- Video: Tal Buenos Interview on Turkey-Armenia 100th Anniversary , Anand Naidoo
- Russia Using the ‘Armenian Card’ , Turgut Kerem Tuncel
- Robert Fisk, Between Francophobia And Turkophobia ,Maxime Gauin
- ECHR Confirms Freedom Of Expression In Armenian Case , Jeremy Salt
- The New Revenge Of Law On Politics , Maxime Gauin
- ECHR Grand Chamber Verdict Of October 15, 2015 : Pros & Cons , Ergun Kirlikovali,
- Top European Court’s Decision Should Make Pope Francis Blush, Ferruh Demirmen
- The Puppet Pope , Tal Buenos
- To Ban Genocide Denial, Court Incites Armenians to Commit Violence, Harut Sassounian
- Counter Comments for Harut Sassunian by Sukru Server Aya
- The European Court of Human Rights Violates My Rights , Vicken Cheterian
- Cheterian on EHCR human rights Response by Sukru Aya
- Amal And The Armenians: The Power To Attract, Tal Buenos
- Dadrian: An Armenian Name In An American Game , Tal Buenos
- The Neocolonialist Tactics Of The New York Times, Tal Buenos
- Were The Armenians ‘Über-Jews’? By Dr Pat Walsh
- Our “Genocidal” Allies (Again) By Dr Pat Walsh
- James Bryce – A Fatal Philanthropist Dr Pat Walsh
- Armenian Spin Machine: Peddling a Humiliating Defeat as Victory, Ferruh Demirmen
Video: Tal Buenos Interview on Turkey-Armenia 100th Anniversary, Anand Naidoo
CCTV America, April 23, 2015
Russia using the ‘Armenian Card’ by Turgut Kerem Tuncel
The news about the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey near the Turkish-Syrian border fell like a bomb on the global political agenda. Statements from top government officials of Turkey, Russia, and third countries came like beads on a string. While Turkish officials tried to wind down the tension and the U.N. and NATO made conciliatory declarations, enraged statements came from the Russian side. Political analysts exploring the incident from different angles appear on different media organs and heated debates go on in social media. Obscurity feeds anxiety and everybody asks ‘what is next?’ The answer is yet to be seen. Nonetheless, it appears that the downing of the Russian warplane will have consequences not only in the Turkish-Russian bilateral relations, but also in the region.
Immediately after the incident, Russia declared that it suspended military communication with Turkey. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev stated that major Turkish-Russian economic projects might be cancelled. He threatened Turkish companies to outlaw their operations in Russia. Correspondingly, Russia announced that it would halt the import of white meat from Turkey by Dec. 1. Meanwhile, some Russian tour operators canceled reservations at Turkish holiday resorts. It seems that economic sanctions, which Russia frequently utilizes when conflicts erupt with other countries, will be Russia’s main counter measure. Given that Russia is one of the top trade partners of Turkey, Russian economic sanctions may very well hurt Turkey.
Notably, Russian reaction has not been limited with economy-related threats. Moscow announced that one of the biggest air defense ships of the Russian navy will be deployed at the junction of Turkish and Syrian territorial waters. As the reports on the vandalizing of the Turkish embassy in Moscow by angry Russians and protests in other Russian cities confirm that the incident has agitated the Russian society as well, and Moscow’s retaliatory rhetoric and measures have the support of some sections of Russian society.
In this tense political atmosphere, on Russiya-1 TV channel, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the former Russian Duma vice speaker and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), who is known as the “insane clown prince” of the Russian politics, said, “Armenians hate Turks and if we allow them to liberate their western territories, they will do it with pleasure.” He added that “Kurds are also waiting for our help. If we tell them that we recognize their independence, Eastern Anatolia will cease to exist as such. As you know there are already million Kurds and their capital is already known; it is Diyarbakir. As the result, we shall have independent Kurdistan and Great Armenia.” On the other hand, the leader of the Fair Russia Party,Sergey Mironov, submitted a bill “on responsibility for failure to acknowledge genocide of Armenians by Turkey in 1915.”
Every cloud has a silver lining. Obviously, the downing of the Russian warplane may have detrimental consequences for Turkey, Russia, the Eurasian region, and the Middle East. Still, if we force ourselves to see the full side of the glass, Zhirinovsky’s statement and Mironov’s bill help to understand the nature of another complication that Turkey faces: namely, the campaign for the recognition of the 1915 events as genocide and recent attempts to criminalize the rejection of such characterization.
Evidently, neither Zhirinovsky’s statement nor Mironov’s attempt is a temporal coincidence, nor are their motivations related to justice, morality or anything else. Manifestly, these two politicians seek to punish Turkey by utilizing the “Armenian card” and the “genocide issue.”
This is not the first time that the “Armenian card” and the “genocide issue” have been used against Turkey. When the Turkish-Israeli long-time good relations deteriorated following the “2008-2009 Gaza War” and Israeli commandos’ raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 (the Mavi Marmara incident), Israeli politicians began talking about the “recognition of the Armenian genocide” and discussions were held in the Knesset in 2011. It is also worth mentioning that it is mostly the parliaments of the countries that oppose Turkey’s accession to the EU that discuss resolutions on the 1915 events.
These facts demonstrate that today the “genocide issue” is neither a matter of historical debate nor a question of justice. It is a handy political instrument to blackmail Turkey either to force her for certain concessions or to punish her.
*Turgut Kerem Tuncel is a researcher at the Center for Eurasian Studies (AVIM) in Ankara.
Robert Fisk, Between Francophobia And Turkophobia
Maxime GAUIN, Scholar in Residence, AVIM
Robert Fisk is relatively well known for his recurrent hostility toward Turkey and the Turkish people, particularly as far as the Armenian issue is involved. He has used, as “evidence” of a “genocidal intent”, the forged “documents” published in 1920 by Aram Andonian, the false “interview” with Atatürk published by The Los Angeles Examiner, and the absurd book written by an Armenian American, Sarkis Torossian, who pretended to be a former officer of the Ottoman, British and French armies.
Albeit plainly wrong and expressed with an offensive wording, the ideological stance of Mr. Fisk is at least coherent, as proves his recent (17 November 2015) article published in The Independent about the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris:
“The French-Algerian identity of one of the attackers demonstrates how France’s savage 1956-62 war in Algeria continues to infect today’s atrocities.”
Nowhere in the article, does Mr. Fisk give any evidence for a connection between the “savage war” of Algeria and the attacks of 13 November 2015. Even worse, Mr. Fisk proves, by this sentence only, his absolute ignorance of the subject: This war began in 1954, not 1956. However, this error makes sense in the fictional world elaborated by Robert Fisk. Indeed, the war was launched by the Front of National Liberation (FLN) by a series of attacks: Out of ten killed persons, only two were armed soldiers; two were soldiers without weapons, two were Muslim civilians who sided with the French, and four were non-Muslim civilians, including a school teacher. His wife was seriously wounded but survived.
It is only fair to notice that, after these assassinations and until August 1955, the FLN almost stopped attacking civilians. However, this group received, during the first months, a very limited support from the Muslim population and failed to recruit an impressive number of members. As a result, Youcef Zighoud, a regional commander of the FLN—precisely the one in charge of the only region, around Constantine, where the FLN had obtained some successes—decided to involve this population in the nationalist fight by inciting reprisals against her. He launched an insurrection which specifically targeted non-Muslim civilians. 119 of them were assassinated, as well as 41 pro-French Muslim civilians. At least 47 policemen and soldiers were killed during the clashes. At Philippeville, a part of the insurgents were drugged, not unlike Daesh (ISIS) terrorists today. In the mixed village of El Alia, out of 36 European civilians killed, 14 were children or teenagers. Indeed, the children were particularly targeted to scare the mothers, who were supposed to ask the husbands to leave Algeria. The insurgency was crushed mercilessly, and hundreds of FLN members were shot, but the bloodiest consequence was the decision, by a part of the European civilians, to “take justice themselves” by killing Muslims indiscriminately; several thousands died. Regional leaders of the Algerian separatist movement had previously used a rather similar strategy of provocation in May 1945.
“Whenever the West is attacked and our innocents are killed, we usually wipe the memory bank. Thus, when reporters told us that the 129 dead in Paris represented the worst atrocity in France since the Second World War, they failed to mention the 1961 Paris massacre of up to 200 Algerians participating in an illegal march against France’s savage colonial war in Algeria. Most were murdered by the French police, many were tortured in the Palais des Sports and their bodies thrown into the Seine. The French only admit 40 dead.”
These lines also reveal the deep ignorance and prejudices of their author. To start with the beginning, the demonstration of 17 October 1961 was not “against France’s savage colonial war in Algeria.” There were two reasons:
1) Officially, it was against the curfew imposed by the Parisian police to Algerians. Each reader will make his own opinion about this measure, but this is impossible to call it a petty measure of racism. It had a strong security rationale. Indeed, from 1958 to 1961, the FLN had killed 47 policemen and wounded 140 others (in attempts of assassination), including 22 killed and 74 wounded from 1 January to 16 October 1961 only. The month of August was the most bloody: Ten policemen were assassinated. This intensification of murders during the year 1961 had no military justification, as the referendum of 4 January 1961, organized by President Charles de Gaulle, gave him a large majority in favor of the self-determination of Algeria.
2) The French branch of the FLN actually used the indignation against the curfew and forced (including by threats of physical violence) Algerian workers to demonstrate on 17 October 1961, in a context of internal rivalry for power in the FLN. As the independence could happen relatively soon, the issue of power was not anymore limited to the party, but was also, and even more about Algeria itself. As a result, to show their importance, the FLN leaders of the Parisian agglomeration decided the demonstration, in spite the risk it represented for the safety of the participants.
Regarding now the number of victims, “up to 200” is a gross exaggeration, totally discredited more than 15 years ago. This figure emerged in 1991, in the book written by Jean-Luc Einaudi, a former admirer of Pol Pot, who had no degree in history or political science, who did not claim to be a historian, and who mixed all the killings of Algerians by the Parisian police during the whole year 1961, the assassinations by the FLN (against moderate separatists of the Algerian National Movement, Algerian workers who refused to give money, or to follow a strict application of Islamic rule, especially as far as alcohol was concerned), and the actual killings related to the demonstration of 17 October. The only serious publications, by a professional historian, based on the archives of the Parisian police gives about 30 demonstrators, at most 50, who were killed. Mr. Fisk, who has never set foot in any archive, dismisses this meticulous work based on primary sources with one sentence: “The French only admit 40 dead,” as if what a French historian could say has no importance, simply because of his nationality. This sentence is reminiscent of the nonsensical defense, by the same Robert Fisk, of the “authenticity” of an “interview” attributed by The Los Angeles Examiner. He dismissed the comprehensive demonstration of Türkkaya Ataöv by saying, with a highly contemptuous tone: “The Turks say it is fake.”
“The police officer in charge was Maurice Papon, who worked for Petain’s collaborationist Vichy police in the Second World War, deporting more than a thousand Jews to their deaths.”
Once again, Robert Fisk simply does not know what he is talking about. Maurice Papon (1910-2007) was never a “police officer” in the full sense of the word. From 1930s to the turn of his public career in 1966—when he turned to business and politics—, Maurice Papon was in the prefectural body. During the Second World War, he was the general secretary of the préfecture de Gironde, namely the second man of the governorate of Bordeaux. He had authority on the police forces, including as far as the “Jewish affairs” were involved, but he never tried to become a police officer. He did not work at that time for the police. Actually, it was the opposite: He gave orders to the police. For reasons I shall discuss in the next paragraph, he continued his career after the liberation, and became in 1958 the préfet de police de la Seine. The police of Paris has a unique statute of autonomy, and its chief often comes from the prefectural body, even if, of course, police officers can be appointed at this place.
This is not until 1981 that documents proving his involvement in the deportation of Jews emerged, and helped by effective lawyers, he multiplied the procedural ways to cancel the criminal investigation against him. Eventually, in 1998, he was sentenced to ten years in jail for “complicity of crime against humanity,” but acquitted of the charge “complicity of murder,” the court having judged that the prosecutor had failed to prove his knowledge of the existence of the gas chambers before the liberation of the death camps in 1945.
Moreover, it must be emphasized that Maurice Papon was not the only responsible for the brutality of the repression. For example, because of a failure of the intelligence department of the préfecture de police, Papon was informed about the demonstration only in the morning of 17 October; as a result, the number of policemen, especially the most trained ones, was insufficient, and this is the most dangerous situation. Moreover, the responsibilities of the political hierarchy are clear, but the Minister of Interior Roger Frey (1913-1997) had a quite different behavior than Maurice Papon during the war: He joined the French Free Forces as early as 1940. As a result, linking the repression with the Vichy regime is not very convincing. It makes more sense to put in the more general context of the Algeria war and of the practices of the Gaullist regime during the first years (1958-1965).
“Omar Ismail Mostafai, one of the suicide killers in Paris, was of Algerian origin – and so, too, may be other named suspects. Said and Cherif Kouachi, the brothers who murdered the Charlie Hebdo journalists, were also of Algerian parentage. They came from the five million-plus Algerian community in France, for many of whom the Algerian war never ended, and who live today in the slums of Saint-Denis and other Algerian banlieues of Paris.”
The figure of “five million-plus” is another evidence that Robert Fisk does not apply a basic rule of journalism: checking the facts. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economical Studies (Insee), there were in France (in 2008) 710,000 Algerian citizens born in Algeria, 430,000 children of immigrants whose both parents were born in Algeria, and 220,000 whose one parents was born in this North African country. As such, in 2008, 1,360,000 persons could be called Algerian or half-Algerian in France, less than one third of Mr. Fisk’s figure.
Numbers are not the only problem of Mr. Fisk. Once again, historical facts are mistreated by him. He does not provide any evidence for his extraordinary allegation: “the Algerian war never ended” for “many” Algerians in France. Actually, this allegation is even in contradiction with the thesis of its own author: Why did so many Algerians come to France, if it was this colonialist hell? The truth is that before, during, and even after the war of 1954-1962, the French government imposed to the company bosses—who preferred the more educated workers from Germany, Spain and Italy—to hire Algerian workers for political reasons. Indeed, the development of medicine and basic sanitary measures in Algeria, a consequence of colonization, led to a quick increase of the population, which was a true burden for the local economy. The only safety valve was emigration. After the independence, France had a much more welcoming policy vis-à-vis Algerian workers than Britain and Belgium for the nationals of their own ex-colonies. Indeed, the Algerian workers enjoyed in France the same rights as the French workers, except the political rights. Furthermore, until 1973, a number of Algerian nationals (decided by Paris in agreement with Algiers) could go to France for work without a visa: there was no limit until 1964, 12,000 Algerian nationals per year from 1964 to 1968, 35,000 in 1969 and 1970, and 25,000 each year from 1971 to 1973. Furthermore, the end of this practice was decided by the Algerian, not the French cabinet.
Beyond his huge errors on the immigration, Robert Fisk implicitly presents the Algeria war as a war against Islam, or at least Arabic interpretation of Islam, in continuity with the colonial system. However, such a thesis has simply nothing to do with reality. The colonial administration, especially in Algeria, was predominately Islamophile, well before the Second World War. The best known example is the unveiling of the Great Mosque of Paris (1926), in one of the most prestigious quarters of the city, the construction of which was entirely paid by the state thanks to a special law. Indeed, the law of 1905 normally forbids any use of public money for the construction of any religious edifice; the Great Mosque of Paris remains the only exception, because of an ad hoc bill. There are other cases, like the French Muslim hospital of Bobigny, close to Paris, established in 1936 and closed down in 1961, or the respect for Muslim diet by the French army for the North African and Senegalese units.
Regarding the Algeria war itself, those who played the religion card were almost only the leaders of the radical, religious wing of the FLN. The FLN conducted a war of extermination against the moderate separatists, who never failed to retaliate with guns when they could (about 4,000 victims on both sides, in France only), as well as against the pro-French elites. Then, the radical wing of the FLN imposed on the rest of the party—who did not wish such extreme measures—a campaign of ethnic cleansing, in 1962-63, against the settlers and the indigenous Jews, namely against more than one million persons, who fled by fear of the assassinations (with gruesome mutilations) and kidnappings. This was the implementation of an idea visible among of the most extreme elements of the Algerian national movement since 1943. At the same time, thousands of ordinary Algerians who had joined the French army for a series of reasons -including the assassinations and massacres by the FLN (but rarely an opposition to the independence of Algeria- were exterminated.
Correspondingly, Mr. Fisk’s claim on “France’s savage colonial war in Algeria” is an over-simplification: The “savage” methods, such as torture, were never generalized, either in the territory of Algeria or France, either in the time of the war or peace. The war was also the climax of the French investments to improve the life of Muslim Algerians, with the openly expressed goal to keep, or regain, their support.
I stop here my refutation of Robert Fisk’s false claims, the examples provided being already more than enough to show to what kind of “journalism” his piece belongs to. To finish, I am going back to his ideological coherence. Mr. Fisk is not simply a person who shows a remarkable aptitude for being fully wrong. His distortions of facts and his inventions are ideologically coherent. Indeed, he is not the first to isolate from their context the war crimes of French officers and civilians in Algeria, and to exaggerate their scope. This misuse of the Algerian tragedy was basically a joint strategy of the FLN and their Soviet masterminds. France was even accused of “genocide.” Yet, the same Soviet Union was behind the emergence of the “Armenian genocide” claims by 1965—a project prepared as early as 1950s. Quite logically, the political branch of the Soviet-supported Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) in France advocated bombings against civilians in 1982, and used as an argument the example of the FLN.
Mr. Fisk is not even new in being habitually wrong, but he perpetuates a decade-old, totalitarian tradition of disinformation against both France and Turkey.
 In his book The Great War for Civilization (New York: Vintage Books, 2007). On this question: Sinasi Orel and Sürreya Yuca, The Talât Pasha “Telegrams”: Historical fact or Armenian fiction? (Nicosia-Oxford: K. Rüstem & Brothers/Oxford University Press, 1986); Jean-Louis Mattei, Belgelerle Büyük Ermenistan Pesinde Ermeni Komiteleri (Ankara-I?stanbul: Bilgi Yayinevi, 2008), pp. 261–284; Maxime Gauin, “Aram Andonian’s‘Memoirs of Naim Bey’and the Contemporary Attempts to Defend their Authenticity’”, Review of Armenian Studies, 2011, No. 23, pp. 233–292; Christopher Walker, “World War I and the Armenian Genocide”, in Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Time (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1997), p. 247.
 For example, during a debate with David Saltzman on Russia Today (March 2010): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xfrb_sCzDs&feature=channel. On this issue: Türkkaya Ataöv, Another Falsification: Statement (1926) Wrongly Attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Ankara: Sistem Ofset, 1986), reedited in Armenian Falsifications (New York: Okey, 2008), pp. 55-72, https://derinstrateji.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/armenian-falsifications-ataov.pdf
 Robert Fisk, “The Armenian hero Turkey would prefer to forget”, Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-armenian-hero-turkey-would-prefer-to-forget-8612890.html. On this issue: Halil Berktay, “Strateji dehasi Torosyan, kara harekâtini bilmiyor,” Taraf, 8 November 2012; Hakan Erdem, Gerçek ile Kurmaca Arasinda Torosyan’in Acayip Hikayesi (Istanbul: Dogan, 2012); Edhem Eldem, “Torosyan Belgeleri ve sonrasi,” Toplumsal Tarih, no. 230, February 2013, pp. 38-44; Maxime Gauin, “A True or False Story by Torossian,” Daily Sabah, 2 October 2015, http://www.dailysabah.com/op-ed/2015/10/02/a-true-or-false-story-by-torossian
 Roger Vétillard, 20 août 1955 dans le nord-Constantinois. Un tournant dans la guerre d’Algérie ? (Paris : Riveneuve, 2013).
 Roger Vétillard, Sétif, Guelma mai 1945 : massacres en Algérie (Paris : Éditions de Paris, 2011).
 Jean-Luc Einaudi, La Bataille de Paris (Paris : Le Seuil, 1991).
 Jean-Paul Brunet, Police contre FLN (Paris : Flammarion, 1999); by the same author, Charonne. Lumières sur une tragédie (Paris : Flammarion, 2003); and “Police Violence in Paris, October 1961: Historical Sources, Methods and Conclusions,” The Historical Journal, LI-1, March 2008, pp. 195-204; Michel Renard, “Les décès dus à la manifestation du 17 octobre 1961”, Études coloniales, 22 janvier 2012, http://etudescoloniales.canalblog.com/archives/2012/01/22/23307274.html
 “Robert Fisk COMPELLED TO LIE (for Armenians)”, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y4zAzosoAA
 In this regard, see especially Alain Dewerpe, Charonne, 8 février 1962 (Paris : Gallimard, 2006).
 “Fiches thématique – Population immigrée”, Insee.fr, http://www.insee.fr/fr/ffc/docs_ffc/ref/IMMFRA12_g_Flot1_pop.pdf
 Daniel Lefeuvre, Pour en finir avec la repentance coloniale (Paris : Flammarion, 2008), pp. 165-183 (1st edition, 2006).
 Ibid., pp. 185-197; Michel Renard, “Gratitude, contrôle, accompagnement: le traitement du religieux islamique en métropole (1914-1950)”, Bulletin de l’IHTP, no. 83, premier semestre 2004, pp. 54-69, http://www.ihtp.cnrs.fr/spip.php%3Farticle328&lang=fr.html
 Laurent Chabrun, La Guerre de l’ombre. RG contre FLN: la guerre d’Algérie en France (Paris : Jacob-Duvernet, 2011).
 Jean-Jacques Jordi, Un silence d’État. Les disparus civils européens de la guerre d’Algérie (Paris: SOTECA, 2011); Jean Monneret, La Phase finale de la guerre d’Algérie (Paris : L’Harmattan, 2000).
 Lecture of Daniel Lefeuvre, June 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mdn0v0e-v-s
 Jean-Charles Jauffret, Ces officiers qui ont dit non à la torture. Algérie 1954-1962 (Paris, Éditions Autrement, 2005); Denis Lefebvre, Guy Mollet face à la torture en Algérie. 1956-1957 (Paris : Bruno Leprince, 2001).
 Daniel Lefeuvre, Chère Algérie. La France et sa colonie (1930-1962) (Paris : Flammarion, 2005) (1st edition, 1997).
 Jacques Simon, Algérie : l’abandon sans la défaite, 1958-1962 (Paris : L'Harmattan, 2009), p. 234.
 Gaïdz Minassian, Guerre et terrorisme arméniens, (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2002), pp. 17-31.
 “Notre lutte et l’opinion publique”, Hay Baykar, 24 novembre 1982, p. 4.
ECHR Confirms Freedom Of Expression In Armenian Case
Jeremy Salt, 28.10.2015
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has just taken a landmark decision on the right of free expression which will have a ripple effect around the world. The legal proceedings which ended on October 15 in the ECHR’s Grand Chamber began when Dogu Perincek, a Turkish national, travelled to Switzerland in May, 2005 for the express purpose of saying that the use of the word ‘genocide’ to describe the fate of Ottoman Armenians in the First World War was an ‘international lie.’
As Switzerland has criminalized such statements, Perincek was prosecuted. On March 9, 2007, he was found guilty in the Lausanne district police court of breaking the law under article 261 bis 4 of the Swiss criminal code, the court ‘holding in particular that his motives appeared to be racist and nationalistic and that his statements did not contribute to historical debate.’ He was fined 3000 francs or 30 days in prison and ordered to pay 1000 francs to the Switzerland-Armenian Association for non-pecuniary damages.
Perincek’s appeal was dismissed by the Vaud Cantonal Court (June 13 2007) and then dismissed again by the Federal Court (December 12 2007), upon which he appealed to the ECHR (June 10 2008). On December 17, 2013, a chamber of the court found by a majority of 5-2 that Perincek’s rights had been violated under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, dealing with the right to freedom of expression.
The Swiss government then requested that the case be moved to the ECHR’s highest court, the Grand Chamber. At a hearing on January 28, 2015, third party comments were received from the Turkish, Armenian and French governments. The Armenian government (represented by Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney) was also given leave to take part in the proceedings. Third party comments were also received from the Switzerland-Armenian Association, the Federation of Turkish Associations of French-speaking Switzerland, the Coordinating Council of Armenian Associations in France, the Turkish Human Rights Association, the Truth, Justice and Memory Centre, the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights, the International Federation of Human Rights, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism and a group of French and Belgian academics.
The Grand Chamber delivered its judgment on October 15. By a majority of 10-7 judges it upheld the decision of the earlier court, that Perincek’s right to freedom of speech had been violated. It said it had had to strike a balance between two convention rights, the right of freedom of speech (article 10) and the right to respect for private life (article 8). It found that Perincek’s statements ‘bore on a matter of public interest and did not amount to a call for hatred or intolerance.’ They could not be regarded as affecting ‘the dignity of the members of the Armenian community to the point of requiring a criminal law response in Switzerland.’ It was ‘not necessary in a democratic society to subject Mr Perincek to a criminal penalty in order to protect the rights of the Armenian community at stake in the case.’ There was no international law obligation for Switzerland to criminalise such statements and ‘the Swiss courts appear to have censured Mr Perincek simply for voicing an opinion that diverged from the established ones in Switzerland.’
The Grand Chamber emphasized that it had not been required to determine whether the massacre and deportation of Armenians could be characterized as genocide ‘within the meaning of that term under international law.’ Neither was it required to determine whether the criminalization of the ‘denial’ of genocide or ‘other historical facts’ might be justified. It had only been in a position to review whether the application of article 261 bis 4 of the Swiss penal code was in conformity with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 261 bis 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code had been enacted in connection with Switzerland’s accession to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). However, ‘there was no indication that the clause which had served as the basis for Mr Perincek’s conviction was specifically required under the CERD or under other international rules, whether treaty-based or customary.’ The very fact that Mr Perincek had been criminally convicted was significant ‘in that it was one of the most serious forms of interference with the right of free expression.’
The decision was accompanied by eight partly concurring and partly dissenting opinions. In the opinion of dissenting judges, ‘that the massacres and deportations suffered by the Armenian people constituted genocide is self-evident. The Armenian genocide is a clearly established fact. To deny it is to deny the obvious.’ It is certainly not obvious to Mr Perincek, and many others, including distinguished Ottoman historians, who believe the claim is a subjective reading of history.
Greece, Slovakia and Greek Cyprus have also criminalized statements rebutting - ‘denying’ – the claim of genocide by Armenians and their supporters. The findings of the Grand Chamber would seem to make it unlikely that other European governments will follow their example.
In their reaction to the Grand Chamber’s decision, Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney claimed that the Grand Chamber had ‘endorsed our argument’ and was ‘a victory for Armenia.’ Their further claim that ‘today’s judgment did not dispute the fact of the Armenian genocide’ is misleading. The Grand Chamber specifically said it had not been required to determine whether the events of 1915 could be characterized as genocide. Accordingly, it did not offer an opinion either way. The judge in the Lausanne court described Mr Perincek as ‘stubborn, arrogant and provocative.’ Mr Robertson and Ms Clooney described him in their statement as a ‘provocateur’ which, to the extent that he came to Switzerland with the express purpose of challenging the law in the name of free speech, was true. Mr Robertson’s animosity towards Mr Perincek colored his presentation before the Grand Chamber, leading Professor Laurent Pech, representing Perincek, to remark that he would not spend any time on it because it was devoid of legal content.
This was a victory for the freedom of expression. It was certainly not a victory for the Armenian government and its legal representatives, Mr Robertson and Ms Clooney. They did not go to the ECHR just to hear the Grand Chamber uphold the earlier decision in favor of Dogu Perincek. The majority of judges in the Grand Chamber carefully avoided giving an opinion on the events of 1915. The court upheld the right of an individual to disagree with a mainstream view, however strongly held, and criticized the Swiss courts for punishing him for it: were the ECHR to hear a case based on the finding of a Turkish court that the law had been broken by someone saying there was a genocide its ruling most probably would be the same.
Parliaments knowing little or nothing of Ottoman history have passed genocide resolutions but there is no international legal ruling supporting their claim that the events of 1915 amounted to genocide. The Lausanne judge argued that Mr Perincek had made the real victims of violence in 1915 the perpetrators. In fact, contrary to the court’s opinion of one-sided violence, Armenians were the perpetrators of large-scale violence throughout the war as well as its victims. The same is true of Turks and Kurds and other ethno-religious groups caught up in the war and its aftermath.
There is no ‘denial’ of the genocide. It may be an established fact in the minds of Armenians and their supporters but it is not to many others. Of its nature, a claim cannot be ‘denied’ but only challenged. The word ‘denial’ has been used deliberately to block debate and keep a counter-narrative out of the cultural mainstream. The tactic has been extremely effective. Editors who know little of the issue will not publish for fear of being tainted by association with ‘denialists’, while allowing the most extreme Armenian claims into print. The ECHR ruling may encourage them to pluck up courage and open up this issue to full exposure and the open debate it needs.
The New Revenge Of Law On Politics
Commenting more than three years ago on a decision of the French Constitutional Council, which censored the Boyer bill in 2012, I had used as a title the words of Robert Badinter, the former president (1986-1995) of this same council: If the bill is adopted, it will be censored in the name of the constitution, and this affair will constitute the revenge of law on politics.
The end of the Perinçek v. Switzerland case is a new revenge of this kind. Having stated on Swiss territory, in 2005, that “Armenian genocide” claims were “an imperialist lie,” Homeland Party (VP) leader Dogu Perinçek was sued by the Switzerland-Armenia Association and sentenced in 2007, as the vagueness of Switzerland’s anti-racist law allows abuses. In 2013, the second chamber of the European Court of Human Rights found Switzerland wrong, and ruled that the freedom of expression of Mr. Perinçek was violated. Breaking the promises made to the Turkish government, the Swiss government filed an application to the Grand Chamber at the last minute. On Oct. 15, 2015, the Grand Chamber ended this deplorable affair and found Switzerland once again wrong. This is not only a disaster for Swiss diplomacy, which has violated its centuries-long principle of neutrality, but also, and even more clearly, for those who tried to impose legal censorship on the scholarly debate toward the Ottoman Armenian tragedy of 1915. First of all, the Grand Chamber has reaffirmed the distinction between Holocaust denial and the scholarly critique of the “Armenian genocide” allegations.
In Paragraph 234, the final judgment reaffirms the constant jurisprudence of the ECHR: Denying the Holocaust or the responsibilities of Hitler in that crime is understood to be done with anti-Semitic and anti-democratic purposes and so cannot be protected by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. However, observed the judges, it cannot be “automatically presumed” that you pursue a racist agenda if you challenge the “Armenian genocide” label, and “and there is not enough evidence that this was so in the present case.”
Then, the Grand Chamber blocked any legal censorship in the entire Council of Europe, and so even in Armenia. Actually, in Paragraph 156, the Grand Chamber explains: “It can hardly be said that by disputing the legal qualification of the events, the applicant cast the victims in a negative light, deprived them of their dignity, or diminished their humanity.”
Even more important is the fact that the Grand Chamber corroborated in practice the refusal, by the second chamber, to conclude that there would be a “general consensus” for the “Armenian genocide claims.” In Paragraph 231, the court observes that Mr. Perinçek “took part in a long-standing controversy that the Court has […] described as a ‘heated debate, not only within Turkey but also in the international arena.’” By definition, if there is a “heated debate in the international arena,” none of the interpetations presented in such a context can be regarded as backed by “a general consensus.”
Similarly, in Paragraph 287, the Grand Chamber affirms “the possibility, in a ‘democratic society,’ to express opinions that diverge from those of the authorities or any sector of the population.” We touch here the core of the issue: Banning opinions because they are not congruent with that of a pressure group or a political body is totalitarian. Moreover, according to the enemies of Mr. Perinçek’s freedom of expression, there should be no limits in hurting Turkish feelings, particularly in denying the war crimes perpetrated by Armenian volunteers, from 1914 to 1922 – a very special kind of “anti-racist” views. In other words, the Grand Chamber’s judgment marks the final defeat of a liberticidal hypocrisy.
ECHR Grand Chamber Verdict Of October 15, 2015 : Pros & Cons
A comprehensive evaluation by Ergun KIRLIKOVALI,
November 16, 2015
Abstract: On October 15, 2015, Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR or "the Court") delivered its judgment in the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland ,application no. 27510/08 ( "the verdict" .) By a majority, 17 judges held that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, perpetrated by Switzerland. By its criminal conviction of a Turkish politician (Perinçek) for publicly expressing his views on Swiss soil, regarding the "Turkish-Armenian Conflict," Switzerland breached Dr. Perinçek's right to free speech. Dr. Perinçek stated that the mass deportations and massacres suffered by the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and the following years had not amounted to genocide. The ruling is nothing less than a spectacular legal victory for Dr. Perinçek, Turkey, and Turks around the world and a game-changer.
Now that the initial feedback and reflexive reactions are over, perhaps we can take a more composed look at this milestone of a legal verdict. The verdict with its 300 paragraphs, conclusions, and dissenting opinions, each of which could easily inspire a long article like this, would perhaps be more suited for a book later on. I shall, therefore, confine my analysis to the press release issued by the Registrar of the Court, marked ECHR 325 (2015) and dated 15.10.2015, which is an excellent summation of the verdict. Still, there are so many aspects to consider, that I decided to number and title each one of them for easier comprehension, quick reminders, and future reference. Let me start with house-keeping facts and then gradually move on to thought-provoking findings. I also took the liberty, for your enjoyment, to grade each fact and/or finding as pro or con for Armenians and/or Turks.
It is final: There are no more appeals or higher courts. This is it. Grand Chamber judgments are final (Article 44 of the European Convention on Human Rights .) All final judgments are transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for supervision of their execution. (Grade: Good for Turks and others who are fed up with incessant Armenian propaganda.)
It holds the lower court's ruling of December 17, 2013: The Grand Chamber of ECHR agrees with lower court and this is "the law of the land" now. As Americans like to put it, there is a new sheriff in town and he says disputing an opinion (such as the Armenian allegations of genocide) is an exercise of freedom of speech, which right is protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It fine-tunes the "denial laws" and teaches Switzerland (and the rest of the world) that only "genocides supported by the verdict of a competent court" shall benefit from the protection afforded by the "denial laws." That is, while the Jewish Holocaust, Rwanda, and Srebrenica are protected because they are court-proven genocides, the Armenian claim of genocide is not protected because it remains an "opinion." Disputing an opinion is not hate speech, as Armenian lobbies insist; it is an exercise in freedom of speech. (Grade: Bad for Armenians.)
Civilized Dialogue: ECHR verdict checks a hundred years of Armenian arrogance, deception, and lawlessness, all masquerading as "sole and blameless victims" of a complex and tragic conflict, dubbed "Genocide" in mid-1960s, i.e. 50 years after the event, purely for political reasons. In case you missed, the verdict also makes the way forward crystal clear: civilized dialogue based on facts, honesty, and fairness; not propaganda, censorship, bias, or bigotry. Now, we will be able to hear the other side of the story and get a fuller understanding of the complex history of 1915. We will be able to grieve for all human suffering jointly, without dividing and segregating the victims into camps based on their faith, ethnicity, race, language, or nationality. No more "selective morality" leaving out the archives showing blatant Armenian complicity and guilt. No more ignoring Turkish and other Muslim suffering at the hands of Armenian revolutionaries, while exaggerating Armenian suffering by ridiculously manipulating demographic data in total disregard for even the most basic rules of mathematics. No more perception management by stereotyping, intimidating, silencing, and censoring. No more one-sided editorials in New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and other big media; or passing political resolutions dictating a certain view on history, in defiance of critical thinking. No more glut of one-sided "academic" books ignoring half the story. (Grade: Good for Turks, bad for Armenians)
"Dignity and identity of modernday Armenians": ECHR press release says: " Being aware of the great importance attributed by the Armenian community to the question whether those mass deportations and massacres were to be regarded as genocide, the European Court of Human Rights held that the dignity of the victims and the dignity and identity of modernday Armenians were protected by Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the Convention. " This statement is in favor of Armenian community, although it seems to unfairly single out Armenian suffering while ignoring Turkish and other Muslim suffering. What about the "Dignity and identity of modernday Turks and other Muslims", like my father's folks in the village of KIRLIKOVA and my Mother's in Skopje, and millions of others in the Balkans and the Caucasus, who also suffered greatly from forced marches and starvation and epidemics and wars, at the same time period? What about the 518,000 Muslims, mostly Turkish, who met their tragic end at the hands of Armenian revolutionaries? This matter remains the crux of the "Turkish-Armenian Conflict." (Grade: Good for Armenians.)
"Protect(ing) the rights of the Armenian community": ECHR press release says the judges strived to strike a balance between two Convention rights: freedom of expression and respect for private life. "The Court concluded that it had not been necessary, in a democratic society, to subject Dr. Perinçek's to a criminal penalty in order to protect the rights of the Armenian community at stake in the case." One cannot help but ask whether the rights of the Armenian community really need protecting by such preferential treatment, bordering on religious discrimination. What about the rights of Muslims, mostly Turks, during WWI—and Azeris more recently, in 1992-1994 when they were expelled from their homes in Karabagh at gunpoint by Armenians? This language, it seems, needs work to include all deserving parties. (Grade: Good for Armenians.)
No more censorship hiding behind the false claims of hate speech: The Court finds that Mr Dr. Perinçek's statements "did not amount to a call for hatred or intolerance." This ECHR decision is definitely a huge win for the contra-genocide scholars, as one of the major harassment techniques used by the Armenians has always been labeling responsible opposing views as "hate speech and intolerance." This way, the Armenians were able to censor dissent, cancel speaking engagements by well-informed critics of the Armenian claim of genocide, stop the publishing of scholarly books by university publishing houses, and/or smear the academic record of scholars. This door is closed now for Armenians. (Grade: Bad for Armenians.)
Dissenting speech does not justify a criminal law response: ECHR-Grand Chamber adds: "…The context in which they were made had not caused heightened tensions in Switzerland and the statements could not be seen as affecting the dignity of the members of the Armenian community requiring a criminal law response in Switzerland…" That means, now, the victims of Armenian intimidation will be able to seek legal redress and base their move on this very ECHR decision. (Grade: negative for Armenians and Switzerland.) There was no international law obliging Switzerland to criminalize statements opposing the Armenian claims of genocide and the Swiss courts "appeared to have censured Dr. Perinçek's simply for voicing an opinion that diverged from the established ones in Switzerland ; and the interference with his right to freedom of expression had taken the serious form of a criminal conviction." While Switzerland is rebuked and reprimanded severely here for needlessly censoring free speech, the message is to the entire world, especially those who seek proliferation of "denial laws" to control thought and speech, that censoring "opinion that diverged from the established ones" is not acceptable. This is a remarkable indirect warning to big media, especially the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post which are notorious for censoring responsible opposing views on the Turkish-Armenian Conflict. (Grade: Good for Turks and friends.)
An arduous legal odyssey that exculpates dissenters in one fell swoop: The applicant, 73-year-old Dogu Perinçek, is a Turkish national, an Ankara resident, holder of a doctor of laws degree, and chairs the Turkish Workers’ Party. In 2005 Dr. Perinçek's participated in three public events in Switzerland, in the course of which he expressed the view that the mass deportations and massacres suffered by the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 onwards had not amounted to genocide. At a press conference held in May 2005 in Lausanne, Dr. Perinçek's stated that “the allegations of the ‘Armenian genocide’ are an international lie… (I)mperialists from the West and from Tsarist Russia were responsible for the situation boiling over between Muslims and Armenians. The Great Powers, which wanted to divide the Ottoman Empire, provoked a section of the Armenians, with whom we had lived in peace for centuries, and incited them to violence.” At a conference held in July 2005 in Opfikon to commemorate the Lausanne peace treaty of 1924, concluding the First World War for Turkey, Dr. Perinçek's stated that “the Armenian problem ... did not even exist”, and handed out written statements in which he denied that the events of 1915 and the following years had constituted genocide. Lastly, at a rally of the Turkish Workers’ Party held in Köniz in September 2005, Dr. Perinçek's stated that “the Soviet archives confirm that at the time there were occurrences of ethnic conflict, slaughter and massacres between Armenians and Muslims. But Turkey was on the side of those defending their homeland and the Armenians were on the side of the imperialist powers and their instruments ... (T)here was no genocide of the Armenians in 1915.” This is more or less what we have been saying and writing for decades; only now, we have the stamp of approval by ECHR that our position is not hate speech and it is an exercise freedom of thought and expression. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians and other "thought police".)
Delusional Armenian arrogance hits the wall of law… and reality: The Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) filed a criminal complaint against Dr. Perinçek on account of the statement made at the first event. The investigation was later expanded to cover the two other oral statements as well. On 9 March 2007 the Lausanne District Police Court found him guilty of the offence under Article 261 bis § 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code, holding in particular that his motives appeared to be racist and nationalistic and that his statements did not contribute to the historical debate. The court ordered him to pay 90 day-fines of 100 Swiss francs each, suspended for two years, a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs, which could be replaced by 30 days’ imprisonment, and 1,000 Swiss francs in compensation to the Switzerland-Armenia Association for non-pecuniary damage. Thanks to this ill-advised act of greed and arrogance by SAA, today we are enjoying the protection of our rights to freedom of speech, afforded by the verdict. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians.)
Dr. Perinçek's appeals: He asks that the Swiss judgment be set aside and additional investigative measures taken to establish the state of research and the positions of historians on the events of 1915 and the following years. Here is how things develop after this point: The Criminal Cassation Division of the Vaud Cantonal Court (Switzerland) dismisses the appeal on 13 June 2007. The Swiss Federal Court dismisses a further appeal by Dr. Perinçek in its judgment of 12 December 2007. Dr. Perinçek protests that his criminal conviction and punishment for having spoken his mind had been in breach of his right to freedom of expression under Article 10. He also complains relying on Article 7 (no punishment without law), that the wording of Article 261 bis § 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code was too vague. (For instance, it does not differentiate between fact and opinion; genocides supported by a court-verdict and opinions held by a segment of society.) The application is lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 10 June 2008. In a judgment of 17 December 2013 a Chamber of the Court holds, by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention by the Swiss courts. The Swiss Government, although promises the Turkish government not to pursue this matter any further, reneges on its promise and requests that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber under Article 43 (referral to the Grand Chamber), and on 2 June 2014 the panel of the Grand Chamber accepts that request. A Grand Chamber hearing is held on 28 January 2015. (Grade: Bad for Swiss Government and Armenians, good for Turks.)
Everyone gets in on the final act: In the Grand Chamber proceedings, third-party comments are received from: 11.1) the Turkish Government, who had exercised their right to intervene in the case (Article 36 § 1 of the Convention); 11.2) the Armenian and French Governments, who had been given leave to intervene in the written procedure (Article 36 § 2); 11.3) The Armenian Government are in addition given leave to take part in the hearing. 11.4) Non-governmental organizations and persons: (a)the Switzerland-Armenia Association; (b) the Federation of the Turkish Associations of French-speaking Switzerland; (c) the Coordinating Council of the Armenian Organizations in France (“CCAF”); (d) the Turkish Human Rights Association, the Truth Justice Memory Centre and the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies; (e) the International Federation for Human Rights (“FIDH”); (f) the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (“LICRA”); (g) the Centre for International Protection; and (h) a group of French and Belgian academics. (Grade: Good for the truth.)
Delicate language by ECHR about legal meaning of the term genocide: The Court states that "it was not required to determine whether the massacres and mass deportations suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 onwards could be characterized as genocide within the meaning of that term under international law; unlike the international criminal courts, it had no authority to make legally binding pronouncements on this point." Please note, the UN Convention of 1948 requires that a competent court taken on a genocide case, go through due process, and prove "intent to destroy" before coming to a genocide verdict. So, ECHR-Grand Chamber is right in saying that it had no authority to make legally binding pronouncements on this point. Please also note that while the highest court in Europe respects the need for a "competent court" to make a genocide decision, Armenian advocates and their supports have no need for law as they freely pass a judgment on 1915 events every day, calling it genocide. If they will decide on such controversies, then why do we need the International Court of Justice established (ICJ) by the UN? Genocide proponents need to learn to respect law. I thank the court for teaching a lesson to the genocide-pushers in respecting legal definitions, competent courts, due process, proof of intent, and other legal aspects. (Grade: Good for all.)
Unanimous ECHR agreement on Switzerland's violation of free speech: The court agrees Mr Dr. Perinçek's conviction and punishment, together with the order to pay compensation to the SAA, had constituted an intrusion in the exercise of his right to freedom of expression under Article 10. The Court does not find that the interference is justifiable "under Article 16 of the Convention, which provides that nothing in Article 10 shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens. Article 16 had never been applied by the Court. It had to be borne in mind that clauses that permitted interference with Convention rights had to be interpreted restrictively. The Court found that Article 16 should be interpreted as only capable of authorizing restrictions on activities which directly affected the political process, which had not been the case here." Translation: If you believe the political activity of some will affect the entire political process negatively, then you can be justified in restricting them without worrying about their free speech rights. Switzerland, thus, tries to hide their blatant violation under Article 16, which the Court does not buy. (Grade: Nice try, Switzerland, but you get an "F" in this test. Go study your laws harder and come back for a make-up test. Result: Bad for Switzerland and Armenians; good for Turks.)
Could the Swiss Court's action be motivated by "prevention of disorder"? The Grand Chamber agrees with the lower Chamber that the interference with Mr Dr. Perinçek's free speech " had been prescribed by law within the meaning of Article 10 § 2. The Court finds that Dr. Perinçek's could reasonably have foreseen that his statements might result in criminal liability under Swiss law. As regards the question whether the interference had pursued a legitimate aim, the Court was not satisfied that it had been necessary for the 'prevention of disorder'." In other words, Swiss action is not justified on grounds that public disorder might erupt if Mr. Dr. Perinçek's free speech is not restricted and punished. (Grade: Again, nice try, Switzerland, but you get another "F" in this test. Go study the laws harder and re-take this test.)
Could the Swiss Court's action be motivated by " protection of the rights of others "? Like the lower Chamber, the Grand Chamber of the Court finds " that the interference could be regarded as having been intended 'for the protection of the ... rights of others' within the meaning of Article 10 § 2." After all, the court declares, "…many of the descendants of the victims of the events of 1915 and the following years, especially in the Armenian diaspora, constructed their identity around the perception that their community had been the victim of genocide." The Court thus accepted that the interference with Mr Dr. Perinçek's rights had been intended to protect that identity and thus the dignity of present-day Armenians." Translation: Because Armenians take the genocide claim seriously, maybe Dr. Perinçek's should have expected that his free speech would be restricted on Swiss soil, out of Switzerland's respect for Armenian dignity. I respectfully and strongly disagree with the Grand Chamber on this, because protests against some fanatic groups, even terrorist organizations, could be silenced under such an interpretation. (Grade: Good for Armenians.)
Had the interference been “necessary in a democratic society” under Article 10 § 2? the Court clarifies that it was not required to determine whether the criminalization of the denial of genocide or other historical facts might in principle be justified. At this point, may I remind you the Appel de Blois of 2007 when a group of prominent French historians led the world intellectuals and scholars in taking a stand against "memory laws" and "memory police". The freedom of historical debate had came under serious attack—mostly by promoters of the alleged Armenian genocide who were intent on stifling free and open debate by forcing upon the public only a single version of partisan history and banning all responsible opposing views. The Court here is simply saying "We were not asked if the memory laws are good or bad." (Grade: Good for the truth.)
ECHR narrows the task to a balancing act and focuses on it: The court says "It was only in a position to review whether or not the application of Article 261 bis § 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code in Mr Dr. Perinçek's case had been in conformity with Article 10. In the light of the Court’s case-law, the dignity of Armenians was protected under Article 8 of the Convention. The Court was thus faced with the need to strike a balance between two Convention rights (EK's note: free speech versus dignity of victims) , taking into account the specific circumstances of the case (EK's note: Armenian identity, passion, and fanaticism) and the proportionality between the means used (EK's note: restricting free speech) and the aim sought to be achieved (EK's note: to prevent public disorder). In examining the nature of Mr Dr. Perinçek's statements, the Court did not seek to establish whether they could properly be characterized as genocide denial or justification for the purposes of the Swiss Criminal Code. That question was for the Swiss courts to determine." (Grade: Bad for Switzerland, good for the free speech, scholarship, and truth.)
Perinçek attack was on "imperialists" and their tools, not Armenians loyal to their state: The Court decides that Perinçek " had not expressed contempt or hatred for the victims of the events of 1915, noting that Turks and Armenians had lived in peace for centuries. He had not called the Armenians liars, used abusive terms with respect to them, or attempted to stereotype them." (But Armenians do defame and stereotype Turks all the time; Armenian literature is replete with degrading comments for Turks. The court needs to strike a balance here, too, in future.) The Court says "His strongly worded allegations had been directed against the “imperialists” (EK's note: Mainly Russia, Britain, France, and the U.S.) and their allegedly insidious designs with respect to the Ottoman Empire and Turkey." (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians.)
The Court separates, again, court-proven Holocaust from popular-opinion of Genocide: Here is the exact language: "While in cases concerning statements in relation to the Holocaust, the Court had – for historical and contextual reasons – invariably presumed that they could be seen as a form of incitement to racial hatred, it did not consider that the same could be done in this case. The context did not require automatically to presume that Mr Dr. Perinçek's statements relating to the 1915 events promoted a racist and antidemocratic agenda, and there was not enough evidence that this had been the case." Furthermore, I have the benefit of another ECHR verdict on yet another Article 10 case, where ECHR punished a comedian for his statements on Jews and Holocaust. I am, of course, referring to the M’BALA vs France case decided on October 20, 2015. Thus, within a span of days, as if to drive the point how, the ECHR taught all of us an vital lesson that denying Holocaust is hate speech and punishable by the denial law while disagreeing with the opinion of Armenian of genocide is an exercise of freedom of speech, therefore, not punishable by the same denial law. This stark contrast should be clear by now to even the most ardent supporter of Armenian claims. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians.)
Dr. Perincek was a member of Talaat Pasha Committee (TPC); so what? This statement by ECHR is another striking part of the landmark verdict. "The Swiss courts had referred to the fact that he was a self-professed follower of Talaat Pasha, who was historically the initiator of the massacres of 1915." (EK's note: Please note; the second half of this statement happens to be presumptuous. First, massacres were not the work of the Ottoman government, even though some in government's employ may have been involved. To call them "Armenian massacres" is to ignore Armenian excesses committed by Armenian revolutionaries. The correct term should be "mutual massacres" or "Turkish-Armenian irregular warfare", as they were, at least in part, due to retaliation motives perpetrated to exact revenge on the Armenians for previous Armenian cruelty on Muslims. Honesty, fairness, and balance are needed here. Second, Talaat Pasha initiated the TERESET—short for "temporary relocation"—for homeland security reasons and as a wartime military measure, not massacres. There is extensive documentation in the Ottoman archives, which the genocide advocates conveniently ignore, that the Ottoman government tried its best to conduct an orderly TERESET.) Back to the ECHR quote: "However, the Swiss courts had not elaborated on this point, and there was no evidence that Dr. Perinçek's membership in the so-called Talaat Pasha Committee had been driven by a wish to vilify the Armenians." There it is, set in stone, that one's membership in the TPC is not grounds to automatically blame one for "vilifying Armenians", like the Armenian lobbyists almost always do. The witch hunt associated with TPC members, the stigma cultivated for membership in TPC, and all other similar intimidation tactics must be abandoned by the Armenian camp now or face the consequences in court to be humiliated with verdicts in support of freedom of speech. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians.)
In the Court’s opinion, Dr. Perinçek's statements are not hate speech: The Court decides that Dr. Perinçek's statements, "read as a whole and taken in their immediate and wider context, could not be seen as a call for hatred, violence or intolerance towards the Armenians." Given the public interest in this matter, the Court concluded, "Dr. Perinçek's statements were entitled to heightened protection under Article 10, and that the Swiss authorities had only had a limited room for maneuver (“margin of appreciation”) to interfere with them." Translation: Swiss authorities must let the guy speak his mind on a matter of controversy that is also of public interest. The Swiss should not interfere with free speech on "the Turkish-Armenian conflict", especially in view of the historical experience of a Convention State concerned by a complaint under Article 10 was particularly relevant with regard to the Holocaust. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians.)
"Holocaust denial, even if dressed up as impartial historical research, implies anti-Semitism: ECHR-Grand Chamber is, again, careful with the language: "For the Court, the justification for making (Holocaust) denial a criminal offence lay in the fact that such denial, in the historical context of the States concerned, even if dressed up as impartial historical research, had to be considered as implying anti-democratic ideology and anti-Semitism. The Article 10 cases concerning Holocaust denial examined by the Court had been brought against Austria, Belgium, Germany and France. The Court considered that Holocaust denial was especially dangerous in States which had experienced the Nazi horrors (EK's note: mainly Austria, Belgium, Germany, Holland, and France, although almost every state in Europe felt it to varying degrees) and which could be regarded as having a special moral responsibility to distance themselves from the mass atrocities that they had perpetrated or abetted, by, among other things, outlawing their denial. (EK's note: This ECHR-language may need some work, as its reverse reading may suggest that Holocaust denial is not as dangerous in States which had not experienced the Nazi horrors.) (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Armenians.)
Swiss actions cannot be justified by the alleged situation of Armenians in Turkey: The Court does not mince words when it comes to possible excuses used for violating free speech rights in Switzerland. "The Court did not consider that Dr. Perinçek's criminal conviction in Switzerland could be justified by the situation in Turkey, whose Armenian minority was alleged to suffer from hostility and discrimination. (EK's note: Armenian citizens make up 0.1 percent of Turkey's population, but are represented disproportionately by 0.5 percent of the Turkish parliament. Compare this five-fold inflated representation Armenian-Turks to that of Turkish-Germans: 5 percent of Germany's population represented by 1.1 percent of Bundestag, i.e. five-fold deflated representation; or Turkish-Americans; 0.1 percent of US population represented by zero percent of the US Congress. The claim that Armenians suffer hostility and discrimination is not supported by facts on the ground.) "When convicting him, the Swiss courts had not referred to the Turkish context. While the hostility of some ultranationalist circles in Turkey towards the Armenians in that country could not be denied, (EK's note: Just like hostility of Nazis and other far-right Christian fundamentalists to Turks and other Muslims in Europe manifested as anti-Turkism—similar to anti-Semitism—and/or Islamophobia)… Europe in particular in view of the assassination of the Turkish-Armenian writer and journalist Hrant Dink in January 2007, possibly on account of his views about the events of 1915 and the following years, (EK's note: Overwhelming majority of Turks protested Dink's murder from president on down to Turkish citizen on the main street. Dink statement ignores Armenian terrorism from 1973 to 1994 which caused deaths of about 40 Turkish diplomats worldwide for which Armenians still show no noticeable or appreciable remorse.) … this could hardly be regarded as a result of Dr. Perinçek's statements in Switzerland." (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
The Court rejects 'Armenian sensitivity and dignity" arguments tabled by Switzerland: The Courtrules against Switzerland on "Armenian sensitivity and dignity" issues: "While the Court was aware of the immense importance attributed by the Armenian community to the question whether the tragic events of 1915 and the following years were to be regarded as genocide, it could not accept that Dr. Perinçek's statements at issue had been so wounding to the dignity of the Armenians as to require criminal law measures in Switzerland." (EK's note: While I accept that Armenians are sensitive about how 1915 events should be viewed, this sensitivity should not be allowed to blind all others to heretofore ignored and/or dismissed historical evidence that Armenians were engaged in armed and violent revolts (1862-1922), extremely bloody terrorism (1871-1922), and supreme treason as in joining invading enemy armies (1877-1922); and tortured and killed 518,000 Muslims, mostly Turks (1914-1922). "Turkish sensitivity and dignity" also must enter the picture for fairness and justice to be served.) (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Dr. Perinçek's remarks describe, not defame or demonize, Armenians: Here is another critical assessment by the Court: " (Dr. Perinçek) had referred to Armenians as 'instruments' of the 'imperialist powers', which could be seen as offensive. However, as could be seen from the overall tenor of his remarks, he did not draw from that conclusion that they had deserved to be subjected to atrocities or annihilation. Coupled with the amount of time that had elapsed since the events, this led the Court to the conclusion that his statements could not be seen as having the significantly upsetting effect sought to be attributed to them." (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Denial laws are worded and applied differently across Europe, not single standard: This point should be well understood by those who stubbornly still promote proliferation of denial laws. If this Court finding is not sufficient for them to abandon their anti-free-speech agenda, then may I offer an excellent book by Guenter Lewy, Outlawing Genocide Denial (University Of Utah Press, 2014.) "The Court observed that there was a wide spectrum of positions among the member States as regards legislation on the denial of historical events, from those States which did not criminalize such denial at all to those which only criminalized denial of the Holocaust or the denial of Nazi and communist crimes, and those which criminalized the denial of any genocide. The Court, acknowledging this diversity, did not consider that the comparative law perspective should play a significant part in its assessment, given that there were other factors with a significant bearing on the breadth of the applicable room for maneuver. It was nevertheless clear that Switzerland, with its criminalization of the denial of any genocide, (EK's note: whether a court-proven fact or a politically-motivated opinion) without the requirement that it be carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred, stood at one end of the comparative spectrum. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
No international treaty forcing Switzerland to impose criminal penalties on genocide denial: The Court points out that there is no legal basis for the Swiss action: " (T)here were no international treaties in force with respect to Switzerland that required in clear and explicit language the imposition of criminal penalties on genocide denial as such. It was true that Article 261 bis § 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code had been enacted in connection with Switzerland’s accession to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). However, there was no indication that the clause which had served as the basis for Dr. Perinçek's conviction was specifically required under the CERD, or under other international law rules, whether treaty-based or customary." (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Criminal conviction of Dr. Perinçek's was one of the most serious forms of interference free speech: The Court compares Swiss action with other cases under Article 10 and notes that Switzerland may have gone too far. The Court finds that the interference with free speech had consisted of, for instance, a restriction on the dissemination of a publication. "The very fact that Dr. Perinçek's had been criminally convicted was significant in that it was one of the most serious forms of interference with the right to freedom of expression." This is a clear embarrassment for Switzerland for which they have no one but themselves to blame. The Swiss government had promised its Turkish counterpart that Switzerland would not appeal December 17, 2013 verdict by ECHR. But then, they surrendered to Armenian political pressure (and possibly their covert anti-Turkism and Islamophobia) and reneged on their word by filing the appeal. Look where this move got them: Switzerland not only lost face in the global arena, but also they lost the trust of the Turkish government. How, do you think, would the latter behave if Switzerland "promised" to not do something else tomorrow? Trust is a slippery thing. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Conclusion: A lesson by the Court to Switzerland in democracy: The Court's language is crystal clear: "Based on all of the above factors, the Court concluded that it had not been necessary, in a democratic society, to subject Dr. Perinçek's to a criminal penalty in order to protect the rights of the Armenian community at stake in this case. There had accordingly been a breach of Article 10 of the Convention. See paragraphs 255-57 of the judgment." (Grade: A severe embarrassment for Switzerland, owing to bowing to the arrogance and greed of the Swiss-Armenians who sued Perinçek.) (Grade: Good for Turks; embarrassing for Switzerland and bad for Armenians.)
Other articles: Article 17 of the Convention (prohibition of abuse of rights): The Court joins the question whether to apply Article 17 of the Convention (prohibition of abuse of rights) to its examination of the merits of the complaint under Article 10. Article 17 allows the Court to reject an application if it judges that the applicant has relied on the provisions of the Convention to engage in an abuse of rights. "It followed from the Court’s finding under Article 10 that there were no grounds to apply Article 17." Nice try Switzerland, but that wily move did not work, either. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Other articles: Article 7: Article 7 requires parties to undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups, as well as to propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UN on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Majority decision by the Court is, "…that the complaint under Article 7 amounted to a restatement of the claims under Article 10. There was therefore no need for a separate examination of that complaint." Another cunning move by Switzerland that fizzles out. (Grade: Good for Turks; bad for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Other articles: Article 41 (just satisfaction): The Court holds, by a majority, "that the finding of a violation of Article 10 constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for any non-pecuniary damage suffered by Dr. Perinçek's. The Court further dismissed, unanimously, the remainder of his claim for just satisfaction." (Grade: Bad for Turks; good for Switzerland and Armenians.)
Dissenting opinions of the judges, for the record:
Joint dissenting opinion: Silvis, Casadevall, Berro, Kuris, De Gaetano, Sicilianos, and Spielmann;
Additional dissenting opinion: Silvis, Casadevall, Berro and Kuris; Partly concurring/partly dissenting opinion: Nußberger; Source: ECHR Registry Press release, non-binding to the Court; Decisions, judgments and further information about the Court can be found on www.echr.coe.int . (Grade: Bad for Turks; Good for Armenians.)
Switzerland violated the right of an individual to freedom of speech, just because he disagreed with the widely held opinion on a controversial, much-debated subject. Swiss authorities misinterpreted and misapplied a denial law that was meant for "court-proven" cases of genocide, such as the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Srebrenica, not unproven and much-debated claims like the alleged Armenian Genocide. The latter is an opinion, not a court verdict. Expressing dissent on an opinion, therefore, is not punishable by law.
The Swiss authorities are looking at re-writing that denial law that embarrassed them.
German Parliament has shelved indefinitely the second reading of yet another alleged Armenian genocide resolution. Some Armenians are in denial, perhaps convinced by their perpetually losing attorneys, interpreting "the verdict" (October 15, 2015 verdict by the ECHR-Grand Chamber) as victory. But that is harmless delusion. After all, sooner or later even they will see that the runaway freight train that is "the verdict" is about to hit them hard when the Turkish NGOs and individuals start suing the state and federal governments that took fraudulent Armenian claims at face value to pass one-sided resolutions, defaming Turks, Turkish history and heritage. What I worry about is those die-hard fanatics who see this verdict as an encouragement to further violence and terrorism. At least one Armenian seems to write Armenians are left no chance but to resort back to terrorism. As you can see, progress, some good, some scary, is already happening and change seems irreversible and inevitable. 100 years of Armenian propaganda, ironically, imploded through the greedy and arrogant actions of Armenians themselves and in the much-ballyhooed centennial, no less, of an alleged genocide.
That said, I believe the world will be a better place with "the verdict", because people will finally be able to hear, freely, the other side of the story on the Turkish-Armenian conflict, which was, up to now, censored by Armenian intimidators and their supporters in media, academia, and politics. This is a good thing as more civilized dialogue will lead to more honest evaluations, rapprochement, peace, and eventually, closure. People like me, whose family's pain and suffering, from both paternal and maternal sides, are ignored, dismissed, or sometimes even ridiculed, will finally be able to tell their stories without the threat of intimidation, harassment, or terrorism. Books and articles will be published mentioning Armenian revolts, treason, terrorism, territorial demands in the 19th and 20th centuries. Turkish and other Muslim non-combatant civilians, to the tune of 518,000 between 1914-1918, who lost their lives at the hands of Armenian revolutionaries will be documented. Debates of 1915 events will gradually and correctly turn into evaluation of 1862-1922 time period, exposing Armenian war crimes and hate crimes. All primary sources, archives, and aspects will be honestly considered. Genocide claims based on misrepresented 1915 events will transform into "an inter-communal warfare fought by Christian and Muslim irregulars", against the backdrop of a raging world war, like 69 Historians and experts on Turkish-Armenian conflict have declared in the New York Times and Washington Post on May 19, 1985.
For starters, here is single frame of a photo of Armenians cadets, that refutes the entire Armenian narrative of "poor, starving, unarmed, peaceful Armenians" myth. Here, one can see thewell trained and well-supplied Armenian soldiers, armed by Russian-made Mosin rifles, at an Armenian military Academy established in 1906 in Bulgaria. To counter the baseless Armenian claims of Genocide, I was compelled to coin a new companion term back in 2003, ETHOCIDE, my humble gift to the English language (and its Turkish translation, AHLAKKIRIM, my modest contribution to the Turkish language) whose short definition is: "Systematic extermination of ethics via mass deception for political gain." All "ethocidal" behavior in future will be challenged under the light of "the verdict", which exposed the two soft bellies of the corrupt Armenian narrative: history and law.
Propaganda is finally out, truth and honesty are in, thanks to "the verdict"… and Dr. Perincek.
Top European Court’s Decision Should Make Pope Francis Blush
Ferruh Demirmen, Ph.D.
When Pope Francis, during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 12, 2015, pronounced the word “genocide” in reference to the 1915 events in Ottoman Anatolia a century ago, it was patently clear that he was delving into territory he should not have. It was a meeting where the pontiff and top Armenian clerics and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan had gathered in what was apparently a show of Christian solidarity.
By recognizing “Armenian genocide,” and calling the Armenian victims “confessors and martyrs for the name of Christ,” the Pope was asserting an unproven event, revealing his prejudice, or at the vey best, his misjudgment. The recent decision from the Grand Chamber of the prestigious European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a testimony to the Pope’s wrongful and deplorable stance on Armenian allegations.
In its milestone decision announced on October 15, 2015, the Grand Chamber, by a majority vote, agreed with the Second (lower) Chamber’s 17 December 2013 decision that Switzerland had violated Turkish politician Dog(u Perinçek’s right to freedom of expression when it imposed penalty on Perinçek in connection with his “denial of Armenian genocide.” Hoping to have the lower chamber’s decision reversed, Switzerland, under intense Armenian lobbying, had appealed that decision to Grand Chamber – obviously to no avail.
The Grand Chamber’s decision had two equally important ramifications. By letting stand the lower chamber’s decision, the Grand Chamber in effect affirmed that: (a) “Armenian genocide” is controversial and unproven, (b) there can be no comparison between the 1915 events and Holocaust.
The court’s position is consistent with the provisions of the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide (ratified in 1951), which first codified this term. According to this Convention, genocide is a legally construed special crime, and it can only be established through a judicial process in a duly authorized court – an international court or a court where the alleged crime was committed. Without a verdict from such a court, labeling an event as genocide lacks legal validity. In other words, it is merely an opinion.
To date there exists not a single court verdict characterizing the 1915 events as genocide. The UN has also refused to call the 1915 events genocide. When he decided to recognize “Armenian genocide,” the Pope should have been aware of these legal boundaries. ECHR is an organ of the 47-member Council of Europe.
So, one must ask, absent a judicial verdict, what gave the Pope the authority to call the 1915 events “genocide”?
In its February 3, 2015 ruling (Croatia v. Serbia), the International Court of Justice in The Hague also concluded that forced relocation, which is what happened in Anatolia in 1915, even if it results in killings, cannot be called genocide unless specific intent (dolus specialis) to harm or kill is proven. The court also held that the provisions of the 1948 Convention cannot be applied retroactively, i.e., judgments as to past events not permissible.
In the U.S. the Bill of Rights protects a party from being labeled guilty of a crime without due process; i.e., the alleged crime must be adjudicated in a court of law. The old, venerable adage, “Innocent until proven guilty,” must be respected.
It is obvious that by labelling the 1915 events as genocide the Pope exceeded his authority and violated both the European and American due-process standards. The same standards, in fact, also bind parliaments that have so far recognized “Armenian genocide.”
To date, the Armenian side, out of fear it would lose, has refrained from litigating its case in a court of law, preferring to influence the public opinion through propaganda instead.
A case in point is the 17 December 2003 order of the European Court of First Instance on a lawsuit lodged by a group of Armenian-French citizens against three European institutions including the Council of the European Union. The applicants had sought compensation for non-material damage suffered on account of, inter alia, recognition of Turkey’s status as a candidate for accession to the EU without Turkey’s prior acknowledgment of Armenian genocide. The court found that the applicants’ action was without legal merit and dismissed the claim, adding that the European Parliament’s 1987 resolution calling on Turkey to recognize “Armenian genocide” was purely political, without any binding consequences. Appeal of the ruling to the higher court was dismissed.
The case was a legal defeat for the Armenian side, also reaffirming the fact that Armenian “g” resolutions passed by parliaments are no more than political opinions.
Such realization should prompt parliaments that have recognized Armenian “g” to date to re-think their stance and rescind their decisions. The 1948 Convention does not make a distinction between “political” and “legal” recognition of genocide.
The Pope, of course, has the right to express his opinion on the 1915 events; but this is not the same thing as denouncing these events as proven genocide.
Speaking of opinion, in 1985 69 U.S. historians and researches signed a declaration, published in New York Times and Washington Post, stating that in their opinion the 1915 events do not constitute genocide. Among the signatories were eminent scholars such as Bernard Lewis. Surely, the Pope should have been aware of this declaration. Hence, even as regards opinion, there is no consensus among the scholars on “Armenian genocide.”
The Pope apparently is also not aware that in 1920 his predecessor Pope Benedict XV had pleaded with the British to release some of the high-ranking Ottoman officials who were being held on the Island of Malta on suspicion of complicity in massacring Armenians. Benedict XV, who had direct contact with the Ottoman authorities, obviously did not think the Ottoman government had murderous or genocidal intentions toward the Armenians. All 244 Malta detainees, in fact, were released by the British for lack of evidence and returned to Turkish soil.
So, one must ask the Pope: What did he know about the 1915 events in 2015 that his predecessor Benedict XV did not know almost a century earlier?
Human rights issue
The Pope, while recognizing “Armenian genocide,” astonishingly did not express any compassion for more than half a million civilian Muslims that lost their lives at the hands of renegade Armenian bands during the 1915 Armenian revolt.
In a gesture of humanity, the Pope could have also offered condolences to the relatives of 42 Turkish diplomats and 4 foreign diplomats that were assassinated by Armenian terrorists in the 1970s through 1990s – including Turkish ambassador to Vatican Taha Car?m in 1977. Three years later, in 1980, Car?m’s successor Vecdi Türel and his driver were wounded by the terrorists.
Likewise, the Pope could have expressed his compassion for the memory of the more than 600 Azeri civilians massacred by Armenian forces in the town of Khojaly in 1992.
The Pope’s “humanity” should not be limited by race, religion or ethnicity.
The 1.5 million Armenian victims alluded to by the Pope is also a grotesque exaggeration. The Armenian losses in Anatolia during World War I from all causes including fighting on the sides of the Allies were roughly 300,000, some 57,000 of which were during the relocation itself, most of them due to disease, famine and chaos.
When he visited Sarajevo in June 2015, His Holiness, while denouncing the massacres inflicted upon the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica , refused to use the term “genocide.” This, despite the fact that two UN courts have unequivocally called the Srebrenica massacres genocide. The Pope ignored the appeals of Bosnian academics and representatives of war victims to recognize the massacres as genocide. Srebrenica in a sense is a stone-throwing distance from the Holy See.
Reflecting a shameful double standard, the Pope could not bring himself to use the word “genocide” when the perpetrators are Christian and the victims Muslim.
In conclusion, His Holiness should deal with matters of faith and stay away from highly-charged historical issues that sow discord and hatred in society. He should not readily accept Armenian “g” allegations presented to him on a gold platter by the Armenian side. Otherwise, his call for inter-faith and inter-communal dialog becomes shamefully hollow.
Source October 26, 2015
The Puppet Pope
What lies behind the new close relation between the U.S. and the pope is unknown. However, the U.S. seems to have persuaded the pope to use his influence to legitimize its foreign interests
Pope Francis's politicization of Ottoman history last April was a staged event that the American-controlled Associated Press then carefully packaged and disseminated around the globe. It was also covered in similar fashion by media outlets such as Australia's ABC, the BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post. The wording of the news items was sure to associate Turkey with denial and to characterize the Turkish government as angry because the pope used the term genocide in reference to the Armenian relocations and deaths in World War I.
As one might have expected, many Turks did not appreciate the pope's push to further polarize this already contentious issue. One common reaction was to wonder whether the pope expressed an anti-Muslim sentiment by choosing to preach about a Muslim perpetration of massacres while decontextualizing what happened and ignoring many other cases of civilian suffering. Those who are aware of the long history of religious persecutions in Europe may have wondered how he could keep a straight face while diverting attention away from crimes, that throughout centuries, were directed at groups for not being Christian - crimes that he never has, and likely will never, describe as genocide.
However, upon reviewing Pope Francis's recent visit to the United States, there is good reason to believe that the current pope was not simply being insensitive to Turks because of a religious bias, but rather that he is being used as an instrument of U.S. influence. Through him, the greatest power on earth, the United States, is able to frame desired agendas and exert its influence without being seen as doing so.Who are the people whom the U.S. can reach through the pope? His influence on world public opinion is not limited to Catholics. Both Catholics and non-Catholics generally perceive the pope as an independent figure. Over 1 billion people can be persuaded by the words of the pope into thinking that certain convictions and preferences are their own as Catholics without ever suspecting that their views are being shaped by calculations of how they may best serve U.S. interests. In the eyes of billions of others - those around the world for whom Pope Francis is not necessarily a figure of moral authority - he still enjoys credibility as a non-American voice that represents a vast religion.
Despite the prevalent perceptions of the pope as a figure, American control of the Vatican is not unthinkable. Political realism teaches that the greatest state power among the nations will seek to compel or impel weaker states to act according to its wishes. Unlike the style of past colonialism in which imperial interests were met largely through the use of force and incentives in dealing with the masses, the neocolonialist practice of today heavily relies on the co-opting of a state's leadership. In this sense, the pope as the ruler of an independent city-state since 1929 is no different from the political leaders of certain small states in Africa, Asia and the Middle East who are seen as agents of U.S. interests. It bears having in mind that the last imperial troops to march through St. Peter's Basilica were the British in June 1944 on behalf of the U.S.-led Allied Powers in World War II.
Latin America is the theater in which Pope Francis has been most influential, and his capacity to influence there is paying dividends in Washington. While China, Iran and Russia are considered the main challengers of U.S. hegemony, there is a consensus among scholars that the successful emergence of the U.S. as the world hegemon that it is today was made possible by the preceding domination of its own region. Meaning, the maintenance of a favorable status quo of U.S. dominance on the American continent - a dominance of a kind that no other nation has in any region - is the bread and butter of what the U.S. has been able to gradually accomplish since the dawn of the 20th century. From this perspective, one might come to understand the significance of being able to utilize an Argentine pope who has a tremendous effect on the discourse and public mood in Latin America. Perhaps this might also explain the mystery that is the unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, a German who would not have been able to fulfill vital public opinion tasks as effectively.
The idea behind Pope Francis's trip to the U.S. was especially ambitious as it sought to have the pope function as a discourse maker in the American public. Efforts were made to distract the public from the strings that pulled this pope throughout his tour of the east coast. Media platforms were established for Catholic American Republicans such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Paul Gosar to publicize their political disagreements with the pope as if to declare that his opinions were not necessarily pro-American. Similarly, The New York Times published an editorial with the headline "Pope Francis' Challenge to America," as if the man just walked into the heart of the U.S. capital and spoke his mind freely. Such attempts aim at keeping the American public at least two mental steps away from considering that the pope is an American puppet. Credibility and effectiveness required that the pope would be portrayed as respected and appreciated, without leaving room for suspicion that he is being promoted by governmental design.
What Washington gained from the pope's visit did not necessitate that American public opinion would be in agreement with the pope about the issues that were raised in his speech in Congress. The gain is to be found in the ability to maintain a believable discourse through his words. Members of the public are free to hold opinion A, B or any opinion in the space between A and B, as long as the information is controlled in such a way that whatever opinions members of the public choose or feel like they are choosing for themselves, the discourse will stay within a predetermined set of options and create an anticipated balance.The theory that the pope played a part in a premeditated plan to structure discourse is one logical way to explain how a group of 36 religious leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama's advisor, Jim Wallis, knew that the pope's speech in Congress would present an opening to generate momentum on climate change and reserved a full page in the following day's edition of The New York Times to support the message. The printing of the ad may have followed the speech, but the organization to place the ad seems to have preceded it. Through Pope Francis, Wallis was able to say that "the global public discussion" about the preservation of the environment as a common good was changing, but it remains possible that Wallis may have had more input on the speech than the pope did.
A free pope might not have entered Congress. In fact, a pope without American strings such as Pius X, in 1910, before World War I, refused to meet with American politicians such as then Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks and then President Theodore Roosevelt. Popes nowadays seem to have political duties imposed on them because they are subordinates of greater political powers.
What clues in the September visit might suggest that the "pope show" in the U.S. was an American production? The clues have to do with the distinct Americanisms in the pope's words. It cannot be taken for granted that the pope would choose to speak in English before any audience. The choice of English, regardless of the efforts in the American press to stress that it was the pope's own decision, suggests a commitment to affecting American public opinion rather than articulating spiritual guidance in a manner that is natural to the pope.
The biggest clue of the pope's service to the U.S. was given in his rendition of how Native Americans were treated by the U.S. federal government. To those who have been paying attention to how the U.S. controls the discourse on genocide, the pope's true colors of red, glowing white and blue were on full display when he talked about the abuse and near extinction of the native population: "Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present."
THE POPE'S GENOCIDE
When compared to his statement about the Armenian losses in World War I, the disgraceful prejudice against Turks looms large. Pope Francis said: "Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it," before asserting that the victimization of Armenians is considered to have been "the first genocide of the 20th century." This comparison does not merely point at a double standard, but at the pope's role as an agent of American discourse making.An independent pope might have sought to inquire into how over the course of several decades in the 19th century American missionaries in Anatolia managed to transfer power from the traditional leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church to an educational system that institutionalized American control of Armenian priests, thereby transforming a previously Armenian form of Christianity into an American version of it. Thus, the Apostolic organization was eliminated and replaced by a new leadership of the Armenian Church that willfully cooperated with foreign powers and blindly followed American and British influence into transforming its own people from a peaceful ethnic minority in the Ottoman Empire to a fiery political group that was a disruptive force against the Ottoman state.
This pope, though, is not independent, and his leadership of a highly influential religious institution is the product of powerful maneuvering by the U.S. akin to what was done to the leadership of Ottoman Armenians. Institutions that have a foundational ability to mobilize populations through the definition of their identities are valued commodities for empires. They are coveted by the U.S. because they offer an opportunity to inspire loyal followers into action by controlling and sustaining a leadership that is credible on the surface but actually operated in accordance with foreign interests. In this, the pope follows a long line of others, who as figureheads have facilitated the continued exertion of U.S. influence.
The voice is that of the pope, but the hands are those of American power.
*Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah
Source October 13, 2015
To Ban Genocide Denial, Court Incites Armenians to Commit Violence
by Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier · October 20, 2015
In the case of Dogu Perincek vs. Switzerland, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) sustained in a 10-7 vote the Turkish politician’s right to free expression, finding that Swiss courts had wrongly convicted him for denying the Armenian Genocide.
More importantly for Armenians, the Grand Chamber contradicted the Lower Chamber’s unwarranted opinion of Dec. 17, 2013, which had questioned the validity of the Armenian Genocide. On October 15, 2015, ECHR’s Grand Chamber rectified that jurisdictional issue, ruling that the Court was “not required to determine whether the massacres and mass deportations suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 onwards can be characterized as genocide within the meaning of that term under international law, but has no authority to make legally binding pronouncements, one way or another, on this point.” This was the judgment of the majority of 10 judges who ruled in favor of Perincek.
The remaining seven judges, not only disagreed with the majority’s ruling in support of Perincek, but went on to set the record straight on the Armenian Genocide: “That the massacres and deportations suffered by the Armenian people constituted genocide is self-evident…. The Armenian genocide is a clearly established historical fact. To deny it is to deny the obvious. But that is not the question here. The case is not about the historical truth, or the legal characterization of the events of 1915. The real issue at stake here is whether it is possible for a State, without overstepping its margin of appreciation [limited room to maneuver], to make it a criminal offence to insult the memory of a people that has suffered genocide. In our view, this is indeed possible,” the seven judges wrote in their dissenting opinion.
Nevertheless, the Grand Chamber still reached some unwarranted conclusions that defy logic and common sense. The majority of the judges advanced the meaningless argument that since 90 years had passed between Perincek’s statements and “the tragic events” of 1915, there was no need for Switzerland to regulate his speech. Supposedly, the passage of time had made his denial less traumatic on Armenians. As the dissenting seven judges pointed out, the majority’s position violates “the principle that statutory limitations are not applicable to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The majority of the judges also put forward a questionable argument to justify why denying the Holocaust was a crime, and not a violation of freedom of expression. They considered Holocaust denial an “antidemocratic ideology” and “anti-Semitism,” whereas they claimed that Perincek’s denial of the Armenian Genocide did not result “in serious friction between Armenians and Turks” in Switzerland. Furthermore, while asserting that there was a direct link between Holocaust denial and many of the European “States which had experienced the Nazi horrors,” they found no such link between Switzerland and the Armenian Genocide.
There are several problems in the Judges preceding arguments:
— There should not be a double standard in dealing with denial of any genocide. If denial of the Holocaust is a crime, so should the denial of other genocides. The preferential treatment of victims of certain genocides, but not others, is shameful and disgraceful. As editor of a newspaper in the United States, I naturally support the highly protective American notion of freedom of expression rather than the European model of a more restrictive freedom of speech. However, regardless of which legal system one adheres to, discrimination among genocide victims is not acceptable.
— Majority of the judges repeatedly claimed that since Perincek’s denial did not result in causing public disorder by the Armenian community, Swiss courts should not have convicted him. Ironically, by making such a dangerous assertion, the Grand Chamber is actually inciting Armenians to resort to violence to satisfy the Court’s requirement that genocide denial could only be criminalized if it is followed by some sort of violent reaction. Since Swiss-Armenians acted in a civilized manner by calling the police and filing a lawsuit instead of bashing Perincek’s head, they are now being told that their legal claim is invalid because they did not cause a public disturbance!
— It is historically wrong to state that there was no link between Switzerland and the Armenian Genocide. Over 400,000 Swiss citizens signed a petition in 1890’s to protest the Hamidian massacres. Swiss missionaries saved countless orphans during the Genocide and helped provide new homes for them in Switzerland.
Fortunately, the Grand Chamber did not require Switzerland to amend its laws on genocide denial, implying that the law was simply misapplied in Perincek’s case. Therefore, Greece, Cyprus, and Slovakia also do not need to change their laws on criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Thankfully, the Court rejected Perincek’s claim that he is entitled to 135,000 euros ($142,000) in damages and court costs.
International lawyers Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney, and Armenia’s Prosecutor General Gevork Kostanyan should be commended for their exceptional efforts in representing Armenia in Court and defending the truth of the Armenian Genocide.
To Ban Genocide Denial, Court Incites Armenians to Commit Violence by Harut Sassunian Counter Comments by Sukru Server Aya
The European Court of Human Rights Violates My Rights
Vicken Cheterian 24 October 2015
The EHCR has upheld the right of the Turkish politician Dogu Perincek to deny the Armenian genocide. It's a bad decision with dangerous implications.
On 15 October 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made a controversial ruling: Switzerland had violated Dogu Perincek’s right to freedom of speech. Perincek is a Turkish politician who made a series of provocative speeches in Switzerland saying there was “no Armenian genocide”; this historical event in the Ottoman empire in 1915 and after was an “imperialist lie”. Swiss courts condemned him under anti-racist laws. In its decision, the ECHR considered that the Swiss courts had “censured (Perincek) for having simply expressed an opinion divergent from those in Switzerland.”
The case of Perincek vs Switzerland concerned whether denial of the Armenian genocide in Europe would be tolerated or penalised.The ECHR opted for the former. It said that “it was not required to determine whether the massacres and mass deportation suffered by the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 onwards could be characterized as genocide.” Elsewhere the court refers to the genocide as “tragic events”.
By its decision, the European court has violated my right to justice. Perincek was using the fundamental right to freedom of expression to commit a crime; in fact, it was the latest act in a long chain of a hundred years of crime without punishment, the negation of genocide. For in talking about the Armenian genocide, we are not talking about the past, about history, but about a crime that has continued to take place. As many scholars have argued, denial is the last stage of genocide.
I argued in my recent book Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide that Turkey's denial of the crime of genocide allowed it to perpetuate its policy of victimising various groups that it defined as undesirable: “agents of imperialism” and “minorities”. That contrast with modern Germany, which has has fully assumed its inherited responsibility regarding the Holocaust; today, denialism comes only from marginal groups. Whereas in Turkey, the state continues to deny its own responsibility.
The impunity given to the Turkish state made it possible to perpetuate a culture of crime. Those Armenians who had survived the death marches and the massacres during the first world war continued to be targeted by the Turkish state; thousands who were able to return home after the genocide fell victim to Kemalist massacres and new deportations between 1921 and 1929; thousands of survivors were forced to convert to Islam; Armenian property was confiscated by the state. The over 2,500 Armenian churches and monasteries were occupied, converted to warehouses or prisons, or destroyed. Today, only thirty-five Armenian churches remain in Turkey.
State repression targeted other groups as well: in 1934, pogroms decimated the Jewish community of Turkey. More pogroms in September 1955 put an end to the Greek presence in Istanbul. Throughout the Turkish republic, Kurdish identity was denied and Kurdish political demands were violently repressed, a policy that continues to this day.
In Turkey, many intellectuals, journalists, and scholars suffer from limitations of freedom of speech. The Turkish authorities harass hundreds of journalists every year; a single example is the arrest on 9 October of Bulent Kenes, the editor-in-chief of Today’s Zaman, a major paper whose editorial line opposed the party in power.
But Perincek himself is no martyr of free speech. When his trial opened in Lausanne in 2007, he did not go alone: a delegation of 160 people flew with him on a chartered plane, including ex-generals and politicians. One of the latter was Rauf Denktas, the former president of the unrecognised republic of Northern Cyprus, the part of the island under Turkish occupation since the 1974 invasion. In 2009, a Turkish court convicted Perincek for his association with the so-called Ergenekon investigation, a secret organisation within the state that was alleged to be preparing a coup against the elected government.
For a century, survivors of the Armenian genocide and their descendants have struggled for justice. In 1965 there were massive demonstrations in Beirut, Paris and Los Angeles demanding both international recognition of the genocide and reparations. A decade later, amid general international indifference, Armenian young people became radicalised and some opted to launch violent attacks. The decade of terrorism was followed by Armenian diaspora communities in democratic countries using legal means to obtain recognition. Others engaged with courts to demand symbolic justice in opposition to Turkish state denialism. But only by overturning this official denialism can appeals for real justice proceed.
The European Court of Human Rights' decision concerns not only descendants of Armenian survivors, but all victims of crimes against humanity. The court has sent the wrong message, by denying victims and future generations the possibility of obtaining symbolic redress through the courts.
If after a hundred years I cannot obtain my rights by going to court, I beg the judges to tell me where to turn to seek justice.
Cheterian on EHCR human rights Response by Sukru Aya
Amal And The Armenians: The Power To Attract
September 16, 2015
American power to attract the public opinion now appears in the so-called Armenian genocide. Amal Clooney accuses Turkey of the so-called genocide with information produced by American sides as an agent of the same group
Raphael Lemkin considered dozens of cases involving massacres to be genocide. It is safe to suppose that this would have been an even higher number had Lemkin lived to see the United States bombing in Vietnam and Cambodia, among other more recent events. Despite Lemkin's proclivity to assign genocide to many instances of massacres throughout history, only one instance has been subject to a legal discussion regarding genocide without ever being defined as such in a competent court of law.
In the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that Dog(u Perinçek should have been allowed by the Swiss authorities to enjoy the right to express himself freely about Ottoman history and characterize the Armenian suffering in ways other than genocide. The case was then brought before the Grand Chamber of the court, and while it is expected that the upcoming decision will also favor Perinçek, a platform had been created by the exhibition of the case for enhancing the discourse on genocide. In other words, the court of law might very well decide against the imposition of characterizing the 1915 events as genocide, but in the court of public opinion the mere existence of this case energizes the public about the issue and cements the selective language about it even further.
Producing the propaganda
Architects of the genocide accusation do not necessarily anticipate victories in courts of law at this stage, but rather they seek first to establish a popular language about the Armenian suffering as genocide. For them, the objective is to find ways to maintain a genocide-centric discourse. To a great extent, this is done through ill-researched yet highly advertised sources of information such as news items and books, despite the inherent weakness of the legal argument, and despite the high threshold that the U.N. set for what is to be termed genocide.
The staging of this platform in Europe is not without an American influence. In Switzerland, where the already publicized debate took on a legal spin, the U.S. has been influencing public opinion through international organizations such as the Massachusetts-based Facing History and ourselves, which indoctrinates the Swiss public according to an American-biased education on history. This American influence in Switzerland ought not be a surprise if one considers that Germany functions as Europe's economic powerhouse while being under American military control.
And Amal Clooney on the stage
Considering the involvement of American sources of information in the effort to disseminate a genocide discourse regarding the Armenian suffering, American tactics come into view. There are American ways through which to elevate the Armenian tragedy as a case of genocide in public opinion. By sustaining the discourse on Armenian victimhood, the U.S. is able to control the language on genocide in general, and to influence Turkish affairs in particular. This is accomplished not only by mobilizing Armenians through the activation of American-empowered scholars and political entrepreneurs of Armenian heritage, but also by utilizing American power to attract attention to selective information. The role of Amal Clooney, who in January represented Armenia before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR, is an example of this.
Clooney's utilized fame embodies the American ability to affect public opinion without being subjected to scrutiny. She is not an American, and is ethnically a Lebanese Arab. Her credibility lies in not being easily associated with American interests, though it is the American media that has made her into the most recognizable human rights lawyer in the world. Her status as such is heightened by interviews conducted with her husband George Clooney, with or without her. In these interviews her image as a serious and dedicated defender of human rights is promoted without much critical thought.
Media support for Clooney
Recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, George Clooney, who himself was presented by Colbert as a legitimate human rights activist, commented on how his wife outdoes him in the advocacy of just causes. The conversation with Colbert was structured in a way that establishes a credible reputation for Amal Clooney as a serious professional. In turn, the public that consumes the information given on such widely followed interviews, later readily accepts Amal Clooney as a source of information on human rights issues. This means that through Clooney's top position as a celebrity and human rights lawyer, it is possible to control, first, which cases of human rights get a high level of public attention, and second, which side of the human rights debate should get public support.
Clooney's celebrity status was utilized in the American-controlled media to bring attention to an American-controlled genocide discourse. For instance, on the popular search engine Bing.com, her image was placed on the reel through which the site suggests popular searches, and the caption put together the words "Armenian" and "genocide," as if a matter of fact. Similarly, The Associated Press ran an article headlined "Amal Clooney on legal team in Armenian genocide case," presenting the characterization of genocide as a matter of fact. The same headline then appeared on mainstream media outlets such as CBS News, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, the Daily Mail, MSN, New York's Daily News and Yahoo News. The result is that the public, which is in an uncritical mode while simply following an entertainment-induced interest in Clooney, internalizes controlled information on Ottoman history that is given through this crafty design. It is akin to the use of bait.
Thus, most Americans proceed to go about living their lives with the inclination to describe the Armenian suffering as genocide simply because of an accumulation of language-control gimmicks such as a headline that they saw while following a news item about an A-lister's wife. Instead of suspecting that their most recognizable sources of information are taking them for fools, these Americans suspect those whose views differ from what it is that they think they know about Ottoman history from skimming through gossip articles. These Americans would choose Clooney's view over Perinçek's.
This technique enables American agenda setters to highlight human rights issues of their choosing, simply by orchestrating her hiring as a barrister on a legal team. In order to attract attention to certain issues, and also direct public sentiment on them, Clooney may be taken on as a barrister to read out her lines just as her husband does in his movies. The cameras and coverage will follow, as they did in her representation of Armenia. All it takes is a few minutes of display of oratory skills by Clooney and many people are then influenced into adopting a view on history that serves American interests.
No cynicism intended here, as this exact type of phenomenon has already been articulated by Joseph S. Nye, Jr. as a soft power tactic. Nye is a political scientist with substantial experience working for the U.S. government, and his definition of soft power describes what is done through Clooney: The U.S. has an uncanny ability to structure situations by using its power to attract people to its designated sources of information without being seen as doing so. The best way to persuade the public of an idea without it appearing as propaganda is by the utilization of those who are able to attract attention and appear as independent of the U.S. government.
As an agent of American soft power, Clooney is more effective in the court of public opinion than in the court of law. However, public opinion could be stirred into eventually affecting court decisions and lawmaking. Perinçek might win the case, but Turkey is losing the discourse. Turkey cannot rival American soft power, but it can be frustrated if made ineffective.
The work of skilled Ottomanists for an accurate depiction of Ottoman history will be recognized as an adequate discourse on the events of 1915 only after it becomes recognized that American power has been dominating the dissemination of information on this piece of history.
* Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah
Dadrian: An Armenian Name In An American Game
July 6, 2015
Dadrian-case has once again demonstrated how we are hypnotized by Western-narrated stories which have great imperialistic plans mischievously affecting everyone
Vahakn N. Dadrian is often described by genocide scholars as the distinguished pioneer in their field of study. The high regard for this founding father of genocide scholarship is ingrained in the discourse on genocide as part of a premeditated field-enhancing rhetoric that seeks to sustain the legitimacy of its product. This is how a biased academic field of study strives to lend itself credibility: It talks about its early days in a romanticized manner, but without commitment to fact-based inquiry.
However, the conduct of research that is free of such information control might show that the circumstances surrounding the initiation of Dadrian's work warrant a question that has not been asked, let alone answered, about the trusted originator of the field of genocide study. A recently found CIA document regarding Dadrian serves as a significant indication that genocide scholarship cannot be evaluated without consideration of its origin.
In the 1950s it became apparent that the greatest challenge to American control over world opinion was the accusation of neocolonialism by a collective of smaller countries in Africa and Asia. These countries maintained that the U.S. was using its power to coerce, bribe or co-opt local elites to run their countries according to U.S. interests, leading to an exploitation of local resources and an expropriation of national culture. It was then that an interest emerged in the U.S. to establish American-controlled narratives of the national histories of small nations, such as Armenians. At Harvard University, a group led by Richard N. Frye, a professor of Iranian and Central Asian studies who had a substantial background in intelligence work for the U.S. government, attracted the cooperation of the Armenian elite in Massachusetts in a bid to entrust the university with the power to narrate Armenian history. Thus, the claims of neocolonialism against the U.S. were effectively offset by the ability of American academia to create narratives of small nations in which local regimes were shown as villainous and responsible for local suffering. The popularization of these national narratives had the impact of a diversionary tactic. In this context, Armenian scholars were molded and promoted in order to give the Armenian narrative in U.S. universities a sense of authenticity. Dadrian was one of these scholars.
In the 1960s, the unprecedented bombing of Vietnam brought with it worldwide accusations of genocide against the U.S. This meant that it would no longer suffice to control the narratives on the histories of small nations to negate the vocalized perspectives on American neocolonial abuse. American aggression in Indochina went far beyond neocolonialism, and there was a growing American need to control the use of the term genocide. While Richard G. Hovannisian was destined to be the rising star in the American-controlled version of modern Armenian history, Dadrian was bestowed with opportunities to publish sociology-inspired articles that would reinvent the meaning of genocide in a manner that serves U.S. interests.
In the 1970s Dadrian produced writings in which there is a clear assumption of authority on the term genocide. Despite the generally high methodological standards in the social sciences, Dadrian's characterization of the Armenian tragedy as genocide was based on a slanted presentation of unreliable sources. It is highly unusual for the academic community to accept and publish material in which a scholar makes certain claims about history that are based on an uncritical reading of wartime propaganda. Dadrian cites Arnold Toynbee as a credible source, although Toynbee was hired by the British government for the very purpose of producing anti-Ottoman propaganda during the war. Dadrian also cites political figures and missionaries whose clear interest was to rally the public against the Ottoman Empire. It is hard to imagine how such disingenuous work could be approved by editorial boards of academic journals unless Dadrian was empowered by movers and shakers. Instead of his work being rejected, Dadrian's failure to meet research criteria is actually repeated and solidified by others: Leo Kuper legitimized Dadrian's work, Samantha Power legitimized Kuper's work, and many students of genocide currently cite Power without feeling the need to research any further. Taner Akçam's work builds directly on the work of Dadrian, his mentor. This is how the information on genocide stays controlled and the field of study thickens on a steady diet of unchecked falsehoods.Not only did Dadrian provide an Armenian building block for the American genocide narrative against Turkey as part of the effort to eliminate genocide accusations against the U.S. for its actions in Vietnam, he also argued in 1976 that what happened to Native Americans in the U.S. was not genocide, but merely a result of a conflict that was forced by "structural properties." In his article, "The Victimization of the American Indian," use is made of Dadrian's non-Anglo-Saxon Armenian identity to assume "an objective point of view" about the suffering of Native Americans and determine that their "victimization was neither uniform, nor constant, but that it was confined by a set of variables reducing its incidence, scope and severity." In other words, from his American-given position as an expert on genocide, Dadrian found that there was an "absence of a policy of total and ruthless extermination of the American Indian ..."
Why would a sociologist decide to write something of this nature unless in service of U.S. interests? Dadrian's style of excluding the cases of the Vietnamese and Native Americans from his accusations of genocide is in line with U.S. interests and has set the tone for genocide scholarship to this day.
Interestingly, Dadrian was marked as the "subject" of a confidential, now declassified, CIA communication, which is dated July 30, 1962. This means that Dadrian was a matter of investigation and interest for the U.S. government years prior to his emergence as an expert on genocide. The document was sent by the Chief of the Munich Operations Group who expressed concern about "considerable past suspicious activity on subject's part." The bottom-line question in the communication is: "Has Headquarters verified subject's background?" It might be speculated whether there was concern that the plan to promote Dadrian as a reputable scholar of Armenian-related studies through government-affiliated academic platforms could be hampered by his personal background, or perhaps the CIA was looking to hold on to Dadrian's past incidents in order to blackmail him into producing academic literature according to the dictation of U.S. interests. According to this document, Vagh Gulumian, who is described as the head of the Dashnak in Germany at the time, told a CIA source that Dadrian had been well received in the Soviet Union "as a communist sympathizer" but was later "expelled for rape." It was also said that Dadrian had "close relatives in U.S. congressional circles."
Having this in mind, it seems to be high time that upon his next interview Dadrian would take some time off his genocide-labeling tasks to answer the following question: To what extent did the U.S. government facilitate and influence his genocide-related work? The answer is foundational to the entirety of genocide scholarship, yet information control has sterilized the discourse from having a discussion on this matter. The public, especially Armenians who have been mobilized by Dadrian's publications, would be interested to know whether this scholar was an agent of American interests and whether his Armenian name was used to instigate genocide accusation against the Ottoman government.
Meanwhile, the American enterprise, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, is scheduled to have yet another one of its annual conferences. The conference will be held in Yerevan from July 8 to July 12. It is likely to center on the accusation of genocide against Ottomans and the accusation of denial against Turkey in keeping with the controlled discourse that has been carefully developed and disseminated since the Vietnam War. It is also likely that Dadrian will be regarded there as an eminent scholar whose work is seminal, while the conference participants maintain utter ignorance of the circumstances in which his work on genocide began. An adequate inquiry by genocide scholars might show that their perception of Dadrian is the product of a hollow structure. To them, however, such an inquiry is dreaded and avoided, for what they would find might necessitate a recognition that their academic work is an extension of American soft power; a continuation of a political agenda that is framed as scholarly.
To Armenians, such a recognition might lead to an identity crisis or transformation, for what they would find might mean that, much like in the 19th century, the Armenian people are being told who they are by a great power that is using its ability to instill a Western-narrated story of Armenian nationalism so as to make Armenians into pawns in a much greater imperialist game.
* Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah
The Neocolonialist Tactics Of The New York Times
May 28, 2015
Articles published in the NYT on the affairs of other governments can be seen as propaganda in the service of American foreign policy, a neocolonialist interference with political developments in other states
Turkey is under a soft-power attack by America, and weapon of choice is an old one: The New York Times (NYT). Turkey is the target of American soft-power attacks because its hard-power significance to the U.S. now comes with strong Turkish leadership. Washington wants to affect Ankara's decision making, but knows that it is now dealing with a Turkish government that is exceedingly independent of external control. Being that the U.S. government cannot simply tell the Turkish government what to do, there is a heightened sense of an American effort to put pressure on Turkey by influencing public opinion about Turkey's leadership. Even when the act of coercing another government is replaced by an attempt to co-opt its people, it is nonetheless an attack on a country's sovereignty.
Through the NYT there is an American ability to reach a Turkish audience and try to lead Turkish events in a particular direction. Due to American dominance around the world, the NYT has become a household name internationally. This newspaper enjoys a high level of prestige because it is a familiar brand. Its renown is often mistaken for credibility. However, once the articles published by the NYT on the affairs of other governments are seen as propaganda in the service of American foreign policy, then it becomes apparent that the U.S.'s use of the NYT to interfere with political developments in other states amounts to neocolonialism.
On schedule to tamper with the upcoming elections in Turkey, the NYT recently published two articles that were designed to create doubt about the legitimacy of Turkey's ruling party, and in particular President Recep Tayyip Erdog(an. On May 22, under the title "Dark Clouds Over Turkey," the editorial board of the NYT characterized Erdog(an as an intimidator and depicted Turkey's current mood as dark and fearful. On May 24, an opinion article by Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman, "The New Dictators Rule by Velvet Fist," placed Erdog(an on a list of threatening dictators in the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin and former President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and described the Turkish government as one of several continuers of the totalitarian systems of the previous century, led by Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin.
This is an attempt by the NYT to cooperate with the political rivals of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The paper is promoting the perspectives of the Turkish government's opposition by using its world-wide popularity to instill notions among the Turkish people that the entire free world stands opposed to the ways of the Turkish government.
Going by the most common understanding of neocolonialism, the NYT is guilty of it. In its most basic sense, as defined by Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's famous leader in the 1950s and 1960s, neocolonialism means the choice of a foreign power to exploit a country rather than let it develop freely. In the early 1980s, political scientist Stephen Shalom articulated even further that neocolonialism is the result of "an alliance between the leading class or classes of two independent nations which facilitates their ability to maintain a dominant position over the rest of the population of the weaker of the two nations." The contact between the American elite that is behind the NYT and the Turkish elite that is against the AK Party government is a textbook example of neocolonialism.
In the Bandung Conference that was hosted by Indonesia in April 1955, 29 states from Africa and Asia already declared that "colonialism in all its manifestations" was an evil, and they made an appeal to foreign powers, especially the U.S., that they would abandon tactics of "subjugation, domination and exploitation." Turkey was among the participant states as were North and South Vietnam and Cambodia, before the resistance to neocolonialism led to the American destruction of millions and the socioeconomic structure in Southeast Asia. The list of participants also included Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, whose societies are now struggling due to divide and conquer approaches in service of foreign interests. The plea for freedom from American interference with their internal affairs, "whether by force or by infiltration," was evidently denied as the plea against domination seems only to have led to greater sophistication in the weapons employed by the U.S. against these peoples, be it through hard or soft power.
While the connection between the growing technological sophistication of the American force and its capacity to dominate other countries is clear, the development of American co-optive power has been less observable. According to political scientist Joseph Nye, the power to co-opt "is the ability of a country to structure a situation so that other countries develop preferences or define their interests in ways consistent with its own."
By having this ability, media outlets such as the NYT have managed to turn around arguments against American neocolonialism. If a government that is aware of the long history of interference with its internal affairs takes action to limit the ability of a foreign power such as the U.S. to co-opt its own nationals, the American response would be to use its control of global information in order to accuse that government of being a threat to freedom. It is because of the American threat of interference in the internal affairs of others that other governments cannot meet the American standard of democracy.
It has to be said that the myth of the free press in the U.S. has diverted attention away from its element of information control. These two recent articles in the NYT, while seen as separate from the penmanship of U.S. government officials, are doing the government's bidding. They gain credibility by giving the appearance of a critique of U.S. policy on Turkey, but are actually looking to mobilize public opinion to be in favor of an agenda that is already favored by U.S. policy makers, which involves meddling with Turkish affairs.
The recent articles criticizing Erdog(an and the AK Party are modern-day versions of the anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim content that appeared frequently on the pages of the NYT during World War I. While to the American public the sensationalist vilification of the Ottoman government was presented as honest reporting, behind the scenes these reports were the product of correspondence between James Bryce and the NYT editorial board. Bryce was designated by the British Foreign Office to lead the propaganda efforts in the U.S., and through his deep connections, Bryce was able to cooperate with the NYT and others in the U.S. media to prepare the American public for war against Germany. The political Armenian question that had been raised by Bryce several times before 1915 was raised yet again in anticipation that the American public would support its government's entry into the war once it appeared that Germany was siding with Muslims against Christians.
To this day, the distorted information on what happened in 1915 is used by genocide scholars in their biased selection of sources. Their misuse of the term genocide, as part of the discourse control that American-influenced academic institutions afford them is also a tool of colonialist endeavors as it is designed to focus on reactions of local governments to certain crises without regard to the interference of great foreign powers that had created these crises.
By careful de-contextualization, the American press and academia rewrite history and current affairs. The power to persuade does not ride on the virtue of the argument alone, but also on the ability to reach minds in the first place. There is no avoiding the fact that the NYT can reach many minds and be influential, but it is important to be mindful of the meaning of a soft-power campaign against Turkey. Be it the old image of the unspeakable Turk or the new image of a threatening Erdog(an, these are the work of a terrible tactic.
* Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah
Were The Armenians ‘Über-Jews’?
By Dr Pat Walsh
In his Irish Times (20/2/16) book review of ‘Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler’ by Stefan Ihrig, Lawrence Douglas states:
“Ihrig brilliantly lays bare the ‘confluence’ between German anti-Semitic and anti-Armenian stereotypes. Jews and Armenians were treated as ‘Semitic cousins’, with the latter playing the role of ‘quasi-‘ or even ‘über-Jews’.”
The Nazi extermination of the Jews is the ultimate analogy drawn to demonise Ottoman Turkey in relation to the Armenians. The comparison is historically absurd and no historian worthy of the name would make such an analogy. But academia these days is heavily populated by those who substitute feeling and effect for truth and fact. So we are forced to ask the question: were the Armenians really what Stefan Ihrig calls ‘über-Jews’ in Nazi Germany?
Luckily we have a book by an Armenian about a very famous Armenian freedom fighter which helps us answer the question. The book in question is “‘Dro’ Drastamat Kanayan: Armenia’s First Defence Minister of the Modern Era” by Antranig Chalabian. Not only does it reveal that Ihrig’s “brilliant” work is utter nonsense but it also highlights the one actual and irrefutable link between the Armenians and Nazi Germany – and it is not Turkish. The book is published by the Indo-European Publishing House of Los Angeles (the significance of whose name will become apparent).
I first came across ‘Dro’ when writing a book ‘The Armenian Insurrection and the Great War’ which features reprints of Garegin Pasdermadjian’s writings in which ‘Dro’ features both in text as well as pictured, at the start of the Insurrection of 1914. Along with the famous General Andranik, ‘Armen Garo’ (Pasdermadjian) and ‘Dro’ were the most famous Armenian guerrilla leaders. I introduced ‘Dro’ with the initial information I had learnt about him:
“Another character prominently featured in Pasdermadjian’s 1918 book, was General ‘Dro’ or Drastamat Kanajian. ‘Dro’ (who is pictured with Pasdermadjian on the book cover) went on to head the Armenian Nazi Legion of 22,000 in World War 2, with a large complement of SS in tow. ‘Dro’ apparently put his special skills of massacre learnt in the Armenian Insurrection at the Fuhrer’s disposal, whom he met on a number of occasions. It is said Hitler consulted him on a number of occasions and his nickname was ‘the Jew hunter’. When World War II ended the surviving Nazi Armenian soldiers along with their commander were admitted to the U.S, despite being wanted by the Russians for mass murder. ‘Dro’ lived out the rest of his life there, before dying in Massachusetts in 1956. His body was returned to the Soviet Republic of Armenia and he was given a State funeral.”
The bulk of this character sketch is confirmed in the Armenian biography of ‘Dro’. And there is much more.
Antranig Chalabian writes of ‘Dro’ in his biography of the Armenian Insurectionary:
“World War II changed the course of Dro’s life regardless of his will or intention, linking him to the Russian-German struggle as ‘a collaborator with Nazism’… It is not possible to accuse Dro of sympathising with the Nazi ideology… He was guided solely by the supreme interests of the Armenia and the Armenian nation.” (‘Dro’ Drastamat Kanayan: Armenia’s First Defence Minister of the Modern Era.p. 219)
‘Dro’ went round the German Prisoner of War camps and recruited the captured Armenians who had been drafted into the Red Army into the Nazi Armenian Legion. The Armenian 812th Battalion was created in December 1941 growing from 8,000 to 20,000 men. Christopher Walker argues that Dro’s intention was that the Nazi forces should fight for Hitler, culminating in an entrance into Yerevan to finally deal with the Turks.
Chalabian notes that the Armenian National Council published Nazi propaganda from a weekly newspaper, ‘Armenien’ and a radio station in Berlin from 1942. ‘Dro’s’ biographer asks:
“… Why did he collaborate with the Nazis? Simply because he and his comrades perceived the Armenian prisoners of war, the Armenians in the occupied territories, as well as the survival of the Armenians in their homeland to be in grave jeopardy.” (p.221). “Dro and his comrades saved the lives of around 40,000 Armenian prisoners of war by enlisting them in the German army.”(p.227)
Dro’s collaboration is a difficult issue for Armenians and it is a tricky job to write a sympathetic biography of the national hero without attempting to excuse his actions. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaks) considered establishing a distance from Dro from his Nazi collaboration but decided against it. Chalabian indeed notes that the Nazi collaborators from Armenia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia would have been many more “… if Hitler had behaved a little differently… they could have shaken the anti-populist regime of the Kremlin’s dictator and his sycophants from its foundations… They hoped to advance side by side with the Wehrmacht… Toward Moscow, and to topple Stalin’s hated regime.” (p.222)
The Armenian recruits did not just come from captured Red Army soldiers of the Yerevan Republic but also from the large Armenian communities in the Balkans and Ukraine.
Dro and his Dashnak comrades went to Berlin for discussions with the Nazi high command as the invasion of Russia got underway. Chalabian notes:
“They were impressed with everything in the city; law and order was notable everywhere. Berlin was peaceful and life was as if normal.” (P. 243)
From there Dro was taken to Warsaw and then the Crimea. Dro visited the POW camps recruiting Armenians for the German army there. Whilst in the Crimea he witnessed the disposal of the bodies of hundreds of Jews in trenches the SS had had dug by locals. Although “people were not allowed to go anywhere near these trenches” Dro’s group was treaty specially by the Nazis and permitted access, according to Chalabian. (p.245)
However, Hitler never reached Yerevan to deal with the Turks and Dro fled west as the Red Army closed in on Berlin. He was captured in Heidelberg by the Americans. At first the Americans decided to send him back to the Soviets as a collaborator but then “they sent him to Mannheim, to a retention centre for high-ranking German commanders who were not considered Nazis. The retention centre was a former palace/estate, and the accomodation was very comfortable.” (P. 254) US Intelligence had use for him it seems.
It is most probably true that Dro was never an ideological Nazi. However, Armenians did work with the Nazis and attempt to secure a place for the Armenians in the new Hitlerite racial order. According to Simon Vratsian (Along Life’s Pathways), an influential wing of the Nazi Party wanted to classify Armenians as not “Indo-European”, but “listed among the Asiatic peoples, which meant a race unworthy of living. Dro and his comrades were able to recognise the danger… They put forth proofs that Armenians are of Indo-European origin and belong to the Arian race.” (p.224)
Apparently Armenian/Nazi connections had begun a generation before the Final Solution. The German-Armenian Union, formed in 1914, and predating the Nazis, included Artashes Abeghian, Professor of Eastern Studies at the University of Berlin who “conducted propaganda about the Aryan origin of the Armenians.” It was these people, including German academics, who later contacted Dro and decided to collaborate with the Reich from 1940, according to Chalabian (p.232). The German-Armenian Union “was formed by Johannes Lepsius” who is often cited as a “good German” speaking out against Ottoman treatment of the Armenians.
Chalabian also reveals that Dr Paul Rohrbach and Artashes Abeghian published a book in 1934 called ‘Armenian-Aryan’ in collaboration with Nazi intellectuals which “strove to prove that Armenians belong to the Aryan race and the Armenian language to the Indo-European family of languages.” (p.234) The year before, in 1933, “Goebbels had formally declared that the Armenians were Aryan.” (p.248)
These pieces of information revealed by Chalabian were probably only the tip of the iceberg. The author would have no interest in publicising any more details that he had found out about Armenian/Nazi links in his Armenian sources and it is surprising he revealed even these.
To return to the point of this article: How can it be asserted by Stefan Inrig and Lawrence Douglas that the Armenians represented “the role of ‘quasi-‘ or even ‘über-Jews’” in Nazi Germany when Dro and his Legion were welcomed into the ranks of the Third Reich and aspired to be and were accepted as a good racial type by prominent Nazi intellectuals. Could we imagine a Nazi Jewish Legion being accepted by Hitler or the Jews pressing for high racial status and being spoken for by Goebbels?
So what is all this nonsense about the Armenians being ‘über-Jews’? What idiots could write such rubbish if they had bothered to read anything beyond their ideological horizons.
Let us be fairer to the Armenians than Inrig and Douglas are to the Turks. Let us accept that the Armenians who collaborated with Hitler did so from the motivation of self-preservation rather than any ideological affinity with the Nazi philosophy. Let us leave aside the fact that this would have strengthened the Nazi war machine and have fatal consequences for the many minorities that the Nazis chose to exterminate and make them accessories to Genocide through such collaboration. Let us accept Chalabian’s argument that Dro and the Armenian Legion did such things because of their love for one section of humanity over all others and their desire to preserve their people/race, even if it meant legitimising the Nazi racial policy by acquiescence to it and engagement with it.
Let us, however, also take on board the understandings of another Armenian writer, Dr. Manuel Sarkisyanz, given as lectures in Heidelburg University to its South Asia Institute. In these lectures Dr. Sarkisyanz explains that Nazism did not come out of a vacuum. It indeed had substantial ideological forebears in its ant-semitism, expansionism and its Genocide and the practices to demonstrate such statecraft. And no where in the Armenian’s lectures do we read mention of the Ottomans as his inspiration for the Nazi regime. Manuel Sarkisyanz’s lectures have been published in book form by Athol Books. It is called ‘Hitler’s English Inspirers’.
Our “Genocidal” Allies (Again)
By Dr Pat Walsh
The Irish Times (20/2/16) has a book review of Stefan Ihrig’s ‘Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler.’ Its reviewer is a Law Professor from the U.S. Perhaps in this year of 1916 commemoration a book and a review vilifying “our gallant allies” of Germany and Turkey is called for by the paper who called for the execution of our patriots. Nothing better than muddying the waters when you can no longer poison them!
Lawrence Douglas, the Irish Times reviewer starts off with the usual rubbish:
“On the eve of the Nazi invasion of Poland that began the Second World War, Hitler allegedly quipped, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Today, the question has lost its rhetorical ring – indeed, a great many people speak of that annihilation.”
Firstly, we have lazy history. The German invasion of Poland did not start the Second World War; it began the German/Polish war. The Second World War began when Britain decided to declare war on Germany.
It is often repeated by those who know better, or should make it their business to know better, if they are serious academics, that Hitler said: “Who remembers the Armenians.” It should be known that there is no valid evidence that Hitler actually said such a thing!
The Times of 24th November 1945 in an article entitled ‘Nazi Germany’s Road to War’ cites Hitler addressing his commanders at Obersalzberg on August 22 1939, saying: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians.” The article does not claim that Hitler is talking about exterminating the Jews but, in fact, creating lebensraum/living space for German colonisation in Poland on the eve of his assault.
There was so much doubt over the authenticity of the document presented to Louis Lochner of the Associated Press containing the quote, that it was discarded as evidence at Nuremberg. The original document containing it (L-3) was submitted to the Nuremberg Tribunal but withdrawn as evidence in accordance with Rule 10. The document was obviously a forgery since the original German was incorrect in a number of grammatical ways and it had unusual vocabulary. The typewriter used was not a German one, having no capacity for accents and suspicious spaces existed within the composition.
The Nuremberg Tribunal rejected the document as evidence against the Nazis in favour of two other official versions found in German military records. Neither of these, which have detailed notes of the address, contain the Armenian reference. One is authored by Admiral Hermann Boehm, Commander of the High Seas Fleet. In addition, an account by General Halder was used to prove consistency with the other two accounts used as evidence and this again makes no mention of the Armenians. This strongly suggests that the Armenian reference was added later by someone who wished to associate Hitler with the events of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire.
None of this has deterred historians, lawyers and various media commentators using the Hitler forgery ever since, however.
Lawrence Douglas is a Professor of Law, from Yale Law School no less. But for all his high-class law school education he is remarkably ignorant of actual Law. He probably knows the word “genocide” was not used until 1948, when the UN General Assembly adopted the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”. There are no genocides recognised by Law before the Nazi one – presumably because a crime cannot be committed before a Law is in place. The U.N. made an exception to this with the Nazis but has chosen not to extend its Law backwards in judgement of other events and against other countries. The reader should be able to guess why.
The U.N. defines what constitutes “Genocide” and it has not defined the Armenian events as such. Therefore an assertion that the events of 1915 constitutes a genocide is nothing but opinion. It is not Law even when opinionated by a Yale lawyer.
The word “genocide” was coined by the Polish Jewish lawyer, Raphael Lemkin, to deal particularly with the then recent systematic killing engaged in by the Nazis. I once heard a young Israel historian, Tal Beunos, explain that Lemkin was something of a cypher used to embed a narrative after the Vietnam War that would distract from US actions there. Lemkin is used to cover up the absence of a genocide law in 1915 by the assertion that he always had the Armenians in mind when he invented his special word for the Nazis. There is a kind of creative imagining involved here. Lemkin was only a Professor of Family Law competence, I am told. His famous and complex book ‘Axis Rule’ was written only 2 years after he came to the US, when he was a poor speaker of English. Who was the ghostwriter, one might ask? And yet it does not mention the Armenians at all, despite the fact that it is continually asserted since that Lemkin always had the Armenians in mind when he invented his word for what happened to the Jews. One can only conclude that Lemkin did not feel the Armenian example warranted/deserved the invention of a new word and he saved it for the Jews.
Lawrence Douglas says:
“2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the 20th century’s first genocide, the killing of perhaps one million Armenians by Ottoman Turks. The centenary witnessed an outpouring of books and media attention devoted to the mass killing. Turkey’s official refusal to accept responsibility for the atrocities – and even to acknowledge their commission – continues to make for political turmoil at home and to earn the nation opprobrium abroad.”
Something like 650,000 Armenians died from all causes between 1914 and 1922. These deaths included those killed in warfare, through hunger, through disease, through old age, through young-age in war conditions, through Royal Navy blockade, through migration across the lines to the Russians, flight across mountains with the French Army in winter, through starvation within the Armenian Republic, through massacre from those outside the state, including Kurdish bands and hostile Turks, as well as through Ottoman security measures. That is from the work of the Irish-American demographer, Prof. Justin McCarthy. Moslem casualties in the same area were at a similar ratio and for similar reasons.
It is asserted implicitly that all these deaths were the result of death-marches and state action. That is a completely false view but it is advanced by not clarifying the causes of deaths. It is left to the reader to form the false impression. Therefore, it can only be described as propaganda.
If the causes of Armenian (and forgotten/ignored Moslem) deaths was clarified it would lead to the conclusion that responsibility for them would fall much wider, and indeed primarily elsewhere. And, of course, that would mean the finger of accusation would fall elsewhere, on those who instigated the insurrection and then failed to assist it through to its objectives.
Douglas continues in the Irish Times:
“Now comes Stefan Ihrig’s fascinating and highly readable account, Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler, which suggests that Hitler was wrong even at the time. Ihrig, a scholar at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, demonstrates that the mass killings of Armenians hardly had to wait the better part of a century to seep into the public’s consciousness. Far from a crime long concealed in secrecy, rumour and denial, the genocide was widely known and reported on from the time of its commission – particularly in Germany, the nation that would soon build aggressively on the Turkish precedent. Germany and Turkey were allies during the First World War, with the Ottoman-German alliance ratified on August 2nd, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in Europe. German diplomats stationed in Turkey knew about the ‘deportations’ of the Armenians from the get-go, and communicated much of what they knew to officials back home.”
And yet weren’t the Germans accused of the “first genocide of the 20th Century” themselves in the massacre of the Herero in 1904-7 in what came to be called Namibia? A book I have in front of me says that: “Namibia was a prelude to what German Nazis later tried to implement on European soil” (Andre Vltchek, Exposing Lies of the Empire, p.680). So really those Anglophile Germans who wanted to copy the example of the British Empire in Africa and elsewhere had nothing to learn from the Ottomans. They had done it all themselves, learning it all from the masters of extirpation, the Anglo-Saxons, within living memory.
The idea of knowledge begetting inspiration is also preposterous. There was nowhere that knew about the “massacre of Armenians” more than Britain, through the Bryce Blue Book, Arnold Toynbee and the Wellington House propaganda department.
Douglas also writes:
“Notably, a great many German newspapers, particularly those on the political right, lined up against the Armenians. This was partly a case of nationalist publications defending the actions of an ally. But the nature of the defence was chilling, especially when read through the filter of German history to come. The killings, German pundits opined, took place during wartime, and were largely provoked by the Armenians themselves, who constituted, so it was claimed, a fifth column of backstabbers prepared to sabotage the Turks. Armenians were disparaged as a people without a homeland and any sense of national loyalty: clannish, greedy, shifty and committed only to their own power. “
Of course, the view that Douglas/Ihrig describe as German is exactly how the British saw the Armenians, whether right or wrong, and if Mr. Douglas had bothered to read British accounts like Mark Sykes (of Sykes/Picot fame or infamy?) he would find that is why the English saw the Armenians as such useful pawns in their Great War against the Ottomans. The “fifth column of backstabbers” were welcome additions to Britain’s Great War everywhere whilst in Britain’s Empire they were hung or shot as traitors, as with Roger Casement.
“Ihrig brilliantly lays bare the ‘confluence’ between German anti-Semitic and anti-Armenian stereotypes. Jews and Armenians were treated as ‘Semitic cousins’, with the latter playing the role of ‘quasi-‘ or even ‘über-Jews’. To his credit, Ihrig generally avoids drawing any straight line from German debates about the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust. The Nazis were not, he concludes, simple imitators of the Young Turks. But Turkey had introduced extermination as a way in which a modern nation state could ‘solve’ problems posed by an unwelcome minority. In spirited fashion, Germany had debated the merits of this solution. And in the decades preceding their own, more ambitious campaign of genocide, many right-wing Germans had responded with understanding if not outright approval.”
British state records are full of descriptions of the Young Turk “crypto-Jews” who were aiding the Germans in the War. The danger England saw in “the Jew” was one of the reasons for the Balfour Declaration of 1917. England was saturated with anti-Semitic understandings about the “power of the Jew” etc. The objective was to tame the “Internationalist Jew” and his liking for Socialism and International Finance by giving him a country and making a nationalist out of him. Turning the Jew away from Germany by giving him another allegiance must have, like instigating the Armenian into Insurrection against his state, had implications of a serious kind. But what did Britain care for either. The important thing was to win its War.
If there had been an extensive debate in Germany about “extermination as a way in which a modern nation state could ‘solve’ problems posed by an unwelcome minority” why was it that the extermination of the Jews took place in such obscurity, one might ask? Does Ihrig not know that the vast bulk of exterminated Jews lived outside of the Reich and if they had only constituted “an unwelcome minority” within Germany the Holocaust would never have happened.
The Armenian position in the Ottoman Empire was entirely different. Count von Moltke rather accurately described the Armenians as “Christian Turks.” The Armenians served in significant positions within the Ottoman State through its history. Sultans took Armenian women as wives so the Ottoman line became mixed with Armenian blood – something the English saw as “race suicide”. At least 12 Ottoman ministers between 1867 and 1913 were Armenian. They also served as Ambassadors, Bankers, translators, consuls and deputies in the Ottoman Parliament – 14 in 1908. The Ottoman Foreign Minister in the year before the Great War was an Armenian. It is extraordinary that the belief exists about Ottoman desire to destroy the Armenians, they were such an important pillar of the Empire and its functioning. Can it be imagined Hitler having a Jew as his Foreign Minister in 1938?
The Armenians only became an “unwelcome minority” when Britain started seeing them as a useful “fifth column of backstabbers” in its Great War to destroy the Ottoman state. Insurrections aimed at provoking British or Russian intervention prior to 1914 were dealt with in measured fashion that did not question the Armenian existence within the State.
The important statement made by Douglas is the one clear fact contained in the fog of impression management – “Ihrig generally avoids drawing any straight line from German debates about the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust.” So we can conclude that after writing a book of a few hundred pages the German cannot draw “any straight line from German debates about the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust.” Enough said, much ado about nothing. Another academic classic!
There is no straight line that can be drawn between the Ottomans in 1915 and the Nazis 1941-5.
For one thing, the Nazis do not have defenders like Edward Erickson of the U.S. Marine Corp. Commander Erickson in his 2013 book ‘Ottomans and Armenians: A Study in Counterinsurgency’ examines the relocation or forced migration of a large section of the Armenian populace by the Ottoman authorities in 1915 and comes to the conclusion that it was purely a military measure. He describes it as relocation rather than exile, deportation or ethnic cleansing because there is nothing to suggest, i.e. no evidence, that the Ottomans had any intention of permanently moving the Armenians and there is plenty of evidence, both from Ottoman and Armenian sources (e,g. Pasdermadjian, the Armenian Insurrectionist) that there was every intention of returning them after the war emergency.
Erickson, a military man with a practical understanding of such things, describes the relocations as an improvised military operation on the Ottoman part. He is aware of the adage that policy follows resources. The problem the Ottomans had in 1915 was that they were fighting a four front war, courtesy of British/French and Russian invasions. The Armenian relocations, although mainly conducted in the area where the Russian threat was, were not instituted until the Gallipoli landings in April 1915 produced an absolute existential threat to the state through complete encirclement. It is also noticeable that once the British invasion was beaten off at the end of 1915 the relocations were wound down.
The Armenian Insurrection had been in existence for 6 months at that point. The Ottomans, seeing the Insurrection as a significant but not existential threat, did not institute a relocation policy. Tens of thousands of Armenian young men had joined the bands of Pasdermadjian and Antranik or had deserted the Ottoman Army and gone over to the Russians with their rifles. But the Ottomans were aware that the general Armenian populace were not participating in the Insurrection and did not take action against them. It was only with the Entente invasion at Gallipoli that a different kind of war began to develop as Britain put the Ottoman State in dire peril.
As Erickson shows the problem of the Armenian population became acute as the Ottoman armies had to man the defences on the four fronts.
The rising in Van in April 1915 was another important trigger to the relocations. This was orchestrated by the Dashnaks (Armenian revolutionaries) in conjunction with a simultaneous offensive by the Russians. It may have begun as a defensive Insurrection in the minds of the Armenian civilian populace but it resulted in a general massacre of Turks and Kurds and the handing of the city over to the Russian Army. It put an 80 mile dent in the front in favour of the Tsar’s armies and was a pivotal moment in the Ottoman response.
The Ottomans also found a serious threat developing to their lines of communication by early 1915. Armenian irregulars ambushed Ottoman reinforcements, attacked military supply columns, sacked military bases, cut important telegraph communications to the rear of the lines and massacred Moslems in undefended villages.
In previous insurgent situations the Ottomans had applied a straight military solution to such risings. They sent in their armies, the military dealt with the insurgents and there was often a retaliation against the civil population by locals to deter further trouble. However, the Great War context and the four front assault of the Entente meant a new strategy had to be adopted in the lack of a military, occupied on the fronts, to carry out the traditional measures of internal security.
A hastily put together counterinsurgency measure probably inspired by Spanish action in Cuba (1896), US action in the Philippines (1901) and British measures against the Boers in South Africa (1901) was instituted (The British relocation of the Acadians and the French population of Newfoundland in 1756 to Louisiana and elsewhere was probably the first example of this but the Ottomans were probably unaware of it.)
The Ottoman relocation of Armenians was not a general deportation of the Ottoman Armenian. At least 350,000 Armenians in Western Anatolia were unmoved. Suspected Dashnaks were singled out by Ottoman intelligence, arrested and detained but no relocations occurred of the general populace.
As Erickson notes the British incited insurrection from all the groups that had formed the functional Ottoman State – Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Zionists, Greeks. Some came out of it more successfully than others. The Armenians paid the heaviest price.
“Stefan Ihrig’s fascinating and highly readable” book ‘Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler’ is nothing of the sort. It is the standard fare by a guilty German attempting to deflect responsibility from his Nazis to the Ottomans. The same writer tries to construct a narrative elsewhere (Ataturk in the Nazi Imagination) describing Ataturk as a prototype of Hitler. Enough said, the man is deranged and unbalanced by guilt.
YouTube shows Herr Ihrig doing his penance in Israel for the sins of his grandfathers. I will leave it to readers to make sense of that.
James Bryce – A Fatal Philanthropist Dr Pat Walsh
The September 2015 issue of History Ireland has a sympathetic article by Angus Mitchell, author of the recent 1916 book on Roger Casement, called ‘James Bryce and the Politics of Inhumanity.’ However, the career of Lord Bryce would be better summed up in George Curzon’s memorable phrase of “fatal philanthropy”.
To understand this we need to revisit something that George Curzon (later Lord) said as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the course of defending traditional British policy with regard to the defending of the Ottoman Empire, on behalf of Lord Salisbury’s Government:
“We were not prepared at any moment to go to war for the sake of Armenia. We were not prepared to plunge Europe into a Continental war for the sake of Armenia. We were not prepared to jeopardise the interests of this country and I will go further and say the interests of the Armenians themselves, in pursuit of… what might, in the last resort, have turned out to be a perilous, if not a fatal philanthropy. [Loud Cheers.]” (Hansard, House of Commons 3 March 1896)
James Bryce both personified what Curzon called “fatal philanthropy” and did much to realise such a thing in reality, in relation to the Armenians.
Firstly, something should be said about the importance of James Bryce of Belfast. Bryce was a tremendously gifted all-rounder: a Historian, jurist, and statesman. He was Regius Professor of civil law at Oxford University, 1870-1893. In his political career he was elected as a Liberal MP in 1880 and from 1885 to 1907, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1892); and President of the Board of Trade (1894–95). He became Chief Secretary for Ireland (1905-6), British Ambassador to the United States (1907–13) and the President of British Academy (1913-17) during the Great War. He was also involved in the establishment of the League of Nations, and served at the International Court at The Hague.
He was author of a large amount of publications including The Holy Roman Empire (1864), Transcaucasia and Ararat (1877), The American Commonwealth (1888), Modern Democracy (1921) and many other works, including a large output of pamphlets during the Great War.
Bryce’s background is instructive regarding the formation of his “fatal philanthropy”. Bryce was born in Belfast 1838, the son of the Headmaster of the Royal Academy. He was from an Ulster/Scottish Protestant (Presbyterian) family. Like many others from his social and religious background he went to University in Glasgow. He was a Liberal in politics, coming from an Ulster Covenanting Radical tradition, and unusually for a Protestant, an Irish Home Ruler. In British politics he was a Gladstonian Liberal with a Christian moralistic view of world. Bryce was also a noted mountain climber, and it is said, the first European to climb Mount Ararat in 1876. There he believed he found evidence of the remains of Noah’s Ark.
The key to understanding Bryce’s desire to provide his services to the Imperial State as a propagandist lies in his attitude to war. Bryce, as a good Liberal, initially opposed the Great War and felt he had to justify his subsequent support for it. To do this, he presented Britain’s Great War as being about something it was not in order to justify his own support for it. So he joined the moral campaign against England’s enemies and produced propaganda describing the war in fundamentalist Christian terms as a great struggle of good over evil in which there were no grounds for staying out of the conflict. In such a conflict propaganda was essential to fight the good fight and triumph over evil.
To fully understand Bryce we need to note what happened to British Liberalism at the start of the Great War. Bryce, like most other Liberals had initially opposed the Great War. However, Liberalism suffered a great moral collapse in the face of Sir Edward Grey’s revelations of the secret arrangements and contingencies he had made for war on the eve of the conflict. The Liberals were faced with the dilemma of “my country right or wrong!” in the face of the Liberal Imperialist fait accompli of waging a war, with or without their Liberal base, because the Asquith Government had already secured the support of the Unionist front benches for the war it planned.
In entering the European war the Liberals helped Britain state its aims in the grandest universalistic terms that were idealistic in the extreme. These aims were not only idealistic and unachievable but they were also fraudulent. The objective was to show to the world that Britain was fighting a good war against an evil that had to be vanquished. The war was proclaimed as being for “civilisation against the Barbarian”, for “democracy” against “Prussianism”. And it was also supposedly a “war for small nations” for “poor little Belgium” when it was really a war to cut down a rising commercial competitor in the long-standing tradition of the British Balance of Power policy.
Bryce presented the Great War as a new type of war. In the great amount of war propaganda Bryce produced in favour of it he described England’s participation in the War as self-less, wholly honourable and moral - to rid the world of the great evils of the Prussian German and then the Ottoman Turk.
Bryce’s general war propaganda was designed to impress neutral nations into the conflict so that the War could be extended across the earth by Britain. This was because the Allies proved incapable of winning it without widening it and Liberals like Bryce were reluctant to support military Conscription in England, even for such a moral war. So they concentrated their efforts on encouraging others to do England’s fighting, and conquering for it.
In such a moral conflict propaganda was essential and the Blue Book and propaganda about the Armenians should be viewed within this context.
Bryce was entirely suited to producing war propaganda against the Ottomans and unsuited to revealing the objective truth and context of the matter. Almost everything in Bryce’s background endeared him to the Armenian cause. In his ‘Transcaucasia and Ararat’, written during the 1877 Russian/Ottoman war, Bryce made clear he desired the expulsion of the Ottomans from eastern Anatolia. He described the Turks as lazy and lacking intelligence and the Ottomans as a dying government. Conversely, he suggested that the Armenians were the most industrious and clever race in the region – the highest form of civilisation there.
However, tellingly, Bryce noted that the Armenians were a scattered people surrounded by a great Muslim majority. He described them as lacking in national spirit but felt affronted as a Christian that the Armenians should be ruled by their inferiors within humankind. He made clear his desire that England take this special Christian people in hand and lead them to nationhood.
Bryce suggested that the problem for the Armenians was that international pressure had not been maintained on the Ottoman Government and that the civilised Christian Armenians were stuck under uncivilised Moslem rule. He was loathed to criticise his own government for this inaction, although it was evident that Britain, in its traditional policy of checking Russian expansion, was the main culprit in this. However, British Liberals like Bryce always saw their own Empire as the highest form of civilisation and progress in the world.
Roger Casement’s view that James Bryce acted as a war propagandist “prostituting an honourable name to dishonourable ends” can hardly be disputed.
Roger Casement took the principles of small nations on which the war was supposedly being fought by Britain in earnest. But Casement was found to be a traitor whilst the Armenians and others who went into insurrection were lauded as patriots in England by people like Bryce.
Comparison between Bryce’s attitude and actions between Ireland and Armenia are interesting and expose the hypocrisy at the heart of Bryce and British Liberalism.
With regard to Ireland: Bryce had been Chief Secretary for Ireland, championing Home Rule, but when in office he failed to provide the country with even autonomy. It took a hung parliament for the Liberal government to produce a Bill for Irish Home Rule in 1912 and that was never implemented.
On the island of Ireland 80% of the people desired some form of independence from Britain. The Colonial element of 20% who wanted to stay part of the UK was concentrated largely locally in the north-east corner of the island. The Liberals failed in government (1906-15) to provide Ireland even with a regional parliament within the UK and Bryce defended this denial afterwards, when a clear democratic basis obviously existed for it. Such a policy could have been carried through peacefully in the bulk of the island by Britain if it had had the courage of its Liberal convictions.
However, with regard to the Armenians, Bryce said that they should be a nation even though he himself admitted there was no demographic basis for such a development. In the area the Armenians sought for a state no where did they constitute a majority. They represented less than 20% of the population in the “Magna Armenia” they claimed at the Peace Conference. Bryce aimed to create a nation when he knew the Armenians were a scattered people, lacking a democratic basis for nationhood. Only through great ethnic cleansing of the majority population and what is now called “genocide” could an Armenian state of any size be constituted and maintained within Ottoman territory.
British Liberals like Bryce bear great responsibility for the catastrophe suffered by the Armenians because they encouraged notions of unrealisable nationalism among the revolutionaries; they encouraged Armenians to believe England would assist them; and they produced propaganda which provoked great antagonism between Turk, Kurd and Armenian.
In the aftermath of its Great War the British Empire engaged in nation-building in the conquered Ottoman territories – as opposed to the planned standard Imperial absorption. It had proclaimed a “war for small nations” at the outset, whilst maintaining its traditional blind-spot to the island on its west, of course. The entry of the U.S. into the War enabling England to finish what it had started and was failing to finish, had turned what might have been mere propaganda into needs must. But Armenia was spared this nation-building and it was applied to Iraq, despite the fact that there was no Iraqi nation – only Shia, Sunni, Kurd and Turkmen.
Akaby Nassibian concedes that Armenia, the nation, depended upon British Imperialism and was not a going concern without it. But Britain encouraged and then let down the Armenians:
"Britain remained committed, up to 1914, to the integrity of the Ottoman dominions in Asia. Thus Britain's interest in Armenian territory far outweighed her concern for the Armenian people... The war radically changed the direction of Britain's interest in Armenia. As she was opposed to Turkey, she did not care about Ottoman integrity any longer. She was prepared to satisfy the territorial desiderata of her allies, Russia and France, over Armenia. Moreover, having secured by arms and agreements the certainty of her predominance over the Persian Gulf, she lost almost all interest in Armenian territory. The war, however, brought a drastic increase of interest in the Armenian people. Britain had to use all her material and moral forces to win the war. So she used the Armenian holocausts of 1915 to discredit her enemies... in order to wean American sympathy from the Central Powers, to show to her Moslem subjects the nature of the Turkish government they were being urged to fight, and in order to stimulate the war effort at home by indicating that the conflict was against cruelty, oppression and injustice. Britain also made use of Armenian manpower... to reinforce that disintegrating front after 1917 (when the Russian line collapsed. PW). But in order to stimulate the Armenians Britain had to 'pledge' herself to the liberation of Armenia, an expression that was also used to counter the charges of the pacifists at home that the war was being fought for greed. What was 'imperialistic' in wishing to see Armenia freed from Turkey, Balfour asked. At the end of the war, then, Britain was in the position of having made, in Harold Nicholson's words, the provision of a 'National Home' for the Armenians, one of the most 'loudly advertised' of her war aims. The British government itself had contributed to building up public opinion which expected, and demanded, the liberation of Armenia... More inauspiciously, interest in, and sympathy with, the Armenian people was not matched by a corresponding interest in their territory... She tried several expedients - for example, passing the responsibility for helping Armenia to other powers - all which in the end failed. Moreover, the public statements and the Treaty of Sevres given to vindicate these statements again aroused hopes among the Armenians... and laid Armenia yet again open to the hostility of Turkey and now also to that of the other Caucasian states. The Treaty of Sevres, unaccompanied by real help, exposed Armenia to reprisals and in the end proved to be her doom." (Britain and the Armenian Question, 1915-1923, pp.267-8)
An Armenian state was an impossibility it seems without Imperialist greed for territory and could not be based on the sentiment of Bryce and the Liberals:
"... weakness of policy or illusion would not have prevailed if only Britain had had interests in Armenia. But she did not. Thus Armenia was the only one not liberated from the list of Ottoman territories, 'Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine,' which the British cabinet had agreed and Lloyd George had announced, would be 'impossible to restore to Turkey'. Britain's interests in the Armenian people were not matched by a corresponding interest in their territory, which, she was determined should not fall under Russian influence... As to Armenia itself, it seems it realised the hard way, when abandoned by the Entente and Britain, that 'its own chance of existence was to adapt itself to the wishes and policies of the peoples by whom it was surrounded on all sides'.(p.271. The last quote is from the Northcote papers)
If Armenia could not exist without the guns of the British Empire and the British encouraged it to believe it could exist and then deprived it of the guns on which its existence depended, this surely means that the prime responsibility for the catastrophe rests in Westminster.
There is no reason to believe that the construction and maintenance of Armenia as a nation by British Imperialism would have been any more successful than the creation of Iraq and it is pretty certain it would have been less so and even more destructive. Iraq did actually achieve national substance, and then it was broken up into chaos into what it is now.
And recently in Syria the rebels were encouraged by the US/UK/French destruction of the Libyan State into going into insurrection against the government. Where are its people now? Dead or fleeing to Turkey and Europe?
The reference to a 'National State' for the Armenians suggests that the Armenians had one last problem with the British. After all Balfour determined in the case of the Jews that a nation should be established on a historic territory rather than by the opinion of the people who lived there. In 1917 Britain designated Palestine to be the historic territory of the Jews and began building up the Jewish numbers, through immigration, to make sure a future Zionist state could be established. It repressed the resistance of the inhabitants to the Jewish migration and preparation for a Zionist State by policing and terror.
It was a question of Imperial power and not a question of justice. A great injustice was done to the Palestinians. If an Armenian state had been established on the same precedent who's to say a second injustice of the same kind would not persist in the same way. That is food for thought for those who support the Palestinians and the Armenian case.
Bryce and Arnold Toynbee was the moralistic wing of the British Imperial State. They were not its substance. Their role was to encourage others to fight in a war that was not in reality what it was pretended to be. The War was really a Balance of Power war to destroy a commercial competitor and accumulate territory for the Empire at the expense of the Ottomans and the Moslem world. The Armenians only mattered as cannon-fodder and useful propaganda material. The Armenians found this out at their cost and paid a terrible price for the great fraud perpetuated against them (as did others around the world) for what Curzon had called, in 1896, the “fatal philanthropy” of British Liberalism.
Unfortunately it hasn't gone away, you know.
Armenian Spin Machine: Peddling a Humiliating Defeat as Victory
By Ferruh Demirmen, Ph.D.
Turks are by now accustomed to deliberate twists and deceptions from the Armenian side on the allegations of “Armenian genocide.” The “Andonian telegrams,” the “Hitler quote,” the Holocaust analogy, the “pyramids of human skulls,” and of course, the 1.5 million Armenian deaths, are some of the examples that come to mind. But we now have, in the wake of the ECHR decision on the Switzerland-Perinçek case, a new twist: peddling a humiliating legal defeat as a victory.
It is not a trivial matter. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in its October 15, 2015 judgment, ratified, by a majority vote, the Second Chamber’s decision that Switzerland had violated Turkish politician Dogu Perinçek’s freedom of expression when it penalized him for calling “Armenian genocide” an international lie. The ratification alone was a big blow to the Armenian side, who had lobbied for criminalization of “genocide denial.”
But the Grand Chamber went further and let stand the lower chamber’s ruling that (a) Armenian “genocide” is controversial, hence unproven; (b) there can be no comparison between the Jewish Holocaust and the 1915 events in Ottoman Anatolia. These two findings further undercut the Armenian narrative.
Upset by the lower chamber’s December 17, 2013 decision, the Armenian side had lobbied Switzerland to appeal the lower chamber’s findings to the Grand Chamber. Third-party comments were received from Armenian, French and Turkish governments, and several NGOs and individuals. In addition, Armenia was allowed to participate as a third party in the hearing.
Upon the announcement of the Grand Chamber’s decision, the well-tuned Armenian spin machine immediately went into action. It was a concerted effort to downplay a humiliating defeat through a series of twists and pretenses.
The Armenian Government issued a press release, noting that the Armenians’ right to have their dignity recognized under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (related to freedom of expression) was held by the Court, but that the Swiss law had been applied “inadequately” in the Perinçek case. It concluded, inexplicably, that criminalization of the Armenian Genocide denial are “generally considered legitimate,” and that “all the claims submitted with the Court by the Armenian Government were satisfied.”
An amazing statement altogether! No one, and certainly not Dr. Perinçek, had questioned the dignity of Armenians, and that Article 10 applied to Armenians as well. But arguing that “all the claims” of the Armenian Government had been “satisfied,” was a real stretch!
And if the “Swiss law” had been applied “inadequately” (contravened Article 10), why blame the ECHR for that?
Armenian Advocacy Organizations
The European Armenian Federation issued a statement “welcoming” the Grand Chamber’s decision, focusing on the “right to dignity” protection, while the Turkey-based Human Rights Association (HRA) and the Truth Justice and Memory Center criticized the ECHR for failing to take into account that its decision would “threaten the livelihood and safety of the Armenian community” in Turkey.
The safety claim is no more than a hype, as no proof or explanation was provided – and could have been provided - how the ECHR decision could threaten the Armenian community in Turkey.
The Turkey-based organizations also argued that the ECHR judgment was based on a “geographical” consideration, meaning that Dr. Perinçek’s “denial of Armenian genocide” had not instigated hatred or violence against the Armenian community in Switzerland, but that the decision could have been different in a different “geography.”
Again, this is a specious argument aimed at camouflaging the thrust of the ECHR decision. There is no substance to the claim that repudiation of Armenian allegations – whatever the geography - incites violence against Armenians. On the contrary, experience has shown – re: ASALA/JCAG Armenian terror targeting Turkish diplomats – that, it is the unsubstantiated Armenian genocide claims and distortions that generate anti-Turkish hatred in the minds of Armenians, leading to violence.
The Switzerland-Armenia Association (SAA) was more realistic in its reaction, characterizing the ECHR verdict “appalling” and “deeply shocking.” But it retorted that the freedom of expression, which Dr. Perinçek admittedly enjoyed, “cannot be misused for rewriting history.”
“Rewriting history”? Turn that statement around and ask: How do the “genocide” pundits, while cleverly avoiding scholarly discussion with their counterparts, respect and remain truthful to history when they peddle the genocide narrative day after day, loudly and vehemently, based largely on distorted evidence and fabrications? Further, they do not have a single court verdict to prop up their allegations.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the premier Armenian lobbying group, took refuge in the “right to dignity” and “geography” arguments, and criticized the Grand Chamber for offering protection for “hate speech.” The ANCA statement then conveniently focused on the views of dissenting judges, completely ignoring the majority decision.
The “hate speech” attribution was particularly galling, considering how the ANCA-inspired anti-Turkish rhetoric over the years helped create a generation of Armenians espousing animosity, even hatred, against Turks.
Not to be outdone, Harut Sassounian, the consummate Armenian lobbyist, in an article published in The California Courier on October 20, 2015, stretched the Armenian argument to the extreme by making incredible statements. Mr. Sassounian not only tried to take comfort in the minority opinion, he claimed that the Grand Chamber had contradicted the lower chamber’s “unwarranted opinion” regarding the “Armenian genocide” being questionable.
This assertion was nonsense, as the Grand Chamber let the lower chamber’s decision on the validity of Armenian claims stand. By doing so, The Grand Chamber implicitly accepted the lower chamber’s position.
The lobbyist also asserted that the Switzerland-Perinçek case was not about the “legal characterization” of the 1915 events, totally ignoring the overriding importance of the 1948 UN Convention.
Mr. Sassounian went further and accused the Grand Chamber of “inciting Armenians to resort to violence to satisfy the Court’s requirement that genocide denial” is justified if it provokes violence. This was not only a reprehensible assault on the motives of the Grand Chamber, it was alarming. Such language could encourage excitable Armenian youths to resort to violence against Turks so as to “satisfy the Court’s requirement.” Public prosecutors could take a dim view of such language.
The Famed Lawyers
But from the publicity point of view, at least, the Grand Prize for Armenian sophistry on the Grand Chamber judgment goes to Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Clooney, who, as lead counsels, had represented Armenia in the Court proceedings. The reputation or name recognition of the lawyers made the Armenian defeat all the more ironic, glaring and humiliating.
On the day the Grand Chamber issued its judgment, Mr. Robertson and Mrs. Clooney issued a joint statement. While making reference to the minority opinion of the Court and the “right to dignity” proposition, the lawyers declared they were “pleased” with the ECHR judgment, that the Court had “endorsed” their argument, and that the decision was a “victory” for Armenia.
The lawyers continued to assert that the Grand Chamber had “corrected” the lower chamber’s decision (a “grave error”) regarding the “Armenian genocide” being doubtful, intimating that “genocide” remained a proven fact.
The lawyers took a swipe at Turkey’s record on freedom of expression, while they ignored, blissfully, Dr. Perinçek’s right to freedom of expression when he denied “Armenian genocide.”
There was more to their claims. In their pronouncement the lawyers used the word “rant” to refer to Dr. Perinçek’s legal defense, and they called him a “provocateur.” Such disparaging language brought to mind Mr. Robertson’s diatribe at Dr. Perinçek during the Grand Chamber hearing when he, in a theatrical demeanor, referred to Dr. Perinçek with such characterizations as “ideologically vapid,” “this man,” “a vexatious litigant, a pest.”
Such language was not only disrespectful of a high court such as the ECHR, it was unfitting, even shameful, for a jurist carrying the title “QC.”
All in all, the grotesque mischaracterization in Mr. Robertson and Mrs. Clooney’s statement was a publicity stunt aimed at downplaying the crushing defeat they suffered at the Grand Chamber. From an attorney-client point of view, their pronouncement can also be seen in the context of justifying the generous compensation they must have received for their “services.” Armenia and the Diaspora should honestly ask themselves whether they got their money’s worth.
All that said, there was further irony to Mr. Robertson’s and Mrs. Clooney’s involvement with the Armenian cause. During a Gala held on October 25, 2015 by the ANCA Western Region at Century City, California, the two lawyers were presented “2015 Advocates for Justice Award” in honor of their “tireless commitment and exceptional contributions toward protecting, promoting, and advancing the Armenian Cause.”
The lawyers were introduced in glowing terms by none other than Mr. Sassounian.
Upon receiving his award and accepting another on behalf of Mrs. Clooney, Mr. Robertson recited the “legal accomplishment” the Armenian side had achieved at ECHR, to be followed, he added, by “reparations” to be paid by Turkey. He lamented that Armenia’s legitimate rights in Nagorno-Karabakh (“Land of ancient Artsakh”) had not yet been met, and relayed the message from Mrs. Clooney that she and husband George Clooney would be traveling to Armenia next April 24th.
A guest of honor at the Gala was Mourad Topalian, a former ANCA chairman who, in 2001, was convicted and sentenced to 37 months of jail service in federal prison for storage of stolen explosives and owning machine guns. That was reminiscent of Armenian terrorist Varoujan Garabedian being given a warm welcome in Armenia after he was released from French prison in 2001, having served 17 years of his life sentence.
A video highlighting Pope Francis’ speech recognizing “Armenian genocide” at the Vatican mass on April 12, 2015 was shown, and, not surprisingly, a donation of $50,000 was pledged to ANCA Western Region.
Reading the responses of different Armenian sources to the Grand Chamber judgment, one would think that the Armenian side came out triumphant. However, the reality is just the opposite. Notwithstanding their boastful language, the Armenian camp in fact suffered a humiliating defeat. The Grand Chamber’s ruling on Dr. Perinçek’s freedom of expression, and its decision to let stand two basic findings of the lower chamber, speak clearly and loudly in favor of the Turkish side. No amount of spinning and hyperbole can alter that fact.
The “right to dignity” recognition granted by the Court to the Armenian side is a universally applicable privilege, and does not in any way signal a particular achievement for the litigant. Likewise, the “geography” caveat is a natural and necessary component of the freedom of expression embodied in Article 10 of the Convention, and signifies no particular feat for the Armenian side.
The near-congruence of arguments emanating from different Armenian sources to the ECHR decision suggests a pre-planned, coordinated response to what was expected be an unfavorable judgment from the Grand Chamber. The law was clearly on Dr. Perinçek’s side, and the Armenian side knew it. But the Diaspora, in particular, felt that it had to project a semblance of victory – no matter what the outcome. The thought of failure was unbearable. Hence the embellishments in argumentation and the well-coordinated spin machine to deflect from truth.
A further conclusion from the ECHR litigation is that the Armenian side will henceforth avoid legal recourse to press its genocide allegations. Not only the historical evidence, but also the absence of a court verdict, as well the non-retroactivity of the 1948 UN Convention, make a legal recourse for the Armenian side rather unpalatable. That means more propaganda, more political pandering, and more media blitz.
Source November 20, 2015