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News Brief

August 31, 1926
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A resolution dealing with the possibility of renunciation by national minorities of the national minorities rights guaranteed to them under the peace treaties was adopted by the National Minorities Congress, which concluded its sessions here on Saturday.

The resolution declares null and void every decision of any national group renouncing its minority rights, whether or not these rights are embodied in the international treaties. The resolution also denounces as a violation of public order, the attempts of governments to effect renunciation by the national minority groups of their rights.

When asked by the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency yesterday for his comment on the cables from Constantinople and Geneva, Louis Marshall reiterated his previous stand, declaring himself unwilling to modify in the slightest degree his previous statements, in which the Turkish Jewish leaders were charged with cowardice. Mr. Marshall declared:

“After reading the cablegram from Constantinople in which it is sought to justify the action of the Turkish Jewish notables renouncing the rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Lausanne to the Jews of Turkey, I am unwilling to modify to the slightest degree what I have said in my several statements on that subject. On the contrary, what Mr. Franco has said by way of apology only strengthens my conviction that the action proposed to be taken is calamitous. It is entirely true, however, that my motive in criticizing this action was prompted by ‘the desire to defend the Turkish Jews from themselves.’ It might have been added that it is like wise due to an overwhelming wish that this action shall not be regarded as a precedent to be pursued in other countries. The very fact that it is now said that the Jews of Turkey have not unconditionally renounced their guaranteed minority rights and that an attempt is now being made to secure from the Turkish government counter guarantees ‘of Jewish prerogatives and rights’ tells the whole story. The Treaty of Lausanne was not intended to confer ‘prerogatives’ upon the Jew or any other minorities. Its purpose was to confer upon them the fundamental rights of citizenship as recognized in the United States, Great Britain, France and other leading nations. By that treaty these rights were by the government of Turkey recognized as fundamental laws, that no law, regulation or official action was to conflict or interfere with the stipulations contained in the treaty, and that no law, regulation or official action should prevail over them.’

“It is these rights that the notables have presumed to surrender with the expectation that the Turkish government might eventually confer upon the Jews similar rights. The fallacy of this conception lies in the fact that the Treaty of Lausanne affords sanctions for rights conferred by that instrument which can be resorted to in the event of a failure to conform with their requirements. No matter what arrangement the Turkish government may make with the Turkish Jews it will have no such sanctions. It will not be a matter of international concern. It will eliminate from the fundamental law of Turkey the Bill of Rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Lausane. It will enable the Turkish government to do just what Roumania did after 1878, and what would be done in other countries but for the fact that the treaty is a contract, not with the minorities, but with the nations of the earth. The Turkish notables have no more right to renounce this charter of liberty for the Jews than they have for the Armenians or any other of the Turkish minorities. I am not unfamiliar with actual conditions of Jewish life in Turkey and with the knowledge which I possess, I repeat that this act of surrender is an act of abject cowardice. On the other hand, I am gratified with the resolution adopted by the National Minorities Congress at Geneva, which denounces as null and void the renunciation of the Turkish notables and characterizes as a violation of public order attempts on the part of any government to bring about a renunciation of the treaty provisions intended to guarantee the security of minorities.”

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