The Armenian Genocide, for those who are not familiar with it, was a widespread systemic killing and ethnic cleansing of Muslim Turks in Anatolia within the Ottoman Empire, which is now present-day Turkey. The genocide lasted from 1915 to 1923 and was a background issue during the time of the start of World War I. There were approximately one million people killed in the genocide, however, much of modern-day Turkey is in denial about this event, which has resulted in many allies of Turkey have refused to acknowledge its existence in order to keep an ally. Which is why it was such a momentous occasion when President Joe Biden officially stated that the atrocities towards Muslims in the Ottoman Empire during the early 20th century was a genocide.
April 24 is notoriously known as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and in the many world leaders and presidents before Biden, it was never explicitly referred to as a genocide. When I had first heard this statistic, I was surprised, but I was not shocked. In any case of genocide, there is a hesitancy to call these instances of mass atrocities genocide. Additionally, there are many situations in which genocides are denied in history books or other materials and so, to me, I was not shocked to find out it had never been officially called a genocide before last month. I think it is very upsetting that it took this long, but, especially, as a student who majors in holocaust and genocide studies, I am really pleased it happened at all.
While it is an issue of Turkey being an allied nation or not, and especially their location in the Middle East, I understand the issues that might arise as a result of this decree.
Yet, America has just made a great leap forward in genocide awareness, recognition and education. Which as a world, is a huge issue that we lack in awareness and education. Many doubt the Holocaust happened and there is still much debate and deliberation in the field as to whether other genocides happened at all. The Genocide Convention of 1948 makes is harder to recognize and ascribe something as genocide.
Which the recognition of the Armenian Genocide it will be more likely for other nations to accept that the genocide happened as well. If more countries are aware of this happening, we will be able to educate more people on what happened there and to always remember other communities as well as be able to help struggling countries when it comes to awareness of these issues. There is a huge amount of blacked-out history in Turkey with the censorship of the Armenian Genocide and hopefully if more countries are able to recognize these issues with censorship of history, we will be able to help more countries come to terms with their pasts as well as being able to recognize that no country is perfect and that in order to move on we need to recognize the issues of the world.
Lydia Mardin can be contacted at: