First checks distributed from Armenian genocide insurance settlement

Associated Press
Jan 26 2005

First checks distributed from Armenian genocide insurance settlement

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK AP) _ Five New York-area Armenian charities received checks
for $333,333 each on Wednesday as part of a settlement between an
insurance company and descendants of Armenians killed 90 years ago in
the Ottoman Empire.

The checks are part of a $20 million settlement between New York Life
Insurance Co. and descendants of a community that suffered what
Armenians characterize as the first genocide of the 20th century.

“It’s a happy day,” said New York Life spokesman William Werfelman.
“This is the day that’s the culmination of a lot of hard work by a
lot of the parties to bring an amicable solution and resolution to
this matter.”

Armenians contend that 1.5 million people were executed between 1915
and 1919 by Turkish authorities who accused them of helping the
invading Russian army during World War I.

Turkey rejects the genocide claim and says Armenians were killed in
civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. France and
Russia are among countries that have declared the killings a
genocide, but the United States has not made such a declaration.

The settlement approved last year by U.S. District Court Judge
Christina A. Snyder in Los Angeles is believed to be the first ever
in connection with the events of the era.

Under the settlement, $3 million was earmarked for charities and at
least $11 million was set aside for the heirs of New York Life policy
holders, with $2 million used for administrative costs and anything
not spent on expenses going to additional charities.

The remainder of the $3 million will be handed out to four additional
Armenian charities in a ceremony in Los Angeles.

Brian Kabateck, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the
class-action lawsuit, said there were 2,300 policies issued to
Armenians in Turkey before 1915 that were never paid. People who
believe they may be descended from the policy holders have until
March 16 to file claims.

Under a formula taking inflation and interest into account, the
amount of the original policies will be multiplied by 15.5.

“We are here today urging people to make claims and urging people not
to forget the genocide,” said Kaboteck, who was joined by members of
Armenian religious and social organizations at a news conference at
the midtown offices of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, one of
the groups that received a check.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress