HyeOctane

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Obama’s Visit to Turkey Strong Armenian and Political Support for Genocide Recognition

April 3rd, 2009 by hyeoctane

By Daren Djirikian

Remarks by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in early March signaled President Barack Obama’s intent to speak before the Turkish Parliament leaders on April 5, 2009. The projected meeting comes at an important time for formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States. During Clinton’s visit to Turkey, she stated Obama’s visit would be to “emphasize the work the U.S. and Turkey must do on behalf of peace, prosperity, and progress.” Many diasporan and native Armenians view his trip to Turkey as a way for Obama to declare that he will formally recognize the Armenian Genocide which was perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and led to at least 1.5 Armenian deaths. Obama’s track record is strong on the Armenian Genocide. He does not see it as a “question.” It is indeed fact.

Obama’s stance on the Armenian Genocide is clearly backed by at least two speeches he made as a senator and on his presidential campaign. In January 2008, presidential candidate Obama stated “The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of evidence. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that president.” In a statement on relations between the United States and Armenia on January 19, 2009, President Obama said “As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Erdogan Criticizes Petition

December 29th, 2008 by hyeoctane

By Daren Djirikian

“I haven’t committed any crime. Why should I apologize?” asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan in response to an online petition in which thousands of Turks apologized for the brutal killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Erdogan rejected the petition, stating further that an apology would actually have to come from the Ottoman perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide, who in truth are responsible for killing 1.5 million Armenians during World War I, and several thousands of Armenians before and after the war. Former Turkish ambassadors support rejecting the petition by declaring it against Turkey’s national interests.

Calling the killings the “Great Catastrophe,” more than 22,000 Turks, including journalists and academics have signed the petition on the Website www.ozurdiliyoruz.com. The petition states “I cannot accept the denial of the great catastrophe of 1915
that Ottoman Armenians were subjected to. I condemn this injustice and acting on my own behalf I share the feelings of pain of my Armenian brothers.” The petition flies in the face of official Turkish policy that denies the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The Turkish state continues to assert that the murders were the result of civil uprisings during World War I, which continues to add to Turkey’s identity crisis as it moved from an empire to a republic. An ongoing impact of Turkish denial is that Turkey and Armenia do not have a diplomatic relationship. However, in order for justice to be served in the long run, Armenians and Turkish citizens alike must continue to speak out against Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide.

Theodore Bagosora, a former army official during the Rwandan genocide was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday, January 18 by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Such a conviction can give hope to Armenians worldwide that Turkey may be held responsible for apologizing for the Armenian genocide and perhaps offering reparations to descendants of Armenians killed during the genocide.

Category: Armenian Genocide, Denial, Turkey, Uncategorized | No Comments »

www.ozurdiliyoruz.com vs. www.ozurdilemiyorum.net

December 16th, 2008 by hyeoctane

Signatories on a petition initiated by Turkish academics and journalists apologizing for the “Great Catastrophe” committed against the Armenians in 1915 passed the 8000 mark today and continues to grow. The petition, titled simply, “I Apologize” (www.ozurdiliyoruz.com) states:

“My conscience does not attempt that (we) remain insensitive toward and deny the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected in 1915. I reject this injustice, share in the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers, and apologize to them.”

The statement, while falling short of properly characterizing the brutal slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish authorities from 1915-1923, shows progress in Turkey’s civil society efforts to encourage Turkish authorities to deal honestly and truthfully with its genocidal past.

So leave it to the blind-followers of Turkey’s multi-million dollar, international genocide denial campaign to launch the rival site – you guessed it – the “I Do Not Apologize” campaign (http://www.ozurdilemiyorum.net/).

Yes, these brave souls (just over 600 to date) have taken the bold step to refute the Armenian Genocide, using the same old tired refrains (“Allegations of Armenian genocide are racist and dishonest history. . .,” you get the idea.)  It is posted prominently on an Armenian Genocide denial page — Armenian Genocide Resource Center — the name twisted and coopted for the purposes of misleading innocent internet researchers and bloggers with genocide denial propoganda.

But just a few paragraphs in you realize that they have drunk the kool-aid. The Turkish Government kool-aid – a poison dispensed by mandate to schools throughout Turkey, by edict of the Education Ministry. They echo the calls by the 60 former diplomats, including many current Turkish parliamentary leaders, who reject Turkey’s civil society efforts to take on the taboo of the Armenian Genocide head on.

And so the speakers of truth and deniers of genocide go head to head. But, where will the U.S. and the international community come down? In support of academics risking their lives to eventually face the truth of the Armenian Genocide head on? Or in support of Turkish government hardliners hoping to quash even a mention of the atrocities.

Over 200 House members cosponsored Genocide legislation last year, adopted but House Foreign Affairs Committee, but blocked by a Bush Administration eager to kowtow to Turkey’s threats. President-elect Obama, on numerous occasions, pledged to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. In support of an evolving genocide affirmation movement in Turkey, President-elect Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi have a rare opportunity to speak out - in clear and unequivocal terms.

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Turkey marks 60th anniversary of U.N. Genocide Convention – in its own special way

December 9th, 2008 by hyeoctane

Raphael LemkinOn December 9, 1948, after years of lobbying, haggling (and some serious arm-twisting), the U.N. adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. It was the brainchild and lifelong dream of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew whose family was wiped out by the Nazis during WWII, but whose passion to stop genocide began with his study of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. There are 41 signatories to the Convention, including the United States and the Republic of Turkey, which, ironically, for the past 93 years, has spent millions around the world to deny its role in the centrally planned and systematically executed annihilation of over 1.5 million Armenian citizens.

So how is Turkey marking the U.N. Genocide Convention’s 60th anniversary?

Leaders of several major Turkish political parties have been busy lambasting a group of their fellow scholars and journalists for issuing an apology last week for the “great catastrophe” that befell the Armenian people in 1915. “My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the ‘Great Catastrophe’ that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathise with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologise to them,” said three scholars, Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran and Cengiz Aktar, and a journalist, Ali Bayramoglu. And, even though these scholars still did not properly characterize the killings as genocide, their statements were met with derision from a wide range of Turkey’s political elite. Insel, Oran, Aktar and Bayramoglu were labeled as bafoons and traitors – and may be brought up on trial for “insulting Turkishness” under Turkey’s infamous Article 301 laws.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul is planning a visit to Israel next month, where, in meetings with President Shimon Peres, he is “expected to ask Israel to use its influence in Washington” to try to prevent passage of Armenian Genocide legislation. This is in addition to the $25,000 a month Turkey already pays former Bush and Clinton Adminstration staff members Noam Neusner and Jay Footlik to persuade Jewish American organizations to be party to their genocide denial agenda.

President Gul is cashing in all his chips with his allies – scared that President Obama will finally end U.S. complicity in genocide denial by properly commemorating the Armenian Genocide. As Senator, Obama has a long record of speaking the truth on the Armenian Genocide. In the months and days leading up to his election, Obama stated, “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President.”

So on this 60th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment, Turkey’s President has reason to be worried, and the world may have reason to hope, that Turkey’s genocide denial days are numbered. Time will tell.

Category: Armenian Genocide, Denial, Turkey, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Scratching the Surface of Genocide Hyprocrisy

December 8th, 2008 by hyeoctane

Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. PolicymakersIt is a little disturbing to see former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen teaming up to unveil a 109-page report offering U.S. policymakers advice on how to prevent future genocides. After all, just last October, this “dynamic duo” was busy encouraging Congress to perpetuate U.S. complicity in Armenian Genocide denial – cosigning letters to Speaker Nancy Pelosi arguing that it’s not the right time to honor the memory of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children. And William Cohen’s “The Cohen Group” continues to have a strategic partnership with top lobby firm DLA/Piper – hired by Turkey to spread genocide denial in the Halls of Congress for a cool $1.8 million a year.

And yet, 14 months later, they claim to have written the blueprint to end genocide once and for all. I haven’t had a chance to read through the whole thing yet, but no doubt there are some sound ideas in the Genocide Prevention Task Force report. The question remains, however, how do you take a report seriously when the folks who wrote it pick and choose which genocides to speak truthfully about?

Look, even little Timmy can prevent genocide - and has more credibility doing it.It’s a slippery slope, as The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart alluded to last year. Once you start misrepresenting one genocide, what’s to stop you from misrepresenting other genocides for political expediency? As Senior Armeniologist Aasif Mandvi told Stewart, given the right circumstances, the Holocaust could be downgraded to a “half-a-caust”.

Cohen and Albright’s genocide prevention schtick involves fuzzy logic – kind of like the weird scribble they have for a logo on the report presented today (my boss’ 3 year old daughter could have come up with something better). Frankly, the report would have more credibility if they scratched out Cohen and Albright as its authors.

Category: Armenian Genocide, Denial, Turkey, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Cigna Denies Life to Nataline

January 8th, 2008 by hyeoctane

On December 20, 2007, 17 year-old Nataline Sarkisyan of Northridge passed away after twice being denied a liver transplant by her insurer, Cigna Health Corporation. In the face of a mass protest in front of Cigna offices in Los Angeles, the company finally agreed to cover her transplant–but it was too late.

Her tragic loss has served as a cornerstone in the debate over the troubled state of health care in the United States. It has become a part of the discourse in the presidential campaign, with John Edwards telling the story of Nataline and her family in order to illustrate the pressing need to take on the problems posed by the health insurance industry.

Nataline was an active member of the Armenian Youth Federation and a bright young student who was full of life. She will be truly missed by friends, family, and the community alike.

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April 17th, 2007 by hyeoctane

On Thursday, April 12, 2007, over one hundred Illinois residents had an opportunity to hear Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) speak out on the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

On several occasions over the past four years, Birazian, a Northbrook native, has attended the briefings on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of Illinois and has questioned her Senators on matters of importance to the state’s Armenian American community.

When invited to ask a question, Birazian thanked Senator Durbin for spearheading the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S.Res.106, as well as leading the effort to pass targeted divestment legislation relating to Darfur. Birazian also encourage Senator Obama to cosponsor S.Res.106. In his response, Senator Obama stated: “For those who aren’t aware, there was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people. It is one of these situations where we have seen a constant denial on the part of the Turkish Government and others that this occurred. It has become a sore spot diplomatically. . .”

Following the meeting, Birazian commented: “Armenian Americans in Illinois and across the nation look forward to Senator Obama becoming a cosponsor of S. Res.106. His principled stand on genocide recognition is honorable, and as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his support of the legislation would help ensure that it moves quickly to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.”

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April 17th, 2007 by hyeoctane

On Thursday, April 12, 2007, over one hundred Illinois residents had an opportunity to hear Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) speak out on the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

On several occasions over the past four years, Birazian, a Northbrook native, has attended the briefings on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of Illinois and has questioned her Senators on matters of importance to the state’s Armenian American community.

When invited to ask a question, Birazian thanked Senator Durbin for spearheading the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S.Res.106, as well as leading the effort to pass targeted divestment legislation relating to Darfur. Birazian also encourage Senator Obama to cosponsor S.Res.106. In his response, Senator Obama stated: “For those who aren’t aware, there was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people. It is one of these situations where we have seen a constant denial on the part of the Turkish Government and others that this occurred. It has become a sore spot diplomatically. . .”

Following the meeting, Birazian commented: “Armenian Americans in Illinois and across the nation look forward to Senator Obama becoming a cosponsor of S. Res.106. His principled stand on genocide recognition is honorable, and as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his support of the legislation would help ensure that it moves quickly to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.”

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Jared Goldberg: The ghost of genocides past

March 29th, 2007 by hyeoctane

Activism against the genocide in Darfur has become omnipresent. Students Taking Action Now in Darfur has just joined with the new group Will Work for Food to help raise awareness and aid those suffering in the conflict. Students have the power to change the world. We have done it before, and the creation of groups like Will Work for Food and STAND will show future generations that not everyone was silent.
The genocide in Darfur however, is definitely not the first modern genocide. Genocides were common throughout history, even before the Holocaust. If we truly want to honor the victims in Darfur and understand how to help them, we should recognize and remember one of the first genocides of the 20th century, that of the Armenian people.
April 24 will mark the 92nd anniversary of the arrest and eventual murder of Armenian leaders in Turkey. Though for centuries Armenians lacked an independent government and were not equal citizens in the Ottoman Empire, (which controlled much of Central Asia and Eastern Europe, including historic Armenia), the rise of Armenian political institutions and groups in the 19th century gave hope that Armenians would eventually have their own state. [Read More]

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Senate panel condemns murder of Turkish-Armenian

March 29th, 2007 by hyeoctane

A U.S. Senate panel condemned on Wednesday the murder earlier this year of a prominent Turkish-Armenian editor, Hrant Dink, who had urged Turks to acknowledge the mass killings of Armenians on Turkish soil in 1915.
The largely symbolic resolution approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reopened the question of whether Congress should weigh in on the debate over whether the killings were genocide — a sensitive issue in Turkey, a key NATO ally.
Armenia says some 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at Ottoman Turkish hands, but Turkey denies a systematic genocide of Armenians took place, saying large numbers of Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in inter-ethnic fighting during World War One. [Read More]

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