James Russell, Chair, Eastern Connecticut State University,
Levon Chorbajian, Panelist, University of Massachusetts Lowell,
Anoush TerTaulian, Panelist, Independent Scholar.
After a series of anti-Armenian pogroms beginning in the late 19th century, the Ottoman Turkish state orchestrated a genocide against its Armenian minority beginning in April 1915. In all between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians perished. Within the first month of the mass killings the Entente powers sent a letter to the Sublime Porte protesting what they called 'crimes against humanity and civilization.' The Porte responded that there were no killings, only deportations of Armenians from the Caucasian front. The Porte also claimed that Armenians were in rebellion, deserting the military, joining Russian forces, cutting supply lines, and engaging in guerrilla combat behind the front lines. In such a troubled context, argued the Porte, it was only exercising its right as a sovereign state to protect its interests. Thus begins nearly a century of continuous Turkish genocide denial that has been played out in Congress, the European Union, and even Hollywood and seen lawsuits, bullying of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and even the creation of a denialist press at the University of Utah. The paper addresses both Armenian Genocide denial and the broad consequences for social justice in the aftermath of other genocides post-1950.