Where Are Our Legal Minds?

 Vahe H. Apelian, Loveland OH, 22 April 2016

During the week leading to April 24 the Armenian-American media was caught in a frenzy of editorials regarding two matters that pertain to us. The first was Mr. Erdogan’s lawsuit against a German artist. The second was about President Obama not using the word Genocide in his upcoming April 24 announcement. In my view, the Armenian-American media reacted impulsively in these editorials.
Harut Sassounian penned the editorial regarding Mr. Erdogan’s lawsuit. It was titled “Shame on German Chancellor Merkel for Succumbing to Erdogan’s Bullying”. "Armenian Weekly’s" editorial “Reckless Retreat: President Obama Not to Recognize Armenian Genocide for Eighth Time” was obviously about the President not using the word Genocide in the April 24 announcement.

 Vahe H. Apelian, Loveland OH, 22 April 2016

During the week leading to April 24 the Armenian-American media was caught in a frenzy of editorials regarding two matters that pertain to us. The first was Mr. Erdogan’s lawsuit against a German artist. The second was about President Obama not using the word Genocide in his upcoming April 24 announcement. In my view, the Armenian-American media reacted impulsively in these editorials.
Harut Sassounian penned the editorial regarding Mr. Erdogan’s lawsuit. It was titled “Shame on German Chancellor Merkel for Succumbing to Erdogan’s Bullying”. "Armenian Weekly’s" editorial “Reckless Retreat: President Obama Not to Recognize Armenian Genocide for Eighth Time” was obviously about the President not using the word Genocide in the April 24 announcement.

Regarding Erdogan's lawsuit in the German courts, it was strictly a matter of abiding by the laws of that country. The German government did not succumb to Erdogan’s bullying. Obviously the German legal process contended that under an obscure German law  Mr. Erdogan is entitled to bring a lawsuit. It is not farfetched to envision that Mr. Erdogan had the hired assistance of influential German law firms for pursuing his lawsuit. The German Government is to repeal the law by 2018, as the chancellor has stated.

In regard to the Sassounian's editorial, it is fair that we balance what apparently goes in Europe with what goes on in the United States. I do not believe there will be an Armenian-American editor, who will test the limits of freedom of expression with the kind of depiction Europeans apparently do. Let us admit that speaking has become an art in the United States lest one would be perceived offending one’s physical handicap, skin color, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Granted that our elected officials and most heads of states would not have their governments engage in such trivialities but Mr. Erdogan does. It is laughable, but apparently perfectly legal.

"Armenian Weekly’s" most recent editorial – April 21, 2016 – alludes oddly, that "The U.S. first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951" and that "President Reagan affirmed in 1981.”

Oh really? C'mon, how many times would the U.S. government have to recognize the Armenian Genocide for this editorial to claim ''the U.S. FIRST recognized''? Was the FIRST not good enough and that we are waiting for a SECOND recognition from the United States of America and have been pursuing it so ardently? Does the mention of the Armenian Genocide in a State Department document constitute recognition by the U.S. of America?
The same editorial then goes on to say President Reagan affirmed the Armenian Genocide in 1981. Any high school student knows that the Great Executor of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, its President, does not qualify but executes the laws that the legislative branch of the United States, its Congress, legislates. As far as I am concerned, sad as it is, the U.S. Government has not recognized the Armenian Genocide for its President to articulate it in his or her proclamations as a functionary of the State.
Such public debates are interpretations of laws. It is fair that we do that as laypersons to be engaged in the process and to understand from our shared opinions. However, our legal minds would do great service if they engage in such debates as well to help us, the public, understand and appreciate legal processes. But our legal minds are absent from such public debates. We have the Armenian American Bar association but I have not come across its opinions in the Armenian media regarding such matters that apparently serve to stir emotions when editorialized rather than have well informed opinion.
Why are our legal minds absent in these debates? They may not be interested to invest time and energy to present an opinion that does justice to their professional standing. I think it would take a lot of effort to do that. It may also be that they perceive the Armenian American public is not mature enough to appreciate that legal processes might not resonate our sentiments, such as the German government conceding to Mr. Erdogan to bring legal action, and that our lawyers would not want to be caught contrary to that public sentiment.
Whatever the reasons for the absence of our legal minds in contributing to such discussions, it is important to note their absence and to point out that their contribution is much needed.

  1. Apelian is wrong on both counts

    I don't know why Mr. Apelian keeps insisting on his misinformation, after correcting him on the 24April site. The United States has not only recognized the Armenian Genocide, but has done so repeatedly:
    1) the U.S. Government submitted in 1951 an official document to the World Court in which it recognized the Armenian Genocide as a Genocide for the first time.
    2) the House of Representatives adopted two resolutions in 1975 and 1984 acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
    3) Pres. Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation in 1981 which referred to the Armenian Genocide.
    May I suggest that Mr. Apelian invest $20 in my genocide book which contains all of these documents and more!

    Regarding Erdogan's lawsuit against the German satirist in a German Court, Mr. Apelian is once again misinformed even though I had corrected him on the 24April site. He misinterprets German Law.
    Under German laws, a foreign head of state can only bring  such a lawsuit if the German government permits it. This is exactly why I criticized Merkel. She succumbed to Erdogan's bullying and allowed his lawsuit. Otherwise, Erdogan would have been unable to file that lawsuit in Germany under that law.

    1. 1951 Genocide item

      For those who have been following this bizarre issue of whether or not the U.S. government has recognized the Armenian genocide, here is the text (from a previous Harut Sassounian article) of the 1951 item he referred to in this exchange:

      "This document, filed by the Government of the United States with ICJ [International Court of Justice], is included in the May 28, 1951 ICJ Report titled: "Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide."

      The specific reference to the Armenian Genocide appears on page 25 of the ICJ Report: "The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenia’s, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.""


      The surrealism of this issue simply is in that every thinking person everywhere knows that a genocide occurred, but if openly stating this will harm interests of the person or group saying it, they will just not say it. 

  2. Shout-out to H-Sass


    If the US has recognized the Armenian genocide, then why do Armenian organizations keep pursuing US recognition? (Also, nice way to push your book on people… sassy and classy!)

    With respect to legalisms (as it pertains to Germany), just cuz a law is on the books doesn't mean its enforcement is legal. This is called "legal convention." In the US, there are a tons of rules against witchcraft from the 1700s, but do you think anyone actually enforces those rules? For the Canadian readers, the Governor General (Queen's rep in the HoC) can veto anything at a whim, but, s/he doesn't, cuz, well, conventially, s/he is precluded from doing so.

    Same with Merkel, enforcing a rule enacted in the 1800s. She broke legal convention, and she needs to get what is coming to her (aka Germany should be called West Turkestan).

    Good day.

    1. Shout out to H-Sassounian


      Questions regarding the pursuit of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Armenian organizations should be addressed to them not to me. I am not pushing my book on anyone. I am just giving information. A little politeness would go a long way!

  3. Being Wrong on Two Counts

    Harut Sassounian and I have exchanged viewpoints along these lines in April24 Group. I do not know how many of us are in that group but the number of respondents make me believe that it’s a small closed group and does not constitute the forum Keghart.com does; hence my write-up.

    To bolster my understanding regarding U.S. Recognition of the Genocide of Armenians and German Government alleged succumbing to Erdogan’s pressure, let me offer the following for readers’ consideration.

    U.S. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide
    John Marshal Adams was sacked from his job, as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, for articulating the very same thing that Harut Sassounian falsely claims has been the position of the U.S. Government many times over since 1951.   Unfortunately the U.S. Government has not recognized the Genocide of Armenians and will not stand in support of a U.S. ambassador who upholds the Genocide of the Armenians. I will be surprised to learn that Harut Sassounian was not aware of Adam Schiff’s futile attempt in grilling Condoleezza  Rice regarding the U.S. not recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

    Germany Succumbing to Erdogan
    If the use “had no choice” constitute plagiarization, then I have plagiarized because those were the exact same words another non-Armenian source used to describe German Government’s position regarding Erdogan’s lawsuit in Germany. I admit that I do not have the source to cite here. An advanced society like Germany that prides itself in law and order would not have its government interfere in legal proceedings and would not succumb to Erdogan’s bullying only to claim that they would repeal the law by 2018. I believe that the time period is a reflection of how long the process of repealing a law might last.

    I might be wrong on both accounts, as Sassounian claims, but the issue I attempted to raise commenting on these two editorials, was not to find Harut or Armenian Weekly wrong, but to bring to the attention of interested readers the wider issue, that of the trivialization of such matters in our press due to lack of substantiation; hence my titling this piece. An unproductive mindset seems to be brewing that gears making being anti-Turk, in the Armenian sense, at each and every turn of events in this highly interdependent world, the main determinant of being pro-Armenian and stirring the young and the upcoming along such a path which in turn seems to be making being anti-Turk the measure of their being Armenian.

    1. Dear Vahe, I am well aware

      Dear Vahe,

      I am well aware of all the details of the dismissal of the US ambassador to Armenia.

      By the way, his name is not "John Marshal Adams," but "John Marshall Evans."
      You are confusing recognition with the foreign policy of the United States. If you want to judge all the countries that we consider as having recognized the Armenian Genocide by their policies vis-a-vis Turkey, then we should state that no country has recognized the Armenian Genocide.

      When we say country X has recognized the Armenian Genocide, what we are really saying is that the Parliament of that countries has adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The US has done much more than that. So if you say that the US has not recognized the Armenian Genocide, then neither have the rest of the countries.

      Also, I am not sure whether you don't believe that I am telling you the truth about the US Congress having indeed passed resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide or that you don't think the US government is acting in accordance with these resolutions, which by the way, it does not have to, as these resolutions are not laws.

      1. Where It Matters


        In conclusion let me say that I take your word to Mike Balabanian  to be true  that ANCA and the Armenian Assembly  have also declared on their website that the U.S Government, on different occasions, has recognized the Genocide of the Armenians. I also understand your interpretation of  what recognition  entails.

        This realization brings the North American Armenian community to an important milestone. It is high time that we unabashedly declare that having assured the silence and the inaction of the U.S. Government and its officials, our objectives in the matter have been achieved and its time that we concentrate our resources where it matters, the security of Artsakh and Armenia.

        1. US Genocide Recognition

          Dear Vahe, Harut, and all,

          ONCE AND FOR ALL Harut IS RIGHT.  The US has recognized the genocide.  It's in black on white in his book.  I am at an airport now and don't have time to type up the resolution, but take my word for it, I have seen it with both my eyes.  I am sure it is also on the ANCA website…

          … which begs the question:  WHY does the Armenian leadership make such a song and dance about this every year and get the whole population excited, and ask for funds, etc?  The answer should be evident.

          Indeed, as you say Vahe, it is high time we work to solving our REAL problems, which at the top of anyone's list should be ensuring Armenia's and Artsakh's future.

          Does the latter not start with achieving proper governance in our homeland?

          Is the Diasporan leadership, from churches to parties not a part and parcel, or firm proppers and supporters of a corrupt vote-stealing destructive regime ruling our young country for 25 years?

          As I said, it should be self-evident why the Diasporan leadership yells and screams for genocide rererererecognition, year after wasted year.

          1. Re: U.S. Genocide Recognition


            Apparently you missed my tongue-in-cheek remark about U.S. recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians but I meant for the Armenian  American community to disengage from its pursuit.

            I wandered what would an interested person see in an Internet search engine, such as Google about the U.S. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Typing my inquiry in the search box, Wikipedia, as expected prominently came  in view  stating the following:

            "The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), advocacy organizations representing the views and values of the Armenian American community in the United States, have been urging Congress and the President of the United States to recognize the genocide by Ottoman Turkey in …"

            In the body of the Wikepedia text, I saw mention of the 44 U.S. States having recognized the Genocide, but not of the U, S.  Federal Government.

             I also do not believe that these two esteemed bodies have engaged in deceit.  Should you have followed ANCA, you would have come across it designating April 21, 2016 as National-Call-In-Day in support of H.154.  ( the Armenian Genocide Truth + Justice Resolution).  God save us if deceit is indeed. the case.

            Having noted this I come back to the crux of my piece, as noted in the title of the piece, WHERE ARE OUR LEGAL (EXPERT) MINDS?


          2. The Disconnect

            Dear Vahe,

            I think I have figured out the disconnect.

            Below the verbatim text.  My comment following it clarifies, I think, the disconnect.

            98th Congress
            2nd Session

            House Joint Resolution 247

            To designate April 24, 1985, as

            "National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man"

            Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.  That April 24, 1985, is hereby designated as "National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man", and the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such day as day of remembrance for all the victims of genocide, especially the one and one-half million people of Armenian ancestry who were victims of the genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1923, and in whose memory this date is commemorated by all Armenians and their friends throughout the world.

            Passed by the House of Representatives on September 10, 1984.


            My comment:  I guess the above was not formally passed by the Senate, even though the statement starts with: Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives…


          3. Recognition of the Genocide

            Is it relevant whether or not the genocide is formally recognized by the US Federal Government and Congress? The answer is NO as clearly concluded by Armenian and foreign international lawyers. The issue is not recognition but submission of legal claims to Turkish and International Courts such as the European Court for Human rights. Most of our claims are not linked to recognition of the Genocide such as deportation (recognized by Turkey), loss of private and public property, laws and decrees related to so called abandoned property, non-respect of the provisions of the Lausanne treaty concerning the maintenance  of cultural and historical heritage of minorities, etc. Please let us concentrate on the real issues and not waste our time and efforts on recognition.

          4. Recognition of the Genocide
            I fully agree with Souren. Menk chour ge dsedsenk!

    2. Evans not Adams

      My apologies to the esteemed one time ambassador to Armenia, John Marshall Evans.  for my inadvertent on spur of the moment typographical error I discovered I have made in my comment.

  4. Where are our legal minds

    Dear Harut, why don't you satisfy readers' curiosity by publishing the exact wording of the G recognition by an American president & House resolution, etc.? If your book is clear on that, let it serve as a reference. After all that is one of the intents of a good book. 

    1. Where are our legal minds

      Dear Mike,

      The information you seek is on the Internet. Before anyone makes baseless and false statements (I am not referring to you), they need to do a minimum of research. The info on U.S. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is available for free on many websites, including the ANCA and the Armenian Assembly! You don't have to buy my book!

  5. The Day of Reckoning

    Germanys' recognition of the Armenian Genocide surely is a cause for celebration, for the lack of more appropriate descriptive. For the past 101 years the larger and the smaller Armenian communities worldwide, without directives from a central body on their own initiative upheld the memory of that tragedy and demanded recognizing it for what it was, a Genocide.

    Germany’s recognition is also a time to be reflective as it brings us closer to our day of reckoning as Germany and Israel have done; to come to terms with Turkey and forward as neighbors.

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