Thursday, January 31, 2008

Formal Apologies Issued by Governments

Wednesday January 30, 2008
Guardian Unlimited, UK
By The Associated Press
How can one forgive and make up without the other side repenting? May be this other side wants to prolong the pain.

- 1998: Canada apologizes to its native peoples for past acts of oppression, including decades of abuse at federally funded boarding schools whose goal was to sever Indian and Inuit youths from their culture and assimilate them in white society.

- 1992: South African President F.W. de Klerk apologizes for apartheid, marking the first time a white leader in the country expressed regret for the system of legalized segregation that allowed 5 million whites to dominate 30 million blacks.

- 1990: The Soviet Union apologizes for the murder of thousands of imprisoned Polish officers shot during World War II and buried in mass graves in the Katyn Forest.

- 1988: The U.S. Congress passes a law apologizing to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II and offering $20,000 payments to survivors.

- 1951: West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer acknowledges the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust and the following year, Germany agrees to pay reparations to Israel. In 1990, the then East German Parliament issues an apology to Israel and all Jews and others who suffered.


- The U.S. has never issued a formal apology for the African slave trade or paid reparations to slave descendants. In 2007, Virginia became the first state to apologize for its involvement, followed by Alabama, Maryland and North Carolina. No state has offered reparations.

- The U.S. has never apologized to American Indians for past actions, including forced relocation and broken treaties and promises. American Indians have received compensation for their lands over the years, but no formal apology.

- Armenia has repeatedly requested an apology from Turkey for the killings of what historians estimate was up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey maintains the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

- China has accused Japan of not fully atoning for its invasions and occupation of China in the 1930s and 1940s, including wartime atrocities like the Rape of Nanjing, in which Japanese troops massacred as many as 300,000 people while taking the Chinese city in 1937.


- Although Japan issued a carefully worded apology in 1993 to the tens of thousands of women from neighboring countries forced to serve as sex slaves for its soldiers during World War II, parliament never formally approved it. Japan has rejected most compensation claims, saying they were settled by postwar treaties. A fund created in 1995 by the government but run independently has provided a way to compensate former sex slaves without making it official. Many women, however, have rejected the money.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Genocide; is it a question of national identity?

Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Kurdish Globe, Iraq
By Eleni Fergadi

Last Saturday, the International Conference on Genocide against the Kurdish people commenced in Martyr Saad Adbullah's conference center here in Erbil.

The conference, which lasted for three days, began two weeks after the burial ceremony of the remains of the Anfal victims with the somewhat sober aim of "academic" remembrance of sorts; in a way to present the research that has been undertaken on this very black page of Kurdish history and at the same time "internationalize" these events with the hope that similarly to the national recognition it has received by the Federal High Court as genocide, the same would follow on an international level.

Scholars, writers, politicians and artists were invited to this conference to present their own perspectives and research on the Kurdish genocide from the Ba'athist government-simply put and in the words of the organizers-to present "a record" of the atrocities that began with the deportation of around 40,000 Kurds from areas surrounding Kirkuk on July 10, 1963, and the destruction of more than 800 Kurdish villages during that time. Much followed throughout Kurdistan, such as the bombardment of the cities of Qaladze (April 24, 1974) and Halabja (April 26, 1974), the chemical attacks during 1987-88, the infamous Anfal Campaign (1988), as well as the destruction of villages that were burned to the ground, the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the bombardment of refugee camps.

The daughter of the late Saad Abdullah, in whose memory the conference center was built, and current Minister of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, Mrs. Chinar Saad Abdullah, presented a detailed account of crimes perpetrated against the Kurds, providing startling statistics: The province most affected by the atrocities was Dohuk (70.33%), with Suleimanya (42%), Kirkuk (22%) and Erbil (17%) following; in terms of nationalities and religious affiliations, those who suffered the most were Kurds (99%) and Muslims (98%). In gender terms, 66.61% of victims were male and 33.39% female. The minister, while stressing the abhorrence of the Anfal Campaign, stated that in its duration "all human rights and ethics were violated."

The minister also provided figures relating to the preferred targets of the attacks (see Table above) and stated that 17% of those who survived the attacks suffer from mental and physical illnesses, pointing out that many families, having lost all possessions, still have to live under dire conditions.

At the Conference, the Chief of Staff of the presidential office, Fuad Hussein, reiterated that the aim of such a conference is "not only to deal with questions, but also to discuss the genocide...from different angles," expressing his hope that the workshops and panel discussions "will lead us to the answer of the question why this genocide...happened." Mr. Hussein also stressed that "just as our language, geography, history...form part of our national identity, so the genocide against the Kurds is the most important aspect in the formation of the Kurdish Nation." He added, "This tragedy must not only form part of our history, but it must also become a guideline for us to build a society far removed from hatred and violence....In this way we hope that one day we can feel so sure of ourselves that we can tell our children...and all the future generations...that the killings...will never happen again."

Within the framework of the conference, a documentary film on the genocide against the Kurds (Kurdistan TV) was shown on the first day (visitors could then watch it in a special amphitheatre that was held for this purpose); a series of photographs and artwork were exhibited and singers Diyari Qaradaghi and Melek performed Kurdish songs about Anfal. More than 60 papers were received by the ministries organizing the event; however, the time limit only allowed 37 to be presented. The papers will be published in a book on the subject and another conference will take place in Europe in the near future.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited the conference.

An interview on trauma and national identity

The Globe spoke with Dr. Zafer Yörük, a lecturer at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler and a specialist in identity politics, about the Kurdish genocide and the process of Kurdish nation-building, and it was discovered that in a nation-building process, such as the one Kurdistan is currently undergoing, there is more than meets the eye.

Dr. Yörük, what do you think of the International Conference on the Genocide against the Kurds?

"A few weeks ago, we witnessed the burial ceremony of the remains of victims, and this conference that followed shows both that the genocide and particularly the memories of Anfal are still fresh... this makes me fairly confident that the genocide can be called what in psychoanalysis is a trauma and in this case a collective one."

What is collective trauma?

"Trauma is a medical word used widely in the field of orthopedics to refer to the moment to define the cause of a broken leg or arm. When used as a psychiatric term, trauma refers to the same moment or experience, with the only difference being that what is traumatized is the soul and therefore healing the wound requires much more than a mere cast for a couple of weeks. In the case of collective trauma, we are talking about a different kind of scar, more so, because it was experienced collectively." Dr. Yörük explained: "Traumas determine our behavior usually in the form of a personality disorder. People repress their trauma; that is, they try to forget them and think that they never happened, but in reality the scars of the past traumas survive in our unconscious and come to the surface without us realizing it. For example, people who cannot cope with boundaries and authority in their adult lives definitely carry serious scars inflicted upon their souls by their fathers. Now, families and communities can share a collective trauma even though they have never experienced it themselves."

Can you be more specific?

"Older generations, who have experienced a trauma collectively, like the Kurds did, cannot repress; that is, they cannot simply ignore it, try to forget it and thus they 'speak it' to the younger generation in order to cope with it. This collective transmission is similar to what we call repression in the case of the individual. Vamik Volkan, an American psychiatrist, provides us with an interesting example when he discusses the Long March of the Red Indians. When a reporter interviewed a Navajo Red Indian on the subject, it was as if the interviewee was referring to an event that had taken place yesterday, but the journalist soon realized that the Long March had actually occurred 125 years before. Volkan argued that, for the Red Indians, the Long March is as real as the rising sun in the morning, even though they might not have experienced it themselves, even if it was an event that took place more than a century ago...the older generations projected their experiences to the younger ones and thus shaped the latter. So much so that the trauma itself has become the major collective bond that united the Red Indian community together; it has become the major plaster of a social identity. The problem with this style of building collective/national identity lies in what I said above. The scars of trauma have many negative effects on human behavior; they result in serious personality disorders. Therefore, if the genocide ends up as the most important factor of the Kurdish national identity, then there are dangers ahead...."

Are you implying that the Kurds should forget? And what do you mean by dangers? What are they?

"No, no, on the contrary...Kurds should be invited not to forget; that is, to remember what happened. But they should also be invited to forgive. From the beginning of the history of the 'person' and of the 'word' we have learned that the best way of coping with trauma is remembering it; that is, not repressing it, but at the same time trying to find ways to forgive those responsible. The beloved Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, for example, who was murdered last year outside his office in Istanbul, was well aware of this problem. In every public interview he gave, Dink systematically called on his people not to rely on the Armenian genocide for the existence of the Armenian nation and that is because he knew very well the potential disorders of such a practice. What are those disorders, you may ask? If you look at the emerging Turkish nationalist discourse preceding 1915, then you can see that the sole element that it relied on was some trauma that the Turkic-Islamic peoples of Central Asia, the Balkans and Caucasus had experienced during the 19th century. When these elements arrived in Anatolia from Russia and the Balkans, they not only brought with them a shared traumatic scar but also the feeling of revenge and compensation for what they had been through. It is precisely the reliance on a trauma in the Turkish nation-building that resulted in the Armenian genocide. The hatred and the consequent search for revenge and compensation were all projected onto the Christian peoples of Anatolia, particularly the Armenians, even though the only thing the Armenian population shared with the perpetrators of the past was that of religion; they were Christians. It is exactly this vicious circle, this chain of events that I am talking about. What I have said so far can be summarized as follows: In the process of nation-building, a collective trauma may be 'selected' to play a positive bonding role, but such selection also means the emergence of 'collective personality disorders.' Simply put, if the Kurdish nation insists on building itself by relying on the trauma of the genocide, then the potential danger of seeking compensation is very real. The Kurds should definitely remember, but they should also forgive."

What would you propose then?

When we are talking of building a community, a nation, then peoples' minds usually go back to the beginning of the 19th century, when nation-states and nationalism were mushrooming. When nationalism emerged, there were particular circumstances, such as modernity, new technologies and alienation. Almost 30 years have passed since Benedict Anderson showed that the nation is not natural, something that existed and exists 'just like that'; rather, it is what he called 'an imagined community.' Hobsbawm defined nation as 'an invented community' and I would rather call it 'a fabricated community.' Now, nationalism draws on both positive and negative aspects: The positive are usually a glorious past that is being reclaimed for today; for instance, Kurdish nationalist discourse refers to the glorious Med Empire, and the Kawa rebellion against the tyrant Dohak, and relates all these events to the Kurdish New Year (Newroz). It is these aspects that are imagined to be somehow shaping and determining the Kurdish identity of today. The Anfal and the genocide in general adds the traumatic dimension in play....No one should be allowed to deny that the genocide is as real as the rising sun, borrowing from Volkan's abovementioned example, but building an identity by emphasizing the genocide is a recipe full with traps. I think that in the 21st century the best way of creating a polity isn't by relying on methods left over by the 19th century, but to seriously activate and promote the norms of citizenship, solidarity and trust, as the primary bonds to cement a community together as one, the precondition of which are participation, accountability and transparency."

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Turkey blackmails U.S. presidential hopefuls


Levent Bilman, spokesman for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Turkey “feels regret over recent statements of the U.S. presidential candidates supporting the Armenian stance on the events of 1915.”

The press release issued by Bilman said, "The attempts to cast a shadow over our history in the name of competition among candidates within a political party, deeply hurts the Turkish nation. We invite the U.S. presidential candidate nominees to act responsibly in regards to both the past and future, to pay attention not to hurt an ally country and its nation with baseless statements, and keep in mind in this respect the delicacy of the Turkish-American relations," Anatolia News Agency reports.

Democrat presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards voiced support for the Armenian Genocide resolution and pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide if elected President.

! Reproduction in full or in part is prohibited without reference to «PanARMENIAN.Net».

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


A hell for free souls!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Turkish Daily News, Turkey
Orhan Kemal CENGIZ
Openness is the only cure for Turkey. Unfortunately for Turkey there is a price to pay for openness and that is the TRUTH about its past.
We cannot progress in solving our free speech problem at all. It is like a nightmare. The AKP (Justice and Development Party) has totally failed to make any significant change in Article 301. What they are proposing, as fellow columnist Yusuf Kanlı has wisely stated, is no reform, but an attempt to deceive. I accept that unless mentality changes the 301(s) will always be replaced by something else. But there is blood over this article, it turned into a terrible sin; it is a symbolic duty, a moral obligation for this government to get rid of this article.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeals in the case against Orhan Pamuk, clearly showed that the judiciary has no intention to change its stance toward “denigrating Turkishness.” The Appeal Court comes to the conclusion that every Turkish citizen can bring a compensation case against Pamuk for his remarks about the “Armenian genocide.” This shows that even if we get rid of Article 301, the judiciary will immediately fill this gap with other very strong sanctions from private law. The last ruling of the Appeal Court concluded that 70 million Turks can bring cases against Pamuk because of his “insulting remarks” about Turkishness!

One hundred other 301s

Atilla Yayla received a suspended 15 month prison sentence this Monday because he allegedly mentioned Atatürk by referring to him as “this man/guy.” He has to pay attention to every single word he utters from now on. If he is found guilty once again, he has to serve this one year and three months in addition to the new sentence he receives. He has to remain silent. Will any academic dare say anything about Kemalism from now on then? I do not think so.

I also would like to mention some other cases that you may think are practical jokes.

Lawyer on trial

Once I saw a caricature in a magazine, I cannot remember its name. This caricature still vividly exists in my mind. In the first scene we saw a man who was hanged on a wall with his wrists cuffed. He says, “I know my rights, call my lawyer.” In the second scene we have a broader perspective and realize that there is another man beside him hanging on the wall like him, saying, “I am here.” This caricature has always reminded me of my dear friend Tahir Elçi, who is one of the frontline fighters of human rights in Turkey. In 1999 we were attending hearings in the European Court of Human Rights. Tahir was following the most horrific cases in southeastern Turkey. I was trying to help him before the European Court. We attended the hearings before the court in the Özkan and others vs. Turkey case, which was one of the most tragic village destruction cases the court had ever handled. One month later, I was representing Tahir before the European Court in the case Tahir Elçi and others vs. Turkey, in which the torture and mistreatment Tahir and his friends suffered was being reviewed by the court. It was a funny experience for all of us. He was the lawyer of the plaintiffs in a hearing and just one month later he was a plaintiff himself, giving testimony regarding his own case in another hearing in front of the same court.

Tahir has always followed the most difficult cases in Turkey and of course he has never been away from trouble. One of the recent cases he has been following is Uğur Kaymaz's case that concerns the extra judicial killing of 12-year-old Uğur and his father in front of their house in Mardin Kızıltepe in the Southeast. The police claimed that there was an exchange of fire between the deceased “terrorists” and themselves. However, forensic examination showed that both victims were shot from behind. Eskişehir Criminal Court was handling this case, but what happened in the end was that the members of the special forces who carried out this operation were acquitted. However, Elçi is now being tried because of his alleged “attempt to influence a fair trial.” After one of the hearings in the Kaymaz case, Tahir had given the following statement to the press: “We have not seen a fair attitude from the judges. They were insensitive toward our demands. We want a unbiased trial, we want justice.” This is the statement that put him on trial.

Sometimes I see Turkey as a surrealist country. Where else could this happen? The accused, in an apparent extra judicial case, have been acquitted but the lawyer of the victims put on trial with charges of “attempting to influence a fair trial” in a country in which the “real influencers” have never been tried.

Another surrealist case

Nalan Erkem was the member of board of directors of the İzmir Bar Association and she was responsible for the bar's “Torture Prevention Committee.” I had the privilege to work with her in this committee that we established together. As a result of its work, many cases of torture were brought to daylight and many cases were filed against the security forces that allegedly mistreated people under custody. On Nov. 5-6, 2003 there was an attempted revolt in the children dormitories of İzmir's Buca Prison. Nalan and some other lawyers went to prison to find out what had been happening there. They spoke to children and recorded their testimonies. The children had claimed that the gendarmeries forces and the guards beat them and they were kept in the cells stripped naked. The lawyers also noted that there were bruises and lesions on their faces and bodies. After exhausting attempts to bring the grievances of these children to the attention of the relevant authorities in İzmir and receiving no response to their applications, the lawyers sent a petition to the then minister of justice. Nalan had also held a press conference and read out this petition to the members of the press. Again, the accused who allegedly mistreated the juveniles in the prison were acquitted but Nalan, an anonymous heroine in the Turkish human rights movement, is on trial. The prosecutor argued that by holding this press conference, Erkem abused her duties.

In short, our freedom of expression problem is not limited to Article 301 and Turkey has become a hell for free souls!


The next hearing in Tahir Elçi's case is tomorrow and it is before the Eskişehir Court for Serious Crimes in Eskişehir at 9:00 am. The first hearing in Nalan Erkem's case will be held on Feb. 27 at 11:00 am in the fourth branch of the Court for Serious Crimes in İzmir.

* The writer can be reached at

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Memorial attacked night before service

Jan 28 2008
ic Wales, United Kingdom
by Katie Bodinger, South Wales Echo

A MONUMENT set up in Cardiff to remember 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915 was vandalised ahead of a service for all the victims of genocide.

The memorial in the Temple of Peace, Cathays, Cardiff, made of sandstone and Welsh slate, was struck with a sledgehammer on Saturday night, smashing the cross off it.

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day and a service was held to remember all those who have died at the hands of ethnic cleansing.

Members of the Turkish community have condemned the damage.

Caerphilly Councillor Ray Davies, who campaigned for the Armenian monument to be erected, said many people at the service yesterday were close to tears when they saw what had happened.

“The desecration of the monument reminds us that we must always be vigilant against racism and hatred which is never far from the surface,” he said.

The pillar of pink stone was unveiled in November to remember all those Armenians who were murdered by Ottoman Turks in 1915.

It caused controversy at the time, with members of the Turkish community denying the killings amounted to genocide.

The sledgehammer which damaged the monument was found close to the scene yesterday.

But the service still went ahead as planned, despite protests from a small number of people who shouted through loud hailers.

Director of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs Stephen Thomas said: “It was particularly saddening for the Armenians present that this happened on the day of the Holocaust Memorial Day. This service wasn’t specific to the Armenians. We were trying to be all-inclusive about all those historical events where people have been massacred. It wasn’t very helpful in terms of trying to create a bridge and links between Turkey and Armenia that this was carried out. People were upset when they turned up and saw what had happened.”

Hal Savas, a member of the five-man delegation from the Committee for the Protection of Turkish Rights, was present at the service.

“Whoever has done it should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “We would condemn any damage done to any religious monument.”

South Wales Police are appealing for witnesses. Contact them on 029 20222111.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


A Victorious Knight

28 Jan. 2008
Washington Post, United States

Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Levon Aronian of Armenia won the elite Corus grandmaster tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, yesterday with an 8-5 score. They edged world champion Vishy Anand of India and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan by a half point.

A Victorious Knight

It is Carlsen's best result of his young career, and the 17-year-old Norwegian made it to the top with a roller-coaster finish. Being in the lead, he lost to Anand but recovered by beating former world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. In the dynamic English Hedgehog, Carlsen outplayed his opponent mixing tactics with a positional squeeze. The most remarkable piece in that game was Carlsen's king's knight, circling the board until it finally sealed Kramnik's fate.


Sergei Movsesian of Slovakia won the Corus B-group with a 9 1/2 -3 1/2 score and will play in the top group next year. Fabiano Caruana, the 15-year-old Italian champion who grew up in the United States, dominated the C-group with a 10-3 score. Ljubomir Ljubojevic of Serbia prevailed at the tournament of veteran grandmasters with a 4-2 score.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Küçük gives the orders to kill

Sunday, 27 January 2008
Sabah, Turkey

Veli Küçük, who has been arrested for managing the Ergenekon terrorist organization, has been accused of giving the orders for five murders.

Retired general Veli Küçük has been sent to the Kartal prison. The search of his private property, including an agenda and computer, revealed a six-step plan involving a coup in 2009. The Ergenekon terrorist organization's management schema was also defined name by name.

Six-step coup plan

It has turned out that the leader of the Ergenekon organization, Veli Küçük, gave the orders for five murders including Dink. A six-step plan for a coup in 2009 has also been revealed.

It has turned out that the leader of the Ergenekon organization, Veli Küçük, who has been sent to prison, gave the orders for five murders including Dink and four other attacks. A search of his private propoerty, including an agenda and computer, revealed a six-step plan involving a coup in 2009. It is claimed that Küçük also ordered the murders of Hablemitoğlu, Hrant Dink, the murders in Malatya, the İbrahim Çiftçi assassination and the attacks on the State Council. Küçük stated that the murders in Malatya and the assassinations of Dink and Çiftçi are entirely provocative, however, the assassination of Necip Hablemitoğlu was done upon the request of the German intelligence agency BNG. The Board of Directors made the decisions about the murders in Malatya and the assassinations of Dink and Çiftçi and the order was transmitted through the chain of command.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


The Legalization of the Anfal Campaign as Genocide and A Crime against Humanity

January 26, 2008
Kurdish Aspect, CO - By Dr. Nouri Talabany

Genocide is the greatest crime against humanity since its express purpose is the annihilation of a chosen group of people who have their own distinctive culture, and those guilty of this crime must be punished. The Ba'athist regime in Iraq, for about thirty years, committed a great many crimes against the people of Kurdistan, some of which are considered as genocide and crimes against humanity since they did, indeed, target a particular group of people with the express intention of exterminating them. The main perpetrators of these crimes and their accomplices, whether ordinary individuals or those in positions of power, are equally culpable, no matter the reasons for the crime – be they political, social, religious or any other.1

Genocide is considered an international crime. In an international document, signed in Paris, in December 9th, 1948, and rectified by the Iraqi Government in January 20th, 1959, defining the crime of genocide and aiming to prevent and punish the perpetrators of this crime, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated it a crime against humanity and asked that its perpetrators be indicted before either an international or internal court.

The "Anfal" is named after a sura of the Quran. It was a genocidal campaign in which the Ba'athist regime sought to exterminate the Kurds. In Iraqi Kurdistan it resulted in the deaths of more than 180,000 civilians, most of whom were buried alive in the desert near the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. They were killed, not because they were involved in an armed struggle with the Iraqi government, but simply because they were Kurds. The majority were villagers and some were taken from concentration camps where they had existed in appalling conditions since being forced from their villages. Their killers made no distinction between men and women, young and old, healthy and infirm; their aim was their annihilation. The consequences are long-term and far-reaching and affect almost every family in Kurdistan. Families knew nothing of the fate of their loved ones and had no means of discovering their whereabouts. It created enormous social problems, as women had no means of knowing whether their husbands were dead or alive and so could not remarry, and many children were orphaned. Some of the elderly and infirm were eventually released; they know what happened and are eye witnesses to this atrocity. Approximately 100 of them gave evidence to the Iraqi High Criminal Court when the accused were tried.2

The Iraqi High Criminal Court, in a decision taken on the 24th June, 2007, decided that the Anfal was genocide according to the internationally accepted definition as stated in the Convention of 1948 to which Iraq was a signatory. This recognition that Anfal was genocide is long overdue. This High Criminal Court, which tried some of the higher echelons of the Ba'athist regime, sentenced most of the accused to death. All those who are guilty of complicity in this crime, be they leaders or collaborators, Arabs or Kurds must be put on trial. Throughout history, the Kurds have suffered greatly while the outside world remained largely uncaring, but the Anfal operation was carried out openly, with assistance from some large European companies who supplied the chemicals, so that no one can plead ignorance, nor can we forget.

The Anfal campaign is comparable to other horrendous genocides, such as that of the Armenians during the First World War and the Holocaust in which millions of Jew were exterminated by the Nazis.3

When the trial of the accused began, I hoped that some international expert in genocide and crimes against humanity would assist the lawyers defending the families of the Anfal victims. Most Kurdish lawyers have no experience of dealing with crimes of such magnitude, since they have been cut off from the outside world as a result of the political isolation of Kurdistan for many years. Most of the state administration, both military and civil, and including different organisations of the Ba'ath Party, share the guilt for this crime. The Iraqi state is legally responsible for the Anfal operation and its consequences, as it is also responsible for the repayment of loans to many states, companies, and even some individuals, outside Iraq. Most of these loans were used to finance the wars that the Ba'athist regime began illegally against neighbouring countries like Iran and Kuwait, or to subjugate their own people. Currently, many of these countries, companies and individuals are still being repaid. In the same way, Iraq must undertake responsibility for compensating the relatives of the Anfal victims. Some government officials and their supporters make the excuse that the Ba'athist regime made no distinction between the killing of Kurds or Arabs, but they choose to forget that the express purpose of the Anfal, in which most state organisations participated, was the annihilation of the Kurds. Again, we must ask why the Iraqi government accepts responsibility for the repayment of these loans to the Ba'athist regime, yet appears not to be responsible for compensating the families of the victims of the Anfal because they are Iraqis.

During the Second World War, the Nazis killed millions of Jews. After

the war, the elected government of West Germany, led by Konrad Adenauer, compensated the families of those killed although it was in no way responsible for Hitler's crimes.4 For about ten years, it even compensated the state of Israel which was seen as having inherited those who lost everything and everyone in the Holocaust.

The German government asked the Jewish people for forgiveness and, in the same way, the Iraqi state must ask forgiveness of the people of Kurdistan and the relatives of the Anfal victims. This must be done by an Act of Parliament. This is a vital safeguard because, if it is done simply by a letter from the Prime Minister or by a declaration by his government, it would leave the way open for a future government to refuse to honour any decision taken by their predecessors. In fact, just such a situation occurred on June 26th 1966, when the government of General Naji Talib refused to honour the Declaration of the government of Dr. Abdul Rahaman Bazaz which set out the steps to be taken to peacefully resolve the Kurdish issue at that time.

In Arbil, in April 2002, at a Conference on the Anfal Operation, I proposed that the government and parliament of the Kurdistan region should ask the Iraqi state to ask forgiveness from the people of Kurdistan when Sadam's regime ended, and that it should then compensate the relatives of the Anfal victims. The Conference approved my proposal but, more than four years after the fall of the Ba'athist regime, no such action has been taken. In May 2007, I made the same proposal to the Parliament of Kurdistan in a session specially convened to discuss the crime of the Anfal campaign, hoping that they would act upon it. More recently in a seminar held in Arbil in July 2007, attended by many MPs from the Iraqi parliament and the acting Speaker and MPs from the Kurdistan parliament, I directed my words at the acting Speaker of the Iraqi parliament, stressing on reconciliation even for the past,5 but I added that forgiving does not mean forgetting because it is difficult to erase such crimes from memory.6 Asking forgiveness does not imply that either the Iraqi people or the present government are responsible for the Anfal operation, just as the German people and government, after the Nazi regime, were not responsible for the Holocaust. It is time for the Parliament and political parties of Kurdistan to insist on the Iraqi parliament asking forgiveness because, if the demands of our people are not met now, it is unlikely that this will happen in the future.

Before the fall of the Ba'athist regime, the Kurdish activists of the Diaspora, together with some international human rights organisations, e.g. Middle East Watch and Amnesty International, some MPs from several European countries and senators and representatives in the US, tried to persuade the international community that the crime of the Anfal operation was genocide. This was recognized by a Special Iraqi Court which, after examining the documents and hearing the evidence of the surviving relatives of the Anfal victims, convicted some high-ranking officials of the Ba'athist regime of genocide, crimes against humanity and even war crimes and condemned most of them to death. The result of these crimes was the death of more than 180,000 Kurdish civilians and the destruction of more than 4000 villages and small towns. The attack on Halabja in 1988 was not the only instance of the use of chemical weapons. They were used in several areas, from 1986 onwards, against civilians who refused to leave their mountain villages. These villages proved inaccessible to Iraqi troops so chemical weapons were used to destroy them.

The international community must take note of the findings of the Special Iraqi Court and act whenever and wherever any middle-eastern government threatens their Kurdish populations with a repetition of these crimes. The Holocaust and the Armenian genocide have been condemned by some European parliaments and the crime of "Anfal" must be similarly condemned.

1 For more details see Nouri Talabany, The Crime of Genocide (in Arabic), Al Kaza, organ of the Union of Barristers in Iraq (Nikabet Al – Muhameen), Vol.3, 1970.

2) Al Mahkama al Ginaya al -Ulia), established by Law No (10), in 2005.

3 "The Forgotten Holocaust", the Independent, 28th August, 2007. Robert Fisk's special report on the Armenian genocide, with previously unpublished images.

4 Konrad Adenauer, German Christian Democrat Politician, Chancellor of West Germany 1949-1963.

5 The Conference was on (Practical Federalism in Iraq), held in Arbil on 10 – 15 July 2007. It was organised by both (International Alliance for Justice) and (No Peace without Justice) and attended by many experts in constitutional law from several federal states, e.g., Canada, the USA, India, Belgium, and Australia, plus representatives of many civil organisations in Iraq and Kurdistan.

6 In the Introduction to the 2nd edition of my book, "Attempts to Change the Ethnic-National Composition of the Kirkuk Region", London, 1999, in Arabic, I expressed these sentiments, hoping that the Iraqi government which would come to power at the end of the Ba'athist regime would end the policy of the Arabization of the Kirkuk region as a step to reconciliation, though this does not mean that the victims of that policy will forget.

Nouri Talabany, Professor of Law and Member of the Kurdish Academy, Independent MP in the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards voices support to Armenian Genocide Resolution


Former North Carolina Senator and Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards added his voice to the list of Presidential candidates calling for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In his January 24th letter to the ANCA, Sen. Edwards stated that, "I support the Congressional resolution declaring the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 a genocide."

Edwards went on to note that, "we must also continue to strengthen our relationship with Turkey, an important democratic ally against the forces of tyranny in the region." Remarking on U.S.-Armenia relations, Edwards stated that, "As President, I will prioritize our special relationship with Armenia and the goal of a lasting peace to Nagorno Karabakh and the entire region."

As a Senator, John Edwards cosponsored successive Armenian Genocide Resolutions beginning in 2002. He also supported Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan due to its ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. His advocacy on behalf of the family of 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who died after her insurance company denied funding for a liver transplant, has been warmly received by Armenian Americans around the country.

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Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton Supports Adoption of Armenian Genocide Resolution; Pledges to Recognize Genocide as President

January 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton Supports Adoption of Armenian Genocide Resolution; Pledges to Recognize Genocide as President

“Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice or human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.” -- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, in a forceful statement shared today with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), called for Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution and pledged that, as President, she will recognize the Armenian Genocide.

"Armenian Americans from across the United States welcome Hillary Clinton's strong support for the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and her pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President of the United States," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Hillary Clinton's statement, which reflects her consistent track record of support in public office, speaks powerfully to our community's deeply held concerns regarding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the expansion of the U.S.-Armenia relationship, and a fair and democratic resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict."

As a Senator, Hillary Clinton has, since 2002, has cosponsored successive Armenian Genocide resolutions. She joined Senate colleagues in cosigning letters to President Bush in 2005 and 2006 urging him to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

In recent weeks, the ANCA has invited each of the candidates to share their views on Armenian Americans issues, and to comment on both the growing relationship between the U.S. and Armenian governments and the enduring bonds between the American and Armenian peoples. Questionnaires sent to the candidates have invited them to respond to a set of 19 questions, including those addressing: affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, U.S.-Armenia economic, political, and military relations, self-determination for Nagorno Karabagh, the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and the genocide in Darfur. Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) issued a statement earlier this week.

Armenian Americans, in key primary states and throughout the country, represent a motivated and highly networked constituency of more than one and a half million citizens. The ANCA mobilizes Armenian American voters through a network of over 50 chapters and a diverse array of affiliates, civic advocates, and supporters nationwide. ANCA mailings reach over a quarter of a million homes, and, with the addition of email outreach, action alerts reach well over 500,000 households. The ANCA website, which features election coverage from an Armenian American point of view, attracts over 100,000 unique visits a month. The ANCA also has broad reach to Armenian American voters via a sophisticated media operation of newspapers, regional cable shows, satellite TV, blogs, and internet news sites.

To learn more about the Hillary Clinton campaign, contact:
Hillary Clinton for President
4420 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel: 703-469-2008

As always, the ANCA welcomes feedback on its service to the Armenian American community. Please forward your thoughts and suggestions about the 2008 Presidential election by email to


Statement of Senator Hillary Clinton on the U.S.-Armenia Relationship

Alone among the Presidential candidates, I have been a longstanding supporter of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. I have been a co-sponsor of the Resolution since 2002, and I support adoption of this legislation by both Houses of Congress.

I believe the horrible events perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians constitute a clear case of genocide. I have twice written to President Bush calling on him to refer to the Armenian Genocide in his annual commemorative statement and, as President, I will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Our common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.

If the mass atrocities of the 20th Century have taught us anything it is that we must honestly look the facts of history in the face in order to learn their lessons, and ensure they will not happen again. It is not just about the past, but about our future. We must close the gap between words and deeds to prevent mass atrocities. That is why I am a supporter of the Responsibility to Protect. As President, I will work to build and enhance U.S. and international capacity to act early and effectively to prevent mass atrocities. The Bush administration’s words of condemnation have not been backed with leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur. I support a no-fly-zone over Darfur. I have championed strong international action to ensure that the government of Sudan can no longer act with impunity, or interfere with the international peacekeeping force, which is essential for the protection of the people of Darfur.

I value my friendship with our nation’s vibrant Armenian-American community. This is in keeping with my dedication to the causes of the Armenian-American community over many years. I was privileged as First Lady to speak at the first-ever White House gathering in 1994 for leaders from Armenia and the Armenian-American community to celebrate the historic occasion of Armenia’s reborn independence. I said at the time that America will stand with you as you realize what the great Armenian poet, Puzant Granian, called the Armenian’s dream “to be left in peace in his mountains, to build, to dream, to create.”

I will, as President, work to expand and improve U.S.-Armenia relations in addressing the common issues facing our two nations: increasing trade, fostering closer economic ties, fighting terrorism, strengthening democratic institutions, pursuing our military partnership and deepening cooperation with NATO, and cooperating on regional concerns, among them a fair and democratic resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. As President, I will expand U.S. assistance programs to Armenia and to the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.

I look forward, as President, to continuing to work with the Armenian-American community on the many domestic and international challenges we face together, and to build on the strong foundations of shared values that have long brought together the American and Armenian peoples.

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Turkey should improve freedom of speech


"If Turkey ever wants to be part of Europe, it has to improve its record concerning freedom of religion and expression,” said leader of the Dutch Christian Democratic faction, Pieter van Geel. The Dutch Christian Democrats support Turkish membership of the European Union in principle.

In 2006 the Dutch parliament adopted a law recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Presently, the majority of parliamentarians call on the Turkish government to repeal article 301 which restricts freedom of speech.

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Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Erdogan advises Obama to outgrow amateur talk

Turkish Press, MI
If I were Erdogan I wouldn't say “A day may come when you will have to choose between 70 million Turkey and two million Armenia. One has to think carefully before uttering such words. I suggest that he outgrow the amateur period of his political career,”. Let me ask you Erdogan how much does the 70 million Turkey contribute to the USA economy compared to the one million Armenian Americans? I let you have the pleasure to answer this question.
ANKARA - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dubbed Barack Obama, one of the Democratic frontrunners in the U.S. presidential elections who promised to recognize the killing of Armenians in 1915 as “genocide,” an amateur of politics without explicitly mentioning his name.

“Presidential elections campaigns continue in the United States. Some politicians` discourse demonstrates that they do not have an adequate knowledge of their country`s policies,” said Erdogan in his Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting yesterday. He noted that Turkey nurtured good relations and a strategic partnership with the United States. “Everybody knows that adoption of such a resolution would cause irreparable damage to Turkish-American relations,” Erdogan said. Ankara-Washington relations cannot be subdued by lobbies, slander and petty internal political calculations, Erdogan said. “A day may come when you will have to choose between 70 million Turkey and two million Armenia. One has to think carefully before uttering such words. I suggest that he outgrow the amateur period of his political career,” he said.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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U.S. Congressmen honored the memory of Hrant Dink


The Armenian Assembly of America commends Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Caucus Member Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) for calling on Turkey to honor the memory of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink by repealing Article 301 of the Turkish penal code.

In separate remarks on the House floor yesterday, both lawmakers commemorated the first anniversary of Dink’s assassination on an Istanbul street in broad daylight on January 19, 2007. Before his murder, Dink was awaiting trial for allegedly violating Article 301 which outlaws "insulting Turkishness," for his writings on the Armenian Genocide.

Pallone noted that Turkey continues to persecute and incarcerate people for exercising their universal right of freedom of speech.

"Turkey uses intimidation to deny its citizens their right to freedom of expression," Pallone stated. "It lobbies for its so-called rightful role in the international community and a place in the European Union. Yet it does not live up to democratic principles and standards."

"We appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Pallone and Royce in bringing this important issue to the forefront of Congress," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "It is vital that America demonstrates its commitment to human rights, and fundamental freedoms to the rest of the world."

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Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Another prosecution against Agos journalists

24 January 2008
Reporters without borders (press release), France

Reporters Without Borders condemns the charges that have been brought against the owner of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, Serkis Seropyan, and its new editor, Aris Nalci, because of a 9 November editorial criticising the one-year suspended prison sentences passed the previous month on Seropyan, former editor Arat Dink, and two other journalists, Aydin Engin and Karin Karakashli.

According to a press report on 16 January, Seropyan and Nalci were summoned by an Istanbul prosecutor and ordered to pay a fine of 23,500 euros because of the editorial. When they refused, the prosecutor said they would be tried for “attempted obstruction of justice” under article 288 of the criminal code, which carries a maximum penalty of four a half years in prison. Reporters Without Borders regards this prosecution as yet another case of improper use of the press law.

The one-year suspended sentence was imposed on the four journalists for reprinting an interview that Dink’s father, then Agos editor Hrant Dink, gave to Reuters in 2006 in which he said the massacres of Armenians from 1915 to 1917 constituted genocide. Hrant Dink was murdered in January 2007.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Sour taste of Sudanese visit

Thursday, January 24, 2008
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
If Turkey were repentant on the Armenian genocide it would have recognized the Darfur genocide instead of courting the Sudan's perpetrator of the genocide.
Sudanese President Omar Hasan al-Bashir's visit to Turkey has shocked international relations experts who openly condemn Ankara's top level contacts with a leader held responsible for humanitarian atrocities in his own country.

“One would think Turkey's leaders would be a little more careful before laying down the red carpet for the likes of President Omar al Bashir of Sudan,” said former United States ambassador to Ankara, Morton Abromowitz. The international community considers Bashir as an illegitimate dictator presiding over a pariah state guilty of crimes against humanity, he said.

“He is a seemingly strange bedfellow for Turkey's AKP [Justice and Development Party] trying to prove to many domestic and Western observers of its balanced, well-calibrated foreign policy, and its attachment to international norms,” Abromowitz said.

Last year, defying Turkish state policy of avoiding contacts with Bashir, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Sudanese capital Khartoum and said that “Muslims would commit such murders.”

Bashir is considered to have given a free hand to the Janjaweed, the Arab militia that commits mass killings and systematic violence against Darfur's population to quell the rebellion launched in 2003 by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), representing non-Muslim tribal Africans, and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a movement of African Muslims to claim equal rights.

A peace deal was signed in 2006 between the government and rebel factions in the Darfur region, only to incite divisions between dissident groups and exacerbate violence. In June 2006, three rebel groups including the JEM and part of the SLM/A joined forces to form the National Redemption Front (NRF), which opposes the May 2006 peace agreement. At least 200,000 people have lost their life and 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes as aresult of violence in the region.

Government policy alienates experts

The AKP's attempts to form contacts with the al -Bashir government had been blocked by intense resistance from Foreign Ministry officials who asked President Abdullah Gül, at the time foreign minister, to ignore the Sudanese leader's requests to visit Turkey.

But they failed to stop Erdoğan from visiting Darfur in March 2006 to participate in a meeting of the Arab League, where he said that no assimilation or genocide was committed in Darfur.

International relations expert Soli Özel dubbed the visit as “foreign policy fantasies of the government” and lamented the decision to welcome Bashir in Ankara.

“The government claims to be able to speak about everything with everyone. This is nonsense and is a shame to Turkey,” said Özel.

Abromowitz pointed to Turkey's endeavor to persuade the international community that there was no Armenian ''genocide'' in 1915 and noted that Bashir's visit will reduce the persuasiveness of Turkey's thesis.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Is A Long Overdue Controversy Finally Settled: Aram Andonian's Infamous Naim Bey's Real Identity Is Now Considered Revealed

Friday, January 18, 2008

Armenian Genocide historian Dr. Hilmar Kaiser has set himself as an authority of the Armenian Genocide during the past decade. The bulk of his research is conducted in primary archival material. As of 2005, Kaiser is meticulously conducting research at the Directorate of Ottoman Archives in Istanbul (This interviewer also has been conducting research there since 2005), Turkey, which is now open to historians worldwide, after a 10 year hiatus. When he emailed me regarding his findings about the identity of the infamous Naim Bey, I was more than compelled to conduct this interview with him. Naim Bey was the source of the telegrams that presented proof of the intentional genocidal policies of the Young Turk government and especially that of Talaat Pasha, then Minister of Interior of the Ottoman Empire. Andonian, a journalist and himself a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, published his famous "Naim Bey's Memoirs"1 in 1920. Since the 1980's The Turkish side has devoted much time and effort to undermine the authenticity of Naim Bey's telegrams. Moreover, Turkish scholars have gone as far as to proclaim that Naim Bey himself is nothing more than a fictitious character and perhaps a figment of Andonian's imagination.

Garabet Moumdjian:Let' s start with the quintessential question: Who
was Naim Bey?
Hilmar Kaiser: According to Aram Andonian, Naim Bey was an Ottoman official who had been involved in the Armenian deportations from Aleppo to Der Zor. After the war, he supplied confidential information and a series of documents and renditions of documents to Aram Andonian. The information and the materials were later published by Andonian together with a part of his own memoirs in 1920.

G.M.: And who was Aram Andonian?
H.K.: Aram Andonian was a well-known journalist in Constantinople. On April 24, 1915, he was arrested together with other Armenian intellectuals, politicians, clergy, businessmen, and Armenians who had been taken due to a confusion of names. Luckily for Andonian, he belonged to the group that was detained at Tchankiri. This group had better chances of survival than those at Ayash, who were almost all killed. Andonian escaped from deportation and spent time in hiding in Aleppo. He was one of the first Armenians to secure evidence on the genocide. His papers are kept at the Nubarian library in Paris and are of supreme importance for research on the Armenian Genocide.

G.M.: Why is the identity of Naim Bey so important?
H.K.: Evidently it is critical to identify all officials that were involved in the Armenian Genocide, particularly those who were responsible for the execution of the deportations. This holds truer for Naim Bey as he was Aram Andonian's informant and the data provided by him stands today at the core of an important debate.

G.M.: What is this debate about?
H.K.: For decades, Naim's information and the documents he supplied were seen as the principle proof for the Armenian Genocide. In 1983, Turkish authors published a book doubting the veracity of the documents and Naim Bey's existence.2

G.M.: What were their arguments?
H.K.: The two authors brought forward a number of technical aspects. For instance, they claimed that Talaat's signature on the documents were fake. And, indeed, the signatures were not Talaat's. But this fact was misunderstood by many. After all, the materials carrying Talaat's "signature" were supposedly telegrams received by officials in Aleppo. They were not faxes or letters, so it was impossible to have Talaat's original signature on the papers. The authors also compared the style of central authority documents with the work of provincial scribes.

G.M.: Was all criticism answered?
H.K.: Not really. The two authors rightly pointed out that we do not have access to any of the originals. They were either lost or misplaced. This fact severely limits the value of the material for historians. I, for my own part, use Aram Andonian's own memoirs in my work but do not engage the documents. The Turkish authors also claimed that Naim Bey never existed as they had not found a personnel file for him.

G.M.: Did you find Naim Bey's file?
H.K.: No. The two Turkish authors seem to have thought that Naim must have been an official of the central authorities. But recent research in the Ottoman archives showed that many, if not most, of the Ottoman officials working around Aleppo and along the Euphrates had been locally hired, even as part-timers, and they were temporary employed for the deportation work. I did not find a personnel file. We have hardly any evidence from the Ottoman provincial authorities at all. In other words, we depend on incidents were local evidence made its way into the files of the central authorities. In the case of Naim we were lucky that such a case exists.

G.M.: Then, who was Naim Bey?
H.K.: Naim Bey was a relatively young man in 1916. He was 25 or 26 years old, born in Silifke. In 1916, he worked in Meskene as a deportation official responsible for the dispatch of Armenians to Der Zor. At the time a scandal erupted. Some Armenians had succeeded in bribing officials and managed to escape with the latter's help to Aleppo or avoid further deportation towards Der Zor. The authorities in Aleppo got wind of the affair and ordered an inquiry. Naim Bey managed to keep out of trouble but we know from Aram Andonian that he had taken bribes as well.

G.M.: What is the importance of this discovery?
H.K.: The new Ottoman documentation confirms the information Andonian gave to a surprising high degree. This adds considerably to Andonian's credibility even though we still have no originals of the materials supplied by Naim Bey. Moreover, the new evidence confirms that the deportation officials were locally hired. Equally important is to show that the Turkish writers' information is flawed and their research is not the last word on the topic. With the identification of Naim Bey an important stone missing from the mosaic has been uncovered and must be put back in place.

G.M.: Do you expect to find the original documents any time soon?
H.K.: The identification of Naim happened some 25 years after the publication of the Turkish book. This alone shows you how slow progress is. However, it happened 17 years after the start in the Ottoman archives and only three years after the archives became available again, following a 10 year interruption. You, Mr. Moumdjian, have been at the archives and have conducted research there. You know how time consuming the process is. We are able to get only 25documents per day after ordering them a day in advance. It's a tedious process that has to be done anyways.

G.M.: Are you hopeful to find the documents in the future?
H.K.: Today, the Andonian material is not as important for historians as it had been decades ago. The documentation obtained from the Ottoman and other archives has replaced Andonian's publication in current debates. Certainly, Andonian's material could be a 'smoking gun' if proven to be true. But that is not the focus of or a few documents. The crime was highly complex and we need to process large volumes of evidence from a variety of sources. This takes time and is a slow process given the lack of available funding. The identification of Naim Bey is an important step in the right direction but it won't be the last important new finding. It strongly underlines the importance of Ottoman documentation and work in Turkish archives.

G.M.: Lastly, since you identified Naim Bey, can we at least know his real name? Did Aram Andonian use a pseudonym in order to keep his real identity a secret?
H.K.: Garabet, I know why you ask that question? I will elucidate Naim Bey's identity issue through a special lecture with document presentation on my next visit to the Los Angeles area. But for now let me answer by this: It gets even better than you think. Andonian's Naim Bey's name is NAIM BEY.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Turkish nationalists plotted to kill Nobel winner

23 January 2008
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates

ISTANBUL - Police believe Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk and Kurdish politicians were on the hit list of an ultranationalist group whose alleged members were detained this week, newspapers reported Wednesday.

Thirty-three people, including retired soldiers, journalists, nationalist lawyers and underworld figures, are being interrogated in Istanbul, prosecutors said in a statement.

They were detained Tuesday as part of a probe into the discovery of hand grenades and bomb detonators in a house in Istanbul in June, the statement said, without giving other details.

Police believe the suspects were planning to assassinate Pamuk, who won the 2006 Nobel literature prize, prominent journalist Fehmi Koru and Kurdish politicians Leyla Zana, Osman Baydemir and Ahmet Turk, the daily Milliyet reported.

Police are also investigating whether the suspects were involved in several politically motivated attacks that shocked Turkey over the past two years, the daily Sabah said.

They include the murders of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Italian Catholic priest Andrea Santoro and a senior judge killed by a gunman who stormed into the country’s top administrative court, the daily said.

Officials said the suspects include Kemal Kerincsiz, a lawyer notorious for initiating legal action against Pamuk, Dink and other intellectuals for disputing the official line on the World War I Ottoman era massacres of Armenians.

Turkey fiercely rejects Armenian claims, backed by several Western countries, that the killings were genocide.

Another prominent detainee is retired general Veli Kucuk, who has been accused of organising extra-judicial killings of Kurds in the 1990s.

The suspects also include a retired colonel, a newspaper columnist, the spokeswoman of the Turkish Orthodox Church and two prominent underworld figures.

Sabah termed the detentions a blow against the ‘deep state’-a term used here to describe members of the security forces acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey’s best interests, often employing the services of the underworld.

Dink’s family claims that the journalist’s self-confessed teenage assassin was incited by people who remain at large and enjoy the protection of some members of the security forces.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

British press responsible for false claims about PKK bases in Karabakh


Allegations that Nagorno Karabakh had hosted outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) camps are sheer nonsense, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakossian said in an interview with the Cumhuriyet daily. “These false claims appeared in the British press four years ago. Places referred to as camps are in fact Kurdish and Yezidi villages in the region,” he said.

In December 2007 Azerbaijan announced that Kurdish rebels are trained in camps deployed in Nagorno Karabakh.

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Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Armenia Keeps Up Double-Digit Growth

Monday 21, January 2008, Armenia

By Emil Danielyan

Armenia’s economy grew at a double-digit rate in 2007 for the sixth consecutive year on the back of its booming construction and services sectors, according to government data made public on Monday.

Macroeconomic figures released by the National Statistical Service (NSS) show Gross Domestic Product increasing by 13.8 percent to 3.14 trillion drams ($10.2 billion). The resulting inflationary pressures on the economy pushed up consumer prices by an average of 6.6 percent, well above a 4 percent target set by the government and the Central Bank.

As was the case in the previous few years, robust growth was primarily driven by burgeoning construction and services. The two sectors expanded by approximately 20 percent and together accounted for over 38 percent of GDP.

Industry, which generated another 23 percent of GDP, remained the most sluggish sector of the Armenian economy. Its aggregate output was up by only 2.6 percent not least because of a further sharp decline in the country’s diamond-cutting industry, the official statistics show.

The NSS also reported more than 20 percent gains in household incomes and the average wage which now stands at about 77,000 drams ($250) per month. This will be held up by the government as a further indication of rising living standards and declining poverty. The government says the proportion of Armenian living below the poverty line has fallen from about 50 percent to below 27 percent since the start of double-digit growth in 2002.

Opposition politicians and other government critics question the credibility of these figures, saying that the official poverty line is set too low and does not take into account the increased cost of life in Armenia. They also say economic growth is slower than is claimed by the authorities.

The past year also saw Armenia’s trade deficit reach a new high of just over $2 billion as a result of an almost 50 percent jump in imports. Armenian exports rose at a far more modest rate of 23.7 percent to $1.22 billion. Large-scale remittances from Armenians working abroad remain the main source of financing the huge imbalance.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


500,000 Californians to register to vote

Jan 21, 2008
Los Angeles Daily News, CA
By Patricia Farrell Aidem, Staff Writer
I am encouraged by the determination of the Armenian Americans to bring their issues forward still more forcefully in this campaign. Justice is a strong motivator and patience will be rewarded.

Last week, the Armenian National Committee's West San Fernando Valley chapter announced a "massive voter registration campaign" aimed at doubling the number of registered Armenian-American voters from Granada Hills to Thousand Oaks. A drive was held Sunday in the West Valley.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Turkish Minister Urges Probe Into Police Role In Dink’s Murder

Monday 21, January 2008, Armenia
Source: AFP

Turkey's justice minister has called for a "serious" probe into claims that security forces were involved in the murder last year of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

"Certain members of the security forces are said to be linked to this murder," Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said in an interview published Monday in the daily Sabah. "Every allegation must be considered a tip-off and seriously investigated," he said.

Thousands marked the first anniversary of Dink's assassination on Saturday with protestors accusing the authorities of ignoring the alleged protection the suspected gunman and his associates received from the police.

"If what they (the police) did was a crime, they must be definitely punished," the minister said.

Dink's murder prompted fresh calls for the elimination of the "deep state" -- a term used to describe security forces acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey's best interests. Lawyers for Dink's family say the police withheld and destroyed evidence to cover up the murder, including footage from a bank security camera in downtown Istanbul near where Dink was gunned down on January 19, 2007.

The charge sheet says police received intelligence as early as 2006 of a plot to kill Dink organized in the northern city of Trabzon, home of self-confessed gunman Ogun Samast, 17, and most of his 18 alleged accomplices currently on trial. A taped telephone conversation between a policeman and a suspect shortly after the killing suggests the officer knew of the plot in advance. The tape, leaked to the media last year, includes degrading comments about Dink.

Dink, 52, campaigned for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, but nationalists hated him for insisting the World War I massacres of Armenians under Ottoman rule was an act of genocide -- a label Ankara fiercely rejects. Only four members of the security forces have been indicted in connection with the murder, but face minor charges unrelated to the killing itself.

Sahin also said a draft proposal to amend the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish penal code under which Dink was given a suspended six-month jail sentence for "denigrating Turkishness" would be submitted to parliament in the coming days. The law has been criticized as a threat to freedom of speech in Turkey, which is engaged in membership talks with the European Union.

Police said that around 8,000 people had gathered Saturday outside the central Istanbul offices of the bilingual Turkish Armenian weekly set up by Dink in 1996. With black and red banners carrying messages such as "We are all Armenians", those present included members of his family, personal friends, journalists, human rights campaigners and also ordinary members of the public.

"I am here because we have lost one of Turkey's most beautiful souls," said 47-year-old shopkeeper Mehmet Calik. "He was killed because he was Armenian but also because he spoke the language of truth. We are here to carry on his struggle."

Turkish newspapers on Saturday were unanimous in calling for the authorities to "shed all possible light" on the assassination. "A year after his death, scandals and dozens of questions remain unanswered," the daily Milliyet said on its front page, noting that "justice hasn't moved forward an inch" in shedding light on the affair.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



18 January, 2008

After a clear-cut victory over the Republic of South Africa, the Armenian under-20 hockey team beat Turkey 13:1 within the framework of the World Hockey Championship.

During the first match Armenia already enjoyed a privilege over its contender. The team had scored four goals.

Abraham Palezian, Petros Jamkochian and Smbat Deterdarian stood out among the Armenian hockey players scoring three goals each.

It is due to mention that our team won over Turkey during a 2007 tournament as well.

Presently, Armenia and Australia top the fixture list.

Armenia will compete with New Zealand on January 20.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



"America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides. I intend to be that President."
-- Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential Candidate

WASHINGTON, DC – Presidential candidate Barack Obama shared with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) a strongly worded statement today calling for Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 & S.Res.106), and pledging that, as president, he will recognize the Armenian Genocide.

In his statement, the Presidential hopeful reaffirmed his support for a strong “U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy.” He also pledged to “promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.”

“Armenian American voters welcome Senator Obama’s powerful call for real change in how our government addresses the core moral and foreign policy issues that hold such great meaning for our community,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “After decades of White House complicity in Turkey’s efforts to block American recognition of the Armenian Genocide, most recently in the form of President Bush’s personal efforts this past October to delay the Armenian Genocide Resolution, the time has clearly come for a President who will personally lead – not obstruct – the commemoration of this crime against all humanity.”

As a Senator, Barack Obama has spoken in support of U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and cosigned a letter urging President Bush to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. He has forcefully called for the adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, but has yet to formally cosponsor this legislation. While visiting Azerbaijan in August 2005, Senator Obama was asked by reporters why he cosigned the letter to President Bush. Obama defended his decision by stating the genocide was a historical fact. The Illinois Senator publicly criticized the firing of former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, who was dismissed for speaking truthfully about the Armenian Genocide.

In recent weeks, the ANCA has invited each of the candidates to share their views on Armenian Americans issues, and to comment on both the growing relationship between the U.S. and Armenian governments and the enduring bonds between the American and Armenian peoples. Questionnaires sent to the candidates have invited them to respond to a set of 19 questions, including those addressing: affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, U.S.-Armenia economic, political, and military relations, self-determination for Nagorno Karabagh, the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and the genocide in Darfur.

Armenian Americans, in key primary states and throughout the country, represent a motivated and highly networked constituency of more than one and a half million citizens. The ANCA mobilizes Armenian American voters through a network of over 50 chapters and a diverse array of affiliates, civic advocates, and supporters nationwide. ANCA mailings reach over a quarter of a million homes, and, through the internet, updates and action alerts reach well over 100,000 households. The ANCA website, which features election coverage from an Armenian American point of view, attracts over 100,000 unique visits a month. The ANCA also has broad reach to Armenian American voters via a sophisticated media operation of newspapers, regional cable shows, satellite TV, blogs, and internet news sites.

To learn more about the Obama campaign, contact:

Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL 60680
Tel: (866) 675-2008

Sen. Obama’s statement on U.S.-Armenia relations is available on the official campaign website at:


Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians

Armenian National Committee of Canada
January 18, 2008
Comité National Arménien du Canada
Contact: Kevork Manguelian

Turkish Ultranationalists Try to Silence Prominent Canadians

Toronto—The Turkish Government’s propaganda machine tried to intimidate and silence many prominent Canadians who had come forth to make deputations during the monthly meeting of the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) program and services committee.

During the Jan. 16 meeting the TDSB committee provided an opportunity to two Turkish representatives (Ozay Mehmet of the Council of Turkish Canadians, and Lale Eskicioglu) and four Canadians (Prof. Frank Chalk, director of the Montréal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies; David Warner, former Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly; Leo Adler, prominent criminal lawyer and human rights advocate; and Hon. Jim Karygiannis, MP) to present their points of view on the board’s Grad 11 'Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications' curriculum.

The Turkish representatives protested the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum. The prominent Canadians’ group praised the TDSB for its moral fortitude, vision, and commitment to develop such a timely curriculum and asked for the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the curriculum.

Mr. Warner read a letter signed by prominent Canadians from all walks of life, urging the TDSB to “stand firm by its decision and not to be swayed by politically-motivated pressure groups.” Among the signatories were Stephen Lewis, Gerald Caplan, Jack Layton, Bob Rae, Joy Kogawa, Amir Hassanpour, Jacques Kornberg.

During the presentations of Chalk, Warner, Adler and Karygiannis, ultranationalist Turks hackled the speakers and tried to stop them from speaking. Several times committee chair, trustee Chris Bolton, was forced to call for order and ask the Turkish representatives not to disrupt the meeting.

After the meeting, members of the Turkish group approached some of the pro-Genocide inclusion speakers and taunted them with abuse and profanities. The scene was reminiscent of the trials of many righteous Turkish individuals who in recent years have challenged the Turkish Government on its denial of the Armenian Genocide and have been silenced under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code.

At the meeting, Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, tabled a petition in support of the curriculum. The petition carried 2,643 signatures. Among the signatories were many teachers from the TDSB system.

For the past two years the TDSB has been developing 'Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications' curriculum for Grade 11 students. The course comprises of three genocide case studies: the Armenian Genocide; the Holocaust; the Rwandan Genocide, in addition to other cases of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The course has been approved by the Ontario Minister of Education. An overwhelming majority of principals, teachers and program directors have commended the TDSB for this timely project. They have also indicated that they are eager to teach the program.

In the last two months the Turkish denial machine has launched a vicious campaign of falsehood, misrepresentation, unsubstantiated accusations, innuendo and revisionist historical discourse to persuade the TDSB to remove the Armenian Genocide from the curriculum.


The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.

Regional Chapters/Sections régionales

Montréal – Laval – Ottawa – Toronto – Hamilton – Cambridge – St. Catharines – Windsor – Vancouver


In Memory of Hrant Dink at the First Anniversary of his murder

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia

I can confess that I have lived two deep and unforgettable shocks during my years in this office -- once in 1999 when the stability of Armenia was threatened by gunmen and the second time last year when I received the call that Hrant Dink had been assassinated. Both were attacks not on men, but on ideas and values.

Hrant’s murder was an assault at democratic state-building – of the Turkish state. His murderers took aim at his vision of a Turkey that allowed free speech, that tolerated open discourse, and that embraced its minority citizens, like himself.

We miss Hrant. He would come to Armenia a couple of times a year. In September 2006, when he spoke at the third Armenia Diaspora Conference, his message was that as members of the European family, Turkey and Armenia would have normal relations, because even the unwilling in Turkey would be induced to find a way to dialogue. That was music to our ears, echoing as it did our own wishes.

He also addressed the “International Conference on the 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide” we held in Yerevan in April, 2005. Everyone respected his ardent, reasoned plea for dialogue, for distinguishing between today’s Turkish Republic and the perpetrators of atrocities nearly 100 years ago. He recounted passionately how he had explained to Turkish authorities that Armenians are looking for their roots – the same roots which the Ottoman Empire slashed when it attempted to completely eradicate a people and tear it away from its home, its culture and its traditions.

Each time he came to Yerevan, we would find a few minutes to talk. It was important that I hear from him about the mood in Turkey. Hrant was the right person to ask, because he was not just an Armenian living in Turkey. He was proud of both his identities – Turkish and Armenian – and was insulted and angered that while trying to reconcile them he was accused of ‘insulting Turkishness’.

When he was first charged under Article 301 for ‘insulting Turkishness’, I asked whether it would help if I wrote a letter or spoke publicly. He responded confidently. “My thanks and gratitude, but right now, I’m all I need. So help me God, I’m going to take my struggle and my rights all the way to the end.”

Later, he wondered how “On the one hand, they call for dialogue with Armenia and Armenians, on the other hand they want to condemn or neutralize their own citizen who is working for dialogue.”

Hrant Dink was candid and courageous, but not naïve. Still, he could not have predicted this kind of ‘neutralization’. His honest and brave voice was silenced. Worse, some saw in this assassination a clear message that the danger they face lies deeper than a mere judicial conviction.

This message is just one of the dividends that this killing offered those who contributed to the fanatical nationalist environment which colors Turkish politics in and out of Turkey. The brutality, the impunity, the violence of Hrant’s murder serves several political ends. First, it makes Turkey less interesting for Europe, which is exactly what some in the Turkish establishment want. Second, it scares away Armenians and other minorities in Turkey, from pursuing their civil and human rights. Third, it scares those bold Turks who are beginning to explore these complicated, sensitive subjects in earnest.

In Armenia, we have insisted for more than a decade, that although we are the victims of historical injustice, and although we are on the other side of a border that Turkey has kept closed, we are prepared at any time for dialogue with our neighbor on any subject, so long as there are normal relations between us, so long as this last closed border in Europe is opened, so long as someone on the other side wants to talk. We are ready.

A year ago, we were moved by the outpouring of fundamental, human grief at all levels of Turkish society, especially by those who have been scared by the demonstration of such violence on the part of an adolescent, and seen it for what it is -- the continuation of hatred and enmity into the next generation.

Hrant Dink’s family, his colleagues at and around Agos, his friends in Armenia and in Turkey, will find some comfort knowing that today and tomorrow, Hrant will be remembered – by Armenians, who share his vision of understanding and harmony among peoples, and by Turks, who share his dream of living in peace with neighbors and with history.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Valley issues get parties' attention GOP candidates clash more on immigration, emissions, genocide.

Jan 18, 2008
Fresno Bee, CA
By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The surviving presidential contenders from both parties are competing more furiously than ever, but beneath their surface discord they often find common ground on issues important to the San Joaquin Valley.

Even as their competition escalates, Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards agree the United States should formally recognize the Armenian genocide.

The Democrats also uniformly back California's bid to impose stiffer greenhouse gas regulations. And they each support an agricultural guest-worker proposal called AgJOBS that could offer legal status to 1.5 million illegal immigrant farmworkers.

Republican candidates clash more on those issues, mirroring in some ways their sharp policy divisions at the national level.

On issues such as immigration, for example, the law-and-order advocates who emphasize stricter border controls can clash loudly with the self-styled compassionate conservatives who stress a blend of security and social integration.

For candidates from both parties, the Valley can offer a treasure trove of primary voters on Feb. 5.

The candidates are enticing those votes through a combination of policy positions and personal appeals. Six of the major candidates have visited Fresno and the southern San Joaquin Valley since last year, and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is expected to visit Fresno on Sunday.

"We'll be seeing more of them," predicted Mike Lynch, a Modesto-based Democratic political consultant. "They've got to come through here."

The Democrats favor the same phrases on some Valley issues, with Edwards and Clinton both saying an agricultural guest-worker program will let farmworkers "come out of the shadows."

While legislatively dormant at present, the agricultural guest-worker proposal remains politically volatile. It's an issue that can tip voters one way or another in regions like the San Joaquin Valley, home to many illegal immigrants and the farmers who employ them.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who visited the Valley early last year, is the only Republican candidate to formally endorse the agricultural guest-worker program, although former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani sounds sympathetic. McCain's position draws fire from his fellow conservatives, who denounce it as amnesty.

"McCain championed a bill to let every illegal immigrant stay in America permanently," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney charged in a recently aired TV commercial in New Hampshire.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee piled on, declaring that he "opposed the amnesty President Bush and Sen. McCain tried to ram through Congress" last year.

The word "amnesty" is politically toxic, and supporters of the comprehensive immigration and agricultural guest-worker proposals speak of "earned legalization," whereby illegal immigrants must pay fines and meet strict criteria.

Words likewise anchor the debate over an Armenian genocide resolution, which revolves around how to characterize the deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. Armenian-Americans and many historians consider the widespread slaughter a genocide.

The issue is dear to the hearts of many Armenian-Americans, more than 50,000 of whom are estimated to live in the San Joaquin Valley.

California's bid to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles draws support from Democrats. While some Republicans, including Romney, argue that a consistent national emission standard is best, Democrats are united behind California's efforts, which are now the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


More Than Ten Thousand Gathered in Memory of Hrant Dink

Bıa news centre

On the first anniversary of the murder of journalist Hrant Dink, more than ten thousand people gathered in front of the Agos newspaper office, the place where he was shot.

On 19th January 2007, Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, was shot dead in front of his office in Sisli, Istanbul. The country was shocked by pictures of his prostrate body on the pavement, covered by newspapers, with just the worn soles of his shoes visible. A voice of dialogue and democracy had been silenced.

Hrant Dink’s funeral turned into a reaction against racism and nationalism, as tens of thousands of people gathered in a silent procession which accompanied Hrant Dink’s body from his newspaper office to the church where he was laid to rest.

Last year a call to "question the darkness"

The most moving part of the procession was a speech by Hrant Dink’s widow, Rakel Dink. She spoke out against the increasing nationalism in the country. Referring to the young age of the suspected triggerman, she said: “Whatever may be the age of the murderers, 17 or 27, I know that they were born as babies. Without questioning the darkness that has created murderers, my brothers and sisters, there is no way forward.”

People carried placards reading “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian”, a sign of solidarity, and also a protest at the fact that Hrant Dink was murdered for his identity. There was later a nationalist backlash against the slogan, with people deliberately misunderstanding the sentiment behind the expression of empathy.

No justice yet

In the year since the murder, the Dink family has had to discover that it is difficult to “question the darkness.” Although the official murder suspects are on trial, it seems clear that those really responsible are will not be prosecuted. The Trabzon Gendarmerie and the Istanbul Police are accused of gross negligence, as they knew of murder plans long before the attack happened. Evidence has been withheld and permission to investigate security officers has been refused.

"If he had lived, he would be in prison now"

Thus today’s gathering was as much a commemoration of Hrant Dink as a protest against the continuing darkness. More than ten thousand people gathered in the street of the Agos newspaper office, the place where Hrant Dink was shot.

The site of his murder was covered with a picture of Hrant Dink, candles and flowers. People shouted slogans such as “Long live the brotherhood of peoples” and “The murderer state will be made accountable.” Foreign press was in strong attendance.

Like last year, widow Rakel Dink addressed the crowd. Referring to Hrant Dink’s sentence under the controversial Article 301, she said: “They say, ‘who has gone to prison [under Article 301]?’ I say, if they had let my violin [her term of endearment for her husband] live, he would be in prison now, because if they had let him live, he would be in his third month in prison now.”

"You are here for justice"

She said that Hrant Dink’s blood had not become quiet: “The sound of blood can only be silenced with justice. And this is what you are here for today, for justice.”

Saying that “the pain has made us relatives,” Rakel Dink reminded the crowd of the many sickening indicators of approval of the murder: the gendarmerie officers arresting suspected triggerman O.S., who put a flag in his hand and took souvenir photographs of themselves with the suspect, football fans who reacted to the slogan at the funeral procession by shouting in stadiums, ‘We are all Ogün’ [referring to one of the murder suspects], the intelligence officer Muhittin Zenit who spoke to Erhan Tuncel , police informant and murder suspect, shortly after the murder and evidently knew of the murder plan.

Rakel Dink asked: “What has my country’s justice system done about the gendarmerie who knew everything up to the brand of the gun that was used in the murder, about the [nationalist organisations] who planned the murder? What has my country’s justice system done about the assistant governor and his so-called friends who tried to put my husband in his place?”

Writer and peace activist Arundhati Roy attended the commemoration at Rakel Dink’s side, also standing at the window of the Agos newspaper office.

"Hrant needs our courage"

Journalist Oral Calislar also spoke to the crowd. He said, “Hrant’s murder was planned by a group…We have realised that they decided long before to kill him…The newspapers made him into a target…at the court hearings [for his trial under Article 301] they tried to lynch him.”
“We now know those who are putting guns into the hands of children…We know those who led and encouraged. It needs courage to make the murderers and organisations within the state accountable. Hrant needs our courage.”

The gathering was joined by Joost Lagendijk, co-chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Turkish academics, politicians and activists of the left, writers and journalists. (EÖ/TK/AG)

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.