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COLUMN: It’s time to stop denying the Armenian Genocide

It is deplorable to deny the Holocaust, but for some reason we still find it acceptable to deny the plight of the Armenians.

Beginning on April 24, 1915-1917, 1.5 million Armenian citizens were killed by the Ottoman Empire and Turkish republic. A majority of people don’t even know that this happened.

As a matter of fact, most of the world doesn’t even acknowledge it. It seems mind-boggling to me to think world powers would deny a genocide. When people deny the Holocaust there is typically outrage, yet even the U.S. denies that the Armenian genocide happened.

How and why is this a reality for us? How is it possible to act like killing more than one million innocent people just because of their heritage is something that we can sweep under the rug as a world-wide society?

The Armenian civilization has been dated to exist back to 4000 BC. The capital city of Yerevan is the oldest city on record. It was a thriving and successful society, until World War One broke out. The Ottoman Empire was on the side of the Germans and the Armenians on the side of the Russians. The Ottomans distrusted the Armenian who were living in the Ottoman Empire and a large amount of propaganda was placed against them.

Finally, on April 24, 1915, Istanbul officials gathered up large amounts of Armenian intellectuals and murdered them. This began the Armenian genocide.

The two years following, Armenian men were massacred and subjected to forced labor. Women, children and elders were forced on death walks through the Syrian desert, deprived of food and water. They also were subjected to rape and robbery.

All of these tragedies amount to only 28 governments and parliaments nationally recognizing it as genocide. Not to mention the term ‘genocide’ was created to describe the scale and success of the elimination of the Armenians.

Thankfully, it is unanimously recognized by scholars and historians as such. Due to politics, many governments refuse to recognize it because they are allies with Turkey.

Being an American citizen and also of Armenian heritage, this is completely repulsive and unbelievable. To know tragedies happened to my family members and that people ignore it happened is hard to wrap my mind around. It is deplorable to deny the Holocaust, but for some reason, we still find it ok to deny the plight of the Armenians.

The size of my family was cut down to only my grandfather and his sisters. We have no other living relatives on his side of the family. Thankfully, he still has a portrait of his six uncles, all of which except one were killed in the genocide.

One day he showed me the painting. All he could say was: “Look at all the family we could have had.” The only time I have ever seen him cry is when I finally got the courage to ask him about what happened to our family.

His mother and aunt thankfully got their way out of the country and fled to Greece. She had numbers branded on her hand to show that she was an Armenian. His whole life, he knew what the mark meant, but he would never ask her about it.

More than 100 years later, I am far removed from the events, but it still weighs heavy on my heart. They were forced on death marches and into forced labor camps. People were shot on their front lawns and in city centers.

We need to begin to recognize this. We need to be loud about it. We need to teach these events in schools and we need our governments to recognize it.

Thankfully there is a movie that came out over the weekend aiming to do just that. “The Promise” gives us the opportunity to educate the world on all the tragedies the Armenian culture has faced.