Recognize the 1915 genocide for what it is - Smaller Font | Larger Font +

In connection to the voting in the Swedish Parliament on June 11, 2008, regarding the four motions calling upon Sweden to recognize the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey. The Foreign Committee has advised rejecting the motions on the basis of "disagreement among researchers" and "the need of further research".

The Armenian Genocide, which also engulfed the Assyrians, Pontic Greeks and other minorities in the Ottoman Empire, began more than nine decades ago in 1915, but this issue gains added urgency the longer that denial of the crime continues. The genocide, or “extermination” as it was labeled by the international media and diplomatic corps, was an established fact for the world community. During the brief postwar period following the defeat of Turkey in 1918 until the rise of the Turkish Nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kemal, the annihilation of the Armenians was discussed openly. Turkish court martial tribunals tried political and military leaders implicated in “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” Several of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death or given prison terms. Post-war Turkey passed through a phrase similar to that of Germany after World War II. During these proceedings, the truth about the persecution of the minorities in the Ottoman Empire was brought to light with horrifying details.

The process did not last long, however. The rise of the Turkish Nationalist movement and rejection of the sultan’s government ultimately led to the disbanding of the tribunals and the release of most of the accused. Almost all of the remaining Christian population—Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek—was then cleansed from their homelands of several millennia. Much of the court data and protocols disappeared, and Turkey entered a period of trying to erase all traces of Armenian existence in Anatolia and the historic Armenian plateau to the east.

Nine decades later, the once so-called “forgotten genocide” is no longer forgotten and warrants growing attention among academic and political circles. It is seen as a prototype of mass killing in the twentieth century and can be viewed as one of the most successful campaigns of genocide and ethnic cleansing in all history. The victimization of the Armenians extended to the Assyrian, Greek, Yezidi, and even Kurdish population, which was subjected to extensive “social engineering” through forced relocation and resettlement. As it happened the Turkish authorities became the beneficiaries of an “Armenia without Armenians” and, despite worldwide pledges and promises to punish the perpetrators, escaped any responsibility for the crime. Today, Turkey implements an active campaign of denial. Silence and passivity on the part of the world community, including Sweden, can only aid and abet this campaign. All the arguments relating to the need for further research or lack of consensus among scholars are spurious. The archives of every major country in Europe leave no doubt about the campaign of annihilation which occurred under the cover of a world conflict. The denialist arguments are all politically motivated and have nothing to do with the historical record. They are no more credible than those of Holocaust deniers such as Robert Faurisson, David Irving, Willis Carto, and Ernst Zündel.

Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide in the 1940s and was the principal author of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, was deeply aware of the Armenian calamity and the failure of the international community to intercede or at least to punish the authors of the genocide. Recent research has demonstrated how deeply he was affected by the absence of effective international machinery to intervene at the time. He was also troubled by the persecution and massacres of the Assyrians in Iraq during the 1930s. What is more, newly conducted research at Uppsala University confirms that the Swedish Foreign Department and Government, through the reports of Ambassador Per Gustaf August Cosswa Anckarsvärd’s and Military Attaché Einar af Wirsén, were well aware of the annihilation that was occurring in the Ottoman Empire.

Today, Sweden is internationally regarded as a champion of human rights. It is incumbent on the Swedish authorities to live up to this reputation and to reject any compromise with negationism and denial. The Swedish Government should attempt to assist Turkey to become a better democracy by facing its history and acknowledging the truth, not by continuing to stagger in the darkness of self-deception and pretense.

Today, the data and information about the Genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks are so extensive that no serious politician can honestly cite insufficient or inconclusive research as an excuse to avoid recognition. Refusal to recognize established fact based on qualitative and quantitative research may be regarded as being tantamount to denial. The researchers have done their job in establishing the reality of the Armenian Genocide. Now, the turn has come for the political leaders to fulfill their responsibility by recognizing this calamity for what it was.

The signatories of this letter do not consider there is any doubt that the massacres of Christians and other minorities in the Ottoman Empire during the World War I constituted genocide. Even though research must and will continue, the existing information is compelling and must be acknowledged as such.

Adam Jones
Associate Professor, Political Science, University of British Columbia Okanagan

Åke Daun
Professor Emeritus of Ethnology, particularly European, Stockholm University

Alex Grobman
President of the Institute for Contemporary Jewish Life and the Brenn Institute

Alexandre Kimenyi
Professor of Linguistics, Ethnic Studies and African Languages at California State University, Sacramento

Alexis Herr
Doctoral Student, Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University

Alfred Grosser
Professor Emeritus, the Paris Institute of Political Science, author of the preface to Vahakn Dadrian, Histoire du génocide arménien, Paris, 1996

Alfred de Zayas
Professor of international Law, Geneva School of Diplomacy
Retired Senior Lawyer with the United Nations
Former Secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee
Former Chief of the Petitions Division at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
President, P.E.N. International, Centre Suisse Romand

Anatoly M. Khazanov
Ernest Gellner Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anders Hultgård
Professor Emeritus of Religious History, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, Sweden

Bruno Chaouat
Associate Professor of French, Center for Jewish Studies, University of Minnesota

Charles Eric Reeves
Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts

Christian P. Scherrer
Professor of Peace Studies, Hiroshima University and Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima, Japan

Claude Mutafian
Associate Professor of Mathematics and Senior Lecturer, the Paris 13 University in Villetaneuse
Ph.D. in History, Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne University

David Gaunt
Professor of History, Södertörn University College, Sweden

Debórah Dwork
Rose Professor of Holocaust History
Director, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University

Dickran Kouymjian
Professor of History, Director of Armenian Studies Program, California State University, Fresno

Donald E. Miller
Executive Director, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California

Douglas Greenberg
Professor of History
Executive Director, USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, Leavey Library, University of Southern California

Elizabeth R. Baer
Professor of English and Genocide Studies, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota

Ellen J. Kennedy
Interim Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Coordinator, Genocide Intervention Network, Minnesota

Eric D. Weitz
Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Chair, History Department, University of Minnesota

Ervin Staub
Professor of Psychology and Founding Director of the Ph.D. Program in the Psychology of Peace and the Prevention of Violence, Emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Franklin Hugh Adler
G. Theodore Mitau Chair DeWitt Wallace Professor, Department of Political Science, Macalester College

George Andreopoulos
Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for Human Rights at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York

Heidi Armbruster
Lecturer, School of Humanities, University of Southampton, UK

Helen Fein
Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, Associate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Herb Hirsch
Professor of Political Science and co-editor, Genocide Studies and Prevention
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

Irving Louis Horowitz
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Hannah Arendt Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Political Science

James E. Young
Professor of English and Judaic Studies, University of Massachusetts

John K. Roth
Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Founding Director, The Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, Claremont McKenna College, California

Kirk C. Allison
Program Director, Program in Human Rights and Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Klas-Göran Karlsson
Professor of History, Lund University, Sweden

Kostas Fraggidis
Secretary, Evxinos Pontos Stockholm

Kristian Gerner
Professor of History, Lund University, Sweden

Lars M. Andersson
Senior Lecturer, Department of History, Uppsala University, Sweden

Linda M. Woolf
Professor of Psychology, Webster University, Missouri

Manus I. Midlarsky
Moses and Annuta Back Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Martha Minow
Member of the Faculty of Education
Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor, Harvard Law School

Michael Dobkowski
Professor of Religious Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Michael Mann
Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

Norman Naimark
Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor in East European Studies, Stanford University

Omer Bartov
John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Department of History, Brown University

Ove Bring
Professor of International Law, Swedish National Defence College, Stockholm, Sweden

Paul A. Levine
Senior Lecturer in Holocaust History
Education Director, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden

Rachel Hadodo
Chairwoman of the Board, Union of Assyrian Associations in Sweden

Raffi Momjian
Chairman and Executive Director, The Genocide Education Project, San Francisco

Raymond Kévorkian
Professor, Institut Français de Géopolitique, Université Paris 8 Saint-Denis

Richard G. Hovannisian
Professor of Armenian and Near Eastern History, University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Melson
Cohen-Lasry Distinguished Professor, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University

Roger W. Smith
Professor Emeritus, Department of Government, College of William and Mary, Virginia
Past President, International Association of Genocide Scholars

Ronald Grigor Suny
Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, The University of Michigan
Professor Emeritus of Political Science and History, The University of Chicago

Rudolph Joseph Rummel
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, the University of Hawaii

Sandra Tatz
Director of the Australian Association of Holocaust & Genocide Studies

Saul P. Friedlander
Professor, Department of History, UCLA

Shelly Tenenbaum
Professor of Sociology, Undergraduate Activities Coordinator, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University

Stanley Payne
Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Wisconsin

Steven Leonard Jacobs
Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies
Associate Professor of Religious Studies, The University of Alabama
Editor, the Papers of Raphael Lemkin
1st Vice-President, International Association of Genocide Scholars

Susan Ashbrook Harvey
Professor of Religious Studies, Brown University

Tessa Hofmann
Ph.D. in Sociology, Department of Sociology, Institute for East European Studies, Free University Berlin

Tigran Sarukhanyan
Member of International Association of Genocide Scholars
Visiting Research Fellow (PRO), Official Archives of Great Britain
Humboldrt Fellow, University of Goettingen, Germany

Tuomas Martikainen
Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, Academy of Finland, Åbo Akademi University, Deptartment of Comparative Religion

Vahagn Avedian
Chairman of the Board, Union of Armenian Associations in Sweden
Chief Editor,

William Hewitt
Professor, Holocaust Genocide Program, West Chest University of Pennsylvania

Winton Higgins
Director of the Australian Association of Holocaust & Genocide Studies
Visiting Research Fellow, Institute for International Studies, University of Technology, Sydney

Wolfgang Gust
Editor of the Official Documents of the German Foreign Office on the Armenian Genocide

Yair Auron
Professor in Sociology, Head of the Department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication, The Open University of Israel, Jerusalem

Yehuda Bauer
Professor Emeritus, Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew
University of Jerusalem

Yves Ternon
Ph.D. in History, Paris 4-Sorbonne University. HDR, Universit Paul Valéry-Montpellier 3