Opinion

Regarding the ‘Armenian Genocide Resolution,’ and Ilhan Omar’s response

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Everyone concerned is very proud that the House of Representatives finally, after over 100 years, passed a resolution (H.Res.296) recognizing the Genocide of the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians by Ottoman Turkey. It is definitely long overdue. However, although the resolution does include the Greeks and Assyrians, most news reports fail to mention that the Greeks and Assyrians suffered the same fate as the Armenians, and continue to call it “The Armenian Genocide Resolution,” and/or “The Armenian Genocide,” which misses a few major points.

To put Martin Niemöller’s poem in a new context, it should be pointed out that:

First they came for the Greeks of Eastern Thrace in 1913,
And no one stopped the slaughters.

Then they came for the Greeks in Western Asia Minor (Anatolia) in 1914,
And no one stopped the slaughters.

Then they came for the Assyrians in Eastern Anatolia in 1914,
And no one stopped the slaughters.

Then they came for the Armenians in 1915,
And no one stopped the slaughters.

Then they came for the Pontic Greeks in 1916,
And no one stopped the slaughters.

Then they exiled the remaining Assyrians
—who had arrived in Anatolia around 2,400 BC—
and the Greeks—who had arrived in Anatolia in 1200 BC
and the Armenians, who had arrived in Anatolia in 600 BC,
thus ending over four thousand years
of Assyrian, Greek, and Armenian presence in Anatolia.

Then they gave Anatolia to the Turks,
the perpetrators of the Genocides,
and descendants of the Turks
who had invaded Anatolia and
conquered Constantinople in 1453 AD,
almost 4,000 years after the arrival
of the Assyrians, Greeks, and Armenians.
Then they named Anatolia Turkey.

Total Assyrians slaughtered: 275,000, more than half their population.
Total Greeks slaughtered: 1.2 million
Total Armenians slaughtered: up to 1.5 million.
Totaling 3 Million Assyrian, Greek and Armenian victims of the Ottoman Genocide.

Yet few news reports bother to mention the Greek and Assyrian victims of this Genocide.

My mother, a Pontic Greek lived through that genocide. By age 12, she was the only known survivor of her family. It was an Armenian family who took my orphaned mother in and brought her to safety in Aleppo, Syria when the Armenian family fled Turkey. And it was the Armenian family who arranged my mother’s marriage to my father—an Assyrian who fled Turkey on pain of death in 1905, and came to America. My mother was only 15 when she married my father. My father was 45. My father brought my mother to America in 1925.

Memorialized in “Not Even My Name,” my mother’s story represents the story of millions of other Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians who lived through that terrible genocide. They should not be dealt with as an afterthought by the press or by Congress. As Rep. Anna Eshoo’s reminds us, her Assyrian family lived through that genocide.

Lest we become complacent, we must remember all the victims of a genocide equally. This was a Genocide of the Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire: Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians.

If Ilhan Omar needs confirmation by genocide scholars, that the Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians suffered Genocides at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, she should be directed to the 2007 Resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), which was affirmed by hundreds of the world’s leading genocide scholars. (View IAGS Resolution here)

Elie Wiesel describes denial as a “double killing,” as it also murders the memory of the crime. But he also reminds us that “To remain silent or indifferent is the greatest sin.”

Updated: November 1, 2019, 12 p.m.

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Beautifully written and correct as to facts, except that the genocide, in its wider sense of an attempt to uproot peoples and erase even the trace of their existence, did not stop with the Ottomans — it did continue, and was completed in depth, under the Turkish Republic, founded and led by the continuators of the Ottoman Union and Progress genocidaire government. Concluding with a quote by arch-genocidaire Elie Wiesel, posing as a whining victim,… Read more »

@echinococcus “Concluding with a quote by arch-genocidaire Elie Wiesel, posing as a whining victim, was not in the best taste, though.” Well said!! For the record regarding the late Elie Wiesel: While he rightfully protested the desecration of Jewish graves anywhere in the world, he had nothing to say when the Arab cemetery at Deir Yassin was bulldozed along with hundreds of others throughout Palestine by Zionists. Nor did he publicly mention that from November… Read more »

Isaac Asimov had an interesting run in with Wiesel: I publicly expressed my view on this only once, and in delicate circumstances. It was in May 1977. I was invited to a round-table discussion whose participants included Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust and hasn’t spoken about anything else since. That day, he irritated me by claiming that you couldn’t trust academics, or technicians, because they had helped make possible the Holocaust. What a sweeping… Read more »

Thank you Thea for your commentary that includes not only the Armenians, but also Assyrians and Greeks that perished at the hands of the Young Turks. I am a scholar of Arab American studies, which includes historical antecedents as all the occupied of the Ottoman Empire. However, you omitted the people of Greater Syria, especially modern day Lebanon who starved to death during the Great Famine of Mount Lebanon (1915-1918) when there was a locust… Read more »

The title of the article includes the phrase ‘Omar’s response’ but that response has not been cited in full. Here is the statement issued by her office to CNN: “I believe accountability for human rights violations — especially ethnic cleansing and genocide — is paramount. But accountability and recognition of genocide should not be used as cudgel in a political fight. It should be done based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of… Read more »