ARMENIAN GENOCIDE WARRANTS RECOGNITION
by Naira Kuzmich
Daily Trojan Online, CA
Oct 18 2007
The United States won’t gain any morality points by denying Armenian
There is never a wrong time to do what is right, but for three decades,
the U.S. government has been intent on proving otherwise.
Apparently, it’s never the right time to recognize the Armenian
While President Bush has strayed from the issue, the House Foreign
Affairs Committee passed a nonbinding resolution on Oct. 10, condemning
the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire Turks,
acknowledging the killings as an act of genocide.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she plans to bring the resolution to
a full House vote some time before the year’s end. Recent remarks by
Pelosi, however, indicate she is retreating on her initial position.
The resolution will undoubtedly fail, given representatives’ fear of
upsetting the United States’ ties with Turkey.
The Bush administration argues that acknowledging the mass killings
of Armenians as genocide would "do great harm to our relations with
a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror."
Turkish leaders agree, boldly warning that passing the resolution
could jeopardize U.S. access to a military airbase crucial to supplying
U.S. troops in Iraq.
Turkey is threatening the safety of our soldiers and the little
stability existing in the Middle East by forcing the U.S. government
to comply with its wishes. Perhaps blackmail resonates more heavily
with government officials than justice.
The United States has responded to this intimidation by hiding in
shame and shrinking back in defeat.
But just when Armenians have raised their hopes, just when we have
revived our faith in the justice system and just when so many think
we can let our grandparents and great-grandparents know that they
can finally start the healing process, Turkey reminds everyone who
is still in charge.
America’s allies shouldn’t get away with genocide; the United States
can’t combat crimes against humanity by purging our allies of their
mistakes, even if there is something in it for our government. Would
we have let Germany erase the Holocaust from its history books if it
had agreed to send troops to Iraq?
The Armenian genocide is not up for debate. It happened.
There is a large body of historical evidence and research that support
not only genocide an appropriate term for the events but that also
as the only term to describe such atrocities.
There is something to be said of acknowledging past genocides as a way
of preventing others. We cannot expect to maintain our credibility
when it comes to human rights if we continue to turn our backs on
people who have suffered or are undergoing horrors, such as those in
Darfur. The only way to take effective action against current genocides
or avoid future ones is to condemn those that have already occurred.
Even when politicians don’t dispute the facts of the genocide,
even when they recognize it as such, ultimately, the United States’
condemnation of the Armenian genocide is never heard; this allows
the Armenian genocide to remain such a controversial issue.
The controversy is not because of the genocide’s factual legitimacy,
but because the U.S. government denies the genocide to appease Turkey
in order to proceed with its own political agenda. Critics of the
resolution claim it’s not in the best interest of national security
to officially recognize such a dark part of Turkey’s history. But
political rationale does not, and should not, outweigh moral duty.
Yet, there is no better message to send to our enemies than to declare
that the United States does not condone the murder of the Armenian
people or any such a violation of basic human rights. And there is
no better policy for national security than to show the world we do
not succumb to intimidation.
Other critics claim acknowledging the genocide will embarrass and
isolate the moderate Islamic government of Turkey and will make the
reconciliation of Turkey and Armenia practically unattainable. But
until Turkey concedes that the lives of more than 1 million human
beings deserve a place in its history books, there can never be a
healthy relationship between the two groups.
At this time, Turkey’s anti-free speech laws serve penalties to
those who bring up the genocide in print. Article 301 of the Turkish
penal code punishes those who denigrate "Turkishness;" you even face a
possible three-year jail term if you refer to the genocide of Armenians
in fictional tales.
Turkey needs to deal with the Armenian issue not by covering it up
but by accepting it as fact, so that we may all finally move on.
All we want is recognition for the wrongs of the past.
– Naira Kuzmich is sophomore majoring in English and gender studies.