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
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