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CONTACT: Torrey Swan
DATE: January 8, 2008
Tel: 416-250-9807

Prof. Dadrian Lectures on Legal Aspects of the Armenian Genocide in South

Toronto, Canada-There has been significant activity regarding Armenian
Genocide recognition in South America lately. This has involved governmental
agencies, human rights organizations, parliamentarians, journalists, lawyers
and university students.

As late as November 19, 2007, deputies from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and
Uruguay-all members of the South American Parliamentarians' coalition known
as MERCOSUR-adopted a resolution recognizing and condemning the Armenian
Genocide at a meeting held in Montevideo. MERCOSUR, established in 1986, is
the largest intergovernmental organisation in South America. The Senate of
Chile also recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide in June, 2007.

In this vein, a major international conference, "The Armenian Genocide:
History and Present Day," was held in Montevideo at the same time. Organized
by the Uruguay Armenia Cultural Association (ASCUA), the Political Science
Institute (UDELAR), and the Human Rights Program (CLAEH), the conference was
co-sponsored by the University of Montevideo, the Ministry of Education and
Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, the Press Association of Uruguay, the
Municipality of Montevideo, Amnesty International-Uruguay Section, and the
Embassy of the Republic of Armenia. Zoryan participated by sending its
Director of Genocide Research, Prof. Vahakan N. Dadrian to speak at this and
another conference in Buenos Aires.

Similarly, another conference was organized in Buenos Aires by the Luisa
Hairabedian Foundation, which is a group dedicated to the preservation of
universal human rights, with a special interest in the Armenian Genocide.
The three Masters of Ceremonies were all alumni of the university program
run by the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A
Division of the Zoryan Institute), held annually in Toronto in partnership
with the University of Minnesota. This event was attended by university and
middle school students, lawyers, historians, sociologists, anthropologists
and a large number of members of the Armenian community in Argentina.

Owing to the interest in the Armenian Genocide, and particularly its legal
aspects, Prof. Vahakn N. Dadrian, Director of Research at the Zoryan
Institute, shed light on these subjects. His work was particularly
interesting to The Luisa Hairabedian Foundation, which is currently engaged
in a unique legal procedure in Argentine law regarding a "truth trial" on
the Armenian Genocide. Instituted as a method to uncover the truth about the
human rights abuses of Argentina's recent past, especially the "Forced
Disappearances," truth trials do not require the prosecution of a defendant.
The Federal Court has accepted the case and sanctioned the initiation of
legal proceedings. The lawyers involved are assembling materials, including
a mass of authentic and verifiable official documents, for which they are
receiving assistance from Prof. Dadrian and the Zoryan Institute.

Prof. Dadrian's presentation in Montevideo was on the conflict between the
near-universal recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its persistent
denial by past and present Turkish officials. His analysis, summarised
below, suggests that Turkish denial will not cease because of foreign
pressure on the Turkish government, but rather only by pressure from the
Turkish population itself, who, as part of their democratic movement, will
require the state to recognise its own falsifications of history and remove
its limitations on the freedom of speech and conscience.

Prof. Dadrian outlined the specific components of the denial syndrome and
explained its underlying motives and reasons. He highlighted the enormous
problems modern Turkey would face should its leaders decide to recognize the
historical reality of the Armenian Genocide. At the very least, any
government daring to do so could hardly expect to survive. The risks for
Turkey of recognizing the Armenian Genocide transcend the economic issues of
reparations and land claims. Given the critical role some of the founders of
the modern Republic of Turkey played in the organization of the Genocide,
such revelations bear directly upon the very genesis of the republic and
hence the issue of the current regime's integrity. The launching and
sustaining of the blockade against Armenia and the total absence of
diplomatic ties are conditions that accentuate these pitfalls. Under these
tense circumstances, Armenia will remain at grave risk-with or without
Russian protection.

Notwithstanding, the historicity of the Genocide, argued Dr. Dadrian, is
beyond any legitimate dispute. This fact is attested by the series of
criminal trials the post-war Turkish Military Tribunal instituted in the
1919-21 period. The Key Indictment that charged the leaders of the Ottoman
government, as well as top young Turk Ittihadist leaders with the crime of a
centrally organized mass murder against the Armenians, incorporates dozens
of secret documents, and many cipher telegrams, ordering the destruction of
the deportee convoys. What is so extraordinary about this line of legal
documentation is the fact that the prosecution and the Chief Judges of the
Military Tribunal employed a two-track procedure to ensure the validity of
the documentation. First, the documents were carefully examined by competent
officials of the Ministries of Justice and the Interior, who marked their
authenticity with a stamp. Second, before taking the witness stand, the high
ranking party officials and Cabinet Ministers were asked to inspect the
documents bearing their signatures and verify their authenticity. This
two-tier procedure of authentication of key wartime documents served to
ensure ironclad utilization of prima-facie official evidence. This is
exactly the same procedure adopted at Nuremberg, where Nazi criminals were
tried and convicted some two dozen years later.

The rapid ascendancy of the Kemalist insurgent movement in the end served to
jettison, however, the completion of the courts martial and to even
effectively help invalidate many of the verdicts and sentences renditions.
Nevertheless, the massive legal documentation of the wartime crime of
genocide against the Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire is on record
and is indelibly ensconced in the serial Annexes of Takvim-i Vekyi, the
official gazette of the Ottoman Parliament- despite the resolute effort of
Turkish authorities to collect and remove them from circulation and access.

The next day, Dadrian delivered a public lecture on the topic of "The
Significance of the Ottoman-Turkish Official Documents Dealing with the
Armenian Genocide." The final plenary session featured the Deputy Foreign
Minister of Uruguay who delivered a paper discussing the global ramification
of genocide today, in which she made reference to the devastating
consequences attached to the impunity that characterizes the present status
of the World War I Armenian Genocide.

In Buenos Aires, Dadrian spoke on "The Armenian Genocide and International
Criminal Law." This lecture argued the linkage between the World War I
Armenian Genocide core issue of "crimes against humanity," which term the
Allies for the first time formally and officially introduced when denouncing
that act of genocide, and the Nuremberg doctrine. This central issue of
intent and governmental complicity was an integral component in the
conception and organization of the crime.

The Argentinean publisher, Imago Mundi, will come out in April with a
Spanish translation of Dadrian's classic book, The History of the Armenian
Genocide, which is already available in French, Greek, Italian, and Russian.
Prof. Dadrian and Prof. Taner Akçam, renowned Turkish Sociologist and
Historian, are publishing the results of their collaborative archival
research on the only official record of the military tribunals prosecuting
the Armenian Genocide, found in the Takvim-i Vekyi, in Turkish. The work
contains translation of the original trial documents and argues many of the
points Prof. Dadrian presented in his South American lectures.

The Zoryan Institute, co-publisher of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An
International Journal and Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, is
the first non-profit, international center devoted to the research and
documentation of contemporary issues with a focus on Armenian social,
political and cultural life, with the concern for the human rights of all.
For more information please contact the Institute by email
[email protected] or telephone (416) 250-9807.