NOR SEROUNT CULTURAL ASSOCIATION
c/o The Temple iof Peace, Cardiff, Wales
The Presbyterian CHurch of Scotland Recognises the Armenian Genocide
A major step forward in the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the UK took place this week when the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland passed a motion calling on the UK on the government to recognise the Genocide. This is one of the major Churches of the UK. The Prime Minister. Gordon Brown belongs to this Church, was present in the General Assembly, and claims to derive his moral values from the Church. The Church follows the example of the Presbyterian Church of Wales which called on the UK government to recognise the Genocide in 2006
An appeal for help on the Genocide issue was made by Armenia Solidarity and their affiliated lobbying groups to the Church last july. A positive response was received by us from the Church in november and this was made public at the inaugaration of the Genocide Monument in Cardiff on the 3rd november, explaining that the request would be discussed in the General assembly. We believe that the letters by lobbyists Ara Krikorian and Edgar Danielyan (below) were instrumental in persuading the Church to come to this desicion, and that the Prime Minister will find it hard to resist this pronouncment by his Church, The Early Day Motion 357 referesd to in the letters has expired, and been replaced by three new Genocide motions ( one of which is 797) in the House of Commons We urgently call on Armenians to contact the prime minister email@example.com to press him hard on this moral issue. We believe that the chance of recognition will expire in the UK in two years time, if as it seems likely, the even more pro-Turkish government Conservative Party are returned to power
Reply from the Church of Scotland to Armenia Solidarity (1st november 2007)
Dear Mr Williams,
I am replying to your earlier correspondence with Dr Graham Blount concerning the Church of Scotland and Armenia .
I was in Armenia myself earlier this year and was impressed by the warm hospitality and the optimism of those I met - as well as by the warmth of the weather ! We visited the Genocide Memorial, where we prayed, and we were given a guided tour of the adjoining museum by its curator. I was very moved by the exhibits and accounts held there. An account of this visit will be a small part of the report to our General Assembly in May, when the issue of the continuing issue of the recognition of the genocide will be raised. It may be that the Assembly will wish at that point to say something about this.
Unfortunately, the General Assembly has not as yet positioned itself in this debate - and so we have not been in a position to urge Scottish MPs to sign the Early Day Motion. In fact, even on subjects where we have established policy, we use that particular way of working quite sparingly - lest the law of diminishing returns begins to take effect.
Of course, we understand that this is but a part of the wider debate about Turkey - in relation to Armenia and the genocide, but also to the Kurds, to religious diversity and minorities in Turkey, to the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and (of course) to Turkey’s application to join the European Union. We think there is a long way to go before Turkey can be ready for that membership. I myself am sure that true and full reconciliation with Armenia will have to be part of such preparation - and full reconciliation will inevitably need to cover these events of the dying days of the Ottoman Empire .
Best wishes for the campaign - and I hope you understand that we were unable to respond in exactly the way you requested earlier in the year.
Church and Society Council
Church of Scotland
Armenia Solidarity British Armenian All Party Parliamentary Group Nor Serount Armenian Genocide Trust ( www.armenian-genocide.info ) july 12 2007 Dear Graham Blount , Following our telephone conversation last week, I am requesting that the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society section considers taking action to lobby Scottish MPs to persuade them to sign Early Day Motion 357, which simply recognisess the truth of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 The EDM has already accumulated 150 names, but several eligible Scottish MPs have not yet signed. The motion will "fall" at the end of october, but we are hopeful of gaining closer to 200 names , with your possible help. These are the 26 eligible Scottish MPs who have not signed I shall send you what I have sent to MPs and letters from my colleagues Regards Eilian Williams
Letter from Ara Krikorian
On behalf of all British Armenians, I would be very grateful if you would consider giving the help of the Church of Scotland to lobby Scottish MPs to sign EDM 357, based on what I have written for your attention.
I am sure that you and your readers (of which I am one) are aware of the Christian and historical background of Armenians and the country of Armenia itself. You will recall that there is mention in the Old Testament of the “mountains of Ararat” with a strong indication that that was where Noah’s Ark landed. You may also be aware that the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew travelled through Armenia to preach the word of God and the message of salvation through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Many people were converted and numerous secret Christian communities were established ultimately leading to King Tiridates establishing Christianity in 301 as a sole religion in Armenia .
However, although this side of our history is one that all Armenians are only too happy to share with all other Christians around the world, it is the side regarding the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War that brings out the sadness within us. A sadness that is not only the result of having personally lost loved ones but more pertinently, a profound sadness that a country like ours, refuses to officially acknowledge this event as having been a genocide.
It is generally accepted by historians that the Armenian Genocide started on 24 th April 24, 1915. The Armenians commemorate this date year in year out because on 24 th April, 1915 more than 200 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were arrested and then murdered in Constantinople . However, the Turkish plan of uprooting the Armenians from their ancestral homeland was masterminded far beforehand and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 was the perfect opportunity for the Young Turks to “solve the Armenian question”.
Despite both Lloyd George and Winston Churchill recording officially that what had happened to the Armenians was a "holocaust", many British politicians have over the years, and continue to do so to this day, denied this historical fact, one that should be noted as having been officially recognised as such by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.
For us Armenians living in the UK , it continues to weigh heavily on our minds that the UK Government continues to deny the Armenian Genocide particularly in the knowledge that many other European governments have passed motions recognising the truth of this atrocity.
As many other Armenians of my age will testify, stories recalled by their grandparents haunt them to this day. As a young boy, I heard first hand from my grandmother her story of how she became an orphan through Ottoman atrocities perpetrated towards the end of the 19th century only to be repeated with the annihilation of her family later on in her young life (husband and 2 daughters), this time by the Young Turks in 1915. I cannot forget the sight of the tears falling down her cheeks as she recalled such graphic horrors to me on more than one occasion.
As I grew up, I wanted to forgive and forget what had happened particularly as later in life when I became a devout Christian, I wanted to uphold the very heart of Jesus’ teachings ; “ to love thy neighbour as thyself” and “to forgive those who trespass against us ”. I have desperately tried to apply this approach with respect to this topic and have succeeded in the case of Jesus’ teaching “ to love thy neighbour as thyself ”. But somehow, even though I have forgiven the Turks, with the constant denial by our politicians it remains a heavy burden on my conscience, i.e. should I also forget the promise I made to my grandmother that I would not stop until the entire world recognised the Armenian Genocide the way it has the Jewish Holocaust ?
Your readers may not be aware that currently there is a call on the British Government to recognise the Armenia Genocide. Over one hundred and fifty MPs have signed an early day motion (EDM 357) calling on the British Government to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
I hope very much that through reading this article, the other Scottish MPs may join the MPs who have already signed up to EDM 357. By doing so, they would help ensure that this issue is not only debated in Parliament but that it will ultimately lead to acceptance by the Government that their current official line of the event having been a ‘ regrettable deed ’ in fact was “ genocide ”.
Bath , UK
Letter from Edgar Danielyan (of the Armenian Genocide Trust)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Armenian Genocide which nearly annihilated one of the most ancient Christian nations is still not recognised by the United Kingdom amid fears of alienating Turkey.
"In 1915 the Turkish Government began and ruthlessly carried out the infamous general massacre and deportation of [Christian] Armenians in Asia Minor... the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be... There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons... whole districts blotted out in one administrative holocaust - these were beyond human redress." Sir Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, Volume 5
"On April 24, 1915, under cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens - an unarmed Christian minority. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years. The Armenian Genocide was the most well-known human rights issue of its time and was reported regularly in newspapers across the United States and Europe. The Armenian Genocide is abundantly documented by thousands of official records of the United States and nations around the world including Turkey’s wartime allies Germany, Austria and Hungary, by Ottoman court-martial records, by eyewitness accounts of missionaries and diplomats, by the testimony of survivors, and by decades of historical scholarship..." Professor Robert Melson, President, International Association of Genocide Scholars
"Yet another form of continuing the genocide is by negating its historical reality, as if the 1.5 million Armenians of Anatolia had never existed. Negationism entails a denial of the right to one’s identity and the right to one’s history. Particularly outrageous is Article 305 of the new Turkish penal code, which criminalizes the expression of the Armenian Genocide. Besides being an insult to the memory of the victims of the genocide, it entails a gross violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to seek and impart information." Professor Alfred de Zayas, Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales
PLEASE HELP US PUT THE RECORD STRAIGHT
1. Please ask your Member of Parliament to sign EDM 357 to recognise the Armenian Genocide - it currently has 144 signatures, an all-time record in support.
2. Please sign the online petition to the Prime Minister to recognise the Armenian Genocide :
It’s time to end United Kingdom’s position as one of the few remaining states which have not recognised the first genocide of the 20th century. This is an opportunity for real ethical foreign policy, based on truth rather than fear.
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