Today is the 24th of April. It’s the day when all Armenians all over the world gather and march in memory of 1.5 million who died in the hands of the Turks one hundred and one years ago.
Robert Fisk calls the mass murders committed against us, the Armenians, the first genocide of the century. He goes on to say that later on, the Germans not only learned from the Turks but mastered their methods to kill the Jews. Yet the Armenian genocide, until today, is not recognized by many countries around the world.
President Obama didn’t use the term genocide in his speech.
George Clooney said that it’s been a long struggle to have things called by their names. He said it’s hard because we live in a complex world, but added, “One cannot deny what has happened. When someone is trying to annihilate a whole human race, culture, people, that’s genocide, there can be no other version of it.”
While Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, said in his speech:
“On this day, we mark the 101st commemoration of the tragic loss of life of the Armenian population during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Both the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons have adopted resolutions referring to these events as genocide. We preserve the memory of those who lost their lives, and those who suffered during this genocide and pay our deepest respects to their descendants, including those who now call Canada home.”
My parents and grandparents come from Musa Dagh, where they put up a resistance and fought against the Turks. “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” by Franz Werfell is their story, our story. He wrote:
“It had dawned, the fortieth day on Musa Dagh, the eighth of September, the third of famine. Today the women had not troubled to go in search of unnutritious herbs from which to concoct a bitter tea. Spring water was just as filling. All still able to stand clustered round the various well-springs – old men, mothers, girls, children. It was a queer sight. Again and again, one after another, these exhausted faces bent down to the water-jets to drink without thirst, out of hollow hands, as though to drink were an urgent duty. Many lay down flat, breathing heavily, feeling that their bodies were like some porous clay that stiffened slowly in the air. Others dreamed happily. They felt certain that now they were growing wings, that as soon as ever they liked they could spread them for a short blissful flight. Over them all lay a veil of gentle slowness. The small children were all fast asleep; the bigger ones had ceased to be noisy. That morning three old people died, and two sucklings. The mothers kept their wretched creatures pressed against empty breasts until they stiffened and became cold.”
My grandparents and great grandparents were on the mountain on that day. On this day and every day we owe our lives to all those who lost theirs.
In an interview with Elie Wiesel discussing his book “Night” based on his memories of the time he spent in a Nazi concentration camp, when all his family was killed, the interviewer asked how he was able to laugh again, to go on with his life, after seeing what he saw. Wiesel replied:
“Let me turn it around. After seeing what I saw and living in the shadow of death each day, I have six million reasons to laugh, and be happy and go forward.”
We have 1.5 million reasons to live, laugh and go forward and demand justice from the world.