Friday, 19 July

Book Covers Trial of 1981 ASALA “Van Operation” Combattants

Today, in Yerevan, there was a press reception for a book entitled “A Trial of Armenians in Paris”, that deals with the court case of four young ASALA members who took over the Turkish embassy in Paris in 1981. Two of the four “Van Operation” activists were present at the press conference – Vazgen Sislyan and Hakob Joulfayan.

The four ASALA combatants had taken some 60 embassy staffers hostage and occupied the embassy for several hours. Subsequent negotiations led to the release of the hostages. During the initial seizure of the embassy both Sislyan and Joulfayan were injured.

Grigor Janikyan, author of the book, said that once the French files on the court case were released he requested and received fifteen volumes of transcripts that he translated and used as the basis for the book.

“Without any exaggeration, I can say that after the trail of Soghomon Tehlerian, there hadn’t been such a trial in all of Europe or anywhere else,” Janikyan said.

When Sislyan was asked by Hetq if political “terrorism” was an appropriate method to resolve the Armenian case, the ASALA activist said it was up to the people to judge.

“Luckily, 99% of the diaspora supported those actions and the mood in Soviet Armenia was also positive. I don’t regard those actions as ‘terrorism’. That was American and European propaganda they employed after leaving us and other people no other choice with which to defend our interests. Even the judge in the trial disallowed the use of the word ‘terrorist’. But if the only way of reaching our goals is terrorism, then I have no problem with that,” said Sislyan.

The book was published last year with the assistance of Armenia’s Ministry of Culture.

The author is presently looking for financial backing to republish the book.

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