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In the early hours of march 31, 2014 civilians in the ancient Armenian settlement of Kessab and surrounding villages were attacked by forces opposed to the Syrian government crossing the border from Turkey. Kessab is an Armenian-populated town situated in northwestern Syria. The cross border attacks, which included church desecrations, forced immediate civilian evacuation of the area, alarming Armenians around the globe concerned about the safety of their relatives. Considered safe haven for refugees fleeing nearby war torn cities in recent years, the local Armenian population in Kessab has increased. In response to the recent multi-pronged attack, the Armenian National Committee of America has called on President Obama and Congress to press Turkey to stop facilitation attacks on civilians in Kessab, to investigate Turkey’s reported assistance to foreign fighters associated with the U.S. designated terrorist groups and to direct humanitarian aid to victims in the Armenian settlement.
- Kessab holds tremendous meaning for Armenians around the world. It’s essentially the last Armenian village that remains on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire. The territory that was emptied of Armenians during the genocide of 1915.
- A portion of those survivors settled in this village which is right on the Turkish border and for 9 decades they lived in safety but in the shadow of Turkey, until recently when extremist militants invaded the village from Turkey and drove out about 2000 residents who are essentially homeless today.
- I think that a decision was made in Ankara, Turkey to allow extremists to use their territory to drive the Armenians out of that village. I think there’s an element of intent on the part of the Turkish government, which has been consistently anti-Armenian for more than half a century.
- Only one person we understand was killed by a sniper as reported by the Washington Post but the overwhelming majority have fled.
- We’ve worked very hard to encourage the U.S. government to protest not only the attack but also Turkey’s role.
- Congress didn’t condemn what we thought was the key element Turkey allowing the soldiers to cross this border and make this attack.
- There are parts of Kessab that are a 100 yards away from a highly militarized, highly monitored border.
- It’s inconceivable that soldiers would’ve crossed that border had they not been supported by or at the very least ignored by the Turkish government.
- They simply can’t go home if there is a fear of repetition. If the precedent is set that, well if Turkey did this once and they were not challenged at all and given a free pass.
- We’re trying to get a message from the Washington to Ankara, saying this is out of bounds. You have the right to protect your border but you also have to make sure your border isn’t crossed by militants who are doing harm to innocent civilians.
- President Obama came in to office with a pledge to recognize the genocide. Soon after he came into office he turned 180 degrees, not only didn’t honor his pledge to recognize the genocide but blocked Congress from doing what he said he would do.
- Turkey has banned Youtube, Turkey has banned Twitter because its leaders are not happy with what’s being said.
- Armenian Relief Fund
Guest – Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Max Blumenthal At “Against Israeli Apartheid” in New York City
We hear a speech by award winning journalist, and best selling author Max Blumenthal speaking at the event Against Israeli Apartheid along with Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah. Max’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel shows the reader how the Netanyahu right wing government is actually moderate compared to most other institutions in Israel. His book takes a hard look at Israeli authoritarian politics from a cross section of interviews, from the homes of Palestinian activists to the political leaders behind the organized assault on democratic rights.
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