COLUMN: U.S. needs to recognize all genocide cases

Allen Hines

On Sept. 11, we commemorated the greatest act of genocide against America, yet we as a country are still ignorant of genocide in other parts of the world.

In 1893, Sultan Abud Hamid, then-ruler of what is now known as Turkey, started a campaign against Armenian Christians. Nearly 300,000 Armenians had been slain by 1909.

But the worst was still to come. In 1915, Sultan Hamid ordered the deportation of 1.8 million Armenian Christians as part of his program to build a Turan or “greater Turkey.” According to his plan, the Armenians were sent on a death march across the Syrian Desert. Rape, starvation and dehydration were common along the Middle Eastern equivalent to the Trail of Tears. Along the way, over 1.5 million people died.

Americans share a commonality with the Armenians. On 9/11, we were targeted by the terrorists because of our beliefs. We were targeted because in 1991, our troops set foot in Saudi Arabia to help liberate Kuwait. Since setting foot on the holy land, Muslim extremists have been trying to harm us.

The Armenians faced a similar situation more than 100 years before we did. Sultan Hamid wanted to turn Turkey into the premier Muslim state, so he murdered about 1.8 million Christians in an attempt to fulfill his desire.

Many countries recognize the events in Armenia for what they were: genocide. Among these countries are France, Germany, Switzerland and Canada. The United Kingdom and the United States, however, use less abrasive language. Much of the word-mincing centers around trade with Turkey. The country has been known to cut off trade with countries that don’t walk that fine line.

Recognition of the genocide is important to many people of Armenian heritage.

In an interview with the Epoch Times, Haig Kaysserian, a spokesman for the Armenian Youth Federation, said, “If your father or your grandfather, God forbid, was to pass away – you’d want to find what happened.”

The Armenians want closure. American acknowledgment of their plight would be a step to help them achieve it.

Let’s call a spade a spade. It is obvious what happened more than 100 years ago. 1.8 million people were killed because of their belief in Christianity. Turkey attempted to eliminate a whole ethnic group, constituting genocide.

As for the potential hit to trade with Turkey, I say, “Who needs it?” I think we can do without baklava for a while. Heck, if Canada can do it, why can’t we? America should recognize the events that happened in Armenia as genocide.

The Armenian genocide is the perfect example of our sluggishness in recognizing genocide worldwide. We must be quicker in the future.

The conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has been going on for three years, but the United States only labeled it genocide one year ago. Since it began, 400,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced.

Had we been able to classify the genocide sooner, we may have been able to help those displaced and resolve the conflict.

Allen Hines is a freshman pre-journalism and mass communication major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].