ANCA ER Urges Hartford Mayor to Set the Historical Record Straight

Letter Addresses Proclamation for the “Turkish Zafer Holiday”

September 4, 2001

WATERTOWN, MA – In an open letter to Hartford Mayor Michael Peters (see full text of letter below), the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA ER) urged the Mayor to set the record straight following the release of a Mayoral Proclamation declaring August 30, 2001 as a “Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday in the City of Hartford.”

The proclamation released on August 30, 2001, is premised almost entirely on inaccuracies and omissions, including the long time myth that Turkey is a “staunch ally of the United States.”

In an August 31 letter addressed to Mayor Peters, ANCA ER Director Arin Gregorian urged the Mayor to “seriously consider setting the historical record straight.”

This week the ANCA ER also released an action alert urging residents of Hartford to telephone and write Mayor Peters calling on him to reconsider and withdraw the proclamation. The Action Alert cited the fact that “Turkey has caused a great deal of tragedy in the brief span of the last century alone.”

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.


Full text of the August 31, 2001, letter to Hartford Mayor Michael Peters

August 31, 2001

Michael P. Peters
City of Hartford
550 Main St Fl 2
Hartford, CT 06103

Dear Mayor Peters:

I regret that I am compelled to write this letter. Your August 30 proclamation declaring August 30, 2001, as a “Day of Remembrance for the Turkish Zafer Holiday in the City of Hartford” is deeply flawed, premised on inaccuracies and omissions.

I hope that 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 is accurate in stating the “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, as well as 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 enclosed documents, 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.

I hope you will consider the facts noted in this letter. As you must certainly 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.

I also hope that you will set the record straight and not allow the city of Hartford to be used to muddy the clear waters of United States history, and historical truth in general.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Arin Gregorian

For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Michelle Alenak
Email / Tel: (917) 428-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
Eastern Region
PO Box 1066, New York, NY 10040
Tel. (917) 428-1918 * Fax. (718) 478-4073 * Email.
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