posts 1 - 15 of 19
Boston, US
Posts: 205

In this exercise, you are going to look at the Armenian genocide, which resulted in the murder of approximately 1.5 million Armenian Christians living in the area of eastern Turkey that today is independent Armenia. In 1915, Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire, which was in rapid decline and would eventually become Turkey. The Young Turks, who came to power in 1908, dreamed of a pan-Turkish empire that was Muslim in religious orientation. The Armenians were the largest remaining group of Christians left in this territory (other groups of Christians in parts of the Ottoman Empire had broken away or gained independence).

Beginning with the execution of Armenian political leaders in Istanbul in 1915, the systematic elimination of Armenians, either through exile overland to Syria or execution, took place. It is believed that mass deportations, torture, and executions took place between 1915 and 1923, with the goal of eradicating the Armenian population from Turkey soil.

  1. To be sure that you understand the magnitude and the scale of the Armenian genocide, I’d like you to look at some photographic material about the Armenian genocide. Choose two of these sites (you may go to all three, if you wish). Warning: some of the material on these sites is extremely graphic.

Photographs of the Armenian genocide taken by John Elder between 1917-19

Images and a variety of sources documenting the Armenian genocide.

  1. Then I’d like you to look at two maps on this site

∙the first shows the vision of Pan-Turkish land

∙the second map indicates the extent of the deportations and massacres

  1. Then, read some eyewitness reports about the genocide.

Feel free to look at any of these but be sure to scroll down and take a look at Noyemzar Alexanian’s story. (2nd from the bottom of the list) After you’ve done this, take a look at some of the other survivor testimony on this site, if you have a few minutes. These are incredibly moving.

  1. Then take a look at some of the wartime testimony in archival documents in the U.S. and British archives. Go to:

Poke around this part of the site, featuring US and British documents, and see what you find. Select at least 3 documents to read.

5. Please take a look at the letter sent by the Turkish embassy as a reply to one of my former students, St John Barned-Smith, in 2004 when he asked how the Turkish government could explain the fate of the Armenians. (St John is now a very successful reporter for the Houston Chronicle.)

In the link that follows, the letter from the Embassy appears first; if you scroll down after the Embassy’s letter, you will find the student’s letter to the Embassy at the bottom of this link AND you should read that first before reading the Embassy’ response!

6. Finally, where does the US government stand right now on the Armenian genocide (updating some of what you read in Samantha Power’s book).

Here’s what Obama did/didn’t do:

Here’s where Trump did:

Here’s where Biden seems to be:

7. Your final task is to post your responses HERE to the following questions, along with your reactions to what you’ve learned about the Armenian genocide:

  • After looking at all this, what sense can you make of the Armenian genocide?
  • What’s true about these events? Is there anything that appears to be untrue?
  • What is “real history” and what isn’t?
  • How can you tell?
  • And how would you respond to the Turkish government’s position on these events? Do you think the U.S. government and/or world governments should in some way respond as well?
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 20

Armenian Genocide

Originating from Anatolia, the Armenians were a majorly christian group who relocated into Turkey. They were given few rights and higher taxes within their religious group, constantly discriminated against for their beliefs. Animosity grew towards the Armenians as they began to be deported and sent to their death in large numbers. Bodies covered the pathways leading to the destination as people were raped, abused, and harassed. Over one million Armenian individuals were killed during this horrendous event. Looking at these photos was incredibly horrific and revealed the true atrocities that took place during the Armenian genocide. Pictures depicted starving and dying children being beaten to death. Large numbers of young kids became orphaned and were forced to live alone after their guardians were ruthlessly killed. Refugees flooded in with no asylum, struggling to survive as they resided on the streets. Many illustrated tortured and mangled bodies laying on the ground with family members looking over them, heartbroken and hopeless. This was immensely impactful to us and showed the pain the Armenian people endured during this time period.

The US in many ways is complicit in the murkiness of the classification of the Armenian Genocide. At the time, Morgenthau, the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, tried to inform the US Government about the atrocities committed by the Young Turks in power against the Armenians. His contact with the US had been cut off later, but even when the US had the opportunity to do something to help the Armenians, they largely ignored it. For example, when Morgenthau recommended accepting a mass amount of Armenian refugees to settle in the western part of the US, the US ignored it until it was too late to be carried out. When officials here in the US tried to interfere with the Turks, it was often ignored due the aspiration for neutrality. Today, we still aren’t fully recognizing the genocidal acts committed by the Young Turks. During his presidency, Obama pledged to acknowledge the United States’ role in the Armenian genocide. He continued to neglect to recognize the vast mistakes of the U.S and surpassed the various opportunities in which he could have voiced his beliefs. Obama continued to find excuses in order to evade the responsibility of owning up to the United States’ part in this devastating event. By disregarding the promise he made to publicly acknowledge the Armenian genocide as a historical fact, he detrimentally dissapointed thousands of hopeful inidviduals, eager to receive the compensation they deserve. This failure to act has further hurt America’s relationship with Turkey threatening any chance of unity between the two locations. Donald Trump, our former president, had a personal relationship with Erdogan, the president of Turkey. When a bill passed congress to recognize what was committed against the Armenians as a genocide, Trump attempted to block the bill and used his personal dissatisfaction of it as leverage over other republican lawmakers. Joe Biden, our current president, who is a member of the opposite party, might play a different hand in his relationship with Turkey. He will probably be more hostile toward the effort to invalidate the Armenian Genocide, but forming a favorable relationship with Turkey would be immensely beneficial in the fight against other adversaries like Russia.

According to the Turkish Embassy as of 2004 there was so systematic murder, or genocide, inflicted on the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Although there were possibly around 1.6 million deaths (this number is highly disputed), the Turkish Embassy blames this on the relocation of Armenians during wartime. They make it clear this was not deportation of Armenians but that this was actually a security measure to insure the safety of everyone, including the Armenians. They claim that the death toll was high for Armenians due the conditions that they faced on their way out of the Ottoman capital. When a BLS student in 2004 asked them about their thoughts regarding Morgenthau, and the angry Armenian descendants of those were brutally killed, they said this was a form of wartime propaganda, or the kids were mad in response to relocation. It is clear that the Turkish government just wants to sweep this under the rug and be done with it. They wanted to do it while this genocide was happening, by projecting the image that all countries in war experience internal turmoil. And they wanted to do it after, rejecting the systematic deaths of Armenian Turks, and blaming many deaths on relocation, or justifying it by saying Armenians were siding with the Russian Empire. It was especially interesting that they denied this after one leader of the Armenian genocide praised himself and his skill, going on about others who had also perpetrated atrocities against large groups of people would be impressed by how many Armenians he was able to kill. This information was found in documents where he bragged about it, and yet the government continues to deny the fact that this was a genocide or own up to the gravity of what happened.

On what was “real” and what wasn’t that depends who you ask. According the Morgenthau, and many first hand accounts, there was an Armenian genoicde, that the Turkish government perpetrated. If you ask the Turkish government, they would ask you, what genocide? To really understand what is real we need to trust first hand accounts from survivors, both Armenian and non- Armenian. Morgenthau observed a lot of what was going on, he was living through it. He was also very passionate and vocal about it, seemingly looking out for the wellbeing of everyone. He did his best to get the word out about what was happening and although the US government didn’t really pay attention for the most part he did not give up. The Turkish government tried to spin this as wartime propaganda and was an attempt at making Morgenthau less credible. But this coverup seemed to convince Turks and other international leaders. To the Americans and other countries Morgenthau's words made little to no impact as they were in the midst of the war and had “more important” things to take care of. So, for what was real, the systematic killing of Armenians was real, shown by pictures of mangled bodies, and first hand accounts. What is real is the Turkish denial of all that went down. And for what is fake, we would say that it is most of the information that the Turkish government tried to project to disguise what was really going on which was the atrocious acts they were committing against the Armenian people.

The Turkish government shouldn’t have committed these atrocious acts in the first place. However, what is more relevant to dealing with the problem today is fully recognizing these acts, and this has not been fully realized due to many different steps taken. The word “genocide” is a relatively new word in international vocabulary and was created as a way to recognize events like those of the Holocaust or what was done to the Armenian people. We should’ve done a better job of educating people on an international scale about the Armenian Genocide. That would leave less room for what we see today around the conversation around these events. Educating people on the true history of events would’ve made less room for denial of this brutality.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 21

Genocide is the only term that encapsulates what happened

The Armenian genocide was indeed a genocide, there is no other name given for an intentional massacre of an entire ethic group with the intent of destroying them while also removing them from Turkish territory. The exact number of Armenians killed is not known as the government attempted to remove all evidence of a genocide even occurring, but the numbers are well above the hundreds of thousands.

The only thing that appears to be untrue about this event is the propaganda that the Turkish government was and still is attempting to spread in order to cover up their crimes. But there are photographs of the Armenians being killed and starved that prove these crimes, and these cannot be ignored. The Turkish government is attempting to create their own “real history” of the events that occurred by portraying themselves as the victims. In the reply to the confused student from the Turkish embassy, the embassy writes that “the Armenian Ottomans even captured the city of Van for a period of time where many atrocities were committed against innocent civilians,” with those innocent civilians referring to non-Armenian Ottoman citizens. The Turkish government is trying to justify their actions by claiming they were putting down an insurrection, but this does not explain why over 90% of those killed were not even deemed to be in the resistance. Their explanation for this is that while they were “relocating” the Armenians for their own safety as “many Ottoman Armenians… were in harm's way or… were siding with the Russian Empire,” there was not enough supplies or food for all the people which resulted in many Armenians starving to death. But the embassy even has an explanation for this lack of supplies, one which makes the Ottoman empire seem like the victims and blames others, saying that because they were being attacked by European powers they didn't have the money for such supplies. These statements and explanations from the Turkish embassy all represent what “fake history” is. But it is often difficult to distinguish between “real” and “fake” history because historic evidence is almost always going to be biased, especially as history is typically written by the victors.

The best way to distinguish between real and fake history is to view all evidence relating to the event and piece together what seems to have truly happened. This relies on the documentation and storage of important documents from the era, but sadly the Turkish government destroyed most of the documents relating to the genocide. But one of these documents, a memorandum or order with 10 commandments on how the genocide will take place was saved as a member of the British government was able to get a copy from a member of the Ottoman government. The document can be used to find false information within the embassy’s letter to the confused student:

“Thirdly, Hitler had an openly stated goal of exterminating all Jews and had for this purpose set up death camps. None of this applies to the Ottoman Empire and the Armenians.”

But within the document written by the Ottoman government and given as orders, it says:

“Kill off in an appropriate manner all Armenians in the Army,” and “arrest all [Armenians] who worked against [the] Government at any time among them and send them into the provinces such as Bagdad or Mosul, and wipe them out either on the road or there,” and “all action to begin everywhere simultaneously, and thus leave no time for preparation of defensive measures”

The last order given shows the intention of the Ottoman government on keeping the genocide a secret, ordering all person with this commandment to only give the order and bring the original copy back, where it will be destroyed. “Pay attention to the strictly confidential nature of these instructions, which may not go beyond two or three person's.”

I agree with the last thing that was said in the Embassy’s reply, that we need to be “cognizant of our history and the obligation it imposes on us to make sure it never repeats itself.” But by denying history and trying to impose one’s own version of what happened, history will always be able to repeat itself. And history did repeat itself with the Holocausts as shown by Hitler’s infamous words "who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" The US and other countries should make sure these events are covered up by the Turkish government, and should make sure the Turkish government take responsibility for their actions, as that is the only way to ensure no one thinks they can get away with genocide.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26

Uncovering the Truth and Untruth Told of the Armenian Genocide

Growing up in a single and adamant perspective, it can be disturbing and upsetting to hear voices that tell you you’re wrong. This is true for the politics of our country, where our perspectives are solidified by the common narrative of our family, friends, teachers, news sources, and so on. I can’t imagine, however, growing up in an environment where it is forbidden to discuss the Other perspective, in a way where an individual faces legal repercussions for doing so. Seeing the documents presented on the Armenian genocide, it is devastating to know that survivors, their descendants, and their community at large, have never received the appropriate acknowledgement and reparations for their suffering. Moreover, it is frightening to think of how devoted a state can be to justifying a false point of view, where the twisting of evidence — such as photos, multiple witness accounts, and census data — exists so prevalently.

What is real, to me, is that the Armenian people faced restrictions on their people, placed intentionally by the government, that reduced their quality of life, and that they were treated with excessive brutality, exorbitant for even casualties of wartime, again, permitted, if not orchestrated, by the state.

The first part of this, though it may not be indicative of genocide in and of itself, I think is crucial evidence in establishing that there was intent to oppress the Armenian people, to rob them of their human right to live, fully and naturally. Examples of these were brought up by St John Barned-Smith, in his letter to the Turkish Embassy, as he asked, “Why didn't you let them have pets? Why were the intellectuals rounded up? Why were they not allowed to send mail?” These restrictions, as he points out too, are behaviors common of genocide. He also asked the Embassy, “What of the children who were taken from their parents and then ‘Turkishicized’?” The fact that the Embassy had not addressed these questions in their letter of response, to me, shows that they cannot prove it didn’t happen, and that the evidence that it did stands. The point too that children were stripped of their culture, forced to assimilate into that of their oppressors (as we did to Indigenous peoples, as China does now to the Uighurs), also speaks to me that genocide did happen, that the state was deliberate in their attempts to destroy a group’s culture, and subsequently their people.

The second part I want to address concerning what is real about the genocide is that the Turkish state used force against the Armenians that was excessive for “unfortunate” casualties of war — there was the intent to exterminate their race. The evidence for this is overwhelming. There had been, for one, mass killings of people — unarmed, everyday civilians — on record, such as the information that 24,000 Armenians were killed in 3 days in April of 1915. There was another instance I read, in the book by Donald E. Miller and Lorna Touryan Miller, Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide, linked in the “Armenian Genocide Survivor and Eyewitness Accounts” webpage, where about 800 men were arrested, tied together in groups, shot up by gendarmes until “they had nearly killed all of them,” and those who “had not been killed by bullets were then disposed of with knives and bayonets.” What is striking about this last example, to me, is that this event and its procedures, written by Consul Leslie A. Davis to Ambassador Morgenthau, included the date — July 7, 1915 — as well as the day of the week and the time of day during which it happened. It was also established in Survivors that there were multiple eyewitness accounts. These numbers, these stories, adding up together in devastating quantity, are true to me.

In addition to mass killings, we see cruelty in the “death marches” put upon the Armenians as they were deported. In the documentary we watched on the Armenian genocide, it was described how these death marches were made to exhaust them, sometimes deliberately going the longer path or over mountains or even in circles, unable to eat or drink. In Survivors, too, there was an excerpt from the witness account of Rev. Haroutioun Essayan, the Vicar of the Apostolic Church at Aleppo, describing how the Kurds had arrived at another village in their march, taking their clothes and forcing them to walk naked under the sun, how, “For another five days they did not have a morsel of bread, neither a drop of water. They were scorched to death by thirst. Hundreds over hundreds fell dead on the way, their tongues were turned to charcoal…” There is intent here, I think, to kill these people, to deprive them of the necessities of life. What is more damning, and what I will never forget, are what followed in Essayan’s account, how they finally reached a fountain, and “policemen stood in front of them and forbade them to take even a drop of water, for they wanted to sell the water… and sometimes not giving the water, after getting the money,” how women threw themselves into the well where there were no pails, being so thirsty; how their dead bodies would come up to the surface when they drowned. These are not accidental effects of war. This type of cruelty, of withholding water, of even suggesting the notion that they must pay for the natural resource right of front of them as hundreds were dying of thirst, was a deliberate action, in every way, of killing them. This, to me, is “real” history.

Something, too, must be said about the evidence presented aside from witness testimony. In the gallery of the Armenian National Archive, photos such as “Kharbert (Kharpout) 1915” show the way in which innocent children were not spared from the treatment of the Turks — they are not protecting themselves from rebels here, they are annihilating a group of people by brutalizing their children. In “Mousheghik,” titled for the child in the image, the boy is displaying his hands after having been crucified. Seeing physical evidence of the mistreatment of Armenian children, I believe in their stories. The maps we looked at too show evidence of the persecution of Armenians, as they lost their homes, as Armenians all over the country were driven to deportation centers. We see so much data, documenting the scale of deportations and massacres at locations, as well as Armenian resistance; we even see deportation and deaths out at the Black Sea which is consistent with the documentary we watched, as it was said to be where men, women, and children were taken out in boats and left to drown. Seeing a lot of these witness records match up with photographs and data to me are compelling, and they show that it was untrue that the Armenians were “exaggerating” their suffering, as the Turkish government claims.

I truly do not know how to respond to Turkey’s denial. I agree with @Noodles, in their point that we need to recognize history, that Turkey must acknowledge their past acts of suppression and current ones of censorship, otherwise genocides would be repeated — as we’re seeing today. However, I think that the lies told about the Armenian genocide — that they deserved the oppression, that their extermination was accidental — have been ones told in their country for decades, throughout many generations of government and students; how would we have government officials acknowledge the genocide if they do not believe in it themselves? Now, with the mandate that the Armenian genocide be taught in schools not as a genocide, that belief may be completely solidified in the minds of future world leaders. I think this is the first issue to be addressed. I think it is extremely important for books, movies, and teachings of alternative perspectives to be allowed in Turkey, so that people can make these decisions for themselves. I think the United State government, and other world governments, should encourage the Turkish government to be more open in their spreading of information, instead of jailing individuals who dare to speak the truth. By allowing and discussing perspectives which show evidence of what the Armenians have suffered, I think the Turkish government may get closer to accepting their history and wanting to make reparations, instead of resolutely living in the easy denial they are now. In addition, I think the United States government should resolve to treat human rights issues more seriously, to stand up for people around the world against the censorship, persecutions, and mistreatment imposed on them by our own allies. The executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Aram Suren Hamparian, brought up an important point when he said that “‘the time for anyone to get this issue right is when they're in office’” — we must push our leaders to hold themselves accountable, to use their position to speak for the voices of those who have suffered.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Denying the Pain of Armenians

It is very clear that Armenians were systematically rounded up and exterminated by the Turkish government. Despite what Turkish officials and historians may claim, what happened to the Armenians was genocide. The atrocities inflicted upon them are evident in photographs, which show starving children in “orphanages” and fields of Armenian bodies stacked on top of each other. Other images capture families watching as their loved ones die from dehydration and starvation, Armenians being gathered in a large group before they would be burned to death, and Armenians enduring death marches. In addition to visual evidence, there are also accounts from survivors. Alice Muggerditchian, a survivor, recalls the time where Ottoman officials imprisoned her husband and the husbands of many other Armenian women. These officials demanded Alice and these other women to hand over their guns and weapons if they wanted their husbands to be released, so many of them had to buy guns to fulfill this order. However, their husbands were never returned to them but were killed. Denying that the Armenian genocide was a genocide would be denying and trivializing the pain and trauma of the Armenians. Additionally, the map that marks deportation routes, deportation centers, and sites of massacres emphasizes how meticulously the Armenian genocide was documented. It highlights the large scale of death and torture in this genocide, displaying countless routes and centers all across Turkey. The killing of Armenians was not excluded to one area but occurred in many regions all over the country.

These pictures, eyewitness accounts, and other documents makeup the “real history” that captures the suffering and dehumanization of Armenians. Even though physical evidence of the genocide exists, the Turkish government chooses to twist history and establish a history that makes them the victim. As the power of the Young Turks declined, the Turkish Republic formed and began to westernize and spread propaganda so that they could erase traces of the horrors committed by the Young Turks. The propaganda has considerable impacts on Turkish leaders, historians, and academics. The effects of the propaganda can be seen in the Turkish Embassy’s response to the confused student. To echo @Noodles, the Turkish Embassy states that the sufferings and deaths of Armenians were caused by the war and the lack of resources to sustain Armenian lives. The Embassy also victimizes non-Armenians by characterizing all Armenians as armed enemies who teamed with the Russian enemy and killed many Turks. They also say that “most young Armenians are filled with hate from a young age in the diaspora… and resort to violence with the misplaced anger planted in their hearts.” With these points, the Turkish Embassy attempts to justify that the Armenian genocide was not a genocide, unlike the Holocaust in which Jewish people were innocent and unarmed. The letter exemplifies how the propaganda is deeply planted in Turkish society to a point where government officials make false claims and counter any evidence of the Armenian genocide on every level.

To respond to the Turkish government’s position on the Armenian genocide, I would tell them that the events preceding and following 1915 were genocide. I would also ask them how they can deny that part of history that is unmistakably documented by photographs and written reports from foreign governments. The denial narrative of the Turkish government only adds to the Armenians’ pain and pushes the government further away from making amends with Armenians. I believe that acknowledging the hateful acts and crimes committed by the Turkish government and giving reparations to the Armenians are the only ways to truly rebuild Turkey and improve its image.

Moreover, the U.S. government and other governments should also respond to the Turkish government’s position on the Armenian genocide because it is a human rights issue. The Turkish government’s strong stance against the Armenian genocide has subjected many Armenian writers and scholars in Turkey, like Hrant Dink and Ragip Zarakolu, to bomb attacks, death threats, and several years of imprisonment for publishing work and speaking out about the Armenian genocide. Other governments should bring to light these violations of human rights and openly acknowledge the Armenian genocide as a genocide. Like @yvesIKB, I think that other governments should push the Turkish government to expand their sources for information and allow books and films on the Armenian genocide to be read and viewed by Turkish citizens. If the Turkish people have the opportunity to look at these sources and discuss them openly without fear of being punished, the Turkish government and people can begin to move away from the decades-old propaganda and allow Turkish-Armenians to fully mourn the victims of the genocide.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The Armenian Genocide

Looking at all these documents it is very clear that the Armenian Genocide really happened. Through the pictures it is so clear that Armenians were suffering severely because of the Turkish government, and they weren’t a threat to Turkey. First of all, the Armenians that were against the government were only a handful according to Morgenthau and other historians. A lot of the people in these photographs are children, innocent children that have no idea what’s even happening in the war. They are not responsible for anything happening, but in the photos you can see their bones through their skin. They were starving. There wasn’t just one picture that depicted this on those three websites, there were so many and probably hundreds more. Not only were there photographs, but there were also so many first hand accounts of survivors that went through this horrendous event. Many of the testimonies were from people who were young when the genocide happened, and they had to see their family members be slaughtered. They were forced from their homes, into concentration camps or sometimes their villages were just raided and hundreds were killed.There is so much proof that this genocide did happen, and it is really astonishing that the Turkish government still can’t accept it.

While reading the leader a student from facing sent to Turkey, questioning how they could denounce the genocide, it was very apparent that author of the response was clearly trying to evade the questions. At one point the author of the letter said that the student shouldn’t trust the number of deaths historians have calculated because they aren’t accurate, but then he says that the issue is for historians to resolve, not politics. First it’s “don’t trust historians, but then it’s “they are the only ones you can trust”. This just shows how they are trying to disregard the students questions, and they are contradicting their own statements. The author tried to be so sneaky because he kept saying that this genocide didn’t happen, but then later they would say that there was still a lot to be learned about this situation. Again they were making contradicting statements. Also they were just repeating the same thing over and over that the Armenians were against the Turks and that it was only because they didn’t have the means necessary to take care of those being relocated that they died.

The best way to respond to the Turkish government is by continuing to talk about the Armenian genocide and what really happened. Hopefully one day the Turkish government will have to finally surrender and tell the truth. A good way would be to convince them that admitting the truth won’t cause more pain or disunity in Turkey, it will allow people to finally feel justice for all the Armenian lives that were lost. The U.S. and other countries should classify this event as a genocide because it clearly was. Also all the governments who haven’t declared it a genocide owe a huge apology to the Armenian people. It’s so sad to see that even a century after this horrible event happened the Armenian people still have not received justice.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

It is very clear and even blatantly obvious that the Armenian Genocide not only happened but also that it is was an intentional effort by the Ottoman Empire/ the Young Turk government to wipe out the Armenian people. There is a disgusting and endless files of witness and victim testimonies, pictures showing refugee camps, dangerously malnourished and already dead Armenians and countless other pieces of evidence. Like many of the other Genocides in the early 20th century the Armenian genocide was part of what laid the groundwork for the Holocaust and the countless victims who were killed then as well. Hitler himself was inspired by the massacres and is even quoted saying "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians" in order to justify his own attempted Annihilation of the Jewish people. On top of that at one point Armenians were forced into a cave which was then filled with smoke and those inside were killed which can be paralleled to an early form of the gas chambers used by the Nazis.

The current Turkish government continues to lie and deflect evidence of the Armenian genocide despite is being clear to the world that it both happened and was intentional. Besides flat out denying it, common lies include that the numbers are overinflated or like I mentioned before that it was unintentional. The first argument is somewhat irrelevant because even if it was say 100,000 people rather than the more likely estimated million or so it doesn't make it any better, The fact that they intentionally slaughtered a massive amount of Armenians with no justification is bad enough much less that it was a million people which seems to be backed up by most evidence anyway. While hearing such a large number might not mean much because its difficult to picture that amount you can better understand it by looking at the countless photos of victims which is barely scratching the surface of how many actually were affected because many of them weren't document in the same way, another way to help understand just how disgusting these acts were is when you see the map of events which showcases how across all of Turkey at that time there were deportations usually followed by massacres. In a few instance the Armenian people fought back or were able to escape but these were more of an exception.

The Turkish government has done everything they can to erase the history of the Armenian genocide which is a disgusting response and arguably makes them aligned with their predecessors the Young Turks. The correct response would be to admit everything that happened and do everything thats possible to reconcile with the Armenian people a big part of which would be helping to expose the truth. Instead the government denies it happened and makes it illegal to even mention which in itself is evidence of the government being oppressive. Unfortunately the American government has little ability to pressure the Turkish government because they are a very important part of the nato alliance and of maintaining some level of security in that region so any change in the governments response will have to come from within. The best thing we can do as individuals is to be educated and to educate others so that the stories of the victims and what happened to them is never forgotten.

brighton, ma, US
Posts: 21

The 5 Steps of Genocide

Trying to explain the Armenian Genocide or any genocide for that matter is to follow a cycle. One of the eye witnesses explained the genocide in 5 easy steps: identificiation, dehumanization, segregation, extermination, denial. I was really surprised at how he was able to condense his thoughts into such a short minute and a half explanation. Looking through a philosophical standpoint, life goes through an infinite amount of cycles such as the life cycle, the repetition of history, the fashion industry and much more. Dwindling down the Armenian Genocide into such small phrases is a crucial part in making sens of the genocide itself. Throughout history, we have seen time and time again, an exclusion of a group that became hostile, yet isn't put into our standard history books due to its overall importance to world history. I think the only way to truly make sense of the Armanian Genocide is to become desensitized to the amount of killings and look at the evidence of what happened. As humans we are wired to think emotionally, yet in this video, the man talks about genocide in a casual manner, probably due to desentixation fo the topic after living through it. The Armenian Genocide was a part of a cycle in history where a group of people are suppressed in order for another to claim power, by retracting from the horrors of the genocide, it becomes a mere part of history’s repetition.

I honestly think its absurd for anyone to claim that the genocide did not happen. To return back to the spoken testamoney who talked about the 5 steps of genocide, none of the steps involved coming to terms with it, instead the last step was denial. Of course there are an immense amount of reasons why denial is easier as it lets the country not make a formal economic apology, as well as keep their reputation. However, there is a countless amount of evidence to show that the Armenian Genocide did happen. For instance, the image of a child with holes in his hands in order to crucify him, the verbal accounts on their experiences, and statistics of the amount of Armenian shops, houses, people and much more before and after the genocide. It is undeniable that this was not a genocide, accounts on Talaat’s speeches as well is promising evidence of the history.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

I think it’s pretty universally agreed in this forum that a genocide happened. It’s one thing to dismiss horrifying photos, but it’s another thing to deny the numerous first hand accounts, and these are only the ones that are in English/translated to English, imagine the hundred of thousands of survivors who were not interviewed, whose accounts were left untranslated, whose memories remained shaky, and of course, the innocent victims who lost their lives. In fact, I’m actually in awe of the extremely detailed accounts. Some of these survivors like Alexanian were way past 80, yet they can still recall when family members disappeared and how they tried to survive. I think it really shows just how impactful and likely traumatic this whole experience was, and to hear the Turkish government again and again claim that they “did nothing wrong” is so insensitive to the victims.

It was ironic how they clearly wanted to hide the documents with explicit instructions to exterminate the Armenians (even ordering to kill them during the deportations, which I’m sure Tehlirian can attest to) and keep the operation a secret yet the corpses were clearly out in the opening, though they did express displeasure from not being able to hide the bodies due to the sheer number. At first, I was a little embarrassed that the email sent to an embassy would be riddled with typos, but that also reveals the student’s overwhelming passion for the issue. I was surprised that they decided to respond back, but unsurprised when they chose to claim that it was “propaganda” and that the Armenians were actually “dangerous” and thus needed to be “removed” from the area. I agree with @YvesIKB that it was really shady that the Turkish embassy did not address the various restrictions that the student wrote about. It’s clearly a deliberate choice; the restrictions are in writing, and if nothing else, they are clear examples of discrimination, and thus, genocide.

I wonder if the Turkish government view Germany in contempt. Do they think it’s a sign of weakness if they admit to a genocide? Other nations actually admire Germany’s course of actions. Obviously, they’re still not perfect when it comes to acknowledging and actively repairing (just look at the Heroro and Nama genocide), but Turkey only needs to take the bare minimum. Are they worried that there would somehow be more civil unrest? I am not too familiar with Turkish politics, but I do know that there have been plenty of civil unrest in the country already because of the concerning youth unemployment rates. Or, maybe it’s just the burden of blame. When you acknowledge you’ve done something wrong, you acknowledge that you’re not infallible, which means people start to lose trust in you.

The excuse that Britain gave during genocide is that they were too preoccupied with war, and therefore cannot extend themselves. I think that’s why a lot of nations back and then and now choose to remain silent or complicit. Either they don’t care because it’s not their business, or that they believe they need to focus on their domestic issues first before looking outward. Sometimes it’s both. To shake discussion up, instead of arguing for the US to just condemn the genocide, what else should they do? Cut off trade? Threaten war? The latter seems far too extreme, but it could turn out to be a possibility. To effectively damage Turkey’s economy, enough nations have to agree to stop trading or stop allying with Turkey. To many nations, it’s a matter of stability versus words, and so of course, they would choose the less hostile option. It’s unfair for the victims to hear that the genocide did not happen. Who’s going to hold the US accountable to utter the words? Protests? I’ve gotten a little bit more cynical with protests after seeing how the issues of police brutality and police funding have been such heated topics during 2020, yet here we are, almost a year later and no real progress made towards the policies at all. But nothing will happen without us doing something.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

It is impossible to deny that the Armenian genocide happened, and to say that the attempted destruction of this people and culture was anything but intentional. From the survivor accounts, the horrifying death tally, the records of discriminatory policy, and the many photographs of starving people and corpses, the evidence is overwhelming. This is the real history; not the oversimplified, hazy version that the Turkish government seeks to propagate. In each of their responses, they seem to label each of the near 1 million deaths as a mere casualty of war, something unfortunate but inevitable. They counter these striking numbers by equating the destruction of the Armenians to the loss of Ottoman Turkic lives, despite the fact that the reasons for these deaths were incredibly different.

Just by looking at the maps of the many routes along which Armenians walked to their deaths in forced marches, it is clear that this whole operation was well thought out and planned. The government claimed that these deportations were for the Armenians safety. They claim that is was simply intended as relocation, even though they were forced to abandon all their possessions and denied the food they needed to survive these journeys through deserts and other dangerous terrains. They also claim that this was all necessary to “prevent revolutionary propaganda”, as their response to the US ambassador at Constantinople stated. This information, along with an assurance that Armenians were “probably not in danger”, was relayed to an American Catholic interest group, who expressed concern to the US government on the Armenians’ situation. The group’s initial letter contained the word “massacre”, which makes it clear that the public had received notice of the horrible crimes being committed against Armenians on a large scale. However, the US government still attempted to placate these citizens by softening the reality, which is another example of how we were complicit in the Turkish government’s perpetration of this genocide.

I think that the US government cannot hesitate to recognize atrocities like this for what they truly are as genocide, especially since censorship of them is so severe in the countries they are occurring in. This acknowledgement must be present in our foreign policy and interactions as well, as knowledge of this should be spread beyond our borders. The media can also play a role in this. It is terrifying that journalists who attempt to share this part of history face such backlash from the government, and may even be killed, simply for trying to expose the truth. Here in the US we can use our access to the free press to elevate the voices of the descendants of Armenian survivors to increase awareness to what is really a global issue. Maybe if we are loud enough, then those who continue to deny this genocide will be forced to confront the truth of this dark moment in history and its enduring legacy of trauma. The government must embody the words their embassy wrote in response to a BLS student, “ all we need to do is move on, cognizant of our history and the obligation it imposes on us to make sure it never repeats itself” They must be cognizant of the real history, not the more favorable one that best suits the future they hope to create for their country. We also cannot move on from the past until some kind of reparations are made. While nothing could ever fully atone for the atrocities committed against the Armenians, the least the government can do now is take responsibility, validate their experiences, listen to survivors, and ensure that no one ever forgets them.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Armenian Genocide

Trying to explain the Armenian Genocide or any genocide for that matter is to follow a cycle. One of the eye witnesses explained the genocide in 5 easy steps: identification, dehumanization, segregation, extermination, denial. I was really surprised at how he was able to condense his thoughts into such a short minute and a half explanation. Looking through a philosophical standpoint, life goes through an infinite amount of cycles such as the life cycle, the repetition of history, the fashion industry and much more. Dwindling down the Armenian Genocide into such small phrases is a crucial part in making sense of the genocide itself. Throughout history, we have seen time and time again, an exclusion of a group that became hostile, yet isn't put into our standard history books due to its overall importance to world history. I think the only way to truly make sense of the Armenian Genocide is to become desensitized to the amount of killings and look at the evidence of what happened. As humans we are wired to think emotionally, yet in this video, the man talks about genocide in a casual manner, probably due to desensitization of the topic after living through it. The Armenian Genocide was a part of a cycle in history where a group of people are suppressed in order for another to claim power, by retracting from the horrors of the genocide, it becomes a mere part of history’s repetition.

I honestly think its absurd for anyone to claim that the genocide did not happen. To return back to the spoken testimony who talked about the 5 steps of genocide, none of the steps involved coming to terms with it, instead the last step was denial. Of course there are an immense amount of reasons why denial is easier as it lets the country not make a formal economic apology, as well as keep their reputation. However, there is a countless amount of evidence to show that the Armenian Genocide did happen. For instance, the image of a child with holes in his hands in order to crucify him, the verbal accounts on their experiences, and statistics of the amount of Armenian shops, houses, people and much more before and after the genocide. It is undeniable that this was not a genocide, accounts on Tallat’s speeches as well is promising evidence of the history.

The obvious answer to what “real” history is is the facts--what actually happened. But that’s just the problem: what actually happened? Well, in the case of the Armenian genocide, we have historical evidence, including dispatches, orders, and propaganda campaigns, which all irrefutably point to genocide. Nonetheless, genocide denial exposes the difficulty of verifying the aspects of history that extend beyond basic facts and trends (here, “many Armenians died”) and involve instead the imprecision of asserting intent, causes, factors, and consequences (here, “there was/not genocidal intent”). Once again, I point out that we do have evidence of intent in the case of the genocide, but that the Turkish government has still been able to distort this because it is far easier to deny the abstract than the concrete. Rarely do people dispute deaths or definite actions of history; they instead dispute, as stated above, the more debatable reasonings, causes, and so on. And this has a huge impact! Just consider the role that racism played in the US throughout today. Few deny that racism was present in some form or other (at least through the 1960s, they don’t), but what is up for debate is its centrality to American institutions and the society. The 1619 Project asserted it was central; the 1776 Commission disagreed. Herein lies the trouble, then.

So how do we tell what’s true about the past, then? Relying on the experts, as with any problem, is certainly step 1, but it’s sticky even there. Although historians largely derided the 1776 report, it is true that for a long time, many have imposed false narratives upon America’s racist history due to implicit biases or explicit agendas. Listening to the victims is essential as well; they are able to tell their stories best. Exploring and acknowledging the factors that might cloud our ability to interpret history is also important. We don’t know what it was like to live in the past, of course, but we also see the past through the lenses of our own differing backgrounds, knowledges, preconceptions, and values. Understanding how these might interfere with our understanding of what really happened can help us combat them.

Turkey’s position would be expected. They don’t want the repercussions that come with genocide and they don’t want the negative attention. If they were to recognize their actions as genocide, they would have to go through a long series of reparations that would hinder the countries income and image. My personal response would be a strong disagreement with their position. As seen in the video we watched in class, the government believes that the deaths were just a consequence of the Armenian removal from the Ottoman Empire. They do not believe that Armenians were directly targeted and killed. This is clearly false, a distorted reality that the government and extremist believe, which is also seen in the video shown in class. For anybody reasonable and looking in from the outside, there is undeniable photographic evidence and firsthand accounts. These photos and stories are not a consequence of the Armenian removal, they are deliberate attempts to kill a group of people.

I do believe that countries should take action to have Turkey accountable for their actions. These actions could consist of cutting ties from the country until they admit to the atrocities they have committed. Like seen in the video, American president Barack Obama said he saw Turkey’s actions as a genocide and if elected he would confront Turkey. When visiting the country he did not speak on the topic even when asked. By performing actions like this, it only allows Turkey to get away with what they have done and perpetuate the possibility of other countries escaping repercussions for their actions. Action by the US and other countries should be done.

Boston , Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

Modern Bystanders

As we study countless pieces of evidence supporting the existence of the Armenian Genocide, it becomes ever more disappointing to recognize the current attitude of the Turkish government regarding this history. Certainly, it is hard to digest the unsettling photos of starving Armenian refugees, stories like that of Noyemzar Alexanian, who remembers being left by her mother in the hands of friendly Kurds in hopes of better chance at survival, and telegrams like that of Henry Morgenthau, who frantically explained that a true racial extermination is taking place in the Ottoman Empire; and although what took place in the Armenia Genocide will never really “make sense”, just as we continue to struggle with processing atrocities in Rwanda or Nazi Germany or China, we have seen that humans are capable of committing heinous crimes against masses of groups, especially as when tactics of collective ‘othering’ are employed to create a common enemy.

Yet, as mentioned by @yvesIKB, what is most difficult to process is Turkey’s commitment to perpetuating ‘twistory’, and refusing to fully acknowledge the extent of the crimes committed against the Armenians, despite all the evidence which has been amassed by the world. All the while, Turkey (or at least people in their embassy) claims to seek closure and progress, writing “all we need to do is move on,'' in their letter back to the “confused student”. As we learned in the documentary film detailing the Armenian Genocide, political interests may play a role in Turkey’s lack of acknowledgement, as the country seeks to avoid the expenses of paying reparations and issuing a public, national apology. Nevertheless, it remains astonishing that Turkey not only denies the occurrence of a genocide, but has even forbidden this topic to be discussed or integrated into their education and media systems. The country has reached a near propaganda-like level of denial.

Delving deeper into our research regarding the Armenian Genocide, we’ve come to the conclusion that that Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were targeted (oppressed, abused, and murdered) as a result of their religious and ethnic background. With the rise of Turkish nationalism and a desire for a “Turkey for Turks”, so to speak, the Armenians as an ethnic and religious minority became an easy target. The Young Turk Party, headed by Talaat, Enver, and Jemal, were quick to depict Armenians as untrustworthy traitors using broad generalizations based off specific individuals or groups: for example, after learning that some Armenians were part of the Russian army which defeated Turkish military forces, the Young Turks quickly labelled all Armenians as disloyal to the Empire. Subsequently, Armenians were fiercely persecuted: businesses were boycotted, intellectuals and community leaders faced arrest, and mass executions began to take place. Before long, the country had reached the point of forced deportation, and widespread massacres, of Armenian Ottomans. In regard to this subject, we can clearly recognize its validity and truthfulness: a wide array of evidence, from images of Armenian refugees marching in caravans across the desert to first hand accounts of the murder of Armenians along forced marching trails, prove these matters to be true. In regard to what may be untrue, however, we can cite many claims made by Turkey in their attempt to cover up and understate the significance of their actions. The sovereignty had claimed that most Armenian deaths were due to the inability of the Ottoman Empire to provide adequate living conditions, as a result of the wartime impact. However, as we can clearly tell through external evidence (firsthand accounts, wartime reports, etc.), the Ottomans had no significant trouble acquiring resources during this period, but instead purposely chose to treat Armenians in such a way.

None of us were alive at the time of these events. Even those who were alive at the time were influenced by the propaganda and false claims being put out by the Ottoman Empire, as part of their purposeful effort to muddle the truth of their actions. However, given the resources available to us, we are still able to deduce and infer a reasonably clear idea of what happened. By our estimation, first hand accounts and images are often the best sources of information to determine ‘truthful’ history. In this case, there seems to be no shortage of such evidence. Furthermore, although scarce and far between, the lobbying efforts of ambassadors and other national representatives (Henry Morgenthau, etc.) provide further direct evidence for what took place at the time, especially if such figures were directly involved in the happenings of the Ottoman Empire. The images and accounts which we studied are ways that we can deduce ‘real history’ - thus, it’s no surprise that the Turkish government seeks to ban and outlaw such sources: they present fairly irrefutable evidence.

Throughout our study of the numerous atrocities committed by humans, a common thread amongst all of them certainly seems to be the manipulation of history as justification for past crimes. Thus, for the sake of preventing and correcting these “twistories'' which have become far too commonplace, it is crucial that we revisit these events, and truly get the facts right. Not only must we take these basic efforts, but we must also constantly examine and adjust history to most accurately represent the truth of a matter, without bias and covering all sides of an event. In the case of the Armenian Genocide, it’s clear that such efforts are being taken around the world to create a representation of the event which fully encapsulates its horror and magnitude. However, the issue is that this effort is non-existent where it’s needed most. Turkey absolutely needs to take the first step, towards whatever healing may be possible in the century of aftermath. Turkey needs to understand that a refusal to fully acknowledge what happened is a purposeful decision to perpetuate lies, and continue to damage those whom you persecuted by not allowing them to properly grieve and attempt to move forward. Understand the significance of your actions: to maintain your refusal of acknowledgement is to continue in oppressing Armenians. This message needs to be promoted to other countries as well, especially the United States, which we have long assumed to be the peacemaker and diplomat of the world. While there are factors to consider when making political decisions regarding these topics, and there obviously must be consideration of the global implications of a nation’s actions, certain events in history, especially those which pertain to the extreme violation of innate, humane rights, must be confronted with a strong stance. Woodrow Wilson chose to act as a bystander for the sake of maintaining an Ottoman-American alliance. Barack Obama did not fully recognize the Armenian Genocide, for the sake of maintaining fragile diplomacy with Turkey. Now, we look towards President Biden to see what steps he may take in addressing such a matter, or even yet, addressing a matter of similar magnitude taking place in Xinjiang, China, as we speak. Events of this gravity supersede what we consider to be relative diplomacy between countries. The United States, especially in its current position, must set a precedent for what our world will tolerate moving forward, a precedent which other nations around the world must follow. Our message to the world is this: you were all bystanders a century ago when the Armenian Genocide took place. However, by refusing to either acknowledge, or berate, the inaction taken by Turkey right now is to further your role as a bystander, a century later. If you possibly hope to make amends for the wrong which you have done, this is the first step. Take it, and set the bar for those who follow.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Documenting the Armenian Genocide

So much information was thrown at us at once I almost can’t make sense of it all. When viewing the Holocaust, even if you didn’t learn about it in school, you know it happened. Hitler and the Nazis are household names. If someone mentions the Nazis and the swastika appears in my head. But a month ago if someone mentioned the Armenian genocide to me, nothing would’ve come into my head. No name and no flag would appear. 1 million lives raped, tortured, murdered, and I couldn’t attach anything of substance towards them. One million people and I didn’t learn about them until the eleventh grade. One million people killed because they were the minority group in the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian Genocide happened, but the reason is so preposterous it is hard it understand. The cruelty of humanity knows no limit. It only sense the Armenian genocide makes and the genocides before and after it are they make no sense. It is a group of more powerful people, who start to view another group of people as lesser. The only sense is, it makes to sense. No sense to the rape, torture, and murder of a million Armenians just that the Ottoman Empire could so they did. The excuse where they needed more space for future Ottomans to be born is absurdity. Almost more absurd the United States doesn’t want to call it a genocide and wants to ally to Turkey. It doesn’t matter how powerful modern day Turkey is, I as an American am not proud when my country chooses to side with any country who refuses to accept its past and reality. We are knowingly shaking hands with liars and by association that makes the U.S. sympathizers and tolerant of liars. Don’t get me wrong the United States isn’t perfect either. In the South kids are thought the Civil War was over states’ rights and not over slavery. And across the board children aren’t thought about the Native American genocide in great detail. All children are taught is the Trail of Tears and about Westward Expansion. But for all the atrocities the United States has committed at least we acknowledged they happened. The lines may be blurred in the classroom (this class is the only acceptation), but the real truth is easily accessible to whomever wants to learn what really happened to the Native Americans and to Enslaved Africans stolen from Africa. The government isn’t hiding it. To make sure I was right I googled “what really happened to Native Americans” and was shown sources from the Smithsonian Magazine. The United States isn’t hiding our true past, its just not telling you about it, but in Turkey if you were to google “what really happened to Armenians”, you would probably be arrested. Turkey is hiding its past. Its going so far as to kill a reporter who dared try to speak the truth. In the video we watched in class when the daughter of the reporter killed was giving the backstory on how her father died, she mentioned how when her father was first speaking out, he was leaving his office when people outside started yelling at him saying things like “You’re an enemy of Turkey”. Those people were told as children the Armenian genocide never happened, anyone who speaks of the Armenian genocide is an enemy of the state, and you should report anyone who says otherwise. The men who killed that reporter probably won’t be arrested Armenian genocide web exercise and postbecause in the eyes of Turkey’s government they are heroes. They were doing exactly what they were subconsciously “trained” to do: silence those who speak of the Armenian genocide in Turkey.

When taking about real history and what it is, real history is what happened. Period. However nauseating or terrifying the history is, what happened, happened. Accept it and learn from it so it never happens again. There are many photographs, eye witness accounts, and telegraphs from the United States’ own ambassador at the time. There is so much obvious evidence to the Armenian genocide, its like trying to explain the sky is blue. Just look up at the sky during the day and its blue. There is all the evidence you need, but Turkey looks at the sky and says its red. It is so frustrating to see the Turkish government lie and lie without someone standing up for the truth, who also doesn’t get immediately murdered. The sky is blue and the Armenian genocide happened. Two facts with mountains of photographs and eye witness testimony. I hope the Biden administration forces Turkey to acknowledge what it knows it did. Just an acknowledgement would be a win for the truth and the history and humanity.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

After looking at these pictures and reading the first hand accounts just proved to me even more that the Armenian genocide did happen. The pictures literally document the genocide and it is hard to argue with that. It is impossible to deny the genocide after looking through these.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what is “real history,” especially when what you are learning may be different from what someone somewhere else in the world is learning. But I think it is important to look at the facts and the historical documentation of certain events if you are unsure of the “real history.” Real history is the stories that you hear from survivors and the pictures that people take of the atrocities. Real history is not necessarily what you are taught in school, and that makes it hard to determine what is actually real or not. This is why I think it is hard for many Turkish people, especially now, to recognize the Armenian genocide or even learn about it at all. As we saw in the film The Armenian Genocide, that students learn that the Armenians are lying about it. And because it took place 100 years ago, the number of people who witnessed the genocide is much lower than it was.This is wrong, and it makes it even harder for people to learn about it when their whole country is telling them it didn't happen.

Knowing that the Turkish government still denies the Armenian genocide after reading the documents was eving more surprising. I don't really understand their reasons for continuing to deny it 100 years after it took place. Reading the letter that the student received from the Turkish government was also really shocking to me as it was hard to actually read someone denying the genocide. The Turkish government seems to turn it around on the Armenians a lot, saying that they asked for it by starting rebellions or that they also killed many Turkish people. And this is ridiculous, because when you look at the documents, you can clearly see that the Armeninans were at a disadvantage and were made to suffer extensively.

I think the US governments should respond. Even if awcknoledging the Armenian genocide threatens the country’s relationship with Turkey, it is important to recognize when something like this happens in history. Armenians deserve to be recognized for what they went through and lost. Although I think it would be difficult to get the Turkish government to recognize that this actually did happen, a first step would be recognizing it as a country and educate our own citizens on it. It seems that Obama and Trump both cared more about the country’s relationship with Turkey then doing something. I think it is good that Biden wants to recognize the Armenian genocide, and hes doesn't seem as worried about the country’s relationship with Turkey. He even said that the US should help remove Erdogan through a fair election. But it will be interesting to see what he does regarding recognizing the Armenian genocide, and with human rights in general.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Much More Than Acknowledging

After looking at the documents given to us, it’s clear that even now, the Armenian genocide is something that is still heavily censored and not taught in Turkey. The most frustrating revelation is that there is still an active attempt by the Turkish government to name killing over a million people as a deportation. The sole purpose of the Turkish government was to carry out a mass execution of Armenians because they were Christian and that is genocide. In the documentary we watched earlier this week, it struck me that once the government began to carry out acts of repressive violence, used massacre to establish law and order, and prevent the efforts that were being carried out in rebellions. This all became a habit of violence in which violence became justified and only popularized the notion that Armenians were the perpetrators who were only preventing Turkey’s success as a nation. That is completely false. The Armenians were dehumanized and devalued over centuries because of the caste system in place where there was much animosity towards Christianity. The Armenian genocide cannot be hidden away when several victims have documented their first-hand experiences, even to the point where their descendants are still trying to achieve justice for their deaths.

The first hand accounts, the maps, the visits to Turkey by US ambassadors; all of them hold a collective idea that tis was a genocide under the guise of a deportation. Noyemzar Alexanian’s account was devastating to hear; as a six year old child, she should not have to witness her family being tied up with ropes and seeing them be killed off by the same soldiers who should be protecting them. Looking at the map, there were several sites in which annihilation centres were located, and there were also several sites where they were annihilated without formal process. Along this death march, the Turkish soldiers exhausted the Armenians of food, water, and rest to the point where several even took their lives in the Euphrates River, which became red with the blood of those who were killed. Even today, the remnants of those people are present and scattered within the sand of the Euphrates, yet to be largely uncovered. What is untrue is anything of denial towards this genocide. An example of this, we saw in the Turkish ambassador to Washington who greatly denied evidence of the massacre of Armenians, despite seeing the same remnants of those people in front of him. The Armenian genocide is as real as history can gets; whether or not people choose to acknowledge it, they cannot deny that it happened and invalidate the voices of those who are still suffering from oppression.

The Turkish government’s attempt to call this genocide a deportation is offensive and shameful. If the physical evidence, clear connections, and first hand testimonies did not convince them, they are going a step further to censor those who are trying to make this known. Even now, the use of the word ‘genocide’ is a jailable offense in Turkey and Hrant Dink was prosecuted three times for speaking the atrocities of the Turkish nation; he was shot as soon as nationalist groups stated their intent to come after him. Freedom of expression is limited and anything can be said only within their policies of preserving the public security of the Turkish nation. Seeing how the Turkish government cannot allow any opposition, there should have been much more reaction from the US government and other world governments. They have acknowledged to some degree that it happened but much of the action in favor for Armenian-Americans and Armenian immigrants has been delayed for a “long list of positive agenda”, especially within the United States. Is economic growth and the oil market more important than achieving justice for a people who have been fighting for it over a century? I’d also like to restate a question asked by Ms. Freeman during class: At what point does the national interest trump human rights concerns? It shouldn’t. Regardless of national interest, human rights concerns should be priority because as we have gone over several times in class, there is no excuse for genocides such as these to be occurring in history. Armenians are humans, and humans should have a right to live. In response to these, the Turkish government has to re-educate its people on what truly happened about the Armenian genocide and re-evaluate their system of censorship. The US government has the means to help, and they should utilize those resources to acknowledge that the genocide happened; the only way to hold the leaders accountable is by publicly stating that the genocide is in Turkey’s history.

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