Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1196, (8-14 May 2014)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1196, (8-14 May 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Remember the Armenians

‘Outrage’ seems to be the word of the day! With a slightly artificial tone, voices were raised in outrage at the death sentence of 528 vicious, lawless criminals, murderers, terrorists, butchers and assassins. Not even as a token of taste did they exert any effort to inquire about the reasons behind the Egyptian courts’ decision---how many heinous crimes had they committed, how many human lives have they taken, how savage, how truculent were their deeds!

With a decidedly serious bias, they challenged the Egyptian legal system and its modus operandi, revealing a total ignorance of its procedures. Nothing was expressed but outrage, outrage, outrage! Following due process the number of death sentences was reduced to 39. The reaction was total silence.

Another group of killers were sentenced by the same legal procedures pertaining to the code of justice of this land, resulting in more outrage. Some may find it a harsh decision it is a just one nonetheless.

When hundreds of men, women and children were slaughtered by these terrorists, there was no outrage.

When 21 Egyptian soldiers were kidnapped, hands tied behind their backs, outstretched on the naked ground and shot through the head more than once, where was the outrage?

When every member of the ‘Kirdassa’ police force were shot, then slain, then dragged through the streets of the town, as the natives hid behind closed doors, no one was outraged. These are only a few incidents out of hundreds of horrific acts by those same criminals, what punishment would you suggest?

Can those ‘outraged’ explain to judge and jury their attitude towards the merciless killings of the innocents of a peaceful people overcome with terror?

In very sentence pronounced by a judge in the name of a sovereign nation, dwells the whole majesty of Justice! To the august character of justice, all should bow!

The irony lies in those most outraged. The loud voices came from Germany, yet the memory of the holocaust is still alive and well.

Another loud voice was that of the self-righteous Americans, bastions of human rights! Are those rights  reserved only for criminals?  The sight of the Ku Klux Klan cannot be forgotten. Racial discrimination still lingers, despite a black president and his attorney general. Is this sinister, ironic, sardonic or simply ludicrous?

The loudest voice expressing outrage came from Turkey, in which case one can only call it laughable!

Remember the Armenians?  Last week the Armenians commemorated the 99th anniversary of the massacre of their race by the Turks in 1915.

It was called Red Sunday--April 24, 1915. Slowly, silently, in the dark of night, all the Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were rounded up and executed en masse. The date is known as ‘Genocide Remembrance Day’, and that was only the beginning.

While the Turkish government offered its condolences to the Armenians of this painful tragedy of mammoth proportions, the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dared to reject the charges of an Armenian Genocide. In his rigid immobility he appeared hardly human as he described it ‘as exaggerated accounts’ of those ‘enemies of the Ottoman Empire’ and ‘casualties of a world war’ that did not exceed 500,000… as if that were a trifling number of humans. Is he ever conscious of his lack of humanity. “We are a people who think genocide is a crime against humanity”, said the Turkish PM, “and we would never turn an eye to such blind action”.  Is there a magic to vice that is irresistible? Who should be outraged now?

MEDZ YEGHERN, the Armenian name for’ Great Crime’, started during WW1, as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. It was the systematic extermination of the minority population of Armenians from their pre-historic homeland. Their only guilt is that of being different. The able-bodied male population was forced into hard labour or outright massacre.  Women, children, the elderly, the sick were escorted by armed Ottoman soldiers and marched through roads that led only to the Syrian desert, hundreds of miles away. Deprived of food and water, subjected to rape and robbery, hundreds of thousands perished. The New York Times reported that: ”the roads are strewn with the corpses of exiles.”

Every means of extermination was used against the Armenians. The shortest method of disposing of women and children was to burn them. Whole villages were burned to ashes, and Russians recall the odour of burning human flesh permeated the air for days. Physicians, sworn to save lives, were directly involved in the massacre, injecting those slated for deportation with active blood of typhoid fever.  Children were sent to classrooms infused with toxic gas, or injected with morphine. The purpose was to annihilate the Armenian race.

Armenians are descendants of a branch of the Indo-Europeans related to the Phrygians who entered Asia Minor from Thrace. They call themselves the Hayks and their country Hayasdan. The first state of Armenia was established in the 6th Century BC, which extended from the Caucasus to  the present day Turkey, Lebanon and northern Iran. It succumbed to several invasions and was part of the Roman Empire, and later the Mameluks in the 16th Century. They formed the Alphabet in 405 which ushered in the Golden Age of Armenia. The ancient Armenian culture excelled in painting, sculpture and architecture. Around 11 million in number worldwide, Armenians have preserved their culture, language, religion and traditions to this day, despite their Diaspora and their martyrdom at the hands of their fellow man!

“If you start throwing hedgehogs under me, I shall throw a couple of porcupines at you”

Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1972)

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