IMPORTANT COURT DOCUMENT: KIRKHAM vs AIR FRANCE: NOTICE OF DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE:
Μπορείτε να κατεβάσετε το βιβλίο «Από την Ένωση στην Κατοχή» της διακεκριμένης Ελληνο-κύπριας δημοσιογράφου και ερευνήτριας κας Φανούλας Αργυρού. Το βιβλίο αυτό είναι ένα συνολικό ντοκουμέντο από τα Βρετανικά Αρχεία για το πως κατέστρεψαν την Κύπρο.
By Nikolaos Taneris
The tragic episode of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 resonates with our people, because as the Armenians were methodically deported and massacred by Ottoman Turkey’s government, and even into the nationalist era of Mustafa Kemal’s rule. Likewise , our own parallel population in the Black Sea littoral , in some areas even surrounding Angora, and finally in the legendary Greek Orthodox Christian city of Smyrna were uprooted and killed, unlike the Armenians , our people at least had a free homeland (of their own) to flee to, and find refuge. Culturally, its difficult for our people to ever forget this time and crime, many of modern Greek culture’s most legendary contributors were descended from refugees, -- Harry Klynn, Apostolos Nikoliades , and Stelios Kazantzidis to name just a few, our culture in Greece and Cyprus remains inextricably tied to the some two million refugees and survivors of this time, not surprisingly, Greece and Cyprus were amongst the first countries in this world to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.
It was against this background that STOP coalition (Stop Terrorizing Orthodox Peoples!) activist Fotios Cheung, and me and veteran Hellenic activist Alex Aliferis, saw firsthand a successful attempt by our representative American democracy to finally, begin to end the cycle of genocide by the Turkish government.
The Turks clearly want to see blood in this campaign, as always, trying to bluff their way out of their responsibility, by use of threats and intimidations. Shamelessly, the Bush administration, the State Department and even the Pentagon has been relentless in calling up Congressmen, essentially pleading with them to cave in to Turkish Genocide denial.
We couldn’t help but feel profound sadness upon seeing the four elderly women in wheelchairs lined up in the first row of the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing room, with the simple tag on their shirts reading “I am a survivor of the Armenian Genocide”, and behind them a gaggle of Turks, flown in from Turkey, wearing a big white sticker on the lapels of their expensive suits, with a big black ‘NO’ to H. Res. 106 pinned to their lapels underneath their sneering pugs. Two elderly Armenian gentlemen who demonstrated with us for Smyrna Massacre remembrance, last month, were also there, and gave Fotios and me, big, heartfelt hugs.
-- HOUSE PANEL SUPPORTERS
Chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Congressman Tom Lantos opened the debate, the only Jewish Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the House, mentioning the alleged importance of the American bases in Turkey, he followed up by quoting the writings of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time of the atrocities – “I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.” The opening remarks ended with the statement “This is a vote of conscience, and the Committee will work its will.” Ultimately, Chairmen Lantos lunged forward and offered a resounding ‘YES’ to H. Res 106.
Congressman Gary Ackerman whose district covers familiar territory in Queens New York, such as Flushing, pretty much told it like it is and said he felt so sorry for these people who travelled here , the survivors, in wheelchairs, through airports, from different parts of the country , gesturing to them he said "What time can they come back?"
Chinese-American Congressman David Wu, a Democrat from Oregon, in solemn dignity, told the Committee that his vote, ‘YES’, is a vote for truth!
Greek-American Gus Bilirakis, Republican from Florida, said “the Armenian Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, can no longer be put on the back burner”.
Most memorable was Cuban-American Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), who in a beautiful Spanish accent, revealed to all and sundry the real murderers of truth, Sires said “a Turkish sword is over my head”, before boldly offering a proud ‘YES’.
-- WHO SAID NO?
Dan Burton, the Republican from Indiana, has a long record of support for Turkish Crimes and their cover up, over the years Burton has been an active participant, from the very beginning, of US delegations visiting the pseudo-regime in northern Cyprus, disregarding international law, Burton has also been involved in numerous official delegations and receptions with the pseudo-regime in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. Burton said that this resolution would mean “cutting off our nose” and “shooting ourselves in the foot”, no surprise here, he voted ‘NO’.
Robert Wexler (D-FL), is co-chair of the pro-Turkish caucus in Congress, claiming that Turkey helped twice in America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and emphasizing this by slamming his fist on the podium , he voted ‘NO’, again , no surprise.
The BIG SURPRISE came from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican from Florida. Last weekend she was honoured, in a Terrace on the Park New York event, as a ‘philhellene’ in Congress, with a Justice for Cyprus award from Cypriot businessman Nikos Mouyiaris, who heads up the Pancyprian Association of America. This was one of the biggest Cypriot events of the year, Philip Christopher, the Chairman of the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) was there for her, Andrew Manatos the long-time Washington lobbyist was said to be there, even Dalaras the musician, who ironically composes songs about refugees, was there. In her speech to the House Panel, however, citing Iraq, and claiming fear for her daughter-in-law’s safety in Iraq, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, bailed out , ‘NO’ was what she said to the Armenian Genocide resolution.
When the final vote was announced of 27-21, the room exploded in cheers, many wept, the Turks quickly cleared out, and we were left with a victory for truth, thanks to the conscience of those who truly believe in truth and American democracy, rather than those who cower to threats and intimidation. We were not the only ones who traveled from several states away, we met young men and women who took off from work and flew in from as far away as California and Canada, to see our democratic representatives affirm a truth, that Turkey and its supporters have spent the last 92 years trying to run and hide from, all over the world.
The day after, Turkey has continued its threats and its shameless expressions of ‘disappointment’ at the House panel’s affirmation of truth. The US State Department’s Daily Briefing, late today also reiterated who they support, in regards to truth, Undersecretary Burns, also long regarded as a ‘philhellene’ has already been speaking to Turkish officials, repeating the US State Department’s “commitment to work with Congress on this to see that the full House in fact votes to defeat this resolution as we move forward.”
My friend Christos, compared this struggle in the coming days to a football game, or what we call in America, soccer, when a team wins by a narrow margin, it’s more and more enthused to work, ever harder, to set right what went wrong.
The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has promised, publicly, that the full vote on the House floor will take place before Thanksgiving, or end of November, some say it may even take place within the next ten days.
Let’s also not forget that the one advantage the Turks always have is time, after all, the years are passing and the survivors may not be around anymore as living testaments to the Armenian Genocide, if not now, then "What time can they come back?"