Kaligian: Denial, Reparations, and Armenia’s Security

Below is the text of a speech delivered by Dr. Dikran M. Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Eastern Massachusetts, at the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration in Boston’s Heritage Park on April 24.

A scene from the Centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Boston (photo: Aaron Spagnolo)
A scene from the Centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Boston (Photo: Aaron Spagnolo)

As we have approached the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, a wave of pressure has been building on Turkey. But Turkey has been preparing for this for years, and their chief tactic has been to try to divide the Armenian people.

The Turkish government desperately wants to divide us, so that they can avoid giving us justice. So they try to create false divisions between “Ideological Armenians” and “Pragmatic Armenians,” between “Radical Armenians” and “Realistic Armenians,” and between Diasporan Armenians and Armenia-born Armenians.

To do this, they create phony arguments, like the Armenians in Armenia don’t care about the genocide issue, that they only want security and a better economy. But we know this isn’t true.

We cannot fall into Turkey’s trap; we cannot allow ourselves to be divided. Because we know what we can do when we are united.

In the 1990’s, Azerbaijan’s army vastly outnumbered the Armenians of Karabagh. Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s military support, was sure that they would have no problem massacring yet another group of helpless Armenians and driving them, too, out of their homes, their homeland.

We know what actually happened. The Armenians of Karabagh fought back, and together with the Armenians of Armenia and the Armenians of the diaspora, they not only stopped the Azeri Army, they drove it back 100 miles.

Getze Artsakhi mardigneruh.

Turkey’s worldwide, multimillion dollar genocide denial campaign concerns us, not just as Armenians, but as Americans, because the main battleground for the cover-up is here in the U.S.

A scene from the Centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Boston (photo: Aaron Spagnolo)
A scene from the Centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Boston (Photo: Aaron Spagnolo)

The denial has corrupted our Defense Department, because they always submit to Turkey’s blackmail, and they convince President Barack Obama, and President George Bush before him, “Oh no, you can’t use that word or we’ll lose our air bases.”

The denial has corrupted our public schools, as Turkey tries to remove the Armenian Genocide from high school textbooks.

The denial has corrupted our colleges, as Turkey is funding a denial factory at the University of Utah that is churning out PhDs, publishing and sending them out for free to libraries a string of denial books that have been rejected by legitimate publishers.

But the wall of denial is cracking. When the Pope, the European Parliament, Austria, Germany, and newspapers around the world are calling on Turkey to finally come to terms with its own history, we see the reaction.

From Turkey, we see President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stomping his feet, recalling his ambassadors, and having his prime minister call the Pope part of an evil front.

But we also see the reaction from Turkey’s defenders in this country. So, to their everlasting shame, the State Department continues to submit to Turkey’s gag rule.

Its friends suddenly get published in the national media, mislabeling our fight for justice as hatred, and claiming that the diaspora’s fight for recognition hurts the security of Armenia.

But we’ve heard this tune from them before. It used to be, don’t fight for Karabagh, you’ll lose Armenia. It’s just more of a smokescreen.

So, we must ask our friends in Congress who are here with us today to go to the State Department and remind them that:

It is not Armenia that has refused to establish diplomatic relations; it is Turkey.

It is not Armenia that has blockaded its neighbor for 20 years; it is Azerbaijan, and it is Turkey.

It is not Armenia that is desperately covering up its own history; it is Turkey. And it is time that the State Department stopped being an accomplice in the cover-up.

One day soon, Turkey and its PR agencies will craft some kind of acknowledgement.

But it is not sincere if Turkey apologizes without paying the price of reparations and restitution.

It is only justice if Armenia and the Armenian people receive more than just words on a piece of paper.

It is only justice when Armenia receives back the lands, and the properties, and the farms and the businesses, and the wealth that was stolen by Turkey.

The world must recognize that the Republic of Turkey was built on Armenian blood and Armenian sweat and Armenian labor, and that is why reparations are an integral part of justice for the Armenian Genocide.

We in the diaspora are accused of being obsessed with the genocide, but our demand for justice is actually very practical. Armenia will never be truly safe next door to an unrepentant genocide denier.

Turkey is determined to keep Armenia subservient, because it knows the one thing that is hanging over its head is Armenia’s demand for justice.

Turkey refuses to allow Artsakh to be reunited with Armenia because then Armenia could feed itself.

Turkey refuses to allow discussion of the stolen lands of Western Armenia, because with them, Armenia would have defensible borders and an outlet to the sea so it couldn’t be blockaded.

So on this day, we stand here and in cities around the globe to say that:

Armenia will never be secure and truly free until Artsakh is a part of the Republic of Armenia.

Armenia will never be truly free until Javakhk is a part of the Republic of Armenia.

Armenia will never have national security until Western Armenia is a part of Armenia.

 

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Dikran Kaligian

Dikran Kaligian is a member of the ARF Eastern US Central Committee and and chair of the Armenians and Progressive Politics conference. He is the managing editor of the Armenian Review. He received his doctorate from Boston College. Kaligian is the author of Armenian Organization and Ideology under Ottoman Rule: 1908-1914 (Transaction Publishers, 2009).

14 Comments

  1. Very emotional and populistic article. There are fundamental necessarity to distinguish Turkish propaganda on Armenian question and Armenian self-reflection on national problems. We must to try minimize influence of first on Armenian self-reflections liberty.

  2. Turkified, Islamatized Armenians
    How can they go back and become Christians!
    So difficult Task…

    I tell them
    “Say …you are Armenian”…

    That is enough …
    What ever religion you have …
    That belongs to you…
    No one should interfere between you and you belief…
    You can change your religion
    But never your Armenian genes…
    Repeat your phrase… repeat… and feel proud
    And tell everyone that , ” I am Armenian”
    That is enough…
    Congrats
    Sylva~MD~Poetry

  3. Powerfull and to the point. Turkey is unrepentant and dangerous more than ever. They have caused death and destruction for centuries. They have built an empire on the dead bodies of Armenians and others. For centuries they have not been accountable for their destructive actions. Accepting guilt is a tough act to follow but that’s the only way for them to show the world they have changed and that will put them on the path to become a civil nation.

  4. When one considers that beyond the hidden Armenians of Turkey, that many (in the tens of millions) Turks and Kurds have DNA that is essentially indistinguishable from Armenian DNA, that they can and should choose to be Armenian. Imagine such a possibility where the say half the population of Turkey chooses to be Armenian. Although at first glance this idea may seem preposterous, consider the merit of identifying with an Armenian culture that promotes free and liberal ideas, equality and justice for all people. Now contrast this with the very repressive aspect of Turkish culture (of course not all of Turkish culture) which denies truth and equality, and it’s not so difficult to imagine people choosing to be Armenian.

    • I applaud your idea that “genetically speaking”, we all pretty much have the same DNA and should be able to accept each other, but, as for your statement: “consider the merit of identifying with an Armenian culture that promotes free and liberal ideas, equality and justice for all people.”; consider the fact that Armenian culture remains one of the most virulent homophobic “Christian” cultures on our planet.

  5. Too much at stake, any amount of $$$$$$$$$$ that Turkey spends on denialists can bring back big returns, follow the $$$$$ at all levels, no one and nothing should be discarded, these days politicians are bought and sold like tomatoes in the market, they should be followed not only while they are in office, it should continue during and after they leave, the same way Jews followed the German criminals long after the war ended until they brought them to justice.

  6. Dr. Dikran M. Kaligian:
    Words without having force remain just words! You and I and most of us know that Armenia needs strong army in order to survive. Moreover, once we have it then we can execute our words in full. Let us hope that day will come soon! Long live Armenia!

  7. Reconciliation WITHOUT TRUTH is meaningless if not impossible. Turkey, to all intents and purposes, is incapable of facing the truth which maybe understandable since it, the Turkish Republic, is founded on the destruction of Armenian and other Christian peoples of the Ottoman Empire and the massive theft and plunder of their property.
    Given the above, it is quite likely that Turkey will persist in its denialist posture until the very bitter end, i.e. with the disintegration of the Turkish state which will come about due to increasing socio-economic crisis (some signs of it already apparent) as well as fast developing internal ethnic/minority tensions (Kurds/Alawites) and, last but not least, regional tensions with Iran, Syria, Cyprus (effectively the EU!), etc.
    So we must keep our powder dry until that time which surely will come and will come sooner than we might think. Hence keep up the fight; educate! agitate! organise! Be ready… .

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