US government must face duty to expose lost crime

Stephan Maranian, Crier Staff

On April 24, 1915 the Turkish government arrested and sent hundreds of Armenian politicians, clergymen, intellectuals, and other community leaders to camps where most of them were eventually murdered. The Turks then sent their “Special Organization” to perform organized killings of Armenians throughout the Ottoman Empire.

Armenians were driven from their lands, sent on death marches through the desert, burned alive, drowned in rivers, thrown off cliffs, raped, and murdered. The eradication of Armenians and other Christians from Ottoman lands continued until the Ottoman Empire surrendered to the Allies in 1918. At the end of three years of butchery, 1.5 million Armenians had been murdered. This horrendous event is known as the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century.

You can read about the Armenian Genocide in (some) history textbooks and encyclopedias. Hundreds of books have been written on it and extensive studies have been conducted. Saint Anselm College even offers a class, Sociology of Genocide, which discusses multiple genocides including that of the Armenians.

As of 2015, 28 countries around the world including world powers like France, Germany, and Russia acknowledge the actions of the Ottomans as genocide. Two countries, Turkey and Azerbaijan, deny that it happened- they insist that the deaths of Armenians during this period were due to extreme, unpreventable conditions during required relocation as a result of World War I. 43 out of the 50 U.S. states recognize the Armenian Genocide recognize it and yet our federal government does not.

Turkey remains one of the top allies of the U.S. and given the crisis in the Middle East, is an important strategic ally. Because of this, our political leaders and presidents (past and present) have remained silent on the issue of the observance of the slaughter of 1.5 million innocent Armenians.

Armenian deportees leave their homes.
Wikimedia Commons\Viktor Pietschmann
Armenian deportees leave their homes.

In January of 2008 President Obama pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide. During his campaigns prior to election (and re-election) he addressed the issue and earned the vote of thousands of Armenian-Americans.  It has been over eight years and our president has yet to stick by his word.

Hope for future recognition by the U.S. looks simply dismal. Donald Trump has made no comment regarding the issue. However, rumors point to Trump’s corporation doing business with Azerbaijani oligarchs who lobby against Armenian-American priorities.

As with numerous other issues, Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped with her stance on genocide recognition. In 2006 she signed a letter urging President Bush to recognize the genocide but in 2012 she referred to it as a matter for “historical debate”. It is pathetic to think that the leaders of our country are incapable of recognizing a historical event for what it is- genocide.

While U.S. political leaders remain squeamish, courage can be found elsewhere. Pope Francis visited Armenia in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide. He referred to the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide and exhibited courage to the entire world. During the observance of the 100th anniversary, the Armenian Apostolic Church made saints of the 1.5 million Armenians who lost their lives in the genocide.

The events of history cannot be changed, but we can learn from them. We as individuals and as a country must recognize the Armenian Genocide. We cannot remain silent and stand by as nations publicly deny its occurrence. To do so would only allow for future genocides to take place.

When ordering the largest genocide in history, Adolf Hitler in 1939 stated: “Go ahead, kill without mercy. After all, who remembers today the Armenian Genocide?”  We remember, and we demand justice.