Taking Grassroots Activism to the Next Level

Archive for March, 2007

Planned House Vote on Armenian Massacre Angers Turks

March 30th, 2007 by

New York Times

A planned vote in Congress that would classify the widespread killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government early in the 20th century as genocide is threatening to make bilateral relations unusually tense.The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, backs the resolution and at first wanted a vote in April. But under Turkish pressure, Bush administration figures have lobbied for the Democrats in charge of Congress to drop the measure.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sent strong letters of protest to her and to Representative Tom Lantos, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has not set a date for the vote. “That has had an impact,” said Lynne Weil, a Lantos spokeswoman, referring to the letters. Copies were also sent to Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader. [Read More]

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Jared Goldberg: The ghost of genocides past

March 29th, 2007 by

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

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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Companies Line Up With Turkey

March 29th, 2007 by

Roll Calll

A broad cross-section of corporate America quietly is supporting efforts to thwart a Congressional resolution that would label as “genocide” the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years ago. Blue-chip companies from the defense, financial services, pharmaceutical, energy and other sectors fear the resolution could hurt their business in modern-day Turkey. But just as these corporate representatives have focused on stopping the nonbinding resolution on Capitol Hill, an Armenian lobbying group, the Armenian National Committee of America, has launched its own effort. The Armenian committee is not just putting pressure on Members to support the genocide resolution, but is trying to chip away at the corporate interests standing in the way.

The Armenian group this month sent letters to more than 100 companies, including Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson, that are members of the American Business Forum in Turkey or the American Turkish Council, asking them to clarify their position on the genocide resolution.

“Our thought was that ABFT and ATC were being presumptuous in speaking for these companies,” said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee. In recent days, Hamparian said Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson and Cargill have sent letters in response distancing their companies from the lobbying against the genocide resolution. Cargill, for one, said that it “does not have a position on the issue,” while Johnson & Johnson replied that “we would not engage in political issues of this nature,” according to copies of the letters. [Read More at the bottom of the press release]

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Belgian textbook insults Turkey’s founder Atatürk

March 29th, 2007 by

Today Zaman
Following the broadcast of videos with explicit content about Atatürk by a Greek youth on the famous Internet site youtube.com, Belgium has engaged in similar infamy by listing Atatürk among the important homosexual and bisexual personalities of history. A book by the minister of education of the province of Valon in Belgium and distributed to all schools in the province claims that Atatürk was one of history’s important and famous homosexual or bisexual figures
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was included on a list of “Famous homosexuals and bisexuals in history” on the 105th page of the 144-page book titled, “Fight Against Homophobia.” [Read More]

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Congress debates Armenia genocide

March 21st, 2007 by

United Press International
In 1896 former U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire Oscar Straus convinced President Grover Cleveland to ignore a controversial resolution passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives that would have called for the Ottoman Sultan to stop his killing of ethnic Armenians.

More than 100 years later the U.S. Congress is at a similar crossroads on the very same issue. House and Senate Resolutions 106 call for American foreign policy to recognize the killings of Armenians by the former Ottoman Empire as “genocide.” The Republic of Turkey is the official successor state to the Ottoman Empire because of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

Being the official successor state is part of the reason for the Turkish government wanting to deny that the Armenian killings were a genocide, said Brian Kabateck, a senior partner in Kabateck, Brown & Keller, a law firm that has represented about a half-dozen Armenian-Americans in cases against U.S. insurance companies and banks that have denied claims and accounts to relatives of deceased Armenians who took out insurance and had accounts before they died in the Armenian Genocide. Kabateck said that the Ottoman state seized property and businesses and that Turkey would be responsible for reparations to Armenians and the nation of Armenia if they admitted that what the Ottoman state did was genocide. [Read More]

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Robert Fisk: The truth should be proclaimed loudly

March 17th, 2007 by

Stand by for a quotation to take your breath away. It’s from a letter from my Istanbul publishers, who are chickening out of publishing the Turkish-language edition of my book The Great War for Civilisation. The reason, of course, is a chapter entitled “The First Holocaust”, which records the genocide of one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915, a crime against humanity that even Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara tried to hide by initially refusing to invite Armenian survivors to his Holocaust Day in London.

It is, I hasten to add, only one chapter in my book about the Middle East, but the fears of my Turkish friends were being expressed even before the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was so cruelly murdered outside his Istanbul office in January. And when you read the following, from their message to my London publishers HarperCollins, remember it is written by the citizen of a country that seriously wishes to enter the European Community. Since I do not speak Turkish, I am in no position to criticise the occasional lapses in Mr Osman’s otherwise excellent English. [Read More]

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Turkish Prof Charged With Legacy Insult

March 14th, 2007 by

A prosecutor on Tuesday filed charges against a political science professor for allegedly insulting the legacy of the revered founder of modern Turkey.

Atilla Yayla’s university has already suspended him amid allegations that he criticized Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whose portrait hang in all government offices and his ideas are still the republic’s most sacred principles 68 years after his death.

Prosecutor Ahmet Guven on Tuesday filed charges against Yayla for ”insulting the legacy of Ataturk.” Yayla could receive up to three years in prison if tried and convicted. No trial date was set yet. [Read More]

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Turkey, and the U.S., Must Confront Genocide’s Reality

March 12th, 2007 by

In his March 3 editorial-page commentary “Don’t Go Cold on Turkey,” former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris opposes U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. His main contention is that this will result in a “train wreck” with an important, long-standing American ally.

Amb. Parris and the other opponents of honestly recognizing this crime are once again crying wolf. “Train wrecks” were loudly but falsely predicted before President Reagan’s 1981 public affirmation of the Armenian genocide, the 1984 designation by the House of April 24 as a day for its remembrance, as well as before the amendments passed by the House in 1996 and 2004 restricting U.S. aid to Turkey based on its denial of this crime against humanity.

Despite threats of retribution, Turkey has taken only token steps against the European Parliament, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and other states and international bodies that have recognized the Armenian genocide.

In fact, despite all its threats in 2001 against France’s recognition of the Armenian genocide, trade between France and Turkey grew 22% the following year, and has grown by 131% over the past five years.

Kenneth V. Hachikian
Armenian National Committee of America

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Swiss court finds Turkish politician guilty of racism for denying Armenian genocide

March 9th, 2007 by

International Herald Tribune
A prominent Turkish politician was found guilty Friday of breaching Swiss anti-racism laws by saying that the early 20th century killing of Armenians could not be described as genocide.

Dogu Perincek, leader of the Turkish Workers’ Party, was ordered by a Swiss court to pay a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs (US$2,450; €1,870) and was given a suspended penalty of 9,000 francs (US$7,360; €5,600).

Perincek was charged with breaking Swiss law by denying during a visit to Switzerland in 2005 that the World War I-era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians amounted to genocide. He has since repeated his claim, including at his trial earlier this week.

Perincek accused the judge of “racist hatred” toward Turkey and said he would appeal the verdict to Switzerland’s supreme court.

If necessary, Perincek told Turkey’s government-run Anatolia news agency, he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. [Read More]

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