Leandro Despouy, a defender of the Armenian Cause, dies at 72
Leandro Despouy was one of the main promoters of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United Nations in 1985. As an Argentine ambassador to the government of Raúl Alfonsín and a member of the UN Human Rights Subcommittee, he played a fundamental role in the approval of the “Whitaker Report” that led to the historic recognition of the UN.
“In August 1985, as a member of the UN Human Rights Subcommittee and as a diplomat of the new democracy led by President Alfonsin, I participated in the thorny debate that culminated in consecrating the international recognition of the Genocide of Armenians by the United Nations”, wrote Despouy in Clarín newspaper in 2015.
“The debate in the UN Subcommittee was one of the most prolonged and turbulent in its history,” states Despouy in his report and adds that during the course of the discussions, acting as General Rapporteur, he refers to the solidarity of Argentina with Armenian victims and defends that the appointment to a paragraph that described the massacres of Armenians perpetrated between 1915 and 1923 as “the first genocide of the twentieth century” is not replaced. That paragraph unleashed a fierce offensive of Turkish diplomacy, which had already suppressed it from a previous report in 1979.
Then he said that he agreed with some colleagues and that after the resolution was approved, the Turkish ambassador congratulated him as a diplomat but told him that the Turkish people would never forgive him for what he had just done.
In 2010, the president of Armenia, Serge Sarkisian, presented him with the Mjitar Gosh award, the highest in the country, for his significant contributions to the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
In 2015 he received the Jrimian Hairig distinction awarded by the Armenian National Council with former judge Leon Carlos Arslanian. On that occasion, he said that the resolution of the United Nations “broke with historical denialism, to which Turkish diplomacy had deposited much of its international effort ”and recalled that until that moment “the words Armenian Genocide had never been pronounced in a public sphere of the international scene”.
“ Leandro was eternally grateful for the unconditional nature of the affection that the Armenian community gave him for working towards the recognition of the genocide they suffered, ”said Graciela Dubrez, Despouy’s life partner, to Diario ARMENIA newspaper .
“The struggle for the validity of human rights was a way of life for him. It was his lay catechism. He believed blindly in the rule of law,” Dubrez continued. “He was a quixote fighting for Human Rights, an idealist,” she concluded.
Alfonso Tabakian, Director of the Armenian National Commitee of South America said: “We regret the loss of Leandro Despouy, a brave man who endured and did not fear threats. A defender of human rights and the Armenian cause. A man who began to break down denialism in the international spheres”.