100 Years After the Armenian Genocide: A Manifesto for Memory and Justice
On the day that marks the centenary of the Armenian genocide, the first genocide of the twentieth century, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) and its member organisations in Armenia, CSI (Civil Society Institute) and in Turkey, IHD (Insan Haklari Dernegi), HRFT (Human Rights Foundation of Turkey), pay tribute to the memory of its victims.
In the continuation of the closing declarations of the FIDH Congresses in Yerevan in 2010 and Istanbul in 2013, and on the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian genocide, our organisations adopt the following manifesto.
Recalling the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;
Considering that crimes of genocide affect the very essence of humanity, defy imagination and are a profound affront to the human conscience;
Affirming that the worst atrocities continue to affect the consciousness and the trauma caused can be more effectively analysed with time; that crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity are a threat to international public order and affect the entire international community; that it is inconceivable for the law of “oblivion” to be applied to crimes committed against the community of nations and humanity itself; that these crimes are by their nature imprescriptible;
Recalling that about 1,5 million Armenians perished in the genocide at the beginning of the 20th century, among which numerous were executed and 1 million died during the enforced deportation and transfer of the Armenian people from the Anatolian part of the Ottoman Empire; and that numerous Armenians were subject to physical or mental harm;
Considering that the exact conditions of their death and the location of their remains are, for the vast majority of victims, unknown, and that the families and descendants of these victims could not grieve, these enforced disappearances can be qualified as continuous crimes under Article 8 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
Recalling that the right of victims and their descendants to truth, justice and reparation is fundamental and indispensable to lasting peace and any process of reconciliation;
Recalling the dangers of hate speech and negationist discourse concerning international crimes perpetrated, while calling for respect for freedom of expression which is an essential vehicle for respect for human rights;
Recalling the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law (Resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16 December 2005), and the second and third paragraphs of its preamble in particular.
FIDH and its member organisations in Armenia and Turkey, CSI, IHD and HRFT:
1. Pay tribute to the victims of the Armenian genocide which haunts the memory of humanity;
2. Salute the role of the “just” who saved Armenian lives during the genocide;
3. Solemnly call on Turkey to officially recognise its responsibility in the crime of genocide of Armenian populations, organised and perpetrated by the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire;
4. Call on Turkey to cease its official policy of denial and to meet the cost of reparations due for the harm sustained and the suffering endured by the victims, their descendants and the Armenian community as a whole;
5. Affirm that this recognition alone, which is essential to the task of memory, will enable Armenia and Turkey to re-establish a relationship of trust and engage in a process of reconciliation between the two States; a process in which civil society on both sides is already engaged;
6. Urge Turkey to work towards a normalisation of its relations with Armenia, without preconditions, in particular by opening the common border;
7. Urge the Turkish government to counter hate speech and stigmatisation of Armenians that its policy of denying the genocide helps sustain;
8. Consider that complete fulfilment of human rights, particularly the protection of rights and political freedoms, is essential to break taboos and promote dialogue and exchange; and call on civil society in Armenia and Turkey to campaign for grievances to be addressed, and to contribute to building and promoting relations between the two societies;
9. Call on Turkey and Armenia to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court and to incorporate its provisions into their domestic law, thereby clearly indicating their willingness to fight impunity for international crimes and to guarantee regional and international security and peace;
10. Remind governments around the world, members of the United Nations Security Council as well as the European Union and Council of Europe’s member states that the best way of preventing further crimes lies in fighting impunity for past ones; to this end, urge the international community to support this manifesto and intercede with the Turkish and Armenian governments, so that ad hoc mechanisms are put in place to satisfy the need for truth, justice and reparation for the genocide committed against the Armenians.