Monday, July 23, 2007

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

In the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the UN General Assembly enacted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the Resolution 260 (III)A on December 9, 1948.
Article 1 of the Convention confirms:
"that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war is a crime under international law which they [the contracting parties]undertake to prevent and to punish."

Article 2 defines genocide as:
"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article_4 furthermore states:
"Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals."

This Convention makes moot many of the arguments of Turkey in their justification of denial of the Armenian genocide in 1915. The Turkish government has constantly argued that the acts committed against Armenians were justified because they were during World War I and Turkey had to defend itself against 'rebellious Armenians.' First, factually it is a complete falsity. Did a huge Turkish population have to defend itself by intentionally exterminating a minority-- innocent Armenian women, children, and the elderly? The argument is so preposterous that cannot even be heard... Anyone who knows a little bit of history behind the genocide will laugh at it. In addition, the Convention clearly stipulates that there is no justification for genocide whether it is committed in time of peace or in time of war.
Second, Turkey has argued that the Ottoman empire did not authorize these acts and they were committed by the riffraff in the streets. Thus, it argues that these acts were not committed under color of law. This argument is also a factual fallacy because the history shows quite the opposite, that in fact the genocide was masterminded, organized and authorized by the public officials. But even if it this argument were true, it is not acceptable because of Article 4, which clearly confirms that private individuals can be found responsible for the acts of genocide, even if they were not acting under color of law.

Turkey has been desperately trying to rewind the tape, erase it and record a new history on the video of the new generations. But it forgets that the historical time machine does not go back, only forward and history cannot be erased.

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