3261) April 24, May 4 : The New Step Of Decline For The Transnational Armenian Activism by Maxime Gauin*

Activism © This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com The decline of the actions carried out by the Armenian nationalist organizations, noticeable since some years, was confirmed during the Spring 2011 especially in the United States. In Washington, the annual demonstration in front of the Turkish embassy was challenged by a Turkish counter-demonstration, which received the — needed — protection of the police. In Los Angeles, the traditional fortress of the Diasporic Armenian nationalism since decades, the Turkish Airlines (THY) were able to obtain a strong position in the airport, despite the strident protests. Cleverly, THY has chosen a Turkish Armenian, born in Sivas (Central-Eastern Anatolia) as its representative in Los Angeles. . . In San Francisco, for the traditional demonstration of April 23, the number of participants was smaller than never since many years; the great majority of the participants were elderly or middle age peoples; they were less than enthusiastic.

Actually, they had no reason to show any enthusiasm. For the first time since more than ten years, the traditional draft of resolution “recognizing the Armenian genocide” was not put on the agenda of US Congress at the expected time (April). Virginia Foxx, co-chair of the Turkish Caucus, and whose son-in-law is of Turkish origin, explained that in the current Congress (2011-2013) there will be no “recognition”. Even the vast majority of the US Armenian nationalists have few illusions on this topic. They failed to obtain the “recognition” when Nancy Pelosi, elected from California and a long advocate of the Armenian “genocide” claims, was President of the House of Representatives; according to Ms. Pelosi herself, there was no majority for the “recognition”. They can hardly achieve their goal in a Congress whose President is a strong opponent to “recognition”. Quite the contrary, the US Congress celebrated on March 31 the 10th anniversary of the Turkish Caucus. 28 Members of Congress and nearly 300 congressional staffers attended the events, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and grand-daughter of two American ladies of Ottoman Jewish origin. In addition, the Democrat Edolphus Town introduced a new resolution praising Turkey’s parliamentary democracy ahead of April 23, which marks the anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Parliament (1920) and is officially celebrated as National Sovereignty and Children’s Day since 1924.

Despite an obvious bias of not mention the Muslim and Jewish victims and using the grossly exaggerated figure of 1,500,000 Armenian casualties, President Barack Obama avoided one more time to use the word “genocide” on April 24. So, the Armenian American organizations understood that they have nothing to expect both from Democrats and Republicans. Mr. Bush Jr. and Mr. Obama both promised to obtain Armenian support to “recognize the genocide” and immediately after their election, they did all what was needed to prevent such a “recognition”. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and its political arm, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), express a strong bitterness against Mr. Obama and even Ms. Pelosi since several months, but they know perfectly that the Republican Party is even more reluctant to accept their demands. The legal victory of the historian Guenter Lewy against calumny gave the final change to the ambiance.

The situation is a bit similar in France. Like in the USA, the number of the participants to the demonstrations in Paris, Lyon and Marseille continues to decrease. The bill criminalizing “the contestation of the existence of the Armenian genocide” was rejected by a large majority of the Senators on May 4. The Committee of Law presented a “motion d’irrecevabilité”, asked the rejection without discussion of the bill. 196 Senators voted for the motion (i.e. against the law), 74 for, the others abstained or did not participate to the vote. Initially, the idea presented to block the bill was a rejection by the conference of presidents (Chairman of the Senate, Chairmen of the Committees and groups). The solution actually carried out is more effective. The Coordinating Council of France’s Armenian Associations (CCAF),specifically its more active component the ARF, claimed that the Socialist Party has been supporting the bill since several months. Actually, the majority of the Socialist Senators, including their Chairman Jean-Pierre Bel, voted for the “motion d’irrecevabilité” or abstained, and the national council of the Party did not express any support to the law. The discussions and the results showed that the limit is not between political parties, but mostly between the Senators elected from districts by Armenian community and the other Senators, who are not subjected to electoral pressure, on themselves or on their political friends. Both the Socialist Charles Gautier and the UMP Josselin de Rohan expressed a radical opposition to the bill; both the UMP Bruno Gilles and the Socialist Jean-Noël Guérini advocated for the vote of the bill. Mr. Gautier warned rightfully against derivation of ethnic conflicts and argued for the necessity to look at the future. Mr. de Rohan called correctly the bill “liberticidal, inquisitorial and obscurantist”. Even some Socialist and UMP Senators — especially Jean-Claude Gaudin, Chairman of the UMP group — who advocated for the Armenian “genocide” claims before avoided to give any support to this bill.

The CCAF and its components committed a mayor error in continuing to focus, after 2007, on the vote of the criminalization law, which had no real chance to be voted. Similarly, the ANCA and, to a lesser degree, its rival, the Armenian Assembly of America, duped themselves in believing the promises of Mr. Bush Jr. and Mr. Obama. The single goal which could rally a substantial number of Armenians on the two rivers of the Atlantic is the support to the Armenian Republic. But it is obvious, for a certain time, and even for the most nationalist persons, that the huge quantities of money distributed to Armenia failed to develop the country completely, and are largely wasted because the corruption and the administrative ineptness. Since their inhabitants are desperate by the misery and the lack of civil liberties, Armenia and the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” continue to lose population. . The condemnation of the ARF activist Movsès Nissanian, for libel against the author of this article (April 2010), and the indictment of Laurent Leylekian, former executive director (2001-2009) of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (the EU’s counterpart of ANCA), for defamation against Sırma Oran, created what the Armenian nationalists themselves call “a climate of legal insecurity”.

However, the political consequences are more serious in France, a country where the absolute and relative numbers of peoples with Armenian heritage are less strong than in USA. Moreover, the tradition of assimilation has already caused irreparable damages to the structures of the Armenian community in France.

Paradoxically, it was the small Armenian community of Switzerland which was the most close to the success with year with the project of an huge memorial in Geneva. However, the Swiss media allowed the Swiss Turks, especially Celâl Bayar, grandson of the Turkish Prime minister (1937-1939) and President (1950-1960), to express their point of view creating a mood which was unimaginable some years ago. On the other hand, there are still serious legal problems with the project of memorial, and the future mayor of Geneva is opposed to this project.

All these facts demonstrate the necessity to challenge the Armenian nationalists by a coherent strategy, including a rational argumentation on history (the works of Guenter Lewy and Erman Şahin are exemplary in this perspective) but also by legal cases. Hence, the extremist organizations would eventually be separated from the majority of the Armenians, especially from the majority of the citizens of the Armenian Republic.

*Maxime Gauin is a visiting researcher at USAK.

5 May 2011



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