Apr 25, 2006 11:27 am


Between between 1915-1923, over a million Armenians died in Turkey. Today is the Armenian holocaust Day. In the 1970s I visited the region where the tragedy occurred and the ruin of the Armenian church in lake Van. The place is empty as if the people just left yesterday.

In 1919 in response to international and especially British pressure, the Ottoman Empire tried and convicted two officials, including the lieutenant governor of the district where the deportations and the atrocities had taken place. He was sentenced to death and hanged, but the process of trying other perpetrators collapsed as the Ottoman empire disintegrated.

Reportedly when Hitler was warned that massacring large number of Jews would cause international outrage, he retorted:"Who remembers the Armenians?" We do and so do an ever growing number of people including a Michigan University professor who distributed the following letter:

Even though I cannot be there with you on this very significant day, I want you to know that as an ethnic Turk I am not guilty, but I am responsible for the wounds that have been inflicted upon you, Armenians, for the last century and a half.

I am responsible for the wounds that were first delivered upon you through an unjust deportation from your ancestral lands and through massacres in the hands of a government that should have been there to protect you. I am also responsible for the wounds caused by the Turkish state denial to this day of what happened to you back then. I am responsible because all of this occurred and still occurs in the country of which I am a citizen.

Yet I want to tell you that I personally travel every year to your ancestral lands to envision what was once there and what is not now. When I am there, I realize again and again how much your departure has broken the human spirit and warped the land and the people. I become more and more aware of the darkness that has set in since the disappearance of so many lives, minds, hopes and dreams. It is for all these reasons that I think it is time for the Turks too to recognize that vast loss, to start to uplift that darkness and begin the process of healing.

I therefore firmly believe that soon in the future you will find among you many Turks who too will recount the names of all those brilliant Armenian intellectuals of Istanbul forcefully deported on this very significant day only to be massacred, Turks who will mourn with you this vast loss of ours, Turks who will work alongside you on your ancestral lands to help recreate what was once there."

Associate Professor Fatma Muge Gocek
University of Michigan
Sociology Department

In commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, the Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies of Harvard University, Dr. James Russell announces a lecture by Dr. Andrew G. Bostom," Jihad in Europe: Past as Prologue?" based upon his recently published book, The Legacy of Jihad Friday April 28, 2006 5-6 PM The Semitic Museum, Room 201 6 Divinity Avenue Cambridge, MA Admission Free Contact: Dr. James Russell

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