Over 100 years after the massacre of over one million Armenians in the then-recently collapsed Ottoman Empire, it is time the Genocide is taught in schools and recognized worldwide.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
Germany has recognized the Holocaust and has gone so far as to require it as part of students’ secondary education. Turkey must follow suit and recognize the atrocities of its past or be kicked out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The Ottoman Empire began to collapse in the late 19th century. A new regime called the Young Turks seized power and in 1915, forced several hundred thousand Armenians on “death marches” through the Mesopotamian desert without food or water. “Killing squads” working for the new regime stampeded through cities and villages and “drowned people in rivers, threw them off cliffs, crucified them and burned them alive,” all to eradicate a group for holding different religious beliefs than them, according to History.com. But Turkey refuses to recognize these atrocities.
The Armenian Genocide does not receive nearly as much attention as it should, with the World War I unit in history classes typically focused on Western European involvement in the war. Similarly, the United States has only recently moved to acknowledge the massacre, previously trying to avoid going against their NATO allies.
Government officials in Turkey deny the Genocide ever happened, arguing that there was no formal campaign to exterminate Armenians and the deaths should be attributed to World War I. But in an organization like NATO, an alliance that prides itself on defending democracy and liberalism, allowing one of its members to not recognize the Genocide goes against everything it stands for.
The Genocide is a crucial aspect of modern history that reflects what can happen when disagreements over a group’s belief system are taken to the extreme.
For a long time, the United States government avoided the topic of the Armenian Genocide, trying not to aggravate Turkey, one of its allies in NATO. But in 2019, both the Senate and House of Representatives voted almost unanimously to recognize the massacre of the early 20th century.
President Joe Biden officially recognized the Genocide in April 2021, emphasizing the importance of learning from horrors such as these, especially in the hate-filled world Americans currently live in. The 46th president took things one step further when he announced that April 24 would be Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, finally cementing it in stone.
Despite all this progress towards the recognition of the mass-annihilation of the Armenian race by the Young Turks, the transcontinental country continues to deny the events of the Genocide, but is still allowed to be a member of the biggest alliance in the world.
Armenia has continued to face hardship, most recently going to war against Azerbaijan, which was supported by Turkey. If Turkey continues to downplay their killing of over one million lives in the early 20th century, the U.S. should do everything in its power to kick the nation out of NATO, or it will set the precedent that mass executions in smaller countries are not important enough to warrant punishment to the country that performed them.
With over 100 years having passed since the events of World War I, hardly any survivors of the Armenian Genocide are left to share their experiences. It is a disservice to them and to the millions who were executed that Turkey continues to be a part of the alliance. Turkey should either acknowledge the horrors of the past or be removed from NATO.