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Armenian Genocide Remembered

Armenian Genocide Remembered

Today, Armenians around the world will commemorate the eighty-third anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 19151918, which took the lives of 1,500,000 Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. On April 24, 1915, over 600 Armenian intellectuals, clergymen, and political leaders were massacred on the streets of Constantinople, thus marking the beginning of the first genocide of the 20th century. The "Young Turk" government had devised and were executing a plan to systematically eliminate, through hangings, marches, and starvation, the entire Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire.

The occurrence of this genocide, while widely accepted among historians, is to this day denied by the Turkish government, which claims that the genocide was really a civil war with atrocities committed on both sides. However, U.S. Ambassador Henry Morganthau, who was in Turkey from 1913-1916, clearly states in his memoirs that "extermination was the real purpose of the Turkish Government." Not only have the Turks not recognized the genocide of 1915, they have also spread lies and falsities with the goal of revising history and thus clearing their name. This active revisionism of history has recently penetrated the American academia. The Turkish Government is funding chairs at prestigious universities across the country to fabricate a more favorable history, in which the genocide did not occur. In one such case, Professor Heath W. Lowry, who held the Ataturk Chair of Turkish Studies at Princeton University (endowed by $1.5 million from the Republic of Turkey), was exposed as working closely with the Turkish government to discredit scholarship which mentioned the Armenian genocide. Recently, UCLA rejected a similar offer from the government of Turkey in order to prevent such revisionism. They understood that academic chairs should be instituted for scholarly purposes and not to serve as propaganda machines for foreign governments.

This year, House Concurrent Resolution 55, introduced by Minority Whip David Bonior and Representative George Radanovich, would officially commemorate the genocide and would call upon the Republic of Turkey to do the same. We encourage the entire MIT community to call upon their own congressmen and ask for their co-sponsorship of H. Con. Res. 55. Currently, there are over 90 co-sponsors of the genocide resolution which states, in part, "The United States should encourage the Republic of Turkey to take all appropriate steps to acknowledge and commemorate the atrocity committed against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923."

We ask that everyone remember and commemorate this crime against humanity so that history does not repeat itself. The Holocaust and other genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia could all have been avoided had people recognized the genocide of Armenians and had Turkey been punished for its crimes. On August 22, 1939, on the eve of his invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler stated, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

We do, and so should the entire MIT community.

Varouj A. Chitilian '98

Representative of the MIT Armenian Club to the Students' Alliance for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide