International Law expert–historian–and chairman of Germany’s 1915 Genocide Recognition Commission–Dr. Tessa Hofmann–responded to UK Ambassador to Armenia Thorda Abbott-Watt’s recent statement categorically denying the Armenian Genocide.
The Azg newspaper reported that Ambassador Abbott-Watt–during a January 20 press conference in Armenia–stated: "Great Britain accepts that the events of 1915 were mass killings [of the Armenian population]–the responsible for which are the Turks. I see no problem calling it brutality. It shouldn’t have taken place even in the course of war. But–I do not think that recognizing the events as genocide would be of much use."
In the following March 11 letter to UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw–Hofmann condemns the Ambassador’s commen’s and questions Abbot-Watt’s competence to serve as UK Ambassador to Armenia.
"It has been brought to our attention that the UK Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia–Mrs. Thorda Abbott-Watt has repeatedly denied the genocide of 1.5 million Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire during the years 1915-16.
Mrs. Abbott Watt mentioned `mass killings` and `brutality,` but ignored that half of the victims died during death marches or exile in desert areas from starvation–exhaustion–and epidemics. The UN Convention on Genocide describes such circumstances as `deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’ (Art. 2–c)
Mrs. Abbott Watt is wrong in publicly doubting that the case of the Armenian Genocide did not correspond with the definition and categories of the UN Genocide Convention. She may not know that the author of this convention–Mr. Raphael Lemkin–drafted it on the empirical base of both the Armenian and the Jewish Genocide as case studies during WW1 and WW2.
Mrs. Abbott Watt may also be ignorant of the joint statement of May 27–1915–in which the governmen’s of Britain–France–and Russia warned the Ottoman government to hold its members personally responsible for the crimes committed on the Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire. In this statement–the killings of the Armenian population were categorized–under the terms of contemporary law–as a crime against humanity and civilization.
Mrs. Abbott Watt is obviously not qualified as a scholar of genocide research. Otherwise–she would know that the denial of genocide is considered as an integral part of the crime and its final stage. Sadly–Mrs. Abbott Watt herself contributes to the crime of denial–thus keeping painfully alive the trauma of the Armenian nation and upsetting all others–who are aware of the consequences of genocide denial.
As an international NGO–which is focusing on the recognition of denied genocide crimes–we urge you to re-consider whether it is advisable that Mrs. Abbott Watt–who is ignorant of basic facts of legal history and international relations and who makes repeated incompetent and offensive statemen’s–may continue her diplomatic career in a country where half of the population descends from survivors of genocide."