Genocide Denied

By Nanor Balabanian

"Armenian? What's that?!" I've heard this often ever since I've moved to the so-called "melting-pot" of the United States.

I don't blame students for not knowing what an Armenian is. Most students have never even learned about what happened to the Armenians in 1915. They've been taught about the Holocaust, and the genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan. But not about Armenia.

Being the only full Armenian in a school of 1800 students makes me think about where all the Armenians have gone today. Wouldn't millions more Armenians be alive today if it were not for the genocide?

Two months ago, President George W. Bush had to think hard whether he could use the word "genocide" for the 92-year-old Armenian Genocide Memorial Day. Of course he refused to say it and instead called it a "National day of remembrance of man's inhumanity to man."

Since when is genocide a simple act of inhumanity? Why is it that we do not characterize the genocide in Darfur as a simple war?

My great grandmother's survival stories often come to my mind as I read about my government's denial of the genocide. She never got the chance to live freely, speak out for her rights, or praise her own God without facing threats of persecution. America would probably have been a haven for her at the time. Yet, little did she know that
the America she had dreamed about would not believe what had happened to her in 1915.

Living today in a democratic "haven", I feel ashamed to see that my country, which strongly advocates for justice and righteousness, denies that the genocide ever occurred.

April 24, 1915, was a mournful day for many Armenians. Because of their Christian religion, 200,000 Armenian intellectuals were purposely slaughtered by the Turks. Following that day, a mass deportation of Armenians occurred during which 1.5 million Armenians were brutally massacred because of their faith.

To deny that such a horrific massacre ever happened is to erase a chunk of reality from our history. Imagine taking out World War II stories from our history books, or imagine never suggesting that the Holocaust happened. That's how Armenians feel today. Betrayed, killed, massacred, and still they do not receive the recognition they deserve neither by the Turkish officials nor by the American government.

What are the consequences of denial? If we deny that a genocide once happened, we are very likely to do it again. Hitler once said, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" justifying himself that if he kills the Jews nobody will remember them, just as Armenians are not remembered. If the Armenian genocide had gotten the recognition it deserved, Hitler would not have likely killed all 6 million Jews. Denying the genocide today is in a way agreeing with Hitler as well because America to this day does not "speak ... of the annihilation of Armenians".

Today, we fight to stop the 21st century's first genocide. Imagine one day that our children could be banned from learning about Darfur. The government will call it a "National day of remembrance of man's inhumanity to man" but refuse to call it a genocide because of political interests with the Sudanese government.

If America chooses to delete history and deny historical events because of politics, then American politics is corrupt. It is a moral, and not political, duty of the United States to look at the historical evidence, listen to the plea of the Armenian people, and put an end to this 92-year-old lie that genocide never occurred. It is our responsibility as students to fight for what is right and true.

I am an Armenian, and want to be heard. I have a right to be heard because my ancestors were massacred to do so. I want to take time and enjoy the rights I am given by the Constitution of this country, and fight for the truth that must be recognized.

Maybe one day instead of hearing "Armenian? What's that?" I'd hear, "Armenian? A genocide survivor."

This story originally appeared exclusively online on June 8, 2007.
IranMania News, Iran
June 10 2007