This year, 2015, marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Its first phase began on April 24, 1915, as the Ottoman government arrested and murdered hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople, or modern-day Istanbul. The killing expanded into brutal massacres of the male Armenian population across Ottoman lands and the deportation of Armenian women, children, and the elderly into the Syrian Desert. More than one million Armenians were killed—roughly 70 percent of the total Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. The wide-scale extermination and subsequent lack of accountability inspired Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin to conceptualize the concept of genocide—a word he coined in 1944—and campaign for its criminalization.
AIPR joins the Armenian community as it remembers and memorializes the loss of so many and joins in the call for more States to recognize this tragedy as a bona fide genocide. A history of unaddressed mass atrocities can hinder much needed healing and reconciliation—two vital aspects of sustainable long-term prevention.
As Dr. James Waller, Director of Academic Programs at AIPR, has said:
While too much time has passed for the world to bring the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide to justice, there is no passage of time that limits our recognition of the truth of the criminal acts perpetrated against the Armenians. As the centennial commemoration approaches, AIPR stands with the chorus of voices worldwide who are calling those criminal acts by their rightful name—genocide. This recognition goes beyond simply the importance of historical and conceptual accuracy, but also points to a future of truth-based prevention in which all would-be perpetrators recognize that denial of genocide will not stand as a protective buffer for their atrocities.