CASE 58-2020: Turkey
Dear Prosecutor, Peace Ambassador and Human Rights Defenders of the International Buddhist Ethics Committee (IBEC) and Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights (BTHR), regarding Case 58-2020 against “Turkey”, on December 7, 2020, it is hereby recorded that the trial has been concluded to analyze the violations of Human Rights and Buddhist Ethics carried out by the accused. This case has been carried out as a result of an investigation by the Presidency of the Buddhist Tribunal presented before the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).
After the analysis of the presentation of the Case and the validation of proofs, the Tribunal has proceeded with the voting of 4 Human Rights Defenders, all of whom confirmed that the accusation against Turkey for the serious crimes of Complicity with the Genocide is Fair.
The Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights has been able to compile evidence proving that “Turkey” has committed Complicity and Denialism of the Armenian Genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire.
Here is the Reflections on the Armenian Genocide by the Presidency of the Buddhist Tribunal submitted before the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) on June 15, 2020:
I. After 100 years of its occurrence, the historical existence of the Armenian Genocide is recognized by 29 States. These are Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Holland, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City, Venezuela, United States of America, and Uruguay. There are also hundreds of international organizations that are experts in genocide recognizing these historical facts.
II. However, the Armenian Genocide is systematically denied by its author, the State of Turkey, which has openly supported a massive campaign of genocidal denial, which constitutes a re-victimization of the Armenian people and nullifies any possibility of a historical and reconciling Cure. Indeed, the Armenian People deserves an appropriate and sensitive understanding for having suffered a terrible Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing, that is why the entire international community should criticize the despotic political power of Turkey.
III. In the eyes of International Human Rights Law, the criminal aberrations of Nazism were preceded by other genocidal episodes, such as the German massacre of Hereros in 1904, the Turkish massacre of Armenians between 1915-1923, and the Ukrainian anti-Jews pogrom in 1919, among others. In the case of the Armenian Genocide, more than 1 million civilians were killed through a state plan, which has been corroborated by hundreds of reports from the USA, Germany and the UK. In fact, the German ambassador Wangenheim confirmed in July 1915 the realization of an extermination plan of the Armenian race within the Ottoman Empire. Despite the fact that after the World War I some of those responsible for the massacres against the Armenian people were prosecuted, the nascent Turkish Republic decided to ignore justice, gave impunity to the guilty and initiated a centennial process of denial about the existence of Genocide.
IV. Either way, the history of International Law recognizes that the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide is the result of the inhuman and barbaric practices of some countries that exterminated religious, ethnic, racial and national groups, as was the case of the Roman persecution of Christians, the Turkish extermination of Armenians, and the massacres of Jews by the Nazis. Furthermore, the very creator of the concept of genocide, Raphael Lemkin, quoted the massacres against Armenians as a prototypical example of genocide.
V. In May 1915, the governments of Russia, the United Kingdom, and France declared that the massacres committed by Turkey against the Armenian people constitute crimes against humanity and the civilization, reason by which all members of the Turkish government are responsible. In this sense, when the Sèvres Peace Treaty was signed, Turkey made an international commitment to hand over the individuals responsible for these massacres before a special court, which constituted not only an acceptance of the genocidal events that occurred but also set the historical precedent for the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials after World War II where Germany and Japan were judged for crimes against humanity.
VI. The Turkish State committed Genocide against the Armenian Christian People in a systematic and widespread way through a completely premeditated plan of extermination and racist supremacy. Thus, more than 1 million Armenians were killed, subjecting them to an evil process of deportation, famine, torture, sexual abuse and kidnapping of children. This meant that an ancient civilization was separated from its homeland. Obviously, there are plenty of documents of Turkish courts martial that recorded the same events already described by diplomats, missionaries, scholars and survivors. Nonetheless, Turkey’s denial rhetoric persists, even erasing the word Armenian from its official history, all of which shows that Turkey succeeded with the Armenians in what Hitler later attempted to do with the Jews: what Ellie Weisel called the double murder, since it implies a physical destruction of the victims and then their demonization and denial, murdering their dignity and honor. Therefore, in order to respect the victims and to prevent injustice from happening again in the future, the practice of historical memory is fundamental, denouncing the immorality and manipulation of the denial government of Turkey that has tried to corrupt the academic studies on genocide throughout the world. Thus, since the Universities are genuine reservoirs of knowledge and history, they have the duty to denounce the Turkish massacres of Armenians as genocidal episodes, requiring the international community to recognize these historical facts and that there is no global silence, including by pressuring the government of Turkey in order to put an end to this dark stage of history by acknowledging the Armenian genocide. In short, recalling and educating the new generations about the tragedies of the past, such as the Armenian Genocide, is a duty and a tool to prevent future tragedies, and so that one can say Never Again.
VII. The Genocide committed against the Armenian People was carried out because it was a community with a deep Christian religiosity and with a distinctive ethnic identity with respect to the rest of Turkish society. Thus, over the Turkish political power lies all the shame and responsibility for these genocidal massacres of Armenians, as it sought to create a uniform nationalist society through violent and exterminating means. Denial is then a perpetuation of these crimes. Therefore, the international community must request the State of Turkey to carry out a process of recognition of the genocide, apologies, economic and even cultural compensation, and even possible territorial restitution. In fact, this same type of requirement toward Turkey could be requested by other communities that were also massacred during the same time of the Armenian Genocide, as was the case of the Assyrians and Greeks. Indeed, the number of Assyrians murdered during deportations and massacres would be 300,000 people, while in the case of the Pontic Greeks the genocide would be 350,000 people. This shows that the State of Turkey was built on the blood of Christian peoples who were purged by genocidal governmental forces. The denial of this history is the perpetuation of tyranny.
VIII. Faced with the atrocious history of unspeakable crimes against humanity carried out by Turkey, the international community must show solidarity toward the Armenian people who are victims of ethnic cleansing and genocidal massacres.
IX. Although some countries do not consider Denialism as a crime, nevertheless, it is a violation of human rights that constitutes the last stage of the Genocide, being a continuation of it. This kind of criminal action impedes the right of descendants to mourn and honor their ancestors, causing the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian people to be a physical, cultural and historical annihilation that hinders any progress of coexistence through a culture of impunity, militarism, authoritarianism and violation of human rights.
X. When analyzing the 1948 Genocide Convention it can be concluded that the perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide was the Ottoman-Turkish State, that a large number of people belonging to an ethnic and religious group were murdered, and that the perpetrator tried to totally destroy the Armenian group by means of a systematic and widespread plan. It can be established that all the elements of the crime established in the Genocide Convention are present in the events of the Armenian Genocide.
XI. Although the Turkish State was assisted by Kurdish tribes in the perpetration of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, where hundreds of thousands of Assyrians were also massacred, a century later Turkey has initiated genocidal procedures against the Kurdish People.
XII. The extrajudicial killings carried out by the Turkish Empire against women and children were carried out with total impunity because the social leaders of the Armenian People who were able to present some kind of resistance to extermination had been initially and quickly massacred. In any case, the Armenian people in exile have courageously confronted Turkey’s Denialism that tries to rewrite history and to hide the genocide. Therefore, the international community has an ethical duty to recognize the Truth and remember these barbaric acts of ethnic cleansing that constitute a dark stage in the history of the world. To honor the memory of the victims of genocide, violence, hatred, discrimination and fundamentalism must be confronted, building a future of peace for all humanity.
XIII. The Armenian Genocide was one of the most terrible tragedies in human history, as more than 1 million peaceful people were cruelly murdered and hundreds of thousands more were violently expelled from their homes by means of a state plan of massive repression that also looted and destroyed the cultural legacy of an ancient civilization, disappearing monuments and sacred books that are invaluable, for which in addition to being crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide, it was also a crime against the cultural heritage of humanity. Therefore, the international community must ensure these terrifying events of nationalism and xenophobia will never happen again, so that all the peoples can live in peace, harmony, friendship, solidarity, goodness and respect, which is the only way for civilization to be a better and safer place.
XIV. Although history usually recalls that the Armenian Genocide was in 1915, there were certainly another two previous episodes of persecution and mass annihilation in 1894-1896 and 1909. Thus, it would be more accurate for history to remember that the Armenian Genocide occurred between 1894 and 1923 and that in the period of three decades there were three distinctive episodes of organized massacres: 1894-1896, 1909 and 1915-1923.
XV. The Armenian Genocide occurred in the context of mass deportations of men, women, children and the elderly, all of whom were expelled from their homes and forced to walk to another territory. On their way they found only violence, murder, sexual abuse, torture, famine and death. They were hunted as the Turkish Empire had previously dehumanized this large ethnic and religious community, considering it as an enemy pathogen that infected the national body and then subjecting it to forced relocations, mass annihilation, ethnic cleansing and genocide. This fate of Genocide was not only for the Armenian People, but also the Assyrian, Aramaic and Pontic Greek peoples. They all share the same terrible history of violation of their intrinsic dignity as well as the same Denialism on the part of the State of Turkey, which has not only tried to eliminate their physical presence but also to vanish them from history. Clearly, the underlying motivation behind these massacres and mass killings was nationalist racism and religious fanaticism, seeking an ethnically homogeneous nation rather than following the ancient Islamic tradition of peaceful and just coexistence among different religious peoples.
XVI. Being an ally of the Ottoman Empire, the German State also bears responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, since there were even German military officers who participated in the planning and realization of mass deportations. Thus, the warnings from German diplomats that alerted the exterminating intention of the deportations were ignored, since maintaining the military alliance with Turkey during the First World War was the only thing it was attempted, even though this implies the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians, Assyrians and Greeks, who suffered the worst crimes against human dignity. Without self-criticism, justice and recognition of this Truth there will never be reconciliation, peace and global union.
XVII. The Armenian People, along with other Christian communities, experienced a true Hell on Earth, confronting the Great Evil (Metz Yeghern). Decades later, this same hell was experienced by Jewish and Romani Peoples. Humanity must spiritually unite with these communities that have suffered genocidal persecutions because of their religion and culture, but who have precisely survived and moved on because of their faith or hope in Salvation, preserving their identity as a people. The history of suffering and martyrdom is a precious aspect for Christianity, which is proud to have shown such courage on the Path of life for being something as admirable as the attitude of Jesus on the Cross. In any case, Christianity requires the entire international community to firmly oppose these kinds of violent crimes, rejecting them with a sense of duty and without ambiguities, so that the horror does not repeat again. Ultimately, what will save humanity is peaceful coexistence, mutual support and universal solidarity, since Love and Justice have a redemptive power in the world.
As Saint Gregory of Narek, Armenian Theologian, Poet and Philosopher said: “Grant forgiveness and mercy to enemies, (…) Do not exterminate those who persecute me but rather reform them, extirpating the bad ways of being in order to root good in one and in them”.
In conclusion, Master Gautama Samyaksambuddha assumed the Purpose to Cure (Nirvana) suffering of humanity, which is why the Buddhist Spirituality does not allow peoples to be erased from history with impunity. In this way, the Buddhist Law judges and sentences “Turkey” as Responsible for Complicity with Genocide.
With spirit of reconciliation (maitri),
H.E. Master Maitreya Samyaksambuddha
President and Judge of the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights
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