Erdogan Orders Schools to Teach Muslim Discovery of Americas ?
Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:01 AM
Posted 22 November 2017 - 12:37 PM
Where is the money? That's where I belong.
Turkish PR Agent Ronn Torossian’sFather and Grandparents are ArmeniansBy Harut SassounianPublisher, The California CourierLast week I wrote a column about Ronn Torossian, President of 5W Public Relations firm in New York City, who had signed a contract for $60,000 to do PR work for the Republic of Turkey in the United States.I wrote that I did not know if Torossian was an ethnic Armenian or simply had an Armenian last name, since some Jews and Iranians also have Armenian last names. Before writing the previous column I had attempted to contact him and had left two voice mail messages at his office. But, he did not return my phone calls.After writing that column, I received several emails and phone calls from Mr. Torossian. However, he requested that our phone conversations be off the record. I also received many emails and phone calls from Armenians around the world who knew the Torossian family.I also noticed that several readers had posted comments under my column in various websites, insisting that Mr. Torossian was not an Armenian, but simply Jewish or Iranian who carried an Armenian last name. These commentators were basing their presumptions on the fact that all of the articles about Mr. Torossian on the internet referred to him as being Jewish and mentioned his extensive record of activism and involvement in Jewish causes and organizations.However, I was informed by a Canadian Armenian, a former resident of Jerusalem, that he grew up in that city with Ronn’s father, Harout Torossian, who now lives in New York City. Ronn’s grandfather was Voskan Torossian and the grandmother was Mariam.Voskan and his family lived in the Convent of Jerusalem’s Armenian Patriarchate. Voskan worked as a handyman at the Patriarchate. Ronn’s father attended Saints Tarkmanchats Armenian School in the Convent. Both Ronn’s father and grandfather were members of Homenetmen (Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts). Voskan was also a devoted member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.Since Ronn’s father was married to a Jewish woman, Ronn is considered by the Jewish community to be Jewish. He was raised as a Jew and considers himself to be Jewish and not Armenian. From Ronn’s family friends and his father’s former classmates I have learned a lot more about his relatives and their personal lives, but to protect Ronn’s privacy I decided not to divulge any more details. I only mentioned his father and grandparents to prove that he is partly of Armenian heritage, and not Iranian or fully Jewish.Interestingly, in one of the emails Ronn Torossian sent me after my first article, he stated: “I am Jewish. I am American born and raised in a Jewish home, and proudly educate my children in Jewish day schools. I do not and never have considered myself to be Armenian. You are conducting a comical, ridiculous and destructive ugly litmus test.” He asked that the rest of his email be considered off the record.I answered Torossian in an email: “Thank you for finally contacting me. I wish you had responded to the two phone messages I left for you in the past month. I respect that you feel Jewish. That is your choice and decision. However, being Jewish does not exonerate you from the unacceptability of doing PR for a country that denies Genocide whether you are Jewish, Armenian or any other nationality. Being of both Jewish and Armenian ethnic ancestry makes you a descendant of survivors of both the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide which places the double burden on you to be especially sensitive to Genocide deniers. Just because you are making money spinning for Genocide deniers does not justify your professional activities. As I pointed out in my column, you yourself have criticized those who do PR for dictators. Yet you are paid to do PR for the dictator Erdogan. If you don’t consider Erdogan to be a dictator, then you are one of the few individuals in the world who thinks so!”Ronn Torossian replied to my email: “Criticize me all you wish. Please don’t raise my family or your perceptions of my ethnicity. I have never considered myself Armenian all my life.”I must inform Ronn Torossian that over the years I have written dozens of columns criticizing all those who have been hired by the Turkish government for the purposes of lobbying or public relations, regardless of their nationality. It is unacceptable to represent Turkey for money, a country that is run by a dictator, violates the human rights of its citizens, and denies the Armenian Genocide.Ironically, back in June 2010, before Torossian signed a PR contract with Turkey, he had organized an anti-Turkish protest in Manhattan after the Israeli military attacked a Turkish humanitarian flotilla. Torossian was quoted as stating: “what these so called peace activists on the Turkish vessel pulled off was nothing short of a cleverly devised anti-Semitic lynching.”
Posted 26 November 2017 - 09:31 AM
Amid tension arising from the marking of Alevi houses in a neighborhood in the province of Malatya, the Association of Kurtuluş Churches was attacked on Friday evening, DHA reported.
According to the report a window of the church association’s office was broken in the central Anatolian city.
The Malatya Human Rights Association in a statement on Saturday called on authorities to find the perpetrators of the attack.
Red crosses were painted on the front doors of 13 Alevi homes in the Cemal Gürsel neighborhood of the city by unknown parties on Nov. 22.
Malatya police called the incident a “provocation by dark powers” while Alevis in the city expressed concern.
Three missionaries, German national Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before their throats were slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher in Malatya, on April 18, 2007.
Posted 26 November 2017 - 09:32 AM
The Armenian representation of the “Union of Salvation Churches” came under a stone attack by unidentified people in Turkey’s Malatya province, Ermenihaber reported, citing Gazetekarinca.com Turkish news agency.
According to the source, there was no one inside the building during the attack, which only left the glass of windows broken.
The security cameras installed in the area fixed the incident, with the faces of some of the attackers clearly outlined in the footage.
The Turkish police have launched an investigation into the incident.
To remind, a few days ago red crosses with red paint were spotted marked on the outside walls and doors of several households belonging to Alevi people in the Cemal Gürsel neighbourhood of Malatya.
Posted 28 November 2017 - 02:19 PM
Erdogan Keeps Alienating Everyone,
Including Distinguished Foreign Scholars
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Turkish President Erdogan is a ‘blessing’ to all those who are opposed to Turkish autocratic rule and massive violations of human rights. Not a day passes without the Turkish government behaving brutally against scholars, human rights activists, non-governmental organizations, journalists, and political opponents. Erdogan has done more harm to Turkey’s image around the world than anyone else since the Ottoman Turks’ implementation of the 1915Armenian Genocide.
The latest manifestation of Turkish intolerance of free speech and academic freedom was displayed when the University of Michigan’s Workshop for Armenian Turkish Scholarship decided to hold a conference at the European Academy in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 15-18, 2017. The conference was co-organized by the University of Michigan, USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies, and Lepsiushaus Potsdam, under the auspices of Dr. Martina Münch, Minister for Science, Research and Culture of the State of Brandenburg in Germany.
Prominent multinational scholars, including Turkish academics, were invited to participate in this important conference. However, the Turkish Council of Higher Education prevented the travel of distinguished professors from Turkey to attend the conference on “Past in the Present: European Approaches to the Armenian Genocide.”
Prof. Beth Baron, President of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), sent a highly critical letter to Pres. Erdogan and Prime Minister Yildirim in September on behalf of its 3,000 members worldwide, describing Turkish efforts against the conference as “an assault on the academic freedom of scholars in Turkey and a disturbing new instance of a broader trend of stifling scholarship on topics deemed taboo by your government…. The events surrounding the WATS conference in Berlin represent another depressing instance of your government’s failure to respect basic human rights’ protections under Turkish law despite Turkey’s clear international obligations.”
Radical Turkish politician Dogu Perincek announced that the conference would “serve imperialism and the interests of Kurdistan” and called the Turkish participants ‘traitors.’ Other right wing nationalists and pro-government media in Turkey also denounced the conference.
MESA’s President sent copies of her critical letter to: President of the Turkish Parliament; Justice Minister of Turkey; President of the Turkish Higher Education Council; Chair and Vice Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights; High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations; Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights; Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and _expression_; United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States; and United States Ambassador to Turkey.
Not surprisingly, several weeks later, neither Pres. Erdogan nor the Prime Minister had responded to the MESA letter!
In addition, a statement was issued by the WATS Organizing Committee on Sept. 18, 2017, describing Ankara’s refusal to allow Turkish scholars to attend the Berlin conference “an attack on free speech and academic freedom, indeed, to extend such intellectual repression beyond the borders of Turkey. We share the concern of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America that such actions seriously and scandalously damage scholarship and the free exchange of knowledge.”
WATS stated that the conference came “under sustained attack by Turkish ultra-nationalist political circles in Turkey and Germany. Long-time deniers of the Armenian Genocide in the international arena declared that the conference will ‘serve imperialism and the interests of Kurdistan’ and framed the Kurdish issue as forming ‘the second Israel,’ clearly an anti-Semitic slur.”
WATS also declared that “Turkey has been hurt by the current atmosphere of intimidation and threats as evidenced in the treatment of the scholars who wished to attend the WATS conference in Berlin…. We… call on the Turkish government to restore the academic freedoms that have been and are being violated in Turkey. We demand as well that the Turkish state desist from interfering in intellectual exchange and _expression_ outside of Turkey.... Such interference infringes on the democratic order in Turkey and in hosting countries. The events surrounding the WATS conference in Berlin demonstrate one more instance of the Turkish state’s refusal to respect basic human rights’ protections both under Turkish law and Turkey’s clear international obligations.”
Finally, Dr. Fatma Muge Gocek, Professor at University of Michigan (originally from Turkey) and co-organizer of the Berlin conference, wrote a commentary in the Washington-based Ahvalnews.com Turkish website on Nov. 10, 2017, titled: "Harassment of Turkish academics in the West should be stopped."
Prof. Gocek wrote: “I have been constantly harassed by the Turkish state because of my work. This harassment has taken the form of online slander campaigns, anonymous threats traced back to Turkey, and people at my talks planted by the Turkish state who try to challenge and demean me. I have encountered this harassment both in the United States and in Europe, despite the fact I have only given lectures at universities. Once, the FBI had to be called in to investigate a personal threat I received. This situation, which was already bad and completely antithetical to the freedom of _expression_ and opinion, has become worse this year.”
Prof. Gocek further stated that the Turkish protesters who came to the Berlin conference “not only heckled and filmed participants, but also tried to break into our meeting. Finally, Turkish newspapers reported our activities as a bizarre conspiracy to attempt to control Turkey and create a second Israel there.”
Prof. Gocek concluded her critical commentary by calling on Western countries to take action against Turkey: “What is most disturbing for me is not only the persistence of Turkish state violence in Turkey, but its extension outside the country, as I have experienced in Europe and the United States. It is time for the West to take an effective stand against this escalating harassment on its own soil. I believe that such harassment differs from terrorist violence only by degree as both intend to challenge, undermine and destabilize Western norms and values. Only by taking an effective stand against foreign state harassment would the West be able to contain the lack of accountability for violence that exists within such authoritarian countries like Turkey.”
Posted 30 November 2017 - 03:03 PM
ISTANBUL — Minorities in Turkey worry that they could again be pawns of shadowy forces that seek to exploit the country’s current discontents, Garo Paylan, Isatanbul Armenian MP from from oppositin HDP, told Al-Monitor.
The comments come after vandals targeted several Alevi homes in eastern Turkey. Late last week, assailants painted an ominous red “X” on 13 homes in the predominantly Alevi district of Cemal Gursel in Malatya, a conservative city of nearly 800,000 people, said the head of a local Alevi group, adding police had yet to make any arrests.
Two days after the Alevi homes were vandalized, an Armenian church association was pelted with stones when the office was empty.
Only a few dozen Armenians still live in Malatya; they made up a third of its inhabitants before genocide during World War I annihilated the country’s Armenian population. Garo Paylan’s family is originally from Malatya.
Minorities worry that they could again be pawns of shadowy forces that seek to exploit the country’s current discontents, said Garo Paylan, an HDP lawmaker and an ethnic Armenian. His family is originally from Malatya.
“They [minorities] remember what happened to their grandparents, or even their mothers and fathers, and they know that it is in the current kind of environment that crimes can occur,” he told Al-Monitor.
“I’m not saying that the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] wants that to happen. Some powers use minorities as a form of manipulation against each other [knowing] people are biased against these identities,” he said.
Posted 03 December 2017 - 08:43 AM
The persecutions against the four Turkish intellectuals who visited Artsakh in September come to show that Turkey is unable to tolerate the independent intelligence and supports Azerbaijan, which has adopted a similar behaviour, Armenian turkologist Ruben Melkonyan said on Saturday in an interview with Panorama.am.
“Azerbaijan’s fanatic strive to blacklist the intellectuals, political figures and reporters visiting Artsakh would naturally be supported by brotherly Turkey. Such a step by Turkey can have a two-folded basis: firstly, to voice support to Azerbaijan and secondly, to crack down the independent intellectuals.
In this case, Erdogan is showing his inclinations to dictatorship against the four intellectuals, who pose a serious threat to the Turkish national through their free speeches and scientific works. They are not welcomed by the Turkish state,” the turkologist said, adding the Turkey and Azerbaijan are following each other’s faulty behavior of restricting the free speech.
According to Ruben Melkonyan, there are few sincere intellectuals with critical thinking in Turkey, with so called ‘court’ intellectuals making up the majority.
“One of the four intellectuals facing persecutions, Sait Çetinoğlu is the author of numerous books and article on the Armenian Genocide and misappropriation of the Armenian property. He is one of the scholars conducting a serious research on these topics and enjoys great popularity in Turkey.
I think Turkey will sooner or later apply a drawn up scenario against such intellectuals, either imprisoning them, or subjecting to persecutions and committing murder attempts against them. This was the case before and so is it now, as evidenced by Hrant Dink’s fate,” he concluded.
Posted 03 December 2017 - 08:46 AM
Hey ErDOGan, it's time to resign!
Panorama, ArmeniaDec 2 2017Turkey’s opposition party reveals documents on Erdogan family’s offshore transfers
Bulent Tezcan, the spokesperson for Turkey’s main opposition party CHP (the Republican People's Party), has presented documents to media representatives, which come to prove the offshore allegations against the relatives of the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Tezcan showed off original bank receipts to the assembled press at a news conference on Friday revealing money transfers conducted by Erdogan’s close circle and relatives to offshore companies, Ermenihaber reported citing Agos newspaper.
The CHP spokesman noted they would submit the documents to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Earlier the opposition party’s leader Kemal Kılıçdaroglu announced that Erdogan’s relatives and family members made millions of dollars of offshore bank transactions. The Turkish president in his turn vowed to resign as the country’s president and leave politics if the opposition party leader proves his claims.
Posted 05 December 2017 - 12:02 PM
Posted 06 December 2017 - 09:55 AM
By Serouj Aprahamian on December 5, 2017
Special to the Armenian Weekly
Is there any connection between Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s pleading guilty for lying to the FBI and an Azeri-Turkish businessman’s testifying about having worked with Turkish President Erdogan’s government? (Graphic: The Armenian Weekly)
President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Friday. A few days prior, a prominent Azeri-Turkish businessman testifiedin New York about having worked with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Is there any connection between these two former power brokers who turned state’s evidence? All signs seem to suggest so—and they are pointing to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
On March 19, 2016, a high-profile, wealthy businessman named Reza Zarrab was arrested by federal agents in Miami for illegally trading Iranian gas for gold, and laundering the money through U.S. financial institutions. Zarrab, who holds citizenship in Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Macedonia, carried out this violation of U.S. sanctions with the aid of the Turkish government.
Erdogan began immediately calling on the Obama administration to do away with the case, fearing what would be revealed if Zarrab went to trial. Indeed, soon after Zarrab was arrested, others began to be indicted, including Turkey’s former Economy Minister and several heads of Turkish state-owned banks.
When the overtures to officials such as then-Vice-President Joe Biden and Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not pan out, the Turkish government set its sights on the Trump administration.
Michael Flynn was at the center of its strategy.
Flynn’s guilty plea this past Friday included admissions of being a lobbyist “for the principal benefit of the Republic of Turkey.” His statement of offense read that he lied in his Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings about being under the “supervision and direction” of “officials from the Republic of Turkey.” In other words, Trump’s leading national security adviser has openly admitted to having been a paid agent of the Turkish government.
One of the many services Flynn is suspected of carrying out was a plot to help free Zarrab and drop the case against him. There are reports that Flynn met with Turkish officials in mid-December—after being officially designated National Security Adviser—to discuss a deal in which he and his son would be paid $15 million for their assistance.
In addition, the U.S. attorney in charge of prosecuting the Turkish gas-for-gold case, Preet Bharara, was abruptly fired by Trump on March 11. That firing alone is not shocking, considering that it was part of a mass dismissal of 46 former Obama-era prosecutors. What is bizarre is that Bharara was being personally courted by Trump prior to his termination.
After winning the election, the president-elect called for a meeting with Bharara at Trump Towers in New York, where he asked for his cell phone number and said he wanted to keep him on the job. He called Bharara three times after that, including on the day before the inauguration, simply to “shoot the breeze.” Bharara characterized the conversations with Trump as one where the latter was trying to cultivate a relationship with him.
For a sitting U.S. president to be directly contacting a U.S. attorney is not exactly the ethical norm. As a result, Bharara let Trump know he could not answer his calls. A few days later he was fired. “To my knowledge, Donald Trump did not reach out to any other U.S. attorney,” said Bharara on his podcast, “and none has come forward to say they got a phone call—it seemed like it was just me.” Like other justice officials who have been fired by Trump this year, Bhahara felt he was, inappropriately, being vetted to carry out wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Zarrab himself hired former New York Mayor and close Trump confidante Rudolph Giuliani to be his attorney. Giuliani—who is an adviser to the president and whose law firm is also a registered foreign agent of Turkey—tried to resolve the case by flying back and forth between Ankara and Washington. Instead of pursuing legal channels, he pursued high-level meetings with the Trump administration in an attempt to arrange an extrajudicial “prisoner swap” between Zarrab and unnamed Americans being held in Turkey.
Those efforts failed, and Zarrab’s prosecution continued to move forward. As a result, officials in Ankara grew more and more hysterical.
Erdogan has called the Zarrab trial a plot to “blackmail” Turkey, masterminded by an Islamic cleric living in Pennsylvania. Both Bhararra and his successor, Joon H. Kim, have been accused of being part of the conspiracy and have had investigations opened against them in Turkey. Authorities have also arrested a longtime employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul on allegations that he is linked to the cleric behind it all. They also called on the acting American Ambassador, John Bass, to resign in the wake of the row over the consulate employee’s arrest.
However, despite all of the lashing out in Ankara, not once has Erdogan criticized Trump himself.
Instead, Erdogan calls the American president “my dear friend Donald.” Trump similarly expresses great admiration for his counterpart, saying at a meeting with Erdogan in September, “I think right now we are as close as we’ve ever been. And a lot of that has to do with the personal relationship.” Trump added, “Frankly [Erdogan’s] getting very high marks.” Even after Erdogan’s bodyguards brutally attacked peaceful U.S. citizens (not once, but twice!), in Washington and New York, Trump refrained from making any condemnation of Turkey.
Despite the affinity between the two presidents, Zarrab was unable to stop U.S. prosecutors from moving forward with the trial. Seeing no other way of sparing himself, he decided to go from being a defendant in the gas-for-gold case to the government’s main witness.
And this is when the relationship between Michael Flynn and the authorities also began to shift.
About a week after news surfaced of Zarrab’s flip, Flynn’s lawyer told the Trump legal team that he can no longer share information with them about the FBI’s special counsel investigation into the administration, signaling the beginnings of a plea deal. Another week went by, and Zarrab took the stand in New York. Three days later, Flynn plead guilty to the FBI in Washington.
Many analysts believe that Zarrab’s decision to work with the authorities was the tipping point that led Flynn to similarly begin cooperating with the special counsel. What Zarrab, and his associates like Giuliani, may know about the extent of Flynn’s and Trump’s dealings is yet to be seen.
However, what we do know is that Michael Flynn—a man at the center of the Trump team, with access to the most sensitive state secrets—was a paid agent of the Turkish government. His statement of offense issued on Friday clearly states he was being paid and directed from officials in Ankara. His activities may have included not only plans to kidnap an American resident but also to free a man charged with helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions and derail plans to defeat ISIS in Syria. What’s more, even after Flynn left the White House, the Trump administration continued to placate Ankara and considered extrajudicial measures to free Zarrab and others evading sanctions against Iran, in exchange for freeing American citizens being held as bargaining chips by Turkey.
Is it any wonder, then, why Erdogan feels so free to try to meddle in the U.S. judicial and legislative system, plot kidnappings, barter for detainees, and attack peaceful protesters when visiting the country? Not to mention the repression he carries out in his own country and in the region.
What Zarrab and Flynn, as well as the broader FBI investigation into the Trump administration, will reveal has yet to be fully uncovered. What is for certain is that the coming days of this investigation will be critical for not only the future of democracy and rule of law in the U.S. but also the basic protection of the nation’s sovereignty against foreign intervention.
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