ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR MIKE GRIMSHAW
While we rightly remember the events of Gallipoli on Anzac Day, New Zealand fails to officially recognize that April 24, 1915 was the start of the Armenian genocide carried out by the Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire.
In a series of attacks, murders and forced starvations, 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the first genocide of the twentieth century.
This genocide was widely covered in New Zealand, European, British and American papers of the time.
While 27 countries, many religious and human rights organizations, 44 states of the USA and many other state parliaments, including those of New South Wales and South Australia, have all recognized the genocide, for some reason New Zealand refuses to do so.
Yet as Armenian scholars stated at a session on the genocide at last year’s American Academy of Religion: “to fail to recognize the genocide is to condone it”.
New Zealand has a proud humanitarian record – except in this case.
It is a stain on our nation’s honour that our increasing inclusion of Turkey in our Anzac Day commemoration is the inclusion of the nation that explicitly denies the genocide, and seeks to circulate genocide-denying literature in libraries around the word.
If we are to include Turkey in our remembrance without recognizing the genocide, then we not only condone the genocide, we also condone its denial.
It is time for our leaders to act in the name of justice and officially recognize the genocide, and call on Turkey to do the same.
Mike Grimshaw is an associate professor at the University of Canterbury.