"This monument, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, was erected with the cooperation of the whole Armenian Community in Lebanon, to celebrate the rebirth of the Armenian nation and to express gratitude to our country, Lebanon - April 24 1969" Bikfaya-Lebanon
Today, thousands of Armenians around the world either took the streets or held memorials to mark the 97th anniversary of the genocide of their kin by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Time will not make people forget what happened to the Armenian population under the Ottoman rule and they shouldn’t. Crimes against humanity should not be wiped out with a pen strike. Moreover, the change from an Empire to a Republic doesn’t mean that the responsibility for this genocide died because of a regime change. The Turkish Republic adopted a policy of dismissing the charge of genocide and denying that the deportations and atrocities had constituted part of a deliberate plan to exterminate the Armenians. The Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government against the entire Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It was carried out during W.W.I between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. Large numbers of Armenians were methodically massacred throughout the Ottoman Empire. Women and children were abducted and horribly abused. The entire wealth of the Armenian people was expropriated. After only a little more than a year of calm at the end of W.W.I, the atrocities were renewed between 1920 and 1923, and the remaining Armenians were subjected to further massacres and expulsions. Turkey strongly denies the genocide allegations. Letters from 1915 proves that such crimes were going on and a Genocide was underway when foreign diplomats urged the Turks to stop the massacres. The following is an example of a letter sent to the Ottoman administration by U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing
Department of State,
Washington May 29, 1915
French Foreign Office requests following notice be given Turkish Government. Quote. May 24th. For about a month the Kurd and Turkish population of Armenia has been massacring Armenians with the connivance and often assistance of Ottoman authorities. Such massacres took place in middle April (?) at Erzerum, Dertchun, Eguine, Akn, Bitlis, Mouch, Sassoun, Zeitoun, and through Cilicia. Inhabitants of about one hundred villages near Van were all murdered. In that city Armenian quarter is besieged by Kurds. At the same time in Constantinople government ill treats inoffensive Armenian population. In view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization the Allied governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible these crimes all members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres. Unquote.
(signed) [William Jennings] Bryan
Up to 1.5 million Armenian were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries. The International Court of Justice equated the Armenian Genocide to the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles during the Nazi rule:
“The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide. This was the background when the General Assembly of the United Nations considered the problem of genocide. Not once, but twice, that body declared unanimously that the practice of genocide is criminal under international law and that States ought to take steps to prevent and punish genocide.” ICJ, May 28 1951
The aim of this genocide was to eliminate the Armenian demographic presence in Turkey. In the process, the population of historic Armenia at the eastern extremity of Anatolia was wiped off the map. People were forced to flea into exile. A large group of them came to Lebanon where they established a new society and contributed to the wealth and improvement of the country.
Today, we find many Lebanese ignoring the fact that current Turkey should be held responsible for those crimes. They ignore this fact for several reasons: religious affiliation, short political gain, ….. and lately Turkey role in support of Syrian revolution. Those who do not acknowledge the genocide they committed are not the one that can be trusted, befriended and specially welcomed to join the European community.
97 years have passed. Today, let us pause for a minute and remember the victims of on of the greatest crimes of the 20Th century.