Armenian Genocide This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 23, 2009
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A history is the summation of stories. My family history and the stories of our country, Armenia, have an important message to share with the world. It is the his­tory of the first genocide of the 20th century when two million Armenians living in Turkey were removed from their historic homeland through forced deportation and massacre.

It is the story of a grandmother, whose memories of 1915 include burying her father, hiding as a servant, and escaping to live in an Armenian orphanage. It is a history of an uncle and father taken away in the night and brothers shot in the family garden. It is a history filled with human cruelty and the kindness of strangers. It would take one branch of my family seven years, and another l3 years, to reach America.

In Brooklyn and the Bronx we wrote new stories and changed history. April 24th is an important day for my family. Every year on that day my family goes into New York City to Times Square to rally for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Thousands of Armenians come together on this sad day to remember our loss and promote acceptance of our cause.

Many people recognize these events as the first genocide of the 20th century, but unfortunately not everyone. Some people have spent billions of dollars denying the horrors and atrocities committed 94 years ago.

A political party known as the Young Turks took control of Turkey from before World War I until its end. During the Armenian Genocide, this nationalist group killed a million and a half Armenians (there were only about two million). The first to be targeted were the political and intellectual leaders. They also deported Armenians through forced marches under conditions designed to lead to their death. They did this to stop the Armenian dream of an independent state after World War I.

The Young Turks used the war to mask the horrific actions taken against the Armenian people. Human slaughter was happening throughout Europe, and Turkey had sided with the Triple Alliance. They fought mainly against the Russians on the Eastern Front. They confiscated Armenians’ land to expand and strengthen their empire.

The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is important to my family because of our direct involvement. My family played an important role in the Armenian nationalistic movement after World War I. All four maternal great-grandparents were born in Armenia. Three emigrated after the genocide, before the Soviet Union took control of our homeland.

My great-great grandfather Hoosig Catchouny, who was an Armenian priest, was asked to say the Armenians killed were rebels. When he refused, he was forced into hiding and was one of the first 200 intellec­tuals killed on April 24, 1915, in Constantinople, the start of the Armenian Genocide. The Turks did not want the well-educated Christian Armenians to have any power.

Yeghishe, Father Hoosig’s son, was a lawyer. At the end of the war, he fought with the resistance leaders against the Turks, and became a magistrate in the newly formed Armenian government that lasted from 1918 to 1921.

I wrote this article to share my family’s story and the history of the Armenian people. Due to our efforts, 21 countries have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. However, the United States still has not. In 2005, 178 members of the House of Representatives and 32 senators co-sponsored a letter to President Bush, urging him to use the word “genocide” in his annual statement on the April 24th memorial. However, Turkey threatened the resolution on U.S.-Turkish relations, causing many to lose their resolve.

What is the continuing story of genocide for the people of Armenia? After eradicating the Armenian people, the Turks demolished any remnants of Armenian cultural heritage. They leveled entire cities to remove all traces of our 3,000-year-old civilization. After achieving power in Germany, Adolph Hitler told his generals in 1939, “Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my ‘Death’s Head Units’ with the orders to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowadays about the Armenians?”

Yet our story continues. We unite to take action on a grassroots level. We work toward correcting the human rights violations of those governments who distort, deny, and delude history and disguise past and present genocides, massacres, and human-rights violations.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

deanna98 said...
Aug. 23, 2012 at 4:12 pm
I'm Armenian and my father has always talked of how his grandparents fled Armenia during the genocide. I never cared too much before; I always considered the Holocaust much worse by far and never took Armenia's seriously. But now I see the atrocities are fairly equal. This is a very enlightening article.
Radiant said...
Aug. 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm

This was beautifully written. I have a certain fascination with genocide. To the point of wanting to know every aspect of every genocide that has ever happened. You've fed me with this piece and I gladly devoured it! When you mentioned the non-reconigtion of the Armenian Genocide it reminded me of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.  The United States didn't reconigze this Genocide either. They did this, I think, due to a new agreement made by many countries (After the Holocaust) that if you r... (more »)

Dan I'm in your chem class! said...
May 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm
Atta boy Dan!!!!!!!!!!!
Kathryn This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 26, 2009 at 11:23 pm
Great job. Your article was fascinating to read and I could feel the passion in your words. You wrote with heart and I hope you keep it up! :D
harold1123 said...
May 18, 2009 at 1:52 am
Great historical story. I like your current research and action to bring al genocides into perspective. I'm interested in how all genocides try and destroy culture as well as the people. Many thanks. Good luck with your own story. H.
brooke09 said...
May 5, 2009 at 2:39 am
This is an excellent paper, I'm writing a paper on the Armenian genocide and I've been researching, you've brought up some points that i plan on putting in my paper, what happened was wrong and if we accept and recognize things that happened then we should also prevent future genocide, after all if we realized what the Turks were doing in 1915 would the holocaust have gone on as long as it did?
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