June 10, 2014

Armenian Bar Association on Justice for the Armenian Genocide

Armenian Bar Association on Justice for the Armenian Genocide -

The Board of Governors of the Armenian Bar Association has articulated the following statement on Justice for The Armenian Genocide.

WHEREAS during the final years of the Ottoman Empire and especially beginning on April 24, 1915, the government of the Ottoman Empire conceived and executed a plan to exterminate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire; and

WHEREAS other minorities of the Ottoman Empire, including but not limited to Greeks and Assyrians, also suffered the loss of life and property at the hands of the perpetrator regime of the Committee of Union and Progress, i.e. the Young Turks; and

WHEREAS the plan to execute the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the first genocide of the twentieth century, resulting in the execution and death on forced marches of at least one and a half million Armenians and causing untold agony to the survivors and their descendants to this day; and

WHEREAS on April 24, 2015, Armenians and non-Armenians alike will observe the centennial of this crime perpetrated against the Armenian nation and humanity; and

WHEREAS the government of the Republic of Turkey, successor state to the Ottoman Empire, continues to deny the genocide perpetrated by its predecessor state; and

WHEREAS, as of the ninety-ninth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 2014, the government of the Republic of Turkey has refused to make a meaningful gesture of admission of the truth or of reconciliation with the Armenian nation and has refused to offer restitution to the Armenian nation;

THEN, THEREFORE, the Armenian Bar Association, the largest association of lawyers of Armenian descent, acting from a desire to obtain justice for and promote the welfare of the Armenian nation, finds the following:

I. The Armenian nation does not seek revenge upon the dead who committed crimes against our people, but justice from the living who are in a position to make restitution to the Armenian nation.

II. The principle of restitution and justice is to put the victims in as good a position as if the wrong and harm had not occurred.

III. There is no way to restore to life the millions of Armenians who died during the Genocide or give life to those who would have been born if their ancestors had not perished.

IV. There is no way to compensate fully living Armenians for the suffering borne by so many of their descendants.

V. There is no way to repair fully the damage wrought upon the integrity and richness of Armenian culture, especially that of Western Armenia.

VI. The only way for the Republic of Turkey to have a mutually beneficial and harmonious relationship with the Armenian nation is for the government of the Republic of Turkey to admit the actions of its predecessor state and to take steps necessary to begin reconciliation. AND, the Armenian nation demands that certain measures be taken by the government of the Republic of Turkey as partial compensation for the lives lost, the property confiscated, and the damage visited upon the culture that was and is an integral part of the patrimony of the Armenian nation, including but not limited to the following:

1. The government of the Republic of Turkey must recognize officially the genocide of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish state must apologize on behalf of the people of Turkey for genocidal crimes perpetrated and denied by predecessor regimes.

2. The government of the Republic of Turkey must make a good faith effort to ensure that the genocide of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire is taught in the schools of Turkey.

3. The government of the Republic of Turkey must make a good faith effort to seek reconciliation and normalization of relations between Turkey and the Republic of Armenia.

4. The government of the Republic of Turkey must restore the personal property owned by Armenians of the Ottoman Empire to its rightful owners or their heirs or must offer fair and just compensation for the loss of that property.

5. The government of the Republic of Turkey must restore the real property owned by Armenians of the Ottoman Empire to its rightful owners or their heirs or must offer fair and just compensation for the loss of that property.

6. The government of the Republic of Turkey must guarantee the free, equal, and independent status of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople and other Armenian religious organizations, including but not limited to the elimination of discrimination and legal impediments to the free exercise of religion.

7. The government of the Republic of Turkey must guarantee the equality of members of the Armenian nation residing in the Republic of Turkey, including but not limited to the elimination of discrimination against them in all forms whatsoever.

8. The government of the Republic of Turkey must restore the Armenian churches of all denominations or offer fair and just compensation for the loss of that property. The Armenian churches of the Ottoman Empire, whether Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, or Armenian Protestant, were the largest owners of both real and personal property in the Armenian community of the Ottoman Empire. The churches also played a paramount role as the repository of the national wealth and culture of the Armenian community of the Ottoman Empire and of the Armenian nation around the world. Because thousands of clergy were murdered and almost all of the churches and religious buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, the churches bore the heaviest losses of any Armenian institution during the Genocide. Because the Armenian churches are historically the main custodians of Armenian culture and the welfare of the Armenian nation, they bore the greatest share of the burden of trying to alleviate suffering after the Genocide, a task made more difficult by the extreme losses they suffered.

9. The government of the Republic of Turkey must preserve and guarantee access to the Armenian religious, historical, and cultural sites within the Republic of Turkey, with the right of intervention by the Republic of Armenia and representatives of the Armenian nation to guarantee and oversee preservation of those sites.

10. The government of the Republic of Turkey must return all of the Armenian historic homeland, including but not limited to returning Mt. Ararat and its immediate surrounding area and the ancient Armenian City of Ani and its immediate surrounding area to the Republic of Armenia as part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.

11. The government of the Republic of Turkey must recognize that Nagorno-Karabagh, also known as Artsakh, is an independent republic deserving of all rights and responsibilities of sovereign countries.
12. The government of the Republic of Turkey must provide the Republic of Armenia with free access to the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea, with appropriate access to railroads, highways, and international harbors on both the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

13. The government of the Republic of Turkey must provide and guarantee the Republic of Armenia with fair use of the natural resources of the area of Turkey leading to the border between the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Armenia, including but not limited to rights to water, mineral rights, pasture, arable land, and timber.

14. The government of the Republic of Turkey must make a good faith effort to enter, with no pre-conditions or qualifications, into a multi-lateral pact with the Republic of Armenia and other interested parties in the region with a view towards clarifying the Republic of Armenia’s relations with the Republic of Turkey and its other neighbors and guaranteeing the security of the Republic of Armenia. These pacts would not be based upon the contradictory legacy of the treaties of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but would be based upon the realities and aspirations of the twenty-first century.

15. The government of the Republic of Turkey must make a significant financial contribution to those Armenian charities that currently minister to the needs of survivor communities of the Armenian Genocide.

THEREFORE, the Armenian Bar Association calls upon the government of the Republic of Turkey to accept and fulfill these demands in the name of justice for the dead and the living and those yet unborn and as the beginning of reconciliation and a harmonious relationship between the citizens of the Republic of Turkey and the descendants of the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

         
       Kantsasar Weekly  Diario Armenia