Politics & Government

Letter from state Sen. Dave Cogdill about Armenian genocide

Ninety-Three Years of Waiting

By Senator Dave CogdillSenate Republican LeaderDistrict 14

In a few days, Armenians all over the world will once again come together in observance of April 24th. This year marks the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which was perpetrated by the rulers of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. It is a melancholy commemoration that is made even more painful by the ongoing denial of history by the Republic of Turkey and those who are complicit in its revisionism.

The Armenian people lived in their 3,000-year historic homeland in Asia Minor. They became the first Christian nation-state in 301 A.D. Throughout their rich history, including a period with a thriving empire, Armenians were subjects of successive conquerors. Yet they prospered as a people – adding abundantly to the economic, political, academic, religious and cultural life of the governments under which they lived and successfully survived. That all changed under the oppression of state-sponsored atrocities by the Ottomans in the late 1890s and into the turn of the 20th Century. The culmination of the Ottoman’s plan of ethnic cleansing began a few years later.

On hideous orders from the "Young Turk" regime, as the rulers of the Ottoman government were known, the entire Armenian population of Anatolia was at risk and came under systematic, brutal assault. On April 24, 1915, hundreds of Armenian intellectual, political, religious and business leaders were rousted from their homes at dawn and arrested, exiled, and murdered. Thus began what would become known to historians around the world as the "First Genocide of the Twentieth Century."

Armenians were subjected to torture, starvation, death marches in the Syrian Desert and other unspeakable atrocities that resulted in the murder of 1,500,000 Armenian men, women and children over a period of eight long years ending in 1923. Hundreds of thousands of young Armenian orphans spent the remainder of their lives haunted by the memory of the torture and mayhem inflicted on their loved ones before their eyes.

Adolph Hitler, in persuading his army commanders on the eve of World War II that the merciless persecution and killing of Poles, Jews, and other peoples would bring no retribution, asked, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

I hope that we will soon reach the point where the denials of revisionists will be universally repudiated. I look forward to a time of reconciliation that can only occur when the Republic of Turkey finds it futile to spend millions of dollars scheming to distort history and threatening American political, military and business leaders with reprisals. As stated by John Evans, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia a few years ago: "…When an official policy diverges wildly from what the broad public believes is self-evident, that policy ceases to command respect." These words express a challenge to all who would cede ideals to the wretched whims of a foreign power.

Public service offers wonderful opportunities to forge positive relationships, work on issues of importance to constituents, and gain knowledge. I am so honored to have become well-acquainted with so many Californians of Armenian heritage (as well as Assyrians, Greeks and others whose forebears were also victims of massacres) who make such a great contribution to our state’s economic and cultural vitality and civic leadership. I strongly align myself with the cause of justice for the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide. I stand with them because it is simply the right thing to do.

(523 words in text)Contact: MaryAlice Kaloostian - (559) 253-7122

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