After close to a century of visceral and often bloody conflict, the governments of Turkey and Armenia announced an accord yesterday.
Among the highlights: the re-establishment of diplomatic ties after a 16-year freeze and the reopening of borders that have been closed for about a century.
But one major element is missing for many in the Armenian diaspora, many of whom demonstrated before the signing in cities across the globe: a full and frank acknowledgment by the Turkish government of the Armenian genocide.
Marked as beginning in April 1915, during the bloodshed of World War I and the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, the genocide led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians and the forced expulsion and fleeing of many more. Estimates vary, and the figure of 1.5 million Armenians killed has been accepted by many.
To this day, Turkey denies that it ever happened. In fact, in Turkey, to say that the genocide happened is a criminal act.
I wrote in April about Peter Balakian’s Black Dog of Fate, a book which tells both the story of his growing up in suburban New Jersey in the 1950s and his grandmother’s harrowing escape and tenacious fight for reparations.
Here are some other resources for those wanting to learn more about the genocide, to which Hitler infamously referred shortly before invading Poland in 1939:
Balakian’s The Burning Tigris focuses on the genocide and the rise of the cause of international human rights movements in the United States.