Armenian genocide remembrance was held at Georgia State Capital. Many distinguished guests were present: Armenian community in Georgia, Kurdish community in Atlanta, American friends and condemners of genocide, elected officials such as: State Senator Van Street, Superior Court Chief Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, City Court Chief Judge Elaine Carlisle, Atlanta Chief of Police Richard Pennington, and Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Berrett, Dr. Julieta Stepanyan-Abgaryan, Mrs. Carolyn Young, spoke on behalf of her husband, civil rights leader, former Congressman and former US Ambassador to the UN Andrew Young, and ANC Georgia Chairman Sarkis Agasarkisian.
Among the guests was a Kurdish perspective, shared by Ara Alan:
We are gathered today on April 24th to commemorate the souls lost during the Armenian genocide. We are gathered to deliver the cries of help from those who were silenced in 1915 by the ottoman Turks. I would like to take a moment to remember all victims of genocide across the twentieth century; a century that has been darkened with their blood and silenced by our disregard.
Ottoman Turks led the way into the twentieth century with its first act of genocide, their example was followed by many more such as the Holocaust in Germany, Pol-Pot in Cambodia, Rawanda, Kosovo and the notorious Anfal campaign by Saddam Hussein in Iraqi- Kurdistan.
I come and stand with our friends the Armenians because I understand your cause. I understand what it means to have genocide committed against you. I look into you with inspiration and pride. I wonder will our next generation be as courageous as you are. Like your grant parent, crime of genocide has been committed against us.
In Iraq, and in name of purification of a country, thousands of Kurds were taken from their villages and murdered in the deserts south of the country. This operation of genocide was name Anfal. In this operation Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons. He used this illegal weapon to help him scare and kill the innocent villagers. It was used as a tool to round up the people.
In a strategic military planning; the Iraqi Army would attack a region in Kurdistan from three or more fronts. They would leave only one opening for the people. Doing so, the Army would force the residents of many villages in that region to gather in one location. The congregated villagers were then rounded up and shipped to concentration camps where they were systematically killed.
Anfal genocide started in 1988 but it is without an end. The gassing during Anfal genocide has acted as a mutagen and caused the DNA of its victims to change. According to the health minister of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) the ratio of patients with cancer in the gassed populations is 5:1 when compared to non-gassed populations.
Many of the little girls exposed to the gassing in 1988 today give birth to children with down-syndrome or still-birth and they have very high rates of miscarriage and some are completely infertile. Incident cases of breast cancer are much higher. Breast cancer in Kurdistan is much more aggressive than in other countries, and it is much more likely to kill.
As result of the gassing many Kurds are dying today. Many are paralyzed, handicapped, blinded or bedbound. Many babies from the new generation are born with genetic diseases that result in their death or a life that is dependent on a medical care which is almost non-existent where they are born. Kurdish genocide continues since 1988 into post Saddam-Iraq and today.
Dr. Stanton from genocide watch has categorized genocide into eight stages. He has done so to help the international community to use these stages as an indicators and a warning sign of upcoming genocides. Strangely enough all genocide follows these eight stages.
They all start with classification of the target group then followed by symbolization, then dehumanization, organization, polarization of the society, preparation, the seventh is the actual extermination, and the eighth stage is denial.
It might come to you as a surprise, why would denial be part of genocide? According to Genocide Watch; denial is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres.
The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover-up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. In short denial is a sign of justification of genocide and accepting it as a method of governance.
Turkey’s 94 years of denial policy should come as an alarm to the international community. The denial of Armenian genocide of 1915 was followed by the Dermis massacre in 1937. In a similar fashion to the Armenian genocide and with the exact justification 78 000 Kurds were massacred in that city in Turkey. The denial policy once again allowed Turkey to destroy over 4000 Kurdish villages in the 1990s.
Just like the Ottoman Turks greeted the twentieth century with stains of genocide, our twenty-first century already has a stain: Darfur. Darfur stands tall, as a symbol of our failure to learn from previous genocides and our tolerance for genocide denial.
Genocides don’t occur because one race of humanity is superior to the other. They don’t occur because one nation has the right to eradicate another or that one religious view or political ideology is superior above those different from it.
Genocide occurs when one group appoint themselves as superior and the world turns a blind eye. Genocide occurs because we let it. Our silence is the fuel that genocide perpetrators use to burn the bodies and hid the evidence.
Let us not be silent… let us Speak and condemn… let us bring those that deny to acceptance.
Orignaly published in Armenian magazine HAYATOUG