Why Is Armenian Genocide Recognition an Urgent Cause for the Free World Today?


Imagine that the German state that came into being after World War II had never acknowledged Nazi Germany’s Holocaust, and instead used all of its state powers to deny it. And then imagine if contemporary Germany used its international stature as a regional power to put pressure on the U.S. government and other countries not to use the word “genocide” when describing the Holocaust. Imagine if Germany today denied the existence of important Jewish cultural monuments on its territory, left them in disrepair, misidentified them as non-Jewish, or subjected them to abuse. If Germany had done these things, the entire Free World would still be fighting for the recognition of the Holocaust and the prosecution of Holocaust deniers.

Today, the Turkish state that followed the Ottoman Empire is engaged in all of the above vis-à-vis the genocide of the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey.

The Armenian Genocide was the first crime of its kind in the modern era, employing modern means of governmental management and organization, scientific censuses, statistics, as well as modern technologies such as telegraphy, on a geographical scale to annihilate the Armenian Nation. As such, it was a source of fascination for Hitler and the Nazis, and a reference for them as they planned the Jewish Holocaust.

What makes the Armenian Genocide different from the Holocaust or other genocides of the modern era is the continued attempt to falsify the very history of the region. It is a crime against history. It is an attempt to erase the history and historical identity of the land on which the Armenian people existed, land that was once the very heart of Historical Armenia.

The Armenian Genocide, therefore, is also an attempt at “Historicide” or “Historiophagy,” a new name for a crime against humanity that encompasses the attempt to deny the present and past and therefore the future existence of a people on their historical homeland.

What is astonishing about the Turkish state’s denial of the crime of the Armenian Genocide is that it holds the entire Turkish people hostage, unable themselves to come to grips with the original crime because of the mistaken position of their state. To fight for recognition of this genocide is thus also a way to free the Turkish people from their own dark past. The continued pressure on international governments by the Turkish state not to use the word genocide also forces these leaders into moral duplicity.

Turkey today continues to deny the crime, and as a result indirectly continues the crime of genocide. Through denial, the Turkish state implicates itself in the original crime. Genocide denial is a form of continued persecution of the descendants of the escapees of the genocide. Exiled escapees are unable to return and claim their stolen property, and cannot come to terms with the loss they have been subjected to because the crime is denied.
At the very core of the current Turkish state is its denial of the genocide and the ethnic and religious cleansing that was planned to create a state identified as Turkish, as opposed to the mosaic of cultures that the Ottoman state was. As such, the very being and becoming of the Turkish state itself is based on the crime of genocide.
Each participating element of the apparatus of that state is indirectly implicated in the original crime as long as it continues the suppression of the word genocide and the denial of the crime of genocide. As long as the Turkish state does not cleanse itself of this denial, by admitting and coming to terms with the legacy of the crime, it will remain indirectly implicated.
The Armenian Genocide is an urgent cause for the Free World because the perpetrators were never appropriately prosecuted. The international community has never fully acknowledged it because of Turkish state pressure, directly or indirectly through the insinuations of realpolitik. The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is and will remain an urgent cause for the Free World.

Hraztan Zeitlian

Hraztan Zeitlian

Hraztan Zeitlian is an architect and founder of Struere, Los Angeles. His work has garnered many Awards. He served on the California Architects Board 2008-14. He currently serves on the Los Angeles Mayor’s Design Advisory Board. He has written books of Armenian Poetry and Cultural Essays, including REH (1991).


  1. I would suggest ‘historioctony’ or historiophony (the latter with a short ‘o’, both meaning the slaying of history) as useful and philologically perhaps more consistent terms. Also, perhaps one ought not to write of ‘the Turkish people’ but of ‘the citizens of the Turkish Republic’, since part of the falsification of history that that entity continues to perpetrate is the retrojection of some sort of stable and real ‘Turkish national identity’ onto the disparate populations of Armenia, Cilicia, Kurdistan, Cappadocia, Pontos, Ionia, the Straits, etc., as the author’s characterization of the Ottoman state as a ‘mosaic’ makes splendidly clear.

  2. Demographically there were ? Almost 3 million Christian Armenians, Assyrians etc living in mostly Eastern Turkey……fast forward to around ? 1920’s there about 400,000.? Left in that area……where did they all go emigrate to Australia????

  3. I disagree. If the urgency of Armenian Genocide recognition, and closure, rests on some romantic notions of international ‘justice’ and struggles against ‘duplicity’, the next 100 years will be no different. The international system doesn’t work that way.

    A more fundamental, and maybe realistic, reason to believe that the Genocide will be affirmed by the ‘Free World’, and by Turkey, and that reparations of some sort will be addressed, lies in the exigencies of contemporary geopolitics. The Genocide is not solely a matter of historical interest, but today (to the credit to all those who have struggled decades for justice) should deeply concern world powers vis a vis their modern strategic interests. Today. Consider the following:

    1. An unrepentant Turkey is, by definition, an existential threat to the Republic of Armenia (the surviving remnant of Armenia, comprising descendants of the Genocide, a tiny landlocked country in the South Caucasus).
    2. As long as Armenia (and Artsakh) are faced with neighbors (Turkey/Azerb.) who not only do not repent for the Genocide, but consistently and aggressively threaten new terror toward Armenians, Armenians have little choice but to look to Russia for a semblance of physical security and defense. This is existential. (What else is there to prevent another Genocide by the Turks?)
    3. And this allows Russia to have fundamental military and political footholds across the Caucasus, across energy pipelines, transit routes, militant training grounds, from the Black Sea all the way to Iran and Afghanistan and further.

    It should not take long for the US and the ‘Free World’ to realize that they are sacrificing significant strategic and security interests, in one of the most important geopolitical areas of the globe, at the intersection of Russia to Iran to Afghanistan and the Middle East– all because Turkey wants to live in an alternate, mythological universe. The new Cold War is coming, if not here; Armenia may find itself in a key role– ironically not unlike Turkey’s key role for the West in the first Cold War with the Soviets.

    Such contemporary geostrategic considerations are what could possibly motivate the West, and by pressure the Turks, to address the Genocide and its consequences. Not notions of ‘justice’. The west must see that today’s tiny Armenia must be made secure and whole, or some version of that, if the West is to have any chance of checking Russian, and Iranian, influence in one of the most important parts of the globe. And none of this is possible without addressing the Genocide– it’s fundamental to it all. This is all no-holds-barred realpolitik.

    But are our Armenian diplomats sufficiently deft? Will Turkey be able to continue to trump obvious US contemporary interests? Will Washington roll over and relinquish the region to Russia and Iran? Will Russia react? I don’t know. Maybe the more important question is- Will there be any Armenians left in Armenia for any of this to matter.

  4. I wonder about that also Im afraid for all of you you are a little like Israel surrounded by enemies (except Russia) Erogan is like Obama they are both liars and evil I pray for your safety take care

  5. Armenians don’t need to prove they were indigenous to the land they were living on it for over 2500 years. Armenia was on the world map when Turks were nomads in Central Asia. Turks can erase the cultural heritage of the Armenians in Turkey but they cannot erase the map of the Roman Empire engraved on the wall of the eternal city of Rome. Armenia was the name of the land 2500 years ago. Turkey did not exist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.