Genocide Claims Dismissed
by Roger Alford
(From the Opinio
A federal district court in Los Angeles has rendered an important decision dismissing
claims for alleged victims of the Armenian Genocide. At issue in Deirmenjian v. Deutsche
Bank is a California statute, Code of Civil Procedure § 354.45, which extended until
December 31, 2016 the statute of limitations for, inter alia, looted assets claims
brought by victims of the Armenian Genocide or their heirs or beneficiaries. Here is the
key section of the decision:
Applying Garamendi, and Deutsch, the court concludes that the statute exceeds
California's power to engage in foreign affairs. As a result, it cannot apply § 354.45 to
extend the statute of limitations on plaintiffs' Class B claims….
The Constitution allocates “the foreign relations power” to the federal government and
vests the authority to decide what the nation's foreign policy should be in the executive
branch. See Garamendi. The executive has authority to enter into treaties and “executive
agreements” with foreign governments, including agreements that resolve the wartime
claims of American citizens. The power of the federal government to resolve wartime claims
extends not only to claims against a foreign government itself, but also to claims against
its nationals, including corporations….
Just as § 354.6 created a cause of action for victims of slave or forced labor during
World War II, § 354.45 creates a cause of action for those who were victims of the
Armenian Genocide that culminated during World War I, and their heirs and beneficiaries.
Like § 354.6, which extended the statute of limitations on forced labor claims to 2010,
§ 354.45 extends the statute of limitations governing Armenian Genocide claims to 2016.
The question is whether the federal government previously exercised its exclusive power to
resolve claims arising out of World War I through post-war diplomacy, and thus whether the
state statute impermissibly intrudes on the federal government's foreign affairs power.
The answer to this question is clearly yes. In the Claims Agreement Between the United
States of America and Turkey (the “Ankara Agreement”), the Republic of Turkey agreed
to pay the United States a “lump sum” of $1,300,000 “in full settlement of the
claims of American citizens which are embraced by the Agreement of December 24, 1923.”
That agreement—embodied in an exchange of notes—in turn provided that the “reciprocal
claims” of American and Turkish nationals based on acts occurring during World War I
would be adjudicated by a mixed claim commission.
Following payment of the lump sum settlement, Fred. K. Nielsen—who had been assigned to
the Turkish-American Claims Commission by the President in February 1933 and who executed
the Ankara Agreement on the President's behalf—submitted a report to the Secretary of
State to document the process by which the settlement was reached and the manner in which
it should be distributed. Nielsen recognized that the “claims of persons ... considered
to be persons of Turkish origin under Turkish law” were not filed with (but rather only
“furnished to”) the Commission, due to Turkey's refusal to recognize its liability for
such claims. Nielsen made clear, however, that the parties intended the Ankara Agreement
to be a final settlement of all such claims: “While ... the Commission did not consider
the[ ] claims of naturalized citizens of Turkish origin [in reaching the amount of the
lump sum settlement], the Agreement of October 25, 1934 concluded by the two Governments
was framed to effect a final settlement of all outstanding claims of the nationals of each
country against the other ...” Nielsen stated that Article II of the Ankara
Agreement-which provides that “the Government of the Republic of Turkey will be released
from liability with respect to all [claims of American citizens which are embraced by the
Agreement of December 24, 1923],” and that “every [such] claim ... shall be considered
and treated as finally settled”-was intended to effectuate a universal settlement of all
claims “in harmony with international practice in relation to such matters,” as
exemplified by previously executed reparations treaties that contained facially broader
release and settlement clauses.
Nielsen's report is reflective of the diplomatic negotiations that culminated in the
execution of the Ankara Agreement. As letters exchanged by the parties prior to execution
of the agreement make clear, the “lump sum” settlement was in lieu of the separate
adjudication of disputed claims before a mixed claims commission, and was intended to
settle the wartime claims of American nationals of both Ottoman and non-Ottoman origin....
In short, the executive agreements into which the United States and Turkey entered
following World War I demonstrate that the United States elected to settle the claims of
victims of the Armenian Genocide through the Ankara Agreement. While California may
consider the settlement the United States reached inadequate, see generally S.B. 1524, “[t]he
federal government, acting under its foreign affairs authority, provided its own
resolution to the war [and] California has no power to modify that resolution.”
It is worth emphasizing that the Ankara Agreement itself did not include claims of
Armenians in the lump sum settlement amount, as Turkey refused to recognize its liability
for those claims. But based on the Nielsen report, the claims of all Americans, including
Armenian-Americans, were resolved in the Ankara Agreement. In other words, the United
States agreed to waive all compensation for claims of Armenian-Americans, and thereby
preempted the right of those individuals to individually pursue their claims. The Ankara
Agreement does not say that, but the court concluded that the negotiating history as set
forth by Nielsen reflects that intent.
Now what do you make of this, ladies and gentlemen?
When I started reading this article, I was fully curious as to how Deutsche Bank got
off the hook when a few other insurance companies had buckled down to genocide
politics in years past. This is not to say "1915" Armenians who had
insurance policies and were stiffed by the not-always-honest practices of insurance
firms should not have been reimbursed; but long years have passed, the original
policyholders are gone, and they or their relatives already have had the opportunity
to confront these insurance companies, if they wished to pursue injustices. In
short, we all know a money-grubbing scheme when we see one. (Today's
"alleged victims of the Armenian Genocide" — and thanks to writer Roger
Alford for having the rare integrity to have added the word, "alleged" —
that is, the ones hoping to collect the cash from this case, have nothing to do with
any of the real victims going back nearly a century! The Armenians living in
America today are not victims.)
But then this article turned into something completely different. Turkey has already
financially addressed the “claims of American citizens" with a
"full settlement" that was "embraced by the Agreement of
December 24, 1923” ??
Now why would Turkey have gone and done something like that, especially when
Turkey had nothing in 1923 ($1.3 million was an enormous chunk of money for
the time, which the honorable Turks made sure to pay in the next few years.
(Contrast with the $50 million loan the USA made to Armenia in good faith, in 1919,
a good part or all of which was to paid back with 5% interest; so far not a cent has
been paid back.) Particularly with a nation, the United States of America, that —
thanks to the arm-twisting by its Armenians and their racist American supporters of
the period — skipped the Lausanne Agreement?
And what about the Gumru Treaty of 1920 between Armenia and Turkey, where Article 8
"Despite the great expenses which the Grand Assembly of Turkey incurred for
its army during two years because of the urgency of the war it had to wage against
Armenia, it renounces its right to demand lawful damages, and in the same manner the
two parties forego their rights to ask for damages because of the changes which took
place as a result of the general war."
(A heartbroken John Roy Carlson, a.k.a. Arthur Derounian, aghast at the betrayal of
Dashnaks, emphasized the
word "FOREVER," in describing the above.)
I am at a loss at this point to understand why Turkey, which was so broke and
desperate in 1923, would have kowtowed to this agreement. My only guess is that
Armenian pressure in the USA was so strong, that Turkey must have felt a price was
necessary to sustain good relations with their new and powerful friend, the USA.
(And Admiral Mark Bristol's clout appears now to have been somewhat overrated.)
At least, as Mr. Alford reports, "Turkey refused to recognize its liability
for those claims." Perhaps Ataturk's government rationalized this payment
as a humanitarian gesture, since they made a point of not admitting guilt.
I also don't quite understand how this settlement would have gotten Deutsche Bank
off the hook from its own possible "direct" responsibility to one-time
policyholders. Assuming this was another "insurance policy lawsuit," in
which case the other insurance companies who ponied up millions of dollars to
money-grubbing Armenians must now be kicking themselves.
Yet this matter raises several questions.
For one thing, those Armenian-Americans as Prof. Dennis Papazian will now need to
rethink their hopes on getting
"restitution." (Prof. Papazian, who wasn't even alive during those tragic
years, actually thinks of himself as a "victim." In Prof. Papazian's case,
with all the vicious and hateful propaganda he has been spreading over the years, he
would be more correctly identified as a "victimizer.")
The agreement above, much as it concerns "naturalized [American]
citizens of Turkish origin," obviously covers Armenians exclusively.
The second thing I'm now wondering about is, what about all the some 500,000 Turks,
Kurds, Jews and others who were ruthlessly and systematically slaughtered by the Armenians, with
Russian help, on and off between 1914 and 1918/20? Why are the needs of these unsung
victims not being heeded? What about the enormous theft and loss and property the
Armenians incurred on all of these people?
How many of today's Turkish-Americans can classify themselves as
"victims," in the same manner that these greedy Armenian-Americans hoping
to collect all of this moolah, who had no bearing with the actual "heirs and
descendants" of those involved in these events?
It seems to me that it is high time that the American government negotiate just such
a settlement with the Republic of Armenia. (What is the equivalent of $1.3 million,
Of course I am kidding. In Turk-racist Western society, this scenario could never
take place, even if I were serious. But in all seriousness, in principle, why is
there no such settlement for the many, many, many unknown thousands who fatally
suffered so excruciatingly, and who had so much property looted or destroyed, under
the sadistic hands of Armenian killers?