‘Your Demands are our Demands’: Turkish HR Group Sends Letters to Etchmiadzin, Antelias

A Turkish citizen holds the photograph of Armenian poet Daniel Varoujan, who was a victim of the Armenian Genocide. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)

A Turkish citizen holds the photograph of Armenian poet Daniel Varoujan, who was a victim of the Armenian Genocide. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (A.W.)–The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association sent letters today to the Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II and the Catholicos of Cilicia Aram I, expressing solidarity with their demands for truth and justice. The Armenian Weekly presents below the full texts of both letters.

His Holiness Aram I
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia
Antelias, Lebanon

Your Holiness,

Today is the 24th of April, 2012, the 97th anniversary of the arrests of the Armenian intellectuals of Istanbul, which represents the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.

As a result of the process of genocide which began with the arrests in Istanbul on April 24, 1915, the Cilicia Catholicosate, which has not only been one of the spiritual centers of the historic Western Armenia for hundreds of years but which also represents its cultural and social identity, was forcibly displaced to Lebanon from the lands where it belonged. As defenders of human rights in Turkey, we are writing this letter to you to express our belief that it is in these lands that your Catholicosate belongs.

We are writing this letter to you in order to say that we bow in shame and in respect before the memory of the Ottoman Armenians who were massacred and dispossessed of all their riches, of all their richness of every kind, and effectively, even of the vestiges of their past. We are addressing our letter to you to declare that we remain the defenders of the usurped rights of the children and the grandchildren of the victims who survived massacre and were dispersed to all corners of the earth.

On August 31, 2011, you sent a letter to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey regarding the legislative changes concerning the restitution of some of the properties of non-Muslim foundations. You wrote, “The Armenian people will remain the rightful owners of the innumerable churches, hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, cemeteries, and various religious and public properties confiscated by the Turkish state in the days of Genocide in 1915.” You then added, “The Armenian people will remain the rightful owners of the houses, businesses, and properties of their ancestors who were victims of the Genocide which was planned and perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government.”

In your letter, you declared that the Armenian people will never abdicate their demands on Turkey for justice regarding the Armenian Genocide, and for the restoration of human rights. You wrote, “Dear Prime Minister, your declarations regarding justice and human rights will only be documented when you recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

We are writing this letter to address you and thus all the Armenians in the world, to state that your demands voice the requirements of the most basic human rights, and that they are also our demands.

On April 24, 2011, the same day that we were commemorating in Istanbul the 96th anniversary of the arrest of the Armenian intellectuals, Sevag Şahin Balıkçı was shot dead while on mandatory military duty in the Turkish army in the city of Batman. Officials gave misleading information and manipulated witnesses in order to declare the death an accident. Further inspection and investigations have since pointed to premeditated murder. The murder of Sevag Şahin Balıkçı is evidence that there has been no life security for Armenians since 1915, that the process of genocide is ongoing, and that the denialism of 97 years perpetuates genocide.

In the 97th year of the process of genocide, which began with the arrests in Istanbul on April 24, 1915, and which included the annihilation of the Armenians as well as the Assyrians and Greeks of Anatolia, we are writing this letter to directly address you and the children of the victims of the Armenian genocide around the world, whom you represent. We hereby declare our belief that it is only after the recognition of the Genocide and the restitution of and/or compensation for the confiscated property of Armenians that justice can be established.

Your humble servants,

Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch
Committee Against Racism and Discrimination
TURKEY

***

His All Holiness Karekin II
Catholicos of All Armenians
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

Your Holiness,

Today is the 24th of April, 2012, the 97th anniversary of the arrests of the Armenian intellectuals of Istanbul, which represents the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.

We are writing this letter to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, which represents all the Armenians in the world, in order to say that we bow in shame and in respect before the memory of the Ottoman Armenians who were massacred and dispossessed of all their riches, of all their richness of every kind, and effectively, even of the vestiges of their past. We are addressing our letter to you to declare that we remain the defenders of the usurped rights of the children and the grandchildren of the victims who survived massacre and were dispersed to all corners of the earth.

The denial of the Genocide by Turkey has lasted for 97 years, not only as a state policy but also as a socially pervasive view. We are writing this letter to you so as to declare that the denial of a crime against humanity, such as Genocide, is a transgression of human rights, which itself leads to other transgressions and feeds enmity and hate.

You visited Istanbul in 2006 on the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Your visit met with attacks against your person and your See by proponents of hate in Turkey, due especially to a reply you gave in the press conference. You said, “For our people, the Genocide is not a matter of investigation; it is a factual event that took place, and must be recognized as such.” Your words were themselves subjected to an investigation under article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, whose legitimacy we contest in the most absolute terms.

We are writing you this letter to state that we share the views you voiced in the press conference in their entirety. As defenders of human rights, we deem the campaign against you by proponents of enmity and hate, as well as the investigation initiated by the Turkish judiciary, to be an attack against human rights.

On April 24, 2011, the same day that we were commemorating in Istanbul the 96th anniversary of the arrest of the Armenian intellectuals, Sevag Şahin Balıkçı was shot dead while on mandatory military duty in the city of Batman. Officials gave misleading information and manipulated witnesses in order to declare the death an accident. Further inspection and investigations have since pointed to premeditated murder. The murder of Sevag Şahin Balıkçı is evidence that there has been no life security for Armenians since 1915, that the process of genocide is ongoing, and that the denialism of 97 years perpetuates genocide.

In the 97th year of the process of genocide, which began with the arrests in Istanbul on April 24, 1915, and which included the annihilation of the Armenians as well as the Assyrians and Greeks of Anatolia, we are writing this letter to directly address you and the children of the victims of the Armenian genocide around the world, whom you represent. We hereby declare our belief that it is only after the recognition of the Genocide and the restitution of and/or compensation for the confiscated property of Armenians that justice can be established.

Truly yours,

Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch
Committee Against Racism and Discrimination
Turkey

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