Today (27 January 2013) is Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) with the theme “Communities Together: Build a Bridge”, when we remember the Nazi Holocaust as well as other acts of genocide in human history such as in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. On this day, we also resolve once more never to forget, but rather to seek to build a better future by tackling the roots that lead to extermination and organised mass violence by human beings against fellow human beings.
In April this year, there will also be a global remembrance of the 98th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. We – Armenians, Turks and the world community together – need to re-affirm the historical veracity of this event, not on the basis of presumed ethnic biases or misguided zealotry, but on the basis of the solid literature coming from international historians, organisations, scholars and lawyers, not least the International Association of Genocide Scholars. We also need to ask how, in the present and future, those who inherit the mantle of the victims can move forward to discover new life and hope in the face of continuous injustice and human tragedy.
Over the years, I have written a good deal on the subject of the Armenian Genocide, as part of a wide range of concerns in the MENA region and beyond. I have struggled to focus on reconciliation, not confrontation, which comes from a sense of recognition of a heinous crime against one people. I have also referred to other acts of genocide in our world that pass unnoticed, untackled and without due diligence or compunction. Some of this material, along with related news items going back to 2007, is available on Ekklesia, and can equally be accessed here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/armeniangenocide You can also read me on the 2010 Constantinople Lecture when I spoke about ‘The Armenian Genocide: A way forward?’ http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/ConstantinopleLecture for a fuller background and interpretation of my views.
HMD in my mind is not a day solely to think of the past but to join hands in constructing a better future in our broken world. This requires good faith, good will, strength, resolve and an ability to go beyond the limits of the self in order to meet the other too. As the 19th century American Transcendentalist author Henry David Thoreau once said, “Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK), Ecumenical consultant to the Primate of Armenian Church in UK & Ireland, and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net Follow him on Twitter here: @harryhagopian