BUENOS AIRES (Agencia Prensa Armenia)—A public recognition was held on Tuesday, April 29, in the Argentinean National Congress to National Law 26.199, a law that establishes every April 24 as “Action Day for Tolerance and Respect between People” in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
The event, organized by the Armenian National Committee of South America (CNA), was attended by Deputy Cristina Ziebart, Deputy Carlos Raimundi, Senator Ruben Giustiniani, and Deputy Secretary for Educational Equity and Quality of the Education Ministry, Gabriel Brener, along with Director of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism Pedro Mouratian, renowned Turkish publisher and human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu, and Armenian Ambassador to Argentina Vahagn Melikian.
Dr. Hugo Kuyumdjian, representing the CNA, opened the event saying that Law 26.199 “is the result of successive parliamentary statements and resolutions at national and provincial level, along with the public recognition in 1987 of President Raul Alfonsin.”
However, he warned that “all these advances that we assume that are consolidated, encounter daily obstructions from the Turkish lobby, and more recently the presence of the Azerbaijani lobby, two countries that are operating together … to keep alive the idea of ethnic cleansing towards the Armenians, considering not only the struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but the existence of Armenia an obstacle to their interests; something that translates into everyday attempts to influence academics, educational, political and media spheres, presenting a false version of history.”
Kuyumdjian then referred to the statement by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the day before the commemoration of the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, explaining that “although some media reports described it as historic, the Turkish government has always denied that the massacres occurred and often blamed the Armenians themselves to be responsible for their own genocide.”
“The proposal to establish a joint committee composed of Turkish and Armenian historians to study what happened, is an idea used for years by Turkey to deny genocide, attempting to present two opposing views on the subject, something that we know from Argentina as the ‘theory of the two demons’, where there are two opposing sides and not a victim and a victimizer,” added Kuyumdjian, referring to the last military dictatorship of Argentina.
Deputy of Nuevo Encuentro Party Carlos Raimundi said that in international relations you “must look out for different interests,” but that “there are some key points that cannot be subjected to pressure or any kind of consideration.” Referring to Law 26.199, he highlighted the example and the plurality of the parties that approved it and said: “when a historical event that affected the human condition is at stake, there is no possible negotiation,” in relation to Turkish pressures.
Senator for the Province of Santa Fe Ruben Giustiniani recalled and repudiated the 1915-1923 events, mentioning that “each genocide anniversary should be an occasion to think about how much progress has been made and what still remains to memory and justice.”
“The memory of the people and their historical consciousness are the roots for a future of peace,” he added.
Deputy Secretary Gabriel Brener stressed the importance of education as “construction of otherness” and that “we live in times marked by the figure of the other as a threat, and that is also the prelude to the negation of the other.” Similarly, he noted that the processes of silence and denial are another form of violence.
Finally, Deputy of Frente para la Victoria Party Cristina Ziebart spoke about the “commitment to remember what happened in the past,” to “learn from the experiences and not repeat past mistakes.”
“This is not only to commemorate the genocide, we must also make a commitment to continuously review the indicators of all forms of intolerance,” she said.