The Gordian Knot of Non-recognized Crime: Perspectives on Armenian Genocide Centennial from Within

Web-Dossier: The Gordian Knot of Non-recognized Crime: Perspectives on Armenian Genocide Centennial from Within

On 24 April 2015, Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora around the world commemorate the centennial of the Genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. While the world outside Armenia is not unified around the idea of recognition of the Genocide as such, perspectives on dealing with this tragic past and the ways of reaching out to the world vary in Armenia too. The South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation offers the interested audience a series of brief observations on political, cultural and social aspects of the given issue by alumni of its Regional Scholarship Program: Mr. Mikael Zolyan, Ms. Izabella Sargsyan, Ms. Lusine Kharatyan and Ms. Satenik Mkrtchyan.

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In spring 2015 the streets of Yerevan are full of images of forget-me-nots, the symbol chosen for Genocide remembrance, often accompanied by the motto “Remember and demand.” The meaning of the first part of this statement is obvious for all Armenians: honoring the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915.

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Armenia and Turkey have close historical ties. Despite all ups and downs at the official level, changing governments in the offices of Armenia and Turkey and usually mutually hostile rhetoric – especially on the eve of Centenary of the Armenian Genocide – the two countries are historically inseparable.

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The amount of materials regarding the perceptions of various Genocide commemoration initiatives by different social groups in Armenia is huge in terms of quantity, diversity and ever-changing quality. The variety of initiatives, their scope and coverage spanning from one-time grassroots events, ongoing regular activities and all-encompassing government interventions to internal political and social debates, in addition to cultural undertakings and worldwide campaigns for Armenian Genocide recognition by different states and prominent individuals. Public sentiment constantly evolves under the growing pressure of commemoration activities.

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The theme of Armenian Genocide is currently taught in Armenian schools in eighth grade history classes. Though according to the recent field observations, the 100th anniversary commemoration reveals a considerable shift from what used to be, something, which deserves deeper analysis in the future.