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The West Australian
Nov 25 2014
by ELAINE FRY November 25, 2014,

Eminent human rights lawyer and QC Geoffrey Robertson’s latest book, An
Inconvenient Genocide, draws attention to an important issue that still
needs to be addressed: the recognition of the massacre of about one
million Armenians on the eve of the Gallipoli landings as “genocide”.

“Truth is important – it is important to tell it if people are still
suffering from a lie – and Armenians are still suffering from the
world’s failure to do something about the genocide that had taken
place in 1915,” Robertson says.

Next year will be the centenary of both the Armenian genocide and
the Gallipoli landings. Robertson feels that these significant
anniversaries, on consecutive days, April 24 and 25 respectively,
should be the perfect opportunity for all nations to acknowledge,
and for Turkey to admit, that the Armenian genocide had taken place
and for atonement to be made.

There is divided opinion since its occurrence as to whether it could
be called a “genocide”. It is widely believed that some one million
Armenians were killed during this period. But Turkey, justifying
the actions of its predecessor in government, the Ottoman Empire,
is adamantly against the use of the G-word.

Robertson, who served as the first president of the UN War Crimes
Court in Sierra Leone, feels it that an admission to the Armenian
Genocide would “give hope that both Armenia and Turkey could move on”.

He cannot see why there should be a problem with this positive step.

“Modern Turkey is a different nation (to the Ottoman Empire). The
actions of the past are not a reflection of the modern Turkish nation.

It is possible for nations to rise above the crimes of the past.”

In his book, Robertson presents one of the great hypotheticals –
“Whether the Holocaust would have happened, had the International
Criminal Courts promised at Versailles and Sevres for the Kaiser
and his generals and for Talaat and his accomplices eventuated in
1921. At least Hitler would not in 1939 have said, “Who now remembers
the Armenians?”

Well, thankfully, Geoffrey Robertson does. As he puts it, “The
importance of acknowledging guilt of a crime against humanity, even
as long as a century later, is that denialism emboldens others to
think they can get away with mass murder of civilians whenever it is
expedient in wartime.

“International law sets a bottom line: whether Sunni or Shia, Hindu
or Christian, whether Chechen, Tamil or Bengali or an indigenous
people striving for independence, the deliberate destruction of any
part of that race or religion by those in control of a state cannot
be countenanced.”

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