Confessions of an Angry Armenian

By George Aghjayan

I confess–I am angry. I have been angry my entire life. The anger has not dissipated; in fact–it is growing year by year and I am glad for that. It may seem strange–but I would not have it any other way. An Armenian who is not angry is no longer human.

To most people–anger is irrational. It is an uncontrollable emotion. As we shall see–there are people who not only use this to their advantage–but also actively pursue the goal of generating irrational anger among Armenia’s. And there are others who are willing to sacrifice their human’sm for the sake of supposed rational contentment.

For most people–anger is associated with loss of control–possibly a certain level of frustration and even violence. There are some who view anger as brought on by an injustice–injury (whether psychological or physical) or invasion.

A more complicated view accepts that anger can be purposeful or spontaneous–and constructive or destructive. While the most common perception of anger holds that it is spontaneous and destructive–there is also the circumstance where anger brought on by an injustice or injury can be purposeful and constructive.

In the case of widespread and systematic human rights violations–and more specifically–crimes against humanity of the magnitude of the Armenian genocide–purposeful and constructive anger–at a mininum–is required.

Shamefully–more and more I see reference to the view that Armenian outrage over the lingering injustice is irrational and unhealthy. In fact–quite to the contrary–it is unhealthy for mankind not to be outraged. Is this not the foundation for the consequences of genocide–the very basis for the term "crime against humanity"?

Purposeful and constructive anger is necessary to initiate change and maintain commitment to justice.

The following are a litany of the causes for my distress.

The Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC)–the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) report and TARC chair David Phillips all indicate the solution to the injustice of the Armenian genocide is acknowledgement without repercussions. One way to trap people into this mentality is the view that the magnitude of the crime of genocide prohibits complete justice. While it is correct to view justice for the crime of genocide as imperfect–it is quite another thing to imply then that no justice should be sought.

Each and every time I am reminded of the many faces of the crime of genocide–my anger and frustration reinforces my commitment for a just resolution. The extent of imperfect justice we seek is debatable–but surely acknowledgment alone is insufficient as a form of protection for not only Armenia’s but also all mankind. In addition–true acknowledgement requires remorse for the crimes that ended the Armenian presence in a homeland occupied for three millennia–and a desire to atone for that crime.

Speaking of David Phillips–there is a lot to be angry about the way he trampled Armenian rights. His total disregard for valid criticisms of his methods and the issues with TARC are shocking–he chose to reduce every criticism to jealousy or political pettiness. Phillips attempts to hide under the common misconception that a mediator should not take a position that offends one side or the other–or if a position should be taken–it must be such that is unsatisfactory to both sides to ensure reasonableness.

Instead–Phillips comes off as dishonest and ill suited as a mediator–as anyone unwilling to acknowledge a known genocide would be.

It is even more shocking that Elie Wiesel–a Holocaust survivor–should give tacit approval to Phillips’ madness by authoring the preface of Phillips memoirs of the TARC fiasco. One could understand Wiesel’s enthusiasm for dialogue if the Turkish members had been human rights activists or others showing a keen interest in promoting democracy in Turkey–but a cursory review of the participants’ names should have quickly dispelled such honorable notions. Would Wiesel applaud a similar commission formed of descendents of Holocaust survivors and David Irving–Mark Weber–Bradley Smith and others intimately tied to Holocaust denial?

Phillips absurdly claims that the cycle of hatred can also be broken when the victim acknowledges how their actions may have contributed to their victimization. Phillips has a complete misunderstanding of the nature of genocide–and victimizes Armenia’s once again with a form of denial we have been subjected to for 90 years–a denial campaign that has made all of us victims of the Armenian genocide.

I am angry at Armenia’s within the community who have not only embraced those who belittle the very basic rights Armenia’s deserve–but celebrate our victimization as if it were some sort of victory for Armenia’s.

The battle over the historical accuracy of the Armenian genocide has been won–it had been won long before the ICTJ report. The entire community can take credit for that–but especially those historians who raised awareness within the field of comparative genocide studies. This development–so obvious to those who attended the Congressional hearings regarding the Armenian Genocide Resolution of 2000–led to the formation of TARC by our opponents as a way to slow international recognition.

The two-pronged approach of TARC was meant–on the one hand–to regain lost credibility for the notion of two sides to the story and–on the other–remove any basis for reparations or restitution.

We should all be outraged–as Armenia’s and as humans–at the methods employed–the messages implied and the underestimating of community sophistication that is taking place today. Phillips–TARC and those who support them should be exposed for their role in the continued victimization of Armenia’s.


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