26 April 2015

Do we really support genocide denial?

It's sad to see Turkey's dictator lash out at those world leaders who have publicly acknowledged the Armenian genocide of 1915. Turkish President Erdoğan is an authoritarian leader. He can try to ban references to the genocide at home, but he is having little success in banning it globally. After all, the Pope and the Presidents of France and Germany have, among others, used 'the g-word' recently. France's President Hollande even attended the centennial commemoration in Yerevan, Armenia.
There's little value in claiming that the Germans are in no position to accuse Turkey of genocide. Germany has owned up to its past, and so, of all countries, Germany ought to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. The Ottoman Empire was allied to Germany in the War in 1915 when the atrocities happened. Germany has a special obligation to recognise these events for what they were, regardless of how much Turkey's leaders criticise them in reply.
Of course, New Zealand remains officially silent on the genocide. This is because our government does not want to be banned from Gallipoli commemorations. According to one Turkish news website, Turkey’s president Erdoğan compared the numbers of leaders attending events for the Battle of Gallipoli in Çanakkale and those for the genocide remembrance in Yerevan. “Two heads of states went there [in Yerevan]. Thank God, 20 heads of state came to us,” he said. His guests included our PM, John Key, as well as Prince Charles.
Clearly our PM's attendance at Çanakkale gives moral support to the genocide-deniers in Turkey. How long can this hypocrisy go on? Do New Zealanders really wish to remain silent about the mass murder of 1.5 million people just so they can continue to attend Gallipoli? When we say 'Lest we forget', referring to our fallen, why do we forget the victims of the genocide that was happening in the same country at the same time?


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