Thursday, December 11, 2008

Convince Raphael Lemkin Otherwise!

Dec 10 2008

The Armenian Genocide has been officially recognized by Turkey,
United States, Great Britain, Israel and many more countries, but we
just couldn't see it.

By Vicken Babkenian, an independent researcher for the Australian
Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Sydney, Australia,
3 December 2008

It all began when I was cutting an Orange for my niece when she asked
me why the name Orange is both a color and a fruit. After doing some
research, I discovered that the root of the word Orange in the English
language is derived from the fruit. In other words the Etymology of
the color and the fruit is interconnected. No one can argue that the
fruit Orange is not Orange.

As someone who has studied the Armenian Genocide over a number of
years, I could not help but familiarize myself with the etymology of
the word Genocide. I discovered that the word genocide is from the
roots genos (Greek for family, tribe, race, a people, a nation) and
-cide (Latin - occidere or cideo - to Massacre, Kill, exterminate). I
looked up the word in the Oxford dictionary and found the definition to
be "the extermination of a race". I then recalled that this definition
of the word 'genocide' had been used by contemporary eyewitnesses,
diplomats, historians, journalists to describe what was happening to
the Armenians during WWI. Lord James Bryce in 1915 called it "the
Extermination of a Race" in a New York Times article. If the word
'genocide' had been coined before WWI, then that one word would have
been used, instead of the five words which mean the same thing.

I then conducted some research on Raphael Lemkin, "The founder of the
genocide convention" and on the genesis of the word 'genocide' which
he coined in 1944. In his manuscript titled "Totally unofficial",
Lemkin wrote:

"In 1915 . . . I began . . . to read more history to study whether
national, religious, or racial groups as such were being destroyed. The
truth came out after the war. In Turkey, more than 1,200,000 Armenians
were put to death . . . After the end of the war, some 150 Turkish
war criminals were arrested and interned by the British Government
on the island of Malta . . . Then one day, I read in the newspapers
that all Turkish war criminals were to be released. I was shocked. A
nation that killed and the guilty persons were set free . . . I felt
that a law against this type of racial or religious murder must be
adopted by the world"

I soon reached the conclusion that the word genocide is etymologically
interconnected with the tragedy of the Armenians, just like the word
Orange is to the fruit of the same name. The man who coined the word
genocide had in large part based it on the Armenian catastrophe. He
even stated on national television "that it happened to the
Armenians." I further realized that the legal term "Crimes against
humanity" which is affirmed by the U.N general Assembly was in the
main, derived and adopted from a declaration made by the Allies on
24 May 1915 with respect to the initiation of the wartime Armenian
Genocide, which they branded as a "crime against humanity." This
fact is acknowledged by the authoritative UN War Crimes Commission,
History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and the Development
of the Laws of War.

I searched online to learn which countries had actually signed and
ratified the Genocide Convention. I discovered that most countries
in the world had done so, including the United States, Great Britain,
Turkey, Israel and so on. I concluded that by ratifying the convention
they had in fact recognized that the Armenian holocaust was in fact
a genocide.

Yes, I use the word 'holocaust' because that word was used to
describe what was happening to the Armenians during the Abdul Hamid
Massacres, Adana Massacres and the Armenian genocide by contemporary
writers. William Walker Rockwell in an article titled "the Total
of Armenian and Syrian Dead" in the New York Times Current History
February 1916, wrote "If the ghosts of the Christian civilians who
have perished miserably in Turkey since the commencement of the great
holocaust should march down Fifth Avenue twenty abreast there might
be a million of them ... for most of them will be women and children".

The Armenian genocide has been recognized by the majority of the
nations of the world and we didn't even know it. If those countries
who have ratified the genocide convention deny that the Armenians
were victims of genocide, then they should either terminate their
participation to the convention, or have the convention change the word
'genocide' to something else which is not intrinsically connected to
the Armenian slaughter.

Denying that Armenians were victims of genocide is akin to denying
that an Orange is Orange. It is insane and illogical. For those who
believe that what happened to the Armenians should not be termed a
'genocide', should have convinced Raphael Lemkin not to base the
word on what had happened to the Armenians. Unfortunately for them,
it is too late, by signing the genocide convention; most of the world
has already recognized the Armenian genocide.

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