ANCA Warns Armenian American Community Groups about TARC ICTJ Threat to the Armenian Cause

WASHINGTON–DC–Responding to the Turkish government’s increasingly aggressive campaign to deny justice for the Armenian genocide–the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) this week circulated a letter warning all the leading Armenian American organizations about the "quiet–but profoundly dangerous–campaign by Turkey aimed at the very heart of our community’s struggle to secure full recognition–proper commemoration–and a just resolution of the Armenian Genocide." Below is the text of that letter:

"I would like to convey to you our deep concern about a quiet–but profoundly dangerous–campaign by Turkey aimed at the very heart of our community’s struggle to secure full recognition–proper commemoration–and a just resolution of the Armenian Genocide.

"Successive US administrations have sought to appease Turkey’s sensitivities on this issue through the use of evasive wording each April 24th and opposition to Congressional legislation on the first genocide of modern history. We have–however–succeeded in building Congressional opposition to Turkey’s policy of denial–kept this issue on the US legislative agenda–and–particularly in light of the recent strains in US-Turkish relations–approached the critical mass necessary to overcome the opposition to proper US recognition of the Armenian Genocide. It is exactly this momentum that is now being attacked by Turkey and its allies in the Administration.

"The Turkish government’s motivation in this matter is clear. Recognizing the failure of its campaign of genocide denial–Ankara has fallen back to exploring a position of acknowledgment without consequences. These efforts enjoy the support of well-placed State Department and Pentagon officials–adherents of outdated Cold War-era thinking about the US-Turkey relationship. These American and Turkish officials have sought to create the false impression of Armenian backing for this patently anti-Armenian undertaking by securing the nominal support of a handful of Armenia’s. In this way–they seek to disguise the true nature of their initiative and to add a measure of undeserved credibility to a campaign crafted specifically to deny justice to the Armenian people.

"The main vehicle for the Turkish government’s effort toward this end has been the discredited Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC)–a group substantially funded by the State Department and rejected by Armenia’s worldwide. A study commissioned several years ago by TARC is being used as an instrument of this current "genocide without justice" campaign. It should be noted that–although a New York-based group called the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) apparently helped TARC identify an author for this study–the report was –at ICTJ’s own admission–written entirely independently of the ICTJ. Despite repeated requests for transparency–neither the ICTJ–nor anyone affiliated with TARC has–so far–revealed the author or authors.

"This paper confirms the obvious: the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenia’s is indeed a case of genocide under the UN Genocide Convention. The anonymous author(s)–however–go on to find that the Armenian nation has no recourse under the Convention. Although the report specifically states that its scope is limited to the Genocide Convention alone and that it does not endeavor to determine whether other international laws were violated–it summarily rejects the application of the Convention–the most comprehensive statutory expression of the international community’s commitment to preventing and punishing the crime of genocide – using poor documentation and analysis–thereby substantially and materially prejudicing the ability of Armenia’s to seek redress. There are many distinguished scholars–including Dr. Alfred de Zayas–the former Secretary of the United Nations Human Rights Committee–who disagree with this particular conclusion and who argue persuasively that the Genocide Convention is legally applicable to the Armenian Genocide.

"The Turkish government and its surrogates are today aggressively using this document to seek to escape responsibility for the Armenian Genocide. Taking advantage of the veneer provided by the token Armenian participation in TARC–they are seeking to create the false impression that a meaningful segment of the Armenian American community accepts the concept that Turkey should be allowed to remain unaccountable for the genocide of the Armenia’s. Simply put–the sponsors of TARC seek to manipulate elemen’s of the Armenian community into forfeiting all our rights and compromising the future of our nation based on nothing more than a cursory four-page analysis in a single–anonymously written–seventeen-page report commissioned by a discredited Turkish government-linked organization.

"As the collective leaders of the Armenian American community–we–of course–understand that the formula of "recognition without consequences" of the Armenian Genocide lacks any moral or legal basis. The present day Republic of Turkey is heir to the Ottoman Empire–the beneficiary of the fruits of genocide–the architect of an eight-decade long campaign of denial aimed at evading accountability–and the entity currently eradicating our remaining community and cultural presence in Turkey. As such–Turkey bears full responsibility to make reparations and restitution to the Armenian nation for the massacres–expropriation of property–and the exile–for nearly a century–of our people from our ancestral homeland of more than three thousand years.

"The stakes could not be higher. We must–as a community–clearly recognize the dangers presented by this threat–decisively reject efforts to deny our rights–and recommit ourselves to the necessary work of securing justice for our nation and people."

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