by Rich Markosian
Genocide still continues to this day. One method to dissuade further atrocities is to tell the stories accurately.
Utah Armenians gathered on Easter to commemorate the 98th anniversary of when, beginning in 1910, the Turks systematically slaughtered an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. Over 70 Utah Armenians gathered at the Arbat Restaurant in Salt Lake City as part of a national and world-wide gathering to remember events that occurred in Turkey and Armenia, and the incredible carnage Armenians suffered while the world was preoccupied with the first World War.
“We are all the decedents of the survivors,” said Kevork Joulhayan.
To this day, the United States is afraid of the repercussions of formally recognizing the first mass genocide of the 20th century. Further, the Utah State Legislature passed resolution (SJR 21) to begin the process to recognize Turkey as a favored partner, “both dearly cherishing the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights,” as stated in the language of the resolution. This resolution, and its passage by the Utah State Legislature, was felt as a humiliating blow to many of the Utah Armenians gathered, because while the U.S. government still refuses to recognize the Armenian Genocide, individual states have made progress towards recognition.
“I feel like this is a blow to Utah Armenians who deserve the respect of their State Legislature and respect for those who were killed,” says Kevork, and to say that Turkey shares our human rights values when they refuse to recognize what they did to Armenians, and actively still persecute those who protest against this refusal.
Most Armenians in Utah are descendants of the survivors (including my own ancestors). The United States has always been a safe-haven for persecuted refugees. Thousands of Armenians found safety immigrating to the United States and most Armenians have assimilated and intermarried. Many are Americanized with just partial Armenian ancestry. But according to Kevork Joulhayan any person who has ancestors who fled due to genocides, holocausts or persecution should recognize that if past autorcities aren’t accounted for, they are certain to continue.
Genocide in Bosnia
Even with the recent capture of Ratko Mladic, one of the greatest modern-day mass murderers, we find powerful leaders who believe they can get away with genocide. Mladic and the Serbian Government refuse to admit to the genocide of Bosnian Muslims.
In Serebinica 25,000 Bosnian Muslims were systematically murdered under the orders of Mladic. Thousands of Croatian and Bosnians fled when the Serbian army began shelling their defenceless cities. There are Bosnians in Utah who lost brothers, sisters and fathers. Serbia denies this happened as these survivors say it did, and Russia supports this claim. There are currently news reports that still label the Bosnian war a “civil war,” when it clearly was not.
Turkey claims the same inaccurate story to describe the Armenian Genocide. My own great-grandmother’s five brothers, father and mother, were all murdered by the Turkish army in 1910. Turkey denies this happened.
My wife and family fled their city of Sanski Most after the Serbian army began shelling their city, Serbia says this didn’t happen.
In Rwanda and Darfur, we find a similar attempts to rewrite genocide as civil conflict. African warlords have yet to be tried in the Hague.
Mladic is finally now being tried after living 12 years on the lam. Throughout Bosnia residents know the only reason Mladic was captured is so Serbia can enter the European Union. However residents of Serbia still see Mladic as a war hero because parents teach their children he didn’t order genocide.
Whether Muslims are killing Christians or Christians are killing Muslims, Nazis are killing Jews, or Hutu are killing Tutsi; or for whatever reasons people conspire to kill another group, we can be assured this practice will continue unless our governments, State and Federal, punish the murderers and commit the storytellers of history to state the facts, regardless of political implications. Let’s write an alternative history: The truth.§