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If two of the main cornerstones of the Armenian people are their faith and language, a third is the Armenian genocide that took place under cover of WWI.
Between 1915 and 1923, Armenians living in the then Ottoman Turkey were subjected to systematic annihilation and deportation by an Ottoman leadership that wanted to get rid of the centuries-old Armenian presence in Turkey.
This life-robbing chapter led to the death of well over two million Armenians and Assyrians. It is a cross that all Armenians carry with them to this very day, more so since some countries - not least the UK - have not yet recognised this crime against humanity for reasons of political expediency, whilst modern-day Turkey itself blankly denies the guilt of its predecessor regimes.
Yet most of the Armenians living in the Diaspora today are in fact the offspring of those Armenian genocide survivors who fled those unspeakable persecutions and settled elsewhere.
I often wonder if the subsequent genocides of our world - from the Holocaust during WWII all the way to Rwanda and Darfur today - would have happened had the world acted more decisively during the Armenian experience.
After all, as he prepared to invade Poland in 1939, did Hitler not chillingly remind his generals, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
As Christians we remember the suffering of the past in the wounds of Christ, just as we find hope in his risen life.
Listen to the broadcast version of this at: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/hagopian250810.mp3
© Harry Hagopian is an International lawyer and EU political consultant. He also acts as Middle East advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris and is a regular Ekklesia contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly, he was Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches. He is a member of, and adviser to, the Armenian Orthodox Church. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net
This is the third in a series of reflections (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12919) to mark the 20th anniversary of Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia. These are being broadcast daily on Premier Christian Radio (www.premier.org.uk/) and will be archived as podcasts on Ekklesia, with thanks to PCR.