By Brendan Capuano
There are dark marks all throughout all of history that have been overlooked and undermined; things that people would like to pretend did not happen, regardless of the facts.
However, there is one event that has been forgotten for 102 years.
On April 24, Armenians across the globe remember and reflect on the darkest mark in their history.
The Armenian Genocide was the systematic killing and oppression of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923 by members of a radical group called the Young Turks within the Turkish government, operating out of the Ottoman Empire.
Sacred Heart University associate professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Dr. June-Ann Greeley teaches a theology religious studies course titled “Religion, Violence, and Genocides.”
“I always begin with the Armenian genocide,” said Greeley. “The absolute brutality of it. You had thousands upon thousands of Armenians who were left to literally starve in the desert. These forced marches into Syrian deserts, where they weren’t even given a drop of water. Women, raped and assaulted repeatedly, children who were raped and killed, men who were taken and used as slaves or just tortured and killed.”
Local Armenians have gathered in the past few days to remember the genocide and those lost.
Reverend Father Untzag Nalbandian of Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension in Trumbull spoke about the importance of remembering the genocide.
“As an Armenian, as well as an Armenian priest, and a citizen of this country, and a citizen of the world. We should remember so these things don’t happen to anyone in any place,” said Untzag.
Survivors of the Armenian Genocide founded the Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension 86 years ago.
“I served them and I heard their stories,” said Untzag “I met people who survived the Armenian genocide, who told their stories.”
Untzag’s own parents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
Untzag has been at the Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension for 34 years. He said that no matter where Armenians have settled across the globe, they have remembered, preserved and cultivated their culture.
“The committee is organizing, coordinating, or otherwise supporting several events around the state to commemorate and build greater awareness of the Armenian Genocide, the first Genocide of the 20th century,” said The Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee of Connecticut, which Untzag is a part of, on their Facebook about page.
April 22 the Committee hosted an event at the Connecticut State Capital to commemorate the 102 anniversary of the genocide.
The room was filled with people eager to listen to the keynote speaker former ambassador to Armenia, John M. Evans.
There was more attention to the Genocide than ever before with the April 21 release of The Promise, a movie which takes place during the Genocide. The movie stars Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and was written by Terry George who also wrote “Hotel Rwanda.”
“Now eventually it is coming to to your generation, yes that you have to carry the torch, but what torch? Well whatever is Armenian, our history and plus our faith, I think,” said Untzag. “We are the children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren of the survivors who started life in this country, in Europe, and Middle East. If we don’t speak, than who is going to speak about genocides?”
Some Armenian students are also aware of the importance of their culture and the hardships their ancestors faced.
“As the proud great granddaughter of Anahid Bogosian, an Armenian Genocide survivor, I am lucky to say I was able to meet her and hear the stories of her of survival,” said junior Faye Kenajian. “The role that my family takes on now is to pass down the strong traditions of our survival and her legacy in her honor.”
Pop-culture enthusiasts would know of the Genocide via the Kardashians, who are Armenian. Utilizing their audience, the Kardashians have been able to educate people on the genocide simply by having them watch their show “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”
“We must talk about it until it is recognized by our government because when we deny our past, we endanger our future,” said Kim Kardashian in a statement on kimkardashianwest.com.
Currently, Turkey still does not acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as an actual event in history.
“There have been some Turkish scholars, and other political activists who said at the very least Turkey has to apologize. The fact is the Armenians were driven out of Turkey, and a lot of people died. That’s a fact,” said Greeley.
The United States also does not formally acknowledge the Genocide, despite President Obama saying on the campaign trail in 2007 “that there was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people.”
This is due to the United States and Turkey’s relations with each other.
“There is no reason for it not to be accepted as a genocide,” said Greeley.
Untzag also said that the number of Armenians who died could range from 1.5 to 1.7 million.
“I met people who survived the Armenian genocide, who told their stories,” said Untzag “What proof do you want, I don’t know. We were thrown out of our land, 2500 to 3000-year-old land. 2,300 churches and monasteries were lost. As an Armenian, as well as an Armenian priest, and a citizen of this country, and a citizen of the world. We should remember so these things don’t happen to anyone in any place.”
Today we remember both the Armenians and the Jewish people who lost their lives in their genocides. April 24 is also Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance day, where the world reflects on the upward six million Jews who died.
“April 24 should not just be a day to put a flower on a grave, but as a cause for action,” said Greeley.