Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

When is Genocide not Genocide? Recognising the Armenian Genocide, eighty-nine years on.

Armenian youths and middle aged men had been drafted into the army, and when the decision for genocide was made, they were disarmed, placed in labor battalions, forced to dig their own graves, and then were either butchered or shot. There was little danger that the old men, women and children, who had been left in the towns and villages, could somehow hurt the Turkish state. It is laughable. The Turkish government had at its disposal the police force, the irregular police force, the army, the irregulars of the army, the bureaucracy, and the state budget and facilities. After the young Armenian men had been killed in the army, there was absolutely no danger from the Armenians. What harm could old men, women and children do to the Turkish state? Let someone explain that to me.

What lessons can be learned from the study of the Armenian Genocide: are there conditions that can be identified, that predict possible Genocide?

The lesson that can be learned is that men and governments can act like wild beasts. They have in the past, and they continue to do so now. If the perpetrators of genocide were somehow brought to justice, it might dissuade others from following in their path. Hitler said, &ldquoGo, kill without mercy. Who today remembers the eradication of the Armenians?” On the other hand, genocide is generally irrational and driven by emotions as well as ideologies. Until world culture establishes that genocide is a crime, it will continue. No outside force can do much to stop it, unless it is in Europe where the Powers want peace and tranquility.

As far as the conditions go, generally speaking the state is at war, there is a minority of a different religion which can be used as a scapegoat for the failures of the leadership, and where death in the fighting front diminishes the aversion to death on the home front. There should also be an ideology that dehumanizes the victim and persuades the majority that the victim is somehow polluting Society. Thus, it becomes patriotic to destroy the infectious minority.

Genocide, ethnic cleansing, relocation of minorities: these are all terms that have been used to describe the actions of the Turks against the Armenians. While arguing for the recognition of the Genocide, is there a duty for Armenian lobby groups to examine similar accusations in relation to Nagorno-Karabakh?

I think it is always good to re-examine one’s position. Nagorno-Karabakh has historically been an Armenian province, essentially ruled up until the time of the arrival of the Russians by Armenian princes called meliks, or kings. At the time of the Sovietization of the South Caucasus, for various political reasons, Stalin decided to attach Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, a new state. The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh were denied their human and civil rights by the government in Baku, and so the province slowly began to lose its Armenian character, something that happened earlier to Nakichevan, another Armenian inhabited province, now solidly Azeri.

To the Armenians, the de-Armenianizing of Nagorno-Karabakh was tantamount to a continuation of the genocide that began in 1915. The process was called a ‘white genocide’. Killing a culture is a part of genocide.

While I have sympathy for the Azeris that were driven out of their homes, it was more the fault of their government than of the Armenians. Had the government in Baku not denied the Armenians their civil and human rights, the question of independence would not have arisen. The problem was caused by the attempt of the Azeri government to change Nagorno-Karabakh into a purely Azeri province.


Are there territorial implications, for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey? Can you see a time when Armenia will call for the restitution of territory in current day Turkey, including Mt Ararat?


I don’t think so. As Prime Minister Ozal once said, land is exchanged by blood. If a particularly decent government were to arise in Turkey, which I doubt, then that government may as a gesture of goodwill give Armenia Ani, the medieval Armenian capital, which abuts the border, and Mt. Ararat. In my personal opinion, and I do not speak for any of the Armenian political parties, if Turkey turns into a free and democratic state with respect for minorities, then it doesn’t matter much where the border is located.

Holocaust Denial in a number of states is illegal: would you like to see the same status for the Armenian Genocide?

I would prefer enlightened states where such legislation is not necessary. It can be a dangerous thing. On the other hand, if states have declared denial of the Holocaust is a crime, then there is no reason why denying the Armenian Genocide should not also be a crime.

Armenian Research Centre

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