Olivia Katrandjian

Policy Mic
April 24 2012

Every year it rains on April 24th. They say the sky is crying.

This year was no exception.

Today, Armenians around the world commemorated the 97th anniversary
of a genocide that began on April 24, 1915, when Armenian leaders
and intellectuals were rounded up. Then came the able-bodied men of
each village, followed by women and children who were sent on death
marches into the desert. In total, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians
were systematically murdered in the first genocide of the 20th century.

On August 22, 1939, a week before the German army's invasion of Poland,
Adolf Hitler said to his commanders, "I have placed my death-head
formations in readiness ... with orders to them to send to death
mercilessly and without compassion men, women and children of Polish
derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space
which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of
the Armenians?"

My grandfather still speaks today of the annihilation of the
Armenians. He does not always remember my name, but he never forgets
that his mother was taken from her home and made to walk through the
desert for days at gunpoint with no food or water. She was forced
to leave her newborn baby on the side of the road when he died of
starvation in her arms. Her emaciated body had no milk. She couldn't
feed him.

President Obama spoke of the annihilation of the Armenians as a senator
and then as a presidential candidate, promising to recognize it as
a genocide. "America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about
the Armenian Genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides.

I intend to be that president," he said then.

Today, for the fourth year in a row, he broke that promise, falling
short of using the word genocide to describe the vast atrocities,
which Turkey got away with, leading Hitler to believe he could get
away with the Holocaust. To you, Mr. President, I say what everyone
else is thinking but is not crude enough to say aloud: Grow a pair.

Even Turks still speak of the annihilation of the Armenians. Today, one
of the country's biggest newspapers, Today's Zaman, called on Turkey
to recognize the genocide, despite Article 301 of the Turkish Penal
Code, which makes it illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity,
or Turkish government institutions, and under which Turkey has jailed
more journalists than any other country in the world, including Iran
and China.

Today's Zaman quoted the Armenian weekly Agos: "We are not any longer
debating what happened in 1915 in Turkey. Everyone debating on this
subject knows that, in this very dark year and the ensuing years,
hundreds of thousands of people were uprooted from their homes and were
never able to return, with a great majority of them lying somewhere in
some corner of Anatolia or in Syrian deserts without a tombstone. They
also know that many people had to convert their religions to be able
to survive and sought shelter in Muslim families ... Nowadays, these
facts are only countered by the obdurate argument, "No one can ever
dare to say that we committed genocide!" As if, the use of any other
word could lessen all that happened ..."

Today, a powerful and intelligent Armenian Diaspora is focused on
making sure that word is used. And understandably so - most Diasporans
are Diasporans because their ancestors were forced to flee Turkey
during the Genocide. But do not be afraid that the Genocide will
be forgotten, despite the cowardice of the Turkish and American
governments. The sky will always cry for Armenians on April 24,
and as even a Turkish newspaper noted, no matter what word is used,
everyone knows what happened in those very dark years.

From: A. Papazian