By Nubar Dorian

It is no secret that for more than 100 years, Turkey has been trying to shed her past Ottoman image and present to the world a more civilized and more human one. To their credit, they succeeded to do away with the fez (hat), the shalvar (billowing pants), and the petche (women’s face veil), Latinized their alphabet, changed unjust punishing laws for women and embraced human rights, democratizing their justice laws.

What is also significant is in their public schools and universities they proudly teach their ancient history and invite tourists, visitors, and the world to come to Turkey and admire the handiwork, the palaces, the mosques, and museums built by their great sultans, especially their most famous Sultan Suleman of yore. They eliminated mostly the ugly acts of their leaders who committed mayhem, murder, and genocide. You never hear, see, or witness in their newspapers, telecasts and Turkish television, any reference to Sultan Hamid, the last of their emperors, nor about Enver, Jemal and Talaat pashas — the three who initiated the first genocide of the 20th century. While Turkey continues to deny this irrefutable fact, more than half the world population — almost 3 billion people’s government — acknowledges it.

The Armenian government and all Armenians in the dispersion do not accuse the present Turkish government of committing this horrible inhumane deed.  They put the blame entirely on the Ottoman Turks . . . their parents, grand or great grandparents.  History does not permit any nation to pick and choose what is glorious or heinous in their past.  All recognize that pillage, torture, murder along with caring, feeding, helping are part of tales of all nations’ past.  We understand why the present Turkish government and people do everything possible to not acknowledge the genocide in spite of the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

I well remember January 10, 1981, and for those who may have forgotten, Turkey asked the world community to denounce the assassination of a Turkish consular employee in Geneva by an Armenian. “It is our right,” Turkey said, “to expect a denunciation from world Armenian community in view of this crime linked to Armenia.”

Turkey was correct and the Armenian community did denounce and agree with them. I for one wrote an article at the time and stated that we should all reject violence, terror and bloodshed as inhuman, too ugly a curse, too heavy a burden to carry.  If the killing of one Turk caused such an outcry of Turkish rights, it is natural to ask what should Turkey do for their ancestors’ committing genocide. Almost 2 million Armenians perished!  We have been begging, pleading, shouting for our rights for the past 95 years without any remorse from all past governments after the demise of the Ottoman Empire.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Armenians worldwide will commemorate the 95th anniversary of our genocide on April 24, 2010. This date is a day of faith, a day where a miracle takes place every year — a miracle of unity — unity of common grief, unity of our revolt against evil of humanity. It is also a day of the void that the rape of a nation left behind as well as a day against revulsion for the shedding of innocent blood. This is a day where we tell the world that “Armenia died all the deaths on earth,” as a non-Armenian eyewitness wrote to President Wilson on January 1918.

It is absurd that the government and people of Turkey deny our genocide. As April 24 approaches, the Turkish lobby spends billions of dollars, find apologists who claim that Ottoman atrocities were not a deliberate policy of genocide but a pseudo-relocation of Armenians, or just isolated incidents. We know that the recognition of our genocide will bring dire consequences for Turkey. We in this community still have much work to do.  

Simply commemorating April 24 is surely not enough.

What we should do is bring our own children and grandchildren and on every occasion possible tell friends and neighbors that enough evidence exists to prove that this evil visited the Armenians. For instance, we could tell the world that on January 20, 1915, Minister Talaat sent a telegram to Turkish field commanders, which read, “The government commands you to destroy all Armenians. An immediate end must be put to the existence of all Armenians, however severe the measure may be.  No regard must be put to age or sex.”

This simply is a call to genocide and needs no interpretation.  We must be able as a community to put to scorn, ridicule or silence anyone who talks about the futility of demanding our rights from Turkey.  The entire world must understand that we will never let our genocide become an orphan.

I am tempted to suggest that on April 24 we send a short note to Turkey similar to the one sent to Texas by the History Network regarding rumors that Texas might secede from the union, changing one word. It would read, “Dear Turkey, please shut up!” signed History.

(Nubar Dorian, a resident of New Jersey, is a former co-chair of the Armenian Assembly of America and has long been active in the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. He is a regular contributor to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator.)

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: