VERDICT OF THE PERMANENT
SESSION ON THE GENOCIDE
OF THE ARMENIANS
APRIL 13-16, 1984
CONVENED AT THE SORBONNE, PARIS FRANCE, APRIL 13-16, 1984
VERDICT OF THE PERMANENT
ON THE QUESTION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
IN SESSION AT THE SORBONNE,
APRIL 13-16, 1984
THE PERMANENT PEOPLE'S TRIBUNAL
WAS CALLED UPON BY
THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS TO DEVOTE A SESSION TO
THE CASE OF THE GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIANS:
- GROUP FOR THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, PARIS FRANCE
- CULTURAL SURVIVAL, CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
- GESELLESCHAFT FÜR BEDROHTE VÖLKER, GÖTTINGEN, WEST GERMANY
THE PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL IN PARIS1
The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal was founded in June 1979 by Senator Lelio
Basso of Italy to make up for the moral and political shortcomings of states
as instruments for the achievement of justice. It grew out of the
"International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples" which
had been founded in 1976. The PPT met in official session in Paris from
April 13 to 16, 1984, to examine the grievances of the Armenians, precisely
because of the long silence of the great western democracies (with the
exception of France) which maintain relations of all sorts with the Turkish
state. For it is not the Turkish people, but the Turkish state and its
constant attitude with regard to the events of 1915-1916 that was concerned.
In its verdict the Tribunal stated: "There is no doubt regarding the reality
of the physical acts constituting the genocide. The facts are clearly proven
by the full and unequivocal evidence submitted to the Tribunal" that the
Young Turk government was guilty of this crime not subject to statutory
limitations and that 'The Armenian genocide is also an 'international crime'
for which the Turkish state must assume full responsibility, without using
the pretext of any discontinuity in the existence of the state to elude that
This responsibility implies first and foremost the obligation to recognize
officially the reality of the genocide and the consequent damages suffered
by the Armenian people; the United Nations Organization and each of its
members have the right to demand this recognition and to assist the Armenian
people to that end."
1 The Permanent People's Tribunal was founded by the Italian Senator and
jurist, the late Lelio Basso. Its President in 1984 is Professor François
Rigaux of the Faculty of Law, Catholic University of Louvain. Its
Vice-Presidents are: Ruth First of South Africa; Makoto Oda (Japan); Armando
Uribe (Chile); and George Wald (United States of America). Its
Secretary-General was Gianni Tognoni (Italy): Via della Dognana Vecchia 5,
THE PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL
IN SESSION PARIS, FRIDAY APRIL 13, 1984
FOLLOWING IS A REPORT OF THE VERDICT OF THE TRIBUNAL OF THE PEOPLE ON
QUESTIONS PLACED BEFORE IT RELATING TO THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE.
THE TRIBUNAL OF THE PEOPLE OPENED APRIL 13, 1984 AT 2:15 P.M. IN THE
CARDINAL RICHELIEU AMPHITHEATER OF THE SORBONNE, IN PARIS, FRANCE.
MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL COMPRISING THE JURY FOR THE
SESSION ON THE GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIANS INCLUDE:
MADJID BENCHIKH OF ALGERIA,
PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ALGIERS.
GEORGE CASALIS OF FRANCE, THEOLOGIAN, WRITER AND PROFESSOR, PROTESTANT
INSTITUTE OF THEOLOGY, FRANCE.
HAROLD EDELSTAM OF SWEDEN,
FORMER AMBASSADOR TO CHILE AND ALGERIA.
RICHARD FALK OF THE UNITED STATES,
PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY.
KEN FRYE OF AUSTRALIA,
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, AUSTRALIA.
ANDREAS GIARDINA OF ITALY,
PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ROME.
SEAN MACBRIDE OF IRELAND, JURIST, PRESIDENT INTERNATIONAL PEACE OFFICE,
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE RECIPIENT.
LEO MATARASSO OF FRANCE,
JURIST AND LAWYER AT THE PARIS BAR.
ADOLFO PEREZ ESQUIVAL OF ARGENTINA,
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE RECIPIENT, COORDINATOR, PEACE & JUSTICE SERVICE.
JAMES PETRAS OF THE UNITED STATES,
PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK.
FRANCOIS RIGAUX OF BELGIUM,
PROFESSOR, FACULTY OF LAW, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF LOUVAIN.
AGIT ROY OF INDIA,
ECONOMIST AND JOURNALIST.
GEORGE WALD OF THE UNITED STATES,
BIOLOGIST, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, NOBEL PRIZE RECIPIENT.
THE TRIBUNAL OF THE PEOPLE IN PARIS
PREAMBLE AND INTRODUCTION April 16, 1984
THE PERMANENT PEOPLE'S TRIBUNAL WAS CALLED UPON TO ANSWER THE FOLLOWING
QUESTIONS WITH REGARD TO THE GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIANS:
WHETHER THE ARMENIAN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VICTIMS OF DEPORTATIONS AND MASSACRES
DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE.
WHETHER THESE DEPORTATIONS AND MASSACRES CONSTITUTE GENOCIDE AS DEFINED BY
THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME
OF GENOCIDE (1948) AND, CONSEQUENTLY , DO THEY FALL UNDER THE 1968
CONVENTION ON THE NON-APPLICABILITY OF THE STATUTORY LIMITATIONS TO WAR
CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND FOR
THE CONCERNED PARTIES?
THE PRESIDENT OF THE TRIBUNAL DECLARED THIS REQUEST TO BE ADMISSIBLE IN
ACCORDANCE WITH ARTICLE 11 OF THE STATUTES, AND THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT WAS
INFORMED, IN APPLICATION OF THE PROVISION OF ARTICLES 14 AND 15. THE TURKISH
GOVERNMENT WAS INVITED TO SEND REPRESENTATIVES OR WRITTEN DOCUMENTS TO MAKE
ITS POSITION KNOWN.
SINCE THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT DID NOT REPLY TO THIS INVITATION, THE TRIBUNAL
DECIDED TO INSERT INTO THE RECORD THE TWO DOCUMENTS CITED BELOW, WHICH
CONTAIN THE ARGUMENTS OF THE TURKEY PARTY IN SUPPORT OF ITS DENIAL OF THE
GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIANS.
THE TRIBUNAL HELD PUBLIC HEARINGS APRIL 13-14, 1984 AT THE SORBONNE IN PARIS
AND THE JURY DELIBERATED THE MATTER ON APRIL 15, 1984. AT THE CONCLUSION OF
THE HEARINGS, THE TRIBUNAL PRONOUNCED ITS VERDICT, WHICH APPEARS ON THE
n opening this session of the Permanent People's Tribunal on the Armenian
case it is proper that we pay homage to the memory of two of the most
eminent of our colleagues, who have passed away since the previous session
of the Tribunal held in Madrid in January in 1983 on the case of
These two members of the Tribunal are Alfred Kastler, the French physicist,
and the Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar. To the audience to whom I am
speaking, it suffices to recall what both these men in very different
domains have added to the universal culture of humanity. Alfred Kastler's
discovery of optical pumping is at the origin of laser beams and this
brought him in 1966 the Nobel Prize for Physics. The fantastic novels and
stories of Julio Cortázar have been read by a sophisticated and large
public. I will recall here only one of his titles, La Rayuela , published in
1963, in which the reader is invited to participate in the creative process
by reconstructing the arrangement of the chapters.
It is not by accident that, as active members of the Russell Tribunal II on
Latin America, both participated with enthusiasm in the initiative begun in
1976 by Lelio Basso which led to the constitution of this Tribunal in Bolgna
on 23 June 1979. By different paths, both had reached the conclusion that
the scientist, the writer, men and women who have distinguished themselves
by a more penetrating imagination, have acquired the mastery of a tool with
the help of which they are capable of helping humanity confront the great
problems of the hour and most of all to push back the frontiers of
Allow me to invoke a personal memory of each of our deceased colleagues, a
memory linked to the activity that brings us together today in Paris. During
the three sessions of the Russell Tribunal II on Latin America, respectively
in Rome, Brussels, and then again in Rome presided over by Lelio Basso, the
member jurists of the Tribunal received from the scientists who were
participating in the sessions and I think mainly of Alfred Kastler and
Laurent Schwartz - a lesson in exact reasoning which none of us have
forgotten. During the hearing of witnesses and experts, Alfred Kastler posed
the most pertinent questions for a correct assessment of evidence and he
taught us not to be convinced except by demonstration of proof beyond any
Julio Cortázar also participated in the international congress on the Latin
American exiles, which the Lelio Basso International Foundation organized in
October 1979 in Caracas and at the University of the Andes in Merida. When
time came to draft the conclusions and the final appeal of the conference,
some individuals got together in one of the rooms of the hotel to discuss a
draft written in French. But we were in Venezuela and hearing the question
of Latin American exiles. A few rationally expressed reflections could not
have articulated the suffering of whole peoples nor reached the conscience
of those who resisted it. With magnificent humility, Julio Cortázar offered
to take the ideas of the French text and translate them into Spanish. Is it
necessary to say that he injected in them an intensity and a poetry which
were absent in the French text? It is thus that Castilian prose, which is
said to be the best since Cervantes, is anonymously part of the resolutions
of a conference on Latin American exiles.
Before giving the floor to Dr. Gianni Tognoni, secretary-general of the
Tribunal, for reading of the indictment relative to the Armenian case, it is
proper to express the reasons the Presidency of the Tribunal decided to
accept the indictment that had been addressed to it in the name of the
Armenian people by many humanitarian organizations. One might, in fact, be
surprised that at this moment when in all parts of the world the rights of
so many peoples are so brutally repressed, the Tribunal decided to take into
consideration events which, in essence, belong to the past. In this respect,
and without any prejudice to the decision which you will have to make, I
would like to offer three observations.
Following Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin, now a century ago, which
pressed the Ottoman Empire "to carry out, without delay, improvements and
reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by
Armenians and to guarantee their security against Circassians and Kurds",
the Armenian people complained of serious and repeated infringements of its
fundamental rights and never found a tribunal willing to listen. Our first
task is to focus on the facts and to determine their exact nature.
Nonetheless, the Armenian case also raises two juridical questions which
have a universal character and that is why it has, at the present, exemplary
value for all oppressed peoples. During the last decade, the International
Law Commission of the United Nations has elaborated the notion of an
'international crime' which the Tribunal has already made use of in its
decision with regard to Argentina on 4 May 1980. According to Article 19,
Paragraph 3c of the document on the International Responsibilities of
States, an 'international crime' may result from 'a serious and large-scale
violation of an international obligation of essential importance for the
safety of the human being, such as those outlawing slavery, genocide, and
apartheid.' (Annuaire de la Commission du droit international, 1976, vol.
II, second part, p. 89)
The novelty of the concept of an 'international crime' is that it involves
an international illegal act, a State crime, that is, a crime which is
imputed to a State itself, and not a classic penal offence which could not
occur without a physical person being found personally guilty of it. The
judgements pronounced at Nuremberg and in Tokyo on the crimes of the Second
World War did, in fact, attribute to organs of the State and rulers a
personal responsibility of the State itself, the continuity of which endures
beyond constitutional changes and the succession of systems of power. In the
case of the acts currently being presented to the Tribunal, the identified
or identifiable authors are certainly dead; it is on a State crime that it
is necessary to pronounce and not on the individual acts of organs of this
My third and last observation concerns one of the juridical consequences of
a duly established State crime: this is the obligation to make reparations
which must be placed logically on the State to which an illegal
international act has been imputed. The notion of the international
responsibility of a State is certainly one of the most traditional and best
assured of classical international law. Nonetheless, once the obligation to
make reparations for the prejudicial act has been placed on the head of the
State guilty of an international crime, there still remains the task of
designating those who will be the recipients of such reparations.
This is an easy task when the action is pursued by a duly constituted
subject of international law, that is a State. When the complainant is a
people which has been erased from all or parts of its historic territory and
which has never been able to constitute itself as a sovereign state subject
to international law, and especially if the illegal act has consisted in
making it impossible for this people to exercise or consolidate its right to
self-determination, it would constitute a supreme injustice to discharge the
responsible guilty State of its obligation to make reparations.
The experts, whom the Tribunal will hear, will report on the nature and
extent of the rights which the international community has, since 1878,
recognized as those of the Armenian people. It will be the task of the
Tribunal to qualify these rights and to assess their impact on the eventual
responsibility of the State which had subsequently suppressed these
It is most important to recall that this tribunal is the Permanent People's
Tribunal, that its specific function is to bring justice to peoples who,
according to international law and especially to the statute of the
International Court of Justice, are deprived of access to interstate
judicial institutions or even to states victimized by illegal acts committed
by other states if these have evaded their duty to answer for them before
the competent judicial institutions.
By way of a preface
- AND BY THE POWER OF ONE WORD
Unable to attend the April 13-16 Sessions of the Permanent Peoples'
Tribunal, I would simply like to develop the message which I forwarded to
the Tribunal and which was read during its last session.
This message, of this testimony if you wish, since I do not belong to the
category of judges, is the message of a historian who has always been
fascinated by the Armenian example as my friends Anahide and Levon Ter
Minassian and Gérard Chaliand know very well. This is also the fascination
of a Jew who cannot but pose the problem of the similarities and differences
between the destinies of these two strange groupings of human beings: both
have been victimized by a major historical crime, both are torn between a
centre -real or fictitious - and a dispersed periphery, both struggling
against the maddest of the ideologues who, at times, are their own
ideologues, both torn between a memory that weighs heavily and a history
which does not always deliver, and both struggling with the Great Denial.
The analogies, in fact, catch the eye immediately. Both diasporas in the
Western World, have chosen the bourgeois model of the merchant or the
financier. The Armenians, a people of peasants in the two zones which were
theirs in the north-eastern part of the Ottoman Empire (i.e., in historic
Armenia) and in Cilicia were, like the Lebanese, merchants in the cities. In
exile, they had their Rothchilds who are called Gulbenkian and, even in the
Soviet Union, a Mikoyan who could be seen, vis-à-vis Stalin, as a court
As the Hitlerian genocide contributed to fix, even to freeze, Jewish
identity, the genocide of 1915, decided upon and perpetrated by the
government in Constantinople and the Union and Progress movement,
contributed in a decisive fashion to fix or freeze Armenian identity. These
two events are even more closely linked than appears at first. First of all,
the massacre of the Armenians served as a model.2 What is more important or
even of capital importance is that the intentional murder of Jews (and of
Gypsies) has, as a consequence, thrown light on and defined the very meaning
of the massacre of Armenians as a state massacre, starting the series that
is already long of the modern massacres perpetrated by states. And, therein
lies the properly totalitarian dimension of the phenomenon which is common
to the genocides of the Armenians and the Jews. Is it necessary to state or
repeat that one explains neither one of the events by speaking of a
Holocaust? A Holocaust [presupposes] Priests. Neither in 1915 nor in 1943
were there any priests; there were, rather, servants of a totalitarian order
of two nation-states, armed with varying techniques.3 This obvious fact
remains, regardless of the absence of clarity in some of the reflections of
both groups. Is it, however, necessary to recall that having suffered an
attempted genocide gives one 'the right to remember'4, but not the right to
The Turkish argument of denial was constructed step by step during the four
years that followed the collapse of the central powers and their allies, the
Bulgarians and the Turks, between the end of 1918 and August 1923, when the
Treaty of Lausanne was signed. It was a by-product of the unified and
centralized Turkish state created by Mustafa Kemal.
At first the government of the Sultan recognized the crimes of the Union and
Progress group, the Ittihad of Talaat and Enver and, in 1919, had them
condemned to death in absentia by the military tribunal
2 See the discussion on Hitler's 'little phrase' in Yves Ternon, op. Cit.,
pp.167-9 [A Crime of Silence, Zed Press]. We know that Hitler is supposed to
have said in August 1939, "Who remembers today the massacres of the
3 The fact is naturally more evident for Nazi Germany, a power with an
advanced technology, than for Turkey of 1915. But one should not forget that
if the executioners in 1915 were generally the 'underdeveloped', the members
of the Committee of Union and Progress who had overthrown Abdul-Hamid II in
1908 were modernizers who were welcomed to power as progressives, including
by the Armenian leaders.
4 Arménie: le droit à la mémoire, the title of the April 1984 issue of
in Constantinople. The facts seemed to be established at the time: coded
telegrams established the responsibility of the central government. The
telegrams were translated and read publicly. 5
Beginning in 1919, however, a first evasion appeared: the deportations were
legitimate but the massacres were condemned. Soon nothing remained but the
deportations. Following the takeover by Kemal, the language changed
drastically: his highest priority became the assertion of the unity of the
Turkish lands, be it real or imaginary. The Armenian problem had been
resolved by the massacres and the exile; the Greeks, defeated following
their mad adventure, became subjects of an exchange of population which left
them temporarily only in Istanbul, which was no longer the capital; the
Kurds became nothing but the 'mountain Turks', which did not, however, stop
them from revolting in 1925. In Lausanne, Ismet Inonu, assistant to Kemal
Ataturk, was able to declare placidly:
"The responsibility for all the calamities to which the Armenian element was
exposed in the Ottoman Empire falls upon their own deeds: the Turkish
government, in every case and without exception, only having had recourse to
repressive measures or reprisals, and that only after they had exhausted all
Of course, in a country where diverse cultures oppose each other, the
majority is always right and the minority is always wrong. The Turks are
certainly not the only ones to think this way. What has happened following
that remark, from 1923 to the present day, has been nothing but endless
variations on an already determined theme within which elements could be
replaced without causing any shift in the fundamental argument.
All this meant that the non-existence of the great massacre of the
Armenians, which, after the Second World War, came to be called the genocide
of the Armenians, became in Turkey a state truth, or, [rather], a national
truth, with a totalitarian dimension, that all in positions of authority -
diplomats, academics, and even professional historians adopted. The rule in
this kind of language is expressed perfectly in the witz of the pot which
Nadine Fresco has recalled with regard to the genocide of the Jews 6 and
which one could interpret thus: 'There has not been a genocide of the
Armenians; this genocide was fully justified; the Armenians massacred
themselves; it was they who massacred the Turks.' 7
The most worrying point is that those who contest the social order
prevailing in Turkey have also adopted this line of argument while giving it
a progressive colouration. And certainly, as in all massacres, there are
elements of truth in this manner of reasoning that has become totally
distorted. They take up the military argument, used by some, that the Turks
in April 1915 were threatened both by Russians in the north and by the
French and the British who, without being aware of it, had almost broken
through at the Dardanelles, and add new considerations on imperialism. The
Armenians, a Christian minority unlike the Kurds, were effectively
exploited, like the Copts and Maronites, by Western imperialism, including,
when occasion demanded, German imperialism, and might eventually have
welcomed the Russians as liberators.
5 On this point, see Yves Ternon, op. cit., pp. 174-81 and Gérard Chaliand
and Yves Ternon, Le Génocide des Arméniens (Complexe, Brussels, 1983),
pp.120-42 from which I have borrowed some quotations. There is reason to be
more reserved on the issue of the authenticity of other, mor direct,
relegrams, read in 1921 during the trial of Tehlirian who had assassinated
6 N. Fresco, 'Les Redresseurs de morts', Temps Modernes, June 1980,
pp.2111-80. The witz may be summarized this way: A has returned to B in bad
shape a pot which he had borrowed from B. In his defence he said, 'I have
not borrowed a pot; it was already broken; and I have returned it intact.'
7 The Turkish arguments have been summarized by Yves Ternon and M. Marian in
Esprit, April 1984, pp.80-5. One can find them stated with perfect clarity
by the Turkish ambassador in France, Adnan Bulak, in Le Monde of 2 May 1983;
the most elaborate 'scientific' version of the Armenian dossier, sponsored
by the Turkish Historical Society, is contained in Kamuran Gurun's book, Le
Dossier arménien 9n.p., Triangle. 1984).
This projected scenario had not stopped Armenians, as far as is known, from
responding to the Turkish orders to mobilize8 and one cannot see how this
possible sympathy for the enemy could have justified the murder of Armenian
babies. Were these babies the accomplices of imperialism? But there are, we
are asked to believe, denied genocides which it is, however, discreetly
suggested, lie within the logic of history.9 The most serious point perhaps
is that this state truth has been raised to the international level:
paragraph 30, concerning the Armenian case, of a United Nations Human Rights
Sub-Committee Report was removed in September 1978 under pressure from
Turkey; the US State Department denied in November 1981 the historical fact
of the Genocide itself; in 1982 Israel submitted to Turkish pressures
regarding a conference on genocide in history and withdrew its sponsorship;
the Russell Tribunal itself, which in 1967 abused the word10 and condemned
American crimes in Vietnam in the name of genocide, eliminated the murder of
Armenians from the list of genocides in history in order to satisfy the
Turkish judge who, in turn, was sustained by the Pakistani judge in the name
No one can suspect me of underestimating the Importance of historical
'revisionism' in the matter of the extermination of the Jews. When,
following the European elections of 17 June 1984 and the success of
Jean-Marie Le Pen, a journalist mentions, among the causes of this success,
the 'loss of memory' and 'historical revisionism' on the Jewish genocide,12
I am tempted to think him right. Everything goes on as if a taboo has been
lifted. Having said this, however abundant revisionist publications in
Germany and especially in the United States [are], internationally the
revisionists remain a small despicable band which does not seriously
threaten the historical consciousness of Jews in the Western World. There
exists certainly in some Arab countries a state revisionism that is derived
largely from the 'war racism' analysed by Maxime Rodinson,13 but no country,
even for reasons of petroleum, has agreed to adopt such a vision of history.
As to Germany herself, she has recognized her crime.
Let us imagine then what Armenian minorities can feel. Let us imagine
Haurisson (the leading French revisionist) as minister, Faurisson as
president, Faurisson as general, Faurisson as ambassador, Faurisson as
president of the Turkish Historic Commission, Faurisson as member of the
university senate in Istanbul,14 Faurisson as an influential member of the
United Nations, Faurisson responding in the press every time there is
mention of the Jewish genocide.15 In brief a state Faurisson coupled with an
This is a point which sometimes represents a problem in the Armenian
argument to the extent that there exists among Armenians a tradition which
represents them as defenders of Western and Christian values against Islam.
See, for example, the testimony of Mrs Kilindjian in Les Arméniens en cours
d'assises (Parenthéses, Roquevaire, 1983), p.36: 'My father and my uncle
had become soldiers by force, like all the Armenians.'
9 R. Marienstras, 'Un génocide dans le sens de l'histoire'. In Etre un
peuple en diaspora (Maspero, Paris, 1975), pp.205-13.
As a determined opponent of the American war in Vietnam I had intervened
with one of the judges, Laurent Schwartz, to attempt to block such a
reservation which seemed improper to me.
A. Ter Minassian, op. cit., p.8, n.3. On this point I had the testimony of
Laurent Schwartz and it is from him that I have obtained the detail on the
12 E. Plenel, Le Monde, 19 June 1984.
13 Maxine Rodinson,'Quelques idées simple sur l'antisémitisme,'Revue des
études palestiniennes.1 (1981), pp.5-21.
14 The Senate of the University of Istanbul adopted in 1981 a resolution
justifying the deportation of the Armenians and talking of 'libel' in
relation to the great massacre.
15 There is among the associates of Faurisson at lest one person, Vincent
Monteil, who also denies the genocide of the Armenians out of his love
Islam; see his Les Musulmans d'Union soviétique (2nd edition, Seuil, Paris,
1982) and his contribution to Intolérable intolérance (Editions de la
Différence, Paris, 1982).
international Faurisson and, on top of that, Talaat-Himmler enjoying since
1943 a formal mausoleum in the capital.
That the state where the murder was committed should deny the existence of
the murder, and succeed in getting many others to share this denial,
sometimes in the name of well understood diplomatic interests, and sometimes
in the name of the respect due to all peoples, poses some problems to the
heirs of the victims.
That the fixation on the genocide, the obsession with genocide which denies
the possibility of completing the 'labour of mourning', may also involve a
danger is quite obvious. The identity of a people cannot be limited to the
disasters that it has suffered; and, just as it is necessary to protest
against the lachrymose conception (S. Baron) of Jewish history and against
its transformation into a permanent vale of tears,16 similarly, the most
conscious Armenians know too that their history is not made of horrible
remembrances alone and that a culture that nourished itself solely on
genocide would very quickly become a dead culture.
There exists between the Armenians and the Turks as strange and sinister
dialectic. The Armenians can, through terrorism, embarrass the functioning
of the Turkish state by striking at its diplomats or ministers. It serves no
purpose to observe, as governments favourable to Armenians often do, that
the current Turkish government is not responsible for the atrocities
committed by the Committee of Union and Progress. But the current government
is responsible to the extent that it acquits the past.
That a Turkish head of state may some day imitate the famous gesture, the
gesture so often recalled in this respect, of Chancellor Brandt in Warsaw,
does not depend on the Armenians. The question that is in fact posed - and
that is why that gesture is so difficult -is that of the very identity of
the state founded by Mustafa Kemal, a homogeneous, even Jacobin, state,
succeeding the hierarchical and multinational empire of the Ottomans.
Paradoxically, the destiny of the Armenian cause is perhaps in the hands of
the Kurds, the very Kurds who once killed so many Armenians. But let some
day such a gesture or speech be made and everything will be possible,
'And by the power of one word, I start my life all over.'17
16 Based on the title of a famous work by Joseph Hacohen of Avignon
completed in 1560, two generations after the expulsion from Spain in 1492.
17 Quotation from a famous poem by Paul Eluard 'Liberté -'Et par le pouvoir
d'un mot, je recommence ma vie.'
PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL
VERDICT OF THE TRIBUNAL
April 16, 1984
"...they [Armenians] constitute a people protected by the right to self
necessarily implies that they also constitute a group, the destruction of
outlawed by virtue of the rule pertaining to genocide."
he most fundamental of all assaults on the right of peoples is the crime of
genocide. Nothing is graver in a criminal sense than a deliberate state
policy of systematic extermination of a people based on their particular
This centrality of genocide to the works of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
is embodied in its basic framework of law set forth in the Universal
Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (Algiers, 4 July 1976).
Article 1 of the Algiers Declaration asserts: "Every people has the right to
existence." Article 2: "Every people has the right to respect of its
national and cultural identity.' Article 3: 'Every people has the right to
retain peaceful possession of its territory and to return to it if it is
And finally, Article 4 confronts directly the reality of genocide: "None
shall be subjected, because of his national or cultural identity, to
massacre, torture, persecution, deportation, expulsion or living conditions
such as may compromise the identity of integrity of the people to which he
Yet, it may still be asked, why so many years after the alleged genocide,
should the Tribunal devote its energies to an inquiry into the allegations
of the Armenian people. After all, the basic grievance of massacre and
extermination is fixed in time sixty-nine years ago in 1915. The Tribunal is
convinced that its duties include the validation of historic grievances if
these have never been properly brought before the bar of justice and
acknowledged in an appropriate form by the government involved.
In this instance, the basis for an examination and evaluation of these
Armenian allegations is especially compelling. Every government of the
Turkish state since 1915 has refused to come to grips with the accusation of
responsibility for the genocidal events.
In recent international forums and academic meetings, the Turkish government
had made a concerted effort to block inquiry or acknowledgement of the
Furthermore, the current Turkish government has not taken cognizance of
these most serious charges of responsibility for extermination the Armenian
people. On the contrary, additional charges implicate the present Turkish
government in continuing these exterminist policies.
Particularly relevant in this regard are the charges of deliberate
destruction, desecration, and neglect of Armenian cultural monuments and
The Tribunal adopts the view that the charge of the crime of genocide
remains a present reality to be examined and, if established, to be
appropriately and openly acknowledged by leaders of the responsible state.
The victims of a crime of genocide are entitled to legal relief even after
this great lapse of time, although this relief must necessarily reflect
Here, also, the attitudes of the Armenian survivors and their descendants
are also relevant. Any people rightfully insist and seek a formal
recognition by legal authorities of crimes and injustices found to have been
committed at their expense. The more extreme the injustice and the longer it
is covered up, the more profound is this longing for recognition. The
Tribunal notes with regret that the frustration arising from this denial of
acknowledgement has seemingly contributed to the recourse to terroristic
acts against Turkish diplomats and others. The hope of the Tribunal is to
facilitate a constructive process of coming to terms with the Armenian
reality, which may lead to a resolution or moderation of the conflict that
may arise from it.
Genocide is the worst conceivable crime of state. Often, the state
responsible is protected from accountability by other states and by the
international framework of the organizations, including the United Nations,
composed exclusively of states. One striking feature of the Armenian
experience is the responsibility of other states who, for reasons of
geopolitics, join with the Turkish government in efforts to prevent, even at
this late date, a thorough inquiry and award of legal relief.
The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal was brought into existence partly to
overcome the moral and political failures of states as instruments of
justice. The Tribunal has inquired into the Armenian grievances precisely
because of the long silence of the organized international society and,
especially, of the complicity of leading Western states (with the recent
exception of France) who have various economic, political, and military ties
with the Turkish state.
The Tribunal also acts because it is deeply concerned with the prevalence of
genocide and genocidal attitudes in our world. As members of the Tribunal we
believe that the uncovering and objective documentation of allegations of
genocide contributes to the process of acknowledgement. To uncover and
expose the genocidal reality makes it somewhat harder for those with motives
of cover up to maintain their position. By validating the grievances of the
victims, the Tribunal contributes to the dignity of their suffering and
lends support to their continuing struggle.
Indeed, acknowledging genocide itself is a fundamental means of struggling
against genocide. The acknowledgement is itself an affirmation of the right
of a people under international law to a safeguarded existence.
I. Historical Introduction
The presence of the Armenian people in eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus is
attested from the sixth century B.C. onward. For two millennia the Armenian
people alternated between periods of independence and vassaldom. A
succession of royal dynasties came to an end with the collapse of the last
Armenian kingdom in the fourteenth century. Having adopted Christianity as
their state religion in the early part of the fourth century as well as
their own alphabet, both of which gave them a national identity from this
period, the Armenians were often persecuted because of their faith by
various invaders and suzerains. Though they occupied a geographical position
which, as a strategic crossroads, was particularly vulnerable, the Armenians
were able until the First World War to create and preserve on their historic
territory - which the Turks themselves called Ermenistan - a language, a
culture, and a religion: in short, an identity.
Following the disappearance of the last Armenian kingdom, the greater part
of "Armenia fell under Turkish domination, while the Eastern regions were
under the control first of Persia, then of the Russians, who annexed them in
the nineteenth century.
Like other religious minorities, the Armenian community (or 'millet')
enjoyed religious and cultural autonomy within the Ottoman Empire and,
indeed, was left more or less in peace during the classical period of the
Empire's history, in spite of the Armenians' status as second-class citizens
But with the decline of the Empire in the nineteenth century, conditions
grew steadily worse and the climate became one of oppression. The growth in
population and the arrival of successive waves of Turkish refugees from
Russia and the Balkans as well as the sedentarization of nomads (Kurds,
Circassians, etc.) upset the balance of populations and increased the
pressure of competition for land, creating numerous problems of tenure in
the agrarian sector. The result was a deterioration in the fortunes of the
Armenian population, who were mostly peasants and farmers. Modernization and
reform were made difficult by the fossilized structure of the Empire. The
few attempts at reform (formation of a modern army, taxation in coin) merely
impoverished the peasantry further.
At the same time, the emergence of national feelings in the Balkans was
leading increasingly to the independence of peoples who had hitherto been
under Ottoman rule. The empire was being steadily weakened, not least due to
its foreign debt.
>From 1878, following the Russian-Turkish war the Armenian question became a
factor in the question of the Orient. Article 16 of the Treaty of San
Stefano (1878) provided that a series of reforms would be carried out in
Armenian areas under Russian guarantee. However, following a reversal of
alliances, the Treaty of Berlin (1878) relieved Turkey of part of its
obligations and charged Great Britain to supervise the reforms; but they
were never implemented.
A revolutionary movement began to develop within the Armenian community
(Dashnak and Hunchak parties). Following the Sasun insurrection in 1894,
approximately 300,000 Armenians were massacred in the eastern provinces and
in Constantinople on the orders of Sultan Abdul Hamid. Protests by the
Powers led to more promises of reforms which, again, were never kept; the
guerilla ('fedayis') struggle continued. From the turn of the century
onward, Armenian revolutionaries also began to cooperate with the Young Turk
party in the definition of a federalist plan for the Empire. Following the
hopes generated by the constitutional revolution of 1908 Young Turk
ideology, under pressure of the exercise of power and external events as
well as from the radical wing of the movement, began to develop toward a
form of exclusive nationalism which found expression in Pan-Turkism and
The Armenians' situation in the Eastern province had not changed either as
the result of the revolution or of the overthrow of Abdul Hamid in 1909
(massacres of Adana), and demands for reforms were again made by the Entente
Powers. These demands were eventually heard in February 1914, and two
inspectors were appointed to supervise their implementation. The
appointments were considered by the Ottoman government as unacceptable
At the outbreak of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was uncertain as
to which side to join. At the beginning of November 1914, under German
pressure, it sided with the Central Powers. This placed the Armenians in a
difficult position. They occupied a territory which Turkey considered as
vital to the realization of its Turanist imperialistic ambitions with regard
to the peoples of Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Furthermore, the division
of the Armenian people between the Ottoman Empire (2,000,000 Armenians) and
Russia (1,700,000) inevitably meant that the two sections of the population
found themselves on opposing sides. At the Eighth Congress of the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation at Erzerum in August 1914, the Dashnak party
rejected Young Turk requests to engage in subversive action among the
Russian Armenians. From the beginning of the war, the Turkish Armenians
behaved in general as loyal subjects, signing up with the Turkish army.
The Russian Armenians, on their side, were routinely conscripted into the
Russian Army and sent to fight on the European fronts. In the first months
of the war, Russian Armenians enrolled with volunteer corps which acted as
scouts for the Tsarist army - the Russian answer to the plan Turks had
submitted to Armenians in Erzerum some months earlier. The Erzerum refusal
and the formation of these volunteer battalions were used as arguments by
the Young Turks to allege Armenian treachery. Enver, who had been appointed
Supreme Commander of Turkish forces, achieved a breakthrough into
Transcaucasia in the middle of winter, but was defeated at Sarkamish as much
by the weather conditions as by the Russian army. Of the Turkish Third
Army's 90,000 men, only 15,000 remained. In the depressed aftermath of the
defeat in the Caucasus, the anti-Armenian measures began.
II. THE GENOCIDE
Beginning in January 1915, Armenians soldiers and gendarmes were disarmed,
regrouped in work brigades of 500 to 1,000 men, put to work on road
maintenance or as porters, then taken by stages to remote areas and
executed. It was not until April that the implementation of a plan began,
with successive phases carried out in a disciplined sequence. The signal was
first given for deportation to begin in Zeytun in early April, in an area of
no immediate strategic importance. It was not until later that deportation
measures were extended to the border provinces.
The pretext used to make the deportation a general measure was supplied by
the resistance of the Armenians of Van. The Vali of Van, Jevdet, sacked
outlying Armenian villages and the Van Armenians organized the self-defense
of the city. They were saved by a Russian breakthrough spearheaded by the
Armenian volunteers from the Caucasus. After taking Van on May 18th, the
Russians continued to press forward but were halted in late June by a
Turkish counter-offensive. The Armenians of the vilayet of Van were thus
able to retreat and escape extermination.
When the news of the Van revolt reached Constantinople, the Union and
Progress (Ittihad) Committee seized the opportunity. Some 650 persons-
writers, poets, lawyers, doctors, priests and politicians were imprisoned on
April 24th and 25th, 1915, then deported and murdered in the succeeding
months. Thus was carried out what was practically the thorough and
deliberate elimination of almost the entire Armenian intelligentsia of the
>From April 24 onwards, and following a precise timetable, the government
issued orders to deport the Armenians from the eastern vilayets. Since Van
was occupied by the Russian army, the measures applied only to the six
vilayets of Trebizond (Trabzon), Erzerum, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Kharput, and
Sivas. The execution of the plan was entrusted to a 'special organization'
(SO), made up of common criminals and convicts trained and equipped by the
Union and Progress Committee. This semi-official organization, led by
Behaeddin Shakir, was under the sole authority of the Ittihad Central
Committee. This semi-official organization, led by Behaeddin Shakir, was
under the sole authority of the Ittihad Central Committee. Constantinople
issued directives to the valis, kaymakans, as well as local SO men, who had
discretionary powers to have moved or dismissed any uncooperative gendarme
or official. The methods used, the order in which towns were evacuated, and
the routes chosen for the columns of deportees all confirm the existence of
a centralized point of command controlling the unfolding of the program.
Deportation orders were announced publicly or posted in each city and
township. Families were allowed two days to collect a few personal
belongings; their property was confiscated or quickly sold off. The first
move was generally the arrest of notables, members of Armenian political
parties, priests, and young men, who were forced to sign fabricated
confessions then discreetly eliminated in small groups. The convoys of
deportees were made up of old people, women, and children. In the more
remote villages, families were slaughtered and their homes burned or
occupied. On the Black Sea coast and along the Tigris near Diarbekir boats
were heaped with victims and sunk. From May to July 1915, the eastern
provinces were sacked and looted by Turkish soldiers and gendarmes, SO gangs
('chetes'), etc. This robbery, looting, torture, and murder were tolerated
or encouraged while any offer of protection to the Armenians was severely
punished by the Turkish authorities.
It was not possible to keep the operation secret. Alerted by missionaries
and consuls, the Entente Powers enjoined the Turkish government, from May
24, to put an end to the massacres, for which they held members of the
government personally responsible. Turkey made the deportation official by
issuing a decree, claiming treason, sabotage, and terrorist acts on the part
of the Armenians as a pretext.
Deportation was in fact only a disguised form of extermination. The
strongest were eliminated before departure. Hunger, thirst, and slaughter
decimated the convoys' numbers. Thousands of bodies piled up along the
roads. Corpses hung from trees and telegraph poles; mutilated bodies floated
down rivers or were washed up on the banks. Of the seven eastern vilayets'
original population of 1,200,00 Armenians, approximately 300,000 were able
to take advantage of the Russian occupation to reach the Caucasus; the
remainder were murdered where they were or deported, the women and children
(about 200,000 in number) kidnapped. Not more than 50,000 survivors reached
the point of convergence of the convoys of deportees in Aleppo.
At the end of July 1915, the government began to deport the Armenians of
Anatolia and Cilicia, transferring the population from regions which were
far distant from the front and where the presence of Armenians could not be
regarded as a threat to the Turkish army. The deportees were driven south in
columns which were decimated en route. From Aleppo, survivors were sent on
toward the deserts of Syria in the south and of Mesopotamia in the
southeast. In Syria, reassembly camps were set up at Hama, Homs, and near
Damascus. These camps accommodated about 120,000 refugees, the majority of
whom survived the war and were repatriated to Cilicia in 1919. Along the
Euphrates, on the other hand, the Armenians were driven ever onward toward
Deir-el-Zor; approximately 200,000 reached their destination. Between March
and August 1916, orders came from Constantinople to liquidate the last
survivors remaining in the camps along the railway and the banks of the
There were nevertheless still some Armenians remaining in Turkey. A few
Armenian families in the provinces, Protestants and Catholics for the most
part, had been saved from death by the American missions and the Apostolic
Nuncio. In some cases, Armenians had been spared as a result of resolute
intervention by Turkish officials, or had been hidden by Kurdish or Turkish
friends. The Armenians of Constantinople and Smyrna also escaped
deportation. Lastly, there were cases of resistance (Urfa, Shabin-Karahisar,
Musa-Dagh). In all, including those who took refuge in Russia, the number of
survivors at the end of 1916 can be estimated at 600,000 out of an estimated
total population in 1914 of 1,800,000, according to A. Toynbee.
In Eastern Anatolia, the entire Armenian population had disappeared. A few
survivors of the slaughter took refuge in Syria and Lebanon, while others
reached Russian Armenia. In April 1918, in order to circumvent provisions of
the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stipulating that Bolshevik Russia cede Batum,
Kars, and Ardahan to Turkey, Transcaucasia declared independence, forming a
short-lived Federation which was to break up into three republics in May
1918: Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
At its defeat in November 1918, Turkey recognized the Armenian state and
even ceded to it in the following year the vilayets of Kars and Ardahan.
All the allied governments had solemnly promised on several occasions, in
statements by their representatives Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Wilson, etc.,
to ensure that justice was done by the 'martyred Armenian people'.
In April 1920, the San Remo Conference proposed that the United States
accept an Armenian mandate, and that, whatever the United States decision,
President Wilson should define the frontiers of the Armenian State and that
the peace treaty with Turkey should designate him as a referee in the
question of the Turkish-Armenian frontiers.
The Treaty of Sèvres (August 10, 1920), which recognized the Armenian state
and ratified the frontiers drawn by President Wilson, did not, however,
settle the issue. This Treaty, which was signed by the government in
Constantinople and which shared out large sections of Anatolia to the
Italians, the British, and the French as well as favoured the Greeks in the
Aegean Sea, was unacceptable to Mustafa Kemal, who rejected it. The Republic
of Armenia under the leadership of the socialist Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (Dashnak) was soon caught in a vice between the Kemalist
offensive and Bolshevik Russia. When, on November 20,1920, President Wilson
officially set forth the territorial limits of the new state, the collapse
of the Republic was only a few days off. The vilayets of Kars and Ardahan
were retaken by Turkey (Treaty of Alexandropol) and what remained of Armenia
(approximately 30,000 sq. km.) became Soviet on December 2, 1920.
On July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed by the Great Powers and
the new Republic of Turkey with no mention of Armenia or the rights of
Armenians. The Armenian question was closed.
III. THE EVIDENCE
The Tribunal is invited to pronounce judgement on the charge of genocide
brought on the basis of the events of 1915-1915.
The Tribunal considers that the facts presented above are established on the
basis of substantial and concordant evidence. This evidence has been
produced and analyzed in the various reports heard by the Tribunal, to which
numerous documents have been submitted.
A near-exhaustive bibliography of these sources has been drawn up by
Professor R.G. Hovannisian, The Armenian Holocaust, Cambridge,
Not counting the Ottoman archives-which are inaccessible-the main documents
are as follows:
The German archives, which in view of the status of Germany as ally of the
Ottoman Empire, are of prime significance. Especially worthy of note are the
reports and eyewitness observations of Johannes Lepsius, of Dr. Armin
Wegner, of the charitable organization 'Deutscher Hilfsbund', of Dr. Jacob
Kunzler, of the journalist Stuermer, of Dr. Martin Niepage, of the
missionary Ernst Christoffel, and of General Liman von Sanders; the latter
related how the Armenian populations of Smyrna and Andrinopolis were spared
as a result of his resolute personal intervention.
The reports of German diplomatic and consular personnel who were
eyewitnesses of the conditions of the dispersion of the Armenians at
Erzerum, Aleppo, Samsun, etc.
The American archives, which also contained very ample material in
confirmation of the above (reports by missionaries, consuls, and charities)
and 'Internal Affairs of Turkey, 1910-1919, Race Problems', State
Department, and the memoirs of the of the American Ambassador in
Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau.
The British authorities' Blue Book on these events, published in 1916 by
The minutes of the Trial of the Unionists (Ittihadists) on charges brought
by the Turkish government following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.
At the time of this trial, which took place between April and July 1919, the
Turkish government collected evidence of the deportation and massacres and
tried those responsible - the majority in their absence - by a court
martial. The court convicted most of the defendants, including Talaat,
Enver, and Jemal, who were sentenced to death in absentia.
The reports submitted to the Tribunal by four survivors of the massacres who
lived through the events as children.
IV. THE TURKISH ARGUMENTS
The Tribunal has examined the Turkish arguments as set forth in the
documents submitted to it.
The refusal of the Turkish government to recognize the genocide of the
Armenians is based essentially on the following arguments: lower estimate of
death toll; responsibility of Armenian revolutionaries; counter-accusations;
denial of premeditation.
The number of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire in 1914 has been
variously estimated at 2,100,000 by the Armenian Patriarchate; 1,800,000 by
A. Toynbee; and about 1,300,000 by the Turks. In spite of different
estimates of the number of victims, the Armenians and almost all the Western
experts agree on the proportion; approximately two thirds of the population.
The Turks claim that the consequences of the 'transfer' were on a much
smaller scale, resulting in the disappearance of 20-25 percent of the
population due to generally poor wartime conditions. The Turkish state also
points out that losses were heavy on the Muslim side. This argument appears
to overlook the fact that Armenians have almost entirely disappeared from
Anatolia. The population of Turkey is currently about 45 million, of whom
less than 100,000 are Armenians.
In order to shift responsibility away from itself, the Turkish government
alleges that Armenians committed acts of sedition and of treason in time of
war. However, the Tribunal has found that the only armed actions undertaken
within the Ottoman Empire were the Sassun revolt and the resistance of Van
in April 1915.
A further argument advanced by the Turkish state is the accusation that it
was the Armenians who supposedly committed genocide against the Turks. It is
true that in 1917 (i.e. more than a year after the deportation and
extermination of the Armenians was completed) a number of Turkish villages
were annihilated by Armenian troops. The Tribunal considers that these acts,
however blameworthy, cannot be considered as genocide. Furthermore, the
Tribunal notes that these acts were committed some considerable time after
the mass slaughter suffered by the Armenians.
Lastly, the Turkish state rejects the charge of premeditation, impugning the
authenticity of the five telegrams sent by the Minister of the Interior,
Talaat, which were certified as authentic by experts appointed by the Court
at the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian at Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1921.
Tehlirian was acquitted of the murder of Talaat in view of the crimes
against humanity perpetrated by the Young Turk government. The German
Ambassador, Wangenheim, for his part, left no doubt, as early as July 7,
1915 as to the premeditation of the events: "these circumstances and the
manner in which the deportation is being carried out are a demonstration of
the fact that the government is indeed pursuing its goal of exterminating
the Armenian race in the Ottoman Empire." (Letter concerning the extension
of the deportation measures to provinces not under threat of invasion by the
enemy [No. 106 in the collection Deutschland und Armenien, 1914-1918] in the
Wilhelmstrasse archives and published by the Rev. Lepsius.)
In 1971, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asked its
Sub-Committee on the fight against discriminatory measures and the
protection of minorities, comprising independent experts, to undertake a
'study of the question of the prevention and punishment of the crime of
In 1973 and 1975, the two interim reports which were submitted to the
Sub-Committee by the special rapporteur contained a paragraph 30 which read
as follows: 'In modern times, attention should be drawn to the existence of
fairly abundant documentation relating to the massacre of the Armenians,
considered as the first genocide of the twentieth century.'
In the final report submitted to the Commission in 1979, the aforementioned
paragraph 30 was omitted.
The Commission's Chairman observed that the omission had given rise to such
a wave of protest that its effects were assuming proportions which had
possibly not been anticipated by the author. He therefore invited the
rapporteur, when putting the finishing touches to his report, to bear in
mind this reaction and statements made by the Commission delegates following
The special rapporteur never reported back to complete his mission and the
Sub-Committee, in pursuance of Economic and Social Council Resolution
1983/33, appointed another special rapporteur with instructions to fully
revise and update the study on the question of the prevention and punishment
of the crime of genocide.
The Tribunal has found that the Turkish delegation, in opposing the adoption
of the above-mentioned paragraph 30, essentially advanced the following
that the facts alleged were a distortion of historical truth.
that the term genocide did not apply since the events concerned were not
massacres but acts of war.
and lastly, that harking back to events which took place as long ago as the
beginning of the century would merely serve to stir up ill feeling.
On the first two points, concerning the facts and the law, the Tribunal has
examined the arguments submitted in the case before it and trusts that in so
doing it has contributed to meeting the wish of the Commission for Human
Rights that efforts should be made to enable the Sub-Committee to complete
its task taking into consideration all the material which has been submitted
On the third point, the Tribunal can only observe that the refusal to adopt
paragraph 30, quoted above, far from allaying concern, has given rise to
IV. On the Rights of the Armenian People
The Tribunal notes that the Armenian population groups which were the
victims of the massacres and other atrocities which have been reported to it
constitute a people within the meaning of the law of nations.
Today, this people has the right of self-determination in accordance with
Article 1,S2 of the United Nations Charter and the provisions of the
Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples adopted in Algiers on July 4,
1976. It is incumbent upon the international community, and primarily, on
the United Nations Organization, to take all necessary measures to ensure
the observance of this fundamental right, including measures the prime
object of which shall be to enable the effective exercise of that right.
The Tribunal wishes to stress the special obligations which are placed upon
the Turkish state in this regard arising from the general rule of the law of
nations as well as from individual treaties to which it has been party and
which date back approximately one hundred years.
In this connection, the Tribunal draws special attention to the fact that by
virtue of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin, the aforementioned state
entered into an obligation as early as 1878 to assign the Armenian people
within the Ottoman Empire a regime guaranteeing its right to flourish in a
climate of security under the supervision of the international community.
The Tribunal also notes that promises of self determination which were made
to the Armenian people at the time of the First World War were not kept,
since the international community unduly permitted the disappearance of an
Armenian state which in principle had been clearly recognized both by the
Allied and associated Powers and by Turkey in the Treaty of Batum.
The fact that the right of this state to peaceful existence within
recognized borders as a member of the international community has not been
observed, no more than was the right of the Armenian population to exist
peacefully within the Ottoman Empire, cannot however be considered as
effectively extinguishing the rights of the Armenian people, or of relieving
the international community of its responsibility toward that people.
The Tribunal records that the fate of a people can never be considered as a
purely internal affair, entirely subject to the whims, however well
intentioned, of sovereign states. The fundamental rights of this people are
of direct concern to the international community, which is entitled and duty
bound to ensure that these rights are respected, particularly when they are
openly denied by one of its member states.
In this particular case, this conclusion is still further corroborated by
the fact that, even before the right of peoples to self determination was
explicitly affirmed by the United Nations Charter, the rights of the
Armenian people had already been recognized by the states concerned under
the supervision of representatives of the international community.
III. ON THE CHARGE OF GENOCIDE
A) General rules applicable to charges of genocide
According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide, which was
adopted bythe United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948, genocide
is 'a crime under
international law', 'whether committed in time of peace or in time of war'
Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy,
in whole or in part, a
national, ethical, 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. (Article II)
According to Article III:
The following acts shall be punishable:
b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
d) Attempt to commit genocide;
e) Complicity in genocide.
Lastly, Article IV stipulates that persons guilty of one of the
aforementioned acts shall be punished: 'whether they are constitutionally
responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.'
The Tribunal considers that these provisions must be accepted as defining
circumstances in which genocide is to be punished in accordance with the law
of nations, in spite of the fact that certain broader definitions exist.
This convention formally came into force on January 12, 1951 and was
ratified by Turkey on July 31, 1950. It should not be inferred from this,
however, that acts of genocide cannot be the object of an indictment in law
if such acts were committed either before the convention came into force or
within the territory of a state which had not ratified the Convention. While
it is true that the Convention places upon signatory states obligations to
prevent or punish a crime which is not defined in any other instrument, it
must nevertheless be judged to be declaratory of law inasmuch as it condemns
This declaratory force of the instrument arises from the wording of the
Convention itself. In the preamble, the contracting parties 'recognize that
throughout history, genocide has inflicted severe losses on humanity' and
'confirm' in Article I that genocide constitutes a crime in the law of
nations. This confirmation necessarily implies that this crime existed
before December 9, 1948. It is, moreover, generally acknowledged by
international legal doctrine of states, which reflects the undeniable
reality of a collective conscience of states. It is of little consequence
that the term 'genocide' itself was only recently coined. The only point of
relevance is that the acts which it describes have long been condemned.
Once such declaratory force is accepted, the Tribunal is not required to
determine the precise date of origin of the rule proscribing genocide
codified by the Convention. It is sufficient for the purposes of the
Tribunal to establish that this rule was undisputedly in force at the time
when the massacres described to it were committed. Indeed, it emerges
clearly from the deeds that have been done and the statements that have been
arising from the Armenian question, however justifiable these may or may not
be or have been for various reasons, that the 'laws of humanity' condemned
the policy of systematic extermination pursued by the Ottoman government.
The Tribunal wishes to stress in this regard that such laws, however
pressing the need for their formalization at the present time, do not merely
reflect imperative moral or ethical rules: they also express positive legal
obligations which cannot be ignored by states on the pretext that they have
not been expressed formally in treaties, as is confirmed by the example of
the Martens clause in the area of the law of warfare.
Moreover, the condemnation of crimes committed during the First World War
bears out the belief of states that such crimes could not be tolerated
legally even though no written rules explicitly forbade them. The Tribunal
recalls in this connection that such condemnation was pronounced on crimes
against humanity as well as war crimes; it should furthermore be emphasized
that Article 230 of the Treaty of Sèvres expressly invoked the
responsibility of Turkey in massacres perpetuated on Turkish territory.
Certainly this treaty has not been ratified, and the obligation of
punishment which it stipulated has therefore never operated; however, this
fact does not detract from the clear manifestation afforded to us today by
the content of that treaty that the states of that time were indeed
conscious of the illegality of the crime which we now call genocide.
For these reasons, the Tribunal considers that genocide was already
prohibited in law from the time of the first massacres of the Armenian
population, since the 1948 convention served only to give formal expression,
and indeed in a qualified formulation, to a rule of law which is applicable
to the facts which formed the basis of the charge brought before this
b) The Charge of Genocide of the Armenian People
The following observations would seem to be necessary on examination of the
evidence which has been submitted to the Tribunal, the substance of which is
There can be no doubt that the Armenians constitute a national group within
the definition of the rule outlawing genocide. This conclusion is all the
more evident since they constitute a people protected by the right to self
determination which necessarily implies that they also constitute a group,
the destruction of which is outlawed by virtue of the rule pertaining to
There is no doubt regarding the reality of the physical acts constituting
the genocide. The fact of the murder of members of a group, of grave attacks
on their physical or mental integrity, and of the subjection of this group
to conditions leading necessarily to their deaths, are clearly proven by the
full and unequivocal evidence submitted to the Tribunal. In its examination
of the case the Tribunal has focused primarily on the massacres perpetrated
between 1915 and 1917, which were the most extreme example of a policy which
was clearly heralded by the events of 1894-1896.
The specific intent to destroy the group as such, which is the special
characteristic of the crime of genocide, is also established. The reports
and documentary evidence supplied point clearly to a policy of methodical
extermination of the Armenian people, revealing the specific intent referred
to in Article II of the Convention of December 9, 1948.
The policy took effect in actions which were attributable beyond dispute to
the Turkish or Ottoman authorities, particularly during the massacres of
1915-1917. The Tribunal notes on the one hand, however, that in addition to
the atrocities committed by the official authorities, the latter also used
malicious propaganda and other means to encourage civilian populations to
commit acts of genocide against the Armenians. It is further observed that
the authorities generally refrained from intervening to prevent the
slaughter, although they had the power to do so, or from punishing the
culprits, with the exception of the trial of the Unionists. This attitude
amounts to incitement to crime and to criminal negligence, and must be
judged as severely as the crimes actively committed and specifically covered
by the law against genocide.
On the evidence submitted, the Tribunal considers that the various
allegations (rebellion, treason, etc.) made by the Turkish government to
justify the massacres are without foundation. It is stressed, in any event,
that even were such allegations substantiated, they could in no way justify
the massacres committed. Genocide is a crime which admits of no grounds for
excuse or justification.
For these reasons, the Tribunal finds that the charge of genocide of the
Armenian people brought against the Turkish authorities is established as to
its foundation in fact.
c) The Consequences of the Genocide
The Tribunal recalls that, as is the case with all other crimes against
humanity, genocide is by definition a crime to which no statute of
limitations can apply by virtue of general international law, as confirmed
by the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutes of Limitations to War
Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, which was adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly on November 26, 1968.
All those responsible for the massacres, whether 'they are constitutionally
responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals' are thus
subject to penalties, which states are under an obligation to apply in order
to observe the guarantees attached to the exercise of the enforcement of
Apart from the question of penalties, genocide is furthermore a violation of
the law of nations for which the Turkish state must assume responsibility.
Its first duty arising from this position lies in a basic obligation
incumbent upon it to admit the facts without seeking to dissemble and to
deplore the commission of this act. This in itself would constitute minimal
redress for the incalculable moral injury suffered by the Armenian nation.
The Tribunal wishes to draw special attention to the fact that international
practice as applied to the Turkish state since the time of these events
affords sufficient legal basis to establish that the identity and continuity
of this state have not been affected by the upheavals in the country's
history since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
Neither its territorial losses nor the reorganization of its political
system have been such as to detract from its continued identity as a subject
of the law of nations. Consequently, it cannot be considered that successive
Turkish governments since the constitution of a Kemalist republic are
justified in refusing to assume a responsibility which remains with the
state they represent in the international community.
The Tribunal further notes that nothing in the statements or conduct of the
Armenian people or of the states sharing the responsibility of safeguarding
its rights can be interpreted as implying their waiver of the blame
attaching to those guilty of the genocide. Like its predecessors, the
present Turkish government is therefore bound to assume this responsibility.
A crime of this nature violates obligations which are so essential to the
international community that the authors of a recent draft Article on the
responsibility of states have rightly described it as an 'international
crime of state' within the meaning of the law on the responsibility of
states, in other words, no longer within the purview of ordinary criminal
As a result, and as is indeed confirmed by the special obligations of the
international community toward the Armenian people, any member of this
community has the right to call the Turkish state to account regarding its
obligations, and in particular, to elicit official recognition of the
genocide should this state persist in denying it, and is furthermore
authorized to take any measure of aid and assistance on behalf of the
Armenian people as provided by the law of nations and the Declaration of
Algiers, without being accused in so doing of illicit interference in the
affairs of another state.
Finally, it is incumbent upon the international community as a whole, and
more especially through the United Nations Organization, to recognize the
genocide and to assist the Armenian people to this end.
Indeed, it cannot be considered entirely justified, neither in allowing a
crime to be committed against one of its peoples which it is obligated to
protect in the same way as anyone of its states, nor in tolerating the
wrongful denial of such a crime until today.
The Armenian genocide which took place during the First World War was the
first act of its kind in a century during which genocide and the horror
associated with it have, alas, become widespread.
The perpetration of such atrocities has not been confined to societies which
certain might describe as underdeveloped. On the contrary, in some cases
they have been committed by nations generally considered to be the most
developed and the most scientifically advanced. In fact, the most
significant example in the whole of the twentieth century involved the
application of advanced technology and sophisticated organization in the
genocide of the European Jews by the Nazis, a genocide which caused human
suffering to a degree barely conceivable and which ultimately led to the
extermination of approximately six million people.
In previous sessions, the Tribunal had had occasion to condemn genocides
committed against the people of El Salvador (decision of February 11, 1981),
the Maubere people of Eastern Timor (decision of June 21, 1981), and the
Indian people of Guatemala (decision of January 31, 1983).
The Tribunal notes that one of the most serious consequences and one of the
most disturbing effects of genocide - above and beyond the irreparable
wrongs inflicted upon its immediate victims - is the degradation and
perversion of humanity as a whole.
FOR THESE REASONS
In answer to the questions which were put to it, the Tribunal hereby finds
The Armenian population did and do constitute a people whose fundamental
rights, both individual and collective, should have been and shall be
respected in accordance with international law;
The extermination of the Armenian population groups through deportation and
massacre constitutes a crime of genocide not subject to statutory
limitations within the definition of the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948. With respect to the
condemnation of this crime, the aforesaid Convention is declaratory of
existing law in that it takes note of rules which were already in force at
the time of the incriminated acts;
The Young Turk government is guilty of this genocide, with regard to the
acts perpetrated between 1915-1917;
The Armenian genocide is also an 'international crime' for which the Turkish
state must assume responsibility, without using the pretext of any
discontinuity in the existence of the state to elude that responsibility;
This responsibility implies first and foremost the obligation to recognize
officially the reality of this genocide and the consequent damages suffered
by the Armenian people;
The United Nations Organization and each of its members have the right to
demand this recognition and to assist the Armenian people to that end.
PERMANENT PEOPLES' TRIBUNAL
- VERDICT AND CONCLUSIONS OF THE TRIBUNAL -
ON THE QUESTION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE IN SESSION AT THE SARBONNE, PARIS,
APRIL 16, 1984
"...they [Armenians] constitute a people protected by the right to self
necessarily implies that they also constitute a group, the destruction of
outlawed by virtue of the rule pertaining to genocide."
CONCLUSIONS OF THE TRIBUNAL 18
It follows from the [deliberations of the Tribunal] that:
18 Excerpted from A Crime of Silence, The Armenian Genocide - Permanent
People's Tribunal, p209, Zed Books, London, 1985.
- The Armenian people constitute a people, which has a right to
determine freely its own destiny according to international law as well as
on the basis of the particular obligations agreed upon by Turkey since the
Treaty of Berlin;
- The massacre of Armenian populations constitutes a genocide
according to the Convention of 9 December 1948 which, while condemning
genocide, are declaratory of existing law;
- The Turkish authorities must be judged guilty of genocide, of
instigation to genocide, and of complicity in genocide for their role in the
massacres perpetrated in 1894-96 and in 1915-17;
- The Armenian genocide is an 'international crime' for which the
Turkish government must assume responsibility without the ability to use the
pretext of discontinuity in the Turkish state to avoid such responsibility;
- This responsibility assumes mainly the obligation to make
reparations for the moral and material harm to which the Armenian nation was
- Every member of the international community has the right to demand
sanctions for the moral and material harm to which the Armenian nation was
- The United Nations has the obligation, based both on the general
rules of international law to self-determination and on the particular
responsibilities which weigh upon the Powers since the Treaty of Berlin, to
'watch over the fate of Armenia', according to the Assembly of the League of
Nations, and to take all necessary measures to respect its rights.