The Debt That’s Owed
It can be said that the struggle for the Armenian Cause which was reinvigorated in the second half of the 20th century was truly one of the most remarkable grassroots political movements to develop internationally. The fruit born of this movement can be witnessed today in the countless national, municipal and local assembly’s around the world that have officially acknowledged the Genocide; the vast body of scholarly documentation and academic consensus on the matter; the socially conscious musical and cultural expressions associated with the Cause; the rejection of denial and adoption of editorial policies among media outlets recognizing the facts of the Genocide; and the countless educational and political events which take place in community’s every year on April 24 and beyond.
That Armenians have succeeded in shaking the indifference of the world and moved beyond the once necessary task of proving historic facts is beyond doubt. Even in Turkey, we see the tide of awareness generated by the movement rapidly eroding the wall of denial erected by Ankara.
These realities suggest to us that the movement for justice for the Armenian Genocide has reached a turning point; the time has come to raise the bar on our actions and aims beyond just recognition. Concurrent with the need for upholding historic truth, there is a need to finally begin holding Turkey accountable for the massive debt it owes to the Armenian nation.
Although nothing can ever make up for the suffering, loss, trauma, robbery, and destruction inflicted onto the Armenian people—from the Ottoman Turkish government’s genocidal intent, to the culpability of the Republic of Turkey for continuing prejudicial policies and a full blown denial campaign—the need for some sort of meaningful atonement and restitution is indisputable. Those who think that there could ever be a genuine reconciliation between Armenians and Turks without the latter attempting to restore the dignity, property, wealth, self-determination, and cultural heritage of the Armenian people are truly fooling themselves.
How exactly this debt will ultimately be paid is not something we can fully address or predict here. Moving forward effectively will take more expertise and serious planning than we can offer in these few pages.
What we can do, however, is sound the call for our entire community to steadily broaden its focus beyond just recognition. The time is long past due to begin initiating strategies, initiatives and campaigns centered on attaining reparations and restitution for all that was taken from us during the Genocide.
Although the road has been long and winding, the message has always remained crystal clear—A hollow apology will not suffice in bringing justice to the Armenian nation.
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