An American Muslim Responds to Muslim Orgs Questioning Armenian Genocide | Religion Dispatches

Yesterday I read an astonishing and upsetting press release. The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) released what I cannot in good conscience call anything but a cowardly prevarication in the face of moral tragedy. It is not only a forfeiture of what we, as Muslims, are called to—stand


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Source: An American Muslim Responds to Muslim Orgs Questioning Armenian Genocide | Religion Dispatches

Directors Slam Russell Crowe’s ‘Water Diviner’ Over Armenian Genocide Denial

Garin Hovannisian and Alec Mouhibian, co-directors of “1915 The Movie,” below present an open letter to Warner Bros., regarding the film “The Water Diviner.” On the April 24, 2015, the authors will mark the anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide along with tens of thousands of Armenians in a march from Hollywood Blvd. to the Turkish consulate to protest the country’s ongoing denial of the tragedy. Similar events will be held in New York and other major cities across the globe. The filmmakers will then travel to Armenia to screen “1915” for the Armenian government and their Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee.

Dear Warner Bros:

On April 24, 2015, your studio is set to release Russell Crowe‘s directorial debut “The Water Diviner” — a historical drama about an Australian father who travels to Gallipoli, Turkey, in search of his dead sons, who were among the Australian troops that landed there in 1915. He discovers, among other things, that the Turks were never really his enemies. In fact they were the noble victims who ultimately triumphed against the imperial West in World War I.

The problem is that April 24, 2015, also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which was perpetrated by the very Turkish government whitewashed by “The Water Diviner.” It was on April 24, 1915 — the night before the Gallipoli landing — that the Young Turk regime set into motion its unprecedented plan: the efficient deportation and slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians and the destruction of their homeland of thousands of years.

Read complete letter here:

Open Letter by Genocide Scholars


President: Robert Melson (USA)
Vice-President: Israel Charny (Israel)
Secretary-Treasurer: Steven Jacobs (USA)

Respond to: Robert Melson, Professor of Political Science Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA

April 6, 2005

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
TC Easbakanlik
Ankara, Turkey
FAX: 90 312 417 0476

Dear Prime Minister Erdogan:

We are writing you this open letter in response to your call for an “impartial study by historians” concerning the fate of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

We represent the major body of scholars who study genocide in North America and Europe. We are concerned that in calling for an impartial study of the Armenian Genocide you may not be fully aware of the extent of the scholarly and intellectual record on the Armenian Genocide and how this event conforms to the definition of the United Nations Genocide Convention. We want to underscore that it is not just Armenians who are affirming the Armenian Genocide but it is hundreds of independent scholars, who have no affiliations with governments, and whose work spans many countries and nationalities and the course of decades. The scholarly evidence reveals the following:

On April 24, 1915, under cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens – an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years.

The Armenian Genocide was the most well-known human rights issue of its time and was reported regularly in newspapers across the United States and Europe. The Armenian Genocide is abundantly documented by thousands of official records of the United States and nations around the world including Turkey’s wartime allies Germany, Austria and Hungary, by Ottoman court-martial records, by eyewitness accounts of missionaries and diplomats, by the testimony of survivors, and by decades of historical scholarship.

The Armenian Genocide is corroborated by the international scholarly, legal, and human rights community:

1) Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin, when he coined the term genocide in 1944, cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant by genocide.

2) The killings of the Armenians is genocide as defined by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

3) In 1997 the International Association of Genocide Scholars, an organization of the world’s foremost experts on genocide, unanimously passed a formal resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.

4) 126 leading scholars of the Holocaust including Elie Wiesel and Yehuda Bauer placed a statement in the New York Times in June 2000 declaring the “incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide” and urging western democracies to acknowledge it.

5) The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), the Institute for the Study of Genocide (NYC) have affirmed the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide.

6) Leading texts in the international law of genocide such as William A. Schabas’s Genocide in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2000) cite the Armenian Genocide as a precursor to the Holocaust and as a precedent for the law on crimes against humanity.

We note that there may be differing interpretations of genocide – how and why the Armenian Genocide happened, but to deny its factual and moral reality as genocide is not to engage in scholarship but in propaganda and efforts to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history.

We would also note that scholars who advise your government and who are affiliated in other ways with your state-controlled institutions are not impartial. Such so-called “scholars” work to serve the agenda of historical and moral obfuscation when they advise you and the Turkish Parliament on how to deny the Armenian Genocide.

We believe that it is clearly in the interest of the Turkish people and their future as a proud and equal participant in international, democratic discourse to acknowledge the responsibility of a previous government for the genocide of the Armenian people, just as the German government and people have done in the case of the Holocaust.


Robert Melson
Professor of Political Science
President, International Association of Genocide Scholars

Israel Charny
Vice President, International Association of Genocide Scholars
Editor in Chief, Encyclopedia of Genocide

Peter Balakian
Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities
Colgate University


Gone Too Soon

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” ― Joseph Conrad

2015 brought an unthinkable tragedy into the family of Avetisyans. Six of its members were brutally murdered on January 12 in their home in Gyumri: 2nd largest city of the Republic of Armenia. Armenians of the world are mourning the loss of 6 innocent people: husband and wife Seryozha and Hasmik Avetisyans 56 and 54 years old respectively, their 34-year-old son Armen Avetisyan, their 36-year-old daughter Aida Avetisyan, their 24-year-old daughter-in-law Araksya Poghosyan, and their 2-year-old granddaughter Asmik Avetisyan. Little Seryozha, their 6-month-old grandson, who, by all laws of science and medicine should have been the seventh member on this tragic list, was found laying next to his mother’s lifeless body – fighting for his life. One shudders at the thought of the terror that this tiny human was forced to encounter, the degree of evil that he faced. What unnatural forces helped him to survive the injuries inflicted by a hand of a monster would eternally stay an enigma, but he managed to pull through, and this alone is considered nothing less than a miracle.

In the city of Gyumri, 126 kilometers from Yerevan, the Russian 102nd Military Base is located. Established in 1940s for security reasons – it is guarding the borders of Armenia with Turkey – this Military Base is and has been one of the most important objects of geopolitical presence of Russia in the Caucasus. It is one of the pivotal elements representing Russian-Armenian relations, relations that were formed over decades and built on mutual trust, that were shattered in a day. It was in this Military Base that the alleged murderer was serving. It is said that the 18-year-old Valeriy Permyakov, a Russian solder from the Russian city of Tver, had been transferred to the 102nd Military Base in Gyumri in the month of December of 2014. On that notorious day, Permyakov left the Military Base without authorization and went for a stroll dressed in his military attire and armed with his AK-74 automatic rifle (the main service rifle currently used by Russian and Armenian armed forces). He then allegedly knocked at the door of the Avetisyans’ house, however did not wait for an answer and let himself in. We already know what happened next. Just like that, an 18-year-old soldier murdered a family of six. We cannot fathom what could have possibly filled him with so much hatred not only towards the adults of the household but towards 2 innocent kids, who had neither done harm to him nor to anyone else. How, after the AK-74 misfired (and it is believed that this weapon does not misfire even in worst conditions possible) during the attempt to kill the 6-month-old child, could he reach for the knife and try to finish the job by stabbing him?

He fled the scene of the murder leaving behind shattered lives, his military boots with his name inscribed on the inside and his military uniform. By changing his clothes he hoped to escape undetected. The next day, on January 13, Permyakov was detained by Armenian border guards near the Armenian-Turkish border during his attempts to cross the border and flee to Turkey.

Armenians and the Genocide: An Englishman’s Perspective

By Russell A Pollard

On April 24th 2009 I was making the last preparations for my trip to Tbilisi in May of that year: the day was just like any other day – it meant nothing to me. A few weeks later as I was in the airport looking for my flight I noticed that we were making a brief stop in Yerevan; a place that I had never heard of before. I had to check the map to find out where it was.

Prior to visiting Georgia I had been to many of the old Eastern bloc countries including Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania, and also ex-Soviet countries of Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus. I always travelled alone, and on each occasion that I visited somewhere, I never returned. Having discovered that Armenia existed, I decided that my next trip, after Georgia, would be to Yerevan.

Although I was there as a tourist, I enjoyed just walking around and being mindful of a few key places; it was always the people and their history which was most important, not just the guide book “attractions”. During my first stay, it was Armenia’s Independence Day, and I joined a group of Army veterans who marched from the city centre, the long distance to the Yerablur Cemetery, to remember the many who fell in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. It was a solemn occasion. I couldn’t help but be affected by what I saw and was reminded of the many images that I had seen on the TV news from the early 1990’s. The following day I decided to walk to the Genocide Memorial and to pay my respects. The Armenian Genocide was not taught in British schools so my knowledge was very poor. Looking at the photographs, reading the transcripts, and listening to the audio was a very humbling experience. Words fail to describe my emotions; I was ashamed that I knew nothing about this tragedy. Outside I walked through the garden of plaques, many times, looking for the one from the People of the United Kingdom so I could take a photograph. After a while I stopped, as I couldn’t find it; I assumed that I was not being careful enough with my search. I later realised why there was not a plaque there.

All week I had seen many images of Mount Ararat on books, T-shirts, posters – everywhere, but I had never actually seen it myself. Perhaps it was further away than I thought, perhaps I was looking in the wrong direction, perhaps the weather wasn’t kind to me. On my last day as I was walking up the steep main road towards the statue of Mother Armenia, trying to avoid being hit by the cars, I finally reached a resting place, so I could catch my breath. I looked west, the clouds had parted, and there, rising magnificently in front of me, was Mount Ararat. I was overcome with emotion.

That first visit touched me greatly for many reasons, and I felt I had to return; there was so much unfinished business. I also wanted to go to Nagorno-Karabakh and I made my first journey there in May 2010. Since then I have visited Armenia and Artsakh twice per year and have developed a better understanding of the culture, the people, the language and the political issues and am fortunate, now, to know many Armenians who I consider great friends. The warmth that has been shown to me has drawn me much closer to the issues, and I feel that I have a personal responsibility to do whatever I can to become, and remain, engaged.

The notion of being an Armenian is a very curious concept and one that has intrigued me from those early days, and one which is completely alien to someone from a multi-cultural society. The common ancestry of all of the Armenians throughout the world provides a degree of cohesion to this disparate group of people which is only reinforced by the shared tragedy of the Armenian Genocide.

Outside of the Armenian community, and academics, my experience is that almost no one has heard of the Armenian Genocide in the UK, whereas with the Jewish Holocaust it would be very unusual for someone not to be aware of it. This is an indictment on our education system but is to be wholly expected of a country that does not recognise that a Genocide took place.

I have heard people say that the Armenians should look forward, and not backwards and to let go of the Genocide question. Apart from being disrespectful, it shows a complete lack of understanding of basic human nature; it is about closure and justice. In the same way that individuals cannot rest if they have not been able to formally bury their lost loved ones, then the same condition applies at a national level. The post-war trials of the Nazi criminals, and the global recognition of the Jewish Holocaust leaves them in a state of relative peace as they have been able to achieve closure and justice and it has been seen to be done. The Armenians are the polar opposite, and the priorities of political expedience seem to have taken precedence over the torment of millions of people. This is not a long term solution and I fear that this diplomatic indifference is also an active ingredient in the lack of progress in recognising Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent country. At some point, someone needs to take a stand and bring peace to the Armenian nation and to allow them to concentrate on the future.

Whilst I didn’t realise this at the time, but the fact that Mount Ararat, the iconic symbol of Armenians, is situated in present-day Turkey, signifies one thing only – the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians. Now I understand why I shed so many tears that day!

Russell Pollard

I am an independent photographer and journalist from England with connections in Armenia, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), and within the global Diaspora, There are many issues around Armenia, Armenians, their history and the unresolved war in Nagorno-Karabakh which deserve attention. One of those is the Armenian Genocide in 1915 where 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire. Recognition and resolution of this is about allowing life to progress and not just about changing the history books.

All of my original articles on Artsakh and Armenia can be found at http://www.Artsakh.Org.UK

Article Source: Armenians and the Genocide: An Englishman’s Perspective