Call Genocide By Its Name

Call Genocide By Its Name

Categories: Opinion

An Open Letter to the United States Senate In Recognition of the Armenian Genocide

It’s been 104 years that Armenian people have been struggling for the official recognition of the slaughtering of 1,500,000 of minority Christians under the Ottoman Young Turk Regime. I am emotionally exhausted. The survival stories of my grandfather’s generation still ring in my ears, the clarity of their memories and intensity of their pain. Our mourning is incomplete; true healing cannot take place until we are honest about the past. We must dispel the lies that label my people’s truth a fiction.

On October 29th the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelming 405-11 in favor of the House Resolution-296 to recognize the Genocide. But this crucial bill was blocked by a single vote for ratification in the Senate after Lindsey Graham met with the Turkish Recep Erdogan. For far too long the American interests in Turkey have been held hostage in a nationalistic power play by Turkey to keep this issue bound and gagged in a closet. Senator Graham, you stated in a comment after blocking the vote on Senate Resolution-150, that we ‘should not sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it.” However, an overwhelming number of historians and scholars agree the genocide is undeniable. The person trying to rewrite history is you; it’s time to end this immoral game. Further denial of this tragedy only keeps open wounds from healing—for both peoples—but it is particularly painful and insulting to the Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syrians whose families were killed so heartlessly.

In a true acknowledgement of history, we recognize that Raphael Lemkin invented the term ‘Genocide’ in direct reference to the massacre of the Armenian people. Also remember that Hitler, on the eve of invading Poland—when asked how he thought he would get away with the extermination of the European Jews—said, “Who today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?” So when the Turkish President says, just days after the House vote, that recognition is “Worthless and an insult to Turkish people,” it is only an attempt to distance himself from the Young Turk regime, but in fact only pushes him closer to being exactly like them. We must have a higher standard of truth for American Senators than authoritarian dictators, so I ask you now to reconsider blocking the vote on this important bill and let my people heal.

I ask you in the spirit of Hrant Dink, to help create a world that is more free, more just, more happy, more hopeful for everyone—a world that is fee from discrimination, racism and violence—to do what is right. Let us create a world where we listen to each other, share one another’s pain and grief, and work toward preventing new pain, a world where we can be different without being turned into “the other.” We must build a world where every person’s humanity is recognized and honored.

Please consider this an appeal to your moral conscience and stop allowing the recognition of this tragedy to be blocked by unethical players who are using it as a pawn in a cynical game, and I ask this of you in the name of common human decency.

-Eric Manigian
Union Theological Seminary M.Div. Student