and Condemn the Turkish Government's
Denial of this Crime Against Humanity
On April 24, 1915, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic, premeditated genocide of the Armenian people — an unarmed Christian minority living under Turkish rule. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years.
The Armenian Genocide was the most dramatic human rights issue of the time and was reported regularly in newspapers across the U.S. The Armenian Genocide is abundantly documented by Ottoman court-martial records, by hundreds of thousands of documents in the archives of the United States and nations around the world, by eyewitness reports of missionaries and diplomats, by the testimony of survivors, and by eight decades of historical scholarship.
After 83 years the Turkish government continues to deny the genocide of the Armenians by blaming the victims and undermining historical fact with false rhetoric. Books about the genocide are banned in Turkey. The words "Armenian" and "Greek" are nonexistent in Turkish descriptions of ancient or Christian artifacts and monuments in Turkey. Turkey's efforts to sanitize its history now include the funding of chairs in Turkish studies — with strings attached — at American universities.
It is essential to remember that...
When Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide in 1944 he cited the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as a seminal example of genocide.
The European Parliament, the Association of Genocide Scholars, the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), and the Institute for the Study of Genocide (NYC) have reaffirmed the extermination of the Armenians by the Turkish government as genocide by the definition of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
Denial of genocide strives to reshape history in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators. Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide. It is what Ellie Weisel has called a "double killing". Denial murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to destroy remembrance of the crime. In a century plagued by genocide, we affirm the moral necessity of remembering.
We denounce as morally and intellectually corrupt the Turkish government's denial of the Armenian genocide. We condemn Turkey's manipulation of the American government and American institutions for the purpose of denying the Armenian genocide. We urge our government officials, scholars, and the media to refrain from using evasive or euphemistic terminology to appease the Turkish government; we ask them to refer to the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as genocide.
This statement has been signed by more than 150 distinguished scholars and writers, including:
K. Anthony Appiah Professor of Afro-American Studies & Philosophy, Harvard University.
Michael Arlen Writer
James Axtell Professor History, College of William & Mary
Ben Bagdikian Former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley
Houston Baker Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Peter Balakian Writer; Professor of English, Colgate University