Pope Francis marked the centenary of mass killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule by terming the atrocity a “genocide,” alienating Turkey. (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)
It sounds like the set-up for a joke in a late-night talk show host’s opening monologue:
“So, Kim Kardashian and the pope were the biggest news stories last Sunday.”
But it’s no laughing matter. Kardashian and Pope Francis made headlines in recent days in ways that were poignant, powerful and — speaking as an Armenian American and descendant of survivors of the Armenian Genocide — game-changing. Last week, Kardashian, easily the most famous Armenian American, along with husband Kanye West and daughter North, visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, and on Sunday night, Kanye gave a free concert at Swan Lake in the city center. This week, during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope called out the Ottoman Empire’s systematic annihilation of an estimated 1.5 millionArmenians as “genocide,” and went on to say that “Concealing and denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
Now, I hope President Obama follows their lead and takes the opportunity, at last, to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise and do the same. Because for seven years, he’s put realpolitik before righteousness, avoiding the word “genocide” in an effort to appease an American military ally — Turkey — that offers very little in return.
For most of the world, the Armenian Genocide is — to paraphrase a character in one of my novels — the slaughter you know next to nothing about. But every year on April 24, Genocide Remembrance Day, we Armenians remember the injustice of a crime that is rarely acknowledged and often flatly denied. It was April 24, 1915, when the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors and religious leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by the Ottoman authorities — and almost all of them executed. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire killed three of every four of its Armenian citizens. The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of the few survivors.
And for the last hundred years, Turkish leaders have endeavored to deny the genocide by falsifying the historical record, despite the fact that the International Association of Genocide Scholars unanimously calls it genocide. In February, a Kurdish member of the Turkish Parliament, Ahmet Turk, acknowledged his Kurdish ancestors’ role in the killing and apologized to the Armenians for the “blood on their hands.” Even the first postwar Turkish government convicted the three architects of the genocide for their crimes against the Armenians in 1919 and sentenced them to death in absentia. It wasn’t until the second postwar government took over in 1924 — the government led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk — that Turkey began to rewrite the history of this atrocity.
Click here to read full article: Washington Post