Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Remembering the Armenians

Turkey still will not admit it happened. There is an article today that I'll repost here:

Valencia, Apr. 26, 2006 (CNA) - This week, the Armenian community in Valencia, Spain, commemorated the 91st anniversary of the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian Christians who were killed by Muslim Turks in 1915 during a massive religious persecution.

The commemorations took place April 24th at the Church of St. Monica in Valencia and were organized by the Armenian Apostolic Church and Pro-Commemoration Committee. Among those in attendance, was the Armenian Republic’s Honorary Consul in Spain, Luis Barbera.

Beginning on April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire ordered a crackdown on Armenian Christians, which resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million people.

Although modern-day Turkey has never acknowledged that it took place, the persecution became the first case of genocide during the 20th century.

When he was going to start killing the Jews, Hitler asked: Who now remembers the Armenians?

Sadly, the answer to that question still goes in the favor of not many. The article above, is from two days after the event.

When I say Turkey denies it, I don't mean they casually deny it. They aggressivly deny and attempt to discredit any evidence. But the truth will not be silenced. The evidence is overwhelming.

On April 24th 1915, commemorated worldwide by Armenians as Genocide Memorial Day, hundreds of Armenian leaders were murdered in Istanbul after being summoned and gathered. The now leaderless Armenian people were to follow. Across the Ottoman Empire (with the exception of Constantinople, presumably due to a large foreign presence), the same events transpired from village to village, from province to province.

The remarkable thing about the following events is the virtually complete cooperation of the Armenians. For a number of reasons they did not know what was planned for them and went along with "their" government's plan to "relocate them for their own good." First, the Armenians were asked to turn in hunting weapons for the war effort. Communities were often given quotas and would have to buy additional weapons from Turks to meet their quota. Later, the government would claim these weapons were proof that Armenians were about to rebel. The able bodied men were then "drafted" to help in the wartime effort. These men were either immediately killed or were worked to death. Now the villages and towns, with only women, children, and elderly left were systematically emptied. The remaining residents would be told to gather for a temporary relocation and to only bring what they could carry. The Armenians again obediently followed instructions and were "escorted" by Turkish Gendarmes in death marches.

The death marches led across Anatolia, and the purpose was clear. The Armenians were raped, starved, dehydrated, murdered, and kidnapped along the way. The Turkish Gendarmes either led these atrocities or turned a blind eye. Their eventual destination for resettlement was just as telling in revealing the Turkish governments goal: the Syrian Desert, Der Zor. Those who miraculously survived the march would arrive to this bleak desert only to be killed upon arrival or to somehow survive until a way to escape the empire was found. Usually those that survived and escaped received assistance from those who have come to be known as "good Turks," from foreign missionaries who recorded much of these events and from Arabs.

Some of the horror is reflected in a quote from Talat Pasha the Grand Vizer of the Ottoman empire when asked about the Armenians in 1918. He said with a smile:

What on earth do you want? The question is settled. There are no more Armenians.

In the face of the evidence, does the United States recognize the genocide? The answer is no.

39 of 50 states do, but there is no national declaration of recognition. The states that do and have made public recognition are:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin

What countries have made similar declarations:

Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.

These are small lists. Too small. Armenia was the first Christian nation and their Christianity played a part in why they were killed by the Ottoman empire. All of the Apostolic Churches hold the founder of Armenia, St. Gregory the Enlightener (Illuminator) as a Saint. But the Christian world is still silent when it comes to the Armenian Genocide.

As long as this situation remains unchanged we must ask the same question as a man who was pure evil: Who now remembers the Armenians?

I do. Their Loving Father in Heaven does. And I ask that you do. In our daily prayers and our efforts for Christians persecuted across the world, remember the innocent souls lost in the horror of the Armenian Genocide.

Online petition to get the Genocide recognized (link)

(Link) Armenian National Institute
(link) The Forgotten


The Eyewitness said...

How many Genocides, and mascares in history have been denied by their comitters? I think they are many. How many timew we had to change the history to deny the truth?

Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

With California having the world's largest concentration of Armenians, last week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared April 23-29 "Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide."

erudit said...

You're right, David, that Turkey has typically denied these claims very aggressively. Some years ago I subscribed to a Turkish English-language newspaper, and gave it up because it was a rag full of nationalist propaganda- all about the schemes of the Greeks and Armenians, etc. ad nauseum.

The fact that Turkey denies it, or denies the substance of the claims, means that no one can heal from it. The idea that sweeping it under the rug will mean it's forgotten is a sad illusion. I give credit to the current prime minister, Erdogan, for calling an international council to investigate the tragedy. I think the Turkish government is realizing that it's losing the propaganda war. A number of courageous Turkish historians and other intellectuals have spoken out about it in recent years.

The Wikipedia article on this subject does a good job of presenting both sides.

Bent El Neel said...

thats why it's our duty as those who are free from persecution and oppression to give a voice to those silent victims and their plight.

Bless you for posting about this David.

Maral said...

May Lord Jesus Christ Bless you and protect you and your family, for voicing your support while the entier world kept silent.

(A 3rd generation Armenian Genocide survivor)

Egypeter said...

There were many Assyrians that were murdered along with the Armenians and we should remember them too.

It was simply, an all out attempt to exterminate Christianity. Read this incredible first hand account from wikipedia:

"In early 1918, many Assyrians started to flee present-day Turkey. Mar Shimon Benyamin had arranged for some 3,500 Assyrians to reside in the district of Khoi. Not long after settling in, Kurdish troops of the Ottoman Army massacred the population almost entirely. One of the few that survived, was Reverian John Esho. After escaping, he stated: "You have undoubtedly heard of the Assyrian massacre of Khoi, but I am certain you do not know the details. These Assyrians were assembled into one caravansary, and all shot to death by guns and revolvers. Blood literally flowed in little streams, and the entire open space within the caravansary became a pool of crimson liquid. The place was too small to hold all the living victims for the work of execution. They were brought in groups, and each new group compelled to stand up over the heap of the still bleeding bodies, and was shot to death in the same manner The fearful place became literally a human slaughter house, receiving its speechless victims, in groups of ten and twenty at a time, for execution. At the same time, the Assyrians, who were residing in the suburb of the city, were brought together and driven into the spacious courtyard of a house [...] The Assyrian refugees were kept under guard for eight days, without anything to eat. At last they were removed from their place of confinement and taken to a spot prepared for their brutal killing. These helpless Assyrians marched like lambs to their slaughter, and they opened not their mouth, save by sayings "Lord, into thy hands we commit our spirits. [...] The executioners began by cutting first the fingers of their victims, join by joint, till the two hands were entirely amputated. Then they were stretched on the ground, after the manner of the animals that are slain in the Fast, but these with their faces turned upward, and their heads resting upon the stones or blocks of wood Then their throats were half cut, so as to prolong their torture of dying, and while struggling in the agony of death, the victims were kicked and clubbed by heavy poles the murderers carried Many of them, while still laboring under the pain of death, were thrown into ditches and buried before their souls had expired- The young men and the able-bodied men were separated from among the very young and the old. They were taken some distance from the city and used as targets by the shooters. They all fell: a few not mortally wounded One of the leaders went close to the heaps of the fallen and shouted aloud, swearing by the names of Islam's prophets that those who had not received mortal wounds should rise and depart, as they would not be harmed any more. A few.- thus deceived. stood up, but only to tall this time dead by another volley from the guns of the murderers. Some of the younger and goodly looking women, together with a few little girls of attractive appearance, who pleaded to be killed. Against their will were forced into lslam's harems. Others were subjected to such fiendish insults that I cannot possibly describe. Death. however, came to their rescue. and saved them from the vile passions of the demons.' The death toll of Assyrians totaled 2,770 men, women and children".

DavidNic said...

We should also remember that there were Good Turks who helped the people being killed.

There are still those in Turkey who try to raise the recognition of this issue at great personal cost.

In darkness the light and love of Christ may shine brighter. Let us Pray for the Armenians and Assyrians and all who suffered in the Genocide. And let no voice keep silent, lest it be in prayer for our brothers and sisters. and let that prayer strengthen our resolve to draw attention to the suffering of the past and the present and raise our voices.