The Armenian Weekly; April 5, 2008; Darfur and Armenia

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The Armenian Weekly; Volume 74, No. 13; April 5, 2008

Darfur and Armenia:

1. For a Genocide-Free Investing
By Jirair Ratevosian and Eric Cohen

2. An interview with Nicholas D. Kristof
By Khatchig Mouradian

3. Turkey and Sudan: A Genocidal Tandem
By Serouj Aprahamian


1. For a Genocide-Free Investing
By Jirair Ratevosian and Eric Cohen

Many would suppose that today, 93 years after the start of the Armenian
genocide and 63 years after the end of the Holocaust, no company that values
the public trust would attempt to profit from connections to genocide.
Looking back, who would support the idea of investing in firms that sought
to profit by selling Zyklon-B gas to the Nazis or machetes to the Ottoman
Turks? Looking forward, who wants their savings invested in companies that
help fund genocide?

Sadly, as we mark the beginning of the sixth year of the genocide in Darfur,
Sudan, we are faced with the problem of ordinary investors having their
hard-earned savings invested by mutual fund managers in companies that fund
genocide. For example, Fidelity has been one of the largest holders of
PetroChina, which, through its closely related parent China National
Petroleum Company, is providing funding that the government of Sudan uses to
conduct genocide in Darfur.

Thus, ordinary individuals, through their investments in Fidelity mutual
funds, inadvertently invest in companies funding genocide. Since no policy
prevents these investments, holdings in these problem companies may increase
or involve additional funds in the future. Mutual fund investors cannot
practically avoid investing in genocide, unless the fund makes a commitment
to genocide-free investing.

Few of us are in a position to set foreign policy, and fewer yet are
individually positioned to stop a genocide. Yet, each of us is responsible
for doing that which we are able. Each of us can and must speak out. We can
and must recognize genocide as the horror that it is and as a grave affront
to humanity. Each of us can and must take responsibility for how we invest
our family savings.

Can we influence mutual fund companies such as Fidelity to make a commitment
to genocide-free investing? Yes, we can, through shareholder action. The
Boston-based non-profit group, Investors Against Genocide, has submitted
shareholder proposals to 56 mutual funds, giving hundreds of thousands of
mutual fund shareholders the opportunity to cast a vote for genocide-free
investing. Once the proposal passes, the mutual fund industry can become a
bulwark against genocide, rather than one of its major financial supporters.

Fidelity shareholders now have the opportunity to vote on this unprecedented
shareholder proposal concerning "oversight procedures to screen out
investments in companies that substantially contribute to genocide."
Fidelity is recommending that shareholders vote against the proposal.
However, we know that ordinary Americans, once they learn the facts, will
vote to make their mutual funds genocide-free.

We cannot advance our interests by compromising our values. The true danger
to our interests comes from failing to stand up for our values. Therefore,
we must stand against genocide.

If you own mutual funds in your retirement plan or your savings account, you
have a vote in the way your money is managed, just as you have a vote in a
presidential race. Votes are being cast now for eight Fidelity funds with a
shareholder meeting on April 16 and eleven more funds that will meet on May

If you are a Fidelity shareholder, don’t discard your proxy ballot without
checking it carefully. If there is a proposal referencing genocide, read the
detail and vote "FOR" the proposal to make your mutual fund genocide-free.
If you have discarded the proxy materials, or have already voted and want to
change your vote, you can. You can revise your vote until the day of the

Votes with additional Fidelity funds and other major fund companies,
including Vanguard, Franklin Templeton, and Barclays, will follow.

Even if you are not a mutual fund shareholder, you can help support
genocide-free investing. You can help spread the word by telling your
family, friends, and co-workers, writing letters to the editor, and helping
leaflet at upcoming events in the Armenian community. If your employer has a
Fidelity 401K or 403B plan you can help spread the word at your office about
the opportunity for shareholders to vote.

Ethical investing may mean different things to different people. However,
surely there is a minimum standard upon which nearly everyone agrees. We
draw the line at investing in genocide. The shareholder proposal on
genocide-free investing sets this minimum standard for all mutual funds.

Fidelity sought to prevent this proposal from coming to a vote, but its
efforts to block the issue failed. Fidelity continues to oppose the
proposal, and its opposition will also ultimately fail. As shareholders
become increasingly aware, we are confident that the proposal will pass in
the future. The reason Fidelity will fail is simple: Fidelity’s customers do
not want their family savings and pension funds invested in companies that
help to fund genocide, whether that genocide is occurring today in Darfur or
somewhere else in the future.

Armenians, Jews, and unfortunately now Darfurians know the horrors of
genocide well. From the first genocide of the 20th century to the first
genocide of the 21st, we are obligated to act, lest we stand with the
deniers. By voting for genocide-free investing, we can take a principled
stand against genocide and genocide deniers to help ensure that such a human
tragedy is never repeated.

Whether you own one share, no shares, or thousands, we hope you will become
a voice for genocide-free investing. For more information on ways to help,
visit www.InvestorsAgainst

Jirair Ratevosian is the director of event planning at the Massachusetts
Coalition to Save Darfur. Eric Cohen is the chairperson of Investors Against

Investors Against Genocide is a non-profit organization dedicated to
convincing mutual fund and other investment firms to change their investing
strategy to avoid complicity in genocide. The organization works with
individuals, companies, organizations, financial institutions, the press,
and government agencies to build awareness and to create financial, public
relations, and regulatory pressure for investment firms to change. Investors
Against Genocide is a project of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur,
an alliance of organizations from across Massachusetts working to stop the
genocide and protect civilians in Sudan.

For more information, visit For more
information on the Massachusetts Coalition, visit
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2. An interview with Nicholas D. Kristof
By Khatchig Mouradian

NEW YORK (A.W.)-Nicholas Kristof has been an Op-Ed columnist for the New
York Times since November 2001. In his weekly columns, he often tackles
issues of human rights abuses and genocide, and has been instrumental in
creating awareness on the situation in Darfur.

A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, he has lived on four
continents, reported on six, and traveled to 140 countries. (He is at least
a two-time visitor to every member of the Axis of Evil.)

Nicholas Donabet Kristof is the son of Ladis Kristof, a Transylvanian-born
Armenian who immigrated to the United States after World War II.

In this interview, conducted in his office at the New York Times on March
28, we talk about the genocide in Darfur.


Khatchig Mouradian-You’ve been covering the genocide in Darfur for four
years now. What has changed over this time in both public awareness and the
situation on the ground?

Nicholas Kristof-There’s certainly more attention to Darfur now. And it
really is heartening, for example, how many university students all across
the country have been willing to campaign for Darfur. So in my more hopeful
moments, I think about the hundreds of thousands of college students who are
protesting on behalf of people of a different religion, different skin
color, who they will never meet, and I think, "Wow, we are really making
some progress."

But then at the end of the day, on the ground in Darfur, the situation is as
messy now as it was four years ago. If you had told me four years ago when I
first went there that in 2008, people would know what Darfur is, they would
know what is going on there, that the president would have called it
"genocide," I would have been surprised. But if you told me that people
would know what’s going on and yet still we wouldn’t do anything, then I
would have been even more stunned and depressed.

K.M.-In the past, governments were careful not to invoke the term "genocide"
because then they would have to act. Now, President Bush used the word when
referring to Darfur, but nothing happened. Has the word "genocide" lost its

N.K.-I don’t think it ever really had a lot of meaning to inspire action.
However, it does make people feel guilty. The reason you do have a lot of
people protesting on behalf of Darfur is the word "genocide." If you use the
word "ethnic cleansing," I don’t think it gets people so upset.

Look at how in the Congo the death toll has been much greater, but it’s not
really a case of genocide; it’s a messy difficult case of rival militias and
that has attracted much less attention than Darfur. What has made a
difference is that in Darfur the death toll is smaller, but it is genocide.
So I do think that genocide as a reality and as a term does make a
difference-but just not nearly enough.

K.M.-In your columns, you’ve mentioned that you’ve received emails from
people saying, Yes, the situation in Darfur is bad, but we have other
priorities. How do you feel about this kind of reaction, be it from ordinary
people or government officials?

N.K.-I think that one of the basic mistakes that Western governments make is
that while they think that it’s unfortunate what is happening in Darfur,
that there are a lot of unfortunate things going on in a lot of places
around the world. And Darfur is their number 38th priority.

In fact, I think it’s one of the lessons of history that over time genocide
really does rise to the very top of the priority list. The Armenian genocide
is a perfect example of that. When it was going on, the Wilson
administration certainly thought that it was unfortunate; they didn’t want
Armenians killed, but they had huge challenges with Europe, with the Ottoman
Empire, and so it just never rose very high on the priority list. The same
is true with the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Yet, each of those has had a
staying power, a resonance throughout history precisely because it was
genocide. I think that the mistake that the administration has made, the
State Department has made, and a lot of us in the media have made is that we
don’t appreciate that there really is something different about a government
choosing a people based on race, color, religion, or whatever, and deciding
to kill them.

K.M.-Do you think there will be any drastic changes in the U.S. policy on
Darfur when there’s a new president in the Oval Office next year?

N.K.-There is some reason to believe that the next president will be
modestly more active on Darfur. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both
been very active on the issue. John McCain had been earlier on; he has
slowed down a little bit on Darfur more recently. But all of them have been,
at one time or the other, real leaders on it. So yes, there is hope that if
they were in the White House, they would be more active on it.

But at the end of the day, I think that one of the things we see from
history is that the president is never going to really lead in a case of
genocide because there tends not to be a national interest involved, and
there tends to be a lot of uncertainty about the right thing to do, and
there are a lot of other priorities. When there has been some kind of
response, it has been because you just had a lot of Americans shaming their
president to act. Kosovo is a good example of that. There, we had the
Clinton administration that really didn’t want to do very much, but they had
just been tormented over a combination of Rwanda and Bosnia and, finally,
they felt they had to do something and they did the right thing. Ultimately,
I think it is going to be the same in the case of Darfur. The shaming of the
U.S., Europe, China is going to actually make a difference.

K.M.-So you believe that the movement to change the situation is going to be
>From the bottom-up.

N.K.-It would be great if there were more change at the top, but the reality
is that Mia Farrow has done more good for the people of Darfur
diplomatically than Condi Rice has. And to the extent that China is now
paying attention to Darfur, and is being somewhat helpful, that’s really
because of Mia Farrow, not because of Condi Rice.

That said, I hope that we’re going to see more rigorous action by government
officials, and Sarcozy, I think, is going to be more helpful in Chad
especially. But fundamentally, political leaders are going to be reactive
rather than proactive. So it’s going to be the grassroots activists who are
going to be the ones bringing about that change, whether it’s in our
government or in the Chinese government.

K.M.-What are your thoughts about the way Muslim countries have been
reacting to the crisis in Darfur? They point out the double standards of the
U.S., but they also uphold similar double standards by speaking about human
rights violations in Israel and the Palestinian territories, while ignoring
the genocide in Darfur.

N.K.-Everybody has double standards and we always tend to be more shocked
about everybody else’s double standards. Look at Zimbabwe, for example. The
world was horrified when you had white Rhodesians doing terrible things to
blacks there, but when it’s Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, then it tends
to be more accepted by everybody. Likewise, Sudan can get away with doing
things to its own people that no outsider could get away with.

I do think that there have been double standards in the Egyptian news media,
in particular. I really had hoped that the Egyptian news media, because it’s
so important in the region, could have done more with Darfur. Instead, there
is this reflexive sense that those Yankee imperialists went after Iraqi oil
and neutralized Iraq on behalf of Israel and now they’re going to do the
same thing to Sudan. I think that’s very unfortunate, but, I must say, we
suffer from double standards all the time as well.

K.M.-And U.S. foreign policy in recent years has aggravated the situation.

N.K.-Absolutely. I think that our Middle Eastern policy-the Arab-Israeli
conflict and Iraq-has left us in a situation where everything we do is
viewed through an incredible prism of suspicion. That makes it very
difficult for us to do anything about an Arab country, especially an Arab
country with oil. This is one reason why it would be so helpful if we worked
more with European countries and Muslim countries. If Egypt, the Arab
League, or other Muslim countries outside the Arab world were to be more
concerned about Muslims being slaughtered in Darfur, that would be of huge

K.M.-How does this affect you on a personal level? Isn’t it very frustrating
to see how slowly things change-if they ever do?

N.K.-Absolutely. And the most frustrating is the difficulty translating from
concern to actually any kind of positive action. I find that incredibly
frustrating. I’m quite worried that the next issue is going to be the
North-South war in Sudan. And Darfur might just be remembered as the
prologue to something much bloodier.

One of the lessons that we should have learned is that you can intervene
much more easily early on in a conflict. Once Humpty Dumpty has fallen off
the wall, then it’s impossible to put him back together again. Right now,
everybody is watching south Sudan fall off the ledge. We can still do
something, but a year from now it may be utterly too late.

K.M.-What do you usually tell people who ask what they can do to help?

N.K.-Some of the websites that I recommend people to go to are Save Darfur
(www.Save, the Genocide Intervention Network (www.genocide and Dream for Darfur ().

I do think that the Armenian community has some special responsibility to
lead the way. One of the ways of memorializing the Armenian genocide should
be to prevent the next genocide from happening.

K.M.-Just like the role the Jewish community is playing.

N.K.-Exactly. I think those websites are a good place to start, and some
combination of calling the White House and writing member of Congress. There’s
a website called that shows how each member of Congress has
done. I think letters to other governments are helpful, too.

K.M.-What about the humanitarian aspect of all this?

N.K.-Early on, when people asked me what they could do to help, I would
point them to specific humanitarian organizations like Doctors Without
Borders (). I think they do great work and if
one donates to them, that’s not money wasted at all.

But for four years now I’ve been going and I’ve seen doctors bandage up kids
with bullet wounds. That can keep on going for 20 years. So at some point,
you begin to think that the real response is not a lot more bandages and
more surgeons, but to do something to actually stop the killing. And so for
that reason, now when people ask, I tend to emphasize the advocacy
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3. Turkey and Sudan: A Genocidal Tandem
By Serouj Aprahamian

While other countries in the world have criticized and increasingly
distanced themselves from the Sudanese regime and its atrocities in Darfur,
the Turkish government has been going out of its way to forge ever-closer
ties with its genocidal apprentice in Khartoum.

This past January, Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, hosted an extravagant
three-day visit for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. This was the second
such official trip from Sudan to Turkey at the presidential level. During
his stay, Bashir was treated to an exclusive state dinner at the Turkish
presidential palace, met with several top-level officials, and attended a
Turkish-Sudanese business meeting held by the Turkish Foreign Economic
Relations Board (DEIK) in Istanbul.

This latest trip is only the most recent manifestation of a Turkish affinity
for Sudan that has been steadily growing in line with an escalation of
violence in Darfur since 2003.

As has been well documented, the Darfur region of Sudan has been subject to
a systematic campaign of murder, looting, rape, and pillaging, carried out
mainly by a government-sponsored militia known as the Janjaweed.

According to international human rights groups, this campaign has already
resulted in the deaths of over 400,000 people and the displacement of 2.5
million from their homes, in what the United States has officially described
as genocide.

While the rest of the world has marginalized Sudan and called for an end to
its crimes in Darfur, the Turkish government has proceeded to turn this
country into its largest trading partner in Africa. The volume of trade
between Ankara and Khartoum shot up from $48 million in 2002 to $220 million
in 2006-an increase that took place during the same period when Sudan was
intensifying its killings in Darfur. Turkey hopes to develop these trade
links even further in the future, with one of the stated goals of the
above-mentioned DEIK meeting being to boost levels of trade to $1 billion.

As a country that has been outcast in the international community,
especially in the West, Sudan very much values Turkey as an economic and
political partner. As al-Bashir stated during his remarks at the DEIK
meeting, "Sudanese businessmen do not only want to emerge in the Turkish
market, but also to use it as a passage to European and other international
markets." In turn, Turkey hopes to benefit economically from Sudan’s
potential in sectors such as oil, cotton, industry, and services. There have
also been reports that the Turkish Defense Ministry is currently looking
into supplying Sudan’s deadly demand for weapons.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the country responsible for the
first genocide of the 20th century has no qualms about building a strong
strategic relationship with the country now carrying out the first genocide
of the 21st century. Indeed, not only is Turkey rewarding Sudan for its
inhumanity by filling up its coffers and helping it access markets in
Europe, but we also see it actively taking part in Khartoum’s shameless
campaign of genocide denial.

In a Jan. 20 interview, prior to al-Bashir’s visit to Turkey, President Gul
told the Sudan News Agency that Turkey is in "solidarity" with Sudan and
warned against any "foreign intervention" over Darfur aimed at breaking "the
unity of Sudan." He later dismissed calls for putting pressure on al-Bashir
to end the atrocities in Darfur by claiming that what is happening there is
a "humanitarian tragedy" that "stems from poverty and environmental

Gul’s colleague, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also joined in on the
denial when he stated in March 2007, "I do not believe that there has been
assimilation of a genocide in Darfur. In any case, the verses of the Koran
reject tribalism and clans."

In fact, when one takes a close look at Sudan’s method of genocide and its
subsequent denial, we see that they are doing nothing more than taking a
page out of Turkey’s playbook (see the chart below for Sudan’s almost word
for word use of Ankara’s genocide denial techniques). The fact that Turkey
committed genocide and remains unpunished for so long has surely emboldened
the regime in Khartoum to carry out similar policies in Darfur without fear
of serious retribution. Like Hitler, al-Bashir must be thinking to himself,
"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Indeed, Sudanese officials have repeatedly stated their lauding admiration
for Turkey as "a model for Sudan" and desire to "want to benefit from Turkey’s
experiences." They have also sought to market themselves to the world in an
identical manner, with Sudan describing itself as a "bridge between Arabic
and African nations," much like Ankara claims itself to be a bridge between
Europe and Asia.

Thus, it is clear that the Sudanese regime is trying to follow in Turkey’s
footsteps. This adds further proof to the fact that giving in to the Turkish
denial machine makes the world a more dangerous place. As long as Turkey
does not own up to the crimes it has committed (and is aided in this process
by officials in the U.S.), it will continue to serve as a model for
governments such as that of Khartoum who seek to get away with slaughtering
an entire group of people.

In the words of Mark Hanis, founder and director of the Genocide
Intervention Network, "Increased cooperation between the two countries
[Turkey and Sudan] serves to highlight the connections between genocides of
the past and those of the present. … The continued denial of the Armenian
genocide sends the wrong message to Sudan and those who would commit
genocide in the future."

If we want to stop the cycle of genocide today and prevent future
atrocities, we have to start by speaking truthfully about the genocides of
the past. In this way, recognizing the Armenian genocide is not a historical
issue but, rather a very current one with real world consequences for peace