Sunday, April 19, 2015

Chidem Inch - The G Word

Chappatte Cartoons FB page
Patrick Chappatte is an editorial cartoonist for The International New York Times
     Armenians and Turks are split on many issues regarding their shared history.  Depending on how one looks at it, there is a case to be made for the vortex of this disagreement to be about the G word:  Genocide.  
     Per the United Nations, their Legal Definition of Genocide is:

Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
     Armenians believe what happened beginning on April 24, 1915 was a Genocide. The Turkish Government has evolved over the years but still shies away from using the G word. Their defense began with "What?  Nothing happened... what?" When that no longer worked, they tried to paint the Armenians as having massacred more Turks than Turks killed Armenians. That really did not work much better. Now, in the Erdogan era, their line is that it was a horrible time of war, both sides suffered, and there is a shared pain and loss. While this is a huge move for the Turkish Government, but it is not enough for the Armenians. Our way of life in our ancestral homelands was abruptly ended. Those who were not killed, starve to death, or Islamified were scattered around the world. 
     On April 12th in Rome, Pope Francis presided over a mass and memorial service for the Centennial. Catholicos Karekin II of Echmiadizin and Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia were present and participated in the service. In his homily, Pope Francis said that what happened to the Armenians was Genocide.  Basically, the Turkish Government bristled.  Maybe flipped out is a better word.  I am sure in private conversations Erdogan, Davutoglu, and Cavusoglu may have even bestowed my last name to Pope Francis.  President Tayyip Erdogan dressed down the Pope in no uncertain terms.  Per NBC News:
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan condemned Pope Francis on Tuesday for comments that the 1915 mass killing of Armenians was genocide, warning him not to make such a statement again.  

"We will not allow historical incidents to be taken out of their genuine context and be used as a tool to campaign against our country," Erdogan said in a speech to a business group. "I condemn the pope and would like to warn him not to make similar mistakes again."
     The very next day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,via a spokesman, labelled "the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago 'atrocity crimes,' but he isn't supporting Pope Francis' description of the killings as 'the first genocide of the 20th century.'" (NY Times)  While Erdogan's outrage seemed to bolster the Pope's view, at least from an Armenian perspective, Ban Ki-moon's statement had no visible impact on anything I read.  Neither Armenians nor Turks seemed to react to this.  Perhaps it is because no one really knows or cares who the Secretary General of the UN is (take that Ban Ki-moon).  Many Armenians just assume that he was a paid dupe of Turkey and the US who also refuses to use the G word.
     One side or the other is going to have to give up their position on the G word.  The New York Times cartoon kind of nails it from the Armenian perspective.  What happened could not possibly be Genocide because Raphael Lempkin had yet to define the term.  It seems the Turkish Government could claim a grandfather clause, "How could you possibly call that Genocide?  Heck if they had known it was going to be considered a crime, Talaat, Djemal, and Enver probably would not have done it."
     Yes, one side or the other is going to have to give up their position on the G word.  Likelihood of that happening? Your guess is as good as mine.

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