Editorial: Do not Forget the Victims of the Armenian Genocide
Published in the Swedish daily news paper "Dagens Nyheter", on April 19, 2006

By Vahagn Avedian

It was during the days of the first Gulf War and we were in the social studies’ class discussing the situation of the Kurds in northern Iraq who were suffering heavily of the exceptional severe winter conditions. Our teacher turned to me and asked my opinion about this issue since I came from the region. “To be honest, I do not feel the same sympathy that you are expressing. They did much worse things to my people during the Armenian Genocide, when they were used by the Turks in annihilating the Armenian population.”

The fact that the rest of the class did not quite share view is hardly surprising. At the dinner table I told what had happened and was rebuked by my father for on one hand having expressed myself rather clumsy, and on the other expecting that for a non-Armenian it should be an evident matter to realise what I meant.

I am now fifteen years older and hopefully equally wiser. Now I realise how wrong I was then expecting everyone else to feel exactly and strongly as I did in regard to the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey. I have also learned to cherish all lives and that the loss of life, regardless whether it is Americans in burning skyscrapers, frozen Kurds in the Mountains, or starving Armenian on death march.

To have lost lives and country is something that the Armenians have remembered annually on April 24. But what weighs down one’s heart even more is the consistent denial by Turkey and her efforts to buy other nation’s silence by economical and financial measures. Nevertheless, it becomes increasingly clear by each day that the greatest obstacle for a recognition is not presentation of evidence, since they are in abundance. The greatest obstacle which Turkey must overcome is psychological. To, in a strongly Oriental influenced society, judge and condemn one’s immediate predecessors for murder and rape will demand enormous amount of courage and deep soul-searching. The Turkish professor in history, Yusuf Halacoglu, who has been prosecuted by a Swiss court for denying the Armenian Genocide, thinks that this is a “matter of honour.” “This is an issue that concerns whether or not to take responsibility for a shameful act of inhumanity," he said. "I won't accuse my grandfather of being a villain for a crime he didn't commit." But the question is rather if he ever will be able to accuse his grandfather even if his greatest fears would come true.

I no longer ask anyone to condemn Turkey. That recognition must come from within in order to be worth anything. Instead I ask you to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide and do not allow their premature extinguished lives to be forgotten.