By Steve Adams
FRESNO (Fresno Bee) – For 105 years we have been having commemorations, peacefully demonstrating, building monuments, writing op-ed pieces to our local newspapers, asking world leaders and their countries to recognize and condemn the 1915 Genocide of the Armenian people at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
These commemorations have spanned over three generations of Armenians. And people would ask … why? Why go through all of this trouble to commemorate something that happened more than 100 years ago? As Armenians, we would often hear people tell us to “just move on.” The past is the past, just let it go.
Well, guess what … the past just became the present! Have our peaceful demonstrations and monuments fallen again on deaf ears? Were all of our warnings really in vain? Did anyone care about the Armenians in 1915? There were plenty of articles in the newspapers at that time telling of the massacres of the Armenians. Did anyone lift a finger to help those poor people? The result back then was 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in what Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe,” termed a “genocide.”
So now we find ourselves, 105 years later, facing the same situation. We are reading in our newspapers of the attacks by Azerbaijan on the people of Artsakh (Karabakh). You would have to ask yourself, why? Are there rich oil deposits, maybe huge gold reserves? The truth is there is nothing but mountains, ancient churches, and the Armenian people who have worshipped in those churches for centuries. Now they are being attacked for what can only be for one thing — to claim land that was never theirs and to eliminate the people and culture that have inhabited those lands for centuries. What do you call it when a country eliminates a people from their ancestral lands and wipes out their culture? Genocide!
The land of Artsakh/Karabakh had been ruled over by many powerful neighbors throughout its history, but the one indisputable fact is that it is the Armenian people who have lived there all this time. Yes, just like any other country, minorities are living there, but if you do just a little research you can find the truth. In 1926 shortly after the formation of the Soviet countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the population of Artsakh (Karabakh) was nearly 90% Armenian. They were recognized back then as a semi-independent people and given the status of an “autonomous oblast.”