“Hopes in … dreams last much longer than fear instilled through murders.”

By Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD 19 January 2008

Over the past two decades several countries recognized the massacres of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the years 1915-1923 as an act of Genocide.

By Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD 19 January 2008

Over the past two decades several countries recognized the massacres of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the years 1915-1923 as an act of Genocide.

The International Association of Genocide Scholars and the vast majority of historians interested in the subject characterized the events as Genocide. Similarly the United Nations sub-commission on prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the World Council of Churches and the European Parliament weighed in and they too concurred with the aforementioned. Undoubtedly these have caused Turkish authorities enormous concerns. They consistently resorted to misinformation calling the events as inter-communal mass killings, or a tragic event that occurred due to "relocation", etc.
 
Having failed in their efforts to "persuade" the international community, the Turkish authorities have resorted to threats and high stake lobbying that became so porously evident during the past few months in USA. Simultaneously since 2005 they have trumpeted the call for a "joint commission" of historians to "impartially" study the events as if above mentioned scholars and international bodies were partial. It's comically ironic that while calling for a "joint commission" people who dare to speak about the massacres in terms other than defined by the authorities are prosecuted under article 301 of the Penal Code, murdered or turned away from studying the relevant archives that purportedly are open to the public for research.
 
The reader's attention is drawn to the Notice to Press & Public penned by Mehmet Sait Uluisik. He is a former Turkish citizen of Circassian descent, a journalist and a publisher, and currently lives in Germany. His personal account of  how and why he was turned away by Turkish authorities exposes the truth about the disingenuous claim that the archives are open to the public. The press conference held in Washington DC by Prof. Taner Akçam of University of Minnesota and Prof. Payam Akhavan of McGill University is a testimony of the havoc that Article 301 continues to cause. Prof. Akçam states, "What we want is very simple…We want freedom of speech and we want justice" and Prof. Akhavan goes on to say that "The use of Article 301 is a flagrant violation of freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention". The report about the conference is courtesy of the Armenian Assembly of America. 
 
Just recently the Foreign Relations Commission of the Armenian Parliament sponsored a hearing on “Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Perspectives”. One can't help wonder why Turkish scholars and dignitaries did not make the trip to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. What other befitting occasion could have presented itself  to Turkish authorities to open a dialogue if they were sincere in promoting the idea of a "joint commission"? Understandably some scholars who don't share the views of officialdom stayed away so that they don't face the draconian article 301 by "insulting Turkishness". Harut Sassounian, the publisher of the California Courier discusses relevant matters in his article Turks Miss Golden Opportunity by Refusing to Go to Yerevan.
 
The Toronto School Board in Ontario, Canada, recently embarked on a ground breaking initiative by introducing the Subject of Genocide in Grade 11 curriculum. In this regard Alan Whitehorn in an article entitled In order to prevent genocide, we need to learn about it  states, "Genocide education is one crucial tool for a more just and safer world, and perhaps with it "Peace on Earth" will become more than just a seasonal greeting." Alan Whitehorn is a professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, was a former J.S. Woodsworth Chair of Humanities at Simon Fraser University, and is a cross-appointed professor at Queen's University. The article originally appeared in The Kingston Whig-Standard.

Today is the anniversary of Hrant Dink's assassination. Memorials are being held in Turkey, Armenia and all major European and US cities. Prof. Müge Göçek of University of Michigan, a close friend of Hrant Dink and an outspoken scholar for democracy, justice, freedom of speech and Human Rights concludes her essay Hrant Dink: Memory and Hope as follows, "That dream, Hrant's dream, lives on because Hrant taught us to dream along with him before he was so unjustly murdered by forces that are still protected by the state. Yet dreams like his, like ours, do not die, ever. And hopes, in such dreams, last much longer than fear instilled through murders."
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