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Argentina: Judge Recognizes Armenian Genocide

The Federal Judge of Argentina, Norberto Oyarbide [es], issued a historic ruling on April 1, 2011, in which he condemned the Turkish state for committing the crime of genocide against the Armenian population.

The cause started in the year 2000 following the testimonial presented by the scribe Gregario Hairabedian, according to the page Miradas al Sur [es]:

La causa se inició a raíz de la demanda presentada en diciembre de 2000 por el escribano Gregorio Hairabedian, descendiente de armenios asesinados, quien pidió que se investigue por la suerte de 50 familiares directos en la provincias armenias (vilayetos) de Palú y Zeitún, en poder del entonces Imperio Otomano.

A esta querella se sumó luego la colectividad armenia de Buenos Aires por la matanza de población armenia en las provincias de Trebizonda, Erzerum, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Jarput y Sivas, que de acuerdo a estimaciones históricas costó la vida a un millón y medio de armenios en el primer genocidio del siglo XX.

The cause started as a result of the presented testimonial in December of 2000 by scribe Gregorio Hairabedian, a descendant of assassinated Armenians, who asked for an investigation to determine the fate of 50 of his direct relatives in the Armenian provinces (vilayets) of Paulú and Zeitún, under the power of the former Ottoman Empire.

This action was later joined by the Armenian Collective of Buenos Aires for the murder of the Armenian population in the provinces of Trebizonda, Erzerum, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Jarput and Sivas, which, according to the historic estimations, cost 1.5 million Armenians their lives in the first genocide of the 20th Century.

Genocidio Armenio [es] relates the events that led to the declaration of the genocide:

Del 23 al 24 de Abril de 1915 fueron detenidos, deportados a Anatolia y asesinados unos 650 dirigentes armenios de Constantinopla. A partir de entonces, se dio la orden de deportación de la población civil, desde las zonas de guerra en el Cáucaso, hacia los centros de reinstalación, en los desiertos de Siria y Mesopotamia.

El mismo esquema de arresto y asesinato de los líderes y de los hombres mayores de 15 años, así como la deportación del resto de la población -mujeres, ancianos y niños-, hacia los desiertos de Siria, se repitió en todos las localidades armenias.

From April 23 to April 24 of 1915, approximately 650 Armenian ruling classes of Constantinople were detained, deported to Anatolia and assassinated. Following this, the order for deportation from civil towns, from the war zones in the Caucasus to reinstallation centers in the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia, was passed.

The same outline of arrest and assassination of the leaders and men older than 15 years of age, along with the deportation of the rest of the population — the elderly, women and children — to the deserts of Syria, repeated throughout all of the Armenian towns.

The text continues:

Esta larga marcha, que para muchos fue el camino hacia la muerte, era acompañada de violaciones, torturas y robo de lo poco que llevaban consigo los deportados. Los pocos que lograron sobrevivir, fueron trasladados a distintos puntos del Medio Oriente donde el hambre y las epidemias hicieron su parte.

Los hechos descriptos fueron encuadrados dentro del concepto de GENOCIDIO. Este término fue creado por Raphael Lemkin y aplicado por primera vez durante el juicio a los principales responsables del crimen contra los judios, durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

This long march, that for many was the path to their death, was accompanied by violent acts, torture and robbery of what little the deported carried with them. The few that managed to survive, were moved to distinct points in the Middle East, where hunger and epidemics did their part.

The described events were classified under the concept of GENOCIDE. This term was created by Raphael Lemkin and applied for the first time during the trial of the principle individuals responsible for the crime against the Jews, during the Second World War.

It is worth mentioning that Argentina received an important stream of Armenian immigrants fleeing from the genocide, whose descendants maintain their customs and traditions, grouped under distinct institutions that form the Armenian Collective, as Armenios On Line [es] comments:

Actualmente la colectividad armenia de la Argentina se estima que cuenta con aproximadamente de cien a ciento veinte mil armenios. Se han establecido siete escuelas armenias, siete iglesias armenias, también iglesias católicas y Evangélicas armenias, funcionan dos diarios, tres audiciones radiales, varias organizaciones políticas, grupos de beneficencia, clubes sociales, deportivos, restaurantes, grupos culturales como ser coros, grupos de danzas folklóricas armenias, grupos de teatro, bandas musicales, numerosas agrupaciones juveniles y también funcionan tres agrupaciones scout, y otros.

Currently, the Armenian collective in Argentina estimates that there are approximately one hundred to one hundred and twenty thousand Armenians. Seven Armenian schools, seven Armenian churches, as well as Catholic and Evangelical churches have been established, along with two daily newspapers, three radio programs, various political organization, charitable groups, social and sports clubs, restaurants, cultural groups such as choirs, Armenian folk dance and theater groups, musical bands, numerous youth groups and scout groups, among others.
Memorial genocidio Armenia

Image from Flickr user pablodf, Pablo Flores (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

To identify herself with her roots and customs, to relive the traditions, those which emerge from family accounts, was one of the dreams for Valeria Cherekian, Argentinean-born and a descendant of Armenians, who relates her experience in her blog,  Birth Right Armenia [es]:

Cuando pienso en las razones y los sentimientos que motivaron mi viaje a Armenia para trabajar como voluntaria recuerdo a mis abuelos: Nazik y Meguerdich Cherekian y Lusin y José Dadourian. Mis abuelos me enseñaban canciones armenias, que cantábamos todos juntos en cada entrañable reunión familiar… Así crecí, entre libros de escuela, historias que mis abuelos contaban y canciones que nos acercaban a la madre patria… Entre el idioma de mi sangre y el idioma de mi barrio, entre la escuela armenia y la universidad de Buenos Aires… Si me preguntan, soy armenia y argentina. Probablemente en ese orden.

When I think of the reasons and feelings that motivated my trip to Armenia to work as a volunteer, I remember my grandparents: Nazik and Meguerdich Cherekian and Lusin and José Dadourian. My grandparents taught me Armenian songs that we sang altogether at every intimate family gathering… That is how I grew up, between school books, stories that my grandparents told and songs that brought us closer to our mother country… Between the language of my blood and the language of my neighborhood, between Armenian school and the University of Buenos Aires… If people ask me, I'm Armenian and Argentinean.  Probably in that order.

As a result of the important number that forms the Armenian collective in Argentina [es], mainly third or fourth generation descendants of the victims of the genocide, the presented testimonials and proof served to incite the start of the presented demand. In the Lic. Baleno's blog, El Magna [es], readers can see some of the current statements from Armenian descendants that served as the basis testimony for the sentence. At the same time, El Argentino.com [es] has published “The declaratory resolution of the historic events known as the genocide of the Armenian village — years 1915/1923, the sentence [es].”

The speech from the ruling by Judge Oyarbide can be seen in a video [es] on YouTube.

Turkey's reaction did not delay, according to a report from the newspaper La Voz [es]:

Turquía fustigó ayer el fallo del juez argentino Norberto Oyarbide en el que dictaminaba que el gobierno del país euroasiático cometió genocidio en contra de armenios durante la Primera Guerra Mundial.

Según el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Turquía, Ahmet Davutoglu, ese fallo “es un ejemplo de cómo los nacionalistas extremos pertenecientes a la diáspora armenia abusan de los sistemas legales”.

Turkey lashed out against the ruling from Argentinan Judge Norberto Oyarbide in which he ruled that the government of the Eurasian country committed genocide against the Armenians during the First World War.

According to the Minister of Turkish Foreign Relations, Ahmet Davutoglu, this ruling “is an example of how extreme nationalists belonging to the Armenian Diaspora abuse the legal systems.”

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