Yesterday marked the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century. Under the blanket of World War I, the Ottoman Empire decided to take care of their “Armenian” problem once and for all. On April 24, 1915 the Young Turks authorized the arrest of some 250 Armenian intellectuals, and killed every single one. Afterwards, the Turkish government announced the relocation of the Armenians living in Turkish land, this relocation was only a cover for what became a death march through the Anatolian Desert.
The death marches were indiscriminate to age, gender or circumstances, the Armenians were forced to leave their homes with no chance to pack their belongings and march for hundreds of miles with no food or water. The current presence of Armenian communities in almost every part of the world is a direct result of the Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide was one of the greatest and most compelling human rights crises during World War I. The actions taken by the Ottoman Empire were inspiration to Adolf Hitler and root in his belief that the actions against the Jews would be never be acknowledged.
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” – Adolf Hitler to his Army commanders on August 22, 1939, as he prepared to enter Poland.
Hitler spoke these words when an advisor asked him how he planned to justify his actions when the world asked about the atrocities carried out during World War II. The quote is very relevant even today, in the 21st century. Today there are still many, including the United States of America who refuse to recognize the genocide and the atrocities that took place. To this day Turkey continues to deny the crimes that their country has committed and continuous to try and expunge from history the record of this enormous crime against humanity.
The states above have recognized the Armenian genocide through legislation
Only through recognizing the lessons that history teaches us can we truly insure that we do not commit the same mistakes. By ignoring, denying and rewriting history we are only setting a stage for history to repeat itself. As I write this today, I can name several genocides that have taken place in our world that all of us remember.
- Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1992-1995 - 200,000 Deaths
- Rwanda: 1994 - 800,000 Deaths
- Pol Pot in Cambodia: 1975-1979 - 2,000,000 Deaths
- Nazi Holocaust: 1938-1945 - 6,000,000 Deaths
- Rape of Nanking: 1937-1938 - 300,000 Deaths
- Stalin's Forced Famine: 1932-1933 - 7,000,000 Deaths (Source)
These Genocides could have been prevented, if only the world would have acknowledged the atrocities committed by the Young Turks and held them accountable for their actions. Instead, we allowed for this crime to go unpunished for almost a century, and continue to see the extermination of nations and races throughout the world.
As a descendent of Armenians who survived the Genocide, and having grown up with stories of my great-grandparents survivals I can state that we, as Armenians, are not looking for punishment, or a reward, we are simply asking for the the world to open it’s eyes and recognize the first genocide of the 20th century, to accept that the massacres took place and to prevent history from repeating itself.
The above photo is the Genocide Memorial in Armenia where an internal flame blazes in memory of all those who lost their lives.
The following are the nations that have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide: