101 years ago, in April 24, 1915, the process started by arresting more than 200 Armenian intellectuals from their homes and their sentencing them to death by Ittihad and Terakki Cemiyet’s organ Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa. The process continued by thousands of Armenians’ deportation and the systematic killing of many of them. April 24 is accepted as the start day of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenian and Syriac peoples.
Even after 101 years of the Great Catastrophe (Medz Yeghern), which is the planned genocide of an ethnicity and faith, the politics of denial continues on the lands that has witnessed immense pain. Turkey’s peoples are too late in facing the hefty crimes that have rendered our geography infertile, and the price continues to be enormous for all of us. That is because the monistic state mentality that aims for wiping out the differences, creation of one race, one religion and one language, has attacked in the name of homogenization, the other peoples of the region after the Armenians.
On the lands, where different peoples and faiths coexist, no ethnic identity, language, culture or faith can be superior to the others. The state conception that aims at forgetting that different peoples and faiths have lived on these lands, has destroyed the much of the cemeteries, schools and churches belonging to the Armenians and the Syriacs, has grabbed the ones that could not destroy, has changed the place names. The profiling on every state level, the hateful and insulting discourse in the school textbooks, the command over schools and faith centers, are the blunt proofs of monistic and hegemonic state perceptive. Hrant Dink’s and Sevag Şahin Balıkçı’s murders are the continuation of these state policies.
We know from world examples, that damning crimes against humanity, facing the truth and apologizing are very important steps towards building public peace and developing feelings of conscience and justice. Sharing the pain is an element of thinking in partnership and being able to together create a democratic, peaceful and egalitarian future. As it is an obligation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide, to which Turkey is a signatory, recognizing the genocide, apologizing from the victim peoples and faiths, following curing paths of disclosing the responsible and perpetrators, sympathizing with each other, sincere binding up the wounds, are the first steps that must be taken.
The next steps to follow are opening the one-side closed Turkey-Armenia border, giving the citizenship right to the Armenians and Syriacs who trace their roots to these lands, ending the profiling, clearout the hate discourse in the school textbooks, paying compensation to the genocide victims, return and restoration of the Armenian and Syriac people’s schools, churches and other public properties.
To construct a just future, people’s joined and decisive struggle is a must. As the grandchildren of ancient peoples of Anatolia, we face the 101 year old shame, share the pain, hear the tragedy in our deep heart, and commemorate all those who have fallen with grief and respect.
Peoples’ Democratic Party
Central Executive Board
24 April 2016