Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Armenian genocide

The French parliament has voted to make it an offence to make it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered "genocide" at the hands of the Turks, although this view is unlikely to make it into law.

I am instinctively against such moves, even when they concern the Nazi holocaust, because as a Liberal I believe that the truth will out. However, the Turkish government's refusal to recognise this episode in its own history is shameful. People can still be prosecuted for mentioning the fate of the Armenians, and the existence of such laws make it hard to be enthusiastic about Turkish accession to the European Union.

Nor am I a great admirer of the institution of Holocaust Memorial Day. One of the reasons for this is the way the organisers discourage any mention of the Armenians because it may affect relations with Turkey today. One cannot admire people who lecture the rest of us while acting in such a shamelessly pragmatic way themselves.

For more information on the Armenia genocide, see the Armenian National Institute pages.


Anonymous said...

I cannot find, in your links, any justification for your claim that the organisers of Holocaust day 'discourage any mention of the Armenians.'

There is a reference in the earlier story you link to, but the further embedded link does not work. However, the words you quote refer to the BBC coverage and government, not the organisers.

Is there clearer evidence for the claim you are making?

Jonathan Calder said...


Thanks for telling me about the broken link in the earlier post. I have now linked to the only free version now to be found. Unfortunately, it is on David Irving's website. There is also a subscribers-only version on the New Statesman site, but that wouldn't be much use to most people.

The attempt to exclude the Armenian genocide from the first Holocaust Memorial Day is well recorded, as a few minutes with Google would have shown you. Try some of the following links:

But the real reason that I know about is that the organisers told me. Having looked at the Memorial Day website and found nothing on Armenia, I e-mailed the organisers to ask if I had missed something and if there were any plans to mark the Armenian genocide. Perhaps because I wrote as from Liberal Democrat News, I received no reply.

It took three further e-mails, the last one threatening to write a letter of complaint to the Home Secretary, to get a reply. It was a piece of casuistry which lumped the Armenian experience in with a whole lot of events that were clearly not genocide as an excuse for excluding it.

As I understand it, because of the outcry the Armenian genocide was given a marginal presence in the first ceremony and has since moved nearer the centre of things.

agentmancuso said...

"the existence of such laws make it hard to be enthusiastic about Turkish accession to the European Union."

But equally, bringing Turkey into the European Union may be the most effective way of altering the climate that allows such laws to flourish.