Friday, November 10, 2006

Genocide, and Legal Meaning - Servet Hasan

Genocide, and its legal meaning by Servet Hasan
It is not possible to pass a day without coming across yet another article about Armenian 'genocide' claim these days. People who don't understand the legal meaning of 'genocide' and/or who will gain from it by not understanding the meaning of it use it freely. The fact is 'genocide' is a legal term and describes a terrible crime but it is not about a number of deaths involved therefore raising the number of deaths does not prove the events were genocide so I suggest them to stop playing the number game. Every person is unique and every death should be respected. It does not matter if 1000 or a million people died what matters is to define the events and if there is a crime than it should be punished accordingly. Genocide is an international crime and it is described in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. When we talk about a crime there is obviously punishment. Who deals with the crime and punishments? The courts. In this case it should be international courts like the one in Nuremberg Tribunals. Is there any International court decision on this subject ? No. Claimants do not wish to take this matter to the courts because:1) The events were before 1948 UN Convention and crime of 'genocide' did not exist in the pre-Convention period.2) Still, the events of 1915 does not fit the criteria of 'genocide' as described in the 1948 UN Convention in many aspects but first of all and most importantly there is no intent to 'destroy' the Armenians.3) There is not a single piece of evidence to prove the events were constituted 'genocide'. So far all the evidence produced have been proven to be fake, all claims are contaminated, etc. But after Istanbul was occupied by the British at the end of the war, courts were set up to investigate the Armenian incidents. The British occupation forces transferred the 144 Ottoman officers to Malta to try them in a move that ran against the judicial rules of the time. What was the verdict? "There was nothing therein which could be used as evidence against the Turks..." and the officers were let free of the Malta Tribunal. Why don't the events of 1915 fit the criteria of 1948 UN Convention?a) The Armenians constituted a political group since they engaged in armed political activities, first to gain autonomy and then to found an independent state on the Ottoman lands. For this reason, they were not one of the four groups protected by Article 2 of the Convention.b} Since the Ottomans did not harbour towards the Armenians an ‘anti-Armenianism’, that is, a racial hatred akin to the anti-Semitism the Nazis displayed towards the Jews, the relocation was not carried out with a motive which could have led to the intent to destroy them as a group. The relocation decision was taken to prevent the military operations the Armenians had initiated together with the invading Russian armies to exterminate the Turks and Muslims that made up 84% of the population in the eastern Anatolian region through an ethnic cleansing of genocidal proportions, as had been done to the Turks during the Balkans Wars.c) The Ottoman Government did not have the intent to destroy the Armenians, a condition stated in Article 2 of the Convention. Not only are there no written documents, there are no oral accounts either attesting to the intention to destroy on the part of the administration. All the documents available envisage the protection of Armenian convoys in the course of relocation and their safe resettlement. The number of Armenian deaths, which is grossly exaggerated, is far from proving the presence of genocide. A significant part of the Armenian deaths resulted from reasons not related to the relocation. The Turkish civilian deaths occurring in the same region due to the similar reasons were more numerous than the Armenian loss of life. Therefore, in the context of Article 2c of the Genocide Convention, the relocation was neither a covert genocide nor an indirect one.4. The Catholic and Protestant Armenians all over the country as well as the Gregorian Armenians living in Istanbul , Aydin (including Izmir ), Edirne and Kütahya, that is, the western part of Anatolia , were not subjected to relocation. This partial relocation did not stem from the Ottoman administration’s weakness. The Gregorian Armenians in other areas were transferred, because they were situated on the path of the advancing Russian armies and, having the same religious faith as the Russians, they were collaborating with them against the Ottoman army and the Muslim population. This clearly shows the military rationale for the relocation.5. Under the circumstances, the relocation, not only did not constitute genocide according to the Convention, but also did not affect a crime against humanity, considering the military imperative that prompted it as a permissible ground in international law. On the other hand, the relocation does not meet the conditions cited in Article 7 of the Statute of Rome. This is not a case of “multiple commission of acts” as part of a "wide-spread and systematic attack" that constitute crimes against humanity in accordance with Article 7b of the said Statute. Moreover, the Armenians have never been subjected to persecution on religious or other grounds.6. Along with the “imperative military reasons”, the relocation was aimed at foiling the efforts of the Armenians in collaboration with the invading Russian armies to ethnically cleanse the Turks and Muslims who made up the large majority of the population in the region, as in the case of the Balkan Wars. The Ottomans, who were fighting on three fronts all at the same time, could not always protect all of the Armenians effectively with the limited number of troops available. The gangs in the region attacked the Armenian convoys, killing some of them and plundering their possessions for their private purposes. The civilian Turks who were forced to migrate under similar conditions of rough terrain, harsh climate, lack of adequate food and medicine in the face of epidemics, lost more people than the Armenians did. This clearly shows that the relocation was not the cause for all Armenian casualties.7. And, finally, those who ordered the relocation came to have feelings of regret due to undesirable incidents, feelings of sympathy for the Armenian victims and resentment towards the persons who had attacked them. The culprits of the robbery and murder cases, which came under the ordinary crimes category, were put on trial before the war ended, and most of them were executed. [ G.Aktan] Why if the events of 1915 cannot be proven because there is no evidence and does not fit the legal criteria of 1948 UN Convention is the term 'genocide' used to describe the tragic events of 1915 by some? Turkey as a civilised state denounces genocide and Turks understand Armenians' pains deeply as they suffered from the events as much as Armenians did. But they don't believe the events were 'genocide' and this is the only simple reason they refuse to accept it not because they are 'prickly nationalists'. What would you do if you are accused of a crime that you didn't commit. Would you accept it just to end the suffering of the victim? If you get involved in a chain traffic accident and many cars hit you from behind and as a result you hit someone in front of you, can we say this was 'homicide' just because the victim's family has so much pain and the verdict of 'accidental death' does not satisfy the family? Is it fair if they punish you for homicide? Claimants of the so-called Armenian 'genocide' are doing exactly the same thing for the last couple of decades. Perhaps they found out that 'genocide' is very lucrative business after compensation was paid to the Holocaust victims.
Servet Hassan, London

No comments: