Remembering the Armenian genocide
Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 22, 2022
This Sunday, April 24, will mark the 107th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
In 1915, at the orders of Ottoman leader Talat Pasha, between 1.2 and 1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered by Turkish military forces as part of the Ottoman Empire’s ethnic and religious cleansing plans in the lead up to, and during, World War I. Pasha and the radicals in power with him at the time envisioned a Turkish heartland not only free of Armenians, but free of what they viewed as the growing threat of Christianity. As the first Christian nation, Armenia and its 3.3 million Armenians were an obvious target. On the night of April 24, 1915, Turkish military forces rounded up Armenian intellectual and political leaders in and around the Istanbul city center. This began months of the same in cities and villages across the Armenian countryside. While Armenian intellectuals and political leaders were largely killed on the spot, the vast majority of Armenians were sent on death marches into the Syrian desert where most died from mass killings, others from starvation and many more from the harsh conditions in the Ottoman concentration camps.
Over a century later, the Armenian community still feels the full impact of the senseless genocide. The Armenian diaspora, the building of Armenian communities outside of Armenia and all across the world, was a direct result of the genocide. The diaspora that began with Armenians being forced to flee their homeland has, through the strength and resolve of emigrants, contributed to thriving Armenian communities across the globe. The Notre Dame Armenian Student Association is proof of the effectiveness of this Armenian unity.
April 24, 2021 was a landmark moment for American-Armenians. President Joe Biden was the first United States president to fulfill his campaign promise of recognizing the atrocities perpetrated against Armenians as a genocide despite countless threats from the Turkey. By formally recognizing the genocide for what it is, the United States honors the Armenians who perished and validates the Armenian community who actively contributes to American society. As violence against Armenians continues today, directly seen in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war, it is crucial that the University of Notre Dame takes a stand for justice by officially recognizing the Armenian genocide.
William Soroyan, a notable novelist, playwright, and poet so strongly exclaimed, “I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”
We urge you to join us for a vigil held at the Grotto this Sunday, April 24, at 8 p.m. to remember the lives that were lost in the genocide.
Notre Dame Armenian Student Association
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.