Recently, I’ve received several emails in the form quoted below, opposing the teaching of the Armenian Genocide. I have been replying as follows.
I do support Jon Hecht’s bill, House 420 which would mandate teaching about historical genocides, including the Armenian genocide.
I think it would be reasonable to add other historical genocides to the list of tragedies in the bill, but I certainly feel that Armenian genocide belongs on that list. There is a deep body of historical evidence which confirms that genocide.
I am extremely troubled by the recent introduction of the House Resolution 420 by Jonathan Hecht (Watertown) which calls to amend Chapter 15 of the General Laws regarding genocide education. Link to the proposed amendment: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/BillHtml/127068?generalCourtId=11
The problem is that Mr. Hecht and the co-sponsors of H420, David M. Rogers, John J. Lawn, Jr. and Denise Andrews, want to mix court- and tribunal-proven genocides, such as the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camps, the genocide of Bosnian Muslims, and the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis, with a spurious, unproven and highly controversial charge of “genocide of Armenian Christians”. This type of mixing and dilution is unacceptable in for a legal and academic environment of our legislature and schools.
H420 spurs a historical allegation of “genocide” that has not been historically or legally substantiated to this date. Numerous American and international scholars, most experts in the history of the Ottoman Empire, dispute Armenian allegations, leading to the conclusion that while Armenian civilian losses during World War I were tragic, the events of 1915 were not tantamount to genocide. The 600,000 Armenians did not suffer alone, at least 523,000 Turks and other Muslims were massacred starting already in 1914 by the Armenian army. Similar fate befell on the Azerbaijanis and other Muslims who lived in the Caucasus and northern Iran – approximately half a million were killed by Armenian generals Andronik, Dro (who later served as a Nazi general), and others (culminating in what is referred to as the Azerbaijani Genocide).
The alleged “genocide of Armenian Christians” has never been proven in a court of law. Genocide is a crime with a legal and binding definition codified in the UN Genocide Convention of 1948, which the U.S. has ratified as a treaty, as well as under the U.S. criminal code, 18 USC 1091 – thus acknowledging the sole jurisdiction to hear genocide allegations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. The so-called “Armenian genocide” does not fit the UN and U.S. genocide definitions, and has never been heard at The Hague.
As a voter and taxpayer, I do call upon my legislature to ensure that our educational system, our schools and our curriculum reflects appropriate and academic understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the U.S. record. This is why I insist that we be precise and refrain from mixing and dilution of well-established legal terminology and concepts.
To reiterate, I strongly oppose H420, and encourage greater and more balanced study of genocides by all lawmakers.