I must admit I knew next to nothing about the 1915 Armenian genocide, save having my parents tell me to eat my peas because there were starving Armenians. Although I would have happily sent the starving Armenians my peas, I had no idea where they lived or why they were starving. I don’t recall learning anything about it in school.
The last few weeks American Freedom Alliance has had three events commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian genocide. AFA held a radio conference, a forum and a film, “The Armenian Genocide”. Coincidentally, it was also the 70th Anniversary of the German Jewish genocide. When Hitler contemplated the extermination of Jews, he asked if no one cared about the Armenian genocide, why would they care about the Jews?
One of the speakers at the AFA Forum, Professor Levon Marasjlian told of a German newspaper, in 1924, saying what happened to the Armenians in Turkey could very well happen to the Jews in Germany in the near future.
Another speaker, Nancy Eskijian, the daughter of a genocide survivor and pastor of the Bread of Life Foursquare Gospel Church in Los Angeles, said the United Nations defined genocide as the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a race of people by killing them.
During the 16th and 17th centuries the Ottoman Empire included Turkey and a large part of the Mediterranean coast, the Red Sea coast, the Middle East and eastern Europe. During the height of it’s power, though mostly Sunni Islamic, it was a multinational, multilingual empire ruled by a Sultans. The Sultans allowed the various nationalities to self-govern, however, non-Muslim minorities had fewer rights than Muslims. By the end of the 19th century Christians started demanding equal rights. The Sultan started killing those who rebelled.
In 1908 the Young Turks forced the Sultan from office and took over. They considered the Armenian Christians a threat and in the name of nationalism, they claimed Turkey for the Turkish. Children of any nationality had to be raised as Turks. They started deporting and relocating Armenian Christians. In some cases Armenians, having been told they would be returning, bought train tickets to be packed into cattle cars to be relocated.
Nancy Eskijian explained the genocide was implemented in four stages. The first stage was to conscript men into the military and then kill them. The second phase was to cut the head off the snake and exterminate the leadership. The third phase was to deport or resettle the civilian population. This phase included forced marches into the desert. Women, children and the elderly died along the way. They were given little food or water and not allowed to rest. Mosques told their members that it was patriotic to kill Armenians and many went out and attacked the already weak, starving Armenians. The fourth phase was to deny it happened.
During this time Germany was an ally of Turkey and sent military officers to observe what Turkey was doing about their Armenian problem. Many feel the Armenian genocide was the inspiration for the Jewish genocide.
As they say, if we don’t learn from history we are bound to repeat it. Turkey became determined to not allow anyone to learn the history. It is not taught in schools and Turks who know anything about it say the Armenians were at fault.
Although there have been many books written about it, many personal accounts from survivors, and many confirming reports from American diplomats serving in the area during the genocide, America is not one of the twenty two countries that recognize the Armenian genocide.
Why do we think this is? In 1938 the New Turkish Republic was formed and tried to distance itself from the rule of the Young Turks. They modernized and westernized. America felt Turkey is an important ally in an area of the world unfriendly to America. Europe and the United States courted this new republic as an ally and remembering the genocide became unpopular.
What became apparent to me, from these three AFA events, is that the Armenian genocide wasn’t about Turks exterminating Armenians, it was about Muslims exterminating Christians and when we look at what is happening in the Middle East today, Muslims are exterminating Christians, AGAIN…….we have learned nothing from history.