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ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

 

Honourable Senators, 

Six years ago, on 22 April 2004, the Parliament of Canada passed a resolution recognizing the genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. 

By so doing, the Parliament of Canada sent a message to the world that we have the courage of our convictions by acknowledging this reprehensible treatment against the Armenian people by the Ottoman Turks.

I would like to remind this House that despite the historical evidence, Turkey continues to deny the Armenian genocide.

As the members know, Turkey emerged out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1924 as a separate state. 

The Ottomans administered a vast multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious empire with a degree of equanimity and justice that anticipated some of the practices of the 20th century. 

However, during the last two centuries of its existence the Ottomans lost sight of these ideals. Their administration grew intolerant of minorities, which lead to outbreaks of cruelty against them and even to genocide.

Many cultural groups suffered, but the Armenians were singled out for industrial scale killing. 

During the course of 1915, the Ottoman authorities exterminated over 1.5 million Armenians. 

These unfortunate people were massacred. Death marches, death camps and poison gases were used against innocent people who were targeted because they were Armenian.

The unthinkable degree of brutality that the Ottomans hurled at the Armenians can only be compared to the techniques that the Nazis would later use against the Jews.

The evidence that this hideous genocide took place is overwhelming and was witnessed and documented, at the time, by British and American diplomats and soldiers.

Furthermore, the soldiers and foreign office officials of Imperial Germany - the wartime ally of the Ottoman Empire - recorded the confirmation of genocide.

Twenty-five countries have paid due respect to the memory of the Armenian victims by recognizing the fact of the genocide, despite the strenuous lobby efforts of Ankara.

Mr. Speaker, it is remarkable that the modern Turkish Republic continues to defy the evidence of the genocide, which has remained a milestone around the collective necks of all Turks. 

All nations have to carry the burden of their legacies. 

Modern Turkey is no exception and recognizing the Armenian genocide does not make the Turks culpable for the barbarism of an empire long dead. 

It would simply mean that modern Turkey is mature and stable enough to carry the baggage of its past.

Denying history is both futile and dangerous, the failure of the international community to recognize the Armenian Genocide and punish those guilty led to the holocaust of the Second World War. 

Was it not Hitler who said: “Today, who remembers the Armenians?”  Honorable Senators, Canada remembers the Armenians and the world at large remembers the souls that perished in the Armenian genocide.

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