BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It’s April, THAT time of the year again. As if we needed one, the Kessab fiasco is running full steam as a reminder of the Genocide. It even helped Erdoghan’s party pull off a come-back win in Turkey’s local elections.
And, for those out there in our community who are busily stressing that what happened in Kessab is not “genocide”, all I have to say is best expressed by grade school parlance— NO DUH! Of course it’s not genocide, in the murderous sense. But it is VERY DEFINITELY a continuation of the ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, in the extirpation-from-our-homeland (or ethnic cleansing) sense. The Young Turks did not organize the Genocide because they wanted to kill Armenians. They did so because they wanted Armenia-without-Armenians. It was a land grab. The real estate adage “location, location, location” was the driving force behind the whole process. If Talaat could have snapped his fingers and sent us all to the Atacama, Gobi, or Kalahari deserts, he would have. So those who call the Kessab situation genocide are, technically speaking, wrong. Those who point out this error are even wrongER because they provide grist for Turkey’s propaganda mill against our overall efforts related to Genocide recognition and the defense of our compatriots in Syria.
But, I suppose this is just a taste of things to come. It seems to me that the natural crescendo of effort (artist types creating more, activists politicking more, educators doing more informational outreach) that will attend the 100th anniversary of the Genocide will be coupled with voices from our community, contending we’re “overdoing it” in a vacuous effort to seem oh-so- reasonable. There have already been voices in recent years arguing that we are “too focused” on the Genocide, allegedly to the detriment of the Republic of Armenia. If anything, I’d argue the opposite: that we are so focused on the RoA, and that it is impinging on the attainment of our broader national goals. Again, these people will be serving Turkey’s purposes by creating discord among us and taxing the energy and enthusiasm of those committed and working towards a free, independent, and UNITED Armenia.
So here’s some advice and caution. Please excuse my presumptuousness, but I think it’s warranted given the likely intensity and density of the upcoming year. Whether motivated by guilt, inspiration, doing-the-same-old-thing, going with the (higher) flow, or hope, I suspect many members of our communities worldwide will be doing more than they usually do for, about, and with the Armenian Question (in its present incarnation). This can easily lead to complacency (the I-did-something-and-I’m-done-mentality), fatigue (especially given the presence of the detractors referenced above), and even frustration (we’re-not-not-getting-any-closer concerns).
Despite all this, none of us gets to “take a break” after the 100th anniversary. It is very unlikely that within one year, Turkey will reform so extensively that we’ll be back in Daron, Dikranagerd, or Doert-Yol/[Chork Marzban] (Ardahan, Agn, or Adana— if you prefer). So we have many more years of struggle to anticipate. Go into the next year with this simple reality in mind, and we’ll be much better off come April 25, 2015.