Sisters and brothers in Humanity, we will commemorate, together and in Turkey, the Armenian genocide
It has been 98 years since, following a premeditated plan with a methodic implementation, one million and a half Armenians were massacred in the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian people were the victims of a genocide which would soon serve as a gruesome reference for those that followed.
Today in Turkey, the mere enunciation of this historical fact still provokes ferocious opposition, sometimes even physical threats, and genocide denial serves as an encouragement to racism and hate against Armenians and other non-Muslim minorities. Some want to make believe that acknowledging the reality of the Armenian Genocide is an attack on all Turkish people and on “Turkishness”, whereas it is an attack on genocide denial and a step towards justice and democracy.
For several years now, the genocide of Armenians, which is part of world History, is being commemorated in Turkey. The participants are still few but their number grows every day despite an official discourse of genocide-denial.Today, those among us who have been commemorating in Turkey are calling for solidarity beyond borders. This is the reason why this year, all together, from Turkey and elsewhere in Europe, involved citizens, civil society leaders, antiracist activists, intellectuals and artists, of Armenian and other diverse origins yet unified by the desire to see this historical fact finally recognized, we will commemorate, in Turkey, on this April 24th, the unfortunate 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Our shared initiative is one of solidarity, of justice, and of democracy. It is an initiative of solidarity between all who fight for historical truth.
Today the divide is not between Turks and Armenians, but between those who struggle for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, whatever their origins are and wherever they live, and those who promote denial, whoever and wherever they are. In a word, it is not a question of blood, but of ideas, not a question of origins but of a common goal. It is an initiative of justice. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “Genocide kills twice, the second time by silence.” Denial, then, is the perpetuation of genocide. Fighting against denial is trying to quell the trauma in Armenian communities from one generation to another.It is not an end to this part of history – because when it comes to genocide, there is unfortunately no true end – but it offers new generations the opportunity to look together towards the future.
Finally, it is an initiative for democracy. Echoing Jorge Semprun’s frequent reminder, democracy requires vitality from civil society. Strengthening Turkish civil society by establishing bridges with the rest of the European civil society is strengthening democratic values, thus combating racism and promoting human rights, in Turkey as well as in the rest of Europe. In solidarity, for justice and democracy, for the respect of the victims and their descendents, we will commemorate together the Armenian Genocide this April 24th, in Turkey, or support these who will do so.
Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM, Cengiz Algan & Levent Sensever, Spokespeople for Durde! (Turkey), Alexis Govciyan , European President & Nicolas Tavitian, Member of the Board of the Armenian General Benevolent Union – AGBU (Europe), Meral Çildir, Member of the Board of Directors & Ayse Gunaysu, Member of the Commission against Racism and Discrimination of the Turkish Association for Human Rights – IHD (Turkey) And Bernard Kouchner, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Founder of Doctors Without Borders and Doctors of the World, Ahmet Insel, Professor at Galatasaray University (Turkey), Pietro Kuciukian, President of the International Committee “Memory is the Future” for the Righteous of Armenians, Angela Scalzo, Secretary General of SOS Razzismo (Italy),Dario Fo, Nobel Prize in Literature (Italy), Halil Berktay, Historian & Associate Professor in Sabanci University (Turkey), Adamn Terlecki, Head of Armenian Culture Association (Poland),Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, President of the “Fils et filles de déportés juifs de France”, Mario Mazic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Croatia), Ferda Keskin, Professor at the Bilgi University (Turkey), Raffi Kantian, Chairman of the Board of the German-Armenian Society (Germany), Adam Michnik, Journalist and former leader of Solidarnosc (Poland),Marian Mandache, Executive Director of Romani Criss (Romania), Ferhat Kentel, Professor at Sehir University (Turkey), Stéphane Mirdikian, Laywer, President of Assembly of Representatives of Armenian Community in Belgium, Jovan Divjak, Former Serbian general defender of sieged Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Alma Masic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Roni Margulies, Writer and Poet (Turkey), Andi Gergely, President of the European Union of Jewish Students, Serdar Yazar, Spokesperson of the Turkish Union in Berlin-Bandenburg-TBB (Germany), Federico Guerrieri, President of European Alternatives, Oliviero Toscani, Artist (Italy), Senol Karakas, Spokesperson of the Coalition for 70 Million Steps against Military Takeovers (Turkey), Victor Davydovych, Associate Professor of Chernivtsi National University, Chairman of the Armenian community of Chernivtsi (Ukraine), Jovana Vukovic, Coordinator of the Regional Center for Minorities & Maja Micic, Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Serbia),Jean Yériché Gorizian, Spokesperson of the Armenian Youth “Nor Seround”, Sait Çetinoglu, Writer (Turkey), Vahagn Avedian, Editor-in-chief of Armenica.org & Former Chairman of the Union of the Armenian Association in Sweden, Cindy Léoni, President of SOS Racisme (France), Gulseren Yoleri, former president of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (Turkey), Jonathan Hayoun, President of the French union of Jewish students,Umit Efe, President of Human Rights Association, Istanbul Branch (Turkey), Mato Hakhverdian, Chairman of the Abovian Armenian Cultural Association & of the Federation of Armenian Organizations in Netherlands (Netherlands), Marcel Kabanda, President of Ibuka - Association of the survivors of the genocide in Rwanda (France), Ismail Besikci, Writer and Human rights Activist (Turkey), Inge Drost, Secretary of the 24 April Committee of Federation of Armenian Organizations in Netherlands & of the Abovian Armenian Cultural Association (Netherlands), Erika Muhi, Director of NEKI (Hungary), Belgin Oral, Human rights activist (Turkey), Kasia Kubin, Director of the Foundation Forum for Social Diversity & Paula Sawicka, President of the Open Republic Association (Poland), Séta Papazian, President of Collectif VAN - Armenian Vigilance against genocide denial (France), Lale Mansur, Actress (Turkey), Aldo Merkoci, Director of Mjaft ! Movement (Albania), Gueguel Khatchadourian, Secretary General of the Union of the Armenians in Italy, Yves Ternon, Historian (France),Erdal Dogan, Lawyer (Turkey), Medea Atyan, Editor-in-chief of “Haykakan lratu” (Ukraine),Richard Prasquier, President of the CRIF - Representative Council of the Jewish organisations in France (France), Miroslav Broz, President of Konexe (Czech Republic), Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, President of the Aladin Project, Ara Toranian, Editor-in-chief of Les Nouvelles d’Arménie & co-President of CCAF – Council of Armenian Organisations in France (France),Yasemin Goksu, Musician (Turkey), Ahmed Moawia, President of the Greek Forum for Migrants & Muhammadi Yonous, President of Greek Forum of Refugees (Greece), Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe (Belgium), Franca Rame, Actress (Italy), Kerem Kabadayi, Musician (Turkey), Krassimir Kanev, President of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee & Deyan Kolev, President of the Roma Center Amalipe for interethnic dialogue and tolerance (Bulgaria), Jacky Mamou, former President of Doctors of the World, President of Urgency Darfur (France), Hristo Ivanovski, President of the Alliance for Human Rights in Macedonia, Ergin Cinmen, Lawyer (Turkey), Daniel Trilling, Author (UK),Joël Kotek, Historian (Belgium), Kari Helene Partapuoli, Director of the Norwegian Antiracist Center, Anne Nielsen, President of SOS mod racism (Denmark), Ragip Zarakolu, Human Rights Activist (Turkey), Taner Akçam, Professor at Clark University (USA), Catherine Coquio, Professor at Paris-Diderot University (France), Boris Raonic, President of Civic Alliance (Montenegro), Raba Gjoshi, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo,Harout Mardirossian, ANC France – Armenian National Committee (France), Umit Kurt, Postgraduate at Clark University (USA), Vanu Jereghi, Director of the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (Moldova), Bruce Clarke, Artist (France), Irena Bihariova, President of Ludia Proti Rasizmu (Slovakia), Dominique Sopo, former President of SOS Racisme & member of the Supporting Committee of EGAM (France), Janette Gronförs, Member of the Board of the rasmus network (Finland), Isa Turan, Member of the Board of the Swedish Support Committee for Human Rights in Turkey (Sweden), Alain Jakubowicz, President of the LICRA (France),Anhelita Kamenska, Director of the Latvian Center for Human Rights (Latvia), Jean-François Césarini, Président of Terra Nova Vaucluse (France), Claudia Schäfer, COE of ZARA &Alexander Pollak, President of SOS Mitmensch (Austria), Hélène Piralian-Simonyan, Writer and Psychoanalyst (France), Tigran Avagyan, International Political consultant (Ukraine), Zola Kundur, President of Chiricli Fund for Roma women (Ukraine), Willy Wolsztajn, Artist (Belgium), Matt Ersin, political advisor (Belgium), Ahmed Samih, President of Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-violence studies (Egypt), René Danen, President of Nederland Bekent Kleur (Netherlands), Gadar Benlian and Abraham Benlian, Attorney-at-Law, Managing Partner at Ratio Legis, (Bulgaria), Vartkess Knadjian, Former President of AJA International – Armenian Jewellers Association (Belgium), Serge Avédikian, Movie-maker (France), Anita Ramsak, Director of the Ekvilib institute (Slovenia), Zoran Milinkovic, President of the Serbian Institute for Public Diplomacy (Belgium), Michele Szwarcburt-Susskind, Former President of the Secular Jewish community center (Belgium), Klas-Göran Karlsson, Professor of History in Lund University (Sweden), Svante Lundgren, Visiting Fellow in Lund University (Sweden), Hrant Kostanyan, Associate Research Fellow, CEPS - Centre for European Policy Studies (Belgium), Lydia Van de Fliert, International Human Rights Expert (Ukraine), Luisa la Malfa, Ugo la Malfa Fondation – FULM (Italy), Antonia Sani, Peace Freedom Italy - WIL (Italy), Gigliola Corduas, FNSM -federazione italiana degli Insegnanti (Italy), Gerbert L. Kamalov, Academician of Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, foreign member of Armenian National Academy of Sciences (Ukraine), Sergey Macoyan, Academic, conductor at the musical Academy (Ukraine), Alexandre Couyoumdjian, Lawyer and chairman of French Association of Armenian Lawyer - AFAJA (France), Frédéric Encel, Professor (France), Jean-Marc Finn, Cultural Director & Ina Van Looy, Project manager of the Secular Jewish community center David Susskind - CCLJ (Belgium), Laurence Djolakian, Laywer (Belgium),