Conference on Genocide and Reparations Begins in Beirut

BEIRUT, Lebanon—On Feb. 23, a two-day international conference titled “The Armenian Genocide: From Recognition to Reparation” began with participation from genocide experts, ambassadors, current and former government ministers and members of the Lebanese Parliament, heads of Armenian religious communities, and representatives of Armenian political parties and other institutions.

The opening session of the conference

Catholicos Aram I welcomed the guests and participants, and explained the background leading to the conference. Discussing the issue of reparations, Aram I said, “Turkey must return the church and community properties confiscated by the Ottoman-Turkish authorities to their legal owner, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. As the Catholicosate of Cilicia, we claim the ownership of our properties confiscated by the Turkish authorities.”

The Catholicosate of Cilicia held jurisdiction over more than 200 Armenian churches in the Ottoman Empire before World War I. Other Armenian churches, close to 2,000 according to church figures compiled by the Armenian Weekly, were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate in Istanbul, the Catholicosate in Aghtamar, the Catholicosate in Etchmiadzin, and the Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

Prof. Nora Bayrakdarian introduced the agenda and the two speakers of the day, H.E. Judge Fausto Pocar, the former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and H.E. Judge Joe Verhoeven, ad hoc judge with the International Court of Justice.

Judge Pocar said that although it is important to list the acts of the Genocide Convention, it is equally important to consider intent and incitement. After citing examples from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and that of the Former Yugoslavia, he said that in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the tribunals clarified the crime of genocide by both applying the acts listed in the 1948 Genocide Convention and showing evidence of intent and incitement. Pocar said the same process could take place in the case of the Armenian Genocide.

Aram I delivers remarks.

Judge Verhoeven began by stating that recognition of the Armenian Genocide is an established fact and that the Turkish dtate is denying part of its own history.The fact that the Genocide Convention had not been written at the time of the Armenian Genocide is irrelevant, he said. There is no statute of limitations on the act of the illegal killing of people. The state of Turkey and its territories still exist and is therefore accountable, he explained.

Speaking about church properties, he said these were semi-public properties, part of the historical heritage of the Armenian people and a necessary component of their identity. Turkey cannot deny the identity of a people. Turkey should respect it and make reparations to the church, which is the responsible owner of this heritage.

The opening session concluded with the playing of the anthem of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and a prayer by His Holiness Aram I at the Martyr’s Chapel.

Below are the introductory remarks offered by Aram I.


The Armenian Genocide: From Recognition to Reparation

I warmly welcome you to this spiritual center of the Armenian Church, which is indeed a place of living encounter and interaction between peoples and perspectives. I extend my deep thanks and great appreciation to all of you, and particularly to the experts of international law and Armenian Genocide for accepting our invitation to join us in addressing critical issues and questions pertaining to the Armenian Genocide.

The decision of the U.S. House of Representatives to urge Turkey to return confiscated churches and church properties to their rightful owners, and the approval of a bill by the French Parliament and the Senate making it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, along with the Turkish government’s aggressive reaction, have, once again, brought the Armenian Genocide to the fore of international headlines. The Armenian Genocide is no longer an exclusive concern of Armenian-Turkish relations; it has become an integral part of the global agenda.

The conference will focus on how we can move from recognition of the Armenian Genocide to reparation; what procedures and mechanisms are provided by international law to effect this transition; and what the prospects and challenges before us are.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, had an immense impact on the self-understanding of human beings and the self-affirmation of nations and societies. Seeking to protect human dignity, promote justice, build greater peace, and generate reconciliation, it also challenged the dictatorial governances and discriminatory patterns and norms existing in many cultures and societies.

The core values and basic principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely the fundamental right of human beings for life, freedom, and dignity, are also taught by Christianity. The Bible is the source of human rights. According to Christianity, human rights are God-given, not man-made. As such, they should be recognized, respected, protected, and promoted by all human beings, nations, and states under any circumstances. To violate human rights is to reject God’s gift of life, freedom, and justice; hence, it is a sin against God.

Human rights are not optional; they are integral to the Gospel message. Human rights advocacy is an essential dimension of the prophetic vocation of the church. To deny this commitment is to negate the very being and the missionary calling of the church. Human rights, in general, and the Armenian Genocide, in particular, are part of the missionary calling of the Armenian Church, and they therefore occupy an important place on the agenda of its witness.

Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been bolstered with broader networks and mechanisms of implementation through treaties, resolutions, and conventions,  human rights violations have continued, and the UN and the international community have failed “to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”

Therefore, the implementation process and enforcement system of human rights need to be strengthened, and early warning systems need to be activated. Furthermore, the efforts of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and other actors in civil society should be supported by all those who wish to transform societies and build a better world.

The resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violation of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and, generally speaking, international criminal law provide an important legal context and juridical framework for matters concerning genocide and war.

In fact, acts committed by Turkey in 1915 are defined in the Convention as genocide. The Turkish government intended “to destroy, whole or in part, a national, ethnical, social, or religious group, as such”; they “killed members of the group”; they “caused serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”; and they “deliberately inflicted on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

These acts constitute genocide as defined in the Convention and are punishable, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, as a crime under international law.” The Convention states that all those persons who have committed genocide “shall be punished,” whether they are “constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals.” And those persons who are charged with genocide shall be tried either in the territory where the act was committed or by an international penal tribunal.

The term “genocide” only became part of the vocabulary of international law in 1944; however, the carefully planned and systematically executed attempt by the Ottoman-Turkish government in 1915 to exterminate the Armenian nation fits the definition in the Genocide Convention. This act, strongly substantiated by historical evidence and eye-witness accounts of Armenians and non-Armenians, including Turkish sources, is unequivocally a genocide. The Turkish authorities may deny that it was a crime against humanity, and some nations or governments may still keep silent about it for geopolitical reasons, but denial is a dead end. Negationism will eventually fall short before the truth.  The retroactive application of the Convention is a critical issue that will be certainly treated by the conference. Since only a state that has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice may submit a case to it, I hope that the Republic of Armenia will soon study this matter and take the necessary actions. Are there some other possibilities for legal action, such as taking the Armenian Genocide to a national tribunal, or creating a special tribunal, or taking it to the European Human Rights Court? These questions need to be addressed from a juridical perspective.

In stressing the crucial importance of the promotion, protection, and restoration of justice, the Commission on Human Rights affirms the right of crime victims “to access to  justice,” and spells out various aspects and procedures of “remedy and reparation” for the “victims of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

Regarding the process of reparation, the following issues require scrutiny:

a) The Commission provides a broad definition of victim, stating that “a victim” may also be a dependent or a member of the immediate family or household of the direct victim.”

b) The victim’s effective access to justice includes “all available judicial, administrative, or other public processes under existing domestic laws, as well as under international law.” Within the context of the restoration of justice “adequate provisions should also be made to allow groups of victims to present collective claims for reparation and to receive reparation collectively.”  And, “reparation should be proportional to the gravity of the violations and the harm suffered.”

c) The state or government under whose authority the genocide occurred is obliged to provide reparation. However, if the state or government responsible for the genocide is no longer in existence, “the State or Government’s successor in title should provide reparation to the victims.”

d) The Commission on Human Rights refers to three forms of reparation: restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation. These concepts or forms of reparation may have different connotations and implications in different socio-political contexts and in relation to specific cases. How do they apply to the Armenian Genocide?

For decades we have focused on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and the international community. In fact, the recent court cases  against American, Turkish, and French insurance and private companies; the decision of the U.S. Congress to urge Turkey to  return churches and church-related properties to their owners, and the Turkish government’s decision on Aug. 27, 2011 decided  to return to the minorities the properties confiscated since 1936, came to re-emphasize the crucial importance of reparation. Indeed, recognition of truth implies reparation; these acts are intimately interconnected. This is at the heart of international law.

On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, should we  accept a symbolic formal apology and recognition by Turkey of the genocide? Should we claim financial compensation for the victims of genocide and for the properties? Or should we claim the return of church, community, and personal properties? Further, should we demand that reparations include the damages that the Armenian people were subjected to during the “white genocide,” namely the constant threat to the Armenian identity in a diaspora situation that was caused by the “red genocide”? Should we, finally, consider land reparations within the provisions of international law? The formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a conditio sine qua non for any attempt or process aimed at restoration of justice.  And, as a first concrete step in the direction of reparations, Turkey must return all church and community properties confiscated by the Ottoman-Turkish authorities to its legal owner, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. As the Catholicosate of Cilicia, which was established in the 10th century in Cilicia, the south-western part of present-day Turkey, and which was in 1915 forcefully uprooted from its historical seat, we claim the ownership of our properties confiscated by the Turkish authorities.

It is with this objective in mind that we have set the agenda of this conference.


  1. Very commendable Conference.If that ONLY is what you wished to read.
    But please!!!!!
    Also learn TO LISTEN to others view`points NAY PLEAS…
    As you ares authority and I a one person( an individual).
    Now you will kindly listen and at the very least consider my ¨suggestions¨that also is your business.But I understand we Armenians have advanced enough in THICS not so say excercize TOLERANCE that you will comply with my PLEA:
    I have always insisted that we should lodge our FIRST OFFICIAL CLAIM AT THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE AT THE HAGUE, for…..
    ¨ B L O O D M O N E Y¨, which
    HAS PRECEDENT.Namely, the Jewish Claim from Germany .Also a smaller one that of our attorneys claiming and receiving COMPENSATION(actually for blood shed) BY OTTOMAN TURKEY , from New York Life Insurance company and AXA of France. These are good premises to rely on.
    And for God´s sake do not thinkl that I am not aware of other claims ,such as land property whether real estate or Riches.Also claims for our ruined Monasteries, churches, schools hospitals etc. B U T F I R S T
    I wish to claim (alongside a 1.5 million) my uncle´s and grandfather´s B L O O D M O N E Y .
    As to when this is will be settled in our favour the CLAIM i.e., and great Turkey declare there is no money our Treasury coffers, then I have a ¨suggestion¨for that as well…please bear w/me and read on—-
    When Oil pipeline from Baku to Jeyhan was installed,by passing armenia THE LITTLE ALLY OF BRITAIN AND U.S. whether by error or on purpose,we did not bring it to the attention of these powers and remind them THAT WE ARMENIANS HAVE ALWAYS STOOD BY THEIR SIDE…NOT SO GREAT TURKEY.SO IS IT NOT TIME THAT YOU REVISE YOUR ERROR AND INSTAD OF PAYING ALL, T R A N S I T D U T Y (1.6 bILLION PER ANNUM) TO GREAT TURKEY, RESERVE AND PAY HALF OF THAT TO ARMENIA and AGBU (Diaspora armenians depository)
    Hamahaigagani sirov and in anticipation of your early and kind reply,
    Gaytzag palandjian

  2. Finally some good initiative and in the right direction.
    It’s essential that all Armenian claims to be assessed and set in order of priorties and in coordination with all community organizations, to substantiate and support eachother in an International court.

    • What “Hojali massacre” ? Never happened.

      Your PM Erdogan publicly stated on Charley Rose show that there was no Armenian Genocide.
      Since there was no AG in the make believe universe Turks live in, there was no Khojali either. Makes sense, doesn’t it ?

      You Turks should recognize these phrases:

      “How about we let historians study it first.”
      ‘Who knows what happened ? It was so long ago.”
      “And why are politicians getting involved ?”
      “History should be left to historians.”

      And make sure you Turks demand that Baku open its archives about the NKR war first. So we can study how Azeri leadership was responsible for the Khojali tragedy.

      You want to discuss Khojali ? Fine.
      But first let’s discuss these:

      Premeditated massacre of Armenians by Azeris in Sumgait 1988.
      Premeditated massacre of Armenians by Azeris in Kirovabad 1988.
      Premeditated massacre of Armenians by Azeris in Baku 1990.
      “Operation Koltso” premeditated massacre of Armenians 1991
      Maragha Village premeditated massacre of Armenians 1992
      Stepanakert premeditated massacre of Armenians by Azeri Grads and artillery. 1992.

      And the full scale military invasion of NKR by Azeris.

    • Murat,

      I wonder if you also remember Sumgayit, Baku, Maragha, Kirovabad massacres?

      There is a lot of controversy around Khojali massacres. If you are not aware, please be informed that Karabakh fighters informed Azerbaijani authorities about their military operation in Khojali well in advance and told them to evacuate civilians from Khajai. Moreover humanitarian corridor was left for civilians to leave Khojali.

      Please read what Elmar Mamedov, Mayor of Khojaly and Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev said about humanitarian corridor in Khojali.

    • A tragic loss of life happened in Khojali, but what and by whom is still not completely clear. Too many innocent people have died in the struggle between Artsakhtsi Armenians and Azeris. But what does it have to do with Armenians seeking reparations for the Armenian Genocide which happened in the Ottoman empire almost 100 years ago.

    • Avery: “Since there was no AG in the make believe universe Turks live in, there was no Khojali either. Makes sense, doesn’t it ?”

      Yes, but we don’t live in that make believe universe. AG happened, Khojali was a massacre, one way or the other Armenian troops killed Azeri civilians. I understand it’s not that black and white and the issue is complex and controversial, but just as the majority international community say what happened in 1915 was genocide, they also say Khojali was a massacre. If you demand AG recognition, you should probably recognize other peoples tragedies, no matter how much you hate them or they hate you. Selective justice is not justice. And don’t get started on how Turks always want their sufferings to be counted, I don’t give a damn about Azerbaijan and the conflicts Armenians and Azeris have, and I don’t see Azeris and Turks to be “one nation.”

    • RVDV: you missed the sarcasm, pal.

      Murat is a frequent guest. He is an AG Denialist.
      AG Denialists are accorded special reception by me.

      You and I discussed Khojali at length in another thread: you should remember what I wrote about Khojali. No need to restate it here.

      And regarding Azeris and Turks: you may not give a damn, but there is a well coordinated Azerbaijan+Turkey infowar going on right now, using Khojali to blunt the AG and paint Armenians as aggressors in the NKR war. Visit TZ and HDN and read the articles about Khojali.

      Then ask yourself: why would Turks suddenly get that deeply involved.

    • “…using Khojali to blunt the AG and paint Armenians as aggressors in the NKR war. Visit TZ and HDN and read the articles about Khojali.”

      I know they are doing that, I’m not defending anyone or anthing. NKR war was not Armenia’s fault, yes, but you should also read on what the international community thinks about Khojali, I just hope non-partisan views will be okay with you when you don’t agree with what they say.

  3. Murat ,
    Your above comment is inappropriate.Khojali was a made up performance by Mutalibov and co. and indeed his supporters-like you?- but rest assured Armenians will never massacre women and children.
    Indeed like general Antranik did(when his father was beaten to death) cut the Khalil pashas head off…
    Go read some books and you will learn about the Armenian nature.
    Now this part for my compatriots.============================================================00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    I followed the news re the above conf. in Beirut.It appears they have come to the conclusion that we should press demand for restitution and return of our churches and monasteries and properties(Real estate)..
    They have overlooked fact that Govt. of grdeat Tjurkey will INDEED FIX UP A FEW OF THESE(AMONGST OVER A 1000)SUCH AS A g h t a m a r , or the one in Tigranakert (Diarbakir) Sourp Giragos …making a big show of these so as the Euro Ams will applaud and say …oh you see Armenians Turks are now very undertstanding and are returning your monasteries …
    Whereas the reality is that these have(poshiacac) correct Armenian word. that is gone up as DUST!!!!! No Turks will restore or will help restore these.They are no Persians( a noble people) that even do that For Armenians in I R A N…yes the govt. thedre pays for restoration of these(Armenian) as important monuments for the world…
    Thus, I still believe best is to GO AFTER B L O O D M O N E Y

  4. Sella,

    Thanks for providing the link for everyone who ever visits these pages to see how bankrupt Murat’s comment is.

    However, don’t hope that Murat will get back with any reasonable argument because he doesn’t have any. He will slip back into his shell, as he always does, pretending that he just was too busy with more important things, waiting for this conversation to be forgotten, will get back with another comment on something else, then slip back into his shell again. That’s his style.

    • Gina,

      I know he cannot bring facts against this article simply because they do not exist.

      The only way to put an end to their lies is through court. Armenia has to sue Azerbaijan for the falsification of the history. There is no other way.

  5. Today’s Washington Post features a one-page ad entitled “Khojaly: Human Tragedy Against Azerbaijan”, sponsored by never-before-heard-of “Azerbaijan-American Alliance”.

    The ad reads as follows:
    “444 men, 106 women, 63 children. Honor the Dead… Help Azerbaijan and Armenia Find Peace”.

    Banners with similar content were seen on the rear of Ride-on buses and in several metro stations. Not only is it understood that the US government may be behind the campaign (hardly two and a half Azeris living in America could have the clout to distribute posters throughout the nation’s capital), but it is astonishing that neither the Embassy of Armenia in DC with its generally unseen and useless ambassador nor our lobbying and grassroots organizations appear to do anything to denounce the campaign that singles out Khojaly while quieting down the Azeri savagery against Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, and Maragha that happened prior to the tragic event.

    Are our lobbying organizations aware?

  6. Arsen,
    ANC in Washington did immediately respond,you may not be aware of it since probably you do not have H1 and USArmenia T.V. channels. Not a very large, but then again probably couple dozen Armenian Young with banners etc., were out in front of Azerbaijan Embassy protesting against their lies etc.,

  7. Good to know, Gaytzag. But suspecting that such visual disinformation in the nation’s capital could hardly been spread without the US government’s tacit approval, it’s astonishing to see the passivity of the Armenian embassy. Apparently, our ambassador is preoccupied with arranging his next career position in Yerevan after being invisible for seven years in Washington, DC.

  8. Dear Arsen,
    I´m not here to offer critique to our Ambassadors,the subject matter ,as you well know is what our ¨friends¨are PERFORMING is a better word.Thaty of Khojali at Taksim Sq. and some 50????other provincial towns in great Turkey…
    Few know that some important sesction(I´d say 90 %) or part of their people are completely brainwashed .Some hjere still believe with a few good Turkish intellectuals that side with the TRUTH/honesty etc., can be of help.Granted.But how are<THEY TO RE EDUCATE THESE FASCIST KEMALIST THUGS ???
    it will take them at least another 10/12 yrs to become at least a bit more informed of the TRUTH…the mainstream Turks ,i.e.
    Kurds? they have suffered last 70 yrs from Turks so they have LEARNT IT THE HARD WAY BY LOOSING SOME 30,000 OR MORE slaughtered 1000 kurdis villages pillaged and burnt etc.,
    Now back to RA and Ministry of Diaspora(showing up at long last through one poster here) Good news ,though they SHOULD HAVE ONE DELEGATE do that directly as their rep. here on Armenian Diaspora web site and the other web sites as well. So it is not the Ambassador only….
    Then we can co ordinate our Armenia Diaspora Affairs quite a bit better.

  9. To all Dashnaks, Hincaks, and Ramgavars, do you respect the Turkish territorial integrity or are you using the “Hye Tahd” holy war to wipe Turkey off the map? I am just curious and I would like to hear a civil and dignified response.

  10. Well, it is a good thing I did not call it a genocide! After all, Azeris have been violently and ethnically cleansed out of their ancestoral lands and few remaining defenseless souls have been exterminated. Not only that, the responsible have risen to the leadership positions and have become “heros” in Armenia!

    Your various responses have brought chuckles, I hope you forgive me!

    “… A tragic loss of life but details are so murky… It was no massacre… read and learn what really happened (its in the papers!)… Armenians never kill women and children (I am assured! My ancestors and a few Azeris were “accidents” apparently!) .. how about other massacres?…”

    I ask again… Where is the Armenian Akcam? Just one?

    • There was a man that killed an Armenian and was hailed as hero after the government was told that they would let him serve jail in Azerbaijan. He never served his sentence was congratulated.

  11. I can’t speak for those parties you listed, but I have no interest in wiping Turkey off the map. As for territorial integrity, that is not a simple answer. Justice would demand that territorial boundaries be looked at in light of the Treaty of Sevres. Turkey can’t expect to never pay for her crimes and Armenians deserve compensation for their losses. Let’s go to the negotiating table with no pre-conditions.

  12. Boyajian
    “Justice would demand that territorial boundaries be looked at in light of the Treaty of Sevres”
    Your statement clearly shows that Armenians are aggressors so the Aggressors
    shouldn’t expect the good guys to keep silent

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