enrich the underworld through lucrative human and narcotic trafficking, prostitution and weapons smuggling.
Russia does not control the Caucasus through occupation. Rather, Russia now owns and coordinates much of the Caucasus' energy infrastructure, with military muscle behind its dealings. However, Russia is not the only player in this region; there are newcomers to the game like the US, while China and Kazakhstan are waiting in line. And Turkey, with its meager resources and short-term strategic interests, is on the road to having more prominence and clout in the region. Further down the line is the European Union -- motivated by its appetite for Caspian energy resources -- which has recently entered the game in the Caucasus.
The Armenian Mirror-Spectator: Un Decision Important Weapon For Reaching International Recognition For Armenian Genocide by Noyan Tapan,
March 21, 2008, Washington, March 21, - Armenians Today
The Armenian Assembly of America has spread the "Why Do We Ignore the International Center for Transitional Justice's Report on Genocide?" article which was published by The Armenian Mirror-Spectator weekly on March 8, 2008.
Below is the full text of the the editorial entitled "Why Do We Ignore ICTJ's Report on Genocide?"
"Turkey's current Genocide denial strategy is grounded on a specious proposal for a new joint study by Armenian and Turkish historians of the events of 1915-1923 although just that kind of study had already been done by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). The center's report categorically concluded that the horrors suffered by Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I met all the critical criteria of genocide as defined by the 1948 International Genocide Convention. That treaty was adopted by the international community of nations, including Turkey.
The Armenian and Turkish participants in the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, (TARC), whose membership was agreed to by both governments, jointly sponsored the ICTJ study. That center is a highly-respected institution whose mission includes the readiness "to assist countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuses." ICTJ scholars studies all the critical evidence and arguments submitted by both Turks and Armenians and after careful analysis concluded that the Armenian population of western Armenia had been victims of Genocide. Whereas ICTJ study's strict mandate was to define 1915-1923 atrocities, it did not further comment whether Armenians could use its finding to seek reparations from Turkey. After all is said, its finding remains as powerful argument for our nation. Its verdict was so stark that Turks immediately denied its validity. That the Turks rejected the findings is understandable. They lost.
But why have most Armenian political activists deliberately ignored the findings?
The reason for Armenian silence is self-evident. When TARC was formed, it generated an emotional opposition campaign led primarily by the ARF. Even though the Armenian government was consulted throughout the entire TARC process and approved of its mission, Yerevan distanced itself from the enterprise when the sharp attacks on TARC were hottest. Most other groups in the diaspora did as well. They were uncomfortable with the controversy and either shied away from it or joined the chorus of criticism.
We also took issue with TARC. But we objected to the adopted process of the effort and composition of the group and not its intent. In any case, whether TARC should have been organized differently or whether it made tactical or other mistakes, it is a fact, that its singular achievement, the ICTJ's validation of the Armenian Genocide, was not recognized.
The Armenian Assembly has been the lone advocate of the ICTJ report. It consistently invoked the ICTJ verdict in statements issued before and during the congressional effort to pass Resolution 106 recognizing the Armenian Genocide. There were two other notable exceptions. Hrant Dink and former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans. Hrant Dink said the formation of TARC and the ICTJ report gave him the opportunity to pursue his cause to gain Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. And Evans has cited the ICTJ report as one of the key factors that convinced him to publicly state the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. It is a pity that others have not done the same. We have needlessly deprived ourselves of a powerful argument in our efforts to gain Congress to enact the Armenian Genocide resolution.
Henceforth, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator will invoke the ICTJ report to counter Turkey's new study ploy. We will expose that proposal as a smokescreen to hide Turkey's true motive. Ankara fears the inevitability of congressional recognition and hopes that their offer will convince enough members of Congress to avoid enacting Resolution 106. They want their proposal to be seen as reasonable and a fair way to remove this vexing problem from public discussion.
We must not let that happen. Whatever the Armenian communities' objections were to the TARC process the ICTJ verdict was an impressive achievement indeed. It is an important weapon in our arsenal of arguments to gain the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Turkish denial must be confronted always and everywhere and to deny us the compelling verdict of the ICTJ is both unwise and self-defeating."
An urgent call to support the silent protest in Yerevan by HETQ.AM
March 21, 2008
As of March 1st, 2008, the Republic of Armenia's capital has been under a comprehensive state of emergency after authorities unleashed military personnel and riot police on citizens who had been engaged in peaceful protests against the fraudulent presidential elections of printable version
According to official numbers, 8 people were killed and over a hundred severely injured. Since March 1st, over a thousand opposition supporters have been detained and questioned, over a hundred are in custody and have been formally charged, the media and press have been extensively censored, and laws have been passed with the intent to completely neutralize any remnants of opposition that may be remaining. The state of emergency will be lifted tomorrow, and a silent march will be held in Yerevan. Media coverage will in all likelihood be banned.
An urgent call to support the silent protest in Yerevan, Armenia on Friday, March 21, 5pm-7pm
The announcement outlined below has been extended to the citizens of the republic of Armenia, the vast majority of which continue to live in a state of terror, violence, political persecution, intimidation and total information black-out. On Friday, March 1, 2008, many will form a silent, human chain from 5pm to 7pm to focus the attention of the international community, yet again, on their plight
The organizers have taken every conceivable precaution to prevent the authorities from mislabeling their silent protest as mass riots and provoking confrontations.
As indicated in the guidelines below, the sole purpose of the Silent Protest is to mourn and to remember those who have fallen prey to a totalitarian and sick regime, and to do so with respect and dignity.
It is the duty of all us to bow our heads before such courage and above all, to support their efforts to regain their human dignity. After all, none of us in Europe, the US and Canada would tolerate a life without dignity and civil liberties for a single moment.
Time is of the essence. Express your views to the Foreign ministry, the Prime Minister's Office and the President's office of Armenia AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Invitation to participate in a human chain of silent protest
All the citizens of the Republic of Armenia willing to express their indignation against the brutalities and massacres organized by the authorities of Armenia in the morning and evening of March 1st, those who decry the unconscionable political persecutions, arrests and trials of peaceful demonstrators that continue to this day, and those who mourn the memory of all victims of the events of the March 1st, are invited to participate in a Silent Protest on Friday, March 21, from 5pm to7pm.
Protesters will stand in silence, in a single row. The line will extend from Liberty Square (where the carnage of March 1 against peaceful and unsuspecting demonstrators was launched) through Northern Avenue, Abovyan Street, Republic Square, Vazgen Sargsyan Street and Italy Street. In the latter section the line will be situated on the walkway facing the Prosecutor General's Office.
Participants are urged to adhere to the following strict guidelines:
1. Participants will stand only and only on those parts of the path that are free of vehicular traffic, and on sidewalks, so as not to disrupt the normal flow of traffic in the city;
2. Participants will stand approximately 1meter apart from each other (approximately the span of extended arms);
3. Participants will stand in a single row;
4. If the number of participants exceeds the number of people that can be accommodated in a single row, the group surpassing that number will stand on the opposing sidewalk under the same guidelines to prevent traffic congestions and, to prevent the authorities from condemning it as a mass gathering;
5. In those areas where no opposite sidewalks exist, participants will not form a second row.
To express your protest, it is advised to have with you:
1. The photograph or photographs of any or some political prisoners (with their names and last names displayed) and hold them visibly in your hands or attached to your backs. If possible, print a few photographs of political prisoners and give them to the participant near you. Some photographs can be downloaded from the following website: marti21.blogspot.com
2. You may tie black ribbons on your arms in memory of the victims of the March 1;
3. You may carry candles, placed in glasses (not to be blown out by the wind) in memory of the victims of March 1. And, you may simply wear a black outfit in memory of the victims of March 1.
1. Please maintain maximum and strict order;
2. Do not be swayed by any provocation;
3. If you feel impending danger and threat of the use of force, please leave your location in the row (you may return to your location when the threat is gone)
4. Answer questions posed by the police, the public, journalists and others without agitation and with calm.
A Levon Ter-Petrosyan Campaign Official is Sentenced to 7 Years Imprisonment by K.T. HETQ.AM
March 21, 2008
The Chief Prosecutor of the ROA has stated that on Election Day, February 19th, at around 2 p.m. in the 36/34 polling station in the town of Maralik, Mr. Urutyan, in the presence of witnesses, beat and caused bodily injury to Suren Avetisyan, a proxy of Serzh Sargsyan, thus preventing him from carrying out his authorized functions.
On March 13th Judge Harutyun Movsisyan of the Northern Criminal Court passed sentence. During the proceedings Mr. Urutyan made the following statement, “The authorities do not recognize any law. They do as they please regarding our citizens. I actively participated in the battles to defend the country’s border regions. Now, it appears that I made a mistake because we are building the wrong government. We don’t see the stability of that government nor do we hear the free voice of the people. It’s all the same. I say the yogurt is white and the respected judge claims it’s black. For seven straight days we’ve proved my innocence. My words fall on deaf ears and it’s futile to continue. Regardless of what I say, I will receive the same sentence that was already agreed upon twenty days ago.”
Tamara Hayloyan, Mr. Urutyan’s lawyer, stated in court that the defense had cited several passages of the law and being familiar with the imperfect aspects of our domestic statutes, also quoted the decisions of the European Court and passages from the European Convention on Human Rights. She noted that, “All this has proven useless and we now call on the mercy of the court.”
At the completion of the proceedings the accused, Mr. Urutyan, was supposed to make a final statement but was unable to due to ill health and requested an adjournment. The emergency health personnel on the scene were unable to lower his blood pressure. During all of this Judge Movsisyan intervened on several occasions and resumed the proceedings. The judge continually attempted to get Mr. Urutyan to make his closing remarks or to have him forfeit his right to do so.
Mr. Urutyan, who didn’t want to forfeit this right, said, “I can’t make a statement since I feel ill.” To this the judge queried, “Can’t you even say a few words?”
Regarding the conduct of the presiding judge, Attorney Tamara Hayloyan cited the 3rd Point of the European Convention and declared that the defendant was being subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.
Finally, Judge Harutyun Movsisyan repeated to demand that the defendant make a statement, arguing that the physicians had declared Mr. Urutyan fit to do so. The Judge then declared that the defendant had waived his right to make a closing statement thus, in effect, depriving him of that right.
At the end of the court session, and without giving any forewarning, Judge Movsisyan read out the sentence. Neither the Prosecuting Attorney nor the aggrieved party, Suren Avetisyan, was present for this reason.
During the preceding session the prosecution had requested that Urutyan be sentenced to 8 years. However the Northern Criminal Court found Harutyun Urutyan guilty according to Article 149, Section 2, Point 3 and Article 112, Section 2, Point 2 of the ROA Criminal Code. (Article 112 deals with ‘Causing premeditated injury to another’s well being).
The defendant was sentenced to 2 years on Article 149 and 6 years on Article 112. In the end, he was sentenced to a total of 7 years jail time.
K. T. / www.hetq.am
They Were Brutally Beaten by Lena Nazaryan - HETQ.AM March 21, 2008
The wife and daughter of academician Rafael Ghazaryan were brutally beaten, along with thirty other civilians, on the evening of March 1st as they were walking in the vicinity of the French printable version
Grezelda Ghazaryan and her daughter Gayaneh had participated in all the Levon Ter-Petrosyan rallies. That evening at around 9 p.m., upon the invitation of the wife of Vahan Shirkhanyan, a former Deputy Minister of Defense, the two women decided to walk towards the Shirkhanyan apartment located at 18 Paronyan Street. They intended to rest there a bit and then return. Along the way they saw that Mashtots Avenue was full of policemen all the way up to Amiryan Street.
Mrs. Ghazaryan relates that at that point a group of police made their way towards the Mayoralty Building while a smaller group of police broke away and started to ‘disperse’ a small crowd of individuals that had, for various reasons, been separated from the on-going rally at the Square.”
“I approached one of the officers and told him that when all this was over I’d have his ‘stripes’ removed since I knew him very well.” Mrs. Ghazaryan says. In fact she knew the officer in question from the Jirayr Sefilyan court trial. The police officer continued to ‘disperse’ the crowd, all the while cursing and hitting Mrs. Ghazaryan on the spine with his rubber truncheon. The police drove the crowd to the intersection of Paronyan and Leo Streets when they heard shots ring out. The crowd, fearing that only corpses had been left in the Square, decided that they had to make their way back there.”
“My relatives were in the Square, including my son. We were scared and yelled out - ‘what are you doing? We are the government. If you kill one million or even two, who will be left for you?’ The police, in way of a response, began beating their shields to drown out our voices and our message,” recounts Mrs. Ghazaryan.
The police became even more infuriated and started to chase after people who tried to find shelter in nearby houses. One policeman dragged Gayaneh away from a building and threw her down onto the street. Other policemen joined in and began kicking the girl with their feet. At the same time Mrs. Grezelda Ghazaryan was savagely beaten as well despite the protestations of Mrs. Shirkhanyan that they were beating the wife of Rafael Ghazaryan.
After the beating they dragged Gayaneh, who at this point couldn’t walk from the pain, to her mother’s side. An officer shoved them inside a building and told them he had just saved their lives. The officer then left them there and the two women tried to gain access to one of the apartments in the building. No one living on the first floor opened his or her door. They made their way to the second floor and saw that many who had fled the melee below had found refuge in the apartments there. Gayaneh telephoned two of her friends from there and told them to send emergency help.
“After a while the two friends called back with the same story. The emergency workers told them that they had made it to Leo Street but couldn’t get through because the police were firing on their ambulances,” Gayaneh relates.
Later on, from their position on the balcony, they heard that the police were searching for those who had hid. “In other words, their aim wasn’t just to disperse the people but to beat them as well. And they still weren’t satisfied after all that,” concluded Gayaneh.
It was around 2:30 a.m. when an ambulance finally arrived on the scene but the Ghazaryans refused to go with them. Gayaneh states that, “They told us we’d be taken to Erebuni Hospital but I knew that they’d kill me there. I also didn’t want to be taken to Grigor Lusavorich Hospital either so we drove to the Hanrapetakan Hospital in our car. Once there, the doctors were amazed that it wasn’t only policemen that they were letting in.”
Mrs. Ghazaryan was treated with eight stitches to the head at the hospital. She was not allowed to stay there as a patient and when she requested her medical records so that she could continue to be treated elsewhere the hospital staff refused arguing that - “Since you are connected to those events we can’t give you any records. The Public Prosecutor will make inquiries into the matter. We’ll give them an answer and supply you with a copy.”
After all this Gayaneh was fired from her job. Despite this, Mrs. Grezelda Ghazaryan believes that they will win in the end and that, once victorious, they’ll live only in Armenia.
Developments in Armenia After March 1st by Ararat Davtyan - HETQ.AM March 21, 2008
The State of Emergency in Yerevan decreed by the President of Armenia ends today. For twenty days public rallies were prohibited and for all intensive purposes there was no working oppositional mass media. The society was forced to listen to the one-sided news of the government and the pro-government media outlets. Widespread arrests of the supporters of former presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan continue printable version
Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan was recognized the winner of the presidential elections held on February 19, 2008. Second-place winner Levon Ter-Petrosyan, pointing to the registered incidents of blatant ballot fraud, demanded that new elections take place. He and his supporters began a sit-down protest in the Opera Square and for nine straight days held public rallies and marches that drew tens of thousands of participants.
In the early morning of March 1st, the government dispersed the crowd at the Opera by the use of force. The protestors subsequently assembled in the vicinity of the French Embassy. By that time Levon Ter-Petrosyan was effectively under house arrest and could not join the crowd there. That night a confrontation broke up between the demonstrators who numbered in the tens of thousands and law enforcement. According to official statistics eight people were killed as a result - one policeman and 7 civilians.
Those new outlets still in operation, but subject to government monitoring, described the events of that night as an attempt to seize the reins of power by people who resorted to force, destruction, the setting of fires and defiance of the law enforcement officials.
The functioning of an independent or oppositional media was effectively halted. Access to more than a score of Internet websites (A1plus.am, Lragir.am, hzh.am, Zhamanak.com, etc) was blocked as of March 2nd despite the fact that they had accepted the restrictions placed on them.
Even though the State of Emergency only legally covered Yerevan it was effectively being enforced in the Marzes (Regions) of Armenia as well. Due to the intervention of the Regional Governor of Lori, a special edition the “Civilian Initiative” weekly newspaper put out by the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Civilian Assembly was prevented from being published. The organization also submitted a written request to the Mayor’s Office of Vanadzor to organize a public rally in the town from March 6th - 8th. The request was denied on the grounds that such a rally might endanger the safety and well being of the citizens.
On the same grounds, the Yerevan Municipality had already denied the request of Levon Ter-Petrosyan to hold a public rally on March 21st, a day after the lifting of the State of Emergency. Ter-Petrosyan opined that the authorities merely wish to squash any recurrence of any and all opposition activities.
On March 17th, the National Assembly passed a series of amendments to the law regarding “ The operation of rallies, public assemblies, marches and demonstrations.” In essence, these amendments effectively prohibit peaceful public rallies from taking place in Armenia.
Under arrest are the leaders of political parties supporting Levon Ter-Petrosyan. These individuals include - Aram Karapetyan, President of the “New Times” party; Suren Surenyan and Smbat Ayvazyan, members of the “Republic Party’s” Political Council; and Petros Makeyan, President of the “Democratic Fatherland” party; among others.
In the days immediately following the February 19th elections they had mainly been charged with organizing unauthorized rallies. After March 1st, however, those arrested faced much more serious criminal charges including fomenting civil unrest resulting in death, the use of force against ROA officials and the usurpation of government power.
Also taken into custody and charged with the same offenses are Alexandre Arzumanyan, a former ROA Foreign Minister and Director of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s presidential campaign; Karapet Rubinyan, a former Deputy President of the ROA National Assembly; Yerjanik Abgaryan, a former Chief of the ROA Customs Service; Ararat Zurabyan, President of the Armenian National Movement’s Board of Directors...Many more have gone underground including Nigol Pashinyan, Chief Editor of the “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily newspaper; Aram Sargsyan, President of the Political Council of the “Republic Party”; among others.
The National Assembly, where members of Serzh Sargsyan’s “Republican Party” hold a majority of seats, has waived immunity for Deputies Hakob Hakobyan, Myasnik Malkhasyan, Sasun Mikayelyan and Khachatur Sukiasyan. All are facing criminal charges. Khachatur Sukiasyan is on the run and being sought by the authorities while the other three have already been taken into custody.
Justice Minister Gevorg Danielyan has stated that, “ Law enforcement is preparing to bring criminal charges against Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Newly-elected President Serzh Sargsyan, during a meeting with university students, noted that, “Rumors regarding the arrest of Levon Ter-Petrosyan are a lie to the extent that the authorities have not yet dared to arrest him.” Ter-Petrosyan believes that, “These arrests are nothing more than political repression.”
According to official reports more than 100 individuals have been arrested as of March 1st. The number of those requested to report to the police exceeds 800 with some being arrested as a result.
Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, who visited many of these individuals during his recent three-day visit to Armenia, stated that many had indeed been ill treated and beaten.
Despite the clear calls of many foreign governments and international organizations to the contrary, the authorities in Armenia did not lift the State of Emergency before the twenty-day period was up nor did they put a stop to the arrests. Furthermore, those who merely attended the public rallies are now being tracked down.
The “Shameless Lie” Becomes a Reality by Ararat Davtyan - HETQ.AM March 21, 2008
The internal political crisis in Armenia was intensified following the presidential elections held on February 19, 2008. On February 29th, just hours before the bloody events were to unfold, Armenian TV. had been constantly bombarding its viewers with the footage of newly elected President Serzh Sargsyan and Artur Baghdasaryan, leader of the “Orinats Yerkir” (Rule of Law Party), congratulating each other with champagne printable version
Serzh Sargsyan had just promised to give Artur Baghdasaryan, who came in 3rd in the elections with 17% of the votes, the job of Secretary of the National Security Council attached to the President’s Office as well as several portfolios in the new coalition government. Only ten months before President Robert Kocharyan had accused this politician of being a traitor.
The history of the scandal that led to President Kocharyan calling Baghdasaryan a traitor occurred before the May 2007 Parliamentary Elections. The pro-government newspaper “Gloss Armenia” had published the text of a secretly recorded conversation between Mr. Baghdasaryan and the English Ambassador to Armenia that took place in the Marco Polo restaurant. Days late President Kocharyan stated the following, “For me, this is a true display of treason. It’s even more outrageous because you have taken it upon yourself, just three months before the elections, to convince a foreign diplomat to do everything in his power in order that the elections are viewed in a negative light. And a one time traitor is capable of doing the same a 2nd, 3rd and 4th time.”
Mr. Baghdasaryan described this as an attempt at character assassination and aloudly proclaimed that, “This is just more of the repressive tactics periodically implemented by the authorities directed at the Rule Of Law Party”.
Artur Baghdasaryan’s Political Journey
Forty year-old Artur Baghdasaryan is a well-known political figure. He is also President of the Board of Trustees of the French University and the European Regional Academy in Armenia.
At the age of 27 he was elected a Deputy to the National Assembly of Armenia. Until 1998 he displayed very strong pro-government tendencies. Furthermore, in 1996 he authored a book devoted to Levon Ter-Petrosyan who was Armenia’s President at the time. It was a special tribute and full of praise for the first President.
In 1998 Mr. Baghdasaryan became the leader of the newly formed “Orinats Yerkir” party (Rule of Law). During the 2003 presidential election campaign “Orinats Yerkir” endorsed the candidacy of Robert Kocharyan and the party came in second in the elections for the National Assembly held that same year. Baghdasaryan assumed the post of Speaker of the Parliament and “Orinats Yerkir” became a part of the coalition government.
Artur Baghdasaryan is considered to be pro-western in terms of political outlook. He has been known to make such zealous statements during interviews with the foreign press that have required clarification after his return to Armenia. In a 2006 interview with the German newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemaine”, Baghdasaryan noted that Armenia’s future lay not with Russia but with the European Union and NATO; a view quite divergent from the official government one. He also predicted severe tremors after the Armenian parliamentary elections of 2007 and the presidential elections of 2008 if, “If the degree of fraud we witnessed in the previous elections were to take place again.”
The reaction of the Armenian authorities was swift in coming. Even President Kocharyan chimed in with a crude appraisal. In the space of a few days, scores of businessmen who had joined the ranks of the “Orinats Party” before the elections, jumped ship.
Orinats Yerkir pulled out of the coalition government but those individuals who had been selected Ministers based on the party’s quota, left the party rather than loosing their official posts.
On May 29, 2006 Artur Baghdasaryan resigned from the post of National Assembly President and declared that they were siding with the opposition. But the opposition didn’t welcome him with open arms. Certain opposition forces and commentators noted that the regime had merely sent “Orinats Yerkir” on a mission to pull opposition votes away in the upcoming elections.
This party once part of the government, due to the image it assumed as being persecuted by the regime and by dint of its rhetorical skills, again wound up in the National Assembly after the 2007 elections. Later on Baghdasaryan proclaimed that if the opposition coalesced around one candidate in the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, he might be that person.
The situation completely changed with the return of Levon Ter-Petrosyan to the political arena. Initially, Baghdasaryan called on Ter-Petrosyan to unite with him. Later though, ruling out the possibility of a one-stage election, Baghdasaryan noted that, “the possibility of the uniting of oppositional forces will take place after the completion of the election’s first stage.”
Ter-Petrosyan made the following comment on the eve of the end of the presidential campaign, “A. Baghdasaryan is a sympathetic young man who has a constituency and has been able to create a structure around him. But today, he must understand one thing. Whatever he says or does and regardless of the number of votes he gets, those votes aren’t his. They will be added on to the votes garnered by the government’s candidate, Serzh Sargsyan. Today, Baghdasaryan is playing the role of a spoiler. If he doesn’t change his position, even though there is still hope that he will correctly evaluate the current situation and side with the people, he will betray the people. He will directly hitch his horse to the Sargsyan wagon.”
In response, the “Orinats Yerkir” leader turned around and made the first president the target of his criticism. Thus, a united oppositional front never emerged and Serzh Sargsyan commented on the fact by stating that he knew that would happen since, “he knew his ‘customers’ very well.” In the meantime the press had been saying for a long time that Artur Baghdasaryan was one of Sargsyan’s ‘customers’ as well.
According to the official vote count, Serzh Sargsyan won the February 19, 2008 presidential election in the first stage. Levon Ter-Petrosyan came in second and Artur Baghdasaryan came in third. Citing blatant election fraud and not accepting the decisions of the Central Election Commission, Ter-Petrosyan demanded a new round of elections while Artur Baghdasaryan demanded a ballot recount in over 200 polling stations. Ter-Petrosyan, declared a non-stop sit-down strike, rallied his supporters in the streets and petitioned the Constitutional Court. Baghdasaryan shied away from both the first and second actions.
Even during the election campaign the “Orinats Yerkir” leader described any talk of his possible uniting with Sargsyan as a ‘shameless lie’. But 10 days after the election their unity became a reality. On the occasion Baghdasaryan commented that, “Because, had we joined with Ter-Petrosyan we could have gone down the road of reckless adventurism and as a result the number of victims could have been much greater. On the other hand, we could have chosen the path of the country’s development. In the end we honorably shook the outstretched hand of Serzh Sargsyan offering us the chance to jointly govern the country and to assume the responsibility regarding the processes now taking place.”
On February 29th, those attending the public rally in Opera Square, upon hearing the news that Baghdasaryan had joined forces with Sargsyan, began to shout out, “Artur the traitor”. A few “Orinats Yerkir” activists present tore-up their party membership cards. It was expected that on the following day scores of “Orinats Yerkir” members would join the ranks of those at the Opera rally. That next day, however, went down in history as Bloody Saturday, March 1st.
March 1st - The Testimony of an Eyewitness by Ararat Davtyan - HETQ.AM March 20, 2008
Hovik is 46 years old. He participated in the oppositional rallies following the February 19th presidential elections. He camped out during the nights at Opera’s Freedom Square. Below, we present his unedited account of what transpired during the day of March 1st and into the wee printable version
Starting around 1 a.m. on the morning of March 1st rumors began to spread within the crowd that Artur Baghdasaryan, as the newly appointed Secretary of the Security Council, had signed off on a resolution to ‘clean-out’ Freedom Square that night. Some people believed the rumors and some even went home. Thinking that it was just another attempt at provocation, I didn’t take the news seriously. In fact, there was talk that the army would assault the Square on a daily basis.
At 6 a.m. it appeared that the rumors were indeed true. News reached us that the army was heading our way. Immediately the men formed a line around the perimeter, encircling the women and children behind them. Levon Ter-Petrosyan made his way to the microphone and stated, “Be careful. I beg you not to take any actions on your own. The police are also our countrymen. They’ll come here and announce their demands after which we’ll decide what our next step will be.”
About ten minutes later the troops showed up. They lined up opposite to us at a distance of 1-1.5 meter. They all wore helmets and were carrying shields and truncheons. The forward rank was made up of police but behind them, wearing dark outfits, were the special detachments.
Some of the troops approached the podium were Levon Ter-Petrosyan was standing. At that point we pleaded with the police standing opposite us - “ Dear brothers, give us a break. Let’s all stand here till the sun rises. Why have you shown up in the middle of the night? Your sisters and mothers are here. If blood is spilt it will come from us and there are no Turks here.”
We stood facing each other like that for about 3-4 minutes. They didn’t utter a word. Suddenly the loudspeakers went dead, the lights went off and the assault began. We could hear Levon Ter-Petrosyan screaming out, “Let the people go. I am the leader...I am responsible.... Arrest me.”
We had pieces of wood to burn at the nightly campfires. Many of us fashioned clubs from the firewood for self-defense. As to their allegation that we were armed and that they showed up merely to perform a search...it’s a shameless lie. They never mentioned anything about wanting to search the vicinity or us. Furthermore, for ten straight days while we were assemble at Freedom Square, the police were in our midst day and night and never hinted about any search. The statement made by our top officials that based on secret information they had received the police were sent in to perform a search for weapons and ammunition is completely ridiculous.
In fact, even if we assume for argument’s sake, that someone in the crowd did have a grenade, they wouldn’t have hesitated to use it given the actions of the police.
When they initially charged us they were forced to retreat given our strong resistance. It was as if the whole thing was staged so that they could record it on film and show it for days on end on T.V. After the police retreated the Special Forces charged in and closed in on us in small groups and beat us. If you turned around they were behind you as well, beating you.
The women and children were crouched down in the tents out of fear. The troops were striking the tent bars with their feet and clubs and turning them upside down. They took the metal plates that we used to burn fires and threw the smoldering ashes on to the people inside the tents and beat them unmercifully. Your worst enemy wouldn’t have done such a thing. A terrible cry rose up from the Square. The women let out such a piercing wail from their pain and fear.
It was probably the freedom fighters, the ‘Yerkrapah’ guys, that somehow were able to open up a corridor to leading to Northern Avenue as an escape route. The troops didn’t give us that option; they had surrounded us on all sides. Wherever you looked they were lined up in ranks 5-6 deep. If our guys hadn’t opened up that hole or if it had taken more time to do so, none of us would have left the Square in one piece. We’d all have been crippled.
Even while we fled the scene they chased us down and beat us. Their main aim hadn’t been merely to disperse us but rather to terrorize and crush us; so that we’d never think of staging a rally again.
I fled to a friend’s house. They cleaned me up a bit and I returned to the Opera. By the time I got there everything was over. The Square was full of troops and the police were manning the entrances.
I was told that the people were gathering near the French Embassy and that the troops had begun to beat them. I made my way there. Armen Harutyunyan, the country’s Human Rights Defender, had just arrived on the scene. The police struck him at least twice with their clubs as he tried to prevent them from taking one of the demonstrators into custody.
Later tens of thousands of people showed up and erected barricades and prepared to defend themselves. When night had fallen the authorities made their move. The army, from their position nearby the fish shop, moved forward towards the people. The troops started firing illuminating tracer bullets but to no avail. The people let out such a hue and cry that the army started to panic. Then again, they were only 18 year-old soldiers.
They advanced again. We punched a few of them and the confrontation erupted. The people fought with stones, sticks and steel bars. The army was forced to retreat. Then we heard shots ring out. At first I thought they were rubber bullets. But the bullets were hitting the walls of buildings and ricocheting off. From the clear noise they made I knew they were army-issue rounds being fired. It’s a lie that shots were being fired from within the crowd of people. The videotaped the area from all sides. Even if someone in the crowd had a small pistol they wouldn’t have removed that person from the T.V. screen. It was they who besides using water cannons, tear gas, taser guns and concussion grenades, started to open fire on the unfortunate crowd with live military rounds. I saw it with my own eyes; even a retreating armored vehicle opened fire with a heavy machine gun.
People had fallen to the ground but I can’t say why or whether they were dead or alive. Given the confused state I was in, the only thing I could think of was self-preservation and not helping anyone.
From the hail of Molotov cocktails tossed by the crowd the army was forced to retreat to Leo Street. They’re surely would have been more dead if those bottles hadn’t been thrown. All this could have been avoided if they had freed Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
Today, they are heaping all the blame on us. They have described us as hooligans or at best misdirected souls under some hypnotic influence. No one raises the question, OK, where was the Catholicos during all this? He should have shown up and taken control of these people ‘gone astray’. I am certain that things would have ended differently if the Catholicos had stood between the people and the troops. But it seems that our Vehapar had more important matters to attend to. I don’t know...I am deeply hurt and disillusioned. I will not set foot within the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin for as long as that man is there.
I don’t even want to discuss the looting. Those who had come to do battle crossed over the barricades to the vicinity of the Miasnikyan Statue after the confrontation. When we heard what was happening on Mashtots Avenue I went through some back alleys to reach there. The looters were the local riff-raff or people specifically sent there. I hadn’t seen any of them at any of the rallies.
Some of the looters were removing items from the stores and calmly loading them into waiting cars. Police officers were standing nearby and didn’t raise a finger. Furthermore, the entire affair was being captured on camera and nobody asked, ‘Hey, wait a minute, what the hell is going on?’.
The nation must rise up as one; there’s no other solution. Their actions directly incite the people to resort to violence. There are many freedom fighters and people who shed blood defending this country who were badly beaten. They were humiliated and abused to the very depths of their soul. How long can this go on for? One day someone will resort to a lone desperate action with unforeseen circumstances. Is this what awaits us?
Turkey-Armenia Opposition Ideological by Panarmenian
Installation of U.S. missile defense shield in Turkey should first of all trouble Russia, Iran and China, Armenian political scientist Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan said in an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net.
“Opposition between Armenia and Turkey is ideological by nature. It’s quite another matter, that the facilities will be placed near the Armenian border.”
“It’s no doubt that any U.S. defense shield will immediately become the target of Russian missiles. It is a vital retaliation for Russia. It’s not pleasant but I do not think that possible shift in the U.S.-Russia face-off can affect Armenia’s security,” he said.
Turkish Cartoon: "Democracy Cannot Enter The Turkish State! There is Shari'a"
On the gate: "The State"
1. The turbaned woman: " I can enter, there is democracy..."
2. Woman in black bourqa: "I can enter, there is democracy..."
3. Bearded Islamist man in Islamist garbs: "I can enter, there is democracy..."
4. Democracy: [from inside] "You cannot enter!!! There is Shari'a"
Source: Cumhuriyet, Turkey, March 1, 2008
Independent MP Kamer Genc described the detentions of Ilhan Selcuk and Dogu Perincek as “shocking” and “grave” and said that this is the sound of the footsteps of the coming Shari’a. Speaking at a press conference Genc said that Ilhan Selcuk was a pioneer of enlightment and demanded respect for freedom of press. He said, “They [AKP] call this ‘Ergenekon investigation’. What is this, let them clarify. I as an MP don’t know anything about this Ergenekon. Is this a gang of robbery, fraud or a shari’a gang? What was done to Selcuk and Perincek today is nothing but the rumbling of the footsteps of those who want to make a shari’a coup in our country”.. .
The independent MP Ufuk Uras reacted to Ilhan Selcuk's detention by saying that such threatening actions against journalists are hurting the public conscience and creating concerns about the judiciary. He added, “These moves should be consistent with the law and fundamentals of democracy. Such anti-democratic and threatening behaviors create question marks in the minds of the people".
Source: Hurriyet, all Turkish dailies, March 21, 2008
Anti-AKP Turkish Leftist Columnist's Custody Draws Fierce Reaction
Leftist Cumhuriyet daily's columnist and chairman of the board of trustees Ilhan Selcuk was taken into custody early Friday with suspected links to an illegal gang which is accused of paving the way to a military coup. Media organizations and opposition parties slammed the move. Cumhuriyet said Selcuk's detention reminded the events of military intervention into politics from 1971 and 1980. (UPDATED)
In the operation 11 more people were taken into custody including Workers' Party leader Dogu Perincek and former rector of Istanbul University Prof. Kemal Alemdaroglu. Perincek was taken into custody in Ankara and brought to Istanbul for interrogation, the official Anatolian Agency reported.
Turkish police searched branches of Workers' Party and private TV channel Ulusal Kanal in Istanbul. "Police staged simultaneous operations at the branches of Workers' Party, Ulusal Kanal and Aydinlik magazine in Istanbul and Ankara around 4-4:30 a.m. this morning," Erkan Onsel, deputy chairman of the party, told reporters.
Analysts say Selcuk's detention is a new episode in the nationalist and Islamist groups' struggle for power. Cumhuriyet is among the strongest opponents of the AKP government in media.
High-level AKP officials, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, have said the closure case against the ruling party was launched to cover up the Ergenekon operation.
Selcuk is a very important and prominent figure in Turkey's leftist political movement. He was arrested in 1970s following a military-declared state of emergency. He has been writing columns in leftist Cumhuriyet daily, which became the symbol of anti-AKP movement, since 1963 and published number of books such as "I Think Therefore Shoot Me", "Left-Right-Sharia".
Local news agencies reported almost 500 people gathered in front of the Cumhuriyet daily's headquarters in Istanbul as well as the Workers' Party building in Ankara to protest the custodies.
Ibrahim Yildiz, editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, told journalists Selcuk's detention reminded the events of military intervention into politics from 1971 and 1980.
"We suppose (Selcuk) is fine because we can't contact him. Ilhan Selcuk is 85 years old. He had had two serious heart attacks. We couldn't get any information and we are concerned", he added when asked about Selcuk's health condition under custody.
He also said they tried to contact the President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin but couldn't reach them.
"SUPPRESSION POLICY AGAINST OPPOSITON"
The leader of main opposition leftist CHP accused AKP of trying to create its own "deep state." "Turkey is being dragged into a very dangerous conflict. This process is not consistent with democracy," Deniz Baykal told in a televised news conference in Ankara.
The lawyer of Selcuk, Fikret Ilkiz, told reporters on Friday he will not be able to see his client for 24 hours, noting Selcuk was taken into custody under the anti-terror law. Ilkiz also urged integrity. "We have to take this as an investigation. It would be better if we stay a bit calm." He expects Selcuk's interrogation to be completed in 48 hours.
The socialist independent MP Ufuk Uras showed reaction to Selcuk's detention, saying such threatening actions against journalists are hurting the public concisness and increasing concerns on judiciary. "Those exercises should be consistent with law and fundamentals of democracy. Such anti-democratic and threatening behaviors cause question marks in the soceity" he said in a statement on Friday.
Oktay Eksi, the chairman of Turkish Press Council -an influent media organization-, said he was shocked by custody of Selcuk. "I don't think they are involved with such organization. I just want to say that I am shocked". Press Council is a self regulation platform created by journalists with the aim of realizing a freer and a more respectable press, according to its website.
Another press organization said custody of Selcuk and Perincek similar to those that had happened during the military junta. "This situation is a suppression policy against opposing columnists, publishers and media", Ahmet Abakay, the chairman of Modern Journalists Association, said in a statement.
The probe against the Ergenekon gang started after hand grenades that were issued to security forces were seized at the home of a retired military officer in Istanbul last June. A retired military commander and a lawyer were among those arrested earlier. A total of 39 people have been arrested under the investigation.
Authorities have not commented publicly on the investigation, and most reports about the investigation have emerged in local media and are based on anonymous sources. The Ergenekon gang was suspected of being behind a series of bombings on the Cumhuriyet newspaper offices carried out last year, Turkish media have said previously.
Newspapers have said the group had been plotting a series of bomb attacks and assassinations and were behind the killing of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
CHP Leader Baykal: “Turkey Dragged Into Dangerous Clashes; AKP Is Building Its State Within The State”
Leader of the main opposition [CHP] Deniz Baykal reacted to the detentions of Turkey’s prominent, senior journalist/writer Ilhan Selcuk, former Istanbul University president and one of the country’s best known surgeons Prof. Kemal Alemdaroglu, and Dogu Perincek the leader of a political party, among other media personalities.
In a televised speech, Baykal said, “The AKP has already completed the process of partisan appointments and it is reaping the benefits of having its people in all the ranks of the state. Now it is building its own state within the state. This process is not consistent with democracy and the rule of law. It is not acceptable in democracies for the ruling party to abuse the power of being in government in order to intimidate respectable intellectuals. Turkey is being dragged into very dangerous clashes. This cannot go on like this. There are, there must be, limits not to be crossed”. Baykal also said that the country’s Constitution has turned into an ordinary document that gets amended according to the daily changing needs of the AKP.
Source: CNNTurk TV, Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Aksam, March 21-22, 2008
AKP Opponents Senior Columnist, Workers’ Party Leader, Former University President Taken Into Custody In Early Morning Raids
The chief columnist and chairman of the board of trustees of the reputable center-left Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, the 83 year old Ilhan Selcuk was taken into custody at 4:00 AM today from his home - for alleged links to an illegal gang accused of planning a military coup. Media organizations are condemning the move.
In simultaneous raids, Chairman of the Workers’ Party Dogu Perincek and the former president of the Istanbul University Professor Kemal Alemdaroglu were also detained for the same suspicions.
Cumhuriyet is among the strongest critiques of the AKP government in Turkish media.
Source: Hurriyet, Milliyet, Vatan, Turkey, March 21, 2008
Ergenekon Arrests Broaden To Include Party Leader, Journalists
March 22, 2008
The investigation of a criminal gang accused of considering assassinating senior public figures expands to include the detainment of leading nationalist leader, media editors and leading journalists
ISTANBUL – TDN with wire dispatches
The police investigation that began with the seizure of several hand grenades in a shanty house in Istanbul was broadened to include more public figures yesterday, including daily Cumhuriyet's lead columnist Ilhan Selçuk, Workers' Party (IP) leader Dogu Perinçek and former Istanbul University Rector Professor Kemal Alemdaroglu.
The investigation, called “Ergenekon,” began after the seizure of 27 hand grenades, said to be of the same make that the military uses, were seized from an Istanbul shanty house.
Several noncommissioned and retired military officers were arrested before senior public figures were placed before the court. Late in January, 33 people were arrested, among them retired Brig. General Veli Küçük, whose name has been associated with many political scandals; nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz; Güler Kömürcü, a columnist at Aksam daily; Fikri Karadag, president of the nationalist “Kuvayi Milliye” (National Forces) Association; Ali Yasak and Sami Hostan, two alleged “mafia” leaders; and Fuat Turgut, lawyer of Yasin Hayal, the alleged instigator of the murder of journalist Hrant Dink.
The investigation began with claims that the gang was considering assassinating senior Kurdish politicians and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, but the police also arrested figures questioned in the murder of Dink, the assassination and wounding of the Council of State judges and a series of bombings near daily Cumhuriyet's Istanbul offices.
Among those detained on Friday were also Ulusal Kanal Television Channel's Editor-in-Chief Fethi Ilsever, Aydinlik Magazin Editor-in-Chief Serhan Bolluk, journalist Adnan Akfirat and businessman Ibrahim Benli.
It was reported that Istanbul Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz ordered the arrests. Thirty-nine people have already been charged in the Ergenekon investigation.The police told Reuters 12 people in total had been detained in the latest sweep.The operation began with the detainment of Perinçek, Selçuk and Alemdaroglu early in the morning and a search of the Ulusal Kanal building, and searches also included the homes of those under arrest.
The raids at the Workers' Party headquarters in Ankara and the Istanbul bureau took place between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. and police were checking documents found there, said the party's deputy leader Erkan Önsel.
Perinçek was taken to Istanbul for questioning, and as he was leaving the court, he shouted to journalists, “Tayyip Erdogan's crimes are piling up. They will eventually be crushed under them. We were arrested illegally.”
Perinçek is a stalwart opponent of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Nur Serter, who worked with Alemdaroglu for many years, described the arrests as “a revenge plan.” “Alemdaroglu has fought for the secular republic and Atatürk's principles. These arrests as part of an unknown indictment for a gang known as Ergenekon are very interesting,” Serter said.
Progressive Journalists Association (ÇGD) President Ahmet Abakay condemned the arrests and detainments and noted that those held were known for their opposition to the government. “This is an act done to create fear among those who oppose government policies,” he said.
They have already begun legal proceedings against Selçuk, 85, who was taken into custody because they were worried about his health, said Cumhuriyet daily Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Yilmaz.
A Yeşilçam Star Fades Away by Vercihan Ziflioğlu
March 15, 2008
The Turkish film industry has lost its villain. Director, actor and artist Kenan Pars, also known as Krikor Cezveciyan, of Armenian origin has left behind 300 movies. Pars, who had financial problems in recent years, dies at the age of 88
The history of Turkish cinema is divided into two periods: Before and after the 1980s. The Hollywood of Turkey, Yeşilçam, has created 7,000 films so far, despite little or no capital or technical equipment, but most of these were destroyed in four fires that broke out in the depot where the films were stored in the 1970s, while others were stolen.
Many films that would shed light on the history of Turkish cinema were poured into the sea in Sarayburnu because of film coil shortage, according to some rumors in the cinema world.
Turkish cinema started to blossom in the 1950s despite financial problems, and the first Turkish color film was shot in 1954, sponsored by Yapı Kredi Bank and Doğan Kardeş Magazine. “Halıcı Kız” was directed by prominent theater artist Muhsin Ertuğrul. Yeşilçam opened up to the world again in 1954 when the “Kanlarıyla Ödediler” movie directed by Osman Seden was sent to the Cannes Film Festival. However, the movie was rejected for being primitive.
Yeşilçam is a good example of multiculturalism in Turkey. Screenwriters, actors, actresses and cameramen of Armenian or Greek origins produced the very first movies of Yeşilçam together with Turkish artists. Producers demanded artists from minority groups use pseudonyms on the screen. Although some of the artists' original identities were unveiled from time to time, Turkish cinema audiences never alienated these stars, with whom they shared laughter, love and tears. The villain of Turkish cinema Kenan Pars, also known as Krikor Cezveciyan, is among the popular artists of Armenian origin. Pars, who died Monday at the age of 88, played in a total of 300 Yeşilçam movies. He was also interested in theater and directed six movies, "Oğlum," "Derdimden Anlayan Yok," "Cinayet Gecesi," "Ölüm Allahın Emri,” "Aklın Durur” and "Bir Ateşim Yanarım," from 1961-1966. Film critic Orhan Ünsel, who is a fan of Pars, shared his ideas on Yeşilçam and Pars in an interview with the Turkish Daily News.
'The Villain' on the phone
Ünsel took an interest in cinema when he was six years old. “My uncle owned cinemas in the Samsun province on the Black Sea coast. I used to go to the cinema right after school and stay there for hours to watch all the movies,” said Ünsel. He became even more passionate about films during university, when he watched at least six movies a week and started reading books on cinema, Ünsel said. Ünsel met Pars in 1954. “Pars performed his role as a villain very successfully throughout the film [“Kanlarıyla Ödediler” by Osman Seden],” said Ünsel. “At the end of the film, he was supposed to stab his brother, played by Eşraf Kolçak, in the back with an axe. He acted so well in this scene that it seemed almost real. Pars carved his name into my mind with that scene.” Ünsel started to follow all of Pars' movies after that, and after completing his law studies at the Ankara University, he moved to Istanbul, the heart of Yeşilçam.
“I ran into spotlights at every corner in Beyoğlu,” said Ünsel, adding that he met many prominent figures in those years, which was a magical experience for him. Ünsel decided to meet Pars to learn more about cinema in 1980s, and luckily found Pars's phone number. “I dialed the number without any hesitation, and there he was on the other end of the line. I introduced myself and asked for an appointment,” said Ünsel, who met Pars many times in the following years. “Pars is the villain of Turkish cinema,” Ünsel said. “The Turkish villain type does not exist in the cinemas of the rest of the world. The villain is always bad until the end of Turkish movies, which charges the audience. But the villain always loses against good at the end,” Ünsel said, referring to the famous actor Yılmaz Güney.
History of Turkish cinema is the history of the unknown
Many Yeşilçam stars had financial problems in the last years of their lives. “Some went to live in poorhouses, some in asylums,” said Ünsel, blaming their situations on copyrights law. The artists also did not make the right investments when they were making large amounts of money, he said. Pars also experienced financial problems in recent years, depending on selling newspapers and lottery tickets to make a living. “Had Pars acted in Hollywood, he would have made millions of dollars,” Ünsel said and added that artists do not receive much attention after a certain age. “Unfortunately, ‘the villain' is not with us anymore. Our cinema has lost another big gun,” said Ünsel.
Turkish cinema was “the history of the unknown,” said Ünsel, because documents that could shed light on the past were destroyed. Knowledge of Turkish cinema history will always be insufficient, even with thorough research.
Veteran Actor-Director Kenan Pars Laid To Rest
Actors, fans and artists gathered yesterday at several ceremonies to bid farewell to Kenan Pars, a renowned actor of Turkey’s cinema history who passed away at the age of 88 on Monday.
Film director and actor Pars had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer complicated by the flu for the past month.
At the first ceremony held yesterday morning for Pars, or Kirkor Cezveciyan, his actual name, held at the Bakirköy Artists Association (BASD) building, family, friends, fans and artists held a minute of silence for the actor. In a speech she made during the ceremony, his wife Dikran Uhi Cezveciyan thanked his fans who came to the ceremony.
The speakers emphasized Pars’ personality and his continuous struggle to make his living environment and surroundings a better place for the people around him. Bakirköy’s Regional Administrator (Kaymakam) Dursun Ali Sahin also attended the ceremony and said in a speech that Pars visited his office at least twice a week. He praised Pars, saying he had dedicated his life to improving their neighborhood. Bakirköy Mayor Ates Ünal Erzen also praised Pars’ contributions to the Bakirköy area.
Actors Üstün Asutay and Cihat Tamer, in separate speeches, said Pars, an ethnic Armenian, had filled an important place in Turkish cinema, adding he would never be forgotten. A second ceremony was held for Pars in the afternoon at the Yunus Emre Culture Center. Müsfik Kenter, another veteran thespian and an old friend of Pars, said in a eulogy that he was very sorry for never having had the chance to play in the same movie with the actor. Pars was laid to rest after a funeral service at the Bakirköy Armenian Church.
13.03.2008 Today’s Zaman Istanbul
Our Turkish Trial Site has an article on Kenan Pars had over 68.000 hits (Page Views) in 4 days via Google Search and sevaral referrals such as Famous Ekşi Sözlük
Thanks to Google, Ekşi Sözlük and other referrers to make our Kenan Pars post the Top Rating Post. It has achieved more hits in 4 Days than any post we have ever achieved in such short time frame. By the way, we are just testing that Turkish Site and we don't have an editor. Please contact us if you'd like to volunteer yourself.
Turkish Professor: “PKK and ASALA Terrorist Organizations Work Together Against Turkey And Azerbaijan”
10 Mar 2008
Erzrum. –APA. 278 Turks killed by Armenians in Alaca village of Erzrum, Turkey 90 years ago were commemorated, APA Turkish Bureau reports.
Delivering a speech at the ceremony, Professor Erol Kurkchuogly, head of Turkish-Armenian Relations Research Center of Ataturk University, said PKK and Armenian ASALA terrorist organizations operated together against Turkey and Azerbaijan. He ruefully emphasized that Armenians could force parliaments of 15 countries to recognize so-called “genocide”. The Professor said Armenia described Turkish areas of Kars, Ardahan, Van and Erzincan as the Western Armenia in its Constitution. Major of Turkish Armed Forces Polat Can said that Armenians still dreamed about “state” in the territory of Turkey. ”Armenians showed their traitor face after Ottoman Empire’s defeat in the World War I. They wanted to establish Armenian state in our lands. While they couldn’t achieve this, they began massacres against Turks in our eastern regions. They are still campaigning for Armenian state in our territory. We will tear away hands stretched to our lands and give a strong retaliation to our enemy today and tomorrow like it was yesterday”.
© 2004-2008 APA.
Armenia Should Recognize Karabakh Independence
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia should recognize independence of Nagorno Karabakh but not the right of Karabakhi people to self-determination, former NKR Foreign Minister Arman Melikyan said.
“Many opponents do not recognize Karabakh, noting ironically that Armenia itself doesn’t do it. We should recognize independence of Nagorno Karabakh and I am confident that this motion will gain support,” Melikyan told “Kosovo precedent. Can it be applied to Artsakh?” seminar.
After Armenia’s recognition of NKR independence, Karabakh’s borders should be fixed, according to him.
“Our problems began when Armenia agreed to territorial haggle. But we can’t cede territories which belong to Karabakh by law,” Melikyan said, reminding of 500 thousand of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan.
“These people should live on a territory controlled legally by the NKR and should be granted citizenship. From the standpoint of international law, the Kosovo precedent offers Armenia a possibility to ground its moves,” he said.
“We should decide whether Karabakh is an independent state or a part of Armenia,” he emphasized, Novosti Armenia reports.
U.S. May Suspend Millennium Challenge Account
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ “If Armenia doesn’t observe certain provisions of the Millennium Challenge Account, the program may be stopped,” RA Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told a news conference in Yerevan today.
“Armenian authorities were facing a dilemma: security and stability or financial assistance. The matter is that democratic values have not taken final shape in Armenia yet. We should not forget that only 17 years have passed since the USSR decline. At that, it’s worth mentioning that the U.S. will suspend financial flows to the structures which can’t function under the emergency rule,” he said.
Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice said that “the state of emergency in Armenia, imposed recently after rioting against the results of the presidential election, had made it necessary to suspend some U.S. programs there.”
American Professor Denies Armenian Genocide Claims
March 13, 2008 ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
The alleged Armenian genocide never happened and foreign reporters at the time wrote false stories about things they never saw, said Justin McCarthy, an American professor, at a conference titled “Enemies of the Truth” Tuesday.
McCarthy, author of the book, "The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire, 2001" said, “Western reporters wrote that thousands of Armenians were killed by the Turks in Sasun between the 1890s and 1912, however it is impossible to report what happened from Sasun to Kars in Britain on the same day. It used to take a week to go from Sasun to Kars,” and added, “how did those reporters manage to report all that on the same day if they had never been there?”
“Western reporters were liars, they only talked to missionaries and Armenians and never wrote about the Turks killed in the region,” he said. “Those who lie about history are enemies of the truth and they have reasons for doing this,” said McCarthy and added that those reasons were propaganda, getting an Armenian state in the region or the donations that they received. McCarthy also complained about Western newspapers, which published and still publish the false statistics of the 1890s, according to which around one million Armenians lived in eastern Anatolia. “If those statistics are right, the Armenian population in the region should be larger than the Turks, Kurds and other minorities, but they were not,” said McCarty, adding that those statistics, which were said to be Ottoman, in fact were not. “Ottomans never counted people using their nationalities. The basis was being Muslim or non-Muslim,” he said.
Omer Engin LUTEM Decision Of The Armenian Constitutional Court
11 March 2008, ERAREN
Levon Ter Petrosyan applied to the Armenian constitutional court for the cancellation of the Armenian presidential elections claiming that some irregularities took place which favored Prime Minister Serj Sarkisian. The court took its final decision in March 10, 2008 and stipulated that although there were some irregularities, these were not important enough to change the result of the election. The report of OSCE observers also mentioned that some irregularities happened during the elections but nothing was said about the cancellation of the elections. Consequently, there is no legal obstacle left for the presidency of Serj Sarkisisan.
The events which took place in Armenia after the election of February 19 created major changes in the country.
First of all the repressive character of the Armenian regime became obvious as the security forces dispersed the demonstrators by using force and the death of nine, the injury of 130 persons occurred, lots of arrest made and a kind of censorship applied against the media. As these tragic events were not seriously criticized in Armenia and in the foreign countries it is obvious that Armenian authorities will not hesitate to use force for the future.
The demonstrations of Ter Petrosian supporters were actually an initiative for a pink revolution. However, they did not secure enough popular support. The third candidate for presidency, Mr. Artur Bagdasarian, instead of taking the side of the demonstrators shifted to the government side and by this way Ter Petrosian and his followers became isolated. Apart from this, the tendency of the government to use force makes a pink revolution almost impossible in the near future.
On the other hand, the use of force, the death and injured people it caused will weaken for a while the authority of Serj Sarkisian who will be the President in the next month. This weakness will most probably delay any courageous initiative of the new president to solve the problem of his country with Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Finally, we should also say that the relatively short lived chaos of Armenia was directly affected Karabagh problem and caused serious armed clashes that was not seen for many years.
As a result, we can say that the post election events, contrary of what was expected, damaged the domestic stability and complicated or delayed of finding solutions to the problems with its neighbors.
Fehmi Koru email@example.com Better Late Than Never
His silhouette is black and white in my mind from the Turkish movies he appeared in back in the 1960s. He was handsome, extremely handsome, a la early Marlon Brando. Something, nevertheless, was missing -- when the time in the movie came to get the girl, the girl always chose somebody else, even though the chosen one was not as handsome as he was.
I always wondered why Kenan Pars as an actor was destined to suffer in love affairs, despite the fact that he was likable and charming by Turkish cinema standards. I cannot remember when I found out the truth, but I know for sure that my personal enlightenment came rather late. Although he went by the name of Kenan Pars, his original name was Kirkor Cezveciyan, and he was of Armenian descent. He assumed a Turkish sounding name to get a place in Turkish cinema and was able to play different roles throughout his long career. He also directed six movies and played in some TV serials until his demise last week at the age of 88.
I am sure his friends in the movie business knew his ethnic background and didn't mind. Turkish cinema has a history of tolerance for non-Turkish and non-Muslim players. Pars was not alone in his generation of Armenian-Turkish artists; there were many like him in the entertainment business. Some, like Pars and Sami Hazinses, changed their names to Turkish sounding ones, and others like Nubar Terziyan retained their original names. In the Turkish Internet encyclopedia (tr-wikipedia) in a section titled "Famous Armenian-Turkish citizens" it relates the names of some well-known Turkish actors and actresses of Armenian descent; there are some with Turkish names, and even today a great majority of Turks don't know that they were of Armenian origin.
In my own childhood I had the experience of studying with non-Turkish minorities. I was born in Izmir, the most cosmopolitan city in Turkey on the Aegean coast, and lived in a neighborhood with a variety of ethnicities. My classmates included at least four Jews. I remember them as very industrious, not only in school but also after school, when they went to help at their fathers' businesses.
Then the non-Muslim and non-Turkish minorities in my neighborhood suddenly disappeared.
He was not Pars in my mind's eye; he was always a character in Turkish movies, playing in as many as 218 films since 1952 in which he tried to attract the attention of the most beautiful girl and always suffered in the end. I cannot remember an instant that Pars won the heart of any lead actress; she was never his. He always had to play second fiddle and suffer heartbreak.
In his later years, Pars showed some interest in the Islamic art of calligraphy.
It is not easy to be a member of a minority group in an overwhelmingly homogenous country. Turkish-Armenians, after all the heartbreaking experiences of the early 1900s, have remained among us, participating in Turkish society with their own skills and expertise. Many of the families of Armenian descent have been living in Anatolia as long as the Turks, or even longer, and because of their minority status in a largely Muslim society, have suffered socially. At the same time, since they don't raise their voices of discontent to the satisfaction of diaspora Armenians, they also take some blame from their ethnic brethren.
The Armenians and other religious minorities came to the fore of Turkey's attention very recently, when some religious organizations held fast-breaking activities and invited religious representatives of ethnic minorities. That brought about more understanding of non-Muslims living among us in the minds of religiously inclined people.
My heart rejoices to see some activities that do the reverse; Muslims joining Christians' Easter celebrations, for example.
In an interview conducted a year ago, Pars related a story from his days in the army. He suffered there, too, in his younger days. He was given a shovel instead of a weapon and was sent with other minority soldiers to work in road construction. He was given a reprieve later on when he became aide-de-camp to his commander. One of the most vivid memories of his army days was an Easter breakfast. His commander's wife prepared a full-fledged Easter table, including red eggs. He noted in the interview that he changed then and there and became more hopeful as an Armenian living in a society in which Turks were the majority.
Turkish society, too -- though perhaps rather late -- is changing. Pars died an Armenian Christian and was buried in an Armenian cemetery after a ceremony held at a church. But the highest ranking Islamic authority of his district in Istanbul called on his neighbors to pray for his soul in the Islamic tradition. The mufti of Bakirköy, Izzettin Konuk, is determined to send up his prayers for Pars, saying that Pars' burial in an Armenian Christian cemetery shouldn't prevent Muslims who knew him from doing so.
Pars' face, smart and handsome to the end, must be displaying a satisfied smile that his determination to remain where he was born and entertain the people who were his neighbors and countrymen was not in vain..
Ekrem Dumanli firstname.lastname@example.org Why Do The Armenian Genocide Allegations Outrage The Turkish Public?
Whenever a debate on the so-called Armenian genocide pushes the Turkish Republic into a corner, the Turkish people react.
This is owing not only to a reflex of nationalistic feelings but also because Turks base their reactions on their own historical grounds. Where and when such grounds are not known, Turks appear to be almost too patriotic and sensitive to historical issues. I would like to list a few reasons to help those unfamiliar with the subject to understand Turks’ reactions.
1. The Turkish public is skeptical about the sincerity of those European countries that insist on keeping the Armenian genocide on their agenda. Turkish people believe the Armenian issue is being used as a tool to keep Turkey outside EU membership. A feeling prevalent among Turkish citizens is that France, an EU member, is using the Armenian issue as leverage against Turkey’s accession to the EU. In other words, for some Western countries the problem is not Armenia, it’s Turkey. Western countries that want to keep Turkey, with its Muslim identity, outside the EU go to great lengths to hinder Turkey in its efforts to develop good relations with the West and to make progress in its EU bid.
2. The incident described as the Armenian genocide took place in 1915 during the Ottoman period. The Sultanate was abolished and the Turkish Republic was established in 1923. Thus, a century-old incident is constantly being brought to the fore to pressure Turkey. A sincere Europe would first take a look at its own recent past. France, for example, must account for its Algerian massacre, and many other Western countries could be held responsible for the war in Bosnia. Europe cannot clear its conscience by blaming the Bosnian massacre on a Serbian dictator.
3. The Turkish people do not perceive the events of 1915 as genocide. They believe that nationalist Armenian leaders collaborated with the enemy, namely, the French and the Russians, to invade Ottoman territory. They believe the alleged genocide was actually a forced emigration. The Ottoman administration foresaw a clash between Turks and Armenians owing to the Armenian cooperation with the invading forces; thus it was forced to evacuate the Armenian minority.
4. It is well known that archives demonstrate that a number of officials in the Ottoman administration were prosecuted for abusing their power during the forced emigration. Some were convicted and punished for failing to effect the safety of the emigrating Armenians. The Turkish public believes that the Ottoman administration, which executed the Bogazliyan district governor for abusing his power, did not commit genocide.
5. Armenians and the Ottomans lived in peace and harmony for nearly five centuries. The first Armenian church was opened by the conqueror of Istanbul, Sultan Fatih. With Fatih ascending the throne, all religious minorities -- and of course the Armenians-- enjoyed freedom of religion and equal rights, as they do today. Throughout history, Armenian relations have been honored and their rights have been respected since many Armenians served as pashas and worked in foreign affairs and in other important echelons of the Ottoman state. Toward the end of the Ottoman era, an Armenian reached the position of sadrazam, or the second most powerful person in the state bureaucracy. Even during the days of forced emigration there were high-level Armenian officials in office. But polarization, a consequence of the nation-state, began in the 19th century and has continued to the present day. Despite the growing polarization, relations among citizens have remained amicable.
6. The Turkish people do not harbor animosity toward Armenians. There are many Armenians in Turkish cinema, sports, theater and arts: Asu Maralman, Arto, Onno Tunç, Garo Mafyan, soccer player Lefter, photographer Ara Güler and actors Kenan Pars and Sami Hazinses. This list could go on to name many who have become role models; the Turkish and Muslim majority of Turkey’s citizens are not upset by this.
The Turkish government suggested that both sides open up the archives and start debates on the basis of documented evidence. But European countries remained mum and the Armenian diaspora ignored Turkey’s invitation, prompting a reaction from the Turkish public.
That’s the way it is. One could offer a broader range of reasons; however, the few reasons enumerated above should be sufficient to understand why Turks react to the Armenian claims. Until these doubts are cleared up, Turks seem not be eager to discuss the Armenian issue. 22.02.2007
PACE Observer: Ankara Wants Armenia Tensions To Ease
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The election campaign revealed Serzh Sargsyan as the most mature candidate. Observers met all presidential hopefuls except for Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who refused to appear at the meeting. Meanwhile, Serzh Sargsyan presented explanation on all accusations brought against him,” said Mesude Nursuna Memecan, a Turkish parliament member and PACE observer.
“The observers’ reports record progress as compared to the previous elections,” she said, adding that Turkey stands for soonest resolution of the political crisis in Armenia.
“Congratulating President-elect Serzh Sargsyan, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul called for normalization of relations. Turkey is ready to lend a helping hand to Armenia, as normalization of relations is important,” she said, 1news.az reports.
AKP member Mesude Nursuna Memecan served on the 26-member PACE observation mission.
Under Armenian President’s Decree on imposition state of emergency, all PanARMENIAN.Net publications concerning domestic affairs will be strictly limited to official coverage during the period of March 1 - March 20.
Sounds like censorhip to me
In Armenia, Blogs Step In As News Source by Cyndy Aleo-Carreira
March 9th, 2008
On 3 March, the Armenian government declared a 20-day state of emergency after confrontations between the former president and security due to tensions after the contested elections that took place on 19 February. As part of the state of emergency, the government declared that the only news that can be published by the media outlets is news that comes directly from the government.
As Global Voices notes, all television stations in Armenia are either state-owned or owned by businesses with close ties to the government, and any other news agencies who didn't comply with the order have been all but silenced. Even Radio Free Europe has been removed from the airwaves.
Google Blogoscoped has a report that YouTube has also been blocked, preventing Armenian citizens from getting news there. The YouTube blockage is undoubtedly to prevent Armenian citizens from viewing the official channel of A1plus news, the pro-opposition station that was taken off the air in 2002.
The Armenian government has apparently underestimated the power of bloggers, however. Armenian bloggers, both inside and outside the Armenian borders, have continued to post and discuss the news, linking those who have been cut off from any non-government news source to alternate sources of information. Both hosted and independent blogs are still able to post articles, and as of yet, no hosted blog services have been blocked.
While many of us take the ability to blog for granted, for many it has become the only way to get more than one version of important news events. Citizen journalism may be a luxury here in the U.S., but for many parts of the world, it's a necessity.
US Sharply Condemns Armenian Government
A senior US official who recently returned from Armenia sharply condemned a government crackdown on protests following last month's presidential election.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza also raised concern about the recent arrests of government opponents close to former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan. The government declared a 20-day state of emergency on March 1 after clashes between protesters and police left eight people dead and dozens injured. "The violence really was deplorable," Bryza told The Associated Press Monday. "It seems clear that the reaction by the government was harsh and brutal." Following the Feb. 19 vote, election officials declared Prime Minister Serge Sarkisyan the winner over Ter-Petrosyan, who appealed, claiming fraud, and organized protests. On Saturday, the Constitutional Court rejected the appeal. Ter-Petrosyan has vowed further protest after the state of emergency is lifted.
12.03.2008 AP Washington
Dink Lawyers To Take Case Against Police To European Court
Lawyers for assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s family have decided to bring a case against some of the police involved in the Dink murder investigation to the European Court of Human Rights. One of the lawyers, Fethiye Çetin, noted that they had brought allegations of misconduct and obstructing justice to Turkish prosecutors but to no avail.
The lawyers for Dink’s family had appealed to the Istanbul chief public prosecutor regarding seven policemen, including former Trabzon police intelligence chief Engin Dinç and former anti-terror team head Yahya Öztürk, with the claim that these officers had obstructed justice. The Istanbul chief public prosecutor sent the appeal to the Trabzon Public Prosecutor’s Office, which decided on Jan. 10 that there was no need to open a court case against the policemen. The lawyers appealed the decision to the nearest high criminal court, in Rize, but last week the court in Rize also decided not to open a case against the policemen. “The suspects did not commit murder by negligence and were not aware of the murder plans,” the Rize court said.
Çetin told Today’s Zaman that with the decision of the Rize court, they had exhausted all domestic legal remedies with regards to the police.
“We are waiting for a writ from the Rize court. Then we have six months to apply to the European Court of Human Rights, and we will do so as soon as possible,” Çetin said.
12.03.2008, Ayse Karabat Ankara, Zaman
Three Conditions For Armenia On The Borders
The election of Prime Minister Serj Sarkisyan at the presidency elections in Armenia has not relieved Ankara. Sarkisyan is considered as the “heir apparent” of the current President Robert Koçaryan, who pursuit harsh policy against Turkey.
Lately, Sarkisyan was in an effort towars putting pressure on Ankara via particularly the USA and the European countries for opening the border between Turkey and Armenia.
Ankara evaluated Sarkisyan’s statement that was made to Wall Street Journal and which stated:”Turkey doesn’t have to recognize genocide for opening the borders” as ridiculous.
Reminding that it is Turkey, which has closed the borders, not Armenia, a Turkish diplomat said: “It is Turkey, which can stipulate for opening the borders, not Armenia.”
According to the diplomat, Turkey has three conditions for opening borders with Armenia, and abandoning the insistence for “recognition of the genocide by Turkey” by the Armenian government, is only one of them. The following are the conditions that are presented by Turkey for opening the borders:
- Armenia should give up its insistence for the recognition of the genocide by Turkey and stop the campaign it has been conducting all around the World.
- Armenia should withdraw from the invaded lands of Karabakh. It should find a permanent solution to Karabakh question together with Azerbaijan.
- Armenia should respond to the call of Ankara that was made following dispersion of the USSR, and recognize the borders that were drawn at “Kars and Gümrü” Agreements during 1920-1921. So, it should demonstrate to the whole World that it does not have any land demands from Turkey. Also, all the related resolutions and laws, which include land demands and “Greater Armenia” dream, and primarily the Independence Statement of Armenian Government, should be re-arranged. Armenia defines the Eastern Anatolia region as “Western Armenia” at the Independence Statement of Armenian Government. Moreover, Agri Mountain, which is a part of Turkey, is located at their symbol of state, which is situated at the second paragraph of the article 13 of the Constitution of Armenia.
The total length of the border between Turkey and Armenia is 325 kilometers. There are two gates, which are currently closed at this line. They are; “Alican Highway Gate” and “Akyaka Railway Gateway”. Turkey has closed the gates for protesting the invasion of Azerbaijani land, Nagorno Karabakh, by Armenian forces on April 1993.
According to the datum of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) the embargo that is posed by Azerbaijan and Turkey costs 570-720 million dollars to Armenian economy. It is estimated that when the borders are opened the transportation expenses would decrease 30-50 percent and the export figures would double.
According to the datum of the World Bank, Armenia will save 6, 4-8, 4 million dollars from transportation, 45 million from energy and there will be an increase of 268, 9-342,4 million dollars at its export figures. So, when the gates are opened, the total advantage of Armenia would be 320, 3-395,8 million dollars.
Turkey’s advantage would be political, rather than economical. The most significant advantage would be the decrease of the increasing pressure on Turkey from the USA and EU. Even though the genocide question could not be solved, the image, which present Turkey as a “country that lives with closed borders with one of her neighbors at the Caucasus” of Turkey would be removed. Then a step would be taken for entering to EU, which stipulates to be in good relations with neighbors for the membership.
The economic effectiveness of Turkey on Armenia can also be used as a tool for pressure over Yerevan government for solving its problems with Azerbaijan.
Source: Hürriyet Daily-21.02.2008
The Armenians, Who Are Treated As Puppets
Savas, Egilmez, the head of the Association for Struggling Against the Baseless Genocide Claims and Assistant Professor at History department of the Science-Literature Faculty of the Atatürk University said: “We are calling Armenians, who have been used by different countries during various periods of the history, to give up slanders that are organized against the Turks and use their energy in the direction of their own people.”
Pointing out that none of the nations have been used as much as the Armenians at the World, Savas, Egilmez said: “Armenians are dominated by Persian, Macedonian, Selephkit, Roma, Part, Sassanid, Byzantine, Arabian and Turkish sovereignties in the history. Most of the Armenian feudalisms were founded by the countries, which desired to use the Armenians by pulling them to their sides and which dominated the region.”
Egilmez, who called attentions to the fact that Armenians was rescued from the Byzantine cruelty and were given the rights to live like human by the Selchuk Turks, noted the following:
“During Fatih’s period of domination, freedom of religion and conscience was given to the Armenians at its highest level and an Armenian patriarch was founded for the Armenian society to dominate religious and social activities. While the Armenians at the Ottoman rule could full fill their religious obligations in an absolute freedom, it was also permitted to determine their own religion man by them. Similarly, the Armenians, who were living here continued to speak their own language in an extreme freedom after Anatolia had entered under rule of Turks. The Ottoman rule had not prohibited Armenians using their language and names. Briefly, no nation, except Turkish government esteemed these people.”
Indicating that the Armenians were always treated as puppets in the direction of interests of the nations, Assistant Professor Egilmez said: “This situation which has been going on for centuries still exists in the present time.”
“Pointing out that just like Roma was used against the Persians, Persians were used against Roma, Byzantine was used against Sassanid, Sassanid were used against Byzantine, some countries have used Armenians in the direction of their interests since the 20th century until the current day, Egilmez added the following:
“Some countries are using Armenians at their domestic politics besides their foreign policy. One of these countries is the USA. Promises are made to Armenians every year on the so-called Armenian genocide during the election time and it is forgotten after the elections. In 1981, Ronald Wilson Reagan, in 1989 George Herbert Walker Bush, in 1993 Clinton and in 2001 George Walker Bush had made many promises to Armenians but they did not keep their promises. Currently, the same process is being experienced. All the candidates are blinking eye to Armenians. However, no matter who is elected, they will forget they blinked their eye just after the elections are over.”
Egilmez expressed that the elections in Armenia has exposed that the Armenians will keep on being toys in the hands of the other countries via Diaspora for long years more.
Stating that they are making a call to the leading organizations of Diaspora like Coordination Committee for the Armenian Organizations, American Armenian National Committee, Armenian Interest Group, Armenian General Prosperity Union, Egilmez noted the following:
“Don’t let your people get used by others any more. We are calling Armenians, who are exploited by different countries during the various historical periods, to give up slandering Turks and direct their energy for the future of their nation. The elections in Armenia resembles to a big theater stage. A scenario, which is written beforehand, is staged very well by the parties. We are making a call for all the parties: Do not pursuit vain dreams, work for the prosperity of your people with all your effort. We are sending our thoughts on this matter to the leading institutions of Diaspora via mail. We hope they will be taken into consideration.”
Source: Anadolu Agency-21.02.2008
Amnesty International: 2007 A “Lost Year” for Turkey
According to Amnesty International, there has been a regression in human rights in 2007. Torture and maltreatment continue, and trials are still compromised.
Bia News Centre, Amnesty International 12-03-2008
The London-based Amnesty International (AI) organisation prepared a briefing on human rights in Turkey in preparation for the meeting of a EU and Turkish Troika on 22 February, and for a meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Committee on 5 and 6 March.
Unfortunately, the six-page report concluded that there has been a deterioration in human rights in 2007 and has called on others to put pressure on the Turkish government in their meetings.
The report speaks of the continuation of torture and maltreatment, legal impunity of some, the persecution of human rights activists, violations of the freedom of expression, and the continuing pressures on conscientious objectors.
Torture, ill-treatment and impunity
Although the report acknowledges that there has been a reduction in torture cases, it continues:
“However, there have also been setbacks. In prosecutions of torture and ill-treatment, independent medical reports have rarely been accepted by courts and the decision to set up a judicial police force, required under the Code of Criminal Procedures, has not been implemented. June 2006 revisions to the Law to Fight Terrorism allowed a delay of 24 hours in a detainee’s right to legal counsel. The law also gave security forces the right to use lethal force ‘directly and unhesitatingly’ in operations against ‘terrorist organizations.’"
"Likewise, in June 2007 amendments to the Law on Powers and Duties of Police that gave police widespread powers of stop and search, additionally gave police increased authority in the use of lethal weapons. The law allows officers to shoot escaping suspects in the event that a warning to stop is not obeyed. The law as it currently stands does not meet international standards on the use of firearms by law enforcement officers."
"Despite the overall reduction in the number of cases of torture or other ill-treatment reported in police custody, instances of torture or other ill-treatment outside official places of detention, at demonstrations, in prisons and during prison transfer continued. There has been a lack of independent and effective investigation of allegations and in too many cases prosecutions of those responsible have not followed.”
AI is further concerned about the continuation of unfair trials. There are still allegations that statements are being extracted with torture and that pre-trial detentions and trial periods are excessively long.
Obstruction of human rights activists
According to AI, human rights defenders face untolerable pressures through prosecution, surveillance, and threats from lawyers, police and security forces.
The report also condemns the fact that the murder of journalist Hrant Dink was not prevented by security forces informed of murder plans, and that the investigation into the murder continues to be flawed.
Freedom of expression
Article 301, which has been used in countless cases against writers, journalists, academics and publishers to penalise the “denigration of the Turkish Republic or its institutions” has again been condemned by AI. The organisation has repeatedly called for the abolition of the article. There seems to have been an increase in cases opened under the article in 2007.
AI has also called for a reform of other articles, particularly Article 216 which penalises “inciting the public to emnity or hatred” and Article 7 of the Law on Terrorism which deals with “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation.”
Conscientious objection is still not permitted in Turkey, despite promises made to the Committee of Ministers in 2006 that a draft law was in progress. Objectors face multiple prosecutions and “civilian death”, so the European Court of Human Rights, which sentenced Turkey in its treatment of objector Osman Murat Ülke. (MÇ/GG)
Photographs Unravel Turkey's Ethnic Tapestry By Sabrina Tavernise
March 10, 2008
SAMSUN, Turkey: They were suspected to be missionaries. Then fugitives. But when the motley band of Turkish intellectuals finally arrived in this Black Sea city last month, people seemed to understand that they really only wanted to tell stories.
The group - a Kurdish feminist, an Armenian writer, and an academic and a photographer, both Turkish - were presenting a book of photographs of people from Turkey.
The book counted 44 different ethnicities and sects across Turkey, and captured them in pictures dancing, eating, praying, laughing and playing music. If it sounds innocuous, it was not. Turkey, a country that has had four military coups in its 85-year history, has a very specific line on cultural diversity: Anyone who lives in Turkey is a Turk. Period.
Attila Durak, a New York trained photographer, compiled the book, traveling around Turkey for seven consecutive summers, living with families and taking their portraits.
His intent was to show that Turkey is a constantly changing kaleidoscope of different cultures, not a hard piece of marble monoculture as the Turkish state says, and that acknowledging those differences is an important step toward a healthier society.
"People see themselves in the photographs, and they realize they are no different," said Durak, whose book, "Ebru: Reflections of Cultural Diversity in Turkey," was published in 2006. "Those Kurdish people have kids who play together like ours," he said, referring to viewers' reactions. "Look, they dance the same kind of wedding dance."
Ever since Turkey became a state in 1923, it has been scrubbing its citizens of identities other than Turkish. In some ways, that was necessary as a glue to hold the young country together. European powers were intent on carving up its territory, a patchwork of remains from the collapsed Ottoman Empire, and Muslim Turkishness was a unifying ideology.
But it forced families from different backgrounds, who spoke different languages, such as Armenian, Kurdish, Greek, Georgian, Macedonian, Bosnian, to hide their identities. Family histories, such as the crushing events of Turkey's genocide against Armenians in 1915, were never spoken of, and children grew up not knowing their own past or identity.
"Memories like that were whispered into ears behind closed doors," said Fethiye Cetin, a lawyer who learned only in her 20s that her grandmother was Armenian. "There was a big fear involved in this, so the community itself perpetuated the silence."
It is that locked past Durak and his colleagues seek to open. Their method is telling their own stories to audiences across Turkey as an accompaniment to exhibits of Durak's photographs to open a conversation about the past and chip away at stereotypes.
The academic, Ayse Gul Altinay, an anthropology professor from Sabanci University in Istanbul, is a kind of national psychiatrist, identifying the most painful points from the country's past and offering a way to think about them that is most direct route to healing.
She uses the Turkish art form, Ebru, the process of paper marbling that produces constantly changing interwoven patterns, as a metaphor for multiculturalism.
"We're not a mosaic, different from one another and fixed in glass," said Altinay, who earned her doctorate from Duke University. "Ebru is done on water. It is impossible to have clear lines or distinct borders."
In Samsun, a bustling city with a nationalist reputation, the fifth in Turkey to see the exhibition, the audience was small but interested. The Armenian writer, Takuhi Tovmasyan, talked about how she was gruffly banished from a piano recital hall after winning a competition, when teachers learned her last name, which is overtly Armenian.
"I hid this feeling for a long time," said Tovmasyan, who has published a book of family recipes and stories as way to open up a conversation about the past. "But when I saw these photographs, I decided I needed to talk about it."
The discussions have hit a nerve. At a presentation in Kars, an eastern Turkish city, a man in his 50s wearing a suit spoke through tears about discovering that his family had been Molokan, Russian Old Believers. It was the first time he was speaking publicly about it, he said. Others have apologized to Tovmasyan in emotional outpourings.
In Samsun, a young man in a white sweatshirt said, "I personally apologize for 'Get out,' on behalf of all my friends," eliciting applause. "It's really a terrible thing."
Durak's subjects look into his camera with a directness that is startling. A Jewish man sits in a chair in Istanbul. A gypsy in a flower print shirt plays the saxophone. A woman from the Black Sea stands in a doorway, her fingers touching her collarbone.
Each one is labeled for ethnicity and sect, a method of categorization that initially struck the local authorities in Samsun as something close to a seditious act.
"They said, 'we have to investigate, maybe they are wanted by the police,' " said Ozlem Yalcinkaya, an organizer from a student group, Community Volunteers Foundation, who arranged the exhibit. "I said, 'If they are fugitives, why would they be putting their names on the exhibition posters?' "
Another one of their questions went to the heart of what the group is trying to change. When it was revealed that Tovmasyan was Armenian, police officials were stumped.
"What do you mean Armenian," Yalcinkaya recalled an officer saying. "A Turkish citizen, or from Armenia?"
The answer was both - a Turkish citizen of Armenian descent - but because the Turkish state does not recognize mixed identities, the concept was foreign and baffling to the police.
In the end, the authorities relented, and the municipality even allowed use of its lecture hall.
"The genie is out of the bottle," Altinay said. "Too many people are interested in looking into who we are, who lived on this land before us," for the healing process to be stopped.
A young woman in the audience echoed that thought, as she apologized to Tovmasyan. For as gloomy as the past was, the future was more hopeful, she said, because young people are much more flexible and accepting than the older generations.
"In a few years time, a lot of people will be doing a lot of apologizing," she said.
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune
US Report Condemns Increase in Torture and Self-Censorship in Journalism
The US Department of State released its 2007 report on Turkey on 11 March. The report criticises the fact that there has been an increase in torture, that the judiciary is not impartial, and that violence towards women continues.
Bia News Centre 13-03-2008 Erhan ÜSTÜNDAG
The US Department of State’s yearly Country Report on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on 11 March of this year said that “the government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, serious problems remained in several areas.”
One area has been an increase in reported cases of torture and ill-treatment. It was emphasised that security forces have carried out extrajudicial killings and that most of those responsible have been left unpunished.
Poor prison conditions and unfair trials
The report also described conditions in prisons as “poor, with problems of overcrowding and insufficient staff training.”
The report continued, “Law enforcement officials did not always provide detainees immediate access to attorneys as required by law. Some government and military officers at times undermined the judiciary's independence, and the overly close relationship of judges and prosecutors continued to hinder the right to a fair trial. Excessively long trials were a problem.”
Internet censorship, religious minorities, sexual exploitation
A further criticism was the continuing restriction of the freedom of expression, including the censorship of Internet websites.
Another point was the treatment of non-Muslim religious groups, who “continued to face restrictions on practicing their religion openly, owning property, and training leaders.”
As for women’s rights, the report pointed out that “violence against women, including honor killings and rape, continued to be a widespread problem. Child marriage was a problem. Police corruption contributed to trafficking in women and children to, from, and within the country for sexual exploitation.”
The 2007 country report cited information from the Human Rights Foundation (IHV), the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Asssociation for Solidarity with the Oppressed (Mazlum-Der), among others on human rights violations.
Self-censorship and lack of freedom of expression
There was criticism of the continuing application of Article 301, articles protecting the memory of Atatürk and the Anti-terrorism Law, all of which, so the report, led journalists and others to practice self-censorship:
“Individuals could not criticize the state or government publicly without fear of reprisal, and the government continued to restrict expression by individuals sympathetic to some religious, political, and Kurdish nationalist or cultural viewpoints. In some cases government officials prosecuted individuals who had displayed no intention of criticizing or insulting the government or Turkish state."
"Active debates on human rights and government policies continued, particularly on issues relating to the country's EU membership process, the role of the military, Islam, political Islam, the question of Turks of Kurdish and other ethnic or religious origins as 'minorities,' and the history of the Turkish-Armenian conflict at the end of the Ottoman Empire."
"However, persons who wrote or spoke out on such topics, particularly on the Armenian issue, risked prosecution. The Turkish Publishers’ Association reported that serious restrictions on freedom of expression continued despite legal reforms related to the country's EU candidacy.”
As for academic freedom, the report said that “there generally were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events; however, university authorities suspended one academic who publicly supported views contrary to the official state ideology and there was some self-censorship on sensitive topics.” (EÜ/GG)
The ICJ And The Armenian Genocide Dispute by Cenap Çakmak*
Newspapers have reported that Turkey is preparing to take a long-standing Armenian genocide dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN-affiliated judicial institution authorized to deal with interstate disagreements.
In consideration of the growing problem in regards to the recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide allegedly committed by Turkish authorities in the early 1900s by a number of parliaments, Turkey has decided to prove, relying on a global court's judgment, that the events may not be viewed as repercussions of deliberative acts to destroy or eliminate a certain ethnic or religious group in part or as a whole.
The decision should not be taken as a surprise simply because Turkey has repeatedly publicized its intention of bringing the case to the sphere of international law, further asserting that the recognition of the genocide in some countries was of a political character. The projected action to make the ICJ involved in the matter may generate some positive results for Turkey, but it will not be a remedy for its longtime reluctance to address the problem.
Above all, the so-called Armenian genocide enjoys recognition not only by some states but also by the academic community. While this does not prove the deaths in the early 1900s constitute the crime of genocide, it will not be that easy to change established prejudices. Second, a court's ruling is not always required to call certain acts part of a genocide. Third, the ICJ's decision on the matter will be legally binding depending on the agreement of the parties, but it will remain at least partially illegitimate given that its image was seriously undermined due to its recent decision on the Bosnian genocide. The ICJ was blamed by the international community for adopting a timid approach in that case in order to exonerate Serbia of crimes committed in predominantly Serb regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A disputed genocide?
From the perspective of international law, the alleged Armenian genocide is certainly disputed simply because the allegations are not based on legal verdicts by a competent international judicial institution. However, what Turkey is dealing with is not a pure legal problem that needs to be resolved through international legal institutions.
For a number of states as well as for many international law scholars and historians, whether the deaths in the early 1900s constitute a commission of the crime of genocide is not disputable; rather, only what should be done as part of reparations and a remedy is a matter of discussion.
Parliaments of states which recognize the Armenian genocide have not sought any ruling by a competent international organization; instead, they relied on the literature of genocide studies and were strongly influenced by efforts of Armenian lobbies. The relevant literature a priori accepts that a large Armenian population was subjected to a genocidal campaign by the Ottoman state in 1915, with no argument to the contrary.
Even introductory legal textbooks cite the alleged Armenian genocide as the first genocide committed in the 20th century, further noting that the failure of the international community to deal with it resulted in the commission of similar subsequent campaigns. There are even assertions that attribute Hitler's decision to annihilate the Jews to this failure given that he, in reference to the Armenian genocide, allegedly said no one remembered the Armenians.
Minds are already set on the assumption that Armenians suffered from a brutal campaign of mass killing; it will not be easy to change this assumption through a judgment by the ICJ. This does suggest that Turkey should not resort to this option, but not much should be expected of such an action.
The ICJ's involvement in the dispute appears to appeal to the Turkish authorities because of the assumption that the recognition of a genocide requires a legal decision delivered by a competent international (or national) judicial institution. This is undoubtedly true from a legal standpoint. Yet this does not mean that states or scholars are barred from describing a particular situation as genocide in the absence of such a decision. There is no legal authority or instrument that prohibits the recognition of a case as genocide unless a competent international judicial body confirms that it is indeed genocide.
There are examples whereby states have described a particular situation as genocide without a legal ruling. The US administration as well as the US Congress have defined the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan as genocide. While the case has been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose chief prosecutor has decided to initiate an investigation, there is no legal ruling confirming that acts in the region may be considered genocide. The US position in this particular case is praised by civil society organizations and humanitarian assistance institutions, which also strongly criticize European states and the United Nations because of their reluctance to recognize the crime of genocide in Darfur.
States are usually hesitant to recognize genocide because of probable obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which "Contracting Parties" will "undertake to prevent and to punish" (Article 1). But the Armenian case may be considered an exception because it has already (and allegedly) been committed and there is no need for preventive action; therefore, it is easy for the states to recognize this genocide because it creates no obligation under the said convention.
The ICJ's eroded image and the Armenian genocide
Turkish authorities have selected the ICJ as the competent international judicial institution to deal with the dispute on the so-called Armenian genocide. This might seem a wise move because Turkey would reinforce its position if the court decides that the deaths in 1915 were not genocide. However, such a decision will not end the discussion because the ICJ's image has been eroded. The court's recent decision on the Bosnian genocide has been severely criticized by scholars and opinion leaders because it was viewed as an attempt to save Serbia from liability and accountability under international law.
It should be recalled that some Turkish columnists welcomed the decision, asserting that the court would make a similar decision with regard to a future case in relation to the alleged Armenian genocide. This was actually not something that Turks should welcome; the ICJ's image has been undermined by this shocking decision. It is no longer a respected and highly legitimate international institution whose judgment will resolve a highly controversial dispute.
From a legal standpoint, such a decision will surely be binding on the parties to the dispute, but this will not end the discussions and further political actions as part of recognizing the alleged Armenian genocide. In other words, it is hard to believe that parliaments describing the 1915 events as genocide will review their decisions based on the ICJ ruling and that scholars who agree that Ottoman Turks subjected the Armenian population to a brutal genocidal campaign will change their minds simply because the ICJ decided it was not genocide.
That being said, there seems to be no option that Turkey can rely on other than taking the case to the ICJ at the present time. Turkey's long reluctance and indifference is the primary reason why the Armenian lobbies have made progress in ensuring the recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide. But this is a past matter, and at the present time reliance on international adjudication seems to be the best policy option for Turkey.
* Professor Cenap Çakmak is an instructor at Mugla University and works as a post-doctoral researcher at Rutgers University.
A Legendary City Of Armenia
February 28, 2008, Vercihan Ziflioglu, YEREVAN - Turkish Daily News
City center of Yerevan, capital of the Republic of Armenia, was designed and given its present modern look by Alxander Tamanyan before the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. Creating the impression of an open-air museum, Yerevan streets are full of monumental scale sculptures. Home to dozens of museums and art centers, Yerevan is a wonderland of works of art, the oldest dating back to the fifth century
Little is know about Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, a city with a rich history and a young population that has plenty to offer its visitors including many historic buildings, magnificent churches and artistic masterpieces.
The Republic of Armenia declared its independence in 1991, immediately after the disintegration of the Soviet Socialist Republics, and Yerevan became its capital. The history of Yerevan or “Yerepuni,” as it was called in ancient times, dates back to the eighth century B.C. The total population of Armenia, which is settled on an area of 30,000 square kilometers, is 3 million, according to official figures.
The official language of the country is Armenian, an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. Armenian was historically split into two vaguely-defined primary dialects: Eastern Armenian (Aravela Hayeren), spoken in modern-day Armenia, and Western Armenian, spoken by Armenians in Anatolia. In addition to Armenian, Russian dominates as a second language throughout the country. An average Yerevanian speaks three additional languages to Armenian and Russian.
The modern architectural design of the city center of Yerevan was designed by Armenian architect Alexander Tamanyan during the time of the Soviet Union. His style and influence is still visible in almost all of the streets and buildings of Yerevan. The Republic Square (Hanrabedutyan H?rabag) is the largest and the most important of Yerevan and the location of many of the state buildings and national museums. Young people constitute about 70 percent of country's entire population and the official rate of literacy is approximately 90 percent.
Soviet Union effect in Armenia
Social life in Armenia still carries traces of the Soviet experience, with the Russian language commonly heard on TV programs, cafés, shopping centers, cinemas and generally in every aspect of daily life. While some Yerevanians argue Russian should remain the second language, others wish to put an end to the dominance of Russian language in the country.
Yerevan universities have recently become highly preferred by students both from Europe and the Far Eastern countries. Indian, German, Chinese, Japanese and British nationals are studying in many of the universities including the Yerevan State University. The majority of the students in these universities study Armenian language and literature. The most striking department at the Yerevan State University is the Turkology Department, where all students, including Armenians, are taught Turkish language and literature, Ottoman, Persian and Arabic.
Yerevan's youth has a very lively social life. Chic library cafés and restaurants easily catch the eye in every corner of Yerevan streets.
Millennial manuscripts in ‘Madenataran'
It is difficult to take one's eyes off the fabulous architectural styles of ancient churches on Yerevan streets, most of which were built in the 12th century. Though churches are structures with great symbolic meaning in Armenian traditional culture, the majority of Armenia's churches was destructed during Soviet Union times. The most interesting of these churches is the Gatog(ige Surp Asdvazsazsin (St. Mary the Virgin) that was built and dedicated to the memory of Armenian poet Sayat Nova and is located on Sayat Nova Street. In fact, Gatog(ige Surp Asdvazsazsin was discovered when the Soviet regime ordered the demolishing of a monumental 12th century church. The earlier form of the Gatog(ige Surp Asdvazsazsin was constructed in the 11th century. And its remnant was serving as “G(horan,” the Holy Table, under the centuries-old massive church building. The doors of this historic building, where restoration activity will soon take place, are wide open to visitors.
Yerevan streets, where history meets modernity, are full of monumental sculptures, most of them dedicated to the memory of the grand masters of Armenian traditional literature and music.
Moreover, there are many museums and art centers in Yerevan, two among them of special importance. The one is the National Gallery of Armenia (Hayasdani Azkayin Badgerasrah) that was constructed in the Republic Square in 1921. It is a universally acclaimed museum where works of prominent figures of Armenian and international art are on display. A major division of the museum where more than 25,000 works of art are exhibited is the 19th and 20th century Armenian artists, painters and sculptors collection. A considerable number of masterpieces by Armenian-origin painter Ayvazovki are also on display in that part of the museum.
The National Gallery of Armenia also has a collection titled Eastern and Western Art. This includes an array of artworks by major artists of India, Egypt, Japan, France and other countries. A third part of the museum includes samples from the works of 20th century Russian art.
The second art center having particular importance in Yerevan is the Madenataran Manuscript Museum. Here, one can find myriads of manuscripts that have shed light both on Armenian and world history, art and science since the fifth century. But the most remarkable pieces in Madenataran are volumes of religious books, all handwritten and ornamented with Armenian miniatures. A major part of the holy books were taken from Anatolian-Armenian churches to the land of modern day Armenia. The rich decorations on these leather manuscripts amaze all visitors. Beside the hundreds of millenniums-old manuscripts, Madenataran is also home to a seal that belonged to Alexander the Great and a firman (edict) that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. Other precious pieces include maps and volumes of manuscripts by ancient Greek philosophers.
The Madenataran building, enthralling with its unique architectural style and sculptures of philosophers, doctors and literary figures of Armenian history is located in the Surp Mas,dozs Street in Yerevan.
Bringing Armenian Lecturers To Turkish Universities
Turkish Daily News Feb 28 2008
Although there are no diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, academics from both countries are trying to recover ties, daily Hurriyet reported yesterday.
In an effort to establish good relations with his colleagues in Yerevan, Professor Metin Hulagu of Nevşehir University's Sciences Department said during a visit to Armenia two years ago that they were waiting for the approval of the Higher Education Board (YOK) to be able to open a new department.
"We can have problems or conflicts with Israel, Armenia or Greece.
To be able to solve these conflicts we need experts who can speak the language fluently. Yet these people are few in number. We want these departments to be able to meet this need and build ties to be able to secure partnership and friendship in the future," Hulagu said.
"We ask Armenia to open the Dashnag archives. Yet there are no people to read them because are are not any experts in this field. We can ask for the help of the Armenian Patriarchate to be able to find a lecturer... We can also bring lecturers from Armenian universities.
Imprudent Journalism, Or What Ankara, Appo, Ashot And Other Have In Common
Noyan Tapan Feb 28, 2008 YEREVAN,
In response to the editorial of February 21, 2008 of the USA Armenian Life Magazine periodical, Armen K. Hovhannisian has come up with the "Imprudent journalism or what Ankara,Appo, Ashot and others have in common" article, which we present completely:
In his editorial of February 21, 2008, Appo Jabarian of USA Armenian Life Magazine criticized Raffi Hovannisian, Armenia's first Foreign Minister and current member of the National Assembly (Parliament). Jabarian also considered it both ethical and professional to ridicule Raffi's father Richard, son Garin, and the "Hovannisian household."
We know that Jabarian strongly inferred that Hrant Dink was an agent of the Turkish government. But what charge does he bring against Hovannisian?
Jabarian is not quite bold enough to utter the words himself. So he quotes.
He quotes Hayots Ashkharh, the Armenian tabloid assigned to conduct the government's official propaganda. He quotes an unidentified, but immediately identifiable, "Armenian activist." He quotes one Ashot Grigoryan from Slovakia.
They claim, in one way or another, that Raffi Hovannisian has committed "treason!" That, supposedly, was Hrant Dink's crime, too.
The crime here?
In an August 2007 letter to Turkey's president Abdullah Gul, Hovannisian's use of the term "Great Armenian Dispossession" instead of the term "Armenian Genocide" is condemned as "highly insulting." Jabarian views Great Armenian Dispossession as "more acceptable to the Turks." In other words, Hovannisian was "pandering" to the "enemy."
Here is Hovannisian's "pandering": In an article published in European print media on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Hovannisian wrote:
"The Armenian Genocide and its final act turned ninety last week. The lessons, risks, and dangers flowing from the Genocide and its contemporary continuation are all the more poignant because the Armenian case was not only the physical murder of most individuals making up the nation, but also the violent interruption and forcible expropriation of its millennial homeland and way of life. Can the heirs to Turkish perpetration translate self-interest into seeking atonement, and can the descendants of the great Armenian dispossession agree to move on? Will we, or our children, ever see the light, let alone reflect back from the heights, of the post-Genocide world?"
Hovannisian used that same phrase (the Great Armenian Dispossession) in his writings in the Wall Street Journal:
"The Young Turk leaders of the Ottoman Empire, for example, were responsible for the great Armenian dispossession of 1915, which included all the components of the crime of genocide, the destruction of the historic Armenian homelands, and the murderous finality for millions of human lives."
There's more. In The Middle East Times and in United Press International in 2006, Hovannisian wrote:
"The catastrophic dispossession of the Armenian homeland by the rulers of the Ottoman Empire; the subsequent Bolshevik-Turkish pact partitioning Armenia and effectively tendering Karabagh, Nakhichevan and other integral parts of the Armenian patrimony to Soviet Azerbaijan."
Do these sound like treason?
The Young Turks did not merely claim the lives of several million people.
Though its consequences continue, the massive killing of Armenians is finished. But it was not only the wholesale massacre of a people. The usurpation of the homeland was no less egregious and persists to this very day, making modern Turkey complicit in the crimes of the Young Turks.
Jabarian relieves himself of some high and mighty rhetoric, accusing Hovannisian of "ruining the work we have done for years and decades."
There may be occasional interest in Jabarian's opinions, despite his complicity in the silencing of Hovannisian's own activities. Surely, if Jabarian was so eager to "expose" Hovannisian's letter to Gul, which has been publicly available and accessible since it was written six months ago, he would have also come across other newsworthy events and reports, including "Armenian Cultural Resolutions in the Council of Europe" and "Raffi Hovannisian at the Council of Europe."
On January 25, 2008, in Strasbourg, Hovannisian authored and introduced a motion, cosponsored by 25 members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The motion begins with the following words:
"The genocide of the Armenian people, resulted not only in the death and dispossession of more than two million human beings but also in the decimation of the Armenian patrimony, its ways of life, and its foundational contributions to western culture and world civilization."
This, not in a letter to Gul, but on the highest international platform on his own initiative, suppressed by the Armenian media, including the Hayots Ashkharh of which Jabarian seems to be so fond. Ignored, too, by Jabarian's own newspaper.
There is much work "we" have done. Some of us advocate for the recognition of history in the most influential chambers of international politics.
Others seem to bask in yellow journalism and personalized campaigns of character assassination.
Raffi Hovannisian didn't leave the United States for Armenia because Armenia had a better political system. He moved to the homeland to participate in transforming the system from what it is not to what it should be. The greatest contribution an Armenian can make to his homeland is to love it while acknowledging its flaws and helping to change it for the better.
In spite of the fear and envy of some in official circles in Armenia and the scorn of the likes of Appo Jabarian, Raffi Hovannisian will be back in Strasbourg next month to keep pushing for the recognition and reversal of the Great Armenian Dispossession.
Reference of Noyan Tapan: Armen K. Hovhannisian is the brother of RaffiHovhannisian and a specialist of international law.
Appo Jabarian is the years-old editor of the famous "USA Armenian Life Magazine" periodical published inArmenianand English in Los Angeles.
Ashot Grigorian is the Chairman of the forum of the Armenian community of Slovakia and the Armenian Unions of Europe, due to the lobbyist efforts of whom the parliament of Slovakia recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2004.
Kocharian: There Are Four Scenarios For Development Of Armenia Domestic Situation
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The presidential election is over, the outcomes are announced, and international observers produced positive assessments, RA President Robert Kocharian said at a meeting with the students and teaching staff of Yerevan State University.
“Following the recommendation received, we introduced amendments into the Electoral Code and invited international observers. I would like to emphasize there are no elections without violations. The point is that they must not become systematic,” he said.
“The authorities and opposition will establish cooperation within next 2 days. Of course, there those who are discontent… To be more precise, one discontent politician who appeals to the Constitutional Court, on the one hand, and organized unauthorized rallies, on the other hand. We predicted this ‘Armenian tradition’. I went through it in 1998 and 2003,” the President said.
“Ter-Petrosyan announced victory two weeks before the election. Now, he understands that he can’t step back,” he added.
“I see four possible scenarios. First, rallies will continue, because there is an opinion that the longer people remain on Theater Square the more difficult it will be for the authorities to cope with the crowd. It’s a deadlock for Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Second, to follow the scenario of 1996 and seize the government institutions, what will result in great number of arrests. Third, to thank the people and send them to their homes. Political struggle is a long way. And fourth, to congratulate the new President and go home. The authorities are ready or any of the above mentioned variants,” Mr Kocharian said.
“The Armenian authorities have either to show patience and wait until all this comes to an end or to take action. We are ready for either. We are not in 1988, when the Soviet empire was in agony and rallies produced the desired effect. The law enforcers can clear the Theater Square of people but we never forget that these people are Armenians. On the whole, speeches delivered at the rallies represent a perfect material for students of psychology faculty,” the President remarked.
Turkish-Armenian Relations And The European Union by Ali Yurttagül*
Part I & II
The results of the Armenian elections last Tuesday were unfortunately not as hopeful as those experienced recently in Cyprus.
The former prime minister and new president Sarkisian is from the "Karabakh family," which holds power in Armenia in its hands like a caliphate. Sarkisian is, like Kocharian, a politician who supports the independence of Karabakh. His political star began to shine during his time in the Soviet Union Communist Party, and he held an important position during the occupation of Azeri lands. He has also held important positions such as defense minister during his career in Armenia. Observers in Europe believe that Sarkisian will continue Russia-indexed policies while in power in Armenia, and that he will not start up any solution-seeking efforts on the Karabakh issue. In Armenia, where corruption levels are high, close ties with the EU are seen not only as a path toward economic development, but also as a vehicle to put pressure on Turkey. While it is expected that Kocharian will move into the role of prime minister during Sarkisian's presidency, a move by Turkey into a period of pro-active policies toward Armenia is seen by many as the only factor that could alter balances in Armenia in the post-election period there. These kind of pro-active policies, which we examine closely below, would turn the EU factor into an element of pressure against Armenia rather than Turkey, and could change political balances noticeably.
In terms of the difficult and multi-dimensional problems that relations with Armenia present for Turkey, it is difficult to say that Turkey has used the "time" factor very well, or has developed, as in the case with Cyprus, any easy-to-read policies aimed at solution. Before entering into the question of what trajectory any "solution policies" for relations with Armenia could take for Turkey, we would like to touch on the current situation in Armenia, the genocide matter, the problems concerning Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as international and EU relations.
From a geographical perspective, Armenia is a small, enclosed nation with Georgia to its north, a small border with Iran to the south, and Turkey and Azerbaijan to its west and east, respectively. Armenia achieved its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but has been struggling now for years with both economic and political problems because of the Karabakh problem and its war with Azerbaijan. Armenia, whose economic and defense policies are completely indexed on Russia, is supported by Iran on the question of its tensions with Azerbaijan, and is particularly dependent on Iran on the matter of trade. With these Russia and Iran-based policies on one end, Armenia also carries off warm relations with the EU and the US due to its strong diasporas in the latter two, as well as the sympathy held by the West for Armenia's history. Even though if these "policies of balance" look possible now due to the post Cold War moderate political climate that began with Gorbachev and have continued since, this is certainly not a permanent strategy for Armenia. The moment that clashes between the Iran-Russia duo and the West deepen in the energy base that is the Caucasus, this "policy of balance" held by Armenia will be subject to collapse.
When we closely examine Armenia's dependence and "policies of balance" when it comes to Russia and Iran, we see that Armenia is, like Cyprus, a difficult nation where extreme nationalism is high, and violence plays a considerable role in politics most of the time. It is doubtful, for example, that there are many nations in the world where a prime minister and eight of his cabinet ministers, in other words almost the entire government cabinet of ministers, have been killed during a parliamentary session, as was the case in Armenia. As for the dependence on Russia, it is of a character which completes the extreme nationalism in Armenia, where politicians from the Karabakh region play an important role. Though the price paid by Armenian society for this may be high, the fact is that in the wake of these most recent elections, it now looks extremely unlikely that there will be efforts to index Armenia's politics more heavily on the West, open up to Turkey, or find a permanent solution to the Karabakh problem. It would nothing but a waste of time, after all, to expect such an effort that was supported by neither Russia nor Iran. For this reason, Turkey needs to develop an Armenia policy which will alter today's situation, making it more difficult for Armenia carry on its "balance policies," and preventing Armenia from continuing its conflicting, contradictory relations with the West and the EU.
The reason that Armenia does not have too many problems with its contradictory "policies of balance" is partially because of its current "cease-fire" with Azerbaijan and because of the embargo that Turkey has placed on Armenia.
Even if it is not possible for Turkey to have good relations with Armenia for as long as that nation continues to occupy Azerbaijani land, it is also not very constructive for Turkey to entirely base its Armenia policies on Azerbaijan. Within this framework, just as Turkey would emerge as the most advantageous nation in any improvement of relations between Ankara, Yerevan and Baku, it is also in the best position in terms of finding a solution. In addition, Turkey is also in the position of being the nation which would be most affected by any new Armenian-Azerbaijani armed clashes. No matter what the result of any new armed clashes, they would be to the disadvantage of Turkey. Namely, the presence and effect of both Iran and Russia in this region are hidden in the perpetuation of this crisis and the struggle between Azerbaijan and Armenia. For this reason, Turkey needs to make it known that it will not allow any new armed clashes, and it should take an active role in pushing these two nations to come to a solution. One-quarter of Azerbaijan is under occupation, while more than 1 million people have been forced from their homes, waiting in miserable conditions to be able to return. Azerbaijanis are in the meantime becoming more heavily armed, which is why the risk of a new war continues to rise. And while Armenia's economic position may be improving, it is still the poorest nation in the region. Its relations with both Russia and Iran continue to deepen. While the European Union does have economic influence in the region, in terms of politics, its presence is not really felt. Turkey, conversely, is in a position to affect the regional balance. Just as Turkey could bring about the Armenian pullout from Azerbaijani territory, it could also help speed up the period needed to find a solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. The dependence of both Armenia and Azerbaijan on Turkey is much deeper than that of Turkey on these two nations.
If Turkey wants to implement new policies on Armenia, it needs to review its embargo-boycott policies towards this nation. Even though relations between Turkey and Armenia might not immediately normalize, the startup of dialogue and diplomatic relations and the opening up of the border between Turkey and Armenia would at least not only bring about the possibility of closer ties between Yerevan and Ankara, but would also pull the current north-south indexed "policies of balance" currently pursued by Armenia to a more east-west trajectory. In this situation, Armenia would no longer be able to use Turkey's embargo as an excuse for its "policies of balance" while at the same time its dependence on Turkey would increase with each passing day. This is, of course, not to say that numerous other problems would not continue, though.
Looking at other problems that are preventing closer relations between Turkey and Armenia, two topics in particular move to the forefront: the recognition of borders and the genocide matter. Let us look briefly at the question of the recognition of borders. Turkey must be careful not to fall into the absurd position Greece fell into in its policies toward Macedonia.
The allegations that Armenia is demanding land from Turkey must not be taken seriously. In fact, the still-relevant Kars accord of 1921 is enough to confirm this and allow relations to not be marred by these allegations. There is no need to allow statements made by a few radical Armenian nationalists to destroy what should be more levelheaded relations between Turkey and Armenia. Just as Greek claims that a "Macedonia with its population of 2 million is threatening us" put that nation into an absurd position, Ankara's claims that Yerevan is threatening it do not look particularly believable. Leaving Armenia to deal with EU institutions regarding any problems it may have with borders would be a much smarter method for Ankara to pursue.
As for the genocide question, this matter is a more difficult one in terms of Turkish-Armenian relations. It is a problem which will take much more time, which is much more multi-dimensional and which is an important and large-scale problem. Just as the genocide matter makes Turkey's own international relations more difficult, we also see that, as in the case of Hrant Dink, it also plays a large role in Turkish national politics. It is no question that the genocide question presents an important barrier to Turkish relations with Armenia. Thus we would like to touch on three significant dimensions of this matter with regard to Turkish relations with both Armenia and the EU. Let us examine these three dimensions of the "genocide theory" from both their historical perspective and their human perspective.
The events of 1915 have been scrutinized not only by Turkey, but globally. Armenians say "genocide," while the official Turkish view is that no "genocide" took place and that instead what happened was "forced migration." In talking about these painful events, sources from the Turkish Historical Society (TTK) say 300,000 were killed while objective researchers say between 600,000 and 800,000 were killed and Armenian sources say 1.5 million people were killed. We do not wish to enter into a debate here about who is telling the truth or whether it was a "genocide" or "forced migration." To this end, we do not believe that this subject has actually even been debated enough, especially in Turkey. For this reason, just as this subject must not be accepted as a pre-requisite for a start-up of relations between Turkey and Armenia, it must also not be accepted as a pre-condition for anything else. From this perspective, Turkey's efforts to put the subject firmly into the hands of historians have been right on the mark. And if Turkey wants to be consistent on this front, it should not place any pre-conditions on this subject, which needs a great deal of research. It should work to lift factors preventing necessary research into this subject as well as end impediments to freedom of thought and expression such as the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
As for the historical dimension to the debates over genocide, just as this subject is one which needs time, it is also one in which historians cannot come up with political solutions.
What historians can do is illuminate and bring about a healthy and scientific basis to continue debates. It would be naive to expect that historians would be able to create a "theory" or "history" that both Turkey and Armenia would be able to accept. Just as historical knowledge is not a science that is objective -- though many may think so -- it is also true that historians are people. From this perspective, a joint historical commission formed by Germany and the Czech Republic to research the forced deportations of German populations following the end of World War II is a good example. Just as German and Czech researchers were unable to produce a shared statement following more than 10 years of research, the members of this joint historical research commission were not even able to come to an agreement on the foreword to the two separate texts they prepared for publication. The fact that these two EU nations were unable to come to agreement on a "shared analysis" of events -- which could not even be compared to those of 1915 in terms of their seriousness -- shows us how intertwined the science of history really is with modern times. In essence, it would be realistic to expect that any shared commissions formed by Turkey and Armenia on this subject would be met with problems similar to those the German-Czech commission dealt with. In order to record a shared and objective history, both sides in this case need to be willing to dispense with various taboos. The late Dink was a journalist who pointed freely at these taboos, which were constantly provoked and fueled in both Armenia and Turkey. He was also a journalist who was faced with a lot of trouble stemming from these taboos. There can be little doubt that it will be very difficult for both Turkey and Armenia to dispense with their taboos on this subject.
These difficulties, however, are not ones which should prevent Turkey from flexibility when it comes to the human dimension of the "genocide" question. While the events may be labeled by Ankara as "forced migrations" and while perhaps not 1.5 million people but instead 300,000 people were killed and deported from their homes, the fact remains that the Armenians experienced much pain. We are thus forced to take the pain of these events -- events which separated fathers from their sons, mothers from their daughters, events which turned the daily lives of many Armenians into a nightmare -- seriously. We need to seriously consider the pain which Dink expressed as a melancholy, but which we hear from many Armenians in the diaspora expressed as hatred and enmity. In terms of dealing with this problem, which could potentially last for hundreds of years, we need to try and understand this pain which derived from events that took place on our soil. Thus the human element here is critical. For the generations that came after those who were killed or forced from their homes during the events of 1915, this is vital. And for us, it is vital in term of the load on our conscience. Displaying sensitivity on this matter will relieve us as people and will relieve Turkey in terms of its international relations.
Looking at the EU
Now let's take a moment to examine the EU aspect of this matter. Just as Armenia now perceives that the US is not going to force Turkey to enter good relations with Armenia, it has placed all of its own hopes in terms of achieving results on Turkey's quest for EU accession. We could say that Armenia, which is becoming closer to the EU within the framework of the EU's "European Neighborly Policy" is the most successful "partner" of the Caucasus. This tightening of ties between the EU and Armenia, which overlaps with the sympathy that the EU already feels for Armenia, causes some to think that Turkey will be influenced by these changing balances. Also, there is some thought that Yerevan could put the squeeze on Ankara not through the "genocide" matter, as the diaspora does, but through the "embargo matter" and the "good neighbor relations" conditions of the Copenhagen criteria. It would be incorrect to dismiss these speculations as baseless. Though this topic has not fully come to the table in Turkish-EU relations, the same way Cyprus already has, it does not mean that it will not tomorrow or the day after. And though the subject receives only nominal attention in EU reports these days, it may take up a more generous amount of space in relations between Ankara and Brussels in the future.
It will not be easy for Turkey to explain its embargo policy towards Armenia and to pass it off as "constructive" from the perspective of the EU's "good neighbor relations." Turkey needs first to win over its own regional politics before entering the EU, which already has good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is to say that the EU is already working towards peace and stability in the Caucuses and, even though it may not be particularly effective on a political level, it holds important instruments when it comes to economics in the region.
What's more, Turkey's interests in the region overlap from every perspective with those of the EU. If Turkey wants to be economically influential in the Caucasus region, if it wants to see Russia pull out militarily from the region and if it wants to see Russia abandon its view of the Caucuses as its own front yard, it needs to use its advantages from the region within the EU to help bring about peace. There are many one-sided actions Turkey could take to bring this about. Let us touch upon two of them.
By fulfilling certain responsibilities that it has toward ethnic Armenian citizens who live in the Republic of Turkey, Turkey could be taking an important step in the right direction. It needs to review history books and see that the word "Armenian" is not used in place of "enemy" and see to it that history is re-written accordingly. In addition, schools offering education in the Armenian language should be opened up to the children of Armenians who have moved to Turkey in recent years. Likewise, a proper immigrant status must be conferred on these people, who currently enjoy nothing in the way of social rights.
Just as many other minorities in Turkey have, the Armenians also have plenty of complaints regarding the Foundations Law and its implementation.
In overcoming these problems, Turkey would be showing its flexibility in these matters, and not only would Armenian citizens win out, but a positive message would be sent to both the EU and Armenia.
Turkey needs to enter into a new era of relations with Armenia. A policy which supported a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, a healing of the armed clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, an installation of peace in the Caucasus, an opening up of the region to the world and to the West would be in every sense to Turkey's own advantage, which is why Turkey needs to start diplomatic relations with Armenia, open up the borders between the two countries and begin playing a constructive and influential role in the Caucasus. Just as a Turkey pursuing dialogue would weaken radical nationalist factions, it would also switch Armenia's own "policies of balance" into a Western-oriented, rather than Russia- and Iran-oriented, trajectory. Just as Turkey could use all of the possibilities lent to it by its relations with the EU in dealing with Armenia, a new approach to Armenia would also weaken the European right, which wants to use the Armenia matter to block Turkey on its path towards the EU. In the end, just as policies in search of solutions have strengthened Turkey's hand when it comes to Cyprus, they could also strengthen Turkey on its relations with Armenia front. What's more, the risks present in the Cyprus matter for Turkey are not even present in its potential relations with Armenia.
* Ali Yurttagül is a political advisor for the Greens in the European Parliament.
Armenia, A Neighbor Behind Closed Borders
March 3, 2008
Vercihan Ziflioglu Yerevan - Turkish Daily News
As an Istanbul-born Armenian, it was my first meeting with Armenia and its people. I arrived in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, after an hour and a half long flight on a plane that departed from Istanbul.
When we landed at Zivartnozs Airport, I was quite nervous. I had fears about being able to obtain a visa. But without any problem, I was given a visa for a three-month period.
All those I interviewed in Yerevan's streets, public buildings, universities and nongovernmental organizations agreed on one thing: The biggest problem in Turkey-Armenia bilateral relations was not closed borders, but lack of healthy diplomatic relations. According to university students Turks and Armenians need dialogue. The “genocide” and the Nagorno-Karabagh issue, on the other hand, were still big taboos.
Citizens of Armenia are quite reactive against being represented as a “poor people” because of the closed borders with Turkey. People I interviewed with said though Armenia faced severe economic problems in the first years after the closure of borders, the economy has gained great momentum in the last few years.
According to official figures, more than 400,000 tourists from Europe and the United States – other than diaspora Armenians – visited Armenia last year.
In the first few years following the 1991 declaration of independence, many Armenians migrated abroad to work. Turkey was one of those countries.
During my past visits to Europe, I met with immigrants from Armenia. Also in Istanbul, I sometimes meet with people who have migrated from Armenia. They had all told me the reason they migrated was unemployment and poverty.
In the streets of Yerevan, a different picture was painted for me. When I asked people about what they thought about migrants, they all told me that they were “exploiting emotions.”
The rate of literacy in Armenia is around 90 percent. Young people constitute about 70 percent of the population. Shopping centers, home to various world brands, are quite crowded. Youngsters in the streets have trendy apparel and prefer to wear world known brands.
Prejudice against journalists:
From time to time, I spoke loudly in Turkish in public places in order to test reactions, but I received none. During the days I spent in Armenia, I witnessed no prejudice against Turkey or Turks.
I also received surprising information that a Turcology Department was established in 1940 at Yerevan State University.
Those who travel between Yerevan and Istanbul frequently are called the “lucky minority” in Yerevan. Upon returning, they tell glossy stories about Istanbul, thus making others want to see Istanbul as soon as possible, too. Lilit Agacanyan, who owns a shop in one of the big shopping centers, comes to Istanbul almost once every two weeks to buy ready-to-wear clothing. "Istanbul is a very special city. I miss it if I do not see it for a month," said Agacanyan.
But almost all public authorities in Armenia have prejudices against Turkish journalists. I learnt that a thorough background check is made about journalists from Turkey when they visit the country. I, therefore, as an Armenian origins Turkish national, working at Dogan, Turkey's largest media group, was quite attractive for many. Perhaps because of that, I did not face much difficulty.
When I asked officials why they were prejudiced against Turkish journalists, I received a striking reply. Diran Lokmagözyan, artist, NGO representative and Armenia representative of the Istanbul-based Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, claimed many Turkish journalists visiting Armenia write articles “without stepping out of their hotels.”
"There are even those who pretend to conduct interviews without really conducting any interviews," claimed Lokmagözyan. "Turkish journalists often ask for my assistance during their visits. I help them in getting official permissions from public authorities. During interviews, I generally translate. But when I read their stories, I see that they are manipulated," he claimed.
I don't know about that. While I have been a journalist for more than a decade, I am not a political reporter and I do not pretend to be. I just went to Armenia to listen and to learn. And one thing I learned, is that while Turks and Armenians have many differences, there is much more that they have in common.
Tour Of Friendship From Turkish, Armenian Musicians
Hurriyet March 6 2008
Acclaimed Armenian "duduk" (a woodwind instrument) player Jivan Gasparyan and Turkish folk singer Yavuz Bingol are set to take on a tour in April to promote peace and friendship between Turkey and Armenia. The two musicians will travel the U.S., France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy. "We have a thousand-year-old common history between us. We are taking on the road to tell this friendship in our songs," Bingol said.
Repentance For Armenian Genocide Perpetration Will Do Good To Turkish Society
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ “Armenia is ready to establish diplomat relations with Turkey without preconditions at any time. It’s Turkey that sets rather odd demands,” Armenia’s Prime Minister and President-elect Serzh Sargsyan told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
“The only civilized way to resolve problems between two states is establishment of diplomatic relations. Unfortunately, Turkey has not matured for the decision yet,” he said.
Asked why the Armenian Genocide recognition issue is of principal importance for Yerevan, Mr Sargsyan said, “This tragedy of our nation cannot be forgotten. Not the Republic of Armenia but Armenians living in different countries raise the issue. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a priority for Armenia’s foreign policy. Through recognition, the international community will prevent crimes against humanity in future. Repentance for the Armenian Genocide perpetration will do good to Turkey which seeks membership in the European family.”
Dark Days in Armenia
Editorial, March 7, 2008
The democracy that Armenians dreamed of during their long decades under Moscow’s yoke is slipping away. After opponents challenged last month’s flawed presidential election, the government imposed a brutal state of emergency. At least eight people are now dead, independent news outlets throttled and all protests silenced. President Bush and other Western leaders need to make clear to Armenia’s government that such behavior is unacceptable and will jeopardize future relations. Compared to post-Soviet tyrannies like Belarus or Uzbekistan, Armenia may not look so bad. That is why it is so important to halt this slide into authoritarianism before it is too late.
Official election results handed an overwhelming victory to the ruling party candidate, Serge Sargsyan. International monitors declared that while the overall outcome appeared fair, there were serious problems with the vote count. The protests that followed only turned violent after police began beating demonstrators.
Witnesses told our colleague, Sabrina Tavernise, that government authorities planted guns and grenades among the sleeping protestors last Saturday morning. Then, claiming that they were thwarting an attempted coup, police attacked the opposition camp. The next day, the outgoing president sent tanks into the streets, banned demonstrations and ordered Armenian news organizations to relay only information provided by his government. Local stations can no longer use the Armenian language programs produced by foreign broadcasters including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
That drew an admirably strong protest from Washington’s Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent federal agency that supervises these stations, while the State Department has expressed its concern over the death toll. Their words would carry more weight if President Bush added his voice. Armenia, embroiled in a lengthy standoff with neighboring Azerbaijan, is relatively isolated in its own region and especially values its good relations with the United States.
This is not a case of pure democratic virtue against pure authoritarian evil. The defeated opposition leader, Levon Ter-Petrossian, is a former president who in the 1990s sent armored cars into the streets to crush demonstrators protesting his electoral manipulations.
He insists, without credible evidence, that he won this election. And once government forces set off last weekend’s violence, some of those who turned out in Mr. Ter-Petrossian’s behalf seemed more interested in looting nearby shops. The main responsibility lies with Armenia’s government leaders, and it is to them that the White House must address its protests.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
Armenia: The United States Is Muted On The Armenian Political Crisis
By Joshua Kucera 03/05/08
The continuing political crisis Armenia stemming from the March 1 violence in Yerevan has unfolded with little comment from the United States, either from the US government or from influential Armenian-American lobbying groups.
The root cause of the crisis is found in the disputed presidential election on February 19, in which Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian was declared the winner. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Asserting that widespread fraud enabled Sarkisian’s victory, the main challenger Levon Ter-Petrossian mounted a permanent protest in Yerevan. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. A government attempt to disperse the demonstrators during the pre-dawn hours of March 1 sparked an escalating confrontation that culminated in armed clashes. Officially, eight people died in the clashes, but witnesses believe the death toll could be substantially higher. Under state of emergency regulations imposed on March 1, the government enjoys broad powers to restrict press freedom, making verification of competing claims next to impossible. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
A statement by Karekin II, the spiritual leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, urged that both sides compromise. "Let us practice wisdom and reasoning, refraining from fraternal hostility and actions that deepen the discord. All problems and issues which trouble us, shall be solved through peaceful means, respect for the law and the safe paths of dialogue,” Karekin II said in a statement issued March 3. "Each of us must answer for our actions before history and our generations. Let us not risk the stability of our country with further unwise actions.”
Kocharian on March 5 vigorously defended his decision to impose a state of emergency, which in addition to restricting the flow on information, also allows for the limitation of non-governmental organization activity and the roll-back of civil liberties, including freedom of assembly. The president appeared to place all blame for developments on his political opponents, and vowed to “to track down all inciters, masterminds and executors of the unrest,” according to comments distributed by the official Armenpress news agency. Kocharian also stated that he had no intention of extending the state of emergency, which is due to expire on March 20.
The government’s media blackout has silenced at least five Armenian news outlets. And in a move that is sure to create difficulties for US-Armenian relations, President Robert Kocharian’s adminsitration has also suspended broadcasts of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and has blocked the RFE/RL website in Armenia.
"Censorship and harassment of the media are the antithesis of democracy," James K. Glassman, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all non-military US international broadcasting, said in a written statement issued march 5. "Our broadcasters wish to serve the audience in Armenia by providing reliable news and information at this critical juncture. Unfortunately, that is not an option at the moment, unless you are a patient and resourceful Internet user."
There are several reasons for the relative US silence on recent developments in Armenia, analysts say. On a geopolitical level, Armenia is not deemed of vital strategic importance by Washington, as the Caucasus country lies outside the Caspian Basin energy corridor that passes through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
In addition, the Armenian crisis is not viewed in Washington as a struggle pitting democratic forces against an authoritarian regime. It is more of an internecine struggle, in which a dispute among an entrenched political elite over the division of spoils has escalated to the point where it got out of control. Ter-Petrosian and his supporters are generally not seen as being any more democratically oriented than the incumbent Kocharian-Sarkisian team. To substantiate that point, some observers point to the fact that in the 1996 presidential election, Ter-Petroisian, who was running then as an incumbent, was accused of many of the same electoral abuses that he now assails the Kocharian administration for.
Finally, Armenian-American diaspora groups, which wield significant power in Washington’s policy towards Armenia, have chosen not to call attention to the crisis there.
The State Department issued a mildly worded statement on March 1, condemning the violence. The statement implied equal responsibility for both the government and the protesters. “Any unlawful actions such as violence and looting worsen the situation and must stop. We hope that the State of Emergency declared today will be lifted promptly and that political dialogue resumes,” the statement said.
But that is not enough, said Cory Welt, associate director of the Eurasian Strategy Project at Georgetown University. “The United States and the Europeans should certainly do one thing – stop pretending there is democratic progress where there is none. It’s one thing to shy away from giving the street false cause for optimism; it is another to be so patronizing about ‘baby steps’ toward democracy when there are none.”
“What makes the Armenian case so unusual is the willingness of the United States and Europe to move forward with business as usual when there is no business to be done - Armenia is neither a security nor an energy partner for the West,” Welt said.
Given the recent developments, Welt suggested that Washington should suspend aid from the Millennium Challenge Account, which is supposed to encourage Armenia to build democratic institutions. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The flow of Millennium Challenge assistance should not resume until there is a full, independent accounting for the violence on March 1 and 2, Welt added.
There has also been a relatively muted response from Congress, including from the members who are active in pro-Armenian issues. Armenian lobby groups have not pressed Congress to get involved in the crisis in Armenia, according to one Congressional staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity. That is partly because the lobby groups have political ties with the parties in power in Armenia, but partly because they feel that focusing on Armenia’s negatives is bad public relations.
“Frankly, in terms of the Armenian-American lobby, they get really ginned up and energized about the Armenian genocide resolution, but they don't really want to look at corruption, because that doesn't put them in a very favorable light,” the staffer said. “This doesn't help them with their agenda.” [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
The Armenian National Committee of America did not release any statement on the crisis, and as of the morning of March 5 its website carried no mention of the situation unfolding in Armenia. The Armenian Assembly of America did post a statement on its website, calling on all sides to “adhere to the rule of law and to refrain from violence, as well as to ensure that the media will cover the events as they take place with fairness and balance.” Neither organization returned calls and emails by a EurasiaNet correspondent seeking comment.
“Without energy or particular strategic importance, Armenia is left in the United States with the politically quite strong Armenian diaspora,” Welt said. “In the end, it is not the lobbies that should be held responsible, but their representatives in Congress who have far greater reason to be troubled by the hypocrisy of avoiding discussion or comparison of the internal state of Armenia when shaping US policy in its confrontations with Azerbaijan and Turkey.”
Part of the diaspora groups’ ambivalence can be explained by the fact that the main opposition candidate, Ter-Petrossian, strove to weaken the political strength of the Armenian diaspora when he was in office. In addition, his willingness to negotiate with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh angered members of the diaspora groups. Ultimately, Ter-Petrosian’s willingness to negotiate on the Karabakh issue initiated a chain of events that led to his resignation in 1998. He was replaced by Kocharian.
The Karabakh contact line dividing Armenian and Azerbaijani troops was the scene of heavy fighting on March 4-5. Azerbaijani officials on March 5 claimed that Armenian forces launched an attack, in part out of a desire to distract attention from events in Yerevan. Armenian officials countered that Azerbaijani forces initiated the clash. The death toll was placed at between eight and 16. Kocharian, in commenting on the fighting, stated that officials in Baku were trying to take advantage of Armenia’s domestic difficulties. "In all likelihood Azerbaijani leaders thought that because of recent events in Yerevan, the army of Nagorno-Karabakh has lost its vigilance or communication,” Kocharian told Armenpress
In addition, the Armenian diaspora groups tend to disengage from Armenian political issues because the corruption and authoritarianism conflict with the American values that they have acquired, said Yossi Shain, a political scientist at Georgetown University who studies the politics of diaspora groups.
“One can argue that in the mind of the diaspora, Armenia as a homeland has served more as a notion, perhaps a mythical vision than as a concrete sovereign state,” Shain said. “If the [Armenian] state represents something hostile to their ideology, they will remove themselves. They will be more keen to identify with Armenia as a whole than to identify with one regime, if it violates what they consider to be the values of America.”
Editor's Note: Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
Silence On Armenia By Levon Ter-Petrossian
March 5, 2008; Page A21 Washington Post
YEREVAN, Armenia -- In Armenia's presidential election last month, I stood as the main opposition candidate against incumbent Prime Minister Serzh Sarkissian. The election followed a sadly familiar script: The regime harassed the opposition's representatives, bribed and intimidated voters, stuffed ballot boxes, and systematically miscounted votes. Indeed, the rigging of the outcome did not begin on Feb. 19. For the duration of the campaign the country's main medium of communication, television, which is tightly controlled by the regime, churned out propaganda that would have made Brezhnev-era Soviet propagandists blush in shame.
We in the opposition were angered by all of this but not surprised. What surprised and dismayed us was the deafening silence from the West. What dismayed us even more was the technical report of the observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which rubber-stamped Sarkissian's farcical claim of victory.
The people of Armenia, unlike the OSCE monitors, chose to see what happened at the polling stations. Naturally, they discounted Sarkissian's claim and gathered to demand annulment of the results. They staged a continuous protest at Opera Square that became the most wonderful celebration of freedom and one that should be studied as an example of nonviolent, lawful resistance against illegitimate rule.
Deeply concerned that the ranks of protesters were swelling by the day, the regime decided early Saturday to resort to force. Riot police were ordered to disperse the crowd, detain the opposition leaders and put me under house arrest. After several hours, citizens reassembled at another site, demanding to see their leaders, but instead they encountered more riot police, later reinforced by units of the Armenian army, which was ordered to crush the protest. At least eight people were killed this weekend, and emergency rule has been declared.
How did we come to this? Why did the regime headed by outgoing President Robert Kocharian and "president-elect" Sarkissian think it could get away with using force against its own people? Surely the two men had their reasons, but the West's signal, even if unintentional, that they did not have to worry about a strong international reaction was the most important one.
We in Armenia have been trying to understand the roots of such indifference to the rape of our democracy by the Kocharian-Sarkissian regime. The available evidence suggests two explanations: First, some influential organizations and actors in the West, and in Europe in particular, are naively wedded to the notion of positive reinforcement. They seem to think that praising small improvements, instead of criticizing major flaws, creates an incentive for good behavior. Anyone who has studied this regime closely, however, understands the absurdity of such an approach.
Second, and perhaps more important, is the oft-stated claim that the only people able to settle Armenia's long-standing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region will be leaders who are themselves from Nagorno-Karabakh -- as Kocharian and Sarkissian are -- and who are perceived domestically as hard-liners. This is analogous to the "only Nixon could go to China" logic. The problem is that despite being in power for the past 10 years, Kocharian and Sarkissian have done little to move the negotiating process forward. More important, any leader who must make consequential and difficult choices must have the trust of his people. Sarkissian does not have that trust. After what he and Kocharian did on March 1, he will not be able to govern here, let alone make difficult choices.
So what should be done? What do the people of Armenia expect from the West, and the United States in particular? At the very least, we expect a strong and unequivocal condemnation of the violence that occurred March 1 and a recognition that the government, not the opposition, bears responsibility. This condemnation should accompany a stern warning against continued persecution of the opposition and its leaders -- mistreatment that is reaching unprecedented levels -- as well as a demand to lift the restrictions on the media and restore the people's rights to free assembly and unbiased information. We also expect a reassessment of the conduct of the election. Any serious reassessment will inevitably lead to the conclusion that a new election must be held.
If these steps are not taken, Armenians will draw two very undesirable conclusions: that peaceful and lawful means of political struggle are ineffective and pointless, and that the West cares about democracy only when it is politically expedient to do so. The West must do everything possible to dissuade Armenia's citizens from reaching those conclusions.
The writer was president of Armenia from 1991 to 1998 and was the main opposition candidate for president this year. He is under house arrest.
The Mentality That Killed Hrant Dink by Mehmet Ali Birand
March 5, 2008
I could not believe my eyes. It seems that they were celebrating the liberation of Askale. This has got to be the height of primitivism.
Supposedly, they had put on a representative play to prevent the young from forgetting the past. Eyes wide-opened in fear, small kids were watching drunk “Armenian militia” attack everybody, stab babies with bayonets and hanging the imam in punishment.
This must have been the worst-ever representative “reminder of history.” What is more, it was repeated year after year despite all objections. This year must have hit the zenith of bad taste. Once more supposedly, the objective is to raise some nationalist generations and to remind others of the bitter pages of the past
I ask you, can you stomach such a “reminder?” No, this is totally unacceptable. This mentality has nothing to do with nationalism or patriotism or Atatürk, not even remotely.
All it does is to indoctrinate young generations with grudges and to teach them to view Armenians as the enemy to be punished on sight.This is the mentality that led to the murders of Hrant Dink, priest Santoro and the three people at the publishing house in Malatya. We will never be able to save our young from the gangs that provide them with guns and incite them to murder as long as we continue to instill hostility in our youngsters. There is no use in catching murderers and instigators and putting them in jail. Tomorrow, there will be others, for we infect those poor young brains with these primitive and inhumane ideas. The prime minister may talk of “brotherhood” as much as he wants to. Nothing will change as long as he overlooks such primitivism and does nothing to prevent it. He may be unaware of the fact that this is the very attitude that will gradually divide Turkey. The same youth that we now turn against Armenians will some day view all foreigners with hostility and will act out of the conviction that every “enemy” must be killed.
In other words, we are actually raising murderers. What is more, this nonsense is repeated every year despite all the negative criticism.
It is also weird that neither the rulers in Ankara nor the prosecutors, who have been hunting intellectuals for belittling Turkey under Article 301, and not even the sane people in our country wake up to what is going on out there. They all shrug and say, “It just represents regional sensitivity.” Friends, such practice represents the greatest treason to Turkey… It is a great insult to this country… It is the worst harm that can be done to the youth of this country. Wake up already… Stop this primitivism… Prevent the repetition of “Hirant Dink” murders…
If you don't communicate with the media
The readers of this column are familiar with my periodic harsh criticisms of the media. Sure enough, there are those among us, who make up balderdash news or provide or show canned stock photos as live broadcasts. We know who these people are and criticize them unmercifully. This also happens in many other countries all around the world. There, too, politicians complain, the police and the judiciary bring embargoes and the military is bothered.
Only the developed countries manage to establish a balance between the media and their institutions. Do you know how? By providing the media with a continuous stream of reliable information…Those countries, and especially America, have established such an efficient communication network that the media never lacks information. Consequently, journalists never have to look elsewhere for news. They do not have to wring doors to reflect various speculations uttered by experts. Better said, they are not allowed to do it.
Here, it is the exact opposite. The most common habit among officials is to “avoid making mistakes at all costs” and to provide such limited or abstract and therefore unintelligible information that it becomes impossible to report concrete facts. They even go as far as to fabricate sentences with double meanings that give them room for subsequent denials. This also baffles journalists. Complete chaos would be the best way to describe the whole scene.
We are used to it now… Everybody blames the media. Regardless of the institution that they are attached to, all officials act as if they had done their duty and established perfect communication and shared all the details with the media. I repeat, Turkish journalists are no boy scouts, either.
However, why don't you try criticizing yourself once in a while? Ask, “What do we do wrong?” and try to correct your mistakes. When I ask you “to provide information,” I do not mean to divulge top-secret details. Communication is an art. Just stick to its basic rules. In addition, do not generalize “media.” There's media and there's media. When you put everybody in the same basket, you mix the good with the rotten. Isn't that unfair, too?
The translation of M.A.Birand's column was provided by Nuran Inanç. email@example.com
Armenian Navy Band Plays Avant-Garde Folk
The Armenian Navy Band, under its founder, the ethnic Armenian multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Arto Tunçboyaciyan, is scheduled for a performance at Istanbul's Cemal Resit Rey (CRR) Concert Hall on March 5.
The 12-strong ensemble, featuring Tunçboyaciyan on percussion and vocals, will perform a selection of songs from their own albums, which include Tunçboyaciyan's compositions in a genre he calls avant-garde folk.
Human Rights Defenders Position On The Existing Situation In The Country - Hetq.am
March 05, 2008
1. Even from the pre-electoral campaign period, the public activities of different political bodies resulted in the atmosphere of intolerance in our society. Unfortunately the calls for tolerance, made both by competent international organizations and by the Human Rights Defender were ignored. Even more, the atmosphere of intolerance turned into mutual hatred after the printable version
2. The events of March 1 started from the forced dispersal of the demonstrators in the Azatutyun square early in the morning. It was officially announced that there was an accumulation of weapon in the place of demonstration, and Police officers simply tried to inspect the area but faced tough resistance.
The Human Rights Defender’s position is that the authorities should clarify some issues. Notably, who, when and under what circumstances there was made a decision to disperse peaceful demonstration by using force early in the morning of March 1, whether the demonstrators were presented an official warning of corresponding searching and whether the participants refused or resisted, and whether the use of force was adequate to the situation.
The aforementioned issues are conditioned by the announcement of the demonstrators that early in the morning without any warning, they were attacked and severely beaten. It is difficult for us to reveal the truth but there is an unanswered question. What was the reason that the police imposed restrictions on the activities of journalists, for us to get full impartial information. The fact of such prevention was officially confirmed by "Erkir media" and "ALM" television broadcasters.
3. People near the French Embassy are a part of our society, they are not burglars or hooligans. They were convinced that they were citizens of Republic of Armenia who illegally suffered violence from law enforcement bodies.
The Police suggested to make a procession and hold a demonstration near Matenadaran. What was the reason that the people who could lead the demonstrators, did not do that, but at the last moment announced that the demonstrators did not obey them. ?eventually what was the reason that demonstrators disagreed with both law enforcement bodies and with the representatives of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s electoral headquarter. Perhaps, the reason was the early morning events? Perhaps so many wounded and 8 dead persons were the result of this disagreement? The Defender deeply condoles with the relatives of the victims.
4. Current activities of some mass media, mainly TV broadcasters directed to the increase of the tension in atmosphere is at least doubtful. Particularly, it is continuously broadcasted the announcements of high level officials stating to punish or call to trial only those who participated in March 1 demonstrations.
Why the issue of possible illegal actions and corresponding responsibilities of law enforcement bodies are not discussed.
5. The presidential decree of 01.03.2008 introducing a state of emergency imposes restrictions on civil and constitutional rights. Thus, according to subpoint 4 of the 4th point of the decree, mass media reports on domestic political matters may include only official information. Whereas, according to the information, received by the Defender, the activities of «A1plus?, «Lragir? informational internet portals have been suspended. In connection with it, the head of the National Security told the Defender that the reason for such extreme measures is that the internet providers of the corresponding sites are located abroad. According to the head of the National Security the latter were warned about the restrictions prescribed by the decree, but they refused to stand to them justifying that they act within the legislation of their own state.
The subpoint 3 of point 4 of the aforementioned presidential decree provides that law enforcing bodies have the right to restrict the free movement of people, means of transport and execute searching. The complaints received by the Defender indicate that in a result of broad interpretation of the mentioned subpoint the right of people to enter Yerevan city is inadequately eliminated.
Besides, the defender receives complaints concerning mass arrestments which is ?companied by, according to applicants, violations of criminal procedural norms. As for this question the Defender had a telephone conversation with the RA Prosecutor-General, who eagerly offered to present the list of all arrested people to the office of the Defender.
Nevertheless, some representatives of law enforcing bodies tried to prevent the Defender from executing his powers. Such case happened at the RA Police Yerevan department Qanaqer-Zeytun police station.
6.We think that the present situation is conditioned by rough governing system, over-centralization of power, artificial essence of system of checks and balances, social and economic polarization, combination of business and authorities, absence of public control over authorities, deficiency of civil liberties. So it is the situation which has been continuously mentioned by me as the Human Rights Defender of RA, that we have systematic problems in the sphere of the protection of human rights in Republic of Armenia. All these results in the fact, that one big part of our society feels apart from the administration, has a total distrust towards public institutes, electoral mechanisms, justice and mass media.
A certain part of political bodies tried to make use of the situation for its narrow political interests following not the way of dialogue, but the one of confrontation. Of course, the authorities have their part of responsibility in the current situation.
There are two ways to solve the situation: illegal, that is leading to deadlock and legal. The deadlock would be the situation when the political arena becomes deserted and a total feeling of fear would be formed. The other way must be based on real democratic mechanisms, human rights must be considered as a highest value or a headstone, and the way of dialogue and cooperation must be followed up.
It is reassuring that this way is preferred by the newly elected president. It shows that the coming government tries to follow the legal way. It is characteristic that a proposal of cooperation is made by a political leader, whose political party, forms the majority in the Parliament.
I’m sure that even in this situation the possibility of dialogue and political way of peaceful solution of the existing disagreements is not exhausted.