LETTER : Armenian anniversary

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The Independent Online
From Mr Win Griffiths, MP

Sir: Monday 24 April marks the 80th anniversary of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turkey. It was the first genocide of the 20th century. Talaat Pasha, the Minister of Interior, declared that "those who are innocent today, will be guilty tomorrow", as police forced out hundreds of thousands of Armenians from their ancestral lands in Western Armenia and Cilicia towards the deserts of Syria and Iraq. A large majority of the Armenians died during the death marches either by outright massacre or by starvation. Among those who survived the deportations many were tortured to death in Turkish concentration camps in the northern Syrian town of Deir-ez Zor.

After the First World War, the victorious allies did not punish the perpetrators of the genocide. Moreover, with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, the allies allowed Turkey not only to hold on to the six Ottoman-Armenian provinces but also to retain portions of Russian Armenia.

The pain and agony of Armenia survivors has been made worse by the fact that successive regimes in Turkey have denied that the genocide ever took place.

During the Cold War, the Western powers - to their shame - ignored Turkey's transgression, preferring instead to prop up any anti-Communist Nato ally. Today, Turkey is involved in blockading humanitarian aid to the tiny land- locked Armenian Republic, which is suffering severe hardship. It is also involved in ethnically cleansing its 12-million strong Kurdish community and chasing refugee Kurds out of northern Iraq.

On this 80th anniversary all European governments should follow the example of the European Parliament and unequivocally condemn the genocide against the Armenian people.

Yours sincerely,

WIN GRIFFITHS

MP for Bridgend (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

22 April

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