EVENTS / OPINION

 

Aggressive Anti-Turkish
Lobbyist Landed Sensitive Position

Turkish community will watch closely the actions of Babikian as the new Citizenship Judge in Mississauga

Aris Babikian

Members of the Turkish community of Canada vow to scrutinize every move of Aris Babikian, the former executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) as a citizenship judge. On July 1st, 2009 Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced the appointment of Aris Babikian as citizenship judge for a three-year full-time term in Mississauga, an act deemed highly inappropriate by Turkish Canadians who have long been the very target of Babikian's relentless hate propaganda. In his new role, Babikian will be responsible for making decisions regarding citizenship applications, presiding over citizenship ceremonies and administering the oath of citizenship to new citizens.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada web site claims that a comprehensive screening process is being used to determine the suitability of candidates for the position of citizenship judges (http://www.cic.gc.ca/ english/DEPARTMENT/commission/cit-process.asp). Turkish community of Canada is having their lawyers look into this screening process, as well as the results of Babikian's written exam and the oral interview. Babikian, a hard-line Armenian political lobbyist, has displayed bias and hatred towards Turks, has been against dialogue and reconciliation, and clearly does not possess the cross-cultural sensitivity that is a prerequisite for the appointment of a citizenship judge. Turkish Canadians have been very aware of the work and approach of Aris Babikian for many years and their questioning of the appropriateness of Babikian's appointment is quite legitimate.


Aris Babikian on Sudan (April 24, 2008):
"Sudan is today using Turkish arms to kill the people of Darfur.
Sudan is today using the same tactics - including starvations and deportations - used by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians in 1915."

The concern about Babikian is not just his lobbying efforts towards having the tragedy of 1915 in Ottoman Turkey recognized as a genocide in Canada. Others work for that purpose too. But it is no exaggeration to describe Babikian as the most aggressive anti-Turkish lobbyist in Canada. He not only attacks modern Turkey on every opportunity, but he has been a main source of tension between the Canadians of Turkish and Armenian origin with his radical language that vilifies and intimidates Turkish Canadians. When hate-inciting anti-Turkish posters were hung on Carleton University walls last year, Aris Babikian's explanation was that it must have been done by Turks: after all, evil could only be associated with Turks! His anti-Turkish zeal also led him to incomprehensively declare Turkey as an accomplice to the atrocities in Sudan. In the same frame of mind, following the Lebanon crisis of 2006, he wrote against Turkey sending peacekeeping troops to Lebanon. Babikian has gone so far as to call Turkish culture "barbaric" and Turkey "fascist". Without any doubt, Babikian is far from satisfying one of the main official criteria for the position of citizenship judge: "cross-cultural sensitivity."

As the executive director of Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), Babikian has been a forceful figure against reconciliation between Turks and Armenians in Canada. Aris Babikian and the ANCC are direct affiliates of a minority ultra -nationalist political party in Armenia, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF / Dashnak). It was a terrorist group ("Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide" founded in Lebanon) considered to be the military wing of the ARF that claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Turkish Military Attaché in Ottawa in 1982. RCMP has yet to bring to light the perpetrators of this terrorist act, including the local help they must have received.


Aris Babikian on peace mission between Israel and Lebanon (September 8, 2006):

The representatives of Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) today met with Lebanon's ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Raymond Baaklini, to discuss the Canadian-Armenian community's anxiety and concern in regard to the participation of Turkish troops in the UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Jean Meguerditchian, president, ANCC, and Aris Babikian, the committee's national office Executive Director, handed Mr. Baaklini a letter opposing the inclusion of the Turkish forces in the UNIFIL peacekeeping mission between Lebanon and Israel. The ANCC representatives said it is ironic that a country which has the world's worst record of human rights abuses and ethnic cleansing of its minorities is being called upon to participate in a peace mission.

Despite his radicalism and anti-reconciliation position, Babikian seems to have too much influence on and unmatched access to the Government, especially in the last four years. With a simple search on the internet, one gets a quite clear picture of his activities. This year on April 24th, Canada came to an even more hawkish position than Armenia itself (e.g. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Mr Rick Dykstra's statements in the Parliament) and it is possible that Babikian and ANCC might have been responsible for this unpeaceful position. ANCC - following the ARF lead - is very much opposed to the normalization process Turkey and Armenia are engaged in. Fortunately, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Lawrence Cannon has recently stated in the Parliament that Canada does support this reconciliation process.

Armenian websites show that ANCC and Babikian supported Agop Evereklian in the last parliamentary elections. Defeated in the elections, Evereklian soon afterwards became Chief of Staff for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, Hon. Jason Kenney. It is also well-known that ANCC has in the past awarded Mr Kenney for his support to the Armenian cause. The Minister in charge of the file dealing with the Turkish-Armenian historical debate and its reflections on Canada's multicultural mosaic, has a chief of staff supported by the political lobby group ANCC and this lobby groups executive director gets appointed to a decision making position on Canadian citizenship. The overall picture looks very inappropriate.

Looking at the arguments ANCC and Aris Babikian publicly engaged in, the radicalism of Babikian seems to have disturbed even the Canadian Armenians who have criticized his ARF/Dashnak approach for the divisive role it plays within the community. Perhaps his leaving the ANCC is a result of this. In any event, under the circumstances, rewarding Babikian by appointing him as a citizenship judge seems hardly the appropriate thing to do in the service of Canadian multiculturalism.

ANCC and Babikian have gone beyond legitimate or reasonable advocacy on behalf of their community by viciously attacking another community at every occasion. This mentality does not deserve to be rewarded, not in our multicultural, mutually-respectful society. The criteria for appointment seem to have been grossly ignored, creating a potential for the abuse of this position. Turkish Canadians in Mississauga and around Canada will monitor closely how Babikian will conduct himself in any public office he may be appointed to as a result of political reasons.


July 2009

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