“Armenia we are here! We’re so grateful to be here & start this journey of a lifetime! Thank u everyone who greeted us” Kim Kardashian tweets along with a cityscape of Armenia’s crowded capital, Yerevan, as she lays flowers upon the Armenian genocide memorial complex. Nobody knows exactly how many victims were murdered in the Armenian massacre, but it is estimated to have been between 1 and 1.5 million. This week, a century on, it still remains an uncomfortable and controversial topic. Clearly proud of her heritage Kardashian also tweeted in 2012 “Today lets all stand together & remember the 1.5 million people who were massacred in the Armenian Genocide. April 24th 1915. #NEVERFORGET”; marking the 97th anniversary and raising awareness among her 30 million followers.
The political party holding power within the 1915 Ottoman Empire is seen as responsible for the massacres, also known then as the ‘Young Turks’. Turkey has always since denied that this was an act of genocide, causing much distress among contemporary Armenian families. Running for president in 2008 Barack Obama appealed to Armenian American voters stating that he would officially recognize the event as genocide, something that for a long time Armenian people have been calling for. His appeal included a video almost 5 minutes in length making this claim, which has so far been unfulfilled. Under increasing pressure from all angles to confirm or deny the act as one of genocide with this week seeing the 100-year anniversary of the event, Obama has not referred to the tragic happening with the ‘G’ word since taking up residency at the White House. This has sparked anger among activists; a senior official of the White House has defended Obama stating “the approach we have taken in previous years remains the right one, both for acknowledging the past, and for our ability to work with regional partners to save lives in the present,”
Parallels have been drawn between the events in Armenia 1915 and the holocaust in Nazi Germany, 1941 to 1945, as well as Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia, 1975 to 1979. Genocide is defined (in the Oxford Dictionary) as “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group” which seems to appropriately describe what happened in Armenia. However, the President of Turkey will not acknowledge the mass murder of Armenian people as an act of genocide. Claims are made that as the term was created post 1915 it should not apply, while others believe that the numbers have been blown out of proportion by the media. It’s important to take into consideration the role and influence the media can have, be that playing down the scale of events among the citizens of the country seen as responsible, or exaggerating numbers among those campaigning for the victims. Nations including Russia and France have acknowledged this tragic page in history as an act of genocide (along with Kim Kardashian to her 30 million followers).
For people who are hot on their antiques and love a daytime TV bargain, one of the BBC’s favorite presenters and antique specialist was born to an Armenian mother and father before being adopted into a British family; it was then that he was renamed David Dickinson. Other familiar faces who share this hidden heritage include Andy Serkis, most famous for playing the role of shadow dwelling schizophrenic Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and the renowned metal band System of a Down. Rolling Stones magazine say the band will perform a free concert in the city of Yerevan to commemorate and raise awareness among younger people.