April 4, 2001

Director of Zaryan Institute Tells of Genocide

Print More

This is the twentieth century genocide of which few know — close to a million civilians, murdered for no other reason but for their ethnicity.

Vahakn N. Dadrian, director of genocide research at the Zaryan Institute of New York, lectured on the Armenian Genocide of World War I to members of the Cornell and Ithaca communities yesterday evening in Clark Hall.

In this human rights disaster, the Turkish army “deported” most of the Amenian population, forcibly expelling them from Turkey in an ethnic cleansing operation of mass proportions. Close to a million Armenians died, taken into the desert where they starved to death, murdered with axes or drowned en-masse in the Black Sea.

Unlike the Nazi Holocaust, Dadrian emphasized that this tragedy failed to draw much public attention, due mainly to Turkish denial of the murders.

“The Turkish authorities still insist that this was a wartime deportation, limited to war zones, that Armenians living not in the war zones were not deported” said Dadrian.

The Turkish Historical Society, controlled by the Turkish government .still insists on the myth that the Armenians were deported from Turkey merely in the turmoil of the war, Dadrian noted. According to them, the genocide never took place.

Dadrian pointed out that it is important to remember “the Armenian genocide [was] not a war time operation, but [was] a result of the conflict between the Turkish Muslim majority and the Christian Armenian minority,”

Dadrian continued, stressing that genocide was a violent eruption following centuries of ethnic conflict and attempted conversions of the Christian Armenians to Islam.

Dadrian’s research indicates that this genocide is not a result of war time operations, but was deliberated in the Turkish Senate long before the First World War begun. Dadrian’s research is based on official German, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish records, not personal accounts of the genocide survivors, which may suffer more from bias, Dadrian explained.

For example, Dadrian documented a Turkish senator in the Turkish senate’s records saying, “I am ashamed to admit that we destroyed the Armenians in this very savage way.”

Dadrian also addressed the lack of public knowledge on the tragedy. Unlike the Holocaust, this genocide is not highly publicized, and part of the problem is that “denial is a function of power,” Dadrian said.

The Armenians were then a small nation without a homeland and a strong supporter like the U.S. Hence, their genocide was ignored, Dadrian claimed.

Many Armenians present at the lecture were impressed. Ashot Papoyan grad said, “For people who came from Armenia, we know about this, but for Americans who do not know about this, such lectures are very important. It all starts with the people, and as soon as they learn about the genocide and start realizing what happened, the government will follow in their footsteps.”

Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya