By Kate Nahapetian
Recognizing and remembering past genocides is an important step toward ending this cycle of violence. The denial of genocide is widely recognized as the last stage — a “double killing.” This double killing continues today with regard to the Armenian Genocide. What is unique about the denial of the Armenian Genocide is that it is promulgated by a multimillion dollar state-sponsored campaign by Turkey. Countries like the United States have acquiesced to Turkey’s threats and have failed to recognize the genocide, while countries like France have stood up and are taking action to prohibit denial.
On January 23, 2012, the French Senate followed the lower house of the French Parliament in passing legislation criminalizing the denial of all instances of genocide officially recognized by France, adding the Armenian Genocide to an earlier version of the law prohibiting denial of the Holocaust.
Turkey reacted with predictable fury, threatening irreparable harm to bilateral relations, and trotting out its tired dog-and-pony show of withdrawn ambassadors, irate declarations, and hypocritical sermons. Turkey, which has prosecuted, jailed, and – according to the European Court of Human Rights – effectively allowed the assassination of a writer, Hrant Dink, for speaking honestly about the Armenian Genocide, is today preaching to France about free speech and democratic values.
Unlike France, the United States continues to participate in this last stage of genocide by aiding and abetting Turkey in this “double killing,” at tremendous cost to our nation’s credibility on human rights.
When asked why the United States does not recognize the Armenian Genocide, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed, as recently as January 26, 2012, “that this has always been viewed, and I think properly so, as a matter of historical debate and conclusions rather than political.”
Previously, almost four years ago to the day, then-Senator Clinton stated that the Armenian Genocide was “a clear case of genocide” and that:
“[o]ur common morality and our nation’s credibility as a voice for human rights challenge us to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and remembered by the Congress and the President of the United States.”
She had consistently cosponsored the Armenian Genocide resolution as a Senator and had even demanded that President Bush recognize it on multiple occasions. The only thing that changed prior to her very public retreat from the truth is that she was subjected, as our nation’s top diplomat, to Ankara’s high-pressure arm-twisting. Instead of standing up to Ankara’s bullying, she – and the rest of the Obama-Biden Administration – let Turkey impose a gag-rule on American condemnation of a crime against all humanity.
As one French parliamentarian stated, it was precisely because of Turkey’s state-sponsored campaign of denial and its rage against France’s efforts to safeguard the truth that dictated the need for passage of a bill on the Armenian Genocide. Denial of genocide is a celebration of genocide and a warning that it can easily happen again. Armenia and the entire region is under threat because of Turkey’s denial. It is no accident that Turkey also provided political shelter to the genocidal government of Sudan, with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan himself vocally denying Khartoum’s genocide in Darfur.
Help end the cycle of genocide, by standing up against Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. Learn more and take action here.
The author is the Government Affairs Director at the Armenian National Committee of America.