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ACA Event With Rep. Judy Chu Draws Large Audience

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Armenian Genocide Issue Raised at Turkey’s High Advisory Board Meeting

ANKARA — The Armenian Genocide was discussed at a meeting of Turkey’s High Advisory Board presided over by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, January 14, Anadolu Agency reports.

The country’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said “some circles” are seeking to use the issue “to create divisions within the Turkish community” and “damage the harmony of the Turkish people.”

In a statement following the meeting, Altun said the officials evaluated national and international opinions on the issue along with the correct diplomatic moves and attempts to hinder acts of disinformation on the case.

“The members of the High Advisory Board once again emphasized their determination to maintain our solidarity and union and the protection of our country’s interests,” Altun said.

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AGBU/NAASR Panel Wrestles With Genocide, Free Speech, And Social Media

BOSTON — Hate speech is protected in the U.S. but there are in fact limits to free speech. Hate speech that incites violence is considered a crime. The tremendous growth in social media has complicated the situation. Social media multiplies the effects of hate speech, and because social media is an anarchic space, it is almost impossible to police.

On December 8, 2019, at Harvard University, the Armenian General Benevolent Union New England District and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Contemporary Armenian Issues Lecture Series jointly sponsored a panel discussion entitled “Incitement to Genocide, Freedom of Expression, and Social Media.”

The panel featured Dr. Henry Theriault, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Worcester State University, who also serves as the President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars; Dr. Jermaine McCalpin, Assistant Professor, Chair of the African and African-American Studies Program at New Jersey City University, an internationally recognized expert and consultant on transitional justice, genocides and reparations; and Dr. Ohannes Kiliçdagi, who recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and currently serves as the Coordinator of the Krikor Guerguerian Online Archive Project at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. The panel was introduced and moderated by Marc Mamigonian, Director of Academic Affairs at NAASR.

Ara Balikian, chairman of the AGBU New England District, opened the evening by explaining that the program was an initiative of the AGBU to mark the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime on December 9. He turned things over to Marc Mamigonian who introduced the speakers and outlined the parameters of the discussion.

The first speaker, Dr. Theriault, focused on the direct connection between hate speech and genocide. Noting that genocide denial is itself a form of hate speech, Theriault invoked Israel Charny who has written that denial mocks victims and celebrates their destruction. Incitement is an action through hate speech. Often incitement is subtle and seen as protected speech. Hate speech changes the ethical standards by which decisions to act are made, making violence more likely.

Theriault explained that hate speech in liberal democracies is usually considered protected speech, based on the “Harm Principle.” This principle holds that speech can only be punished if it directly causes material damage and can only be prevented if it will be directly responsible for violence. However, he observed, those using hate speech but not doing direct violence are still part of the process resulting in genocidal violence and should be held accountable. Furthermore, even after genocidal violence ends, denial as a form of hate speech still does material harm.

Instead of recommending criminalization of hate speech, Dr. Theriault believes that punishment should concentrate on repairing the damage caused by hate speech such as correcting the historical record. Legal sanctions are not only justified for hate speech that incites violence but are also justified for genocide denial which is a growing form of hate speech on the internet.

Dr. Kiliçdagi focused his remarks on the case of Dogu Perinçek, the president of the Fatherland Party in Turkey, who made three public speeches in Switzerland in 2005 and said that the Armenian Genocide is an “imperialist lie.” The Switzerland-Armenian Association lodged a criminal complaint against him, at the end of which he was convicted on the Swiss Criminal Code’s prohibition of hate speech and justification of genocide. Following various appeals, the European Court of Human Rights decided that Perinçek was protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and his freedom of expression had been breached by Swiss authorities.

Kiliçdagi explained that the ECHR in its decision expressed the view that there was no tense political environment about the Armenian Genocide and no serious possibility of a clash between Turks and Armenians in Switzerland, and therefore that Perinçek’s statements were not incitement to violence. Additionally, since Perinçek had made his speeches “only” in three public events, their impact was limited—a remarkable view in the age of the internet and social media.

However, in Kiliçdagi’s assessment, the ECHR, which claims to protect universal norms and values pertaining to human rights, adopted a parochial approach in this case. In the era of global social media and communication technology, the effects of Perinçek’s speeches could not remain limited to Switzerland. Social media multiplies the impact of genocide denialism, hate speech, and racism. Kiliçdagi advocated that international political and judicial bodies adopt a global outlook against the global rise of discriminatory populism if they want to prevent the repetition of mass atrocities anywhere in the world.

The final speaker, Prof. McCalpin, observed that we often create a false dichotomy between speech and action, perhaps in part due to the aphorism facta non verba: action not words. That is, people create a separation between words and deeds even though speech is of critical causal importance in the cascading into genocide or xenophobic violence. “One cannot separate what is said from what happens primarily because genocidal violence is not spontaneous combustion and those speaking are not lone wolves with no listeners,” noted McCalpin, and when thought leaders and demagogues speak people listen and in listening, they act.

McCalpin emphasized that those who are influencers and inciters cannot be absolved by declarations that they didn’t kill anyone or ordered killings. Words have consequences; hate speech proceeds from hateful persons, and while freedoms of speech and expression are protected rights, they are not limitless rights.

Following the three speakers’ prepared comments they engaged in a lengthy discussion with audience members, rounding out an impressive and substantive evening. There was general agreement among the speakers and event organizers that the discussion served as an important starting point and that the topic will be taken up in future programs. Video from the evening has been posted on NAASR’s youtube page.

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100th Anniversary of the Agulis Pogroms Commemorated

YEREVAN — “Today, Armenia is more than determined to defend and ensure the right of the Armenian people to exist and peaceful development in their historical homeland, including in Artsakh,” Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Anna Naghdalyan said in a statement on the 100th anniversary of the Agulis pogroms targeting the Armenian inhabitants of the village.

“Today is the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians in Agulis. A century ago, on December 24-25, 1919, the peaceful Armenian population was massacred, and this ancient Armenian settlement of Nakhichevan was turned into ruins,” Naghdalyan noted.

The government of the first Armenian republic in response to these pogroms appealed to the international community and, in particular, to the countries of the Entente with a call to prevent violence on its territory and ensure the security of the Armenians of the region.

“Unfortunately, crimes against the Armenians of Nakhichevan were not limited to the history of the 20th century only, but they also received a new manifestation in our days, when the Azerbaijani authorities, having finally evicted the Armenians from Nakhichevan, also carried out a systematic and massive destruction of the Armenian cultural heritage.

As a result, thousands of Christian monuments were completely destroyed, including churches, monasteries and khachkars (cross stones – ed.) In Dzhug, Agulis and other places. The destruction by the Azerbaijani army of thousands of khachkars of Dzhugi, considered to be masterpieces of medieval Christian art, which is documented in video recordings, will remain in world history as an unsurpassed manifestation of cultural barbarism,” the spokeswoman emphasized.

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City of Miami Beach Officially Recognizes the Armenian Genocide

MIAMI BEACH, FL – On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, the City of Miami Beach, Florida passed a resolution officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported

The resolution was introduced by Miami Beach City Commissioner Mark Samuelian and passed unanimously.

“I am extremely proud of my Armenian heritage, and happy to have visited Armenia this summer and seen the wonderful countryside and its people. I commend the U.S. House of Representatives for condemning and recognizing the Armenian Genocide and proud of the City of Miami Beach for adopting this resolution,” Mark Samuelian said in a statement to “In addition, I congratulate the Armenian Genocide Committee, Inc. (AGC) for its efforts in commemorating the Armenian Genocide here in South Florida. This is a significant step in honoring the history of the Armenian people and their contributions,” Samuelian said.

In 2017, Samuelian became the first Armenian American elected official in Miami-Dade County history.

“The City of Miami Beach is the first city in Miami-Dade County to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, and I know I speak for the thousands of Armenian Americans in Miami-Dade when I say ‘Thank You’ to Commissioner Samuelian, Mayor Gelber, and the entire City Commission on this historic occasion,” stated AGC Chairwoman Arsine Kaloustian. “As the Armenian American community in South Florida continues to grow, AGC will continue to build on our accomplishments and expand Armenian Genocide awareness, education, and affirmation in the Sunshine State,” Kaloustian said.

A copy of the resolution is available here.

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Trump Administration Rejects US Senate Resolution Recognizing the Armenian Genocide

WASHINGTON, DC — The US State Department on Tuesday rebuked the Senate’s latest move to recognize the mass killing and deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during the first half of the 20th century as Genocide, releasing a statement that the administration continues to view the events as “one of the worst mass atrocities.”

“The position of the Administration has not changed,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April.”

The global Armenian Remembrance Day is marked on April 24 each year and was commemorated by President Trump with a statement recognizing that beginning in 1915, more than 1.5 million Armenians were “deported, massacred or marched to their deaths” under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The president did not describe the events as a genocide.

The US Senate had passed a resolution unanimously last week to recognize the Armenian genocide as a matter of foreign policy, in a rare showing of bipartisanship on a deeply divisive issue and in spite of the Trump administration’s objections. It marked the first time that the US Congress had formally designated the 1915 killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.

The Senate vote came after the House approved the measure last month, with a vote that came while Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were meeting in the Oval Office.

Following the Senate vote last week,  Erdogan threatened to recognize the killing of Native Americans by European settlers in America, as they moved across the country and displaced and killed entire populations.

“We should oppose [the US] by reciprocating such decisions in parliament. And that is what we will do,” Erdogan said during an interview on the pro-government A Haber news channel.

“Can we speak about America without mentioning [Native Americans]? It is a shameful moment in US history,” he continued.

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US Recognition of Armenian Genocide Will Prevent Turkey’s “Massacre” of Kurds: SDF Commander

ERBIL ( — Mazloum Abdi, commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said late Friday that the US Senate’s resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide will prevent Turkey from carrying out massacres against Kurds in northeast Syria.

The US Senate on Thursday formally recognized the Ottoman Empire’s mass murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-1917 as genocide.

“This is a clear message that genocide campaigns are not possible in the 21st century. This decision will stop Turkey from committing massacres against the Kurdish people and stop its invasion of Rojava,” said Abdi in a tweet, using the Kurdish name for the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

Turkey has carried out a number of attacks against predominantly Kurdish areas of northern Syria, invading and occupying Afrin in March 2018, then Sari Kani (Ras al-Ain) and Gire Spi (Tal Abyad) in October 2019.

Kurdish officials and international rights organizations have accused the Turkish army and its Syrian proxies of committing war crimes against Kurds during their operations.

Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, launched on October 9, was aimed at establishing a “safe zone” on the Turkey-Syria border by driving out SDF forces. The Turkish government plans to use the safe zone to resettle millions of Syrian refugees who have fled to Turkey over the past eight years back on the Syrian side of the border.

However, the Human Rights Watch said in a late November report that the “safe zone” Turkey wants to establish is not safe.

“Contrary to Turkey’s narrative that their operation will establish a safe zone, the groups they are using to administer the territory are themselves committing abuses against civilians and discriminating on ethnic grounds,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

There have not been any reports of mass killings by the invading forces, but multiple people have been brutally executed by pro-Turkish militiamen, including prominent Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf.

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Story of a Photo: Sister Found Her Brother in Der El-Zor Three Years After the Genocide

Photo: Collection of the National Archives of Armenia.
From “100 Photographic Stories of the Armenian Genocide” book

The photograph depicts a scene of terrible ordeals that befell the Armenian families during the Armenian Genocide. Orphaned, helpless and defenseless Armenian families were sent to deadly deportations. On the way to the Syrian deserts many people were dying, losing their families and dear ones.

This photograph depicts a brother and a sister, who had lost each other during deportation and only three years later they found each other in the desert of Der el-Zor.

Tens of thousands of Armenian families were destroyed during the Armenian Genocide. The whole families were brutally exterminated. Survivors have lost their wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. The result of these exterminations, pursued by the Ottoman Empire, was not only massacres, forced displacement and loss of homeland, but also thousands of orphans.

Some of the Armenian women, who were in Turkish harems, refused to leave their new families, as they had small children and were unsure if they could face new ordeals.

Very few of the Armenian children, who have survived by miracle, were “brought back” to the Armenian identity.

“No human language is strong or colorful enough to depict such horrors, or to express the moral and physical sufferings of these innocent martyred Armenians until their release in death. Any survivors, hopeless wrecks from the frightful massacres wherein they have seen all their loved ones perish, sent into concentration camps where torture and degradation worse than death await them”.

Jacques de Morgan
French historian
“Histoire du peuple arménien”, Paris, 1919, p. 276.

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Turkey Lashes at US Over Armenian Genocide Resolution, Summons Envoy

ANKARA — Turkey has reacted angrily to the US Senate move to unanimously pass on Thursday a resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the vote a “political show” on social media, adding that “it is not legally binding and it has no validity whatsoever.”

Cavusoglu said those who use history for political purposes are “cowards who do not want to face the truth.”

Turkey’s foreign ministry also issued a statement stating that the resolution is devoid of “historical awareness and any legal base. The resolution itself is neither legally binding nor valid.”

“This resolution of the Senate is one of the disgraceful examples of politicization of history. However, those who exploit history by disregarding reality for their political interests will never achieve their aims,” it added.

This resolution, at the same time, is a damaging effort aiming at interrupting the endeavors to develop Turkish-U.S. relations, the ministry stressed, adding “Turkey’s efforts to protect her vital interests in the region will resolutely continue without being affected from such unjust and tactless resolutions.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief foreign policy advisor and spokesman Ibrahim Kalin strongly condemned and rejected the Senate vote. “This decision that we declare null and void will not change Turkey’s right and determined stance on any political, military and economic field,” he stressed.

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also criticized the move in a tweet, stressing, “The behavior of some members of the U.S. Congress is damaging the Turkish-American ties.

Meanwhile the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield on Dec. 13.

Speaking to David Satterfield, Sedat Önal, deputy foreign minister, voiced Turkey’s strong criticism of the resolution, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media.

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PM Pashinyan Hails U.S. Senate Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Blasts Turkey

YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan thanked the U.S. Congress on Friday for recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey, saying that resolutions adopted by it will help to reduce Turkish threat to Armenia’s security.

“On behalf of the Armenian people I want to say words of appreciation to all members of the U.S. Senate,” said Pashinyan. “I also want to say words of appreciation to members of the House of Representatives. As you know, the House of Representatives also adopted at the end of October a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide.”

“For us, international recognition of the Armenian genocide also has a security component,” he told government officials in Yerevan. “This process is important in terms of ensuring the security of our country and people.”

Pashinyan charged that Turkey’s continuing denial of the genocide coupled with its economic blockade of Armenia pose a serious security threat to his country. He accused Ankara of also pursuing “aggressive policies” towards Turkey’s virtually all other neighbors.

“The international community should express a clear position on Turkey’s actions and also encourage Turkey to reappraise and reconsider its role in our region,” he said.

In a resolution adopted by unanimous consent on Thursday, the U.S. Senate said “it is the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.”

The Turkish government strongly condemned the move, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calling it a “political show” that “has no validity whatsoever.” “This resolution of the Senate is one of the disgraceful examples of politicization of history,” read a separate statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The resolution drew universal praise from Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora. Pashinyan called it a “historic event” immediately after its passage on Thursday.

As well as blasting Ankara the following morning, the prime minister made clear that just like the previous Armenian governments his administration stands for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations “without preconditions.” “We have said that for us recognition of the Armenian genocide is not on the agenda of our relations with Turkey,” he said.

Turkey continues to make the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of its border with Armenia conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. Turkish leaders regularly reaffirm this precondition.

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'Genocide Monument'

Using the unrecognized Genocides of the past as a reason to keep vigilance on all current ones around the world. The iPhone app is now available free on the Apple App Store. The Android and Blackberry versions of 'Genocide Monument' are currently being funded for production.