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Press release

Armenia Solidarity
Nor Serount Cultural Association


Unprecedented collaboration between Armenians, Assyrians and Kurds on
Genocide day in the UK parliament, London.

(Establishment of a Permanent People's Commission on 'Reconciliation
after the Anatolian Genocide' proposed)

The irresistible ethical arguments for the recognition of the
Anatolian Genocides as the only ground for Reconciliation between the
victim groups and the Turkish state, was articulated by scholars on
Genocide Day in the House of Commons, London, organised by Armenia
Solidarity & Nor Serount Cultural Association.

Sabri Atman of the Seyfo Centre delivered a passionate interpretation
of the Assyrian trauma at the continuing denial of the Genocide of
their nation. Sara Aziz, also of the Seyfo Centre, put the case for
the criminal penalisation of Turkey under international Law. Ruth
Barnett expounded on the psychological effects of Genocide denial
illustrating the complexities of traumatisation.

Gregory Topalian, concentrating on the Armenian experience, addressed
the issue of possibilities of reconciliation, based on recognition
alone, and how some historians may adversely affect this
process. Desmond Fernandes showed that Genocide still continues in
Turkey, and that Denial owes much to US, Israeli and UK
realpolitik. Professor Khatchatur Pilikian showed in his address, 'A
bird's eye view on the phenomena of Genocide and the Armenian
experience of it', that Genocidal intent of the Turkish state can be
traced back to 1878.

Some of the speakers emphasised the universal significance of Genocide
Day, reflecting the increasing adoption of the 24th April as a day to
dwell on all Genocides. Professor Pilikian, in this vein, claimed that
the annual deaths from hunger of 14.6 million constituted 'the
unmentioned Genocide'.

The organiser proposed the establishment of a Permanent People's
Commission (to be based in London in co-operation with UK politicians)
on the Consequences of the Genocides perpetrated by the Turkish State,
to focus on the search for Reconciliation based on truth and
honesty. He also reminded the conference of the brutal murder of three
Christians in Malatya almost a year to the day, as a reminder that
Christians, as well as other minorities, are still living under a
sustained threat in Turkey.

Messages of support were sent from The Halabja Centre London; The
Kurdish Museum, London; The Foundation For The Kurdish Library and
Museum, Stockholm; Ms Rosie Malek Yonan, Los Angeles; Mr Ragip
Zarokulu, Istanbul;
Dr Tessa Hofmann, Berlin; Canon Andrew White, Baghdad; Barzoo Eliassi,
Kurdish Ph.D. Student, The Department of Social Sciences, Mid-Sweden
University; Martin Blecher, member of the Israel Group in Sweden;
Sukran Kavak, a Kurdish journalist, Sweden; Shoresh Rahem,
International Affairs for the Kurdistan Student Association and
Kurdistan Youth Freedom Organization; Hediye Guzel, Press secretary
for the Left wing party, Sweden; Gurgin Bakircioglu, Stockholm; Haydar
Isik, Germany, and Greeks from across the world.

The meeting was chaired by Mr Andrew George MP, Mr Daniel Rogerson MP,
both Members of Parliament for parts of Cornwall.

It was also supported by Mr John Marks, on behalf of Baroness Cox, Rev
Stuart Windsor, of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mr Andrew
Stonestreet of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the
Middle East and The Halabja Centre, London.

Two Ministers at the Foreign Office, the Rt Hon. Jim Murphy MP
(minister For Europe) and Lord Maloch-Brown, sent their apologies to
the conference for their unavoidable absences. The book by Taner
Akcam, 'A Shameful Act' was given to Mr Andrew George to be presented
to the Minister for Europe. This was a gift from The Armenian-Turkish
Studies Group of London.

Attendees were encouraged to buy the book by Kemal Yalcin, 'You
Rejoice My Heart' (Taderon Press). The following quote from Mr Yalcin
was read to illustrate the possibilities ahead:

'I bow to the memory of the Armenians and Assyrians who lost their
lives on the road of deportation through planned killings. That is the
greatest pain of our century, the stigma on the face of humanity. Your
pain is my pain. As a Turkish writer, I beg forgiveness from you and
mankind ...'

[email protected]
[email protected] connect.com

(Speeches delivered at the conference will be published shortly)




EXCERPTS OF MESSAGES:

Canon Andrew White - President of the FRRME:

Blessings from Baghdad

I am so sorry that I have been unable to be with you today for this
most important meeting. It is so important as in our life time there
has still been genocide. The Genocide of the Armenians and Assyrians
has never even been recognised. So many of the families of my people
here in Iraq fled to Iraq to find sanctuary in the violence and
Genocide of the Ottoman Empire. Both Assyrians and Armenians were
killed in their masses.

I have dedicated my life to the work of reconciliation. Forgiveness is
indeed the only thing that will prevent the pain of the past from
determining the future, but to have forgiveness and reconciliation you
must have recognition of the evil deeds of the past. We have had clear
recognition of the evil past of Germany and even the Rwanda's but
Turkey still refuses to acknowledge past massacres of the Armenians
and the Assyrians. To me that is totally unacceptable and
unforgivable. They want to join the EU; people say how a can a Muslim
nation be part of the EU. I have absolutely no problem with that but I
do have a huge problem with the nation of Turkey not recognising the
genocide of it past.

My prayer is that this horror will not indeed be committed again,
thank you all for taking this most important issue so seriously.


Ragip Zarokulu of the Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch:


Today, 24th of April, is worldwide recognised as the date signifying
the Armenian Genocide. Only in Turkey it indicates a taboo. The
Turkish state mobilises all its resources to deny the meaning of this
date. At diplomatic platforms Turkish officials and their advocates
claim that they recognise the `big tragedy' and they only object to
its being named as a `Genocide'. That's not true. At every occasion
in Turkey not only the Armenian Genocide, but also the great agony of
the Armenian people is denied and attempts are made to justify the
genocide.

It was only last month that during a Symposium on the Armenian-Turkish
relations the denialist official theses were voiced one after another,
offending the Armenians in Turkey and elsewhere and insulting the
memory of their grandparents. Lies were told in the name of `science',
like `Armenians have always sold their masters', `deportation was a
means of crisis management', `death toll of deportation is comparable
to the death toll of flu epidemic in England that time', `there is no
other people as noble as the Turkish nation in the world, it is
impossible for them to commit a genocide', and many more, humiliating
a people who was one of the most advanced in science, art, literature,
and in all other aspects.

Denial is a constituant part of the genocide itself and results in the
continuation of the genocide. Denial of genocide is a human rights
violation in itself. It deprives individuals the right to mourn for
their ancestors, for the ethnic cleansing of a nation, the
annihilation of people of all ages, all professions, all social
sections, women, men, children, babies, grandparents alike just
because they were Armenians regardless of their political background
or conviction. Perhaps the most important of all, it is the refusal of
making a solemn, formal commitment and say `NEVER AGAIN'.

Turkey has made hardly any progress in the field of co-existence,
democracy, human rights and putting an end to militarism since the
time of the Union and Progress Committee. Annihilation and denial had
been and continues today to be the only means to solve the
problem. Villages evacuated and put on fire and forced displacements
are still the manifestation of the same habit of `social
engineering'. There has always been bloodshed in the homeland of
Armenians after 1915. Unsolved murders, disappearances under custody,
rapes and arrests en masse during the 1990's were no surprise, given
the ongoing state tradition lacking any culture of repentance for past
crimes against humanity.

Similarly the removal of a public prosecutor and banning him from
profession just for taking the courage to mention an accusation
against the military, a very recent incident, is the manifestation of
an old habit of punishing anybody who dares to voice any objection to
the army. And today's ongoing military build up of some 250,000 troops
in the southeast of Turkey is the proof of a mindset who is unable to
develop any solution to the Kurdish question other than armed
suppresion.

Turkey will not be able to take even one step forward without putting
an end to the continuity of the Progress and Union manner of
ruling. No human rights violation can be stopped in Turkey and there
will be no hope of breaking the vicious circle of Kurdish uprisings
and their bloody suppression unless the Turkish state agree to create
an environment where public homage is paid to genocide victims, where
the sufferings of their grandchildren is shared and the genocide is
recognised.

Today we, as the human rights defenders, would like to address all
Armenians in Turkey and elsewhere in the world and tell them `we want
to share the pain in your hearts and bow down before the memory of
your lost ones. They are also our losses. Our struggle for human
rights in Turkey, is at the same time our mourning for our common
losses and a homage paid to the genocide victims'.

Rosie Malek-Yonan, Author of The Crimson Field and Board of Advisor at
Seyfo Center:

The absence of the negotiation of world peace is the single greatest
threat to humanity and the future of a violent-free world.

In order to achieve freedom from war, we must examine the actions that
continually create the cycle of anger and hatred as the catalyst to
any conflict between nations.

World peace will always remain a distant thought when reconciliation
in the aftermath of genocide is not at the forefront of all
discussions of human rights violations relative to those crimes.

When we perpetually allow the practice of genocide and holocaust and
consent to the denial of such actions to linger for decades as in the
case of the Assyrian, Armenian and Pontic Greek Genocide, we are in
essence consenting to denial as a compromise. Denial is not
compromise.

To the survivors and the children and grandchildren of the survivors
of the Assyrian, Armenian, and Pontic Greek Genocide of 1914-1918 in
Ottoman Turkey and northwestern Iran, there is no valid justification
for the renunciation of facts.

With the acknowledgement of past and present genocides we can slowly
begin to mend the broken bridges that may ultimately lead the human
race to eradicate bloodshed and violence among nations of this
world. But so long as we turn a blind-eye to these killings, we are
sanctioning the ongoing slaughter such as today's modern-day Assyrian
Genocide occurring in Iraq since the beginning of the 2003 war.

A formal pronouncement by the Turkish government of the Assyrian,
Armenian, and Pontic Greek Genocide will bring closure to not only the
survivors of the genocide, but also to the Turkish people in that the
nearly century-old hatred can begin to give way to human
solidarity. Anything short of that will surely continue to threaten
all hope of peace.

Dr Tessa Hofmann, Chairperson of the Working Group Recognition -
Against Genocide, for International Understanding (AGA):

The Armenian Genocide Day Conference poses a demanding and challenging
aim. The recognition of historic facts - Truth - and of justice is
the precondition of any reconciliation and lasting peace, if the
ultimate crime of genocide was committed. The comparative study of
genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries reveals that again and again
survivors and their descendents need legal justice in order to
re-establish trust and the capability to come to terms with their
fate.

The case of the Ottoman genocide against 3.5 million Christian
citizens is unique in the duration and obstinacy, displayed by
official Turkey in the refusal to acknowledge the states crimes which
were committed during the last decade of Ottoman rule. The refusal to
come to terms with this past and to take responsibility for the murder
and destruction of Non-Muslim ethnic groups in the process of building
a Turkish nation-state have long ago turned into severe obstacles for
democratization and regional stability in international relations. To
help Turkey to overcome her self-imposed deadlock means the contrary
of a policy of eye-closing and palliation. It means the exploration of
the roots of nowadays hate towards ethnic and religious minorities.

We hope that the Conference will be able to explain the necessity of
such standards to the political decision-makers in the United Kingdom
and thus will immediately contribute both to justice and
reconciliation.

Foundation For The Kurdish Library and Museum in Stockholm, Sweden:

The new Turkish Republic which has been rebuilt on the remnants of the
Ottoman Empire, has to confess once all the history of Turkish legacy
of their ancestor. It is not possible for Turkey to accept parts of
Turkish history and reject the other historical occurrences.

The genocide of Armenians is a historical fact and whole world knows
who committed these crimes. It is time once for all for Turkey, for
the candidate of EU membership, to confess all events in Turkey's and
Turks history. This is necessary for making the peace and democratic
progress secured in the whole region and in the entire world.

Barzoo Eliassi, Kurdish Ph.D. student at the Department of Social
Sciences of Mid-Sweden University:

The transition from the multicultural Millet system of the Ottoman
Empire to the Republic of Turkey created an ocean of killing in the
name of a threatened Turkish nation. It is not an exaggeration to
compare the Nazi extermination of the Jews with the systematic Turkish
mass murder, or aptly put, the genocide against the Armenians during
the First World War. The Turkish governments have been denying this
event and labelled it as a conspiracy against the existence of the
Turkish state. Any demand on raising and debating this issue of
genocide and atrocities against the Armenians is seen as an external
threat that attempts to undermine the political authority of the Turks
over the Turkish history. History books in Turkey see surely this
genocide in other terms and legitimatize it in the name of the Turkish
nation and its right to existence and its right to use any means to
protect itself from internal and external `threats'. Using any means
included also the genocide of the Armenians, an evil crime that
Turkish history has to pay back to its victims through recognition.

Martin Blecher, member of the Israel Group in Sweden:

Today our thoughts go to the one and half million that were killed in
Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916. Our thoughts also go to the children and
grandchildren of the survivors who have witnessed the horror by
survivors passing their story along. The Jewish people and our
Armenian brothers have experienced one Holocaust upon us ... We deeply
sympathize with the Armenian nation and encourage them to continue
their search for national justice. It is our responsibility to forget
in order to live in the present and move along the path that leads to
peace. It is also our responsibility not to forget and to tell the
story that once were told to us.

Sukran Kavak, a Kurdish journalist in Sweden:

The legal definition of genocide was found in the 1948 United Nations
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
But the crimes of genocide were committed much earlier then this legal
definition. The world failed to stop the genocide of the Armenians
during and after the First World War by the Ottoman Empire. To honour
the hundreds of thousands of victims and their relatives, the crimes
against the Armenians must be acknowledged as genocide by the
world. To not recognize this is a further crime and insult against the
victims, the survivors and the whole Armenian people.

Shoresh Rahem, International Affairs for the Kurdistan Student
Association and Kurdistan Youth Freedom Organization:



When I came to Sweden at the age of eight, I learnt about Kurdish
history through my family. The Swedish history classes were limited to
the European countries and those who Europe had relations with. Few
people knew that there was a Kurdish genocide in Iraq during
1980's. Neither did we study that more than one million Armenians were
victims of genocide in Turkey. There is nothing we can do today to
get back the victims of the genocide. But we must inform and
acknowledge the crimes so that it will not be repeated, but also to
honor the survivors to the victims that they are not forgotten. To
know that a crime of genocide has been committed but to deny it is
another serious crime. Therefore, I see as my obligation to the Kurds
and to our friends, the Armenians, not to keep quiet about the crimes
of genocide as my teachers and the politicians did when I grew up.



Hediye Guzel - Press secretary, Left wing party, Kurdish origin:

Reconciliation must be the leading star, when discussing the Armenian
genocide. This awful genocide has also affected the Assyrians/Syrians
and Chaldeans in the Ottoman Empire. But reconciliation must be
founded on truth, not on manipulation of truth. Without true and
honest historical research and approaches, we will never reach this
goal. We must not hesitate to use the right words about happened in
the Ottoman Empire 1915 and the following years. We cannot be afraid
of truth! And we cannot deny or hesitate as the Turkish republic does.

The genocide in the Ottoman Empire is a trauma not only for the
Armenians, the Assyrians/ Syrians and the Chaldeans, it is also a
trauma for the Turkish people. Nationalist and chauvinist institutions
and forces in Turkish society which deny the genocide prevent and
punish people who recognize the genocide of 1915. They stop the
development of reconciliation and peace of a whole society. With a
recognition of what happened in 1915 in the Ottoman Empire, hatred and
bitterness can disappear and reconciliation can be reached.

As long as the Turkish state denies the genocide of 1915 it will be
caught in the past. We have to look at the future and leave the
past. To reach peace and harmony between people, it is necessary to
see the truth and condemn the genocide.

Haydar Isik, Germany:

I am an Alevi Kurd! Where we lived there were no mosques. In my
childhood I admired the ruins of the Armenian churches in the
area. Though their walls had crumbled the domes supported by the
columns still stood. The marvelous pictures painted on them could
still be seen. My birth city was called 'Kizilkilise' or 'Red Church'
in the Kurdish language [it probably had a Syriac or Armenian name
before]. But later like other Kurdish names the Kizilkilise was
changed to 'Nazimiye' by the Turkish government.

My childhood was affected by two important historical events. One was
the Dersim massacre of the Kurds in 1937/38 , when 70,000 of them were
killed by the Turkish army which still is very fresh and sorrowful in
my mind. The other was the Armenian Genocide, of 1915-16 by the Turks
which exterminated one and half million Armenians and a half million
Assyrians. During the winter months I often heard about the sorrowful
fate of our Armenian neighbors and it made me cry.

To achieve racial supremacy in Anatolia, the Turkish regime wiped out
first the Armenians and Assyrians and then the Kurds. General Kazim
Karabekir, who had participated in the killing of the Armenians and
Assyrians once had said: 'le yandan zo zo lari, doenuence de lo lo
larin isini bitirecegiz.' 'We will exterminate the Armenians with an
invasion to the east, on our way back we will do the same with the
Kurds.'

It was always the strategy of the Turks to kill or drive out the
country first the Christian Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks to turn
the country into an Islamic nation, then to carry out similar genocide
and ethnocide against the Kurds. To accomplish this Turkish rulers
promoted hatred and incited one people against the other ... The
Kurdish feudal chieftains became instrumental in carrying out these
Turkish policies.

The Turkish regime used sunni tribes in Northern Kurdistan who lived
side by side with the Armenians and Assyrians in Mesopotamia to
implement its policies. The Aschirets (tribe) which lived in Van,
Urfa, Agri; Mus and Bingöl were known as Hasenen, Cibran, Zirkan,
Sipkan, Zilan, Milan etc.. These Aschirets were a minority of the
Kurds. The Aleviti Kurds, the yezidis and the rest of the sunni Kurds
provided no assistance to the Turks.

A minority of Kurds was used to kill Christians to prove their loyalty
to Turkey and Islam. Today's Kurds see the massacre of the Armenians
[and Assyrians] as a shame on Kurds. I am ashamed that Kurds were
involved in killing their neighbors in such barbarous manners.

In the shadow of the 1ST world war, during the rule of Pascha Enver
Talat and Cemal, Turks organized the Christian pogrom in Anatolia and
Mesopotamia with the approval and knowledge of Germany. It was the
first genocide in human history that was carefully planned and carried
out. However one needs to see the other side of the coin also. The
rag-tag brigades, recruited by Turkey out of 36 Kurdish tribes, which
were used to massacre the Christian were also incited against the
Alevi and the yezidie (moslem) Kurds.

The regiments were formed exclusively out of the sunni tribes in
Northern kurdistan which means, the young Turkish regime (Ittihat
Terakki) intentions were to incite one section of the Kurds against
the other according to the principle of 'divide and
conquer'. Consequently animosities between Sunni and Alevi Kurds
continues to this day.

The Hamidiyeh regiments was also used against the Kurds to undermine
the Kurdish aspirations for independence. Their Attacks against the
Armenians, Assyrians or Kurds remain a blemish in the history of the
Kurds. Nothing holds back the Kurdish descent bandits who attacked
Armenian villages yesterday and killed countless people from killing
their own. One has to ask: is it just for anyone to kill other human
beings because someone orders them to do so?

Yes, the story of humanity is full of such events. About 50 years ago,
German fascism massacred the Jews in industrial fashion. They believed
that their victims deserved to die! ...

Now Turkey is using Kurds to fight their compatriots. Like the
Hamidiyeh brigades of the past which killed 100,000 of their own
people, Kurdish gangs have been equipped to fight against the Kurdish
liberation movement, which fights for liberty and well-being being of
the Kurds living in the mountains.

The same mentality which massacred the Armenians and the Assyrians
yesterday, is responsible for the killing of the Kurds today. The
Kurds in Dersim provided protection for their Armenian neighbors
despite pressure >From the Turks, however such kindness cost them
dearly when Turks massacred them in 1937/38, partly for that reason.

Turkey is a country of various people, Turks, Kurds, Armenians,
Assyrians and other minorities. Although Turkey has signed almost all
the international treaties including: The 'General Declaration of the
Human Rights', the 'European Convention of Human Rights', the 'CSCE
treaty' , which promises Equal Rights, Self-determination, and rights
of minorities to teach their mother tongue, Turkey has denied such
liberties to its non-Turk[ish] citizens, yet it wants to join the
European Union.

The Armenians were exterminated by the policy of Turkey in
Anatolia. We, the Kurds would like to live peacefully together with
our neighbors, Armenians, Assyrians and Turks in a country, where the
sound of the church-bells and the call of the Muezzin can be heard
side by side. We are not any more the Kurds who were used as tool by
Turkey to exterminate their Christian neighbors. We are ashamed and
would like to make amend and do well - From: 'Confessions of an Honest
Kurd: The Assyrian & Armenian Genocide, Past and present' - Translated
from the German Language. wm.warda;