2016-09-07 / Editorials

Armenian Genocide Is As Relevant Today As Ever

Op-ed
BY HARRY MILIAN

Why do Armenian life stories matter? The history of Armenians helps you better understand the history of the region, if not – in all modesty – the history of humanity.

As Americans, we must pay better attention to history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past; President George W. Bush invaded Iraq without understanding the difference between Sunni and the Shiite majority.

President Obama underestimated the risks of closer ties between Ukraine and Europe.

Applied history would take a current predicament and try to identify analogues in the past. For example, the historical analogue to ISIS (brutal, fanatical, purpose driven killing fields) would also include the Ottoman and Young Turks Genocide of Armenians. We became disposable targets, losing two million people through beheadings, death marches, rapes, slavery, and revenge against Europe, in the same approximate geographical areas. The forced emigration result was confiscations of all historical and cultural properties, assets and wealth, including native lands, homes, schools, businesses, and churches.

Since then, human rights have not evolved in the region because we have been indifferent, tolerating persecutions, cover-ups, denial of human rights and most importantly, not educating the upcoming generations.

As ancient Christians often living in close proximity with Muslims, Armenians are familiar with the dialectics between religions. They also know the meaning of the words genocide, Holocaust, exile, integration, indifference, and sometimes prosperity. Those are key concepts to grasp in today’s world. According to which country they chose or was forced upon them as refugees, Armenians may have lived in democracies or dictatorships, taken part or not in politics, may have known war or peace, but nearly all of them have held on to a very strong sense of adaptability and identity. Their inspiring stories tell us about that.

To prevent genocide, we have a duty to speak up and teach how it begins; why it happens, its aim, the dark stages, and the consequences of denial on the perpetrators and the victims. As survivors and spiritual bridge builders, we must sow seeds in education, and bring attention to truth, respect for diversity and justice so that we stop repeating the mistakes of the past, for if they do not know, they will repeat them.

Most importantly, we cannot allow others to alter history. We have an essential role in documenting the truth in the world around us for future generations for healing and soul restoration.

One century later, it is very important to amplify it because there are so many similarities with what we are experiencing and living through today. Raqqa, Aleppo, Rasula-yeen are the center of attention once again, as they were a century ago. The ultimate question is: have we learned anything and what are we becoming?

It’s about people, their stories, their contributions to society, perseverance in the face of persecution and adversity in the hope of working together, united against injustice.

In short, an Armenian key is important to open the door of understanding history, religions, wars, genocides, the questions of identity, cultural celebration, tolerance, and true peace.

THAT is why Armenian lives matter, and why future generations must be educated, opening their hearts and their minds in this matter.

As Winston Churchill said, “The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”

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