Today, we mark the 107th anniversary of the first genocide of the 20th century, perpetrated against the Armenian people.
So much is happening across the globe in remembrance of that atrocity that reveals the humanity and goodwill of a people whose survival skills were honed by horrific experiences. We have transformed beyond the anger of protest and readily tell our one and a half million stories, recording them through innovative technology of USC researchers. Through our churches, we are baptizing adults who by no fault of their own were denied a faith that led their ancestors to perish, thus affirming further the Christianity that was ours by right of our history. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is growing. Celebrities are standing up and courageously speaking of the crime. Marvel characters are referencing the Genocide specifically in the new Disney+ series Moon Knight. Universities are holding Armenian commemoration ceremonies, cities are devoting special public space for official declarations in recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and TV channels are including month long programs that highlight the contributions of Armenians to their cities and nation. And work is being done by the ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) calling on Congress to pass the Armenian Genocide Education Act, introducing legislation to provide funding for the education in schools about the history, consequences and ongoing costs of the Armenian Genocide. The bill also aims to educate people about Turkey’s aggression and genocide against Greece, Syria, and Cyprus.
Yes, “The first Genocide of the 20th Century is gradually gaining its due validity in many countries, which, in the past, were very indifferent to our inalienable cause. Today, the expansion of those who affirm the crime of genocide has formed a greater contingent, led by the United States whose president officially recognized the Armenian Genocide a year ago.” (106 years later!)
“We bow our heads in remembrance to the one and a half million martyrs and stand once again to renew our commitment to remain faithful to the memory of the victims and to thank the countries of the world that have recognized the great Armenian tragedy.” Yet with all this recognition, “The inhumane atrocities committed against the Armenian people remain unpunished and the Turkish state refuses to face the dark pages of its history. Moreover, our heroic people in Artsakh face the danger of a new genocide by the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance.”
“The current situation in Artsakh and the rapidly evolving events in the region inevitably require all Armenians to be vigilant to prevent further attacks that seek to prohibit the civilian population of Armenia and the Armenians of Artsakh from maintaining their existence and self-determination.”
Here we are, “A century after the Armenian Genocide, the international community has yet to take a clear position. In other words, it has not taken punitive action to justify the freedom-loving peoples’ strife and struggle for a sovereign, free and peaceful life.”
At the time of its occurrence, in 1915, the American press and politicians had cried out lamenting the Armenian genocide. President Woodrow Wilson had said, “The whole heart of America has been engaged for Armenia.” But then, for geopolitical and economic gains, suddenly everything changed. And because of the lack of consequences to the perpetrators for what happened in Armenia, countries like Russia wage the horrific war we see today.
It was early April when Biden said Russia’s war in the Ukraine amounted to genocide, accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “wipe out Ukraine.” A year ago today, President Biden also said that the massacres of 1915 were a Genocide against the Armenians. Good as this may sound to console the human suffering, the world is paying the price for the inactions of a century. Had the demands of accountability been dealt with at the time, it could have prevented many other atrocities and genocides around the world including Ukraine.
Our history is full of empty rhetoric. The world did not hold Turkey accountable then and does not do so publicly even today while pogroms against Armenians continue. In 2020, had the world acted to stop autocrats like Aliyev and Erdoğan in Azerbaijan’s brutal and unprovoked war against the Armenian people, when schools, hospitals and churches were bombed – causing countless civilian casualties – or had the international community sounded the alarm when Azerbaijan used a thermobaric weapon (vacuum bomb) against Armenian civilians in 2016, today’s wanton destruction in Ukraine may have been avoided.
The end goal of the Armenians has always been to prevent further crimes of genocide. To achieve this, Turkey must recognize its hand in the play and take appropriate steps to make amends. It is the only way to reparation. Autocrats like Erdogan, Aliyev and Putin will continue genocidal actions – from beheadings of people in Artsakh, to torturing of Armenian prisoners of war, and erasing all traces of centuries of Armenian existence; from bombarding innocent civilians in Kyiv to mass graves in Mariupol and erasing a Ukraine. These atrocities are happening right now, before our eyes.
The U.S. and the world must hold Turkey and Azerbaijan accountable. The U.S. and the world must hold Russia accountable. The U.S. must stop sending military aid to Turkey. The US and the world must recognize who their true allies are and not sell out their humanitarian principles of freedom, equality and justice for all.
This I humbly advise.
In this article, I used excerpts from the statement issued publicly by the three leading parties (Henchag, Tashnag and Ramgavar) of the Armenian people. They are written in quotation marks.