Berkeley: Students Comemorate Genocide’s Legacy

Daily Californian (UC Berkeley)
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Students Comemorate Genocide’s Legacy

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 resulted in the extermination of 1.5
million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Millions of
Armenians were tortured, murdered and starved to death during a forced
death march through the Syrian deserts. To this day, Turkey refuses to
acknowledge its past and instead distorts the truth by attempting to
rewrite history. In spite of the overwhelming evidence documenting the
Armenian Genocide, Turkey continues to refute its crime and pursues a
well-funded campaign here and throughout the world to deny the
Genocide. Organizations such as the United Nations, the European
Parliament, the People’s Tribunal, and countries such as France,
Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Russia, Sweden,
and Uruguay have all recognized the genocide. After years of referring
to the Genocide as a “tragedy,” Canada’s Parliament passed a motion
last week stating, “this House acknowledges the Armenian genocide of
1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity.”

The official commemoration day of the Armenian Genocide is the 24th of
April, as it was on that day in 1915, that several hundred Armenian
intellectuals were rounded up and mass murdered. This was the starting
point of the genocidal plans of the Young Turk regime which would then
forcibly remove the Armenians from their ancient homeland. They would
be driven to their deaths in manners unconceivable to the human
imagination. As bullets were too expensive, daggers, bayonets, ropes,
and gas chambers were used. It is just as much unimaginable how the
Turkish government can blatantly deny and falsify its own history.

On the evening of April 16 the hallways leading to the History
Department’s Conference Room in Dwinelle Hall echoed with the voice of
Turkish scholar, Taner Akçam. Akçam is one of the few Turkish scholars
who has not only openly recognized the Genocide, but publishes and
teaches about it. He delivered a lecture specifically about Ottoman
documents which carried obvious evidence of the orders for the
extermination of the Armenians. Akçam currently teaches at the
University of Minnesota since he is not hired by universities in
Turkey, as his topics are too controversial for the government’s

During a week of Genocide Commemoration and Education, the Armenian
Student Assocation at UC Berkeley organized lectures and documentary
showings to educate the campus community about the genocide. Last
Monday, the association spearheaded an event called United Hands
Across Cal, the purpose of which was to bring students together,
irrespective of cultural, ethnic, racial, and gender differences to
stand in solidarity against genocide and all forms of human rights
violations. More than 100 students lined up, holding hands, from Lower
Sproul Plaza up to the Golden Bear Café. After a short program of
speakers, every student as well as every participating student group
had the opportunity to vocally express what they stood for or against
in this world.

It is important to acknowledge such horrific events that have occurred
throughout history. Failing to acknowledge such events allows leaders
to justify their actions. After all, it was Hitler, who before
beginning his campaign of extermination, said “Who still talks
nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?”

Alina Azizian
Hasmig Tatiossian

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