Lessons from the Armenian Genocide

This post is inspired by the recent unofficial reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, almost a century after the genocide that tore a nation. The two countries signed a treaty this week to open the boarders between the two nations, a step that will encourage economic and political relations to flourish. The Armenian people, still recalling the mass killings that took place in 1915, are choosing to put the future before the past, in hopes of brighter days.

And although this act of openness is admirable at the very least, I cannot help but feel the bitterness of surrender that Armenians must feel. You see, Turkey continues to deny the Armenian genocide, claiming the numbers were inflated and the actions justified. This means that the Armenian people still go uncompensated. Not even an apology has been offered, not even acknowledgments were declared.

Growing up in Lebanon, I had the chance to live among many Lebanese citizens of Armenian descent whose grandparents sought refuge during the first great war. I remember being told by passionate Armenians about a certain law between the nations of this world, something about a hundred year period during which a nation or people can demand their rights be compensated. Until today, Turkey is yet to pay its dues to the Armenian people, not that it would heal the wounds of this forgotten people. Turkey, comfortable with its position in the world due to its good ties with the United States, enjoys denying Armenia the simple confession of a war gone dirty. And so, I mourn for a world where genocide is justified if not denied, all on a stage where the world is watching. And although moving past the wounds is necessary, the world must first decide to care. Otherwise, history will be just a cycle of ‘Never Again’s.

Genocides have taken place throughout history, in all corners of the world. They have happened in this very country. Many times, they occur behind the scenes; there is more suffering than what the media chooses to cover and show you. And although the Holocaust and the inhumane acts of violence in Darfur are despicable acts of evil that we as humanity should STAND and face, they are not the only two examples of human ignorance and arrogance. Unfortunately, our world today has plenty of such examples.

My plea is simple. Let us not forget those of us who are voiceless and unheard. Let there no longer be victimized people of the world searching for scraps of fairness from the table. From the native Americans to the Christians of the Middle East, we must acknowledge their suffering, and we must admit our inhumanity before we learn.  Let us refuse to leave our children a world where realities such as genocide continuously occur, or a world where weapons that erase the existence of a people still exist. We must evolve beyond our races, transcend beyond the shackles of our geography or religion. We are citizens of this world, our fates are very much intertwined. Let us stand before every tyrant, and safeguard the children of the earth and may we always be for the flourishing of the nations and the betterment of man.

Samer Hawayek

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Lessons from the Armenian Genocide

  1. Samer! Your voice is brilliant and strong, yet filled with compassion and empathy. You can do so much for people through your words, you are so talented. I agree that people should be compensated for their human rights, but I also question how we can do this? Similar to the idea of reparations for African Americans because of slavery, how can they be compensated for years of suffering and their position in the world due to a long list of historical circumstances? Your example is especially painful because their suffering is denied and swept under the rug as if it never happened. I think the best way to deliver compensation would be to acknowledge the suffering and tragedy of the past and do everything in our power to not let it happen again.

    There was also an automatically generated “related link” and it was titled “Can soccer heal Turkey-Armenia Rift?” and the answer is no. What a bizarre question.

  2. We have acknowledged the mass killings committed by the strong against the poor for centuries, and we often promised to not let it happen again.

    It still happens again and again.

    Only when the strong understand that true power is in humility, that wealth is in uncertainty and that the moment you reach for your weapons is the moment you taste defeat. Only then will the hungry voiceless of the world not be butchered by those who control the tanks, the media and the wheat.

    Samer

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