Korobov: Recognize the Armenian Genocide


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This Friday will mark the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide. It was on this day in 1915 that Ottoman authorities (present day Turkey) arrested more than 250 Armenian community leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople. They were soon killed.

The event signaled the start of what the Young Turks, a political group in the Ottoman Empire, had been planning all along: the systematic extermination of the Armenian population. Historians estimate that approximately 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered.

Pope Francis has been the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to refer to it as “the first genocide of the 20th century.” The denial of the Armenian genocide by the governments of prominent Western nations is both hypocritical and disgraceful.

The Ottoman rulers were Muslim and suppressed Christians living in the empire. Armenians, along with other Christians, had to pay higher taxes as well as suffer severe limitations on political and legal rights. While being oppressed, the Armenians still excelled under the Ottomans; they were generally more prosperous and educated than the Turks.

When World War I started, in 1914, the Ottomans feared that the Armenians would be more faithful to the invading Christian nations such as Russia. They devised a plan to eliminate them along with other Christian groups including Assyrians and Ottoman Greeks. The genocide was carried out in two steps.

The first included luring about 60,000 Armenian men away from their families under the guise of joining the Ottoman army. They were subsequently disarmed and shot by Turkish soldiers. The second step started with the enactment of Tehcir Law, translated as “displacement.” Women, children, and the elderly were led on death marches into the Syrian desert. They were subjected to starvation, robbery, rape, and massacres along the way.

Children were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. Property was taken away, and churches were destroyed. Half of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was exterminated. Robert Fisk of the Independent describes his experience of digging “the bones and skulls of massacred Armenians out of the Syrian desert with my own hands in 1992.” He recounts a story of “Turkish militia men piling living babies on top of each other and setting fire to them.”

It is a shame that Turkey will not recognize the injustice that it inflicted on the Armenian people. To some degree, however, this is to be expected. What is most astonishing, is that countries such as the United States and Israel will not formally call it a “genocide,” despite nearly unanimous agreement among historians.

The United States used the term “genocide” under Reagan, but it has stopped using it because of the Turkish government’s sensitivity to the issue. Turkey, after all, is a NATO ally. Then-Sen. Barack Obama claimed that “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide” in 2008, but he has refused to use that terminology for six years now. Obama bowing down to Turkey is a tremendous embarrassment for the United States and sets a damaging precedent in the international community.

Israel has also not been able to pass an Armenian genocide resolution in its parliament. Considering the state of Israel exists in part due to the horrors of the Holocaust, it’s a shame it won’t recognize a genocide that occurred only shortly prior.

Everyone who experienced the Armenian genocide is now dead. We will never learn from history if we don’t have the courage to acknowledge what really happened. The Western world must stop this political correctness and publically acknowledge the Armenian genocide. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to be muzzled because history will end up repeating itself.

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