Queen's University

Is the Armenian "genocide" a question of interpretation?

Two readers question the details of the article "Burying the ghosts of Armenia's past”

Letter to the Editor
Re: "Burying the ghosts of Armenia's past,”
Issue #3 - 2010, p. 59

Writer Jane Switzer makes an unfortunate error in judgment in her article. She assumes and embraces as fact what the book's author, Keith Garebian, wrote and feels about a subject that is clearly important to him, but just as clearly Switzer knows next to nothing about. Consequently, her article perpetuates as a proven "genocide" a tragic historical incident without context or objectivity while the very topic remains hotly disputed to this day.

There is no denying that a tremendous amount of suffering took place in Eastern Anatolia during the First World War and that a great number of Armenians were killed or died due to starvation and disease during the forced mass relocation. What people of Turkish heritage so strenuously object to is the Armenian activists' one-sided portrayal of the tragic events to the world community and labelling them as "genocide," using in some cases distortion or exaggeration of facts to further their political agendas. While doing so, they ignore the death and massacre of a great number of Turks at the hands of the Armenian revolutionary bands and the Russians whom they were helping behind Turkish lines.

We are not writing to try to convince Jane Switzer about whether or not the word "genocide" is applicable to the tragic and horrible events those many years ago. Having seen the hateful castigation of Turkish-Canadians by the Armenian diaspora, who often dismiss, accuse, and vilify as being in "denial" anyone who does not embrace the Armenian view as the end-all and be-all, we are writing to express our disappointment at the lack of objectivity demonstrated by Switzer and the Review.

There is a great deal of objective (that is, non-Armenian and non-Turkish) socio-political, scientific, and historical research and material out there regarding the definition of the word "genocide" and how its applicability in this case is at the very least open to considerable dispute, and we would hope that she, as well as the Review, would seek these out.

We hope that one day Armenians and Turks will reconcile and together remember their ancestors who perished almost a century ago in that terrible war.

Ilkim Hincher, Sc’92,  Barrie, ON

Ilke Hincher, Com’95, Kingston, ON

 

Queen's Alumni Review, 2010 Issue #4Queen's Alumni Review
2010 Issue #4
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