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Arab and Amazigh Human Rights Organizations Call on Turkey to Recognize Armenian Genocide

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(Cairo, April 22, 2014) – On the eve of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, leading Arab and Amazigh human rights organizations called on the Turkish government to recognize the truth of the historic events, issue an unequivocal apology, and move towards accountability and reparations. The concerted campaign by Ottoman leaders a century ago resulted in the deaths and exile of the vast majority of their Armenian citizens, but successive Turkish governments have failed to recognize or take responsibility for the deliberate and systematic mass extermination of the ethnic group.

Signatories to the statement calling on recognition of the Armenian Genocide include the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Tamkeen for Legal Aid, Lawyers Without Borders, the World Amazigh Assembly, the National Federation of Amazigh Associations in Morocco, and the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization.

“We call on President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu to recognize the Armenian genocide and the responsibility of Turkey’s predecessor government for the terrible crimes against the Armenian community,” said Ziad Abdel Watab, Deputy Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.“ As human rights organizations, we reiterate our call for unequivocal truth, justice, and accountability for the victims of this Genocide.”

“The historic record is well-settled, and it is well past time for the Turkish government to end its denials and come to terms with its past, for the benefit of Turks, Armenians, and all of humanity,” said Khaled Mansour, board member of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “By recognizing the massive crimes and human rights abuses that took place within its own nation, even if a century ago, Turkey could initiate a unique path in a region whose political conflicts have degenerated into bloody ethnic and sectarian conflicts.”

 A full copy of the statement appears below:

Statement of Human Rights Groups in the Middle East and North Africa on the Occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

This year, on the occasion of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, we join in extending our condolences to the global Armenian community for the mass extermination campaign against them in 1915, which is commemorated annually on April 24th.  We call on President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu to recognize the genocide and the responsibility of Turkey’s predecessor government for the terrible crimes against the Armenian community. As human rights organizations in the Middle East and North Africa region, we reiterate our call for truth, justice, and accountability for the victims of this Genocide.

The facts of the Armenian Genocide are well known. Encouraged by the cloak of war and alarmed by the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, the Young Turk leadership saw the Armenian population as a threat to the Empire’s future survival, and decided to exterminate their Armenian subjects. Beginning in the spring of 1915, in one of the first genocides of the twentieth century, the Young Turk regime and its state officials presided over the mass deportation and annihilation of up to a million and a half Armenians from different parts of the Empire. Despite wide-scale global recognition of these facts, successive Turkish governments have refused to acknowledge the events of 1915 as genocide or to make any reparations or amends to the survivors. Discussion of the Armenian Genocide remains controversial inside Turkey, and the vast majority of Turks are ignorant about the history and facts of the genocide.

The government of Turkey today presents itself as a model for nations around the world, often championing human rights throughout the region and in the Muslim world. By recognizing the massive crimes and human rights abuses that took place within its own nation, even if a century ago, Turkey could initiate a unique path in a region whose political conflicts have degenerated into bloody ethnic and sectarian conflicts. As activists and representatives of human rights organizations in the Middle East and North Africa, we call upon the Turkish government to now, one hundred years later, acknowledge the scale and magnitude of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people. Without truth, recognition and accountability for past crimes, it is difficult to change course and set a new path for respect, tolerance and protection for minorities in the world today, and especially in the Middle East and North Africa.

Signatories:

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence

Tamkeen for Legal Aid

World Amazigh Assembly

Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization

National Federation of Amazigh Associations in Morocco

Lawyers Without Borders

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