“I CALL UPON OUR PEOPLE TO DEMAND
THEIR STOLEN RIGHTS FROM TURKEY”, Said His Holiness Aram I
The summary of the message of His Holiness Aram I delivered on 24th April 2012 in Antelias to thousands of Armenian people who were gathered to commemorate the Armenian Genocide.
We are gathered today in front of the Martyrs Chapel, where the remains of some of the victims of the Armenian Genocide were buried in 1935 when the Catholicosate of Cilicia finally settled in Antelias.
We are here to recommit ourselves to the legacy we inherited from our martyrs, irrespective of the changing political conditions around us. Our martyrs also want us to make our voice heard by the leadership in the Arab world and Europe.
Turkey is seeking to expand its political and economic influence in the Arab World, Europe and Africa. Claiming to be a defender of minorities and a champion of democratic principles and human rights, Turkey is presenting itself as a peace-builder in the Arab World.
Can a nation that fills its prisons with human rights advocates and journalists lecture others on the imperative to champion democratic principles and human rights? Can a nation that systematically killed a million and a half members of one of its minority peoples and today denies that act demand that others defend their minorities?
The Prime Minister of Turkey has cynically stated that if there really was a genocide we should be able to show them where the graves of the victims are. We can tell them that the graves are in places that the Turks have renamed in order to attempt to erase historical memories: the Turkish towns and villages in Western Armenia, Cilicia and in Der Zor, the Syrian Desert.
In a cynical attempt to appear reasonable, Turkish authorities suggest that historians should sit down together and attempt to determine what really happened in Turkey in 1915. Neutral historians have long ago determined what happened by having read the internationally accepted and verified Western Diplomatic, Armenian and Turkish sources that document the horrors that the Turkish government foisted upon the Armenians in 1915.
We hold the present Republic of Turkey, in its capacity as the legitimate successor of the Ottoman Empire, accountable for its crimes against our people. We demand our rights to compensation for the confiscated Church, community and individually owned properties not only since 1936, as the August 2011 decision stipulated, but also those confiscated from1915 to 1920.
During the international conference that we organized last February, here in Antelias, we said that recognition and compensation are inseparable. Therefore, and in consultation with the government of Armenia, the Catholicosate of Cilicia will work together with the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical communities to obtain the legal rights to confiscated properties.
On the eve of our 100th anniversary, I call upon our people in Armenia, Karabagh and the diaspora to renew their commitment to the legacy of the martyrs of the 1915 Genocide.