Overcoming A Century of Pain

Turkish Christians take first step toward embittered Armenians

Turkish and Armenian Christians circle the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, on April 11. NOTE: faces have been blurred to protect identities.
Turkish and Armenian Christians circle the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan,
Armenia, on April 11.
NOTE: faces have been blurred to protect identities (photo, Ricardo P
essoa)

“We came to share your pain,” Turkish Christians declared in early April, standing before TV cameras at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.

“We have come here to apologize for what our ancestors did, to ask for your forgiveness,” two spokesmen for the Turks went on to say.

Shocked viewers across Armenia watching the Azdarar TV news channel on April 11 could hardly believe their eyes and ears.

Turks, claiming to be Christian? And laying wreaths at the nation’s genocide memorial? How could Turks, of all people, come to Armenia to honor the memory of more than a million Armenian Christians who had been slaughtered 100 years ago by their own forefathers, the Ottoman Turks?

Gathered around the monument’s eternal flame, the more than twenty Turkish citizens spoke out simply, and repeatedly: “We plead with you, if you can, to forgive us and the crimes of our forefathers.” Continue reading “Overcoming A Century of Pain”

Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

The State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in consultation with its regional committees in the Diaspora,
– expressing the united will of the Armenian people,
– based on the Declaration of Independence of Armenia of 23 August 1990 and the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia,
– recalling the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, whereby recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
– guided by the respective principles and provisions of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96(1) of 11 December 1946, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide  of 9 December 1948,  the United Nations Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of 26 November 1968, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 as well as all the other international documents on human rights,
– taking into consideration that while adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the United Nations specifically underlined the importance of international cooperation in the struggle against that criminal offence,
– emphasizing the inadmissibility of impunity of the constituent elements of the crime of genocide and the non-applicability of statutory limitation thereto,
– condemning the genocidal acts against the Armenian people, planned and continuously  perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and various regimes of Turkey in 1894-1923, dispossession of the homeland, the massacres and ethnic cleansing aimed at the extermination of the Armenian population, the destruction of the Armenian heritage, as well as the denial of the Genocide, all attempts to avoid responsibility, to consign to oblivion the committed crimes and their consequences or to justify them, as a continuation of this crime and  encouragement  to commit new genocides,
– also considering the 1919-1921 verdicts of the courts-martial of the Ottoman Empire on that grave crime perpetrated “against the law and humanity’’ as a legal assessment of the fact,
– appreciating the joint declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, for the first time in history defining the most heinous crime perpetrated against the Armenian people as a “crime against humanity and civilization” and emphasizing the necessity of holding Ottoman authorities responsible, as well as the role and significance of the Sevres Peace Treaty of 10 August 1920 and US President Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award of 22 November 1920 in overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide: Continue reading “Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide”

24 April – 100 Years from the Armenian Genocide

In commemoration of the Armenian genocide, where about 1.5 million Armenians were killed to the Turks of Ataturk – a criminal act that was never admitted by the Turkish government, I invite you to watch (or watch again) the movie Ararat, directed by Atom Egoyan.

Nick Danforth – The Armenian Genocide’s Samantha Power Problem

Armenian genocide victims
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated
1915 purportedly shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the
Armenian village of Sheyxalan during the First World War

We are living strange times. Although both Nazi and communist ideologies have made tens of millions of victims, we still have Nazi and communist adepts on one side, and Gulag and Holocaust deniers on the other. Besides, we have the fanatics, on both sides. Even today, Lavrov, the Russian (I almost said Soviet) foreign minister, was vehement about the (unproven information) that Americans instigated one of the East European countries to tear down one of the monuments dedicated to the (supposedly heroic) Soviet Army, while at the same time denying that they are the natural heirs of the Soviet empire, that Putin in foolishly and violently trying to rebuild, as we can see these days in Ukraine.

Things are not different with the Armenian Genocide that we are commemorating these days. One one side we have the Middle Ages-like Turkish regime of Erdogan, which continues to deny the primes of the Young Turks in 1915, while of the other side we have fanatic Armenian nationalists, who are trying, at any cost, to oversimplify things and to present the whole matter as merely anti-Christian persecution, denying the role played in these tragic events by the Armenian insurgents, who followed the example of various Christians nations in the Balkans who obtained – in most cases by violence, their legitimate independence from under the oppression exercised by the Ottoman Empire. Armenians in Eastern Turkey, a territory which for many centuries, even before the time of Christ, belonged to Armenia, until it was occupied by force by the Turks.

No surprise then that Armenians (in an absolutely legitimate way, I believe) tried to obtain their independence, if needed by the use of force, while Ataturk’s Young Turks, tried to hold on at any price – even that of genocide – to the leftovers of their damned empire.

This is, more or less, the argument of a well written article published by Nick Danforth in Foreign Policy. Continue reading “Nick Danforth – The Armenian Genocide’s Samantha Power Problem”

Map of the Armenian Genocide

Armenian genocide map

(Source, HERE. It worth also reading the article.)

You may find HERE more maps of this tragedy.

Armenian Genocide Timeline

Ottoman Armenians are marched to a prison in Kharpert, Armenia, by armed Turkish soldiers in April 1915. Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in what is now recognized as the 20th century's first genocide.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were massacred under the Ottoman Empire. But the most horrifying event was to come in 1915.

1913: Coup brings the ultranationalist Young Turks to power in Constantinople (Istanbul). Three ruling figures were Grand Vizier Mehmed Talat Pasha, Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha and Minister of the Navy Ahmed Djemal Pasha: principal architects of the genocide.

October 1914: After signing a secret treaty with Germany, Turkey launches attack on Russian ports and enters war on German side. Armenians considered “internal enemies.”

February 1915: Talat Pasha tells the German ambassador it is time to conclude the “Armenian question.” The ruling Ottoman Central Committee discusses plans to “eliminate the Armenian people in its entirety.”

April 24, 1915: Talat Pasha orders arrest of more than 200 Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople, and about 2,000 others follow. They are deported and many of them killed.

April 1915 to May 1918: Ethnic cleansing of Armenians launched on vast scale with murders, looting, burning of villages, rapes, deportations. Western observers estimate more than one million are dead at the campaign’s end.

October 1918: Turkey signs armistice with the Allies, Ottoman Empire is subsequently dismantled.

1923: Turkey becomes republic under Kemal Ataturk.

(Source, HERE.)

Canonisation of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide to Be Held on 23rd April 2015

Canonisation

LIVESTREAM of the Canonisation of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide – April 23, starting at 17:00 Armenia Time Zone (UTC+04:00) [4PM Romania time], will be streamed in different media services from the Open Air Altar at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The canonization marks a major event in the history of the Armenian nation, as no elevation to sainthood has taken place in the Armenian Apostolic Church since the fourteenth century.

Stream the ceremony at www.agbu.org, www.agbu.am or www.armeniangenocide100.org at the times below:

Yerevan: 5:00 PM
Beirut: 4:00 PM
Paris: 3:00 PM
New York: 9:00 AM
Los Angeles: 6:00 AM

* * *

Source, HERE.

Armenian Genocide Centenial – 1915-2015

Armenian Genocide Centenial

On 24 April the democratic world commemorates 100 hundred years from the Armenian genocide, when about 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the troops of the Young Turks government. Turkey denies, even today, its responsibility in this horrible criminal state act.

Shamefully, because of pathetic political and economic calculations, Romania has not yet recognised this historically established fact.

You may find HERE a website dedicated this this commemoration and to the facts related to this tragic moment in Armenian history.

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 4

Two other Syrian refugees have heard that we are interested in their stories and have come to find us.

“It’s important that you tell the truth, that you get the whole picture,” the first one says. “If you’re interested in covering the camp, we want you to know that none of us will be staying in the camp. They didn’t even ask us before they started building. Personally, I think that women and children should be brought out from Syria, to the camp, and that the men should be given heavier weapons so that they can defend their areas from al-Qaeda and Salafists.”

The other one follows up: “We don’t want food; we don’t want to hide in refugee camps in Turkey! We want shelter for our families and weapons for ourselves. Syria must not be purged of non-Muslims. We want to fight for the future of the Christians in Syria.”

The refugees and their stories have made us forget the time. We have to hurry to get to a meeting with Metropolitan Samuel Aktas at the monastery in Mor Gabriel, about 10 minutes away. Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 4”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 3

A little later that evening we meet a Turkish journalist, who asks to be anonymous. She and her husband are well-known human-rights activists. They have just returned from Syria where they have investigated the situation for Christians. She isn’t as pleased as the church leaders about the camp.

“They are going to build not one but two camps, one for 6,000 Muslims and one for 4,000 Christians,” she says. “What will happen if Christians can’t flee from Syria, if they don’t need to flee from Syria? Then both camps will be used for Muslims. Then 10,000 Syrian Muslims will be located in close vicinity to one of the world’s oldest monasteries.”

She lights a cigarette. “I mean, I am a Muslim myself, this is not what I’m talking about. This is a gorgeous part of Turkey, a tourist attraction, a culturally and historically important site without counterpart. Assyrians/Syriacs have lived here for thousands of years. It’s inconceivable that they want to ruin Tur Abdin (a historically important part of Turkey’s southeast region) with these two enormous camps. There are many other locations for refugee camps that are not a few hundred metres from the centre of Midyat. Nothing good will come of this. Should there be problems or crimes, the Christians will point out the Muslims and vice versa. The citizens of Midyat should have had their say. Instead, everything happened practically overnight. The Foreign Minister and a few Bishops was all it took, as I see it, to ruin Midyat. Just look at the media reports in the past few days about fighting between locals and Syrian refugees in Jordan. And yet both groups belong to the same religion!” Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 3”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 2

Later that afternoon, I am summoned to Metropolitan Saliba Özmen’s monastery office. Representatives of three Christian religious denominations have gathered to discuss what kind of help Christian refugees from Syria would need. A Jesuit priest says it upsets him that the small number of refugees in Turkey should be banished to a camp. Christian organizations should be able to provide food and shelter for them. Özmen defends the idea: “We have been taking care of them for a year and a half. They have lived and eaten for free in the monastery. We fear that they will arrive in large numbers; we can’t possibly help them here in Mardin. That is why we turned to the Turkish government and asked for help. Moreover, it’s the tourist season; besides being a historical holy site and a convent school, it is also a tourist attraction.”

The Jesuit rolls his eyes. “It’s a good thing if the tourists can see that the monastery is helping refugees, isn’t it?” No one speaks for a while; the only thing you can hear is the rattle of the rain against the window pane. The Jesuit and the representatives of the various churches get up and take their leave.

When they are gone, Özmen asks for more tea for us. He confesses that things have not gone as planned. “We asked the government for barracks, not tents,” he tells me. “The whole thing has turned out so wrong. Anyway, the refugees that are here, and are coming to Mardin, will live in apartments. A Syriac Orthodox organization from Sweden, Youth Initiative, is helping with rents for four apartments. So the people living in the monastery can be moved.” Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 2”

World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 1

Earthwork on the site at Midyat, Turkey

Turkey is building a tent ciEarthwork on the site at Midyat, Turkey,
where thousands of Syrian Christians may live. The Mor Gabriel
monastery is in the background, at right.

Photo: Saima Altunkaya for World Watch Monitor

Turkey is building a tent city for thousands of Syrian Christians. Why?

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria live in camps just inside Turkey. So the April 10 news item from Reuters, announcing the creation of two more camps in Turkish town of Midyat, just beyond Syria’s northeastern border, didn’t seem like much.

But something caught my eye: A camp specifically for Syrian Christians? This was new. Of all the Syrian refugees in Turkey, only a few hundred are Christian. Now they need a camp?

I’m calling clergy and others in Midyat. They can’t agree about the number of refugees it is supposed to shelter. One is saying 10,000 Christians, another 1,000. Reuters says 2,500.

Nowhere in the Islamic world has a refugee camp for the Christians of one country been built across the border in a neighbouring country. Now Turkey is building a camp that will hold between 3 and 30 times the number of Syrian Christians currently taking refuge in the country. Why? Why is Turkey creating a small city to handle a flood of Syrian Christians?

The news reports – what few there were – didn’t say. The only way to get answers is to go to Midyat. Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: A Refugees Camp Just for Syrian Christians in Turkey? – 1”

Police break up plot to assassinate Turkish pastor

Emre Karaali
Emre Karaali, Pastor of Izmir Protestant Church

Summary

ISTANBUL, Jan. 17 (World Watch Monitor) — Police in Turkey say they thwarted an assassination plot against a Christian pastor Tuesday when they arrested 14 suspects, two of whom had been part of his congregation for more than a year.

Emre Karaali, pastor of Izmit Protestant Church and the target of the alleged plot, said two of the arrested suspects were regular members, feigning interest in Christianity. One of them, he said, participated in a baptism in July.

Some of the other suspects also had visited the church, Karaali told World Watch Monitor. He said three of the suspects are women.

“These people had infiltrated our church and collected information about me, my family and the church and were preparing an attack against us,” said Karaali, 33, a native Turk and a convert to Christianity. “Two of them attended our church for over a year and they were like family.” Continue reading “Police break up plot to assassinate Turkish pastor”

Turkish general suspected in murders of Christians

OrthodoxNews : Message: Turkish general suspected in murders of Christians.

25 June (ENInews)–A retired Turkish general has been arrested in
connection with the murders of three Christians in an alleged plot to
destabilize the country, according to a 24 June report in Turkey’s
Zaman daily.

General Hursit Tolon was arrested on suspicion of being a member of a
clandestine group within the armed forces suspected of plotting to
undermine the government by “creating chaos and unease.”

The newspaper said Tolon was one of 19 charged with involvement in the
April 2007 killing of three Protestants at a Christian publishing
house at Malatya in southeastern Anatolia, after plans for the murders
were found at a nearby naval base.

Read the rest of the article at the link above.

Together, But Divided – A Journey Through Cyprus

Being in Cyprus at this time, I can see again how painful is the separation between the Greek part of the island and the Turkish occupied part.

If you are interested to understand better the situation in this place, I recommend to you a very well made and well balanced Deutche Welle documentary on this theme. You may find it HERE.