Special for the Armenian Weekly
I met my future best friend in a history class at UCLA. She was a board member of the Armenian Students Association and she educated me on the Armenian Genocide and the powerful Turkish lobby. I was initially skeptical, as this was the first time I had heard of this. But when we both rallied in the annual March for Justice, my skepticism washed away, as Turkish counter-protesters aggressively shouted at us on the street that “Mount Ararat will always be part of Turkey” and that the “the genocide is a lie.”
As an American Muslim Iranian with Persian and Turkish heritage, it is my duty to help dispel myths and historical inaccuracies that exist in my communities. My passion for advocating for Armenian issues is rooted in the Islamic values of peace, compassion, and mercy. These principles have compelled me to speak out against historical injustices.
The brutal violence that erupted in Washington, D.C. a few days ago enraged me. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security guards savagely kicked and beat up peaceful American protesters. My Turkish friends on Facebook and Turkish media claimed that the protesters deserved to be beaten, since they were affiliated with “PKK terrorists.” In fact, these protesters were American citizens practicing their First Amendment rights in their own country.
As Aram Hamparian said, “It’s one thing for there to be this kind of violence in Turkey, that’s a terrible thing. It’s far worse for that violence to be exported to America.” If these men felt comfortable brutalizing American citizens on foreign soil despite the presence of our law enforcement, imagine the potential to commit acts of violence that these same people have when they are unrestrained back in their home country. I shudder to think about how they treat their own people when they do not have the attention of the international community.
Earlier that day, U.S. President Trump claimed that it was “a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House.” The silence from the administration is deafening. Where is the outrage in his tweets? Where is the angry press statement condemning the actions of these thugs? Is he really going to allow Turkish henchmen to attack our own people on American soil without any punishment?
While he cozies up to an oppressive authoritarian who is leading the way to dictatorship, Americans are assaulted and brutalized by Erdogan’s goons…
But we cannot allow for Turkey to go unpunished.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is absolutely correct: these henchmen need to be arrested and have their diplomatic visas revoked. President Trump and the State Department must act on Senators John McCain and Claire McCaskill’s call to throw the Turkish Ambassador out of the country. Trump has a number of options at his disposal and it is his job to ensure that this does not happen again.
The tension between these communities cannot be alleviated without first addressing the elephant in the room—the Armenian Genocide. Considering Turkey’s dark history of mistreating its minorities, Turks have the moral responsibility to condemn this recent act of barbarism. We must create a broad coalition aimed to bridge the divide between the Turkish community and Armenian, Kurdish, Greek, and Assyrian communities.
And most of all, the Turkish community must come to terms with the fact that recognizing the Armenian Genocide is not a matter of insulting Turkishness, but a matter of objective, historical fact.