The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Armenian genocide needs to be recognized by Turkish government

My great-grandmother arrived in America in 1915 when she was just 16 years old. She came here through Ellis Island as many had done before her. The reason she left her country is much different than stories of other immigrants who were trying to avoid poverty or hunger. She was escaping the same fate as her parents, grandparents, siblings and friends who had all been murdered by Turks.

It was declared the first genocide of the 20th century. My great-grandmother’s story is one among hundreds of stories of Armenians who escaped the same way. She took a ship to America and risked disease and starvation to evade Turks. She had witnessed friends and family members being hung and beheaded before her eyes.

One of the reasons the Turks gave for the mass killings of people was because they wanted the Armenian land. Armenia had Mount Ararat, which is a holy mountain, and several accounts of it are in the Bible. Mount Ararat is a holy mountain for most western religions and Turks wanted it for themselves. My great-grandmother spoke of Mount Ararat and her anger at Turks having possesion of it.

The other reason Turks gave for murdering many people was because the Armenians weren’t of the same religion Turks embraced. Turks are Muslim and Armenians are Christian. Turks decided to take care of this dispute, beginning in 1893, by committing murders throughout Armenia, but nothing to gain the notice of other countries.

By 1915, an estimated 100,000 Armenians had been murdered. The threat to Armenians worsened by the minute as thousands upon thousands of Armenians were asphyxiated and beheaded.

Public hangings of prominent Armenians were held in the town squares of many cities. The mass killings were finally recognized by America and other nations, but the Turks denied anything was happening.

The killings continued from 1915 to 1923. On Oct. 19, 1923, the Ottoman Empire no longer existed and the Republic of Turkey was declared. About 2 million Armenians were dead and the rest were in hiding throughout the country or in other countries around the world, struggling to make a new life.

To this day, the Turks deny any such massacre happened, but pictures and personal stories suggest otherwise. Pictures of mass graves, multiple hangings and dozens of severed heads chronicle the attempt of an eradication of the Armenians.

In a way, young Turks succeeded in completely destroying Armenia and exterminating all Armenians. Whenever I tell my friends I am half Armenian, they ask, what is Armenia?.

The genocide has devastated many families and lives. My great-grandmother would tell stories to my brother and I of the things she saw as a young teenager that no person should ever have to see. Yet, Turks still deny any of this occurred.

Finally, about 100 years later, America is trying to recognize that there was indeed an Armenian genocide, but not without controversy. President Bush didn’t want the Armenian Genocide bill passed because he was concerned Turks would be offended and not let us use their airspace for the war in Iraq.

His fears weren’t unfounded. Not long after the bill was announced, the Turkish government voiced their anger at the bill and threatened taking away their airspace from America. Turkish government officials have stated they are angry at the fact that America is blaming Turkey for something that didn’t happen and that America doesn’t understand. Many American Republicans agreed with the Turkish sentiment.

I don’t understand how this genocide can be denied while the evidence is so blatant. It took America about 100 years to recognize the Armenian genocide and half of America still doesn’t want to admit that it happened. They are still listening to Turks tell them it was a civil war.

I don’t understand how anyone can be so blind as to think the occurrences between 1893 and 1923 were the results of war. No war can possibly be that one-sided, especially when one side had all of their guns taken away from them.

If the Germans are able to confess up about the Holocaust and offer tours of the concentration camps where they kept Jews and had them killed, Turks should admit they tried to exterminate Armenians. Turkey needs to stop denying the genocide that can no longer be hidden from the world.

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