Why is the Armenian Genocide commemorated
Why is the Armenian Genocide commemorated
Transcript of the speech by ANCC member T.A. on the occasion of 98-th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Parliament Hill, ottawa
I greet you today on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of Canada and I thank you for your act of presence.
Gathering on Parliament Hill on April 24th of each year has become a pilgrimage of
sorts for the Armenian community of Canada. It is on this day that we put aside our daily routine, our mundane activities and we flock to our nation’s capital by the thousands in a solemn act of remembrance. Our journey to this Hill began at the dawn of the 20th century as inhumanity befell our kin at the hands of the Young Turk Regime. Our journey to this Hill began the day the Canadian press, institutions such as The Globe, The Toronto Daily Star and The Ottawa Evening Journal ran headlines in 1915 that read “Turks slay 14 000 Armenians in one massacre” and “the Armenian race may disappear before war ends”. Our presence on this Hill was anchored the day the sheer atrocity of these reports touched the hearts of Canadians and compelled the Dominion of Canada to harbor 109 Armenian orphaned boys and 29 Armenian orphaned girls in the farming community of Georgetown.
Dear compatriots, our mothers and fathers staunchly walked to this Hill in stark contrast to the forced marches of our ancestors into the Syrian desert. They met with activists, academics, parliamentarians, senators, ambassadors and fellow citizens to expose the history they had inherited not one they had chosen nor fabricated. These men and women did not have Ankara’s deep pockets nor did they have the diplomatic clout of a NATO ally but if their words resonated with the Canadian public, it was because they were protected by an ally called Truth. At the cost of a leisurely life, they echoed the haunting voices of the dead in the corridors of this Parliament so that you, I and every Canadian could see the day were the Senate, the House of Commons and the Prime Minister of Canada would prove that “moralpolitik” also has it’s place in our current world order.
Dear parliamentarians, we thank you for your principled stance and your continued vigilance with respect to the recognition of the Armenian genocide and its ongoing active denial. We know the threats of reprisal, economic or otherwise, that come your way on a continuous basis and we applaud you for demonstrating that no foreign government can endanger this country’s sovereignty by challenging the values on which it is founded, that of democracy and that of unequivocal support for human rights. We, alongside you, will always “stand on guard for thee”. We also praise the firm response of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights to the Turkish ambassador to Canada for in April of this year, M. Babali made an unfortunate attempt to tie a Canada-Turkey free trade agreement to Canada’s reversal of its recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights responded to this threat loud and clear – it will include the Armenian Genocide as a permanent exhibit in the museum despite any pressures from Turkey.
Il importe de préciser que notre lutte pour la reconnaissance intégrale du génocide arménien n’est pas ancrée dans une haine envers le peuple turc comme certain souhaiterait la dépeindre. Il ne s’agit pas là d’une tentative de dérision ni d’un désir de porter atteinte à la volonté des Canadiens et des Canadiennes de toute origine de
cohabiter paisiblement dans cette grande mosaïque culturelle. Cette quête de reconnaissance constitue un affront nécessaire face à l’arsenal négationniste du gouvernement de la République de Turquie, et non ses citoyens; gouvernement qui déploie une politique nationaliste et mène à la provocation et à l’aliénation des victimes et de leurs descendants. Notre seul réconfort repose sur le fait que dans ce négationnisme monstre et cette mobilisation extrême, qui soit dit en passant redouble d’ardeur à l’aube d’une vérité centenaire, il se trouve un aveu, une confession et une certaine valorisation vis-à-vis le travail que nous avons accompli. Nous croyons donc aujourd’hui, avec plus de conviction et de fermeté que la vérité et la justice écraseront la négation et nous réitérons notre engagement au parachèvement de cette mission.
So what is there for us to take away from all this as our course of action for the future? I speak to you, youth, the rightful heirs of this just cause. The barricades that our parents faced in bringing this issue thus far will be incomparable to the barbwires that Turkish diplomacy will put in front of us to deter our resolve as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We will be met with counter protests just like the ones orchestrated by the Turkish Consulate in Washington DC in April of 2010. New schemes of provocation and historical revisionism will attempt to halt our way forward. But let us remind the Turkish government that Diasporan efforts to keep the Armenian genocide on the agenda have already planted the seeds of change that are necessary for a reconciliation of Turks with their past. The demonstration of that change comes to us today from the very heart of Istanbul, from Taksim Square, where hundreds of Turkish citizens have assembled, at great peril to their lives, to counter this state-imposed policy of denial. Amidst portraits of slain Armenian intellectuals, they hold signs that read “this is our pain too”. There is a creeping awareness of the Armenian genocide by Turks today and it all stems from the answer to one very simple question… If this were Ottoman Turkey at the dawn of the 20th century, would you have wanted to be an Armenian? And that is why the bullet unleashed by an ultra-nationalist youth that claimed the life of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 had far reaching consequences in Turkish consciousness. It constituted the perpetuation of that Anti-Armenian sentiment and Turks no longer want to be held hostage of this history of intolerance. We, Canadian Armenians bear witness to this change with a sentiment of cautious optimism. Cautiousness because ”realpolitik” has trumped our hopes before and optimism because that is what our spirits of survival are made of. So we will write, sing and paint this cause like our artists, we will market and invest in this cause like our merchants, we will mobilize and politicize this cause like our intellectuals and we will nurture this cause in the name of our famished mothers until this Parliament Hill sees the day where fellow Canadians of Turkish origin join us in the mourning of our fallen ancestors.