Friday, March 13, 2009

Armenian population numbers are a chilling reminder of genocide

Fresno Bee Editorial
Armenian population numbers are a chilling reminder of genocide
Mar. 12, 2009

A chilling bit of new evidence has emerged in the controversy over the
Armenian genocide, and it comes from an unlikely source: the records
of the man who was in charge of the deportation of tens of thousands
of Armenians during World War I, when the genocide began.

A book published in Turkey in January quotes records left by Mehmed
Talat, the Ottoman Empire's interior minister during that period. By
the numbers, the population of Armenians in the empire fell
dramatically in 1915-1916, from just under 1.3 million to a little
more than 280,000. Almost 1 million people simply disappeared from the

The modern-day Turkish government, as always, has little to say about
the figures beyond its standard line about there being a war on, and
the Armenians were treacherously supporting Russia, the Ottomans'
ancient enemy.

As always, that story doesn't wash. The armed opposition of a tiny
handful of Armenians doesn't explain the Ottomans' perceived need to
deport, starve and kill some 1.5 million people, many thousands of
them old men, women and children.

This revelation will add new fuel to the campaign for official
American recognition of the genocide. April 24, the traditional day
marking the beginning of the genocide, is coming up, and with it a
renewed effort to put the American government on record acknowledging
those awful events.

To that end, a group of congressmen who've lobbied hard for genocide
recognition has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling on
him to fulfill his earlier support, as a senator and presidential
candidate, for American recognition of the genocide. The group is led
by Rep. George Radanovich -- a co-author of the Armenian Genocide
Resolution -- and includes Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, Mark Kirk,
R-Ill., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J.

There will be considerable pressure brought to bear on Obama to
continue the denial of the Armenian genocide that has characterized
presidents of both parties for decades. The argument has been that the
U.S. relationship with Turkey would be threatened by recognizing the
historical fact of the genocide, given the Turks' intransigence on the

It's time for that to end.

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