Archive for the 'Terror' Category

Serj Tankian Speaks Out on Murder of Armenian Journalist

I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Hrant Dink’s murder (more like assassination) today in front of his Agos newspaper offices, in Istanbul Turkey.

I met Hrant Dink at the L.A. premiere of “Screamers“, the documentary by Carla Garapedian featuring System Of A Down. Hrant is interviewed by Carla in the film where he explains how the “deep state” in Turkey is utilizing an outdated penal code, Article 301 to try him, Orhan Pamuk, and other journalists, writers, and human rights activists for “insulting or offending Turkishness.”

In his newspaper Agos, Hrant discussed issues important to the Armenians of Turkey. He was quite careful not to insult anyone in Turkey present or past regarding the Armenian Genocide or any other “sticky issues” that may be taken negatively. He instead tried to truly understand why so many people in Turkey were in denial of their past, why it was important to have a “real democracy” there where everyone can speak freely without worrying about retributions. He was by no means a fanatic nor extremist, but was a humble, kind, yet truthful individual who cared about Turkey, his country, and being Armenian, his culture and heritage.

He yearned to bridge the understanding between Armenians and Turks to get over the pains of the past stemming from the Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans in 1915. The difference between Hrant Dink and Orhan Pamuk and other writers or journalists incriminated under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code was that Hrant Dink was of Armenian descent and therefore may have been viewed more so as a traitor than other Turks of Turkish descent.

After many attempts at appealing the 3 different cases brought against him in reference to Article 301, Hrant was ready to take his case of freedom of speech to the European Court of Human Rights. In the last article he wrote for Agos on Jan. 10th, he made it very clear that the overwhelming amount of death threats against him were psychologically punishing him for speaking out. He felt his life was in extreme danger and asked for help from security officials of the country, but was not given any. When friends encouraged him to leave Turkey to avoid danger, he said that if he left now, he would be betraying the fight for democracy in Turkey, and that wouldn’t be fair to others in his situation. I am not that heroic, I would have left. And funny enough when we met, he mused with me, calling me heroic, the whole time while I looked into his gentle eyes and knew in my heart that he was the true hero. It’s easy for me to speak out against things, because at worst, I’ll be faced with brutal disagreement, where he was faced with prison terms, harassment, psychological torture, and now death.

So he was killed, brutally, in daylight, with bullets to the head, another beautiful soul silenced no more.

Hrant Dink’s cases along with Orhan Pamuk’s past case and many others facing incrimination in Turkey under Article 301 of the penal code encouraged me to work with Amnesty International in getting the word out and working on trying to reverse this unjust incrimination of the freedoms of speech there

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Armenian Genocide by Turkish Muslims against Christians

The world turned its head while a nation was being exterminated!

Before the Nazi slaughtered 6 million Jews, before the Khmer Rouge killed 1.7 million of their fellow Cambodians, before Rwandan Hutus killed 800,000 ethnic Tutsis, the Armenians of Turkey endured mass slaughter at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.  The centuries of Turkish rule reduced Asia Minor, the epicenter of western civilization and Christendom, into a bloody Islamic cesspool which culminated in a genocide by Turks against Armenian and Greek populations. The Armenian Genocide, occurred when 2 million Armenians living in Turkey were eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportation and massacres by the Turks. 

As Turkish authorities forced them out of eastern Turkey, Armenians say they lost 1.5 million people in 1915-23, during and after World War I. Turkey says the death count is inflated and that the deaths were a result of civil unrest.  To this day Turkey denies the Armenian genocide, but history cannot be hidden or rewritten.

Even Adolf Hitler cited the killing of the Armenians as a precedent for his own slaughter of the Jews two decades later. “Kill without mercy!” the Nazi leader told his military on the eve of the Holocaust.

Who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?

For three thousand years, a thriving Armenian community had existed inside the vast region of the Middle East bordered by the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. The area, known as Asia Minor, stands at the crossroads of three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Great powers rose and fell over the many centuries and the Armenian homeland was at various times ruled by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Mongols. 

Following the advent of Christianity, Armenia became the very first nation to accept it as the state religion. A golden era of peace and prosperity followed which saw the invention of a distinct alphabet, a flourishing of literature, art, commerce, and a unique style of architecture. By the 10th century, Armenians had established a new capital at Ani, affectionately called the “city of a thousand and one churches.” 

In the eleventh century, the first Turkish invasion of the Armenian homeland occurred. This began several hundred years of rule by Muslim Turks. By the sixteenth century, Armenia had been absorbed into the vast and mighty Ottoman Empire. At its peak, this Turkish empire included much of Southeast Europe, North Africa, and almost all of the Middle East.

But by the 1800s the once powerful Ottoman Empire was in serious decline. For centuries, it had spurned technological and economic progress, while the nations of Europe had embraced innovation and became industrial giants. Turkish armies had once been virtually invincible. Now, they lost battle after battle to modern European armies.As the Ottomon empire gradually disintegrated, formerly subject peoples including the Greeks, Serbs and Romanians achieved their long-awaited independence.

Only the Armenians and the Arabs of the Middle East remained stuck in the backward and nearly bankrupt empire, now under the autocratic rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Ottoman misrule had made the Armenians, a prosperous minority despite its political disadvantages, sympathetic to Russia.  Between 1894 and 1896 over 100,000 inhabitants of Armenian villages were massacred during widespread pogroms conducted by the Sultan’s special regiments. 

Sultan Abdul-Hamid II known in history as the “Red Sultan” carried out a series of massacres of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. The worst of the massacres occurred in 1895, resulting in the death of 100,000 to 300,000 civilians, and leaving tens of thousands destitute. 

 Most of those killed were men. In many towns, the central marketplace and other Armenian-owned businesses were destroyed, usually by conflagration.The Young Turks were the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. The Young Turk Movement emerged in reaction to the absolutist rule of Sultan Abdul-Hamid (Abdulhamit) II (1876-1909). With the 1878 suspension of the Ottoman Constitution, reform-minded Ottomans resorted to organizing overseas or underground. The backbone of the movement was formed by young military officers who were especially disturbed by the continuing decline of Ottoman power and attributed the crisis to the absence of an environment for change and progress.

At the center of the Young Turk Revolution stood the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) formed in 1895. Its members came to be known as Ittihadists or Unionists. The most ideologically committed party in the entire movement, the CUP espoused a form of Turkish nationalism which was xenophobic and exclusionary in its thinking.  The CUP seized power in a coup d’etat in January 1913. Armenians in Turkey were delighted with this sudden turn of events and its prospects for a brighter future.

Both Turks and Armenians held jubilant public rallies attended with banners held high calling for freedom, equality and justice.  But things were not as they seemed to those jubilant Armenians. 

Along with the Young Turk’s newfound “Turanism” there was a dramatic rise in Islamic fundamentalist agitation throughout Turkey. Christian Armenians, who had always been one of the best-educated and wealthy communities within the old Turkish Empire were once again branded as infidels (non-believers in Islam). Young Islamic extremists, staged anti-Armenian demonstrations which often led to violence. During one such outbreak in 1909, two hundred villages were plundered and over 30,000 persons massacred in the Cilicia district on the Mediterranean coast.

Throughout Turkey, sporadic local attacks against Armenians continued unchecked over the next several years.To consolidate Turkish rule in the remaining territories of the Ottoman Empire and to expand the state into the so-called Turanian lands in the east, most held by Iran and Russia, the CUP devised in secret a program for the extermination of the Armenian population. From the viewpoint of its ideology and its new and ambitious foreign policy, the Armenians represented a completely vulnerable population straddling an area of major strategic value for its Pan-Turanian goals. 

The traditional historic homeland of Armenia lay right in the path of their plans to expand eastward. And on that land was a large population of Christian Armenians totaling some two million persons, making up about 10 percent of Turkey’s overall population. 

Somewhat surprisingly to many, Armenians and Turks lived in relative harmony in the Ottoman empire for centuries.  Armenians were known as the “loyal millet”. During these times, although Armenians were not equal and had to put up with certain special hardships, they were pretty well accepted and there was relatively little violent conflict.During World War I, the Ottoman Turks, were allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, and an enemy of czarist Russia. 

The Armenians fought with the Russians, and both the Germans and Ottomans considered Turkey’s Armenian citizens as “the enemy within”.   When the world’s attention fixed upon the battlegrounds of France and Belgium, the Turks decided it was time to solve their “Armenian Problem” by exterminating them. The cover the Islamic Turks used was the lie that during the war that Armenians had been, for their own safety, evacuated to strategic hamlets so they would not be caught between Turkey and Russia.

Echoes of the Jewish Holocaust

The remarkable thing about the following events is the virtually complete cooperation of the Armenians. For a number of reasons the Armenians did not know what was planned for them and went along with “their” government’s plan to “relocate them for their own good”.

The Turks began by disarming the entire Armenian population under the pretext that the people were naturally sympathetic toward Christian Russia who Turkey was at war with. First the Armenians were asked to turn in hunting weapons for the war effort.  Every last rifle and pistol was forcibly seized, with severe penalties for anyone who failed to turn in a weapon.    Mass deportations of the the civilian Armenian population was carried out in the spring and summer of 1915 and were completed by the fall, the systematic slaughter of the Armenians had started earlier with the murder of the 40,000 able-bodied males already drafted into the Ottoman armed forces. 

These able bodied Armenian men were then drafted and told it was to help Turkey’s wartime effort. In the fall and winter of 1914, all of the Armenian soldiers had their weapons taken from them before they were put into slave labor battalions, building roads. Under the brutal work conditions they suffered a very high death rate. Those soldiers who survived were shot outright. 

By stealing the movable and immovable wealth of the Armenians, the CUP looked upon its policy of genocide as a means for enriching its coffers and rewarding its cohorts. Pasha’s Mehmed Talaat, Ismail Enver and Ahmed Djemal, were responsible for these policies.  These three formed the governing triumvirate which had concentrated dictatorial powers in their own hands after the January 1913 coup. They divided the governance of the Ottoman Empire among themselves.

Enver was a young 26 year old military hero who married into the Ottoman dynasty.  He provided the most public face of the CUP. As Minister of War he coordinated the buildup of the Turkish armed forces with German financial, logistical, and planning support. In an ill-conceived plan of attack, he precipitated land warfare against Russia in the Caucasus in the dead of winter. His December 1914 campaign cost an entire army lost in a period of four weeks. In his capacity as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Enver exercised ultimate control over the Ottoman armies which carried out major atrocities, first in 1915 and then with renewed vigor when Turkish forces broke the Russian line in 1918 and invaded the Caucasus.

The forces under the command of Enver’s brother, Nuri, and uncle, Halil, spread devastation through Russian Armenia and carried out massacres of Armenians all the way to Baku. Talaat was the Minister of the Interior in Istanbul who ran the government for a figurehead grand vizier.  Talaat was the mastermind of the Armenian Genocide and coordinated the various agencies of the Ottoman government required for the deportation, expropriation, and extermination of the Armenians.

The decision of Genocide: The decision to annihilate the entire Armenian population came directly from the ruling triumvirate of ultra-nationalist Young Turks. The actual extermination orders were transmitted in coded telegrams to all provincial governors throughout Turkey. Armed roundups began on the evening of April 24, 1915, as 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, writers, clergy and dignitaries in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) were taken from their homes, briefly jailed and tortured, then hanged or shot.  In May of 1915  claiming that the Armenians were untrustworthy, the Minister of Internal Affairs (Talaat) ordered their deportation to relocation centers in the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia. Next, there were mass arrests of Armenian adult men and teenagers throughout the country by Turkish soldiers, police agents and bands of Turkish volunteers.

The men were tied together with ropes in small groups then taken to the outskirts of their town and shot dead or bayoneted by death squads. Local Turks and Kurds armed with knives and sticks often joined in on the killing.

Then it was the turn of Armenian women, children, and the elderly. On very short notice, they were ordered to pack a few belongings and be ready to leave home, under the pretext that they were being relocated to a non-military zone for their own safety. They were actually being taken on death marches heading south toward the Syrian Desert. 

The death marches would lead across Anatolia and the purpose was clear. The Armenians were being raped, starved, dehydrated, murdered and kidnapped along the way.  Those who miraculously survived the march would arrive to this bleak desert only to be killed upon arrival or to somehow survive until a way to escape the empire was found.  Countless survivors and refugees scattered throughout the Arab provinces and Transcaucasia were to die of starvation, epidemic, and exposure.

Even the memory of the Armenian nation was intended for obliteration; churches, and monuments were desecrated, and small children snatched from their parents, were renamed and farmed out to be raised by Turks. Many girls and younger women were seized from their families and taken as slave-brides. Muslim Turks who assumed instant ownership of everything quickly occupied most of the homes and villages left behind by the rousted Armenians. In many cases, local Turks who took them from their families spared young Armenian children from deportation.

The children were coerced into denouncing Christianity and becoming Muslims, and were then given new Turkish names. For Armenian boys the forced conversion meant they each had to endure painful circumcision as required by Islamic custom. Turkish gendarmes escorted individual caravans consisting of thousands of deported Armenians. These guards allowed roving government units of hardened criminals known as the “Special Organization” to attack the defenseless people, killing anyone they pleased.

They also encouraged Kurdish bandits to raid the caravans and steal anything they wanted. In addition, an extraordinary amount of sexual abuse and rape of girls and young women occurred at the hands of the Special Organization and Kurdish bandits. Most of the attractive young females were kidnapped for a life of involuntary servitude. The death marches during the Armenian Genocide, involving over a million Armenians, covered hundreds of miles and lasted months.

Indirect routes through mountains and wilderness areas were deliberately chosen in order to prolong the ordeal and to keep the caravans away from Turkish villages. Food supplies being carried by the people quickly ran out and they were usually denied further food or water. Anyone stopping to rest or lagging behind the caravan was mercilessly beaten until they rejoined the march. If they couldn’t continue they were shot.

A common practice was to force all of the people in the caravan to remove every stitch of clothing and have them resume the march in the nude under the scorching sun until they dropped dead by the roadside from exhaustion and dehydration. An estimated 75 percent of the Armenians on these marches perished, especially children and the elderly. Those who survived the ordeal were herded into the desert without a drop of water.

Being thrown off cliffs, burned alive, or drowned in rivers. During the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish countryside became littered with decomposing corpses. At one point, Mehmed Talaat responded to the problem by sending a coded message to all provincial leaders: “I have been advised that in certain areas unburied corpses are still to be seen. I ask you to issue the strictest instructions so that the corpses and their debris in your vilayet are buried.” But his instructions were generally ignored.

Those involved in the mass murder showed little interest in stopping to dig graves. The roadside corpses and emaciated deportees were a shocking sight to foreigners working in Turkey. Eyewitnesses included German government liaisons, American missionaries, and U.S. diplomats stationed in the country. During the Armenian Genocide, the Christian missionaries were often threatened with death and were unable to help the people. Diplomats from the still neutral United States communicated their blunt assessments of the ongoing government actions. U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, reported to Washington: “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race…”

 The Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia) responded to news of the massacres by issuing a warning to Turkey: “…the Allied governments announce publicly…that they will hold all the members of the Ottoman Government, as well as such of their agents as are implicated, personally responsible for such matters.” The warning had no effect. Newspapers in the West including the New York Times published reports of the continuing deportations with the headlines: Armenians Are Sent to Perish in the Desert – Turks Accused of Plan to Exterminate Whole Population (August 18, 1915) – Million Armenians Killed or in Exile – American Committee on Relief Says Victims of Turks Are Steadily Increasing – Policy of Extermination (December 15, 1915).

In 1918, the Armenians managed to acquire weapons and they fought back, finally repelling the Turkish invasion at the battle of Sardarabad, thus saving the remaining population from total extermination with no help from the outside world. Following that victory, Armenian leaders declared the establishment of the independent Republic of Armenia.

Turkey’s Continuous Denial: The Turkish denial in the past several decades of this evil Genocide is interesting, yet not unexpected since Islam itself is a religion of denial and lies.  The Turks forget that they themselves have confessed in earlier times.

Turkish Prime Minister Damat Ferid Pasha placed the blame squarely on the Young Turk Party. Mustafa Kemal Pasha {Ataturk} said {in a 1926 interview with a Swiss reporter that} the Young Turks “should be made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse from their homes and massacred. . . .

The Armenian Genocide was witnessed by hundreds of American missionaries in the Ottoman Empire but especially in Anatolia, which was the traditional Armenian homeland.  These missionaries worked among the Armenians and have testified to their destruction by the Ottoman government.

The Genocide was also witnessed by American and European consular officials, stationed in the areas inhabited by the Armenians, who reported it to the ambassadors in Istanbul. Also, there were indeed with many European military advisers with important posts in the Turkish army at the time.

The American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, Sr., confronted the Young Turk leaders, and then he telegraphed the American Secretary of State calling the Turkish action an attempt at “racial extermination.”The Armenian Genocide was well-reported in the American press, and the U.S. Senate held hearing which affirmed its reality.President Woodrow Wilson agreed to draw the boundaries of a free Armenia and sent a message to Congress asking for permission to establish a U.S. mandate over the new state.[I ask this] “Not only because it [the mandate] embodied my own convictions and feeling with regard to Armenia and its people, but also, and more particularly, because it seemed to me to be the voice of the American people expressing their deep sympathies.

At their hearts, this great and generous people [the Americans] have made the case of Armenia their own.The American people raised millions of dollars to aid the victims of the Genocide. Our older citizens will remember aid to the “starving Armenians.”President Herbert Hoover wrote in his Memoirs:

Probably Armenian was known to the American school child in 1919 only a little less than England … of the staunch Christians who were massacred periodically by the Mohammedian Turk, and the Sunday School collections of over fifty years for alleviating their miseries. . . .

The Hellenic & Armenian Genocide was the systematic torture, massacre and ethnic cleansing of several millions Hellenes (Greeks) and Armenians perpetrated by the Turks in Asia Minor, Constantinople (called Istanbul by the Turks), Eastern Thrace, Imvros, Tenedos, Macedonia, Cappadocia and Pontos between the beginning of the 1890’s and the end of the 1950’s.Millions of children, men and women were tortured and massacred or expelled from their homes only for being Hellenes. In the same places and often at the same time, were also massacred millions of Armenians and Assyrians.The only “sin” of those millions of persons was to live where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years before the Turkish invasions. The Turkish rulers carried out with unimaginable cruelty their plan to create a “Turkey for the Turks.”

The fall of Abdul Hamid had been made possible by the cooperation and aid of the Christians. But the latter — Greeks, Bulgars, Serbs — were soon cruelly disillusioned. A general persecution was started, the details of which were reported to their various governments by all the consuls of the city. This persecution first displayed itself in the form of sporadic murders of alarming frequency all over Macedonia, the victims being, in the beginning, notables of the various Christian communities. A favorite place for shooting these people was at their doorsteps at the moment of their return home.

It became evident that the Turkish Government, in order to gain control of the territory, was bent upon the extermination of the non-Mussulman leaders. Many of those murdered had been prominent in the anti-Abdul movement.

U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau’s says;  

Turkey unlike Armenia, is a relatively primitive nation with an Islamic Turkish heritage and a bloody past, Turkey has serious geo-political problems with virtually everyone of its neighbors. Turkey has serious territorial disputes with Armenians, Greeks, Cypriots, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians and its own Kurdish population.

Beatrice Kaplanian in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter. 2005

A 100-year-old survivor of the Armenian expulsion from Turkey recalls the horrors she survived!

Among Beatrice Kaplanian’s sharpest memories from the death march of 1915 is thirst. “We would cry for water,” she says. She remembers seeing her father die. “He was so weak. We covered him and they took him to the valley. They didn’t bury him, they just left him there with the others.” She saw a lot of Armenians on the march die from thirst and fatigue. “Somebody would faint, and he wouldn’t get up.”

Sitting outside in her gray-brick, 17th-century rooftop apartment in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter, Kaplanian, whose memories of the killings put her age at roughly 100, is Israel’s last living survivor of the Armenian genocide. Between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenian civilians were killed in 1915-16 by the troops and mobs of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, mainly on forced marches from Turkey to Syria. Another 500,000 to one million Armenians survived and became permanent refugees.

The journey featured widespread rape, as well as mass murders by burning, drowning, axing and beating with blunt instruments – this last “to save shell and powder,” in the words of then-US ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau. In this way, live ammunition was saved for the Ottoman armies fighting World War I.

Countless other Armenians died of epidemics in the gigantic concentration camps set up along the route.

Kaplanian is small and somewhat bent over and her hands tremble, but she’s remarkably mobile and alert and still has a headful of thick, straight, blondish-white hair. She moves plastic chairs and a clothesline out of the way for the interview, and poses according to the photographer’s requests.

Translating my questions into her native Turkish is George Hintlian, Israel’s leading Armenian historian, a lifelong resident of the Armenian Quarter who “discovered” Kaplanian only a few years ago. Born Filomena before being renamed Beatrice by her British adoptive parents, she is one of some 800 survivors he says he has interviewed.

The living memory of the genocide is “like a sinking ship, and you have to salvage whatever you can,” says Hintlian, 58.

As a little girl in her mountain village, Filomena and her sister Christina used to play with the Turkish neighbors’ girls. Then one day the town crier went from house to house among the Armenians telling them that they would all have to leave the next day. Neither the two girls, their older brother or their parents understood what was going on, the old woman says.

They took cheese and bread, threw a mattress and saddle over their donkey – a relative luxury on the march, only for the well-to-do – and the two sisters sat in the saddle while the rest of the family walked. They weren’t told their destination, but they were being led to Aleppo, Syria, some 700 km. away.

One night one of the “escorts” on the march – who were often violent criminals released by the Ottomans especially for this murderous duty – snatched one of the pretty Armenian girls in an instant. “We heard her shriek,” recalls Kaplanian, and the girl was not seen again.

Twice the old woman cried in the interview. The first time was while recalling how she and her sister refused their mother’s request to sit in the saddle for a few hours to rest her feet, telling her that their feet hurt too. The second time was when Kaplanian remembered how a Turkish official took her back to Turkey to be his and his wife’s daughter; she never saw or heard from her family after that.

The postwar British occupation of Turkey removed Filomena from the Turkish couple’s home, bringing her to a British orphanage in Beirut, where she was adopted and later brought to Jerusalem. There she married a shoemaker from her family’s village named Kaplanian who died some 20 years ago, and they had a son who is now in late-middle age.

A devout Christian whose only book at home is the Bible, she says she has “no hard feelings” toward the Turks – or the Kurds, Circassians or Chechens, who also took part in the slaughter – over what happened 90 years ago. “They are human beings too,” she says. “My heart is at peace.” Based on what he knows of other survivors, Hintlian says Kaplanian’s longevity is tied to her extraordinarily forgiving attitude. “The survivors who were filled with hatred usually didn’t live long lives,” he says.

We met at Jaffa Gate as it was filled with Jews coming for the Pessah birkat hakohanim, or “priestly blessing.” In the adjacent Armenian Quarter walls were pasted with posters for the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

As with millions of Armenians above a certain age, Hintlian grew up on family memories of the genocide. His father was on the death march, and he would tell stories about how his father was axed to death, and how his baby brother died from acute diarrhea a few days after their despairing mother, unable to still the boy’s endless cries for water that they didn’t have, gave him muddy water from the ground to drink.

By contrast, the stories Hintlian heard from his mother taught him “that there were good Turks, too,” he says. The mayor of his mother’s village in Turkey, a man named Jellal, who had already been removed by the Ottomans from his post as governor of Aleppo for refusing to cooperate in the genocide, refused again as mayor of the village, costing him that position, too. Jellal won the village’s Armenians crucial months to prepare for their eventual expulsion, says Hintlian.

“None of my mother’s family died on the march,” he says. “They were wealthy, they traveled in a carriage, and they bribed escorts and officials along the way.” Many of the Armenian survivors owed their lives to such bribery, he notes, while others were aided by sympathetic Turks and Kurds, and still others, like his father, survived by resourcefulness and simple “Darwinian” stamina.

His father eventually came to Jerusalem to work as an assistant to the Armenian Patriarch, and George later followed him in the post, which he held for 25 years. During that time he became a historian, publishing eight books on 19th-century Jerusalem and the 1,500-year history of the city’s Armenians.

He decided to research the Armenian genocide at age 19 after hearing a lecture by the pioneer historian of that cataclysm, Vahakn Dadrian, an Armenian-American.

Yet despite having interviewed hundreds of survivors, both local residents and foreigners coming on pilgrimage, and even though he has pored over accounts of the genocide left by American, German, Austrian and Scandinavian officials in Turkey at the time, Hintlian says he has not written a book on the subject and has no plans to do so.

“When Dadrian used to come to the library in the Patriarchate to do research, we had to remind him to eat lunch, he just became so overwhelmed by the cruelty of the stories,” says Hintlian, sitting in an Armenian cafe for tourists at Jaffa Gate.

“Sometimes I go to Yad Vashem and I see scholars coming out looking depressed. I don’t think I have the nerves and willpower to live in that world.

It’s a hell,” he says. “I can read only one week at a time (about the Armenian genocide), then I want to stop. I’m not suited for this work.” Still, he is drawn to the old people he interviews. “I start off asking them about their blood pressure, their simple human needs. Once they feel you care, they’ll tell you anything,” he says with a gentle smile.

“But sometimes I’m very worried about interviewing them,” he continues. Hintlian fears that he may have actually brought on the deaths of three aged interviewees by leading them to recount their childhood memories from the death march. “Three people died very soon after I interviewed them. One died four hours after, another two days after,” he says.

He is in touch with Israeli writers who’ve taken a deep interest in the Armenian genocide, above all Yehuda Bauer, the dean of Holocaust historians in this country. Others include novelists Amos Oz and Haim Guri, politicians Yossi Sarid and Yossi Beilin, broadcast journalist Ya’acov Ahimeir and historians Amos Elon, Tom Segev and Yair Oron.

Another reason Hintlian doesn’t want to write a book about the Armenian genocide is because of the gaps in its history left by Turkey’s refusal to open its archives from that period. “German archives from the Holocaust have been opened to Jewish researchers, but the Turkish archives from the genocide are either closed or they’ve been purged,” he says. “So we are in the dark about so many details – who [among Ottoman officials] made a particular decision, and when. We have to grope our way and try to make sense of it.” Ultimately, though, Hintlian says he cannot make sense of the Armenian genocide, and this is yet another reason why he feels unable to write a book about it. He is baffled as to how people could carry out an atrocity of such magnitude. “It’s an endless mystery,” he says.

It’s also a mystery to Beatrice Kaplanian, but she doesn’t dwell on it. Putting her balcony chairs away, she is asked how the God she worships could allow such evil. “It is a sin to interfere in the ways of God,” she replies. “Whatever God wills to happen, happens.”

22 September

A Turkish court has ruled that a controversial conference on the mass killing of Armenians living under the Ottoman Empire should be suspended.The conference of academics and intellectuals was to offer a critical look at the official approach to the events of 1915.Armenians want the killings classified as genocide, but Turkey refuses, pointing to casualties on both sides. It is the second time the conference has been called off. The cancellation comes before Turkey is due to begin accession talks for membership of the European Union.

 Taboo

This was no ordinary academic conference. The delegates were set to discuss the fate of the Ottoman Armenians 90 years ago, one of the most sensitive subjects in Turkey. The first attempt to stage the debate, in May, was abandoned after Turkey’s Justice Minister accused organisers of stabbing Turkey in the back. This time a group of nationalist lawyers petitioned a court at the last minute and once again the conference is off. The alleged massacre of more than one million Armenians in 1915 has long been a taboo subject in Turkey. It was illegal even to discuss the issue until a very recent reform inspired by Turkey’s bid for membership of the European Union.

No appeal

Just 10 days before EU accession talks are due to begin, this court ruling is likely to embarrass the authorities. The prime minister, though, has already voiced his concern, calling the decision undemocratic. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that although you may not approve of a point of view, that does not mean you should prevent others from expressing it.

The university does have the right of appeal, but lawyers here say there is now little to no chance the ground-breaking debate can go ahead as planned on Friday.

Turkish Crimes Against Humanity

THE GREEK HOLOCAUST OF THRACE
ASIA MINOR AND PONTOS

What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia, unto Ephesus and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira and unto Sardis and unto Philadelphia and unto Laodicea. (Apoc. I11).

The seven churches, the seven torches of light of the Greek-Christian civilization are no longer burning. The land of Asia Minor, an area where for 3000 years Greek civilization flourished is now being trampled by foreign invaders: the Turks.

The Turks invaded Asia Minor in two waves: The Seljuks were first at the end of the 11th century and the Ottomans came later, at the beginning of the l3th century.

Using indiscriminately force, murder, genocide, and Turcification they managed to hold on to a foreign land expelling or exterminating its natural residents: Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, and Arabs.

In the 8th century, the Oguz Turks, a semi-savage nomadic people moved westward from their homeland in Mongolia, and settled in what is today West Turkestan.

The Seljuks, a sect of the Oguz Turks, moved further in the direction of Persia and today’s Iraq, where they served as mercenaries for the caliphs of Baghdad.

From this encounter with the advanced Persian and Arab civilizations, they enriched their poor vocabulary, adopted the Arabic script and became Muslims retaining simultaneously their warring nomad characteristics.

Their king, Alp Arslan (1063-1072), unified the various Seljuk factions, invaded Armenia, and sacked its capital of Ani in 1064. After that he and his armies invaded Byzantium and following the critical battle at Manzikert (1071) where the Byzantines were defeated, the Seljuks occupied a large part of the Asia Minor provinces of Byzantium. Previous to the invasion, there was not a single Turk living in these provinces.

In this foreign, for the Turks land there were thus established a number of Seljuk controlled emirates.

After a short period of time the Byzantines and the Crusaders dissolved nearly all of these emirates, except one whose capital was Iconium. This had been named as the Sultanate of Roum in other words the land of the Romans, as was the official title of the Greek Byzantine Empire, which was a continuation and succession of the Eastern Roman Empire.

The raids by Genghis Khan’s (1167-1227) Mongols forced another Turkish tribe, led by Suleyman-Shah, to abandon Turkistan and to head towards the west. This group tried to settle in Eastern Asia Minor, but the Armenians and Kurds ousted them. In an attempt to cross the Euphrates river, their leader was drowned and buried there, which ever since has been known as Turk-mezari, or the tomb of the Turk. A title which is indicative of how alien the Turks were in these areas.

The tribe then moved toward the Sultanate of Roum where it settled often assuming the role of border-guards. Suleyman’s grandson, Osman, (1259-1326), took over the title of Sultan from the Seljuks and he gave his name to the Turkish people: The Ottomans.

The leaders of the Osmanlis quickly realized that since they comprised a minority of conquerors it would be difficult for them to control the occupied lands, and simultaneously to pursue further conquests without taking certain special measures!

Thus, they decided to adopt and apply harsh methods previously unknown to the whole world. Methods, which were never repeated again by another nation on earth. The primary measures taken were as follows:

They declared their state a warrior or Gazi state. In other words, a state that was bound to declare holy war (Jihad) against the non-believers. This way, they were able to bring together all kinds of adventurers, who were willing to fight either for ideological reasons, or for just the spoils of the war.


They adopted the inhumane measure of forcibly recruiting young Christian children. In other words, they forcibly took male children of the enslaved Christian families (mainly Greeks. and later also Armenians Bulgarians, Albanians and Serbs), and brought them up in special camps They conditioned them to become fanatic Turks and relentless killers to their own people. These children would grow up to believe that their father was the Sultan and that if they were to die in battle they would go to heaven. Thus, because of this New Army, or Janissaries, (Yeni-ceri in Turkish) the Turks continued to pursue their conquests.

They slaughtered systematically millions of Asia Minor’s inhabitants, in order to change the ethnic character of the land. It has been estimated that during the seven centuries of Turkish presence in Asia Minor several millions of Greeks, at least two-three million Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Syrians, but also Serbs, and Bulgarians in Europe, were systematically massacred. In the 20th century alone, it has been estimated that approximately 1,5 million Armenians and more than 1 million Greeks were exterminated.

In this manner, the Turks managed to hold on to Asia Minor, a foreign land for them, where Greek civilizations had flourished for 2.000 years before the appearance of the Turks.The Turks just destroyed these civilizations and unfortunately did not even try to take advantage of its accomplishments.

In two previous occasions the Greek people contributed in civilizing their conquerors, as was the case with the Romans and the Franks. One must possess a cultural identity to be able to absorb what is creative and good from other civilizations. Unfortunately, the conquering Turks lacked such an identity.

The Turks also failed to administer their subject peoples within the Ottoman Empire. There were no laws in the civilized sense of the word. The Sultan’s word was the law in the capital and arbitrary rule of local representatives was the law in the provinces. The property, honor, and life of the conquered were completely at the mercy of the occasional Turkish official.

The only bond that kept the multiethnic empire together was the crude use of force-ultimately the butchery-of the rulers. Slaughter was the rule without concern for innocence or guilt.

Under these conditions the Turkish administration was truly detestable to all the subject people who suffered and patiently waited for each opportunity to throw off the Ottoman yoke.

The Turks failed to assimilate the various nationalities within their empire. They could not also administer them efficiently, not even control the economy because commerce and industry was left in the hands of the Greeks, Armenians and Jews, while the Turks kept busy with governing and simultaneously exploiting the profits while terrorizing the inhabitants.

For the enslaved people to be finally liberated from their rulers there took place a series of revolutions, which led to the establishment of independent states. In 1908 the Young Turk revolution forced the Sultan to grant a constitution to the remnants of the Ottoman Empire.

In spite of the apparent liberalism of the formally bourgeois revolution, which was spearheaded by the military without the participation of the people, there continued to develop additional centrifugal tendencies as they did in the times of the Sultan’s despotism. For those nations still within the Empire whose fellow nationals had established independent states, e. g. the Greeks- it was natural for them to seek union with their free compatriots. Those peoples still within the Empire that had not attained separate statehood, e.g. the Armenians, and the Kurds, focused all their energies towards the attainment of self-determination and the establishment of autonomous national homelands.

The Young Turks sought to rid themselves of troublesome non-Turkish ethnic groups so that they could build a homogeneous Turkish state and so they could avoid further mutilation of Turkish controlled territory in areas where non-Turks were in the majority, such as Eastern Thrace,

Western Asia Minor and Pontos, where the Greeks were in the majority, Eastern Asia Minor where the Armenians were in the majority and, Southeastern Asia Minor where the Kurds were in the majority.

Thus, the supposedly liberal and constitutionally oriented Young Turks returned to the usual Sultanic abrasiveness and brutality, which now became much more organized and systematic and assumed genocidal proportions.

The massacres were premeditated: It was decided that the Ottomanisation of all Turkish citizens, which never succeeded through persuasion, had to be done by the force of arms.

This was stated in the L o n d o n T i m e s on the 3rd of October 1911 summarizing the proceedings of the Council of Union and Progress (The Young Turks).

At first, the persecutions took place against the Greeks, made under the pretext of the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). Persecution took the form of lootings, expulsions and murders. After the wars, persecution continued even more intensively, to the point where on the 25 of May 1914 the Ecumenical Patriarchate was forced to declare that the Orthodox Church was under attack.

The Patriarchate, further, in a show of protest and mourning, suspended the activities of Greek churches and Greek schools throughout Turkey.

After the declaration of World War I, the Turks found the perfect opportunity to organize more effectively the massacres against ethnic minorities, so that they could finally transform their empire into a homogeneous nation-state.

Prominent officers of the Young Turks movement, while serving as members of the government, organized the expulsion of the inhabitants as well as the lootings and massacres that were perpetrated against them. Specifically, Talaat Pasha, minister of the interior, was prominent as the mastermind of the pogroms. However, the entire Turkish state administration participated in the organization and the execution of the extermination program.

They began with the genocide of the Armenians, who did not possess a state, which would rush to their aid and followed it up with mass expulsions and massacres of the Greeks. The victims of this period are over 2.5 million people of which 1.5 million were Armenians. In the chronological Index one can see detailed figures regarding the persecution of the Greeks of Asia Minor, Thrace and Pontos.

After the end of World War I, the Allies recognized that the Turkish government could not protect the property, honor, and life of the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire.

They assigned to Greece the responsibility to administer Eastern Thrace and the Smyrna district. This arrangement was contained in the Treaty of Sevres. Simultaneously, there was established a separate and independent Pontian state.

In 1920, Alexander Millerand, president of the Supreme Allied Council stated: The Turkish government not only failed in its duty to protect its non-Turkish citizens from the looting, violence and murders, but there are many indications that the Turkish government itself was responsible for directing and organizing the most cruel attacks against the populations, which it was supposed to protect. For these reasons, the Allied powers have decided to liberate from the Turkish yoke all the lands where the majority of the people were non-Turks.

The Turkish government signed the Treaty of Sevres but Mustafa Kemal refused to recognize it.

After 40 long months of war, during which Kemal’s forces secured considerable foreign assistance, the Greek military front in Anatolia collapsed.

The Turks reoccupied Asia Minor and entered Smyrna on September 8, 1922. In Smyrna, in the meantime, there was an influx of refugees from various parts of Asia Minor. And the conquering Turks set the city on fire and unleashed the last phase of the genocide against the Greeks and Armenians.

These were moments of unbelievable horror. The pier turned red by the blood of the victims. The bishop of Smyrna Chrysostomos was publicly ridiculed and then slaughtered. Events were too horrible to even describe. The American Consul in Smyrna, George Horton, gives a detailed and objective picture of the chilling Turkish crimes in his book
T h e B l i g h t o f A s i a (Indianapolis: Bobb and Merryl, 1925).

The Treaty of Lausanne ended the Greek-Turkish war and imposed the unjust and mandatory exchange of 300,000 Turks from Greece for the 1,400,000 Greeks that survived the holocaust.

The Greek refugees of Asia Minor, without being consulted had to give up their ancestral homes to the Turks, after almost 4,000 years of glorious and productive history.

Through the unjust actions of massacre and persecution of Greeks and Armenians, the contemporary Turkish state was thus created. It was a state founded on crime, the state about which French prime minister George Clemanceau said on the 25th of June, 1919: We do not find even one example in Europe, Asia, or Africa, where the imposition of Turkish sovereignty had not been followed by a decline in material prosperity, and by the impoverishment of its culture. Also there does not exist one example where liberation from Turkish control was not followed by the advancement of material prosperity and an improvement of the cultural level. Whether dealing with Christians or Muslims, the Turk has managed to bring destruction wherever he conquered. The Turk has never been able to develop in peace that which he won through conquest.

On the 26th of November 1979, the New York Times wrote quite characteristically: According to the most recent statistics, the Christian population in Turkey was diminished from (4.500.000) at the beginning of this century to just about 150,000. Of those, the Greeks are no more than 7,000 yet, in 1923 they were as many as 1, 2 millions (After the massacres of many hundreds of thousands).

Even though human justice has not yet punished the Turks, we believe that there is a Divine Justice to which the Turks will sooner or later be answerable.

Beit Hanun Massacre – Photos without Words

Click on the Picture, to see the remaining 157 Photos of the Beit Hanun Massacre!

A genocide on children…CHILDREN!!

VIDEO of racist anti-Arab Hollywod clips

VIDEO of racist anti-‘A’rab Hollywod clips!    

“Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered, but never before have I watched as soldiers enticed children like mice into a trap and murdered them for sport.”

— Christopher Hedges, American Journalist on assignment in Gaza

Iraqi tribunal sentences Saddam to hang

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town, as the ousted leader, trembling and defiant, shouted “God is great!”

As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal, Saddam yelled out, “Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!” Later, his lawyer said the former dictator had called on Iraqis to reject sectarian violence and refrain from revenge against U.S. forces.

The trial brought Saddam and his co-defendants before their accusers in what was one of the most highly publicized and heavily reported trials of its kind since the Nuremberg tribunals for members of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and its slaughter of 6 million Jews in the World War II Holocaust

“The verdict placed on the heads of the former regime does not represent a verdict for any one person. It is a verdict on a whole dark era that has was unmatched in  Iraq‘s history,” said Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister.

Some feared the court decision could exacerbate the sectarian violence that has pushed the country to the brink of civil war, after a trial that stretched over nine months in 39 sessions and ended nearly 3 1/2 months ago. The verdict came two days before midterm elections in the United States widely seen as a referendum on the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials have denied the timing was deliberate.

The White House praised the Iraqi judicial system and denied the U.S. had been “scheming” for the verdict.

Iraqis “are the ones who conducted the trial. The Iraqi judges are the ones who spent all the time pouring over the evidence. … It’s important to give them credit for running their own government,” said Tony Snow, the president’s spokesman.

In north Baghdad’s heavily Sunni Azamiyah district, clashes broke out between police and gunmen. Elsewhere in the capital, celebratory gunfire rang out.

“This government will be responsible for the consequences, with the deaths of hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands, whose blood will be shed,” Salih al-Mutlaq, a Sunni political leader, told the Al-Arabiya satellite television station.

Saddam and his seven co-defendants were on trial for a wave of revenge killings carried out in the city of Dujail following a 1982 assassination attempt on the former dictator. Al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party, then an underground opposition, has claimed responsibility for organizing the attempt on Saddam’s life.

In the streets of Dujail, people celebrated and burned pictures of their former tormentor as the verdict was read.

Saddam’s chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi condemned the trial as a “farce,” claiming the verdict was planned. He said defense attorneys would appeal within 30 days.

The death sentences automatically go to a nine-judge appeals panel, which has unlimited time to review the case. If the verdicts and sentences are upheld, the executions must be carried out within 30 days.

A court official told The Associated Press that the appeals process was likely to take three to four weeks once the formal paperwork was submitted.

During Sunday’s hearing, Saddam initially refused the chief judge’s order to rise; two bailiffs pulled the ousted ruler to his feet and he remained standing through the sentencing, sometimes wagging his finger at the judge.

Before the session began, one of Saddam’s lawyers, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, was ejected from the courtroom after handing the judge a memorandum in which he called the trial a travesty.

Chief Judge Raouf Abdul-Rahman pointed to Clark and said in English, “Get out.”

In addition to the former Iraqi dictator and Barzan Ibrahim, his former intelligence chief and half brother, the Iraqi High Tribunal convicted and sentenced Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the head of Iraq’s former Revolutionary Court, to death by hanging. Iraq’s former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Three defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison for torture and premeditated murder. Abdullah Kazim Ruwayyid and his son Mizhar Abdullah Ruwayyid were party officials Dujail, along with Ali Dayih Ali. They were believed responsible for the Dujail arrests.

Mohammed Azawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party official, was acquitted for lack of evidence and immediately freed.

He faces additional charges in a separate case over an alleged massacre of Kurdish civilians — a trial that will continue while appeals are pending.

The guilty verdict is likely to enrage hard-liners among Saddam’s fellow Sunnis, who made up the bulk of the former ruling class. The country’s majority Shiites were persecuted under the former leader but now largely control the government.

Al-Dulaimi, Saddam’s lawyer, told AP his client called on Iraqis to reject sectarian violence and called on them to refrain from taking revenge on U.S. invaders.

“His message to the Iraqi people was ‘pardon and do not take revenge on the invading nations and their people’,” al-Dulaimi said, quoting Saddam. “The president also asked his countrymen to ‘unify in the face of sectarian strife.'”

In Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, 1,000 people defied the curfew and carried pictures of the city’s favorite son through the streets. Some declared the court a product of the U.S. “occupation forces” and condemned the verdict.

“By our souls, by our blood we sacrifice for you Saddam” and “Saddam your name shakes America.”

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad issued a statement saying the verdicts “demonstrate the commitment of the Iraqi people to hold them (Saddam and his co-defendants) accountable.”

“Although the Iraqis may face difficult days in the coming weeks, closing the book on Saddam and his regime is an opportunity to unite and build a better future,” Khalilzad said.

Two U.S. officials who worked as advisers to the court on matters of international judicial procedures said Saddam’s repeated outbursts during the trial may have played a key part in his conviction.

They cited his admission in a March 1 hearing that he had ordered the trial of 148 Shiites who were eventually executed, insisting that doing so was legal because they were suspected in the assassination attempt against him. “Where is the crime? Where is the crime?” he asked, standing before the panel of five judges.

Later in the same session, he argued that he was in charge and he alone must be tried. His outburst came a day after the prosecution presented a presidential decree with a signature they said was Saddam’s approval for the Dujail death sentences, their most direct evidence against him.

About 50 of those sentenced by the “Revolutionary Court” died during interrogation before they could go to the gallows. Some of those hanged were children.

“Every time they (defendants) rose and spoke, they provided a lot of incriminating evidence,” said one of the U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Under Saddam, Iraq’s bureaucracy showed a consistent tendency to document orders, policies and minutes of meetings. One document gave the names of everyone from Dujail banished to a desert detention camp in southern Iraq. Another, prepared by an aide to Saddam, gave the president a detailed account of the punitive measures against the people of Dujail.

Saddam’s trial had from the outset appeared to reflect the turmoil and violence in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

One of Saddam’s lawyers was assassinated the day after the trial’s opening session last year. Two more were later assassinated and a fourth fled the country.

In January, chief judge Rizgar Amin, a Kurd, resigned after complaints by Shiite politicians that he had failed to keep control of court proceedings. He, in turn, complained of political interference. Abdul-Rahman, another Kurd, replaced Amin.

Hearings were disrupted by outbursts from Saddam and Ibrahim, with the two raging against what they said was the illegitimacy of the court, their ill treatment in the U.S.-run facility where they are being held and the lack of protection for their lawyers.

The defense lawyers contributed to the chaos in the courtroom by staging several boycotts.

Screamers

    SOAD to appear at AFI fest Nov. 2nd on Screamers

Screamers

“Screamers” highlights System of a Down’s 2005 world tour. It includes long takes of 7 live performances in many cities from London to Los Angeles. Their music also serves as back ground to many of the other clips in the film.

The most interesting S.O.A.D. parts of the film, however, are the interviews with the band members talking about the personal importance of helping create awareness and recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. They are caught on the tour bus playing around at times, but the story-re-telling of events of the Genocide that they have heard from their grandparents, is the films focus.
The best footage of this includes older home-video footage of Serj’s grandfather, (one of the few remaining survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the world!), and interactions with Serj and his grandfather as of last spring.

There is a very special “sneak preview” for “Screamers” at the AFI fest November 2nd and 3rd. People can get tickets now. It is also confirmed that the entire band and director will be there the night of the 2nd.

For more information about this project including image gallery and video trailer check out: http://www.screamersmovie.com

    more:

The Holocaust, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur….


And every time a U.S. president, a British Prime Minister, a U.N. Secretary General says, “Never again.” Yet it happens-again, and again, and again….Why? Because, our leaders say, We didn’t know.Yet they did know recent studies have shown that the British knew conclusively what was going on at Auschwitz…yet buried that knowledge in their files because it would have forced them to change their war plans.

 Everyone knew what was going on in Cambodia, post-the Vietnam War, as the Academy Award-winning movie “The Killing Fields” demonstrates … yet the powers that be declined to admit it, for fear they would have to do something.In Carla Garapedian’s powerful new film, “Screamers,” Pulitzer prize-winner Samantha Power says President after President, Democrat and Republican, have known about genocides as they were happening … but have chosen not to act.


In Iraq, Reagan did not want the horrors of Saddam Hussein’s massacre against the Kurds to come out, because then he would have to do something to stop him. In Bosnia, world television coverage of the genocide convinced the international community to step in…but only after 200,000 had been murdered.
In Rwanda, Bill Clinton did not want the true horrors to come out …because then he would have to do something. And now, in Darfur, George Bush has finally declared the desolation of the Southern Sudan a “genocide”-yet refused to do what it takes to stop it.
Why? Because, once again, as in 1915, when the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, first reported the wholesale extermination of the Armenian population by the Ottoman Turks in Anatolia, it was denied so the United States would not be forced to act.
That reaction gave Hitler his impetus for the Holocaust: “Who remembers the Armenians?” he declared in 1939, before ordering the murder of 6 million European Jews.
In “Screamers,” Garapedian traces the history of modern-day genocide-and genocide denial- from the fertile “Holy Mountains” of Anatolia to the current atrocities in Darfur .
This documentary is as shattering as it is powerful,which includes interviews and live performance footage with System Of A Down, the multi-platinum, Grammy-Award winning rock band, all of whose members are Armenian-American.

The film is laced with seven of the band’s songs from “Holy Mountains” to “P.L.U.C.K.” to the #1 hit “B.Y.O.B.” that illuminate the band’s views on political and social issues. Conceived by longtime collaborators Peter McAlevey and Carla Garapedian (herself an Armenian-American and documentary director of “Lifting the Veil” and “Children of the Secret State”), “Screamers” came together in the summer 2004 after producer McAlevey (“Radio Flyer,” “Shadow Hours”) approached System of a Down’s legendary producer Rick Rubin about partnering with the band to make a documentary about one of their main causes – recognition of the Armenian genocide.With Rubin’s support, Garapedian met System Of A Down, who endorsed the film’s important message-how the world’s denial of the Turk’s Armenian genocide contributed to the continuing crisis of international genocides ever since – from Armenia to Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and present-day Darfur.The cameras followed System Of A Down on their European and American tours last summer and fall as they promoted their new, two-album set, “Mezmerize” and “Hypnotize.” (Their collective record sales have totaled over 16 million albums worldwide With the band’s cooperation, McAlevey and Garapedian, along with British producer Nick de Grunwald, secured a deal with BBC Television for UK TV rights.The film was mainly financed by The Raffy Manoukian Charity in the UK.Returning to the USA, Garapedian teamed up with McAlevey stalwarts — DP Charles Rose, editor Bill Yahraus, post-production supervisor Robin M. Rosenthal and production manager Don West — as the band continued its tour in the States.She attempted to track down House Speaker Dennis Hastert (who, according to Vanity Fair magazine, has taken $500,000 in campaign contributions from the Turks in return for allowing an Armenian genocide recognition bill from ever being passed by the House of Representatives), visited a 100-year-old survivor and, most importantly, spent time with lead vocalist’s Serj Tankian’s grandfather, one of the few remaining eyewitnesses of the genocide.

Finally, just this spring, seven months after staging a protest rally at Dennis Hastert’s offices in Illinois (dubbed “Dennis, Do the Right Thing”), Tankian and drummer John Dolmayan confronted Hastert in the Capital Rotunda … luckily, the cameras were there.With an ending filmed in the actual village in Turkey where the massacre of Tankian’s ancestors began, set against the ghostly strains of the hit “Holy Mountains,” Garapedian’s film comes full circle from 1915 through the horrors of 20th and 21st Century genocide in Darfur … to a finale of ghostly images of real ancestors that will never be forgotten.
While most of the concert footage had been handled in Europe, Garapedian faced the harder challenge of linking it all to the current political debate on genocide – in Europe, Turkey and the United States.

In America, the pressure was on the Bush Administration to acknowledge its own historical record and recognize the first genocide of the 20th Century, thus setting the stage for a worldwide recognition and reparations.

Here luck played a hand again-while age alone has decimated the population of eyewitness survivors of the massacres, one turned out to be Serj’s own grandfather, Stepan Haytayan. Stepan is one of the only survivors who survived the death march from Efkere, the village Serj’s family came from in Turkey.

Fortunately, despite being in poor health, Serj’s grandfather had been videotaped by Serj a few years earlier and that, combined with Carla’s research on the village from historical archives in Harvard and Britain, helped flesh out the story of what happened the day the massacres started and the forced death marches that followed.
Then, luck intervened again -in the middle of this process word reached the filmmakers that an Armenian-American survivor of the genocide had just turned 100 in Connecticut … and received a letter from Vice-President Dick Cheney congratulating her on her good fortune in surviving the “Armenian genocide.”

It was the first time a ranking American vice-president had ever used the “g-word” officially to describe what the Turks had done. All of this just at the time the State Department was in the process of recalling its U.S. Ambassador to Armenia for using the “g-word” in connection with the Armenian genocide.

And also at a time when Congress was being asked to recognize the genocide and Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, was in the political hot-seat, not least by the FBI whistle-blower, Sibel Edmonds, who consented to appear in the film.Racing to Connecticut to interview this survivor before the White House could recall the letter, Garapedian also had the good fortune to interview Henry Morgenthau III, whose grandfather had been the U.S.

Ambassador to Turkey at the time and witnessed the massacres with his own eyes, as well Pulitzer prize-winning Harvard Professor Samantha Power, whose 2002 book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” demonstrates how all the subsequent genocides of the 20th and 21st Centuries date back to our simple inability to admit what the Turks did to the Armenians.
Again, as Hitler said in ordering the destruction of European Jewry, “Who remembers the Armenians?”

Well, Power does-as does every Armenian, anywhere in the world. As do Rwandans who have an exhibit on the Armenian genocide at the very sight where the worst killing was perpetrated. As Power argues in the movie, the problem with genocide is “you can’t kill them all; there are always survivors.”

And those survivors, Power says, become the “Screamers,” the one’s who can’t rest until the world knows what has happened –
Elie Wiesel on the Holocaust, David Puttnam making “The Killing Fields” about what happened in Cambodia, Dennis Quaid giving a year of his life to a film about Bosnia or Don Cheadle starring in the acclaimed “Hotel Rwanda.”

And, in the end, that’s what “Screamers” is all about-an internationally produced film by an equally international crew that uses the music of a band of genocide survivors to explicate one of the great questions of our time:

‘Can we stop genocide? Do we really mean ‘never again?’

In the end, as lead singer Serj Tankian stands, surveying mountains very like those of his native Anatolia (and System’s mournful song “Holy Mountains” plays in the background),

Garapedian’s cameras track through the rocky remains of Efkere, his grandfather’s ruined village, as images of the sacrifice in each household appear and the roll call of the dead continues:
“Armenia-1.5 million dead; The Holocaust-6 million dead; Cambodia-2 million dead; Rwanda-800,000 dead; Bosnia-200,000 dead; Darfur-400,000 dead

and counting.”

As Serj Tankian says at the end: “I think we should all be Screamers.”