The Turkish government continues to deny that what happened 100 years ago to Armenians, when 1.5 million lost their lives, is genocide. Their denial campaign has ties to former U.S. congressman Dick Gephardt. His consultancy group, the Gephardt Group, had a contract with a Turkey and was paid $1.4 million a year to lobby for Turkey in Washington.
Yet as a U.S. House member, Dick Gephardt supported the recognition of the Armenian genocide. Clearly, that's now a thing of the past.
The California Courier, a weekly newspaper published for Armenians in English, recently reported that the Gephardt Group filed documents with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agent Registration Act which show that the former congressman has been lobbying congressional members against resolutions on the Armenian genocide.
Armenian groups, including the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, are pushing for companies to stop doing business with the Gephardt Group. A few months ago, Los Angeles World Airports, owned by the city of Los Angeles, announced the termination of its contract with the Gephardt Group. Last month, the Port of Oakland refused to renew its contract with the company.
The message is clear to Gephardt and all who lobby for genocide denial: The Armenian diaspora, particularly Armenian-Americans, will do some lobbying of its own -- and the lobbying will be straight to your clients.
From 1915 until 1923, about 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. Forced out of their homes and ancient land, they were made to walk death marches to the Syrian desert. Most died along the way. At the start of the genocide, there were about 2 million Armenians living under Ottoman rule. The horrendous events of a 100 years ago gave rise to the Armenian diaspora which is scattered around the world, and stripped historic Western Armenia of Armenians, save for a very small remnant.
“The tsunami of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide [that] Turkey was so afraid of is already a fact,” said Giro Manoyan, political affairs director for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” said Pope Francis, speaking to Armenians at the Vatican.
Meanwhile, the Assyrians and other Christian minorities in Iraq and Syria are being slaughtered by Islamic State rebels. History is repeating itself. From 1914 to 1923, about 750,000 Assyrians were killed: victims of genocide by the Turkish government. Turkey denies their genocide, also. But genocide denied is genocide repeated.
Image credit: Mike Brown
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.