BY ARAM HAMPARIAN
It’s particularly vicious to hear people preaching that Armenians should only be working for change from within Turkey.
We once had this chance, and, despite great challenges and even greater risks, played a courageous and consequential role in reforms — until 1915, when Turkey massacred and exiled us, effectively ending our ability to press for progress as citizens of that state. It takes a very cruel or equally calculating heart to lecture the brutalized victims of a crime about their failure to rehabilitate their attackers.
Given the vast post-genocide power asymmetry between the Turkish state and the surviving Armenian citizens of Turkey — or between Turkey and landlocked, partitioned, and blockaded Armenia for that matter — arguing that the Armenian Genocide should be a matter between Turks and Armenians is just a harsh way of saying leave Turkey alone to consolidate the fruits of its crime. Turkey’s preferred “lion and lamb” formulation is all the more one-sided by virtue of the added power Turkey secured through genocide and the incalculable harm caused to the Armenian nation by this still unpunished crime. This approach, of course, stands at odds to the basic conceptions of justice held by nearly every culture on earth. Genocide may be the worst of all crimes, one with serious geopolitical implications, but it remains a crime. And the answer to crime is justice. Justice that punishes the perpetrator, makes the victim whole, and prevents future crimes.
It is to our credit that decades of diasporan advocacy for justice — undertaken in countries around the world in the wake of our near annihilation — has started to break down walls of denial in Turkey and sparked a small but growing domestic movement for a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide.
Having “forced the Spring,” we are now — with increased resolve — waging our struggle on two mutually reinforcing fronts: one in Turkey, one in the rest of the world.