Armenia today faces an existential threat. Azerbaijan, with material and vocal support from Turkey, launched attacks on Artsakh on Sunday that have now escalated into a veritable war on mainland Armenia.
As Turkey takes on an increasingly explicit role in the aggression by shooting down Armenian aircraft and amplifying its anti-Armenian rhetoric, it becomes clear what this provocation is really about.
During the last several weeks, we’ve confronted the unsettling familiarity of the present circumstance: the same virulent nationalism, Pan-Turkism and anti-Armenian sentiment that spurred the Genocide not long ago are all back to haunt us today, bubbling up into escalating violence against Armenians and threats upon Armenia’s sovereignty.
It’s a toxicity that has spilled into the broader Middle East, where just a few months ago we watched videos of Turkish protestors chanting their demands for “death to Armenians” as hate crimes against Armenians became more prevalent around the world. In the US, we were just beginning to process the news about arson at the St. Gregory Church in San Francisco and vandalism of the KZV Armenian School.
It’s difficult not to feel helpless. As descendants of genocide survivors across the Diaspora, our generation is responsible for carrying forward the cause of genocide recognition for our grandparents who no longer could. We march, rally and remember our roots so as to counter Turkey’s intent to destroy. We have been demanding the recognition of genocide in an effort to curb similar cycles of violence and to reify the promise of “Never Again.”
Still, despite our best efforts to turn the tide, we find ourselves sitting front row to the nightmare that is history repeating itself. It’s a bitter return to all that we’d warned would happen. The warnings weren’t heeded, and lessons were never learned.
Today’s events aren’t petty “clashes” between bickering neighbors like the media have implied, but the result of an inherited hate, denied history and an agenda revisited. History isn’t just repeating itself; it’s one-upping its own record.
After all, according to Turkish leadership, the Genocide simultaneously never happened but should also be repeated. These were the sentiments Erdogan broadcasted just two months ago in reference to Armenia when he unabashedly said, “We will continue to fulfill this mission which our grandfathers have carried out for centuries in the Caucasus region.”
Turkey and Azerbaijan are united not only in their conquest effort, but in a shared desire to remove Armenia’s presence from the region while publicly denying any sinister intention altogether.
The progression of this disease is totally linear: a genocide is denied, the same violence is repeated – by the same groups and against the same people.
It’s becoming increasingly clear every day that Armenia and its people face an existential threat imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey in circumstances eerily similar to those that prefaced the Armenian Genocide.
In the face of uncertainty and disinformation, the international community owes Armenia its attention and support in holding aggressors accountable and keeping an honest account of the facts.
We can’t afford to have yet another chapter of history denied or rewritten.