Below are fact sheets for Armenia, Armenian Genocide, Nagorno-Karabagh and Why Commemorate the Genocide.
KNIGHTS OF VARTAN ARMENIAN RESEARCH CENTER
The University of Michigan-Dearborn Dearborn, MI 481
- The Republic of Armenia is one of three internationally recognized states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) in Transcaucasia, the southernmost area of the former USSR. It is 11,620 square miles in area, slightly larger than the state of Maryland. It has a population of about 3.3 million (with an additional 400,000 Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and Karabagh), of whom over 93% are Armenian. Armenia, accordingly, is the most ethnically homogenous state of all the former republics of the Soviet Union. There are some seven million Armenians throughout the world, including one million in the United States. There are also some 30,000 to 50,000 in the Detroit metropolitan area.
- On Sept 21, 1991, Armenia held a referendum on independence and 94.05% of all eligible voters voted for it. Two days later, the Armenian Parliament declared the independence of Armenia from the USSR.
- President Bush recognized Armenia on December 25, 1991. Former Secretary of State James Baker visited Armenia on February 11, 1992, and the US State Department established an embassy in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
- The United States has sent a substantial amount of aid to Armenia, and is currently actively engaged in encouraging and developing manufacturing and trade there.
- On January 4, 1992, Armenia began radical free-market economic reforms. President Bush and now President Clinton fully support and encourage Armenia on its road to a free economy and the practice of democracy.
- Over 120 countries have recognized Armenia as an independent state, and over 70 countries have established direct diplomatic relations with Armenia. Armenia is also a member of the United Nations and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE, formerly the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe).
- The first free presidential election was held in Armenia on October 16, 1991. Levon Ter Petrosian was elected president with over 80% of the vote, demonstrating his wide acceptance.
- President Clinton continues the policy of giving humanitarian aid to Armenia and is actively seeking, through the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe to bring peace between Azerbaijan and Armenian-inhabited Mountainous Karabagh.
- Armenia is the only former Soviet republic that is governed by a democratically elected leader who had no ties to the Communist Party in the past.
- Armenia was the first former Soviet republic to privatize agriculture and continues to privatize small businesses and state- run enterprises, providing opportunities for local and foreign investors.
The history of Armenia goes back 2,500 years, and includes a short lived empire under Tigran II the Great (95-55 BC), which was ended by a Roman invasion.
Armenia was the first country to accept Christianity as the state religion, in 301 A.D. It has remained Christian from that time in spite of numerous conquests and persecutions.
Armenia was divided between the Romans and the Iranians in 387 AD, but was revived as an independent state in 885 under the Bagratid dynasty. Armenia was conquered anew, this time by the Byzantine Empire ca. 1064.
As a part of the Byzantine conquest of the Armenian states, Armenian nobles lost their estates in Armenia and were resettled in Cilicia, in southern Asia Minor. Many Armenians, fleeing the Turkish Seljuk invasion of Anatolia after 1073, also fled to Cilicia. Thus a new Armenian state was established in Cilicia by the Rubenid dynasty which survived until 1375. The Armenians of Cilicia were close allies of the Crusaders who came to the Middle East to free the Holy Land.
Armenia was later conquered by the Ottoman Turks. When the Ottoman Empire declined it grew corrupt (and lost territory to many of its neighbors including Russia, which conquered part of Armenia). In 1908, the Sultan was forced to yield authority (but not his throne) to a loose grouping of Turks called the "Young Turks." From 1908 to 1913, the Young Turks changed in personnel from liberals wanting a reformed multi-ethnic state to an clique wanting a state for Turks alone. The Young Turk Ottoman government carried out a great genocide against the Armenians (the largest minority in the Anatolia except for the Kurds, whom the Young Turks thought could be assimilated) in 1915/1916, which lasted up to 1923.
The Russian part of Armenia was revived as an independent state on May 28, 1918. This state did not last long but became caught between a resurgent Nationalist Turkey and a Bolshevik Russia. Thus Armenia, pressed between Turkish and Bolshevik armies, had to sign away much of its land, and even its independence, and was taken over by the Bolsheviks.
In many ways, Soviet rule was like a deep-freeze. All intellectual and political currents that ran counter to Communism were persecuted and repressed; however, Soviet rule did save Armenia from the Nationalist Turkish armies moving east in 1920, looking to complete what their Ottoman predecessors had done in Ottoman Armenia in 1915-6.
This deep-freeze burst open several years ago after Gorbachev's accession to the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party. Armenians demonstrated over the issues of Soviet misrule in Armenia and of Azeri repression of the civil rights of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh.
Finally, the devastating earthquake of December 7, 1988, which killed over 25,000 and left 500,000 homeless, became the focus in the Armenian national revival. While the world--especially the United States--sent in aid following the earthquake, the Soviet government did relatively little.
- The United States should continue its political and economic aid to Armenia, for which the Armenians are most grateful.
- American aid encourages democracy and free enterprise in Armenia, and it brings the Armenians closer to America.
- Armenia has been blockaded by Azerbaijan, and to some extent by Turkey, since 1988. This blockade prevents Armenia from getting vital food and supplies from the outside world. Armenian industry is working at 30%, unemployment is near 80%, and food and heat are in short supply. The blockade must be ended so that Armenia can grow as an independent, democratic, free-market, pro-U.S. nation.
- The United States should make it clear to Azerbaijan that until the blockade of Armenia is ended and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh are given their full civil and human rights, that the United States will not have full diplomatic and trade relations with Azerbaijan.
The Plan for the Armenian Genocide
The German Vice Consul at Erzerum, Count Max Erwin von Scheubner- Richter, summarizes the Armenian Genocide quite succinctly in a report to his superiors:
I have conducted a series of conversations with competent and influential Turkish personages, and these are my impressions: A large segment of the Ittahadist [Young Turk] party maintains the viewpoint that the Turkish empire should be based only on the principle of Islam and Pan-Turkism. Its non-Muslim and non-Turkish inhabitants should either be forcibly islamized, or otherwise they ought to be destroyed. These gentlemen believe that the time is propitious for the realization of this plan. The first item on this agenda concerns the liquidation of the Armenians. Ittihad will dangle before the eyes of the allies the specter of an alleged revolution prepared by the Armenian Dashnak party. Moreover local incidents of social unrest and acts of Armenian self-defense will deliberately be provoked and inflated and will be used as pretexts to effect the deportations. Once en route however, the convoys will be attacked and exterminated by Kurdish and Turkish brigands, and in part by gendarmes, who will be instigated for that purpose by Ittihad.
The Armenian Genocide was carried out by the "Young Turk" government of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916 (with subsidiaries to 1922-23). One and a half million Armenians were killed, out of a total of two and a half million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Most Armenians in America are children or grandchildren of the survivors, although there are still many survivors amongst us.
Armenians all over the world commemorate this great tragedy on April 24, because it was on that day in 1915 when 300 Armenian leaders, writers, thinkers and professionals in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were rounded up, deported and killed. Also on that day in Constantinople, 5,000 of the poorest Armenians were butchered in the streets and in their homes.
The Armenian Genocide was masterminded by the Central Committee of the Young Turk Party (Committee for Union and Progress [Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyet, in Turkish]) which was dominated by Mehmed Talât [Pasha], Ismail Enver [Pasha], and Ahmed Djemal [Pasha]. They were a racist group whose ideology was articulated by Zia Gökalp, Dr. Mehmed Nazim, and Dr. Behaeddin Shakir.
The Armenian Genocide was directed by a Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa) set up by the Committee of Union and Progress, which created special "butcher battalions," made up of violent criminals released from prison.
Some righteous Ottoman officials such as Celal, governor of Aleppo; Mazhar, governor of Ankara; and Reshid, governor of Kastamonu, were dismissed for not complying with the extermination campaign. Any common Turks who protected Armenians were killed.
The Armenian Genocide occurred in a systematic fashion, which proves that it was directed by the Young Turk government.
First the Armenians in the army were disarmed, placed into labor battalions, and then killed.
Then the Armenian political and intellectual leaders were rounded up on April 24, 1915, and then killed.
Finally, the remaining Armenians were called from their homes, told they would be relocated, and then marched off to concentration camps in the desert between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor where they would starve and thirst to death in the burning sun.
On the march, often they would be denied food and water, and many were brutalized and killed by their "guards" or by "marauders." The authorities in Trebizond, on the Black Sea coast, did vary this routine: they loaded Armenians on barges and sank them out at sea.
The Turkish government today denies that there was an Armenian genocide and claims that Armenians were only removed from the eastern "war zone." The Armenian Genocide, however, occurred all over Anatolia [present-day Turkey], and not just in the so-called "war zone." Deportations and killings occurred in the west, in and around Ismid (Izmit) and Broussa (Bursa); in the center, in and around Angora (Ankara); in the south-west, in and around Konia (Konya) and Adana (which is near the Mediterranean Sea); in the central portion of Anatolia, in and around Diyarbekir (Diyarbakir), Harpout (Harput), Marash, Sivas (Sepastia), Shabin Kara-Hissar (þebin Karahisar), and Ourfa (Urfa); and on the Black Sea coast, in and around Trebizond (Trabzon), all of which are not part of a war zone. Only Erzeroum, Bitlis, and Van in the east were in the war zone.
The Armenian Genocide was condemned at the time by representatives of the British, French, Russian, German, and Austrian governments—namely all the major Powers. The first three were foes of the Ottoman Empire, the latter two, allies of the Ottoman Empire. The United States, neutral towards the Ottoman Empire, also condemned the Armenian Genocide and was the chief spokesman in behalf of the Armenians.
The American people, via local Protestant missionaries, did the most to save the wretched remnants of the death marches, the orphaned children.
Despite Turkish denial, there is no doubt about the Armenian Genocide. For example, German ambassador Count von Wolff-Metternich, Turkey's ally in World War I, wrote his government in 1916 saying: "The Committee [of Union and Progress] demands the annihilation of the last remnants of the Armenians and the [Ottoman] government must bow to its demands."
German consuls stationed in Turkey, including Vice Consul Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richtner of Erzerum [Erzurum] who was Adolf Hitler's chief political advisor in the 1920s, were eyewitnesses. Hitler said to his generals on the eve of sending his Death's Heads units into Poland, "Go, kill without mercy . . . who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians."
Henry Morgenthau Sr., the neutral American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, sent a cable to the U.S. State Department in 1915:
"Deportation of and excesses against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eye witnesses [sic] it appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion."
Morgenthau's successor as Ambassador to Turkey, Abram Elkus, cabled the U.S. State Department in 1916 that the Young Turks were continuing an ". . . unchecked policy of extermination through starvation, exhaustion, and brutality of treatment hardly surpassed even in Turkish history."
Only one Turkish government, that of Damad Ferit Pasha, has ever recognized the Armenian genocide. In fact, that Turkish government held war crimes trials and condemned to death the major leaders responsible.
The Turkish court concluded that the leaders of the Young Turk government were guilty of murder. "This fact has been proven and verified." It maintained that the genocidal scheme was carried out with as much secrecy as possible. That a public facade was maintained of "relocating" the Armenians. That they carried out the killing by a secret network. That the decision to eradicate the Armenians was not a hasty decision, but "the result of extensive and profound deliberations."
Ismail Enver Pasha, Ahmed Cemal Pasha, Mehmed Talât Bey, and a host of others were convicted by the Turkish court and condemned to death for "the extermination and destruction of the Armenians."
The Permanent People's Tribunal recognized the Armenian Genocide on April 16, 1984.
The European Parliament voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide on June 18, 1987.
President Bush issued a news release in 1990 calling on all Americans to join with Armenians on April 24 in commemorating "the more than a million Armenian people who were victims."
President Clinton issued a news release on April 24, 1994, to commemorate the "tragedy" that befell the Armenians in 1915.
The Russian Duma (the lower house of the bicameral Russian legislature) voted on April 20, 1994, to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Israel officially condemned the Armenian Genocide as Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin proclaimed on the floor of the Knesset (the Israeli legislature), on April 27, 1994, in answer to the claims of the Turkish Ambassador, that "It was not war. It was most certainly massacre and genocide, something the world must remember."
The Armenian genocide is similar to the Jewish holocaust in many respects. Both people adhere to an ancient religion. Both were religious minorities of their respective states. Both have a history of persecution. Both have new democracies. Both are surrounded by enemies. Both are talented and creative minorities who have been persecuted out of envy and obscurantism.
- The Republic of Turkey must cease to be the only major country in the world to deny the Armenian Genocide.
- The Republic of Turkey must show good will by allowing American aid to present-day Armenia to pass through unhindered.
- The Republic of Turkey must cease to train Azerbaijani soldiers in Turkey for the purpose of attacking Armenia.
The Autonomous Region of Mountainous Karabagh (also known in America as Nagorno-Karabagh) recently declared independence from Azerbaijan because of continued persecution, oppression, and human and civil rights violations by the Azeri Turks. It was attached to Azerbaijan as an Autonomous Region by Joseph Stalin in 1921 and has suffered under Azeri rule from that time onward.
Mountainous Karabagh had a pre-war population of approximately 200,000 people, 77% of whom were Christian Armenians. The remaining 23% were mainly Muslim Azeri Turks. Nagorno-Karabagh's capital is Stepanakert. It has an area of about 1,700 square miles, slightly smaller than the state of Delaware.
- On December 10, 1991, Nagorno-Karabagh held an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated, and 99% voted for independence.
- On January 6, 1992, the leaders of Nagorno-Karabagh declared independence as the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh (RMK).
- On January 8, 1992, Artur Mkrtchian was elected President and Oleg Yessaian as Prime Minister of Karabagh by Karabagh's Parliament. Note that this Presidency is not an independent office such as in the United States.
- On January 24, 1992, Karabagh's Parliament elected Georgi Petrosian to the office of Vice President.
- On April 14, Artur Mkrtchian died in an accidental weapons misfire. Georgi Petrosian became acting President.
- On May 8, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Shushi, a city in Karabagh overlooking Stepanakert, from which the Azeris had been shelling Stepanakert.
- On May 18, the Karabagh Defense Forces took Lachin and connected Karabagh to Armenia, thus breaking the Azeri economic blockade on Karabagh (however, Armenia's situation was not much better since it too was—and still is—under Azeri blockade).
- On June 12, following the June 7 election of Abulfez Elchibey as President of Azerbaijan, the Azeris launched a massive offensive that seized almost half of Karabagh by September. Beginning in late fall, the Karabagh Defense Forces retook nearly all of these territories and restored the political integrity of Karabagh by late March 1993.
- On March 27, 1993, the Karabagh Defense Forces, to forestall an Azeri spring offensive, launched attacks at two strategic Azeri cities, Kelbajar and Fizuli. They took Kelbajar on April 3, but were unable to take Fizuli. The capture of Kelbajar gave Karabagh a new connection to Armenia.
- On June 14, acting President Georgi Petrosian resigned as Armenian President Levon Ter Petrosian travels to Stepanakert to persuade the Presidium of Karabagh's Parliament to accept a new CSCE peace plan, which it does by a vote of 6 to 5. Garen Baburian became the new acting President.
- June through August 1993 was a time of confusion in Azerbaijan as Surat Huseinov led a revolt against Elchibey; Haidar Aliyev became the new President of Azerbaijan; and a short-lived Mughan-Talish Republic was declared in Lenkoran, a port city near the Iranian border.
- July 23 to September 4 1993, Karabagh Defense Forces take Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail, and Horadiz (although Horadiz keeps changing hands), thus taking the war to the rest of Azerbaijan.
- From December 22, 1993, to November 1994, the re-formed Azeri army, stiffened by Turkish and MegaOil (renegade Americans) training; Ukrainian, Turkish, and Chinese weaponry; and Afghan mujaheddin, launched new unsuccessful attacks on Karabagh.
- In May of 1994 a tenuous cease-fire went into effect, which is still holding today.
- December 28, 1994, The Karabagh Parliament created an independent Presidency such as in the United States and elected Robert Kocharian to fill it the next day.
Historically Armenian, Nagorno-Karabagh was connected to Armenia in ancient times, a connection that was lost after the division of the Armenian Kingdom in 387 AD. With the rise of Islam in the seventh century, Karabagh fell under Arab rule, where it stayed for 300 years.
In the eleventh century, Karabagh came under the rule of the Bagratid Kings of Georgia, relatives of the Armenian Bagratids, who held it until the Mongol invasion. After 100 years of Mongol rule, Karabagh fell into Turkish hands, where it stayed until the Persians took power in the early 1600s.
In 1603, Shah Abbas the Great of Persia allowed local Armenian rule in Karabagh under five meliks (kings). These five kinglets, later joined—but not supplanted—by a Muslim khanate, survived until the Russian conquest of Karabagh in 1828.
Under Russian rule, a deliberate effort was made to link Karabagh economically with the "Baku Province," later to be named Azerbaijan. With the withdrawal of Russian power following the Russian democratic revolution in February/March of 1917, Karabagh reemerged as a state, governed by the Assembly of Karabagh Armenians.
The Azerbaijanis, who were trying to organize their own state, contested the Armenians' right to rule Karabagh, even though it was overwhelmingly Armenian. The Azeris first turned for help to the British occupation force led by General Dunsterville, then to the Ottoman army under Nuri Pasha, and finally to the Russian Bolsheviks. With foreign aid, they won out.
At first the Soviets returned Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia; but after a brief period, Joseph Stalin gave it to Azerbaijan as an "autonomous region," and altered the boundaries so that Karabagh was cut off from Armenia and was smaller in size.
The next 70-plus years witnessed Azeri persecution of Armenians in an attempt to drive them out and replace them with Azeris, as was done in the Armenian territory of Nakhichevan.
In the Gorbachev era of glasnost, the Armenians brought the persecution of their brethren to the world's attention through massive peaceful demonstrations in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, in February 1988.
By openly and bravely protesting Soviet ethnic injustice for the first time, the reform movement in Nagorno-Karabagh ignited the independence movements in the Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe. The "Karabagh Movement" is thus the grandfather of freedom not only in Eastern Europe but in the former USSR itself.
At that time the Armenians wanted to attach Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia, to ensure its survival, but now they respect the wishes of the Nargorno-Karabagh Armenians to be independent. The independence movement has been met with appalling violence from the Azeris. In February 1988 there was a pogrom (massacre) against Armenians in Sumgait, a suburb of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. In November of 1988, there was a pogrom against Armenians in Kirovabad (now Ganja), in the interior of Azerbaijan. In 1989-90, there are joint Soviet-Azerbaijani forced deportations of Armenians living in towns and villages of Azerbaijan bordering Nagorno- Karabagh. In January of 1990, there was pogrom against Armenians in Baku itself.
When the Azeris began an outright military assault on the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh itself, they took up arms to defend their homes, their land, and their ancient culture. The Armenians are fighting for self-preservation and for the right of self- determination, while the Azeris are fighting to expel an ancient people from their historic homeland and to preserve power over a foreign province.
Today, a tenuous cease-fire is in place and has been holding for the past 16 months. However, the Azeris number eight million and have a wealth of oil resources to draw upon in the coming years, and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh only 160,000 and scant resources. Very little would prevent the Azeris from reopening hostilities and starting a full-scale war once the oil money enters its coffers. A genocide similar to that of 1915 is threatened unless the world takes an interest in and protects the lives of the embattled Armenian minority.
Despite numerous acts of provocation on the part of Azerbaijan—including a six-year-old blockade of Armenia—the Armenian government has studiously avoided being drawn into the war between the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh and the Azeri leaders in Baku. In October 1992, the US Congress enacted legislation banning direct US assistance to the government of Azerbaijan until the blockade is lifted and the aggression ends.
The six-year-old war has taken the lives of more than 16,000 people, and over 1,000,000 have been displaced. Azerbaijan currently has 600,000-1,000,000 refugees, Armenia 400,000 refugees, and Nagorno-Karabagh 60,000 refugees.
- The United States and the United Nations should recognize the independence of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh.
- Azeri leaders and Turkish leaders should reduce belligerent talk and cease to incite their people to war.
- Azerbaijan should cease hiring mujaheddin and other foreign mercenaries.
- Turkey should no longer train and supply Azerbaijani troops and should cease threatening gestures towards Armenia.
- Azerbaijan and Turkey should cease their illegal blockades of Armenia and Karabagh, which have caused untold suffering and death for the civilian population of Armenia.
- A permanent truce must be agreed upon and enforced.
- United Nations troops should be sent in to monitor a self- determination plebiscite.
The current situation is one of "no peace, no war." Negotiations continue, but with Azerbaijan insisting on the principle of "territorial integrity" (despite the fact that Eritrea was recognized by the world community as independent from Ethiopia after a war), little progress has been made.
Why Commemorate the Genocide
The Armenian Genocide created the Armenian-American community
Armenians have lived in the area of area of eastern Anatolia for over 2,500 years. Sometimes they have had their own sovereign states in that area, sometimes not. In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Turks became the rulers of the area, and Armenians lived under Ottoman rule for over 400 years. When the Ottoman Empire became decayed and corrupt, it began to turn on its Armenians in massacres, at first isolated in time and narrow in geographic focus, but escalating, first into Sultan Adulhamit II's massacres of 1894-96, and then into full genocide in 1915. Faced with this downturn in Ottoman-Armenian relations, Armenians began emigrating from the Ottoman Empire in the 1880s, often, as many other immigrants to, emigrating to the United States. The 1915 Genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, led to a major swell in the numbers of Armenians in the United States, enough to take them from small numbers of immigrants to a national community of Armenian-Americans.
The local Armenian-American community
The Detroit-area Armenian-American community, consisting of 30,000-50,000 people, is the third-largest in the United States, after Los Angeles and Boston. Just as Detroit grew up with the automobile industry, so did many of the early Armenian immigrants to Detroit prosper in their new land. As the Detroit-area community began to knit itself together, its members diversified into other professions. Detroit-area Armenian-Americans can be found in business, medicine, law, education, and in many other areas as well. Just as many people left Detroit for the suburbs, so too did the Armenian-Americans, whose new Detroit-area loci are Dearborn,Southfield, Farmington, Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, and Troy. The ranks of prominent Detroit-area Armenian-Americans include, Alex Manoogian, industrialist and philanthropist; Marilyn Varbedian, City Councilmember of Bloomfield; John Darakjian, jeweler; Richard Thompson, Oakland County Prosecutor; Kaye Tertzag, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge; State Senator George Hart; State Representative John Jamian; Edgar Hagopian, carpet distributor; Dennis R. Papazian, Professor and frequent radio and TV commentator; and George Googasian, George Bedrosian, and Peter Kupelian, attorneys.
The wounds of the Armenian Genocide still fester in the hearts of Armenian-Americans since Turkey denies its occurrence.
In the most part, Armenian-Americans are either survivors of the Armenian Genocide, or children and grandchildren of survivors. To have the successor state to the Ottoman Empire deny that the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were a victim of genocide, is a slap in the face to these survivors and descendants of survivors. Also, the modern state of Turkey adds insult to injury by falsely claiming that the Armenians were traitors wanting to collaborate with the Ottoman Empire's enemies in the midst of war. Turkish apologists take several local acts of self-defense and claim that the disorganized 2.5 million Ottoman Armenians were a threat to 17 million armed and organized Turks and Kurds. This dishonors the 1.5 million Armenians who were disarmed and killed by the Ottoman government and shames modern Turkey before the rest of world which does accept what happened as a genocide. See Appendix II
The denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government implies it has not ceased the genocidal policies of its Ottoman predecessor.
To this day, there are still some Armenians living in Turkey, mainly in Istanbul, where the presence of many foreigners made the Turks too nervous to try and wipe them out in 1915. However, their basic human rights are not respected by the government of Turkey. Restrictions are put on the ability of Armenian parents to decide on the education of their children. Restrictions are put on the functioning of Armenian schools in Turkey, as well as on the ability of Armenian churches to have repairs made. Armenian cemeteries are not afforded the same kind of police protection as Turkish cemeteries.
Turkey either destroys historic Armenian architecture and relics or relabels them as products of civilizations other than Armenian. This practice is leading to the obliteration (a cultural genocide) of the historic presence of Armenians in eastern Turkey, a presence which dates back over 2,500 years and predates the arrival of the Turks in Anatolia by over 1,500 years (succintly described by the German Vice Consul at Erzurum, Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, as "a culture which is older and much more elevated than that of the Turks").
In its foreign policy, modern Turkey has also shown its hostility towards Armenians. Turkey imposed an illegal blockade on Armenia in 1992, and its late president Turgut Ozal uttered several threats—never repudiated—against Armenia. Turkey has also illegally sent arms and instructors to help arm and train the Azerbajiani army, which was fighting Armenians.
What local Armenian-Americans will be doing to commemorate the Armenian Genocide
April 19, Wreath-laying ceremony (7:30 PM) at the Gomidas monument on Jefferson Ave, followed by a brief candlelight rally at Hart Plaza.
April 24, Talk From the Heart, a regular broadcast on WMUZ 103.5 FM, will have a special program on "April 24th and Its Present Day Ramifications" from 2:00-3:00 PM featuring Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, pastor of the Armenian Congregational Church (Southfield, MI), and Mr. Robert Kachadourian, a lay minister of the same church.
April 24, A memorial church service (beginning at 7:00 PM) and memorial dinner at St. Sarkis Armenian Church (Dearborn, MI).
April 28, A special memorial service will be held at St. John's Armenian Church (Southfield, MI) following the Sunday Mass which begins at 10:30. At 12:30 PM, a memorial dinner will be held at which Rev. Stuart Winster, Director of the British branch of Christian Solidarity International, an international human rights group, will be the keynote speaker.
Appendix I: Statements made by U.S. Presidents on the Armenian Genocide
Herbert Hoover wrote in his memoirs: "Probably Armenia was known to the American school child in 1919 only a little less than England . . . . of . . . the staunch Christians who were massacred periodically by the Mohammedian [sic] Turks, and the Sunday School collections [of] over fifty years for alleviating their miseries . . . .
President Reagan signed a proclamation, on April 22, 1981, which read in part, "Like the genocide of the Armenians before it and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it—and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples—the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten."
President Bush issued a news release in 1990 calling on all Americans to join with Armenians on April 24 in commemorating the "more than a million Armenian people who were victims".
President Clinton issued a news release on April 24, 1994, to commemorate the "tragedy" that befell the Armenians in 1915.
Appendix II: World Recognition of the Armenian Genocide
- The Germans and Austrians were allies of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Yet, their Ambassadors reported the truth to their superiors—who did not repudiate it. German Ambassador Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim reported to his superiors in Berlin on July 17, 1915, that the "Turks began deportations from areas now not threatened by invasion. This fact and the manner in which the relocation is being carried out demonstrate that the government is really pursuing the aim of destroying the Armenian race in Turkey." Austrian Ambassador Johann Markgraf Pallavicini told his superiors in Vienna on January 20, 1917, that "[t]he anti-Armenian measures aim at the extermination of the Armenian population."
- The Turks themselves, for a short time after World War I, were repentent and held trials of the criminals responsible for the murders of the Armenians. Some criminals were even executed by the Turks themselves.
The Turkish court martial indictment specified: "The massacre and destruction of the Armenians were the result of the decision-making of the Central Committee of Ittihad ve Terakki." A slightly later version of the Indictment, published after more crimes were discovered by the investigators, states that the crimes were executed ". . .in a particularly organized way," and involve ". . .the extermination of an entire people constituting a distinct community. . . ." In judging the case against the prime movers of the genocide, the President of the Court stated that "[p]erpetration of such atrocities is not only incompatible with Ottoman Laws and the Constitution, but also is contrary to the dictates of our faith[Islam]." [The Court was run by Muslims and only took testimony from Muslims.]
Unfortunately, the repentant government was driven out of power by the Nationalist Turks who created the new Republic of Turkey, and the executed criminals were posthumously declared to be national heroes.
- French President Francois Mitterand declared on January 6, 1984 that "this genocide must be inscribed in the memoirs of everyone, and the tragic fate of the Armenian people must serve as a lesson for the youth. No one should forget the Armenian will to survive, so that everyone will know that the Armenian people do not belong to the past, but they are a part of the present and will be here in the future."
- The Permanent People's Tribunal recognized the Armenian Genocide on April 16, 1984.
- The European Parliament voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide on June 18, 1987.
- The Russian Duma (the lower house of the bicameral Russian legislature) voted on April 20, 1994, to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
- Israel officially condemned the Armenian Genocide as Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin proclaimed on the floor of the Knesset (the Israeli legislature), on April 27, 1994, in answer to the claims of the Turkish Ambassador, that "It was not war. It was most certainly massacre and genocide, something the world must remember."
April 6, 1996