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Ten Years Shy of a Century! The Armenian Genocide 1915 - 1st Part -

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  • Ten Years Shy of a Century! The Armenian Genocide 1915 - 1st Part -

    Newropeans Magazine, France
    May 20 2005

    Ten Years Shy of a Century! The Armenian Genocide 1915 - 1st Part -

    Written by Dr Harry Hagopian
    Friday, 20 May 2005

    For me, the Armenian genocide is something we remember and commemorate
    every year on April 24th in our different countries. I went recently
    to Dzizernagapert [Genocide Memorial Complex in Armenia] and what I
    could feel was how extremely proud I was of my nation for surviving
    this gruesome ordeal. But I'm more concerned about the Armenia
    of today. Talking about the genocide has been getting Armenians
    some sympathy but actual financial compensation could also be quite
    useful, don't you think? People are starving there, or so they say,
    and they seriously need help. Constantly reminding them about their
    misfortunes and bad luck isn't going to do much for their morale now,
    is it? So why dwell on this one horrific historical chapter to the
    exclusion of other equally pressing and contemporary issues?

    Individuals, nations, and cultures are the sum total of their past
    experiences. However glorious or painful, it is the experiences of our
    forebears that are the forming forces that weave the very fabric of
    our identities. No individual / generation has the right to wipe the
    slate clean and start all over again for the sake of expediency in the
    short term. By the same token we all have the obligation to help each
    other out, celebrate our values, and pass on our cultural identities -
    having made our contribution - to future generations. At best we are
    stewards of our heritage. We can address questions of the Armenian
    character, purpose in, and contribution to life by examining ideas that
    have shaped western thought through the lens of our heritage. We should
    seek to reinvigorate our society and culture through the transformation
    and renewal of its leaders. We could do well to remember what Goethe
    said, 'He who cannot draw on 3,000 years is living hand-to-mouth.'

    Nations have no permanent friends or allies. They only have permanent
    interests. Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Minister, 1846-1851

    These two expurgated quotations come from separate conversations I
    had with a couple of Armenians well over two years ago. I remember
    them quite clearly since I have used them on different occasions
    to define Armenian perceptions of the Armenian Genocide. The first
    response is congruent with the views of someone like the syndicated
    columnist, broadcaster and award-winning author Eric S Margolis. The
    second one comes closer to those views propounded by the likes
    of the distinguished journalist Robert Fisk from the Independent
    daily newspaper who has often addressed the Armenian Genocide that
    remains hitherto officially unrecognised in the UK. Just like my two
    acquaintances making their attentive comments, both Fisk and Margolis
    acknowledge the veracity of the genocide but then diverge somewhat
    when history cedes to future orientations. Theirs is a diversity of
    views that forms the sum-total of those realities surrounding us,
    developing, instructing and infusing us in the process with a set of
    core values and beliefs.

    In one sense, those twin perceptions are not only staking a claim to
    the pages of Armenian history. With their own overarching themes,
    they are equally lending themselves to definitions of national
    existentialism that are much closer to psychological modes of knowing
    than to metaphysical ones. Like the Cartesian theories of Jean-Paul
    Sartre or Albert Camus, their perceptions - dissimilar in their
    similarity - strive for self-discovery and place the absolute in
    human freedom somewhere between the levels of existence and essence.

    It is my belief that the horrendous events of 9/11 introduced a
    sea change in our global perception of world events. Until that
    fateful and horrific date, most countries had attempted to treat the
    symptoms of conflicts by applying plasters to their more visible
    manifestations. Ever since, many world democracies have begun
    addressing the root causes of some of those festering conflicts. As
    Professor Simon Roberts taught me at University College London some
    moons ago, plasters cannot be effective tools of conflict resolution.
    Indeed, the world has come to acknowledge a new paradigm whereby
    injustices cannot simply be swept under the proverbial carpet in
    the sanguine hope that they will fade away! Unless they are dealt
    with conscientiously, those conflicts have a way of re-emerging time
    and again until their underlying causes let alone inherent traumas
    are dealt with methodically and equitably. It is true that major
    miscalculations have tarnished global strategic thinking in the past
    few years, most recently in Iraq, but the neo-con theosophy today
    enjoys some acute relevance to our world as terrorism and genocide
    from Indonesia to Darfur are occurring with impunity almost daily.

    In a sense, it is this global shift that encouraged me to address yet
    again the open chapter in the narrative of my own Armenian people.
    Why should the British Government, for instance, attempt to exclude
    the Armenian Genocide year-in-year out from the commemorative
    service of Holocaust Memorial Day? Why should those people who are
    loyal to the ethos of the Jewish Holocaust remain disloyal in equal
    but opposite measure to the ethos of the Armenian Genocide? Should
    Churches world-wide not be more prophetic and true to their faithful
    ministries, and should they not strive to encourage reconciliation that
    is anchored in justice - just like the Vatican and the Geneva-based
    World Council of Churches have done already? Has it not been proven
    that the collective experience of the Armenian massacres fulfils all
    five criteria of genocide under article 2 of the Convention on the
    Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that was adopted
    by Resolution 260 (III) A of the UN General Assembly on 9 December
    1948? How could I therefore idly sit back and accept that so many men
    and women are unable - or reluctant - to move beyond their own set of
    truths, prejudices, memories, fears, interests and dissimulation? The
    challenge is no longer solely to argue about the historical
    verisimilitude of the Armenian Genocide since many historians
    have already corroborated it. The challenge today is also to lobby
    recalcitrant countries - namely Turkey, the UK, Germany and Israel -
    to remove their own politico-economic blinkers and assume the moral
    mantle of recognition at long last. As Dr Donald Bloxham, historian,
    lecturer and author of The Great Game of Genocide - Imperialism,
    Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians, has often
    averred, it is high time to 'shame' governments into recognition.

    As a public international lawyer, I have been following with
    professional interest the lengthy trial of former Yugoslav President
    Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague War Crimes Tribunal as he faces a
    total of sixty six counts on three indictments for genocide and crimes
    against humanity in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. I still recall with
    poignancy the opening statement from Carla Del Ponte, ICT prosecution
    team, who said that in Milosevic the world 'saw an almost mediaeval
    savagery and calculated cruelty that went far beyond the boundaries
    of legitimate warfare, scenes that the international community was
    shocked to witness. These were crimes against humanity.' It is my
    contention that the legal jurisprudence by which Slobodan Milosevic
    is being tried for genocide in the unforgivable and wanton deaths
    of 130,000 men, women and children should apply in equal measure to
    those victims who were killed - again unforgivably and wantonly -
    during the Armenian massacres of the late 1890's and early 1900's
    that culminated in the genocide of 1915.

    Dr Harry Hagopian, Ecumenical, Legal & Political Consultant Armenian
    Apostolic Church - London (United Kingdom)
    [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]