What Will The Armenian Genocide Centennial Accomplish?

Orobik Eminian, 98, who was the only member of her family to escape the Armenian Genocide alive, joins in commemorating the 95th anniversary of the genocide and in calling for its recognition in New York City, April 25, 2010. (Photo: REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

BY HRANT APOVIAN

“Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.”
–Nelson Mandela, December 16, 1995

The leader of the association of Turkish Jews in Israel, Zali de Toledo, stated that “Turkey should take into account its interests and should normalize relations with Israel or else the Israeli lobby will likely stay neutral when 2015 comes.” This proves that nothing has changed. The world is oblivious to morality and the reality of the Armenian Genocide is no more than a bargaining chip for some nations.

We are anxiously waiting, with the greatest dread and anticipation, for the year 2015, marking one hundred years of the first genocide of the twentieth century. Expectations are at an all time high.  The centennial is set to be commemorated in an unprecedented manner. Finally after ten decades, will the world listen? Will Turkey buckle under pressure? Will justice – delayed for so long– be finally served?

“I am not an optimist, but a great believer of hope” is a quote from the great freedom fighter and former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Similar to Mr. Mandela, this writer is pessimistic about what change- if any- the centennial will bring. However, this writer is also hopeful that anticipating the obstacles before us and being cognizant of certain realities, will help us come out of our torpor and define new strategies to make an impact, on the occasion of the commemoration of the horror that befell our grandparents and that almost annihilated our people. Many areas of concern come to mind.

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1. Are we ready to shake public consciousness?

That which has taken many years of sacrifice and years of struggle, has been successful in enlisting over twenty countries to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.  A short-lived outburst of armed aggression against Turkish interests and diplomats has been successful in bringing the Genocide to the forefront.  However, the mere fact that it is the centennial of the Armenian Genocide will not in itself bring the issue to a head and force nations to forgo their interests and pursue what is morally right. How can we expect to elevate public awareness when the world stood silent during other genocides that occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century? Bangladesh, Rwanda, Sudan all happened in our lifetime. We need to elevate the level of our expectations: we need to invite world leaders to publicly chastise Turkey for its conduct; the Vatican should erect a memorial for the million and a half; the European Union should stop talks for Turkey’s admission to its ranks; and the halls of Congress should reverberate with our demands.

2. Are we over-anticipating the potential accomplishments during the centennial?

The results will be directly commensurate to the magnitude of our efforts. The biggest risk and fear is falling short of making enough of an impact to result in serious changes. We need to change our outlook in how we approach this anniversary: no more speeches, no more marches, no vigils, no church services, no demonstrations. We have been there, done that. We need the Government in Armenia to take the lead, Armenian political parties to stop their bickering and activate their members, attorneys to go to high courts around the world, and the United Nations to act. The time to commemorate has long passed.

3. Are we ready for the Turkish onslaught?

We have always underestimated those that committed the genocide. I suspect that Turkey has its own counter offensive planned. All of its “friends” around the world, and the millions spent on its arsenal of public relation firms may overcome our meager preparations. We may not be ready for what Turkey has in store to neutralize what our various commemoration committees are planning. We need to be ready to confront a heightened and more sophisticated level of denial.

4. Is it going to be a replay on a grander scale of a hundred years of commemorative rites?

In this age of globalization, social media and communication advances, it is my sincere hope that our commemoration committees will adopt new methods of challenging Turkish interests worldwide. I urge that they commit to adopting and preparing a propaganda blitz that will expose Turkey for what it is: a failed state based on lies, including a failed “zero problems” policy with its neighbors, a nation that disregards human rights, harbors Al-Qaida affiliates on its soil and that has committed genocide not only on Armenians, but Greeks, Arabs, Poles and Kurds. Turkey’s continued blockade of Armenia should no longer be tolerated by its NATO allies. Our offensive should be brutal. We have to enlist the help of all countries and organizations that espouse human rights and will not succumb to Turkish threats.

5. Have we really passed the threshold from genocide recognition attempts, to the legal challenges of seeking compensation and redress from the Turkish Government?

As it stands, we have just begun to tackle legal challenges. We have yet to do our homework on this and we need to raise the immense financial resources that it would require. It is yet to be seen whether the government in Armenia is ready to drop the medicine pill that it was forced to swallow- the protocols- and to take the lead in bringing our claims to world organizations, starting with the United Nations and the European Union.  Turkey has to face the fact that massacring the inhabitants of the land does not absolve it from their descendants’ territorial claims.

6. Finally, what has changed in the equation after so many years of struggle?

It is true that a lot has changed in ten decades. Hopefully, Armenians are wiser and better equipped to wage war against a nation that never seized to dream of its Pan-Turkic aspirations. Armenia is a free country again.  Most nations are aware that Turkey committed the first genocide of the twentieth century.  Even some intellectuals within Turkey have begun to talk freely about that which was taboo for decades.  The many years of a struggle to bring down the wall of silence have not been in vain. The next stage will require even more vigilance from all of us.

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One nation committed mass genocide. It has to come to terms with its crime, pay its respects to the dead, return historic Armenian lands, pay compensation and apologize to the civilized world.

One nation’s survivors have truth on their side. They have a just cause. Their sons and daughters must pull together and shake the world with their demands.  Time has run out for justice to be served.  Let the Jewish Lobby side with Turkey when 2015 comes.  This is our responsibility.

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16 Comments

  1. amb said:

    Our sitting and waiting for Turkey to recognize the Genocide is like we, by our won volition, have given the control to Turkey; we are waiting for them to recognize the Genocide before we can get on with the business of living in the here and now and getting busy with the affairs of Armenia, a country a lot of people don’t want to have anything to do with.

    On a political, legal bases the Genocide has to be recognized, it is a fact of history. But on a more spiritual, psychological level of us as people, the emphasis on genocide recognition is holding our us back. We have subjugated, enslaved ourselves, freely, to Turks whims, likes and policies, It’s like they are in the driver seat, controlling whether or not we move forward with our national life here and now in the 21st century.

    • Vindicated Man said:

      I agree with you. IMHO, it’s also important to make emphasis on the arbitral award by president Wilson. Turkey has to honor it. Their government/parliament/society may therefore be much happier this way, keeping us more concentrated on the Genocide instead, and keeping the empty discussion going, thus taking everyone’s attention away from the actual arbitration award that prescribes they must give land.

  2. GeorgeMardig said:

    Jews want to keep the monopoly of Holocaust and Genocide for themselves, and FK the world.

      • Armen said:

        Movses relax its just a asbarez post. GeorgeMardig was just stating his opinion which I agree with. I guess that makes me “anti-Semitic” if it even exists.

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    The badge saying: Armenian Genocide Survivor, ALL Armenians should wear a badge saying: WE ARE DESCENDENTS OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE SURVIVORS, 10 million Armenians should use the power of information, spreading the world who and what Turkey stands for and destroy their image in the world.

    • Movses Hovsepian said:

      This would be a good idea to recognize the impact that survivors have had on their descendants.

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  6. Arn.Sweden. said:

    I Quote –

    It is true that a lot has changed in ten decades. Hopefully, Armenians are wiser and better equipped to wage war against a nation that never seized to dream of its Pan-Turkic aspirations. Armenia is a free country again. Most nations are aware that Turkey committed the first genocide of the twentieth century. Even some intellectuals within Turkey have begun to talk freely about that which was taboo for decades. The many years of a struggle to bring down the wall of silence have not been in vain. The next stage will require even more vigilance from all of us.
    ***
    One nation committed mass genocide. It has to come to terms with its crime, pay its respects to the dead, return historic Armenian lands, pay compensation and apologize to the civilized world.
    One nation’s survivors have truth on their side. They have a just cause. Their sons and daughters must pull together and shake the world with their demands. Time has run out for justice to be served.

    Comment –

    The signature – amb – above has a point – the only thing all of this will accomplish is as in the case of israel – the whole World will turn against them – and Armenia also.

    There is only one way for justice to be served and that is for Armenia Herself to take justice in Her own hands.
    Bouth Turkey and the World has had the chance to make justice but they never will.

    God bless Armenian justice in Her own taken Hands !.

    Arn.Sweden.

  7. Andre said:

    Another in a series of endless rants about what should happen, ending with fantastical wishes that have absolutely no chance of actually occurring no matter what we ten million Armenians can muster. Turkey is not returning lands to Armenia– who by the way, has acres upon acres of vacant land of its own (aka what do we need more land for, exactly? If morals decided borders, the USA would not exist). Turkey is not paying reparation– to whom shall they be paid, the corrupt Armenian government? At best, Turkey will acknowledge its predecessor governments complicity in “crimes against people” and will be seen as making a big move. Instead we are letting the only country we DO have wither away on the vine, while we continue to spend precious time and capital– energy, political, and economic– on obsessing over an event we all know to have happened, and thus have nothing left to prove to anyone on. The Turks admitting it doesn’t make it any more or less real to us that are the descendants of this act, the mere existence of the diaspora is proof enough. Move on, redirect our passion to making Armenia proper as strong as it possibly can, and then and only then can we extract a genocide recognition that is worthy of us.

  8. Alex Postallian said:

    I see those scared eyes,and look of desperation,my father had…..Don’t worry Mama,your reward will be in heaven,looking down at your tormentors,burning in hell……..and their paid stooges…..

  9. Haygazian Nevart said:

    The Armenian Genocide is fact, a fact does not need a name, names need fact to exist. My grand father told me that during the deporttion the turks made them walk and walk again and again in the same places sometims twice in order to go to Erzinjan they send them north than south, just to exhause them, the turks and their allies have been doing the same thing with the survivors and descendants for 100 year now. Through the word Genocide. Call it as you like the fact does not change, an entire nation, the Armenian Nation was assassinated and eradicated from its homeland.They have been disorienting our energies and demands in a term…that anyway the fact it refers to which could in anyway be called differently. Instead of fighting to have this obvious term recognized, as our dear Turkey and its allies want us todo, espescialy its allies, that once they recognize it as genocide to put later a differenciation and make us lwaste time again, like the European Court for instance,or Sarkozy France or, the Jewish lobbies,that have some jew historians that write about he genocde and others to write against it at the same time. Let us do what we had to do long time ago. Ask for the compensation with interrests for all the goods assets and properties taken illegally by the Governmet of Turkey, we do not care if they call it Bar B Q or Genocide. Turkey can not deny the Deportation. The Deportation order was an illegal decison, anti/constitutional also in the Ottoman Empire. It was nothing else than a legalized Government robbery. Apparently it seems that there are Internaional Court in this world, let us test how fair and sincere they are. Untill now the only advantage for asking the recognition of the Genocide can be that we discovered who are our real friends and who are our enemies or fake friends. But for the rest, the word Genocide initself is empty , the fact is stronger than the word Genocide that who created it Raphael Lemkin admitted having done it inspired by the Armeinans extermination. Let s do an Internaionaltrial that will be the first in History ad will be our Nuremberg, we can not punishtheresponsibles anymore,they havealready been punished by the Creaor if allthe stories we wre toldare true about a future life after death, but we can have back what is ours and was illegally stollen by agovernment and its mafia.

  10. Alex Postallian said:

    See,how the world digressed,in 100 yrs,STILL HASNT,ACCEPTED,THE GREATEST CRIME,BY THE MONGOL TURKS,either by BRIBE,OR INNUENDO,OF THE CENTURY. EVERY COUNTRY,TO ITS OWN MAJESTY,BLINKING AT THEIR NEIGHBORS PROBLEMS,MAKING IT UNSAFE FOR THEMSELVES,AT A HORDE,COMING FROM THE WASTELANDS,MAKING, A SEWER, OUT OF ANATOLYA,REST OF THE middle east…..The proper nomer…CIVILATION IN REVERSE….

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