Associated Press Worldstream
April 23, 2004 Friday 7:06 AM Eastern Time
Armenian spiritual leader urges international action to prevent
by JOSEPH PANOSSIAN; Associated Press Writer
Commemorating the early 20th century death of hundreds of thousands
of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, the spiritual leader of about 2
million survivors and their descendants on Friday urged international
action to prevent future genocide.
Aram I, head of the Armenian Orthodox Church in the diaspora, said
the world should impose economic sanctions, “and in extreme
situations, engage in humanitarian intervention” to stop mass
“These are the most efficient ways of preventing genocide,” he told a
two-day conference organized by his church.
Speaking at the opening session of the conference on Thursday, Aram I
also announced the establishment of an International Center for
Dialogue, Peace and Human Rights, to be based at his seat in the
northern Beirut suburb of Antelias.
The International Conference on Genocide, Impunity and Justice
brought together Lebanese Cabinet ministers, lawmakers, religious
leaders from other sects and foreign scholars and diplomats.
Speakers focused on the inadequacy of existing international criminal
laws in dealing with mass killings, which mostly go unpunished. The
speakers included U.N. human rights and world court officials, as
well as a presidential representative from Rwanda, where the world’s
latest genocide a decade ago killed nearly 800,000 people.
Armenians say they lost 1.5 million people in 1915-23 as Ottoman
Turkish authorities deported entire communities from various
provinces. Turkey says the number of deaths was fewer, and that they
resulted from civil unrest.
Starting Friday, Armenians around the globe mark the anniversary of
the start of the killings with marches, torch parades, sit-ins,
lectures and vigils.
But in Lebanon for the second consecutive year, such public
manifestations by the vibrant Armenian community of nearly 100,000
were canceled because of the conflict in Iraq and the Palestinian
territories. Only a candlelit vigil will be held Friday at the seat
of the Armenian Orthodox Catholicosate in Antelias.
Armenians have been trying for decades to gain recognition of the
mass killings in Turkey as the 20th century’s first genocide. Turkey
has repeatedly opposed the measure.
Canada on Wednesday became the 16th country to label the killings as
genocide when its parliament backed a resolution 153-68 condemning
the actions of the Ottoman Turkish forces as a “crime against
humanity.” Turkey protested the Canadian vote.
Switzerland, France, Argentina and Russia – as well as 11 U.S. state
governments – have also called the killings genocide, and Armenians
are lobbying for similar action from the U.S. government.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress