Tuesday, September 16, 2008

French outrage at Rwanda genocide accusations

Rwanda, the tiny land-locked African country smaller than Switzerland, has accused France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, of complicity in the killing of a million men, women and children in the genocide of 1994. The accusation was made in a report prepared over two years by Rwanda's public prosecutor, Jean Mucyo, who took testimony from 166 witnesses.

France has responded by condemning the report, presented at the end of last month, as "intolerable" - a charge duly echoed in its national press. Yet the French government has made no move to rebut the charges, while few in the media have made any effort to examine the testimony in any depth.

The fact is Rwanda's indictment has sent a shockwave through the Elysee Palace. The names of those implicated read like a Who's Who of the political establishment: 33

members of former President Francois Mitterrand's government and military, including ex-prime ministers Dominique de Villepin, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe, as well as generals and colonels.

The historical roots of the Rwandan atrocity go back to colonial times. After Rwanda gained independence from Belgium in 1962, the Hutu majority took over power. They blamed the minority Tutsis, who the Belgians had favoured with positions of influence, for the country's problems. Many Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries. During the late 1980s, Tutsi refugees in Uganda - including Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame - formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an English-speaking armed group that plotted to overthrow Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana and restore Tutsi influence.

Mucyo's report emphasises the close links between the French army and the forces of Habyarimana, a Francophone. When the RPF launched an assault on Habyarimana's regime in October 1990, some French military advisors put on Rwandan uniforms.

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The crash of western capitalist civilization?

So is a catastrophic meltdown coming?

If so, probably a majority of the people in the world are thinking: “Serves them right.” For the last 500 years, the West has been striding across the globe, armed to the teeth with firearms, warships, bombers, and—more recently—depleted uranium, enforcing the “white man's burden” by enslaving nations and peoples and confiscating everything of value—ranging from art objects to gold to oil—that can be carried away.

The financiers behind it all have also used the diabolically clever practice of creating money “out of thin air” to put the natives everywhere into debt, and, when that has proven insufficient, of doing the same to their own populations.

All this is rationalized by various brands of racism, cultural superiority, social Darwinism, historical determinism, “dominion of the Elect,” “God's chosen people,” etc. Or, simply, “might makes right.”

Some call it “The New World Order.”

So today, we Americans, denizens of the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” victors in two world wars, bearers of “democracy” to Afghanistan and Iraq, allies of the brave Israelis who hold high the banner of Judeo-Christian values among the ungrateful Palestinians—well, we Americans owe our own bankers almost $70 trillion at most recent count. With the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we owe holders of bad housing loans, including the governments of China, Korea, and Japan, another few trillion.

The bluster of Kissinger, Brzezinski, the Kristols, the Christian fundamentalists, and their paid-off politicians and media millionaires notwithstanding, America—indeed, the entire West—has been found out, perhaps even checkmated on the world stage.

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New York Life launches voluntary program to reach out to heirs of Greek policies from 1914

8 September, 2008

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

New York Life Insurance Company announced an outreach program to locate and compensate heirs of approximately 1,000 life insurance policies issued to Greeks in the Ottoman Empire prior to 1915. As part of the Greek Life Insurance Policy Program, New York Life will publish notices in national and international newspapers about the claims review process so that heirs can submit claims relating to these policies. The company said it will also contribute $1 million to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, since descendants of many of those displaced from their ancestral homelands are now members of the Archdiocese. The total value of the voluntary program is $12-15 million, including administrative and other costs.

“In the course of research associated with another historical matter regarding policies sold to Armenians who perished after 1914, the company became aware that Greek policyowners were evidently victims of the same violence in the Ottoman Empire. With the Armenian policy matter now successfully completed, involving benefits paid to heirs of 2,300 Armenian policyholders, New York Life conducted additional archival research and verified that there are Greek policies that may remain unpaid from 1915. We will offer heirs to the Greek policies the same benefits as those provided to persons claiming under the Armenian policies,”

said William Werfelman, a spokesman for New York Life. “As with the Armenian policies, records confirm that the company succeeded in paying benefits in nearly half of the Greek policies. New York Life paid those benefits to heirs in the months and years immediately following the violence of 1915. However, New York Life received no claims and thus paid no benefits or cash value on 1,000 other Greek policies. Our company's value system is rooted in humanity and integrity, and our willingness today to resolve these policies from 1915 shows that we still adhere to these values today.”

The voluntary program uses the same criteria used to resolve the Armenian policy matter, including a multiplier of ten times the original face amount for those who can demonstrate that they are the rightful heirs to the policy proceeds. The public notices will commence in September. Descendants of persons insured under any of the Greek Policies may submit claims for benefits for a six month period ending on February 28, 2009. Individuals who want to learn more can do so by visiting the program's website at www.greekinsuranceclaims.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-922-2973 . In Greece the toll-free number is 00 800 33 311144.

In addition to providing benefits to heirs of its Greek insureds, New York Life will contribute $1 million to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. With these funds the Archdiocese plans to establish an endowed chair for the study of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor at its Holy Cross Theological Seminary in Brookline, MA. New York Life expressed gratitude to Archbishop Demetrios, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, for his personal involvement in assisting with various aspects of the voluntary program.

Archbishop Demetrios, said, “The events in the Ottoman Empire and after led to the loss of countless lives and the expulsion of 1,500,000 Greeks from their ancestral homelands. New York Life is one of those rarest of companies today, a company of responsible action that believes in setting the record right, even if it means reaching back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The Greek Orthodox community gratefully applauds New York Life for establishing the Greek Life Insurance Policy Program and its very generous contribution of $1 million, which will be used to enlighten people about the long and rich history and culture of Hellenism in Pontus and Asia Minor.”

The company said it worked with attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan, one of the attorneys involved in the Armenian insurance settlement, to develop the voluntary program relating to Greek policies.

New York Life Insurance Company has been headquartered in New York City since its founding in 1845. The company began selling policies in the Ottoman Empire in 1882 and withdrew from the region during World War I.

~ Greeks Online ~


Two insurance companies are compensating the descendants of the victims of the genocide

As weird or unbelievable as it may seem, the recording of an event in history, in other words the wretched attempt of Talaat Pasha, Minister of Internal Affairs of the NeoTurks in 1915, to collect 'on behalf of the Armenians' the compensation money from their death insurance, a death which he himself contributed to via mass extermination, was reason enough for lawyer Vartkes Yeghiayan to begin a 20 year legal struggle in the State of California with a view to claim back in favour of the descendants of these victims of the genocide of 1915, the above money.

The defender of the victims of the Greek and Armenian Genocide, Henry Morgenthau, American Ambassador to Constantinople in the period 1914-17, states in his book Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (1918) (in the Greek publication The Secrets of the Bosporus,1918), that Talaat asked him whether the Ottoman Government could collect the compensation money from the life insurance contracts which were held by many Armenians (Ottoman nationals), while he personally had undertaken the organisation of their extermination.

Armenian lawyer Vartkes Yeghiayan, whose origins are from Sparti of Pisidias (Asia Minor), whilst reading the lines from the above book, conceived the idea of reclaiming this compensation money for the descendants of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. At first many didn't take his efforts too seriously, however through strong will and hard work the distinguished lawyer was eventually vindicated. Recently the insurance companies New York Life and AXA, after a long and difficult legal battle were ordered to pay to beneficiaries the total sum of US53 million dollars.

At first, after individual legal cases, access was granted for access to the files of 2 life insurance companies, from which details were sought (the catalogues of insured citizens of the Ottoman Empire) of which most were Armenian and Greek.

Then with the use of public announcements in newspapers, the descendants of the victims were found, and then law suits were filed in Californian law courts in the form of a 'class action' as is the legal procedure in America.

The two companies were eventually led to compromise on the total sum of US53 millions dollars but compensation was indeed eventually rewarded to the victims' descendants. The above case obviously creates a precedent for other victims of the NeoTurks' campaign such as the Greeks who suffered the same treatment starting from 1914 and onwards, and in fact well before even the start of the First World War. Apart from life insurance contracts, it is also well known that in that same period in Anatolia, fires destroyed many buildings and belonging owned by Greeks, from Asia Minor to Thrace and also Pontus.
 
The serious nature of this life insurance payout must be addressed by the Pontian, Thracian and Asia Minor Greek organisations as it has created a different angle on the proof of genocide, one however which is not just a question of money but of morality and justice. It a therefore a requirement that any information regarding holders of life or building insurance contracts, of Greeks living in Turkey in that period, now be compiled. As mentioned above, the files of the two insurance companies consisted of many Greek names.

The official announcement at lawyer Vartkes Yehagian's office in the United States reads as follows:

'We seek individuals whose families lived in the Ottoman Empire and who had purchased life insurance contracts from L'Union Vie and/or fire insurance contracts from the company L'Union Incendie. If you hold such contracts or letters which are referred to above, we request that you contact the office of…'

Yeghiayan and Associates
535 n Brand, Suite 270,
Glendale, CA 91203, U.S.A
Email  vartkesy@sbcglobal.net

~ Fanis Malkidis ~


Do any life insirance companies owe Greeks or Greek-Americans death benefits?

Are there U.S. or European insurance companies that owe monies to relatives of those whom the Turks killed during the 1922 Smyrna and Asia Minor holocaust?

This year
, Martin Marootian was among 12 plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit to reach a tentative $20 million settlement with New York Life. Marootian, 88, had hoped that the agreement, thought to be the first in connection with the often disputed massacre and open to claims from survivors worldwide, would bring more recognition to a catastrophe that hasn't been acknowledged by the federal government of the United States.

New York Life sold approximately 8,000 policies in the Ottoman Empire beginning in the 1880's, with fewer than half of those purchased by Armenians. The insurance company said that it had located about one-third of the policyholders, descendants of the original policyholders, to pay benefits. The rest of the policies have not been paid out because the remaining heirs have not been located.

Is it possible that there are Greeks descendants who are legally entitled to receive life insurance payouts from New York Life and other life insurance companies? Persons of Greek descent constituted a major segment of the population in Asia Minor the 1920's. In Constantinople and Smyrna, particularly, the Greek population were known to be members of a successful class of business merchants and likely to have purchased life insurance policies.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the U.S., rejects the genocide claims, insisting that Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian plaintiffs, however, claimed that many members of their families, insured by New York Life, were killed in an act of genocide by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. A number of Armenian-American and Greek-American groups have lobbied state governments in the U.S., urging lawmakers and officials to recognize the genocide. In 2002, New York Governor George Pataki recognized genocide in the Ottoman Empire, specifically mentioning the Pontian Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians. Other states have followed suit, raising the total number of official bodies recognizing the genocide.

The insurance company settlement comes at a critical period in history for political affairs in the Balkans and the Middle East. Of particular import are two issues at the forefront of Greek and Greek-American relations: Cyprus has just joined the European Union amid ongoing occupation by Turkish troops; the Turkish government seeks candidacy for entry into the European Union. Both of these issues are affected by the genocides early in the twentieth-century, since Turkey steadfastly denies that any crimes against humanity took place in Smyrna or elsewhere. Moreover, she has attempted to coerce American lawmakers into refusing to recognize the genocide that has taken place.

On October 18, 2000, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) withdrew a resolution from the House floor just moments before a vote to recognize that the "killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish state constituted this century's first genocide," according to P.D. Spyropoulos of the American Hellenic Media Project. Spyropoulos continued to explain: "Turkish officials had threatened to impose anti-American trade sanctions, cancel billions of dollars in U.S. military and commercial contracts, open a second oil pipeline from Iraq, forbid the U.S. from using Turkish airbases to patrol northern Iraq, and establish closer economic and diplomatic ties with Saddam Hussein."

Many of the world's most respected thinkers and academicians and authors have begun to speak out about Turkish revisionist attempts. In 1988, over 150 of such prominent individuals as Yehuda Bauer, Israel Charng, Seamus Heaney, Deborah Lipschadt, Arthur Miller, and Kurt Vonnegut took a stand against Turkey's multi-million-dollar propaganda campaign by signing a petition to affirm that this "denial of genocide is a form of aggression. It continues the process of genocide. It strives to reshape history in order to rehabilitate the perpetrators and demonize the victims. It prevents healing of the wounds inflicted by genocide. Denying genocide is the final stage of genocide—it murders the dignity of the survivors and destroys the remembrance of the crime."

With the success of Marootian and his co-plaintiffs in the class-action suit, claims by other groups whose relatives once lived in Constantinople (Istanbul) during the Turkish Ottoman empire may be able to rely upon the precedence set by the Armenian community. Attorneys for the plaintiffs studied legal procedures followed by Jewish Holocaust survivors for compensation and death benefits claims and crafted legal strategies accordingly. Although Marootian's claim was strongest because of his indisputable documentation, he decided upon a class-action in order to assist other members of the Armenian community whose documentation may not have been as strong.

Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, the presiding judge rendered a decision strictly on the basis of contractual law; the insurance companies had a contractual obligation to pay the death benefits to survivors of policyholders. But the success of the case has far broader implications: the claims lend additional weight to the fight for recognition of the Armenian and Greek genocides.

Persons interested in learning whether or not relatives in Constantinople or Asia Minor may have purchased life insurance policies should contact HCS for additional information.

For more information about Greek history in Asia Minor--and also in Smyrna--HCS recommends reading additional articles in the Smyrna and Asia Minor section located within our extensive, permanent archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html#Smyrna. Readers may also wish to read several excellent texts about Turkish pogroms in 1955 (Vryonis 2005--http://www.helleniccomserve.com/bookvryonis.html) and the Asia Minor Catastrophe (Housepian-Dobkin--http://www.helleniccomserve.com/dobkinreview.html and Horton--http://www.helleniccomserve.com/hancblightasiareprint.html).


~ Hellenic Communication Service ~

Evolutionary revolution: Divining seduction - Women Initiating Courtship, Partnership and Peace

Today, young western women are proudly dressing to display their breasts and bellies, their centers of procreation, as never before. If this style comes from a sense of pride in their bodies, rather than blindly following a trend, it's a healthy and encouraging sign of a return to the love of femininity. Indeed, our young women are displaying the fount of their Feminine Power.

In a way they are beginning to redefine feminism. By intelligent use of female power, using sensuality, intelligence, wisdom and assertiveness, women can have anything they want, from good relationships to global peace.

To find inspiration, they need only look to Charles Darwin. In 1871, Darwin rocked the world with his revolutionary work The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, in which he revealed that it is the females, not the males, of most sexually reproducing species that choose their mates. However, after thousands of years of male-dominated human societies that have been recorded by male-wielded pens, men's and women's roles have become distorted....

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