Archive for November 2nd, 2006

The city of Ani, Armenian monuments, The Treaty of Lausanne, and Turkey

“The Turkish Government undertakes to grant full protection to the churches, synagogues, cemeteries, and other religious establishments…”
Treaty of Lausanne 1923
Article 42

In 1974 UNESCO reported that there were only 913 Armenian churches and monasteries left in Turkey after 1915. By 1974, 464 had been completely destroyed, 252 were in ruins and 197 required extensive restoration. The Yerevan based Research on Armenian Architecture (RAA) has done extensive research since then. The picture hasn’t improved since 1974.

During his recent trip to Armenia, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) drove to the Turkish Armenian border overlooking the city of Ani to view first-hand the destruction of Armenian monuments in Turkey.

According to RAA and other first hand accounts, Turkey has engaged not only in a policy of willful neglect of thousands of Armenian cultural monuments, but also in the direct destruction of those monuments. RAA properly identifies Turkey’s crime: Cultural Genocide.

In an in-depth article in the Armenian Forum, Anahid M. Ugurlayan reaffirms that Turkey’s policy certainly violates the Lausanne treaty (1923).

Turkey has for decades refused to accept the authority of the Treaty of Sevres (1921), which recognizes western Armenian territories inside Armenia’s borders. Instead, Turkey continues to claim that is holds firm only to the Treaty of Lausanne (In fact earlier this year Turkey “celebrated’ its 80th anniversary of ratifying the Treaty).

Ugurlayan also notes that the Treaty of Lausanne is not the only binding international document which Turkey has failed to uphold. The 1954 Hague treaty and the UNESCO treaties of 1970 and 1972 are just a few others. Turkey actively uses these treaties to sue for possession of cultural artifacts that originate within its territory. “Using the UNESCO treaties, Turkey gets financial support from the international community to maintain selected monuments of universal significance. It discriminates, however, against important monuments of Armenian origin-such as the historical Armenian capital, Ani-in its efforts.”

Various international organizations have also reported the destruction of Ani. The Global Heritage Fund (globalheritagefund.org) lists Ani as one of many endangered sites. In 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002, the World Monuments Fund listed Ani on its List of 100 Most Endangered Sites.

What can you do?

Contact UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and ask them to help stop the Turkish Ministry of Culture from completely destroying Armenian monuments in Turkey, beginning with those in the city of Ani.

Email Mr. Laurent Levi-Strauss, Deputy Director for the Division of Cultural Heritage and Chief of Section for Tangible Heritage at l.levi-strauss@unesco.org

What else can you do?

Don’t forget to help bring media attention to Turkey’s record. When the media reports inaccurately on Turkey, particularly in light of Turkey celebrating the 80th Anniversary of its founding, the ANCA ER encourages individuals to utilize the information above and respond to the media, clarifying Turkey’s horrific record of preserving cultural monuments. (Turkey, too, is party to the World Heritage Convention.)

For more information on the destruction of Armenian monuments visit http://www.antares.am/raa/start3.html

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