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Congressman Engel: Turkey must acknowledge crimes of its forefathers

Congressman Engel: Turkey must acknowledge crimes of its forefathers

PanARMENIAN.Net - Upon his return from Armenia which marked the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel wrote a letter to The Riverdale Press.

The letter said, “I just returned from Armenia as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation and had the opportunity to mark the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan. This horrific chapter in the bloodiest century in history, which began in 1915, resulted in the slaughter of 1.5 million innocent Armenians.

These murders were a terrible tragedy for the Armenian people. They still bear the scars today, and the barbarity inflicted on the Armenians also led to a century of genocide and ethnic-cleansing.

When Hitler sneered, “Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?,” we see the link between indifference to the Armenians and the murder of six million Jews. This same mindset has influenced too many thuggish leaders over the past century —leaders convinced that they can kill and brutalize their peoples with impunity.

“We owe it to history and to humanity to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide - for their sake, and for the sake of all of us.”

Turkey needs to, at a minimum, apologize to Armenians and acknowledge the crimes of its forefathers. By offering his condolences for those who died, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken a welcome step forward — but his words fall far short of an official apology.

Turkey owes that to itself, too, for Turkish society will be stronger for having acknowledged the truth.

I want to express to the Armenian people my great sorrow and deepest condolences. And I say to them, as we say regarding the Holocaust, “Never again”,” the Congressmen stressed in his letter.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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