UN Human Rights Expert targets TARC Museum of Tolerance Turkey’s legal obligation to recognize genocide


GLENDALE — Noted international law expert–historian and former United Nations Human Rights official Dr. Alfred De Zayas–concluded a three-day visit to Los Angeles on Monday–November 10. Currently a visiting professor of international law at the University of British Columbia–De Zayas was invited to Southern California by the Armenian National Committee-Western Region to receive the organization’s 2003 award for "Scholarly Achievement."

The author of a memorandum "The Genocide Against the Armenians and the Application of the 1948 Genocide Convention," De Zayas had the opportunity to speak to a crowd of over 60 community activists on Saturday–November 8 at an ANC-Leadership Institute event. After discussing various pre-1948 Convention treaties and agreemen’s relevant to the genocide of the Ottoman-Armenia’s–the former UN Human Rights Committee Secretary explained that the Genocide Convention could be applied retroactively to the Armenian case. De Zayas explained that the Republic of Turkey is obligated under international law to recognize the Armenian genocide–return property and moneys illegally seized by the Ottoman authorities and provide reparations to the descendants of genocide victims and survivors. Moreover–he stressed that Turkey must help reconstruct the numerous Armenian historical monumen’s that have been damaged or destroyed under the government’s supervision.

De Zayas cautioned his audience about private efforts between Turkish and Armenian groups to reconcile each peoples’ differences. Referring specifically to reports and statemen’s issued by the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC)–he asked those in attendance "not to be led astray by red herrings and by falsely framed questions" in their "search for truth and justice." During his twenty-two years with the United Nations–De Zayas had witnessed numerous political maneuvers that aimed to sidetrack issues of grave importance. "Reconciliation must be based on truth and its aim should be justice," he said.

On Sunday–November 9–De Zayas reiterated his points to an audience of over 650 at the ANC-WR Annual Banquet held in Universal City. In his acceptance speech–De Zayas stated the allied forces had properly labeled the forced deportations and massacres as a "crime against humanity," shortly after its occurrence in 1915. He noted that "[the rights of the Armenia’s] were to be vindicated by virtue of various provisions of the Treaty of Sevres." Discussing the importance of educating the world public about this episode in history–De Zayas suggested that steps be taken to make new motion pictures focusing on the genocide. "Atom Egoyan’s ‘Ararat’ constitutes a distinguished achievement," noted De Zayas. "Now is the time to make a movie based on Peter Balakian’s ‘The Burning Tigris.’"

De Zayas’s speech also referred to his recent visit to the Museum of Tolerance. Although the Museum did–in his opinion–"have great potential to inform and to educate," he stressed that it "needs to expand its horizons." De Zayas concluded his remarks about the Museum by noting that it "should be perceived as multi-cultural and multi-ethnic–since genocide is a worldwide phenomenon. I am persuaded that the Museum could do a better job of addressing the plight of the unsung victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing–including the Armenia’s–the Greeks–the Cypriots–the Ukrainians–the 15 million German women and children expelled from their 700-year homelands in East Prussia–Pomerania–Silesia–Bohemia–etc. in the wake of the second world war–a brutal process in the course of which more than two million died. The Museum should endeavor to make us understand the root causes of ethnic hate and intolerance. The museum’s vocation is education."

A taped interview with Dr. De Zayas will be aired on Horizon Television on … A copy of his memorandum on the Armenian Genocide could be found online at www16.brinkster.com/eafjd/en/bulletins/dezayas_report.pdf. In addition to his recent study–De Zayas has also written a lengthy chapter

"The Twentieth Century’s First Genocide: International Law–Impunity–the Right to Reparations–and the Ethnic Cleansing against the Armenia’s–1915-1916" in the newly published book–"Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe" (Columbia University Press).


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