Palestine solidarity on trial

On May 1st, 19 Melbourne activists will be put on trial for their political activity. In a precedent-setting case, these pro-Palestine activists will be fighting a variety of charges designed to criminalise dissent in Baillieu’s Victoria and intimidate supporters of Palestine in Australia.

On 1 July 2011, Victoria Police attacked a peaceful demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD. In one of the largest political arrests in a decade, 19 activists were detained during a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) action against the Max Brenner store. The chocolateria is owned by Israeli conglomerate the Strauss Group, a company that provides “care rations” for the Israeli military, including the Golani and the Givati brigades. These were two of the key Israeli military brigades involved in Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 that killed more than 1300 Palestinians. In more recent times the Golani brigade has been noted for its brutal enforcement of Israeli colonisation of Palestinian Hebron in the West Bank.

After a series of peaceful demonstrations against Max Brenner, the 1 July action was kettled by police before activists were individually targeted in an unprovoked attack by the riot squad. The police used pressure point tactics on some of the demonstrators; others reported bruising and rough treatment. One woman had her shoulder dislocated.

Damian Ridgwell, one of the arrested protesters told Electronic Intifada about his experience:

I was dragged behind police lines. Once they grabbed me and started dragging me, I went limp and dropped to the ground… As I was being carried through the corridors of the loading dock, I lost consciousness because one of the police had me in a choke hold. I am not sure how long I was out, probably a few minutes. I woke up on the loading dock floor and heard the police saying I was “out”.

The majority of those arrested were charged with trespass in a public place (yes that is apparently a crime) and besetting (an archaic law that means “to surround a building”); a small number were also charged with behaving in a “riotous manner”.

After attending another protest, four of these nineteen protesters were again arrested (for breaking their bail conditions) in dawn raids on their homes. These anti-democratic conditions stipulated that activists may not return within fifty metres of Max Brenner stores in the Melbourne CBD. Three were released from jail on a bail of $2,000 each. Being one of the more prominent campaigners, I was made to pay a $10,000 bail or face prison. All up the activists are facing fines of around $30,000.

In the subsequent weeks and months a parade of politicians and apartheid-loving celebrities attempted to initiate a new fad: the “drink in”. This involved a small gathering of freedom-hating individuals (including but not limited to Kevin Rudd, former newscaster Jana Wendt and federal Labor politician Michael Danby) in their local Max Brenner for a relaxed drink – just to show their support for Israel. While the “drink in” fad bombed, these establishment figures found support in ever more unsavoury quarters: the organised fascist movement got on board.

The Australian Protection Party, (a neo-Nazi and Islamophobic group) as well as the Australian Defence League (a spin-off from the fascist English Defence League) held counter-demonstrations at the pro-Palestine protests in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. To get a flavour of the politics of these organisations you only have to read a post by one prominent APP leader, the noxious racist Darrin Hodges, who said on the Nazi Stormfront site, “I’m more interested in the purer form of fascism… and while I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘worship Hitler’ thing, his comments on multiculturalism and politics in general are still just as relevant today as they were 70-odd years ago.”

In Brisbane one of the pro-Israel mobilisations actually invited the fascists onto the platform to speak. They waved Israeli flags and chanted pro-Max Brenner slogans. These bedfellows of the mainstream right in Australia physically assaulted an Aboriginal speaker, Robbie Thorpe, at one of the demonstrations in Melbourne because he drew the comparison between the dispossession of the Indigenous people of Palestine and the Indigenous people of Australia.

The fact that neo-Nazis and Zionists came together is no accident. This is part of a global phenomenon. Support for Israel and the US invariably leads down a pro-imperialist, racist path. The increasingly brutal actions of Israel against the Palestinians fit neatly with the hysterical anti-Muslim campaigns by the APP and the ADL.

The fines, and the aggressive manner of the Victorian government’s pursuit of the activists, reveal a further series of intersecting agendas.

The first is the hostility of the Australian establishment towards those who support Palestine. To get anywhere in mainstream Australian politics requires a display of unwavering support for Israel. It is bipartisan policy to back the apartheid state. Because Israel is a key link in the US chain of command across the Middle East the Australian ruling class is a champion of the Israeli state. It is significant that, with the exception of a few individuals, the overwhelming consensus in parliament is to offer a hand of friendship to Israel.

This commitment is what accounts for the hysteria in the establishment press (particularly the Australian) after the Marrickville council attempted to boycott particular Israeli-owned goods and services last year. The liberal press is hardly any better with Melbourne’s Age recently jumping on the bandwagon with a slanderous piece attacking not only the German poet Gunther Grass for his mild critique of Israel’s brutality – but also the Max Brenner protesters for their supposed “hostility to Jews”. No mention of Israel’s war crimes, or of the thousands of Jewish critics across the world who back Palestinian demands for freedom and justice.

The case against the Max Brenner 19 also highlights the behind the scenes collusion between the Victorian government, the police, the shopping centre management (of QV and Melbourne Central) and the Australian Zionist establishment. Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, outlined their anti-BDS strategy, stating that it includes “but is not limited to, engagement with civil society and politicians, patronage of boycotted outlets, cooperation with police, shop owners and centre managers and exposure of the motives behind the BDS movement”. The strategy should be one which seeks to “speak softly” but to also carry “a suggestion of a big stick”.

Furthermore, during a bail variation hearing at the Victorian Magistrate’s Court on 27 July 2011, Victoria Police confirmed that the decision to arrest the protesters had been made before the demonstration. This decision was made after meeting with Zionist organisations, the Victorian government, shopping centre managements and the management of Max Brenner.

This kind of collusion reflects increasing attempts to criminalise BDS and pro-Palestine solidarity activism internationally. Currently in the US, France and Greece, hundreds of pro-Palestine activists are facing criminal charges for non-violently standing up for Palestinian human rights.

The response to these demonstrations also reflects a broader social phenomenon: the growing militarisation of the police force. New highly-trained units have been established, such as the Special Operations Group (SOG) and the Critical Incident Response team.

These forces are trained in increasingly hostile forms of crowd control such as kettling. Such tactics have been utilised against other protests such as Occupy Melbourne. There are squads whose sole purpose is to “monitor” and “infiltrate” activist groups. One senior sergeant’s court testimony suggested that police infiltrators had been sent to pro-Palestine solidarity meetings in order to monitor the activity of BDS activists.

These intersecting interests have found targets in the Max Brenner 19 and will be on display during the three-week trial.

There has been an out flowing of support from Australia and abroad. John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Jeff Sparrow and Antony Loewenstein have been a few of those brave enough to voice their opposition to the trial.

Support the campaign 

Come to the Melbourne Magistrates Court, 1 May at 9am, 233 William Street.
Public meeting in Melbourne, Friday 4 May at Trades Hall, Carlton.
BDS protest on 18 May, Old GPO, Bourke Street Mall.

( / 28.04.2012)

Is een moslim verplicht de islam te verspreiden?

Allah vermeldt in de Qur’an:

En laat er een groep onder jullie zijn die tot goedheid aanspoort en tot rechtvaardigheid maant en het kwade verbiedt; dezen zijn het die zullen slagen. (Qur’an 3:104)
Gij (Moslims) zijt het beste volk dat voor de mensheid (ter lering) is verwekt; gij gebiedt wat goed is, verbiedt wat kwaad is en gelooft in Allah. (Qur’an3:110)
Het is de plicht van ieder moslim om de islam te verkondigen. Het is aan Allah of onze verkondiging verspreidt wordt en zijn weg vindt in de harten.
Hoe moeten we de islam verkondigen?
Allereerst moeten we zelf de islam optimaal proberen te (be)leven zoals Allah het heeft voorgeschreven.
O jullie die geloven, waarom zeggen jullie wat jullie niet doen. Groot is de woede bij Allah dat jullie zeggen wat jullie niet doen. (Qur’an 61:2-3)
Onze handelingen moeten voor ons gaan spreken, niet onze tong. De metgezellen van onze edele profeet, vrede en zegeningen zij met hem, en de generaties die hen volgden gingen naar verre oorden, om de islam te verkondigen, zonder dat ze de taal van die streek spraken. Er zijn Sahabe graven van Marokko tot aan China te vinden die zijn geemigreerd naar die verre plekken om de islam te verkondigen. Als we kijken naar landen en volkeren zoals Indonesie, Malesie, Turken en vele anderen, zien we dat zij massaal moslim zijn geworden omdat ze de puurheid van de islam in die voorbeeldmoslims zagen. De handelingen van de moslims, die waren geëmigreerd naar die streken waren veel effectiever en blijvender dan wapens.
Als we met onze handeling en daden een goede voorbeeld zijn, en goede contacten hebben met niet-moslims, zullen er momenten komen dat er vragen gesteld worden over onze geloof. Dan kunnen we met woorden, onze geloof verkondigen. Hiervoor moeten we dus genoeg kennis over onze geloof hebben. Als we deze kennis niet bezitten, moeten we kunnen zeggen dat we het niet weten en dat we het graag willen onderzoeken en voor de volgende keer terug zullen komen op deze vraag.
Hoe moet onze houding en gedrag zijn bij deze mondelinge verkondiging?
Op een gepaste en milde wijze.
Roep tot de weg van uw Heer met wijsheid en goede raad en wissel met hen van gedachten op een gepaste wijze. (Qur’an 16:125)
Gaat naar Fir’aun: voorwaar, hij overtrad. En spreekt mild tot hem, moge hij zich laten vermanen…
(Qur’an 20:43-44)
Als we dit alles hebben gedaan dan rest ons nog een ding; doe’a doen dat Allah de harten zal gaan openen voor Hem.
( / 28.04.2012)

Fayyad pledges to protect PA curriculum in Jerusalem

The Israeli Jerusalem municipality runs 50 schools in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday pledged to protect the use of a PA-approved curriculum in East Jerusalem schools.

“We assure you that the PA is determined to continue to stand with you to protect the Palestinian curriculum in East Jerusalem, with all its contents, and confront all attempts to distort and tamper with the national and Arabic curriculum in the city,” Fayyad told crowds during a protest in Ramallah.

The Palestinian NGO network organized the demonstration, attended by school teachers and students, in protest against Israel’s violations against education in East Jerusalem.

In 2011, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to the heads of private schools — schools that are allocated funds from Israeli authorities — in which they instructed the schools to only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Educational Administration, a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

The logo of the Palestinian Education Ministry was removed from all new textbooks and parents complained the content of some books has been distorted.

After Israel annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 conflict — a move that was not recognized internationally — Palestinians in the city followed the Jordanian educational system.

When Palestinians and Israelis signed the Oslo agreement schools in East Jerusalem began using a curriculum set by the Palestinian Authority.

Based on 2010-2011 statistics by the East Jerusalem Education Directorate, the Israeli Jerusalem municipality runs 50 schools in East Jerusalem, which are attended by 48 percent of Palestinian students in the city.

Additionally, 52 percent of students attended 68 private, Waqf and Palestinian Authority schools in the holy city.

( / 28.04.2012)

Abbas arrives in Tunisia for official tour

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki shakes hand with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Tunis on April 28, 2012.
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Tunis on Saturday evening on an official tour, official media reported.

The president was greeted by Tunisian President Moncef Al-Marzouki, President of the Constituent Assembly Mustafa Bin Jaafar, as well as Palestinian officials in Tunisia, PA news agency Wafa reported.

Abbas is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Malki, Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, diplomatic adviser Majdi Al-Khalidi and Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad, the report said.

Abbas will brief Tunisian officials on the stalled reconciliation deal with Hamas and failed talks with Israel, as well as discussing bilateral relations during the four-day visit.

( / 28.04.2012)

Prisoners in Negev engage in medicine strike; Khader Adnan reports arrest of activist

Khader Adnan reported on Saturday April 28 that the Israeli occupation today seized Mohammed Abdul Latif al-Shaibani, 37, of Arraba near Jenin like Adnan, according to Ma’an. Adnan reported that al-Shaibani previously spent six years in the occupation prisons and was released in 2008, and is an activist with Islamic Jihad.

Adnan also reported that, like other hunger striking prisoners, Sheikh Tariq Kaadan of Islamic Jihad, a prominent leader, was denied legal visits today in Jilboa prison because he is participating in the hunger strike, and that prisoners in Eshel prison were isolated after Friday prayers yesterday, where calls were issued for all prisoners to join the hunger strike.

Addameer has reported that none of its lawyers have been permitted to visit any of the prisoners on hunger strike, barred by the Israeli occupation.

The administrative detainees in Section 9, who suffer from chronic diseases of Negev desert prison issued a statement on Friday saying that they had undertaken a one-day medicine strike in addition to their hunger strike as part of their escalation of protest.

( / 08.04.2012)

Evenement in Amsterdam op 12 mei: ’64 jaar Nakba? Niet normaal !’

Op 15 mei aanstaande viert de Zionistische staat Israel haar 64-jarige bestaan. De stichting van deze staat, die tot standkwam door massale landonteigening en de gewelddadige verdrijving van rond de 800,000 Palestijnen van huis en haard, wordt door Palestijnen de ‘Nakba’ genoemd, dat zoveel wil zeggen als ‘catastrofe’.


Deze catastrofe was geen eenmalige historische gebeurtenis maar is een praktijk van landdiefstal en etnische zuivering die tot op de dag van vandaag wordt voortgezet. Vind jij dit ook niet normaal? Kom dan op 12 mei naar de bijeenkomst: ’64 jaar Nakba? Niet normaal!

Twee internationaal bekende Palestijnen werden bereid gevonden hun verhaal hierover te doen. Zij komen speciaal hiervoor uit het buitenland naar Amsterdam!
Abbas Hamideh: bestuurslid en mede-oprichter van Al Awda, de grootste Palestijnse grassrootsorganisate in de Verenigde Staten die zich inzet voor het Palestijnse Recht op Terugkeer. Hij treedt voor Al Awda op als spreker, schrijver en organisator van protestactiviteiten. Zijn vader en grootouders zijn overlevenden van de historische slachting in Deir Yassin, die plaatsvond op 9 April 1948, en de systematische verdrijving van de Palestijnen inluidde.

Tariq Shadid: chirurg van beroep, geboren en getogen in Nederland, maar inmiddels al jaren woonachtig in de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten. Hij werd in Nederland bekend door zijn activiteiten als bestuurslid van Gretta Duisenberg’s Stop de Bezetting en later van de Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland (PGN). Hij publiceert regelmatig Engelstalige artikelen over de Palestijnse kwestie, en heeft een boek uitgebracht met de titel ‘Understanding Palestine’. Shadid is ook bekend, vooral in Palestina, door zijn pro-Palestijnse muziek die hij uitbrengt onder de artiestennaam ‘Doc Jazz’.

Verder zullen ook Palestina-supporters aan het woord komen waaronder de bekende Wim Lankamp van het Nederlands Palestina Komitee (NPK) en enkele Marokkaanse Nederlanders die hun ervaringen met ons zullen delen. Aansluitend zal er een concert plaatsvinden van de Palestijnse zanger Zaid Tayem met zijn band Hanien, een optreden van Sadie Jayne, en de strijdbare muziek van Doc Jazz.


Gedetailleerdere informatie over het programma zal binnenkort op deze website verschijnen. Hou de vinger aan de pols! Meld je ook aan bij het FB-evenement, zodat de organisatoren op de hoogte kunnen blijven van het aantal te verwachten bezoekers.


Dit bijzondere evenement mag je niet missen! Koop nu online een kaartje voor slechts 3.50 euro, dat inclusief transactie- en betaalkosten maximaal kan oplopen to 5.62 euro (afhankelijk van de betaalvorm) via: may12ticketsale.html

Gebruik je een mobiele telefoon? https:// web2/start-order/rid/NYBEV3BM/format/mobile
Na bestelling krijg je een e-ticket dat er uitziet zoals op deze onderstaande illustratie (klik op het plaatje om de afbeelding te vergroten):

Koop tijdig een kaartje! Als je het erop aan laat komen kun je ook aan de deur een kaartje krijgen, maar dan kost het 7.50 euro.

( / 28.04.2012)

2000 Palestinian inmates go on hunger strike in Israeli prisons

Female Palestinian prisoner Hanaa Shalabi (C) is being transferred to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, April 1, 2012. Israel deported the female Palestinian prisoner who spent 43 days on hunger strike to the Gaza Strip in early April

Female Palestinian prisoner Hanaa Shalabi (C) is being transferred to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, April 1, 2012. Israel deported the female Palestinian prisoner who spent 43 days on hunger strike to the Gaza Strip in early April
Around 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger strike across Israeli prisons, with more detainees pledging to join the protest movement next week, Palestinian organizations in Ramallah say.
The strike, organized by inmates loyal to Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been staged in protest mainly against Israel’s “administrative detention” rules and the use of solitary confinement, denial of family visit, maltreatment of sick detainees, Haaretz reported on Friday.

The administrative detention rules allows the Israeli forces to arrest and incarcerate the Palestinians without charge, trial or even without any information about accusations or evidence against them. More than 300 Palestinians have been incarcerated at Israeli prisons.

Israel Prison Service has resorted to harsh punitive measures against hunger strikers, including solitary confinement, confiscation of personal belongings, transfers and denial of family visits, Palestinian organizations say.

Seven Palestinian strikers, including Tha’er Halahleh, 34, and Bilal Diab, 27, who have been on hunger strike for nearly 60 days, have been transferred to a prison medical centre due to the their deteriorating health conditions.

Meanwhile, three prisoners released during the Israel-Hamas prisoners’ swap in October 2011 have set up a tent at Ramallah’s Clock Square in support of the hunger strike. Similar tents have also been erected in other Palestinian towns.

According to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and prisoner advocacy groups, there are currently over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners, including legislators, in Israeli jails, many of whom have been rounded up without charge or trial.

Independent sources put the number of the inmates at 11,000.

( / 28.04.2012)

Frequently Asked Questions about the Armenian Genocide

  • What is the Armenian Genocide?
  • Who was responsible for the Armenian Genocide?
  • How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?
  • Were there witnesses to the Armenian Genocide?
  • What was the response of the international community to the Armenian Genocide?
  • Why is the Armenian Genocide commemorated on April 24?
  • Are the Armenian massacres acknowledged today as a Genocide according to the United Nations Genocide Convention?


What is the Armenian Genocide? [top of list]
The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during W.W.I are called the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is the organized killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and a machinery to implement it. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction. The Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government against the entire Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It was carried out during W.W.I between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. The great bulk of the Armenian population was forcibly removed from Armenia and Anatolia to Syria, where the vast majority was sent into the desert to die of thirst and hunger. Large numbers of Armenians were methodically massacred throughout the Ottoman Empire. Women and children were abducted and horribly abused. The entire wealth of the Armenian people was expropriated. After only a little more than a year of calm at the end of W.W.I, the atrocities were renewed between 1920 and 1923, and the remaining Armenians were subjected to further massacres and expulsions. In 1915, thirty-three years before UN Genocide Convention was adopted, the Armenian Genocide was condemned by the international community as a crime against humanity.

Who was responsible for the Armenian Genocide? [top of list]
The decision to carry out a genocide against the Armenian people was made by the political party in power in the Ottoman Empire. This was the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (or Ittihad ve Terakki Jemiyeti), popularly known as the Young Turks. Three figures from the CUP controlled the government; Mehmet Talaat, Minister of the Interior in 1915 and Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) in 1917; Ismail Enver, Minister of War; Ahmed Jemal, Minister of the Marine and Military Governor of Syria. This Young Turk triumvirate relied on other members of the CUP appointed to high government posts and assigned to military commands to carry out the Armenian Genocide. In addition to the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Interior, the Young Turks also relied on a newly-created secret outfit which they manned with convicts and irregular troops, called the Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa). Its primary function was the carrying out of the mass slaughter of the deported Armenians. In charge of the Special Organization was Behaeddin Shakir, a medical doctor. Moreover, ideologists such as Zia Gokalp propagandized through the media on behalf of the CUP by promoting Pan-Turanism, the creation of a new empire stretching from Anatolia into Central Asia whose population would be exclusively Turkic. These concepts justified and popularized the secret CUP plans to liquidate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turk conspirators, other leading figures of the wartime Ottoman government, members of the CUP Central Committee, and many provincial administrators responsible for atrocities against the Armenians were indicted for their crimes at the end of the war. The main culprits evaded justice by fleeing the country. Even so, they were tried in absentia and found guilty of capital crimes. The massacres, expulsions, and further mistreatment of the Armenians between 1920 and 1923 were carried by the Turkish Nationalists, who represented a new political movement opposed to the Young Turks, but who shared a common ideology of ethnic exclusivity.

How many people died in the Armenian Genocide? [top of list]
It is estimated that one and a half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of W.W.I. Well over a million were deported in 1915. Hundreds of thousands were butchered outright. Many others died of starvation, exhaustion, and epidemics which ravaged the concentration camps. Among the Armenians living along the periphery of the Ottoman Empire many at first escaped the fate of their countrymen in the central provinces of Turkey. Tens of thousands in the east fled to the Russian border to lead a precarious existence as refugees. The majority of the Armenians in Constantinople, the capital city, were spared deportation. In 1918, however, the Young Turk regime took the war into the Caucasus, where approximately 1,800,000 Armenians lived under Russian dominion. Ottoman forces advancing through East Armenia and Azerbaijan here too engaged in systematic massacres. The expulsions and massacres carried by the Nationalist Turks between 1920 and 1922 added tens of thousands of more victims. By 1923 the entire landmass of Asia Minor and historic West Armenia had been expunged of its Armenian population. The destruction of the Armenian communities in this part of the world was total.

Were there witnesses to the Armenian Genocide? [top of list]
There were many witnesses to the Armenian Genocide. Although the Young Turk government took precautions and imposed restrictions on reporting and photographing, there were lots of foreigners in the Ottoman Empire who witnessed the deportations. Foremost among them were U.S. diplomatic representatives and American missionaries. They were first to send news to the outside world about the unfolding genocide. Some of their reports made headline news in the American and Western media. Also reporting on the atrocities committed against the Armenians were many German eyewitnesses. The Germans were allies of the Turks in W.W.I. Numerous German officers held important military assignments in the Ottoman Empire. Some among them condoned the Young Turk policy. Others confidentially reported to their superiors in Germany about the slaughter of the Armenian civilian population. Many Russians saw for themselves the devastation wreaked upon the Armenian communities when the Russian Army occupied parts of Anatolia. Many Arabs in Syria where most of the deportees were sent saw for themselves the appalling condition to which the Armenian survivors had been reduced. Lastly, many Turkish officials were witnesses as participants in the Armenian Genocide. A number of them gave testimony under oath during the post-war tribunals convened to try the Young Turk conspirators who organized the Armenian Genocide.

What was the response of the international community to the Armenian Genocide? [top of list]
The international community condemned the Armenian Genocide. In May 1915, Great Britain, France, and Russia advised the Young Turk leaders that they would be held personally responsible for this crime against humanity. There was a strong public outcry in the United States against the mistreatment of the Armenians. At the end of the war, the Allied victors demanded that the Ottoman government prosecute the Young Turks accused of wartime crimes. Relief efforts were also mounted to save “the starving Armenians.” The American, British, and German governments sponsored the preparation of reports on the atrocities and numerous accounts were published. On the other hand, despite the moral outrage of the international community, no strong actions were taken against the Ottoman Empire either to sanction its brutal policies or to salvage the Armenian people from the grip of extermination. Moreover, no steps were taken to require the postwar Turkish governments to make restitution to the Armenian people for their immense material and human losses.

Why is the Armenian Genocide commemorated on April 24? [top of list]
On the night of April 24, 1915, the Turkish government placed under arrest over 200 Armenian community leaders in Constantinople. Hundreds more were apprehended soon after. They were all sent to prison in the interior of Anatolia, where most were summarily executed. The Young Turk regime had long been planning the Armenian Genocide and reports of atrocities being committed against the Armenians in the eastern war zones had been filtering in during the first months of 1915. The Ministry of War had already acted on the government’s plan by disarming the Armenian recruits in the Ottoman Army, reducing them to labor battalions and working them under conditions equaling slavery. The incapacitation and methodic reduction of the Armenian male population, as well as the summary arrest and execution of the Armenian leadership marked the earliest stages of the Armenian Genocide. These acts were committed under the cover of a news blackout on account of the war and the government proceeded to implement its plans to liquidate the Armenian population with secrecy. Therefore, the Young Turks regime’s true intentions went undetected until the arrests of April 24. As the persons seized that night included the most prominent public figures of the Armenian community in the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, everyone was alerted about the dimensions of the policies being entertained and implemented by the Turkish government. Their death presaged the murder of an ancient civilization. April 24 is, therefore, commemorated as the date of the unfolding of the Armenian Genocide.

Are the Armenian massacres acknowledged today as a Genocide according to the United Nations Genocide Convention? [top of list]
The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide describes genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Clearly this definition applies in the case of the atrocities committed against the Armenians. Because the U.N. Convention was adopted in 1948, thirty years after the Armenian Genocide, Armenians worldwide have sought from their respective governments formal acknowledgment of the crimes committed during W.W.I. Countries like France, Argentina, Greece, and Russia, where the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendants live, have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. However, as a matter of policy, the present-day Republic of Turkey adamantly denies that a genocide was committed against the Armenians during W.W.I. Moreover, Turkey dismisses the evidence about the atrocities as mere allegations and regularly obstructs efforts for acknowledgment. Affirming the truth about the Armenian Genocide, therefore, has become an issue of international significance. The recurrence of genocide in the twentieth century has made the reaffirmation of the historic acknowledgment of the criminal mistreatment of the Armenians by Turkey all the more a compelling obligation for the international community.

( / 28.04.2012)