South Bend Tribune, IN
April 24 2005


World has moral duty to stand against genocide
DIALOGUE: MICHIANA POINT OF VIEW

By MAKROUHI OXIAN

An eternal flame burns at the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial in
Yerevan, Armenia. It is surrounded by a sea of flowers that visitors
carry to the site.

Courtesy of Oneworld.net


Ninety years ago, the first genocide of the 20th century began on
April 24, the Armenian Genocide. Throughout the world, Armenians
today will honor the memory of their loved ones who perished at the
bloody hands of the Ottoman Turkish government.

On April 24, 1915, approximately 200 prominent Armenians --
intellectuals and religious and political leaders -- were arrested in
Constantinople (Istanbul) where 21 were hanged. The others were
murdered in the interior regions of Turkey.

The ethnic cleansing of the Armenians then began in all the provinces
of Turkey. No town or city was spared, including my parents'
hometown, the city of Rodosto (Tekirdag) near Constantinople.

Thousands of families, including my parents' families and my mother,
were removed from their homes and deported into the deserts of Syria.
Along the way, thousands were murdered, tortured and raped. Many died
of exhaustion, starvation, exposure or thirst. From 1915 through
1923, a total of 1.5 million men, women and children perished.

The United Nations Genocide Convention in 1948 defined genocide as
"acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnic, racial or religious group.'' In addition to the
Armenians, other ethnic groups experienced such atrocities during the
20th century, including the Bosnians, Jews, Biafrans, Cambodians,
Tutsis, Kurds, Ukrainians the Russians.

Unfortunately, humankind still continues to commit this horrendous
crime. Presently, thousands are being massacred in the African
country of Sudan.

When the tsunami disaster occurred in Asia, the United Nations and
the international community quickly responded to help the survivors.
The relief effort was morally correct.

When ethnic groups experience genocide at the hands of vicious
butchers, the world community does not respond as quickly, if at all.
Due to political reasons, nations do not want to get involved in the
internal affairs of the countries committing such atrocities. Is it
morally correct to ignore such heinous crimes against humanity and
allow thousands to die?

The Armenian Genocide is slowly being recognized by numerous
countries that will not succumb to pressure from the Turkish
government. Some of them include Canada, Italy, France, Switzerland,
Greece, Lebanon, Russia, Slovakia, Argentina, Uruguay and the
Vatican.

For 90 years, Turkey has adamantly denied that it committed genocide
against the Armenians during World War I. The Turkish government not
only dismisses the evidence but is attempting to rewrite history by
paying historical revisionists to write false accounts. How would
people throughout the world react if Germany would attempt to deny
historical truth regarding the Holocaust?

To date, the U.S. Congress has not passed a resolution recognizing
the genocide. Turkey is a strong U.S. ally and NATO partner. The
government of Turkey and its highly paid lobby groups in Washington
have pressured many members of Congress to vote against any
resolution that would recognize the genocide.

Nevertheless, cities such as Galveston, Texas, Fresno, Calif., and
Boston, as well as 27 states, have officially recognized the
genocide. A few of the states are Alaska, California, Colorado,
Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Utah and
Wisconsin. Unfortunately, our great state of Indiana has not taken
the initiative to join the other enlightened states.

To honor the memory of those who perished during the genocide,
numerous events will place in large as well as smaller communities
throughout the world.

The largest commemoration in the United States will take place in New
York City where the events will center around the themes of
remembrance, justice and prevention. Thousands of Armenian Americans
from throughout the Northeast will attend church services April 24
followed by a memorial gathering at noon at Times Square. Those in
attendance will hear noted speakers and honor elderly genocide
survivors. Then a solemn ecumenical requiem service will be held at
St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral with many religious, diplomatic and
political dignitaries in attendance.

In Providence, R.I., an art gallery will have an exhibit honoring the
90th anniversary of the genocide. All types of media will be on
display such as photographs, sculptures and paintings. Young people
in California will participate in a March for Humanity to make the
public aware of the genocide.

In Poland, a demonstration will take place near the Turkish Embassy
in Warsaw. A monument dedicated to the genocide will be placed in one
of the squares in Varna, Bulgaria. Twelve tribal leaders from Syria
went to Armenia to honor the memory of thousands of innocent
individuals who perished during the genocide.

The largest gathering in Armenia will be at the genocide memorial at
the top of Tsitsernakaberd Hill near Yerevan, the capitol. Thousands
will climb up to the monument to lay flowers near the eternal flame
that is encircled by 12 slabs representing the 12 lost provinces in
Turkey -- the ancestral homeland of Armenians for some 3,000 years.
The complex also consists of a museum and a 100-meter wall that
displays the names of towns and villages where massacres took place.

I am dedicating this article in memory of the innocent victims of the
Armenian genocide -- including family members who perished. They must
not be forgotten.

Makrouhi Oxian lives in South Bend.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress