Turkey Rights Groups Demand Apology, Compensation, and Restitution for Genocide

Human rights organizations in Turkey, under the umbrella group “100th Year – Stop Denialism,” have issued the following statement:

An indelible, massive crime was committed in these lands, 100 years ago—a crime that will remain irreversible, irremediable, and unforgivable. During the genocide of 1915, Armenians and other Christian peoples of Asia Minor, among them Assyrians and Rums, were targeted by a systematic politics of extermination, and destroyed along with their social organizations, economy, arts and crafts, and historical and cultural heritage.

Our initiative “100th Year – Stop Denialism” was established to commemorate the genocide on April 24, in Istanbul and Diyarbakır. The initiative brings together (in alphabetical order) the Anatolian Cultures and Research Association (Aka-Der), Human Rights Association (HRA) – Committee against Racism and Discrimination, Nor Zartonk, Platform for Confronting History, Turabdin Assyrians Platform, and Zan Foundation for Social, Political, and Economic Research. Our initiative is also supported by the Gomidas Institute (London), the Armenian Council of Europe, and Collectif Van (Paris), whose representatives will be joining us.

Shame and responsibility are the basis of the “100th Year – Stop Denialism Initiative’s” conceptualization of the commemoration. We believe that any commemoration of the crime of genocide on these lands will have to express the responsibility of genocide denial itself, and the shame felt by the descendants of the peoples who have had the opportunity for growth, development, and enrichment in the absence of–due to the absence of–the peoples who fell victim to genocide.

While this understanding constitutes the ethical core of our acts of commemoration on April 24, our concrete demands are for recognition, apology, compensation, and restitution.

Our initiative’s commemorations begin at 11 a.m. on April 24, in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts on Sultanahmet Square, where we will hold a moment of silence in memory of the victims. This building was known as the central prison in 1915; individuals from the Istanbul Armenian community, including intellectual leaders, were arrested in their homes, detained here, and then sent off to the Haydarpaşa train station.

After the moment of silence, we will begin our “Genocide March,” walking in silence from Sultanahmet to Eminönü, and then crossing over to Haydarpaşa by sea. The detainees of April 24, 1915, were deported from Haydarpaşa to the depths of the country—in actual fact, to their deaths. Here, our “Genocide March” will end with another commemoration.

From Haydarpaşa, we will proceed to the Şişli Armenian Cemetery to commemorate Sevag Şahin Balıkçı, who fell victim to a ethnic-hate murder on April 24, 2011, while on mandatory military duty in Batman, and express our support to the Balıkçı family in their pursuit of justice.

Before and after the events of the “100th Year – Stop Denialism Initiative,” the constituents of the initiative will participate in two other events. Representatives of the Armenian Council of Europe, who were invited to Istanbul by the HRA Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, will hold a commemoration on Beyazıt Square at 10 a.m. on the same day, April 24. Members of the HRA Committee Against Racism and Discrimination, human rights defenders, and activists against genocide denial will participate in the commemoration of 20 Henchak Party leaders and members who were executed by hanging on June 15, 1915–yet another mass execution, of symbolic import, during the period of the Armenian Genocide.

A protest march organized by Nor Zartonk will start out at 6:30 p.m., from Galatasaray Lycée and head toward Taksim Square, followed by a 100th year commemoration event led by the Platform for Commemorating the Armenian Genocide, at 7:15 p.m., at the Taksim end of Istiklal Street.

Concurrently, in Diyarbakır, the Human Rights Association Diyarbakır branch and the Gomidas Institute are jointly organizing a commemoration of Armenian and Assyrian victims in the ruins of Surp Sarkis Church at noon on April 24, with support from the Diyarbakır Bar Association and the Zan Foundation.

The struggle for genocide recognition and against denialism will end neither on April 24, 2015, nor on Dec. 31, 2015. Until the state of the Republic of Turkey and the majority following official ideology recognize the crime and take steps toward compensation for the irreversible and irremediable losses, we will persevere in our pursuit of justice for the genocide victims of Asia Minor and for their descendants, who are dispersed around the world or who continue to live under the conditions of genocide perpetuated by denial.

100th Year – Stop Denialism Initiative

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

36 Comments

  1. I salute to all Turks who bear not hatred to Armenians and the many who helped save lives, you shall be forever in my prayers, many survived because of your kindness and human bond as children of the same God, Teshekur

  2. My father was saved during the Armenian Genocide by a Turkish lady.
    I will never forget. I’m sure many turks also did save Armenians, boys or girls.
    We don’t hate the Turkish people.
    I think when the present Turkish government held by Erdogan will be replaced. The new one will have the courage to change its policy regarding Armenian Genocide.

  3. This is an incredibly bold and fearless move. The statement is very powerful about the committed crime. In view of the existing laws in Turkey which basically prohibits and criminalizes mentioning or talking about the Genocide, the organizers are taking a huge risk. Their courage is to be admired and respected.
    It is a powerful symbolism that the commemoration starts in front of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. This building was the central prison in 1915 where Armenian leaders, intellectuals, writers were rounded up , incarcerated prior to their deportation and execution.
    I hope and pray that the organizers will have the wind on their back, Angels on their shoulders and be safe.
    Vart Adjemian

  4. I am 75 years old, an Episcopal priest working in France, and have been many times in Armenia to teach theology. My wife and I love the Armenian people deeply. We organized a conference in Paris in 2001 to honour then on the occasion of the 1700th Anniversary of the establishment of Armenia as the first Christian nation. I contributed seven poems to a collective book of poetry published in the UK in 2005 by Garod Books, entitled “Forgotten Genocides of the 20th Century”. To be honest, I never expected to see in my lifetime an initiative, undertaken by Turks themselves, like “100th Year–Stop Denialism”. My wife and I are thrilled, grateful, jubilant! What courage! What honesty! What commitment to truth! We pray God’s protection on all of you, and great fruitfulness from your noble action!

    George and Victoria Hobson

  5. A sincere thank you for your courage and honesty. As the saying goes, an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Blessings and love!

  6. I wish my grandparents lived long enough to see that the people have not given up and will continue to expect the Turks to quit their denial of what they did to the Armenian people. My grandmother was hidden in a barrel by her two brothers and put on a ship to America where through her arranged marriage done when she was small, would take place. My grandfather was waiting for her. After she left Armenia, her brothers were slaughtered by the Turks and her mother was beheaded. Every time I would ask her she would cry and talk about only that they were killed. I later found that these other in humane horrors happened. I pray that the Turkish people will acknowledge what was done .Most of all, I am hopeful that my country leaders will not only acknowledge the genocide but follow through with promises they made and never kept. It is easy to promise during the quest for votes, but once in office forget to address those promises. I don’t want to hear about not offending the Turks, and air space and all that. It only presents a hostage type situation because our leaders will not stand by and defend the Armenians in our country who are also victims. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

  7. God Bless you—-the human rights organizations in Turkey, who seek recognition and justice for the Armenian (& other Christian minority) genocides. Bless you and keep you safe. My grandfather and uncle were killed in the genocide. A Turkish family helped my grandmother survive, with her children. God Bless people of good will who seek and act on behalf of the truth. I pray for some miraculous day in some far future when there will be Peace on this Earth, and we will know that we are all brothers and sisters sharing this beautiful planet.

  8. A great lesson in courage for all of us, in our daily lives. Given the current atmosphere in Turkey and its government’s violent statements directed at the Pope, Argentina and the European Parliament a lot of courage is needed indeed. Hence our admiration for all of you. Yes, God bless you.

  9. Thank you Pope Francis for your courage to tell the truth. God bless you. Now the pressure is on Turkey to stop denying what is obviously the 1st Genocide of the 20th Century.

  10. These brave men and women show great courage and the highest principles. May the lord keep them safe. Too bad the President of the U.S. Lacks this courage.

    • I have and will continue to pray for all the Brave people who are never to be forgotten for this effort thank-you isn’t enough but it comes from the bottom of my heart My grandmother was saved by a Turkish family in an execution line no less and I to do not hate the Turks We need to all pray up till and during this march for their protection and to the person who said there is no Lord You are wrong and I hope soon you will examine you heart to realize the truth One miracle after another moments of history are being made for the first time in 100 years and the fact that its coming from the most unlikely source They are risking jail time if not death to help our cause This is A GREAT MOMENT IN HISTORY AND A MIRACLE

  11. Sooner the Turkish government excepts the crime of genocide perpetrated by their predecessors which is good not only for them alone, but for all of us. Covering their eyes and ears will not solve the mistakes of the past, but starting to do the right repairs of the damage done does. Our wounds still are bleeding and the scars are very deep in our hearts, all civilized countries understand this easily. The Turkish government without a proper response for the crime cannot stand upright in a civilized world. I hope Turkey Rights Groups will make the Turkish government acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and be the starting gun for change. May God bless everyone who defends the truth and justice.

  12. It’s about time for Germany also to share their archives with the world which very well has documented the atrocities and committed by the Turkish government at the time of World War I who were allies of Turkey and well aware of the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people.

  13. A very powerful statement.
    These brave Turks bring high honor to their people.
    Also quite bold of them to refer to ‘peoples of Asia Minor’ instead of using the (subtle) denialist phrase ‘people of Anatolia’ (sic).

  14. as a young boy my dad use to tell me about a family (in town called Orul )where my dad was from, this family being a turk help them and save ther life my dad was about 6-8 years alld at the time,I am being His sun so great full for
    This kind family, and I whant you to know one day we all are to stand befor our Heavenly Father, we eater stand
    Straight befor Him, and say we have don what is right, or not able to look at Him and shrink befor Him by hiding
    Our faceses,this will happen to every one of us there is no eskeape from it, so do what mene of God will do? I pray.

  15. This is a wonderful initiative but most of the groups listed…are they ethnic Turks or are they ethnic Kurds, Armenians and Assyrians? Although, even minorities living in turkey have to show great bravery to publically support genocide recognition.

  16. You are very brave. I admire your courage for seeking truth and justice with regard to the genocide. My story is the same as others I was robbed from meeting my grandmother and aunt. That said your desire to seek recognition of the fact that these events did occur helps me to heal. I must admit that for all of my life it has been hard to live with the government’s denial of history. May God bless you and keep you. THANKS YOU.

  17. My grandfather and almost all his brothers and sisters and his mothers were saved by Mehmet Celal Bey, then governor of Aleppo, after his father was executed. This is what my mother gave me in heritage: being proud of my Armenian roots and no hatred at all toward Turks. What this group in Turkey is doing is very courageous, as they will certainly face brutal persecution for this.

  18. Ne multu Ermeni dostum var diyene !
    We know to well the perpetrators & conspirators of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey when recognizes the responsibility will come out of this stronger as they will open a new era with the only friends they had destroyed by stupidity! God Bless the good Turks sizlere dua ediyoruz .

  19. It is sad that even out own children have no idea what the germans did to us greeks , let alone what happened in Asia minor, it is so easy to be quiet and forget, speak to your children and grandchildren tell them. So it can never happen again.

  20. Despite the fact that certainly there are brave, concious,civilized and humanistic people in Turkey, there is no posibility whatsoever that such a culture of “stop denialism” for the endless atrocities in Turkish history, will prevail under the present traditional authoritative, pseudo-democratic, extremistic, nationalistic, imperialistic,militaristic, racist and fontamentalistic education,institutions, socio-political establishment and general current status of Turkey. In memorial of my two grandfathers Socrates Kisidis and Gregory Gregoriadis who were arrested by Tuskish soldiers and disappeared in the 1st World War, and in memorial of my father who lost his health as a kid in labor battalions and a 1,000 miles death march from Pontos to Sivas in rain and snow, and died young from asthma in Greece as refugee, I congratulate of course as a Platonic idealist the brave and kind people of the “Stop Denialism” initiative,but as a compatriot of the ancient Pontian Greek Cynical philosopher Diogenes , I tend to advise them……………. “Stop Illusions.

  21. its all comes down to what my armenian friends expect from restitution? which i think in some cases might make recognition impossible.Do you want or expect borders to change? i want someone to reply thoroughly as to what resititution should consist of?

  22. Oh I forgot to add Obama is hated by most American people even the Blacks despite what the media reports we don’t believe our media because 99% is all propaganda hope you do not believe it either Pleas do not feel down hearted or even hope that this president will ever do whats right or truthful for anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  23. @Henrik Michaelian…
    There is indeed a Lord; however the Holy Scripture clearly states there is a god of this world (age), Satan, the author of death. God gives man free will to rule his affairs, and the Genocide (along with untold evil committed on this earth by men) is the result. Thanks be to God that someday this will all change; believers (the ony true justice for the Genocide by the way) are resurrected and the One True Lord, the Redeemer of Mankind will sit at his righful place on the throne. Hope to see you there brother, but rejecting Christ won’t get you in the fold.

  24. Thank you. We need the voices of non-Armenians, Turks included, to raise awareness and recognition, stop the denial, and ultimately achieve what justice is possible. The lives lost are irreplaceable. The generations of pain are unforgettable but the healing can begin when the denial and ethnic hatred stops.

    • I am willing to burn in hell for not accepting a God that allows such atrocities on earth. I would most gladly exchange my free will for justice.

  25. Seldom do I see so many comments at the end of an article here; it is a clear sign of the great need our community has for the Turks themselves to come forth with initiatives of this type. I hope Turkish society is allowed to continue on this road without repression from above.

  26. To be honest, as the grandson of one of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and member of Social Democrat Hechagian Party (SDHP), I have always hated Turks for everything they did to my people. However, I was surprised by the Turks that I have met in Beirut during the last few years; they were fighting for the truth, men and women showed great courage to say “NO” to the Militaristic Turkish Government risking their own lives. Honestly, this is a turning point to me because I started to pray for God’s protection on all Armenians and Turks who are struggling for justice in Turkey, I also thank Pope Francis for his courage to tell the truth and change the history of 100 years of denial strategies of Turkish Governments. God bless Pope Francis and Turkey Rights Groups, and God Bless Armenia.

  27. I applaud all those nations who have recognized the Armenian Genocide. I fell sorry for the Turkish government that they can continue to live this live

  28. I remember very well in a video clip documentary, not too long ago before his death, Hrant Dink saying ” After all the Turks are not that bad as we think, they are good people.” I could truly see the sheer honesty, sincerity and love on his face when he was saying that in Armenian language.
    Love to all

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