Commentary

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide, also known as Medz Yeghern, is among the most tragic events of the last century.

By Jonathan Lambert
Published April 28, 2014

Thursday April 24, 2014 was the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Requiem masses were held in churches across Armenia and thousands of people attended a hilltop genocide memorial above Yerevan, reported The Guardian.

The Armenian Genocide, also known as Medz Yeghern, is among the most tragic events of the last century. From 1915 to 1923, an estimated two million Armenian people were forcibly removed from their ancestral homeland by the Ottoman Empire. Approximately 1.5 million of them were brutally slaughtered.

April 24 is marked as the start of the Armenian Genocide because on this date in 1915, Ottoman Empire authorities called for the arrest of 250 Armenian intellectuals, poets and community leaders in Constantinople. What followed is comparable to the Jewish holocaust executed by the Nazis during WWII.

At the turn of the twentieth century, many Armenian men from the Keghi region worked in growing southern Ontario industrial towns, such as Hamilton.

Children of Armenia
Children of Armenia

In Children of Armenia (Simon and Schuster, 2009), Michael Bobelian draws from his background as a lawyer and journalist in order to address the Armenian Genocide and struggles for justice. He examines why the events of the Armenian Genocide occurred and why promises for justice fell through.

Furthermore, he investigates why Armenians still struggle for justice, how the Turkish government could succeed in denying the genocide, how the US government could support Turkey's cover-up, and what consequences follow the obstruction of justice.

Results of Children of Armenia are twofold: an impressive lesson on the need for recognition, and a moving story about a people enduring a forgotten genocide and a century-long struggle for justice.

Bobelian's prologue begins with a quotation by Milan Kundera: "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

Jonathan Lambert is a returnee to Hamilton, Ontario. In between studies at the University of Toronto and stellar pick-up soccer, he enjoys taking in Monday night Hamilton Red Wing home games.

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By Kirlikovali (registered) - website | Posted August 22, 2014 at 18:28:40

The claim of Armenian Genocide is political, not factual

There is no court verdict that says Turkish-Armenian conflict is genocide; only Armenians and those who prefer to take the baseless Armenian claims at face value believe that it was genocide. They also ignore the facts that Ottoman Armenians took up arms against their own government (www.ethocide.com ;) killed their Turkish neighbors and other fellow citizens; and even joined the invading enemy (Russian) armies while Turks only defended their home against a serious military threat posed by the treacherous Armenians and their foreign mentors. The measure the Turks took to mitigate the Armenian threat was TERESET (Temporary Resettlement) of only a part of the Armenian community that supported the Armenian insurgency, not wholesale massacre. Other Armenians in Istanbul, Izmir, Edirne, Aleppo, and other places were mostly untouched because they did not support insurgency.

Armenians are only broadcasting their suffering, magnified with embellishments, deceptions, and forgeries, but maintaining radio silence when it comes to Armenian terrorism, Armenian revolts, Armenian treason, Armenian territorial demands, and the resulting Turkish deaths and suffering, such as mine. While I do not wish to minimize Armenian suffering, I reject all biased attempts to label of the 1915 events genocide, as Armenian Genocide is a long discredited political claim, not a court-proven fact like the Jewish Holocaust.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stated in its Dec 17, 2013 verdict on Perincek vs Switzerland that "[t]he existence of a 'genocide', which was a precisely defined legal concept, was not easy to prove". The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) added: "doubted that there could be a general consensus… given that historical research was, by definition, open to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths". Thus, the ECHR created a legal precedent of inadmissibility of any comparison between the Holocaust and the Armenian claims; the latter lacks what the former clearly has: concrete historical facts, clear legal basis, and existence of the "acts had been found by an international court to be clearly established".

It was wartime tragedy where everyone suffered, not genocide where only Armenians did. I would like to leave you with wise words from a Christian missionary, George M. Lamsa, who put it succinctly in his book The Secret of the Near East, (The Ideal Press, Philadelphia 1923, p 133: )

"…In some towns containing ten Armenian houses and thirty Turkish houses, it was reported that 40,000 people were killed, about 10,000 women were taken to the harem, and thousands of children left destitute; and the city university destroyed, and the bishop killed. It is a well- known fact that even in the last war the native Christians, despite the Turkish cautions, armed themselves and fought on the side of the Allies. In these conflicts, they were not idle, but they were well supplied with artillery, machine guns and inflicted heavy losses on their enemies…."

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By JonathanLambert (registered) | Posted February 01, 2016 at 08:17:29

In general, I do not usually make written replies to comments on articles; however, in this case Kirlikovali's comment is so problematic that I feel it needs to be addressed and clarified. In accordance with time constraints, the following paragraphs focus on four problems of Kirlikovali's comment. In his denial of genocide, Kirlikovali combines several logical fallacies, such as false dilemma and ad hominem attack, with complete falsehoods.

The first sentence of Kirlikovali's comment presents a false dilemma about claims being either political or factual. Kirlikovali states: “The claim of Armenian Genocide is political, not factual.” However, a claim may be “political” in the sense used by Lasswell (1936) and political science, and still be “factual” in accordance with standards used by historians. Indeed, most historians familiar with the massacres that took place against the Armenian people during and after 1915-1916 agree that, in accord with the standards used in their discipline, these events are constitutive of a genocide in which approximately 1.5 million people were slaughtered. Historian David Gutman (2015), for example, suggests that within the field of history since approximately 2011, the discussion has moved beyond a debate about whether or not the Armenian genocide occurred, as contemporary historians are investigating why this genocide occurred and how it was able to happen.

Then, in the second sentence of his comment, Kirlikovali appears to have confused sufficient and necessary conditions pertaining to a court verdict and the Armenian genocide. Kirlikovali asserts: “There is no court verdict that says Turkish-Armenian conflict is genocide”. Certainly, the occurrence of a genocide is a requirement for the corresponding court verdict, but the lack of this court verdict does not mean that the genocide did not occur. For example, had the Nazis surfaced as the winners of World War II, it is possible that there would be no court verdict on the Jewish genocide, but this lack of a court verdict would not mean that the genocide directed at the Jewish people did not take place.

Immediately following these logical fallacies, Kirlikovali's comment makes an ad hominem attack on non-Armenian people. Specifically, Kirlikovali calls non-Armenians who disagree with him: “those who prefer to take the baseless Armenian claims at face value”, but this directs his argument against people, rather than addressing their position, reasoning and evidence. In particular, in Kirlikovali's comment referring to an article clearly based on evidence and arguments in Michael Bobelian's (2009) book, Kirlikovali never once engages with any of the material in this book; he does not refer to Bobelian (2009) at all. In contrast, Kirlikovali simply asserts that people who disagree with him do not make their own informed judgements. Later in Kirlikovali's comments, the ad hominem attack is redirected against the Armenians themselves when he redeploys the overused label “treacherous Armenians”.

Some of Kirlikovali's claims are so clearly false they are absurd. On the one hand, Kirlikovali claims that “Armenians are only broadcasting their suffering”; however, many Armenians indeed address the suffering of others. For instance, Meline Toumani, who is ethnically Armenian and grew up in New Jersey and California, while discussing the Armenian genocide in her recent book There Was and There Was Not (2014), also addresses the horrors of slavery in North America, the genocide enacted against the Native Americans, and the recent devastation launched by the G. W. Bush administration. On the other hand, Kirlikovali claims that “[Armenians and people who acknowledge the 1915-1916 genocide] ignore the facts that Ottoman Armenians took up arms against their own government [sic]... killed their Turkish neighbors and other fellow citizens; and even joined the invading enemy (Russian) armies”; however, this claim is clearly false. For example, Ronald Grigor Suny, in his article called “Writing Genocide: The Fate of the Ottoman Armenians” (2011), does not ignore Armenian armed insurgency; in fact, he argues against blaming the 1915-1916 genocide on the Armenian political organizations, such as the isolated cases of organized, Armenian armed insurgency that emerged in Van and Dörtyol at the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Due to time constraints, in this brief reply I have outlined just four problems with Kirlikovali's recent comment about the Armenian genocide. Although history is a fascinating endeavor, unless this activity is accompanied by critical thought and an open mind, it can become a disaster in which history does repeat itself.

References

Bobelian, M. (2009). Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice. Toronto: Simon and Schuster.

Gutman, D. (2015). Ottoman Historiography and the End of the Genocide Taboo: Writing the Armenian Genocide into Late Ottoman History. Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. 2:1, 167-183.

Lambert, J. (2014, Apr. 28). Remembering the Armenian Genocide. Raise the Hammer.

Lasswell, H. D. (1936). Politics; Who Gets What, When, How. New York: Whittlesey house.

Suny, R. G. (2011). Writing Genocide: The Fate of the Ottoman Armenians. In R. G. Suny et. al.'s A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press.

Toumani, M. (2014). There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond. New York: Metropolitan Books.

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