The case of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide against the Armenians is a case that should teach us about the cost of doing nothing, Ewelina U. Ochab writes in an article published by Forbes.
The Armenian genocide took place between 1915 and 1923 when 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were arrested, deported or murdered by the Ottoman Empire. Currently, some 32 countries recognize the events as meeting the legal definition of genocide.
“The official recognition of historic cases as genocide is not a matter of semantics. Such an official recognition is crucial for survivors and their families in their efforts to move on. It is crucial for reconciliation and discovery of the truth. It is also crucial to deter similar crimes in the future, to ensure that such atrocities do not happen again. As we witness some concerning signs that the atrocities may happen again, we see little political will to engage and prevent the atrocities from materializing,” the author writes.
“For many of us, genocide happens far from home, and falls within the purview of “foreign policy.” As such, genocide is not a top priority for politicians. Ultimately, politicians rely on their electorate in their respective countries. If the people who choose politicians do not raise the issue, do not show that this is what they want their politicians to engage with, nothing will be done,” she continues.
According to Ewelina U. Ochab, “to address the general lack of interest in early warning signs and risk factors of genocide, some public figures have become more vocal on the issue, for example in the recent case of the atrocities in Nagorno-Karabkh.”
“Artists and celebrities such as Cher and Kim Kardashian, with millions of fans and followers on social media, have been speaking out about the deteriorating situation. Others, such as the heavy metal band System Of A Down, turned their messages into music. Amid the deteriorating situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, System Of A Down released two singles, “Protect the Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” to engage the public and to raise funds to help those affected. The two singles have raised over $600,000 for the Armenia Fund. Members of the band have also been using their social media presence to inform their followers about the situation in Nagorno-Karabkh and the concerning developments as the situation was deteriorating,” the article reads.
The author notes that “their engagement and important voice on the issue shows that raising awareness of genocide is not a matter to be left to legal experts, researcher and journalists only.”
“In fact, in order to turn the slogan of “Never Again” into reality, everyone needs to play their part. Genocide prevention is not a job of a few, it is a job for the whole humanity,” she concludes.
Ewelina U. Ochab is a human rights advocate, author and co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response.