April 24th, 2008
07:51 PM ET

4/24: Remembering the Armenian Genocide

Edward C.
Armenian-American, Boston

93 years ago today, several hundred prominent members of the Armenian community living in Constantinople within the Ottoman Empire were rounded up and imprisoned in what set the tone for the ultimate massacre of as many as 1.5 million men, women, and children. There was no word to describe the atrocities that were committed until Raphael Lemkin, an American lawyer with a Polish-Jewish background, coined the word Genocide to describe what had happened to the Armenians under the Young Turk regime. While denied by leaders in various countries due to politically motivated reasons, to date 22 countries have officially recognized and most historians agree that what took place was in fact the first Genocide of the 20th century.

As an Armenian-American citizen, I find myself in the US now ultimately because of the Genocide… All but ONE of my great grandparents were deported and murdered. BUT thanks to the willingness of countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran to accept refugees, the remaining members of my family were able to survive and forge new lives for themselves.

So as a product of the Armenian Genocide, I find it disturbing that in this day and age, with the spread of technology and thus knowledge throughout the world, there are still those who deny historical truths for the purpose of political gain.

The government of Turkey denies that a Genocide took place, unwilling to face the history of their country; perhaps even more disturbing to me is the denial of countries like Israel, itself the ultimate product of the Holocaust, of the Armenian Genocide because of political motivations.

No matter how much time has passed, this issue is still relevant and a source of heated debate and passionate sentiment within the Armenian community, particularly within the Diaspora. I have been fighting for Genocide recognition since I was a teenager and will continue to do so until the truth is told and justice is done for my ancestors.

I am tired of politicians promising to sponsor Genocide legislation in order to appease their constituents and delivering nothing in return; I am tired of seeing the US government intimidated by Turkey; I am tired of Armenian Americans and Turkish Americans holding bitter feelings for one another because of an event nearly a century old.

We need to demand of our leaders that they always fight for what is just and what is right, no matter what the political consequences. We need to educate our societies so that events like the Armenian Genocide don’t keep occurring, as they have with the Holocaust, the Cambodian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, and others. We need to foster dialogue between Turks and Armenians throughout the world so that the hate that has been growing between them for nine decades can finally dissipate and turn into something positive.

But for now, 93 years later, we must all focus on one thing – the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide, and say: We Remember.

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Sevda

    You cannot call this a "genocide" because hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Turks died as well. This is inaccurate. I do not support it and am disgusted by the propeganda set forth by the Armenian government.

    If Armenians are unhappy with Turks, why do millions of them take refuge in Turkey today?

    April 24, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  2. Christina, Notre Dame, IN

    Edward, I am so happy that you brought up this topic. I am taking a Christianity in the Middle East course this semester and my class recently had a discussion about Armenians. The Armenians within Turkey are in a very precarious situation...while they would obviously want the genocide to be formally recognized, many of them fear that doing so would stir up problems with Muslims in Turkey (a country in which Christians are already being persecuted). I agree with you that this genocide needs to be officially recognized because the consequences of not recognizing it will be far greater for Christians at large in the region.
    US policy towards Turkey is awful. The administration allows them to get away with so many atrocities because of political motivations.

    April 25, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  3. Mossi Salibian

    Would be terrific if Larry King on Larry King Live would dedicate a few hours on this issue – inviting prominent scholars and historians who can enlighten the World of the facts and current polictics – Thank you – M.Salibian

    April 25, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  4. Kent, Illinois

    At 43 years old, this is the first I have heard of this atrocity. Do not come down on me for it. I just never heard of it. I think someone should do a program on this awful event so we all can be brought up to speed on what happened. I would watch it and learn.

    April 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  5. Debbie, NJ

    Thank you for your article enlighting us about the Armenian background. It is times like this that I really appreciate our freedom of speech. It helps me to appreciate people from other countries.
    Again thank you.

    April 25, 2008 at 11:19 am |
  6. Justin, Chicago

    There's an error in the first paragraph. The "first genocide of the 21st century" would refer to the current century, or the years 2001-2100. I think what you really mean is the "first genocide of the 20th century."
    Also, genocide is bad.

    April 25, 2008 at 11:04 am |
  7. allxdreamer

    I am very sorry this happened. What a terrible thing to happen. My heart goes out to you and all the people who had this unhuman act done against you. Unforunately this is what we face in this world and it is scary. How can some be so cruel as to use genocides to kill people? But yet the possiblities that genocides can be used anywhere in the world is scary but real.

    We must be firm in our stand against people who are behind such acts. As much as we need peace in this world, for those who are against peace using genocides, etc. to hurt others, there must be severe reprecautions from the United Nations.
    If it were up to people like us, this would be a perfect world: no killing, no hunger, no sickness, no pain, and love for all mankind. But a few people do not see this like we do. They have it in them to destroy human life.
    For "every life" that was taken, for all those left behind to remember the pain of losing those loved one and friends, God bless you all!

    Thank you too for reminding us of the pain you feel everyday.

    April 25, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  8. Armen V. Sarkissian

    Thank you Edward for expressing such an objective and eloquent truth and for CNN/Anderson Cooper for posting this on their website. As the grandchild of Genocide survivors I feel the effects of a broken family (their siblings murdered/kidnapped/missing) three generations later. It is important to put this to rest the right way, with International recognition. We will always remember...

    April 25, 2008 at 5:38 am |
  9. June W

    Please lets not kid ourselves, , Genocide is acceptable if there is no finacnial or political reason for us to care. We must also remember that the US is the only nation to use nuclear weapons against another nation. No otther nation friiend or foe has launched that kind of power and destruction. . The US killed innoccent women and children. Yes you like to believe that it was warrented, and pehaps it was, but other nations may feel the same way.. America's hands are bloodied, accept it. Gemocide is acceptable in countries we have no financial interest in. I don't expect this comment will be accepted by the moderatrors.

    April 25, 2008 at 2:08 am |
  10. Sarah, Toronto, Canada

    As the noted British political figure William Gladstone famously quoted, "Justice delayed is Justice denied". How can 93 years of injustice be justified.
    It may seem like an "inconvenient truth" for the US to recognize this genocide, but for the survivors, the more than 2 million dead, every Armenian father, mother and child it is albeit the unshakeable, painful reality.
    As the bastion of democracy, liberty and justice for centuries, the US has a responsibility to stand as a grand example of these values to the world.
    This is not merely a crime against one. It is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.
    Thank you for reminding the world of this tragedy.

    April 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  11. Kimmie

    Thank you for "reminding" us that ours are not the only tragedies. For some reason we think we are the only ones wronged. Nothing has seemed to change but the names.

    April 24, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  12. Mari, Salt Lake City


    April 24, 2008 at 8:46 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.