Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I will #NeverForget1915

I will #NeverForget1915 for the lives lost to history. - Joseph, Great-Grandson of Genocide Survivors
In the hearts of Armenians everywhere, the past is always present. An estimated 1.5 million men, women and children were killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Armenian Genocide – a systematic slaughter that began April 24th, 1915 and ended with only a few hundred thousand survivors. We will never know the names of all those who were lost, so we ask you to pledge your name in memory of the forgotten. By pledging to remember the past, you can help create a future free from Genocide.
Help the World Remember

 So we offer up our own in place of theirs as a token of personal remembrance. Each and every person who takes the pledge to #NeverForget1915 on this site will have their name engraved on an individual river stone.
The stones assembled will take the form of the Euphrates River from where it flows from its twin sources in Turkey to the terminus of the Genocide in Deir ez-Zoor, Syria. One hundred years ago, the river carried away the bodies of murdered Armenian men, women and children, washing away their lives, and in many cases, washing away their very existence.
Together, the collective strength of each individual act of remembrance will be transformed into an everlasting testament to the world’s memory of the Armenian Genocide.
This River of Stone will connect us all.

About the Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide is the first mass-murder of modern times, a still unpunished crime in which 1.5 million Armenians were taken from their homes and intentionally and systematically slaughtered by the order of the Turkish government under the cover of World War I because of their Armenian ethnicity and Christian religion.
The formal anniversary falls on April 24, 2015, 100 years to the date of the first mass arrests, when over 250 Armenian community leaders, clergymen, writers, poets, educators and intellectuals were arrested and later murdered. This was only the start. Between 1915 and 1923, over 1.5 million Armenians were forcibly uprooted from their ancient Armenian homeland and sent to their death in forced marches through the Syrian desert. The horrific events that followed included countless acts of untold brutality with starvation, crucifixions, forced labor, enslavement, torture of women and children, sexual slavery, mass executions and the disposal of bodies in the Euphrates River. Armenians, the first Christian nation in the world, were killed if they refused to renounce their ancient Christian religion.
Polish-born American Jewish scholar and lawyer Raphael Lemkin invented the word "genocide" to characterize the deliberate campaign by the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Turkish Empire to destroy the Armenian nation. Lemkin, who was a Holocaust survivor, explained that his interest in the subject of genocide grew out his knowledge of the premeditated campaign against the Armenians and his realization that this systematic mass murder provided a blueprint for Hitler’s plans to exterminate Jews during World War II. Hitler is quoted as saying “Who after all speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians.”
Even beyond the staggering number of deaths, Turkey sought to exterminate any trace of Armenians, eliminating branch and root. Nearly 2,500 Armenian churches and monasteries and 1,900 Armenian schools existing in 1914 were destroyed. Turkish scholar Sevan Nisanyan has identified 3,600 geographical places in Turkey that had Armenian names (denoted by suffixes) that have been given new Turkish names. The total dispossession of real property of the Armenian people has been estimated at $80-100 billion in today’s dollars. Incirlik Air Base, Turkey’s new Presidential Palace, and even a portion of Istanbul Ataturk Airport were all built on lands confiscated from Armenians by force.
While the Armenians were the primary target of this genocide, the Turkish government also deported and murdered Assyrian, Greek, and other Christian and minority communities of the Empire. This state-run campaign of extermination was, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, actively continued by the forces of Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the present Turkish republic.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Armenians across the world are calling on Turkey to formally recognize the horrors their state committed against Christian-minority Armenians as “genocide” and to do right by the families of the victims and survivors. The continued denial of this genocide, which served as a model for the Holocaust, emboldens those who would seek to commit genocide today. Moreover, the denial continues to prevent full reconciliation and healing between modern-day Armenia and Turkey.

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