Michigan Armenians mark genocide by Turks

Michigan Armenians mark genocide by Turks

The Associated Press
4/22/04 2:02 AM

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Armenian Americans are preparing to mark the
89th anniversary of a mass murder that helped mark the the 1900s as
the century of genocide.

Before the Nazi slaughtered 6 million Jews, before the Khmer Rouge
killed 1.7 million of their fellow Cambodians, before Rwandan Hutus
killed 800,000 ethnic Tutsis, the Armenians of Turkey endured mass
slaughter at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

Armenians say they lost 1.5 million people in 1915-23, during and
after World War I, as Turkish authorities forced them out of eastern
Turkey. Turkey says the death count is inflated and that the deaths
were a result of civil unrest.

But Adolf Hitler cited the killing of the Armenians as a precedent for
his own slaughter of the Jews two decades later.

“Kill without mercy!” the Nazi leader told his military on the eve of
the Holocaust. “Who today remembers the annihilation of the
Armenians?” Southeastern Michigan is home to about 40,000
Armenian-Americans. On Friday, they start a series of events marking
the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., are pushing for a
commemoration of the genocide. He Levin has signed a letter to
President Bush urging him to officially call the deaths a genocide.

The Rev. Daron Stepanian of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in
Dearborn recalled the story of what Talat Pashah had declared when the
killing started.

Pashah was the leader of the Young Turks, a group of military officers
who in 1908 staged a coup to overthrow the sultan who ruled the
Ottoman Empire.

“He said they would keep one Armenian in a museum so future
generations would know what an Armenian looked like,” Stepanian told
The Detroit News.

Each year, April 24 is marked as “Martyrs Day” because 400 Armenian
intellectuals were rounded up and killed in Istanbul on April 24,

Turkey, an ally of Germany and an enemy of czarist Russia in World War
I, announced during the war that Armenians had been, for their own
safety, evacuated to strategic hamlets so they would not be caught
between Turkey and Russia.

In reality, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were marched into the
Syrian desert to die of thirst, exposure, starvation and disease.

“The world should care,” Stepanian said. “Hitler himself said, `Who
remembers the Armenians?’ Acknowledgement must come.”

“Righteous people have a moral imperative not to let the (Armenian)
Genocide or the Holocaust go unremembered and unmourned,” University
of Michigan-Dearborn historian Dennis R. Papazian wrote in an opinion
column in the Detroit Free Press. “To do so would be to make us less
human and to encourage the repetition of evil.”