Ward to Avoid Turkish Event; Citing Armenian Holocaust

Ward to Avoid Turkish Event; Declines Invitation, Citing Armenian Holocaust

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on March 25, 2009

AMHERST, N.Y – On March 25, Amherst town councilman Daniel J. Ward
announced that he had declined an invitation to attend an annual
Turkish friendship event, sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Center
under the auspices of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Ward was one of many
invited to the `invitation-only’ event.

`We all look forward to a day of full normalization of relations with
Turkey, certainly a valuable partner of ours in the Mid-East,’ said
Ward, noting that President Obama was due to visit Turkey next
month. `Turkey is an ancient civilization from which we can learn a
lot. The culture is a part of our past. However, also part of Turkey’s
more recent past is the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has yet to take full
responsibility for this horrific crime, much less discuss reparations
or restitution,’ he added.

`On April 21, we will be commemorating the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah),
and we would do well to recall the Armenian tragedy, while not as
large, as well. As a human race we will not achieve our ultimate
perfection until we can forever stop the killing of each other for
cultural, racial, ethnic, or religious reasons. We cannot begin to
stop such sub-bestial behavior until we can at least acknowledge it,
to accept the truth, however ugly,’ said Ward. `For Turkey to want to
become a full-fledged NATO partner, we must demand at the very least
some form of national official recognition of this genocide, and a
declaration it was wrong, and some sort of contrition. Recent
opposition by Turkey’s Foreign Minister to a resolution of the
U.S. Congress to call the killings genocide, which of course they
were, is indicative of the long-held Turkish government refusal to
take responsibility for the 1915-16 killings, with more in
1922-23. During that period, one and one-half million Armenians were
killed out of a total of two and one-half million Armenians in the
then-Ottoman Empire. We remember these victims and say `never again’
once more. Healing cannot begin until there has at least been

Ward also said he is disturbed with the human rights violations
committed by Turkey against its Kurdish population. `The Kurds are not
just going away. Turkey must find a way to accommodate them despite
cultural differences. The harshness displayed cannot lead to another
Armenian-like slaughter for them either.’

`For now, I have requested my office to decline such invitation, its
hospitality and good will notwithstanding. We need to demand more from
Turkey first, in remembrance of the victims of the Armenian Genocide,
and all other cultural or ethnic groups, such as the Kurds, which the
Turks harshly discriminate against even today,’ Ward concluded.

`Councilman Ward should be commended for his principled stance in
calling on Turkey to end its campaign of Armenian Genocide denial as
well as its ongoing mistreatment of the Kurds,’ said ANCA Eastern
Region executive director Karine Birazian. `A strong U.S. – Turkey
relationship cannot include turning a blind eye to genocide or rampant
human rights violations.’


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