October 15, 2001
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Alenak
tel: (917) 428-1918

ANCA ER Calls on Connecticut Governor to Set the Historical Record Straight

WATERTOWN, MA – In a letter to the Connecticut Governor, John G. Rowland, (see full text of letter below), the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA ER) called on the Governor to set the record straight following the release of a Gubernatorial Proclamation declaring a “Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday in the State of Connecticut.”

The ‘WHEREAS’ clauses in the proclamation are premised almost entirely on inaccuracies and omissions.

Among those myths noted in the proclamation is that Turkey has made significant contributions to US foreign policy, that Turkey enjoys a long history of friendship and harmonious coexistence with different ethnic groups under its rule, and that Turkey is a staunch ally of the United States.

Although the proclamation did accurately state that “millions of the Ottoman Empire citizens, from different religious and ethnic backgrounds,” died during the years of World War I, it failed to note that these victims were mostly Armenians, Greeks, and other minorities massacred on orders by the Turkish authorities in what constituted the first genocide of the twentieth century.

This is the third such proclamation within the past two months. In the City of Hartford, Mayor Michael P. Peters issued a formal apology to the Greek and Armenian communities for issuing, verbatim, the same proclamation that the Governor had issued.

Also, in the State of Alabama on October 3, Governor Don Siegleman officially retracted an August 8 proclamation regarding Turkey, as well as a subsequent, August 28 revised proclamation, due to historical inaccuracies.

Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region Director Arin Gregorian urged Governor Rowland to “acknowledge the oversight made when determining the appropriateness of proclaiming a ‘Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday in the State of Connecticut.” Gregorian also called on the Governor to “seriously consider setting the historical record straight and not let historical revisionists use the good name of our government institutions to further their aims.”

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots political organization. The ANCA actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.

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Full text of the October 15, 2001, letter to Connecticut Governor

October 15, 2001

Governor John G. Rowland
State Capitol
210 Capitol Ave
Hartford, CT 06106
Attn: Dan Moreland and Chris Cooper

Dear Governor Rowland:

I’m writing this letter in response to my conversation earlier today with Dan Moreland and Chris Cooper of your office. After receiving a copy of the State of Connecticut proclamation declaring August 30, 2001 as a “Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday”, I am compelled to inform you that it is deeply flawed, premised on inaccuracies and omissions.

As you can imagine, it is extremely troubling that historical revisionists are attempting to use the good name of our government institutions to further their aims. I hope this letter might shed light on Turkey’s historical record. I further hope that you will seriously consider setting the historical record straight.

The proclamation would be accurate in stating that “millions of the Ottoman Empire citizens; from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, died.” And, they did die during the years of World War I.

What the proclamation omits is that these were mainly Armenians, Greeks, and other minority victims, who were massacred by the Turkish military in what constituted the first genocide of the twentieth century.

The “forced migration” of almost the entire Armenian population was also carried out by the Turkish military.

The Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government, and the Hellenic Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government is well-documented by many historians and foreign diplomats, including US Ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau, who had close diplomatic contact with the perpetrators — that is, those who governed Turkey.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who is glorified in the proclamation, was personally responsible for the burning of Izmir (Smyrna) in 1922 during which approximately 150,000 Armenians and Greeks were slaughtered.

As indicated in the documents forwarded to your office, Human Rights Violations in Turkey, and The Armenian Minority in Turkey, Turkey does not now nor has it ever enjoyed a “long history of friendship by living in harmony with different ethnic groups.”

Turkey has not made significant contributions to US foreign policy.

It has been over a quarter of a century since Turkey occupied northern Cyprus by force, violating the United Nations Charter, NATO’s Charter, and international law. Today, Turkey refuses to leave Cyprus despite the efforts of the United States, the United Nations, and the European Community.

Turkey continues its economic blockade of neighboring Armenia. For over a decade, Turkey has forbidden US humanitarian assistance from traveling to Armenia via Turkish airspace. Turkey even stopped US humanitarian assistance from reaching Armenia in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of 1988. It was for this reason that the United States Congress enacted the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, prohibiting US assistance to any country which blocks US humanitarian aid from reaching a third country. This law applied only to Turkey, the sole country that has blocked US humanitarian aid.

Turkey is anything but a secular democracy. The Turkish military controls all foreign policy and national security issues and is not even responsible to Turkey’s own constitution.

Turkey is not a staunch ally of the United States and certainly has not “supported the U.S. in every major conflict since the Korean War.”

To begin with, during World War I, Turkey’s so-called “cessation of a tragedy” was the result of Turkey waging war against Allied forces, including those of the United States.

During World War II, Turkey sided with Germany, and switched sides only at the last moment, when it became evident that the Allies would be victorious.

During the recent US and Allied conflict with Iraq, Turkey refused to allow the United States to utilize its flyover rights over Turkey’s airspace, as it has during several conflicts in the Middle East. Moreover, Turkey refused to join the Allied forces during the Persian Gulf War.

Between 1976 and 1983, Turkey allowed three Soviet aircraft carriers to pass through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits to the Mediterranean – despite NATO objections and in direct violation of the 1936 Montreaux Convention.

In 1979, Turkey refused to allow the United States to use US military bases in Turkey for evacuating Americans from Iran.

We urge you to retract this proclamation an instead issue two proclamations addressing the historical truths. One which deals with the contributions of Turkish Americans to the State of Connecticut and commemorating Turkey’s independence day of October 29th. The second recognizing (1) the Armenian Genocide of 1915 by Turkey; (2) Turkey’s genocide against its Greek citizens of the Pontos region in the 1930s and its Greek citizens of Istanbul in 1955; and (3) Turkey’s illegal aggression against Cyprus in 1974 with the illegal use of American-supplied arms, and its continuing occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus these past 27 years.

I hope you will consider the facts noted in this letter. As you see, Turkey has caused a great deal of tragedy in the brief span of the last century alone. I would be happy to provide specific documentation on each of the points of this letter, at your request.

I hope that you will acknowledge the obvious oversight that was made when determining the appropriateness of this proclamation. Within the past three weeks, the State of Alabama and the City of Hartford have stood firm against the face of historical revisionists. The Mayor of Hartford issued a formal apology to the Greek and Armenian community for issuing exactly the same proclamation mentioned above, while the Governor of Alabama officially retracted the “Turkish Independence Day” proclamation he had earlier signed which was based on similar historical inaccuracies.

I look forward to hearing from you or your office in this regard.

Sincerely,

Arin Gregorian
Director

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