Letter to Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma,*
President of the
World Conference Against Racism
Durban, South Africa 31 August - 7 September 2001

Madam President,

We would be honoured to ask you to propose the recognition of the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 at the World Conference : A genocide being the extreme outcome of racism.

We draw your attention to that crime against humanity which made 1,500,000 victims and which was perpetrated towards an autochton people on its own home land and in different other regions of an empire in decadence and at bay, the Ottoman Empire.

This extermination was organized during First World War by the Young-Turk Government at that time. These massacres had been firmly condemned then in particular by Emir Al-Husayn Ibn 'Ali, Sherif of Mecca and Guardian of Holy Places . After the war, the eminent organisers of that horific crime, were sentenced in their abscence by a military ottoman court which was not nationalist and the verdict was given in accordance with Islamic law which was still in use in 1919.

In signing the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, with the new Turkish Republic(*1), the signatories of Europe and Japan (*2)
. stopped all possible current juridical remedies or in gestation at that time
. closed any eventual reparations to the survivors
. have allowed a crime to occur in silence through an international treaty and to skirt all responsability . have participed to the construction of an official non-existence of that premeditated and elaborated crime against Humanity
. and contributed to trivialize its impunity in the symbolic space.

Kemalist Turkey in instituting the latin alphabet and a strong-arm secularity, has put a cultural screen in place : as a smoke screen for "the tragic events" of the past, trying thus to evade their moral and religious judgement. In fact modern called Turkey, has chiefly created the necessary conditions of locking a criminal past : a non-said in the memory of its own people. Today actual Turkey, tries to erase this genocide from History, denies it and organizes a State revisionnism and a negationnism at the highest top level, with all the State structure: a State which benefits by the silence of NATO -which tolerates the actual blockade of Armenia by Turkey.

There cannot be Peace without Justice. Still today, Great Powers behave as Pontius Pilate regarding the genocide of the Armenians in 1915.(*3) Its historical minimization, the political indifference or the diplomatical evasions of the Western States regarding this genocide, are only the snow which covers the visible part of the iceberg. What to say then of this same attitude concerning the criminal hugeness of slave trade and of slavery which were organised in the past, beginning from Renaissance and beyond "Age of Enlightenment"?(*4) A crime which lasted more than three centuries : with ideologies of dishumanisation and of objectification which have determined the mentality of colonisation.(*5)

It is true that France has recognized the Armenian genocide of 1915 and trade-slavery as crimes against Humanity.(*6) But these two parliamentary laws have been emptied from their essence : deportation is not told and all concept of derooting from the home land. The authors of the crimes are not named, their past impunity is not raised and the idea of reparations is evaded. Moreover, the non-recognition of a genocide makes the genocidal ravages endure in the collective unconcious of the descendants of the victims -as in the one of the descendants of the executioners.

The recognition of the Armenian genocide by the World Conference Against Racism will invite Turkey to face a criminal past -as Germany did. This will help the Turkish collective unconcious to free out of enclosed confines, the same confines where the Armenian collective unconcious is also enprisonned.(*7) It very important to denounce any anti-memoire ideologies -such as the ideology revealed at the Tribunal of Nuremberg and formulated at the highest by Adolf Hitler who had declared to his S.S., just before invading Poland : "Who still remembers of the extermination of the Armenians?".(*8) Nevertheless the Armenians scattered round the world are full of hope and have faith in the future and in friendship between peoples. Our Apostolic Church which is going to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of its foundation, keeps up hearty relations with other religions(*9). The Armenian Church is a member of the World Council of Churches in Geneva where His Holiness Aram Ist, Armenian Catholicos of the great House of Cilicia, has important fonctions.(*10) Our Oriental Church does not miss to participate to Ecumenical Prayer Services in the world. Thus was the case on May 31rst 2001 in Washington during the visit of His Holiness Karékine II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians : with the distinguished participation in this Ecumenical ceremony, of Reverend Dr James Forbes, from the famous Riverside Church of New York.

Madam President, the World Conference Against Racism must not also forget the Armenians survivors from a genocide. Mother Africa and the peoples of Black Diaspora who have so suffered, can truly understand us facing ignorance, indifference and so many governmental evasive stances. We are self-confident and the Republic of South-Africa, by its victory on apartheid, by its rich racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversities, will henceforth have a highly estimable position in the recognition of the Armenian genocide. Hoping you will take our request in consideration,

Sincerely yours,

Jean-Claude Kébabdjian, Founder-President of the CRDA
Nil Vahakn Agopoff, researcher at the CRDA

(*1) Some important actors of the new Turkish Republic were former criminals. See the article of Taner Akcam "Le tabou du génocide arménien hante la société turque" (The Armenian tabou haunts the Turkish society) in "Le Monde diplomatique", Paris -
July 2001, N°568, pp 20-21
(*2) The signatories of Lausanne Treaty are : The British Empire, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Rumania and the Serbo-Croate-Sloven State. In recognizing the genocide of 1915, only France, Italy and Greece are today in juridical conformity with the International Convention of Human Rights.
(*3) All the more the Great Powers had declared officially that about "those new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied governments announce publicly to the Sublime-Porte that they will hold personally responsible" -
Common Declaration of May 24th 1915
(*4) On March 6 2001, our research center in Paris organized a conferenc
e From Slave Trade to the Armenian Genocide with a Black Association whose president presented The Problematic of Negro Slaves Daughters and Sons in the Caribbeans : the Identity Question in the Guyana-West Indies Communaties of France . A member of a Caribbean association who was present at the conference and who "with astunishment noticed that among the Armenians there existed many common points with the guyana-caribbean communities."
(*5) Hélène PIRALIAN, "Rupture de transmission et violence" (Breaking off transmission and violence), pp143-154 - Actes du Colloque : "Psychanalyse et décolonisation" (Psychanalyse and decolonisation) which took place on 7 & 8 February 1997 at the UNESCO, Ed. L’Harmattan, Paris 1999.
(*6) These two bills have been debated and voted
at the French Parliament almost simultanously
(*7) See the page : The Turkish Unconcious, Memory Blanks and Denial(s) and the works of psychanalyst Hélène PIRALIAN, author of : "Génocide et Transmission. Sauver la Mort, Sortir du Meurtre," (Genocide and Transmission. Save Death, Exit Morder). Ed. L’Harmattan, Collection santé, sociétés et cultures (Collection Health, societies and cultures),
Hitler and the Armenian Genocide by Kevork Bardakjian 1985, 81p.
(*9) with judaism or islam : in the USA, in G-B, in France, in the Arab World, in Iran, in India, etc.. In France, during the Second World War under the German occupation, the Armenian churches of Paris, of Lyon and of Marseille delivered certificats of baptems to the Jews who asked it because being searched by the Nazis or by the militia of the government of Maréchal Pétain. There are indeed between the two peoples, a parallel of progroms, of massacres, of genocides, of scattering.
According to tradition, the fourth Caliphe Ali, had edicted a firman allowing the Armenians to worship their Christian faith in all freedom ( in Armenian : Pazmaveb, pp 212-213, N° 14, Venice 1848 ; in English : Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol XXXIX, N°1-IV, pp 60-64, Calcutta 1870). In Russian : Mahomet in the Amenian historiography, by N.O. Emin, Lazareff Institute, Moscow 1896. The Coran was translated into Armenian and published several times in different places : from Arab at Varna in 1910 and in 1912, from French at Stanbul in 1911. There has been
very rich historical and cultural links with the islamo-arab world.
The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias near Beyrouth being part of Middle East Council of Church is a very dynamic example of islamo-christian dialogue
The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem is a highly estimable entity of the three religions in the Holy City and deeply rooted in the history of Palestine.
(*10) His Holiness Aram Ist : the Franco-Armenian press reported us that he was present at the investiture of President Nelson Mandela. At the time, he was only Archibishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Beyrouth. During the festivities, the Armenian prelate had been presented to the crowd in jubilation at the balcony of the Town Hall of Cape Town by the Anglican Archibishop of South Africa, Bp Desmond Tutu. Thus his Grace Aram did not miss to tell the South-Africans who had just freed themselves from apartheid, about that the Armenians did also suffer in the struggle for Human Rights.

* Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was in 2001 the Minister of the Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa

- Speech of the Armenian delegate at Durban
- Conference statements in videos : Armenia, Turkey & Azeerbaidjan
- States having recognized the genocide of 1915
- N.G.O. of Armenia participating in Durban : Armenian Helsinki Committee , Avanguard Center for Humanitarian Research , Third Millennium Without Wars Union , Women's Rights Center.)
- Here are some web sites on the Armenian genocide of 1915 :
- CDCA (FR) - April 24th (USA) - ANI (USA) - Zorian Institute (USA) - ANCA (USA) - NAASR (USA)