Commentary: What Turkey Should Know

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By Nubar Dorian

It never fails.

For 95 years all Armenians across the universe have commemorated April 24. Sermons, conferences along with movies, slides and documents are presented to the civilized world. Armenians ask for justice, retribution and their occupied land but Turkey wins. Threats, bluster, power and influence, as well as politics trump justice, truth and human rights. Armenians shed rivers of tears, but the Turks seem to be born without tears to shed.

The Armenian is not obsessed with the orgy of hate for the Turk. He or she simply wants to remind the Turkish government of the ugliness of injustice, mass rape, killing or premeditated genocide. Innocent Armenians had already lost most of their homeland, and were living in abject poverty or seeking other lands to find solace, hope and happiness. Those who escaped the Genocide formed new  communities, strongly embracing their new homes, however their homeland which presently is part of the United Nations as the Republic of Armenia.

Turkey should not feel righteous or victorious. Time is not on their side and neither independent Armenia nor the Armenia Diaspora will give up. Our case is not ancient history and mass killing and genocide has no statute of limitation. All Armenians took an oath never to forget the suffering of their kith and kin and this promise is deep, everlasting and forever. They will pursue their mission until Turkey changes her position and decides to act as a civilized nation, admit the inhumane deeds of their ancestors and accept responsibility.

We know perfectly well that Turkey is strong in numbers, in influence, position, wealth and power. The Diaspora Armenian has no bomb, gun or tank. All Diaspora Armenians have is the power of the word. Yes, we have words, a most dynamic and damning weapon. After a thousand tons of misery, the Armenian spirit has a platform in all nations of the world, which a mighty weapon for righteous protest and in all, never to stop until Mother Armenia is healed, her tears dried and her rights acknowledged. The Armenian has the world stage and all the facts to indict the Turk for past misdeeds, the most horrendous of which was the Armenian Genocide. In fact, Turkey knows that we are getting stronger and stronger each year. We are getting better and better in our use of words.

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Each April 24, I am reminded of the article I wrote regarding the 1979 Genocide commemoration titled “Rotunda Reflections.” It was refreshingly different. Through the efforts of Set Momdjian, some 25 Armenian-Americans, which included Aram Kaloustian, Mihran Aghbabian and myself (three co-chairs of the Armenian Assembly) were invited to the commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust, with the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a small part of the program held at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC on April 24, 1979.

How satisfying and unprecedented it was to see that the president of the United States, the vice president, Supreme Court justices, cabinet members, joint chiefs of staff, majority and minority leadership of the House and Senate all acknowledged the Jewish tragedy, and hear the Kurdish for the repose of six million dead. They also acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, hearing with equal solemnity and emotion the soul-stirring words of our Hokehankist for one and a half million of our own dead. At last the butchers of the Armenians were unable to stifle Armenian words for justice
and retribution.
Those who wanted to see unbridled emotion and dignity at its unparalleled best had only to look at Alex Manoogian as he was called upon to light the last candle for the souls of the Armenian dead. With exemplary consideration, the Jewish leaders who had lit the other six candles for their six million dead had saved the topmost candle for the Armenians. Burdened with the tragic history of the Armenians, but his countenance reflecting all that is gracious, Mr. Manoogian came forward and with loving hands lit the candle. I do not know what his thoughts were, or what restraint, elation or strain he experienced. But I do know that on April 24, 1979, at high noon, as the sun struggled to penetrate the rotunda window to add its light to the flickering candles, Mr. Manoogian made history.

Let us bring to mind the old question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Of course it makes a sound, but a pointless, meaningless sound. A sound must be heard in order to make it count, and to shock, awaken or mobilize. With the power of words we were able to be heard. In the 1979 commemoration we just had a handful of senators and less than three-dozen congressmen. Today we have some 40 senators and more than 170 congressmen ready to acknowledge our genocide. This indeed is progress at its best. With zeal and limited patience we must continue our struggle always having in mind the strength, eternity and majesty of our Mount Ararat, without ever doubting the sacredness of our mission.

(Nubar Dorian is the former co-chair of the Armenian Assembly, in Washington, DC.)

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