It has been 98 years since, following a premeditated plan with a methodic implementation, one million and a half Armenians were massacred in the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian people were the victims of a genocide which would soon serve as a gruesome reference for those that followed.
Today in Turkey, the mere enunciation of this historical fact still provokes ferocious opposition, sometimes even physical threats, and genocide denial serves as an encouragement to racism and hate against Armenians and other non-Muslim minorities.
Some want to make believe that acknowledging the reality of the Armenian Genocide is an attack on all Turkish people and on “Turkishness”, whereas it is an attack on genocide denial and a step towards justice and democracy.
For several years now, the genocide of Armenians, which is part of world History, is being commemorated in Turkey. The participants are still few but their number grows every day despite an official discourse of genocide-denial.
Today, those among us who have been commemorating in Turkey are calling for solidarity beyond borders.
This is the reason why this year, all together, from Turkey and elsewhere in Europe, involved citizens, civil society leaders, antiracist activists, intellectuals and artists, of Armenian and other diverse origins yet unified by the desire to see this historical fact finally recognized, we will commemorate, in Turkey, on this April 24th, the unfortunate 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Our shared initiative is one of solidarity, of justice, and of democracy.
It is an initiative of solidarity between all who fight for historical truth. Today the divide is not between Turks and Armenians, but between those who struggle for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, whatever their origins are and wherever they live, and those who promote denial, whoever and wherever they are. In a word, it is not a question of blood, but of ideas, not a question of origins but of a common goal.
It is an initiative of justice. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “Genocide kills twice, the second time by silence.” Denial, then, is the perpetuation of genocide. Fighting against denial is trying to quell the trauma in Armenian communities from one generation to another.
It is not an end to this part of history – because when it comes to genocide, there is unfortunately no true end – but it offers new generations the opportunity to look together towards the future.
Finally, it is an initiative for democracy. Echoing Jorge Semprun’s frequent reminder, democracy requires vitality from civil society. Strengthening Turkish civil society by establishing bridges with the rest of the European civil society is strengthening democratic values, thus combating racism and promoting human rights, in Turkey as well as in the rest of Europe.
In solidarity, for justice and democracy, for the respect of the victims and their descendents, we will commemorate together the Armenian Genocide this April 24th, in Turkey, or support these who will do so.