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Open Letter to UN - 04/14/07 - Genocide - Turkey

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Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC)

Representing 35,000 Hellenes and 25 Hellenic Associations in the US and abroad


April 14, 2007

This letter expresses offense to the United Nations postponement of an exhibit on Genocide in order to appease the Turkish government over its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, and to the disturbing omissions of the Hellenic and Assyrian Christian populations of Anatolia that were likewise targeted for extermination by Turkish nationalist and racist governments. Cancellation of the exhibit in response to the outrageous demands of the Turkish government reflects very poorly on the beginning tenure of the new Secretary General.

Up to the present day, human rights abuses against Christian and Kurdish minorities, as well as democratic minded Turkish intellectuals continue to occur in Turkey. The ongoing persecution of the Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey, and the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Greek majority of Cyprus by the invading Turkish army in violation of the UN's own Resolutions occurred because Turkish nationalist leaders were able to complete the Genocide and mass exterminations of Armenians, Asia Minor Greeks, and Assyrians without any discernible action on the part of the great powers who betrayed legal, democratic, and humanitarian principles for economic and imperialistic principles.

We would like to express our shock and dismay that the systematic deportations and killings of unarmed civilian Greeks and Assyrians by the racist Young Turk government and its successor under Mustafa Kemal have been ignored. We are offended and outraged that the victims of the Pontian death marches were not considered for the UN's Genocide project. Further, we are displeased that the Greek populations of Asia Minor, and especially Smyrna were not mentioned. The burning of the Christian City of Smyrna by the Turkish nationalists and the mass slaughter of Greek and Armenian Christians represents one of the darkest periods for humanity during the twentieth century. The subsequent forcible uprooting of over 1,000,000 Greek inhabitants from their ancestral lands in Asia Minor represents another aspect of the great powers aquiescence to Turkish nationalists and assisted the Turkish instigated genocide in cleansing the region of the majority of its surviving Christians.

The omission of the Greek and Assyrian Christians, and the willingness to sacrifice recognition of the Armenian Genocide to appease Ankara demonstrates contempt for all three peoples whose members were expunged from humanity by those who adhered to the same fanatical ideas and ideologies that later inspired Genocide elsewhere.

By surrendering to the demands of the Turkish paramilitary State which continues unhindered with its violations of human rights, and by ignoring the Greek and Assyrian victims, the United Nations is becoming an enabler of censorship and extremism on behalf of the ideological nationalism of the Turkish state which brought about the extermination of these peoples, and which remains firmly entrenched among the Turkish leadership today. We respectfully request that the United Nations proceed with its Genocide exhibit despite Turkish protests. Furthermore, we request that the United Nations, on the basis of academic and historical research, international law, and human decency, use the term Genocide to refer to the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek victims of the Turkish State.

Theodore G. Karakostas
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Member of HEC Executive Council

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The above is in response to UN action as reported in the following NY TIMES editorial.

From: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/opinion/13fri2.html?th&emc=th

Editorial

Turkey and the U.N.’s Cover-Up Published: April 13, 2007

More than 90 years ago, when Turkey was still part of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish nationalists launched an extermination campaign there that killed 1.5 million Armenians. It was the 20th century’s first genocide. The world noticed, but did nothing, setting an example that surely emboldened such later practitioners as Hitler, the Hutu leaders of Rwanda in 1994 and today’s Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Turkey has long tried to deny the Armenian genocide. Even in the modern-day Turkish republic, which was not a party to the killings, using the word genocide in reference to these events is prosecuted as a serious crime. Which makes it all the more disgraceful that United Nations officials are bowing to Turkey’s demands and blocking this week’s scheduled opening of an exhibit at U.N. headquarters commemorating the 13th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide because it mentions the mass murder of the Armenians.

Ankara was offended by a sentence that explained how genocide came to be recognized as a crime under international law: “Following World War I, during which one million Armenians were murdered in Turkey, Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin urged the League of Nations to recognize crimes of barbarity as international crimes.” The exhibit’s organizer, a British-based antigenocide group, was willing to omit the words “in Turkey.” But that was not enough for the U.N.’s craven new leadership, and the exhibit has been indefinitely postponed.

It’s odd that Turkey’s leaders have not figured out by now that every time they try to censor discussion of the Armenian genocide, they only bring wider attention to the subject and link today’s democratic Turkey with the now distant crime. As for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his inexperienced new leadership team, they have once again shown how much they have to learn if they are to honorably and effectively serve the United Nations, which is supposed to be the embodiment of international law and a leading voice against genocide.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 April 2010 15:04  
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