Armenians Seek Justice from the Arab Nation and Leaders
The Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th Century, occurred when two million Armenians living in Turkey were eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportations and massacres during 1915-1918 (United Human Rights Council).*
This week on April 24, Armenians together with advocates of truth and justice world-wide commemorate this horrendous crime.
Frustration, disappointment and agony accompany Armenians while observing the big majority of world leaders refraining from recognizing the Armenian genocide. Instead of siding beside truth and justice, these world leaders entered into partnership with the present oppressive Turkish rulers, who, instead of repenting and embracing truth and justice, are keen to repeat the disgraceful stage in Turkey’s history.
This week, Armenians not only remember but relive all the past committed atrocities through becoming anew target of Turkish schemes to further annihilate the Armenians of the Middle East.
Recently with the blessing and the support of the Turkish government, Turk, Chechen, Afghan extremists and others, trained and equipped with weaponry on Turkish territories, attacked Kessab, the centuries-old home of Armenians, killing and deporting Armenians and confiscating their possessions. And what a tragic coincidence, the Armenian Catholic School in Damascus was one of the latest targets of terrorist attacks.
Today’s carnages and vandalism aren’t the only remembrance of the catastrophic stage in Turkish history. Extremists and so called opposition hijacking and manipulating democracy, massacring thousands and destroying the cultural heritage of Syria with the blessing of Turkish rulers are well rooted in Turkish history.
During 1894-1896, the last stage in the life cycle of the ailing Ottoman Empire and its despotic empire and in response to young educated Armenians’ call for political reforms leading to a constitutional government, the right to vote and an end to discriminatory practices such as special taxes levied solely against Armenians because they were Christians. One hundred thousand inhabitants of Armenian villages were slaughtered.
In 1908, thirsty for democracy and for human rights Armenians were joined by reform-minded Turkish nationalists known as ‘Young Turks’ and held rallies calling for freedom, equality and justice.
However, the newly-born democracy was hijacked with the arrival of ultra-nationalist young Turks ‘Turanism’ and Young Islamic fundamentalists who branded Christian Armenians as infidels. In 1909 during violent anti-Armenian demonstrations staged by Muslim fundamentalists, 200 Armenian villages were plundered and over 30.000 persons were massacred in Cilicia. Local attacks against Armenians throughout Turkey continued unchecked over many years to come. Via a coup in 1913, ultra-nationalist three Young Turks seized control of the government and sought to unite all the Turkic peoples under a new Turkish empire with one language and one religion in the entire region while expanding the borders of Turkey eastward across the Caucasus. The annihilation of two million Christian Armenians, the inhabitants of the traditional historic homeland of Armenia, which lied in the path of this eastward expansion, became a must.
On April 24, 1915, 300 Armenian political leaders, educators, writer, clergy and dignitaries in Constantinople (Istanbul today) were hanged or shot to be followed with mass killing of men and deportation of women, children and elderly. An estimated 75 percent of the over one million deported Armenians perished, specially children and elderly.
After the obliteration of the people of historic Armenia during the Armenian Genocide, the Turks demolished any remnants of Armenian cultural heritage including priceless masterpieces of ancient architecture, old libraries and archives. Turks levelled entire cities such as Kharpet, Van and the ancient capital Ani, removing all traces of the three thousand year old civilization. Muslim Turks occupied most of the homes and villages left behind by the rousted Armenians (ibid).
While the ominous circumstances of the historical stage that witnessed the Armenian genocide can be detected at the present in Syria, including the undeclared ambition of the Erdogan’s Turkey to expand southward overtly or through supporting extreme Sunni-Muslim forces with it reviving past rivalry between the ideologies of Ottomanism and Pan-Islamism on one hand and Arab nationalism strongest in Syria on the other.One specific positive development of the past remains unparalleled.
In 1916, Sherif Hussein bin Ali initiated the Great Arab Revolt against the increasingly nationalist repressive Ottoman Empire to realise independence and create single unified Arab state and his two sons Emirs Ali and Faisal began the revolt. The Arab member of the Ottoman parliament and supporter of the Arab revolt Faiz El-Ghusein was exiled to Diyarbakir where he witnessed the massacres of Armenians and documented it in his book Martyred Armenia (1918),
The Hashemite revolt against Turkish repression and occupation of Arab lands and the sincere voice of El-Ghussein in recognizing Armenian Genocide, the genocide which has been recognized by most scholars, remain far from featuring Arabs’ policies and attitudes today except for Lebanon.
Armenians, as citizens of the Arab states, call on all Arab leaders to heed attention to their human rights foremost through recognizing the genocide of their ancestors. The massive killings of unarmed Armenian population, which have been witnessed by the ancestors of today’s Arab citizens and leaders, continue to be absent in the deliberations of both the public sector and of the civil society of the Arab States. Armenian genocide continue to be a taboo not discussed nor taught in Arab States whose subjects together with its culture and environment equally suffered tremendously under the Ottoman rule.
Justice and Truth must precede political interests and family kinship. However, only great leaders and great nations can seek and deliver justice for themselves and for others.
While remembering the sufferings of their ancestors and their abducted historical homeland, Armenians pray for the resurgence of the great Arab nation and of great Arab leaders who will be courageous and true enough to revolt against injustice and do justice to the Armenian cause through recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
*The United Human Rights Council (UHRC) is a committee of the Armenian Youth Federation. By means of action on a grassroots level the UHRC works toward exposing and correcting human rights violations of governments worldwide, and aims to foster dialogue and collaboration between pe