Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
CBS Network’s “60 Minutes” program aired on December 17 a devastating exposéof the violations of the rights of the Greek minority in Turkey.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Greek Orthodox Church, headquartered inIstanbul, courageously criticized the Turkish government for treating him as a “second-class citizen.” He went on to state that he felt like he was being “crucified.”
This is perhaps the first time that a major American TV network has dared to broadcast a program that reveals the discriminatory practices of the repressive Turkish regime against the Greek minority. It would appear that CBS was able to withstand the intense pressure Ankara and its highly-paid Washington lobbyists routinely apply to censor programs that expose the Turkish government’s abusive behavior.
Not surprisingly, various Turkish officials, including Pres. Gul, reacted angrily. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu disingenuously suggested that the Greek Patriarch should have submitted his complaints to the authorities in Ankara. The Foreign Minister acted as if he was unaware that for years countless complaints had been lodged by the Patriarch about the injustices suffered by his people. The Turkish government not only has remained unresponsive to these complaints, but has carried out a deliberate policy of harassment and intimidation to force thousands of Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and Jews to abandon their homes and businesses and relocate overseas.
Bob Simon, the correspondent for “60 Minutes,” reported that “at the turn of the last century, there were nearly 2 million Orthodox Christians in Turkey; 1.5 million were expelled in 1923, and another 150,000 left after violent anti-Christian riots in Istanbul in 1955. Today, in all of Turkey, there are only 4,000 Orthodox Christians left.” The figures quoted by Simon refer only to Greeks.
”I have visited the Prime Minister, many Ministers, submitting our problems…asking to help us,” Patriarch Bartholomew told Simon. He never got a response.
“60 Minutes” further reported on its website that “Turkish authorities have seized Christian properties and closed Christian churches, monasteries and schools.” The Greek “parishioners are afraid that the authorities want to force Bartholomew and his church -- the oldest of all Christian churches -- out of Turkey.” The Turkish government “would be happy to see the Patriarchate extinguished or moving abroad, but our belief is that it will never happen,” Bartholomew told Bob Simon.
Periodically, the harassment of Greeks and other minorities becomes deadly, as was the case with Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was assassinated in January 2007 in front of his Istanbul newspaper office. In fact, just as Simon was ending his tour of the Greek Patriarchate’s headquarters, a Turkish policeman reported that there was a threat on Bartholomew’s life. Previous threats had been serious enough for the Turkish authorities to place cameras and barbed wire around the Patriarchate and provide the Patriarch with 24-hour protection.
Simon was soon to uncover that despite its Islamist façade, Prime Minister Erdogan’s government routinely violates the tolerance preached by the Prophet Muhammad who had written a letter to the Greek monastery on Mt. Sinai almost 1,400 years ago, offering protection and religious freedom to Christians. Simon lamented the fact that Muhammad’s message of goodwill had not been put into practice by the Turkish authorities. The Halki School of Theology, the only Greek Orthodox seminary in Turkey, was closed down by the government in 1971. Since Turkish law requires that all priests and Patriarchs be native Turkish citizens, the shutting down of the seminary made the training of new priests impossible, jeopardizing the Church’s continued existence in Turkey.
Unfortunately, CBS completely ignored the fate of Armenians and other persecuted minorities in Turkey, never once mentioning any of them! In fact, Simon seemed to be deliberately ignoring their existence.
In one particular segment of the program discussing the location of the Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul, Simon went as far as describing the neighborhood as having been “Greek and Christian.” This was yet another attempt to avoid acknowledging the Armenians. Without diverting attention from the trials and tribulations of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey, Simon could have made a passing reference to Armenians -- the country’s largest Christian minority – who also suffered many injustices, including genocide!
Readers are urged to post a comment on the CBS website, praising the network’s outstanding exposé of the abuses and persecutions experienced by the Ecumenical Patriarch and his flock in Turkey. Readers should also inquire as to why there was not a single mention of Armenians or other minorities who have also suffered under the Turkish yoke. To post a comment, please click on the following link:http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=60017n#comments
نشرت وزارة التربية التركية خارطة جديدة لتركيا و قامت بتوزيعها على طلاب المدارس الابتدائية في مدينة اسطنبول. ونقلت صحيفة بوك ميديا نقلا عن صحيفة راديكال التركية ليوم الخميس 1/10/2009:
إن الإدارة السابقة لوزارة التربية التركية أعدت خارطة جديدة لتركيا ووزعتها على طلبة المدارس الابتدائية في استانبول، واللافت للأمر أن هذه الخارطة تضم ثلث أراضي العراق تقريبا (ولاية الموصل) بالعهد العثماني، إلى جانب أرمينيا وأجزاء من جورجيا وأذربيجان وقبرص. يذكر أن تركيا تعلن بين الحين والآخر أن "ولاية الموصل" هي جزء من تركيا و أنها انسحبت منها ضمن معاهدة خلال الحرب العالمية الأولى.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Publisher, The California Courier
Turkish Prime Minister Receb Erdogan made insulting statements on the Armenian Genocide during his visit to Washington on December 6-8. Rather than hosting him in the White House, Pres. Obama should have declared him “persona non grata” -- an undesirable person!
Would Pres. Obama have welcomed Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the White House and sang his praises, given his revisionist views on the Holocaust? Inviting Erdogan to the U.S. is even more offensive, akin to receiving a German leader who denies the Holocaust!
Erdogan made a series of outrageous remarks and denialist statements during five public appearances in Washington: At PBS, the Willard Hotel, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced and International Studies, SETA-DC Turkish think tank, and the German Marshall Fund.
During his December 8, hour-long PBS TV interview by Charlie Rose, Erdogan brought up the Armenian issue by claiming that his government had recently restored “an Armenian Church” in Van, without disclosing that the Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van was reopened not as a house of worship, but as a cultural site to attract tourists! Indeed, the Turkish authorities refused to allow a cross to be placed on the Church’s dome!
Erdogan’s boastful comments led Charlie Rose to raise the Armenian Genocide issue in a passive manner by asking: “What is necessary in order to -- what more evidence does history need with respect to the genocide?”
The question threw Erdogan into a rage, making him spew hateful statements about the Armenian Genocide: “I can say very clearly that we do not accept genocide. This is completely a lie. I invite people to prove it…. Something like this is really not possible, and there is no truth to it.” These are the shameful words of the same man who claimed there was no genocide in Darfur, since he saw no trace of such a crime during his visit to Sudan!
When asked by Charlie Rose if Pres. Obama had brought up the Armenian Genocide issue during the White House meeting, Erdogan said yes, adding that it was in the context of normalizing relations with Armenia: “It was Turkey that initiated the normalization process. It was Turkey that took upon itself the risk. We believe in ourselves. What we would like to see is for this normalization process to go forward. And in that it’s important that we go into that and the Karabagh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia be resolved. There is an occupation. We have to solve that problem. …And if the positive developments that we would like to see do not come about, then I do not believe that our parliament will have a positive result as a result of its deliberations.”
During his appearance at the Johns Hopkins University, Erdogan proudly claimed that his “ancestors have never committed genocide.” The real issue is not whether his grandparents participated in the Armenian Genocide, since there was no shortage of Turks who did. What’s more important is that the Prime Minster has chosen to become an accomplice to these heinous crimes by participating in their cover up!
Despite all the diplomatic pleasantries exchanged between Erdogan and Obama, there were indications that the two leaders had a tense meeting. According to media reports confirmed by White House sources, Pres. Obama bluntly told Erdogan that if the Turkish Parliament did not ratify the Armenia-Turkey Protocols in a timely manner, the U.S. Congress could well adopt a resolution on the Armenian Genocide.
The two leaders also clashed over their divergent views on several key issues: Turkey’s unwillingness to send more troops to Afghanistan, refusal to support a recent IAEA resolution to censure Iran’s nuclear program, the signing of a multi-billion dollar energy contract with Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions, worsening ties with Israel, continued occupation of Northern Cyprus, and manifest disregard of minority rights in Turkey.
In the midst of Erdogan’s crucial visit, Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington Nabi Sensoy tendered his resignation unexpectedly, after an argument with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu over the logistics of the White House meeting. This scandalous development must have
been highly embarrassing for the Prime Minister!
Upon returning to Turkey, Erdogan faced a major political crisis and bloody clashes in the streets of Kurdish populated cities, triggered by the Constitutional Court’s banning of the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). The court expelled two DTP members from Parliament, while 19 others resigned in protest.
It is a shame that Armenia’s leaders, rather than repudiating Erdogan’s offensive statements on the Armenian Genocide, continued to talk about normalizing relations with Turkey! Armenian Americans were equally negligent, failing to express their outrage. Erdogan should have been confronted in Washington with massive protests and demonstrations! Sadly, silence makes genocide denial an acceptable practice!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Publisher, The California Courier
Armenians are understandably distressed when they encounter statements that distort or deny the facts of the Armenian Genocide, and feel comforted when it is properly acknowledged. While they are quick to castigate the deniers, they rarely take the time to recognize those who speak the truth.
These thoughts came to mind as I was reading two truthful and bold articles on the Armenian Genocide -- the first by a Righteous Jew, editor of the Intermountain Jewish News of Denver, Colorado, and the second by a Righteous Turk, commentator Burak Bekdil of Hurriyet Daily News.
The editor of the Intermountain Jewish News did not mince words, starting with the headline: “All that lying about the Armenian Genocide did not help.” He then proceeded to launch a frontal attack on Jewish organizations and Israel’s leaders who have been playing immoral games with the Armenian Genocide, just to appease the Turkish government. Here are some excerpts from that powerful editorial:
“We could use the word ‘diplomacy’ or ‘politics’ or ‘ignorance’ or ‘objectivity’ or ‘fairness.’ In truth, there is only one word: lie. For many years, some national Jewish organizations lied about the Armenian genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks during WW I. These organizations said it didn’t happen, or that it was a matter of ‘historical dispute.’
“…On the grounds that Israel had to maintain good relations with Turkey, these national Jewish organizations -- not to mention Israel herself -- accepted Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide, or said it was ‘disputed.’ Good relations with Turkey could only be purchased by acceptance of Turkey’s lying about the Armenian genocide, we were told. It was disgraceful.
“…Lying about the Armenian genocide should not be part of the currency of Israeli -- or American Jewish -- diplomacy with Turkey. Israel and these national Jewish organizations should now see that, even pragmatically, the lying did not help. And morally? When it comes to genocide, diplomacy and politics have no place. There can be no denying, ignoring or low-prioritizing genocide. Israel and national Jewish organizations denied that principle -- and this denial is now coming back to bite them.
“…Regarding genocide, posterity is enormously unkind. Today, even in Turkey the number of scholars who acknowledge the Armenian genocide is growing. Various counter-claims, denying the Armenian genocide, look ever more outlandish. Can you imagine anyone credibly claiming that the Warsaw Ghetto revolt in 1943 shows that the Holocaust was just a ‘civil war’ between the Jews and the Germans? That’s how ridiculous the ‘civil war’ characterization of the Turkish prosecution of the Armenian genocide is coming to look. Posterity, we repeat, treats genocide deniers very unkindly.
“…When bad people murder a whole population, good people must respond, as respond we must in Darfur today. When time passes and we look back on people who murdered a whole population, we must never allow that transcendent evil to be denied or downplayed because of diplomatic or political considerations. It’s wrong. And it won’t work.”
Liberal Turkish commentator Burak Bekdil’s article is just as powerful. Several years ago, he received a suspended 20-month sentence for writing an article that criticized the Turkish judiciary. Now, once again, Bekdil risks being thrown into jail, as article 301 of the Turkish penal code makes it a crime to refer to the Armenian Genocide.
In his commentary, Mr. Bekdil is boldly suggesting that the Turkish government make a list of all its past crimes, adopt a resolution in Parliament led by the AKP party, and issue an apology to the victims! He specifically mentions “The Armenian Genocide” among Turkey’s past Turkish crimes! Here is an excerpt from Bekdil’s daring article:
“First, let’s make a list of the Turkish atrocities of the past century. There is Dersim, of course. But for a start, I shall also propose the Armenian genocide; war crimes against Greeks during the War of Independence; pogroms and other violence against Greeks, Armenians and Jews during the earlier years of the Republic; the deaths of 40,000 Kurds as the only Turkish Nobel laureate once put it; and more Kurdish atrocities between 1984 to 2002. Of course, these sorrowful events can be multiplied endlessly and any other ideas are most welcome…. I would urge our pro-AKP liberals to pen a draft text in recognition of a full list of Turkish atrocities in the 20th century, decorated further with an official apology to the victims and their relatives.”
Armenian organizations should pay tribute to these two righteous men for daring to condemn their own leaders and expose their lies on the Armenian Genocide!