By Tyron Matthews ’16
Genocide is the intended annihilation of a national, political, or ethnic group. It is used by various governments to obtain power and to extinguish those who belong to such groups.
Every year, the Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress and Genocide (AASSSG) hosts an essay contest for high school students to write about the intergenerational effects of genocide and its traumatic experiences.
Mr. George A. Hero, Advisor of the Historical Research Club devoted his time and energy to helping his students create their own individual essays. These essays were submitted on April 24 and the winners will be chosen in September 2015.
Mr. Hero stated that this year is extremely important, because it is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Massacre in 1915.
During 1915, the Turkish government planned to exterminate Armenians living in the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire becuase they thought the Armenians were aiding Russia against their empire, according to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. The Turks slaughtered approximately 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians and the rest were forced to leave the country.
Given the pressure of social justice advocates, however, as well as the eyewitness accounts from Armenian survivors, the Turkish government has denied the genocide ever happened, even to this day.
“It’s inexcusable termination,” Mr. Hero said. “There’s no point in denying it even exists.” He states that governments like Turkey want to distract people from the real problems that the country faces.
He said that genocide is used as a scare tactic, as well as a political smoke screen used by those in charge to have someone to blame for what’s wrong with the world. They do this because they feel that by creating a false threat they can solve the problem and look like they should be the ones to rule the nations with no consequence whatsoever. As a result, there will always be people who continue to support these governments, helping them to remain in power.
“It’s bad for the survivors because they have to relive a similar nightmare,” said Mr. Hero. “But it’s especially worse for the perpetrators.” People lose faith in not just the governments, but in their friends and family who are associated with them that still refuse to acknowledge genocide.
Eventually, a myriad of people realized that genocide needed awareness if the world is ever going to be rid of such practices. All the world’s governments need to know that not only does it exist, but also that using it to solve other problems will never work, nor will it improve anyone’s future.
By Tyron Matthews ’16