Friday, February 03, 2012

In defence of denial (The Drum, 3 February 2012)

The word ‘genocide’ did not exist when, in 1915, under cover of the fog of war, the most revolting campaign of massacre and mayhem was visited upon the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population. Nevertheless, that this systematic assault constitutes a paradigm case of the kind of eliminationist violence that would call that dread word into existence is not disputed by most historians with an interest in the area. Raphael Lemkin, the Jewish lawyer who coined the term in 1944, referred specifically to the Armenian experience when explaining his motivation for doing so: ‘I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times’, Lemkin told a CBS reporter; ‘it happened to the Armenians; and, after the Armenians, Hitler took action.’ [More here.]

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