COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

Bob Harks’ letter of May 1 (“Some people should learn to forgive,” April 30) regarding Glendale News-Press coverage of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 raises issues of an obsession of an ancient event, a Christian duty to forgive and forget, and a lack of appreciation of the freedoms that America provides immigrants.

Armenians continue to remember the slaughter of 1.5 million because 1) it was an attempt to eliminate them as a race, 2) the Turkish government since 1915 has denied such an attempt and has aggressively tried to rewrite history, and 3) the oppression against them continues to this day.

Harks feels that Armenians “do not have a right to impose their views on those who feel otherwise.” In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama said “the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.”

On April 24, the president stated that his views on the events have not changed.

The Turkish government has been trying to rewrite history by making million-dollar donations for the establishment of academic chairs in prestigious U.S. universities with the condition that the chair be occupied by a professor sympathetic to Turkish history. Such chairs have been established at Harvard, Princeton, University of Chicago and other schools.

In 1997, UC Berkeley and UCLA denied acceptance of funds with such conditions. Their ultimate goal is to have respected U.S. universities declare there was no genocide.

For decades, the Turkish government has hired a Washington, D.C., lobby firm to influence Congress in voting against the Armenian Genocide resolution.

Acts of continued Turkish oppression include in 1955 successfully preventing MGM from making a movie of Franz Werfel’s novel “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh,” a true incident of the massacres.

Last week, the Los Angeles Times noted that Sylvester Stallone would like to make the movie, but is hesitant because of Turkish politics.

In 1965, I saw the original State Department letter asking the city of Montebello to deny building permits for a monument of the genocide martyrs on city land.

In 1992, Turkey issued a long list of restrictions against the Armenian Church in Istanbul, designed to guarantee its demise. In 1995, Turks savagely rioted against Armenians in Baku. The Times reported that a grandmother and her grandchild were put in a bag, ignited on fire, and thrown out of a high-rise apartment building.

The latest oppressive act occurred in Istanbul in 2007, when Hrant Dink, a highly respected Turkish-Armenian editor, journalist and columnist, was assassinated on the street near his office. Dink repeatedly used the term genocide in his writings. He had been advocating the Turkish government to admit to the genocide as a start of a healing process with Armenians.

I would suggest that most Armenians would like to forget the past and concentrate on the future, but the aggressiveness of the Turkish government in denying such a horrific event prevents that. The Japanese government, since the end of World War II in 1945, has white-washed references to atrocities committed by Japanese troops in history school books.

Iris Chang, in 1997, documented the brutal murders of more than 300,000 Chinese by Japanese troops in 1938, in her book “The Rape of Nanking.”

We Americans have the USS Arizona memorial to remind us of Pearl Harbor.

Harks talks about the Christian duty to forgive. Remorse, repentance and confession of sin are the foundation for forgiveness. When Christ was on the cross, with criminals on both sides, he promised paradise only to the one who expressed remorse.

Germany has long ago expressed remorse and repentance. Japan and Turkey have never confessed to all they did.

The Turks destroyed 90% of all churches and killed 90% of all clergy. The cross on the main dome of Glendale’s St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church is dedicated “to the glory of God and all clergy who were martyred in the Genocide of 1915.” In 2001, the process of beautification of Archbishop Ignatius Maloyan was submitted to the Vatican. In 1915, local Turkish officials offered him his life if he would convert to Islam. He refused and immediately gave communion to his flock of 411, to prepare them for death. Moments later, they were all killed, near Diyarbakir, Turkey. There is value and honor in remembrance of the past.

Harks characterizes man’s inhumanity to man as being allowed by God’s “permissive will.” Genesis tells us that Satan has been present since the existence of man. God does allow evil to exist, but I don’t believe he wills it, permissive or not.

Harks is right when he says Armenians in Glendale do not demonstrate an appreciation for the many liberties they enjoy in this country. After my grandfathers were killed, my widowed grandmothers, parents and relatives came to this country to save their lives. They quickly became citizens and, in time, more patriotic than those born here.

Immigrants who come for economic reasons take the freedoms that our country offers for granted, and are slow to gain citizenship. The result is a lack of feeling of loyalty or allegiance to our country.


 RICHARD JOUROYAN is a Glendale resident.

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