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Turkish rights group calls for end of Genocide denial

Turkish rights group calls for end of Genocide denial

PanARMENIAN.Net - On the eve of World War I, around 2 million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire in 2,925 settlements including cities, towns, neighborhoods and villages all over the Asia Minor from West to East, North to South. They had 1,996 schools with 173,000 students, both boys and girls, and 2,538 churches and monasteries, the Association said, according to the Armenian Weekly.

“The Genocide as well as the policies pursued by the Turkish government during the Republican period put an end to these communities. The villages and neighborhoods after the annihilation of their inhabitants were no longer Armenian settlements. Today’s Armenian population in Turkey, estimated to be around 60,000, live dispersed mainly in three major cities, primarily Istanbul. The state did not only exterminate Armenians but erased their traces. You will not find any indication of Armenian life in places which were once Armenians’ hometowns. Churches were not only left to become ruins due to the forces of nature, but they were destroyed by cannon balls and dynamite. There is not a single Armenian school today all over the Anatolian peninsula. Armenians were not only killed en masse but also their whole civilization with their schools, churches, cemeteries, monasteries, businesses was wiped out,” it said.

“Genocide is not only unimaginable atrocities, mass murders, dead bodies floating on rivers, valleys filled with mutilated human bodies. Nor is it only the fatal march where death becomes a salvation, as compared to the horrors, robbery, rape, illness, or being forced to leave behind the dead bodies of your loved ones, the deep, incurable injury passed from one generation to the other, an indescribable, irreparable, unforgivable evil in action. Genocide is also an enormous robbery. And it is not only limited to the Armenians’ countless immovables seized by the state and the local notables, that are worth amounts beyond calculation, the statement said.

The Human Rights Association of Turkey emphasized that the “shameless denialists on TV channels, those “reputable” academics and intellectuals are legitimizing and justifying the Genocide. They are encouraged by the fact that the majority of the Turkish public are ready to believe them, even expect them to reinforce in this manner what they already believe in—i.e. the official theses. Denial means to insult the victims, their memory and their descendants. Denial means criminalizing and antagonizing the descendants of the victims. Denial means the continuation of the Genocide, this biggest crime against humanity. What is worse, it means creating and winning the support of a society which chooses to be a bystander and keep silent.”

“We, as human rights defenders, insist that the Genocide should not be reduced to a political and diplomatic agenda item of negotiations, a tool to be used in international relations. It can’t and it should never be forgotten that Genocide is before anything else and more than anything else a mass human rights violation committed by the state itself—a crime against humanity,” the statement said.

“Denial is the most comprehensive, most effective and most widespread human rights violation, due to the simple fact that it becomes the source of, furthermore an encouragement for a wide variety of many more current and future human rights violations. The Turkish state should hear and respond to the demands, requests and wishes expressed by the Armenians who are uprooted from their homeland and dispersed throughout the world for the restitution of the incalculable losses their ancestors and they themselves have suffered and continue to suffer because of the Genocide and its denial. Denialism is also an obstacle to the process of restitution of losses, to any step for alleviating the continued sufferings and to the achievement of justice,” the Association concluded.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres and deportations, involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, Italy, 45 U.S. states, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Argentina, Belgium, Austria, Wales, Switzerland, Canada, Poland, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, the Vatican, Luxembourg, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Sweden, Venezuela, Slovakia, Syria, Vatican, as well as the European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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