Statement by Concerned Scholars and Writers

April 24, 1998

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To Honor the 50th Anniversary of the U.N. Genocide Convention

We Commemorate the
Armenian Genocide of 1915

and Condemn the Turkish Government's
Denial of this Crime Against Humanity

On April 24, 1915, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic, premeditated genocide of the Armenian people -- an unarmed Christian minority living under Turkish rule.More than a million Armenians were exterminatedthrough direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years.

The Armenian Genocide was the most dramatic human rights issue of the time and was reported regularly in newspapers across the U.S.The Armenian Genocide is abundantly documentedby Ottoman court-martial records, by hundreds of thousands of documents in the archives of the United States and nations around the world, by eyewitness reports of missionaries and diplomats, by the testimony of survivors, and by eight decades of historical scholarship.

After 83 yearsthe Turkish government continues to deny the genocideof the Armenians by blaming the victims and undermining historical fact with false rhetoric. Books about the genocide are banned in Turkey. The words "Armenian" and "Greek" are nonexistent in Turkish descriptions of ancient or Christian artifacts and monuments in Turkey. Turkey's efforts to sanitize its history now include the funding of chairs in Turkish studies -- with strings attached -- at American universities.

It is essential to remember that...

  • When Raphael Lemkin coined the wordgenocidein 1944 he cited the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as a seminal example of genocide.

  • The European Parliament, the Association of Genocide Scholars, the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), and the Institute for the Study of Genocide (NYC) havereaffirmed the extermination of the Armenians by the Turkish government asgenocideby the definition of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

Denial of genocide strives to reshape history in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators.Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide.It is what Ellie Weisel has called a "double killing."Denial murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to destroy remembrance of the crime. In a century plagued by genocide,we affirm the moral necessity of remembering.

We denounce as morally and intellectually corruptthe Turkish government's denial of the Armenian genocide.We condemn Turkey's manipulationof the American government and American institutions for the purpose of denying the Armenian genocide.We urge our government officials, scholars, and the mediato refrain from using evasive or euphemistic terminology to appease the Turkish government; we ask them torefer to the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as genocide.

This statement has been signed by more than 150 distinguished scholars and writers, including:

K. Anthony Appiah
Professor of Afro-American Studies & Philosophy, Harvard University.

Michael Arlen

James Axtell
Professor History, College of William & Mary

Ben Bagdikian
Former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley

Houston Baker
Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

Peter Balakian
Writer; Professor of English, Colgate University

Mary Catherine Bateson
Clarence J. Robinson Professor in English & Anthropology, George Mason University

Yehuda Bauer
Professor of Holocaust Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Robert N. Bellah
Elliott Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Norman Birnbaum
University Professor, Georgetown University

Peter Brooks
Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University

Robert McAfee Brown
Professor of Theology and Ethics Emeritus, Pacific School of Religion

Christopher Browning
Professor of History, Pacific Lutheran University

Frank Chalk
Professor of History, Concordia University

Israel W. Charny
Director, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, Jerusalem

Ward Churchill
Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, University of Colorado

Rev. William Sloane Coffin
Pastor Emeritus, Riverside Church, N.Y.C.

Vahakn Dadrian
Director, Genocide Study Project, H.F. Guggenheim Foundation

David Brion Davis
Sterline Professor of History, Yale University

James Der Derian
Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts

Marjorie Housepian Dobkin

Jean Bethke Elshtain
Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School

Kai Erikson
Professor of Sociology, Yale University

Craig Etcheson
Acting Director, Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale University

Helen Fein
Executive Director, Institute for the Study of Genocide, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Lawrence J. Friedman
Professor of History, Indiana University

William Gass
David May Distinguished Professor of Humanities, Washington University

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Professor of Afro-American Studies, Harvard University.

Carol Gilligan
Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Gender Studies, Harvard University

Langdon Gilkey
Kennedy Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology, Georgetown University.

Daniel Goldhagen
Associate Professor of Government & Social Studies, Harvard University

Sandor Goodhart
Director of Jewish Studies, Purdue University

Vigen Guroian
Professor of Theology and Ethics, Loyola College

Geoffrey Hartman
Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University

Seamus Hearney
Harvard University; Nobel Laureate for Literature

Judith Herman
Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Raul Hilberg
Professor of Political Science Emeritus, University of Vermont

Richard G. Hovannisian
Professor of Armenian and Near Eastern History, UCLA

Kurt Jonahsson
Professor of Sociology, Concordia University

Alfred Kazin
Writer, Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, CUNY Graduate Center

Steven Kepnes
Director of Jewish Studies, Professor of Religion, Colgate University

Ben Kiernan
Professor of History, Yale University

Robert Jay Lifton
Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate School of the City University of New York

Deborah E. Lipstadt
Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Emory University

Norman Mailer

Eric Markusen
Professor of Sociology, Southwest State University, Minnesota

Robert Melson
Professor of Political Science, Purdue University

Saul Medlovitz
Dag Hammarskjold Professor of Law, Rutgers University

W.S. Merwin

Arthur Miller

Henry Morgenthau III

George L. Mosse
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Joyce Carol Oates

Grace Paley

Harold Pinter

Robert A. Pois
Professor of History, University of Colorado

Francis B. Randall
Professor of History, Sarah Lawrence College

Nicholas V. Riasanovsky
Sidney Hellman Professor of European History, University of California, Berkeley

Leo P. Ribuffo
Professor of History, George Washington University

David Riesman
Henry Ford II Professor of Social Science, Harvard University

Nathan A. Scott
William R. Kenan Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus, University of Virginia

Christopher Simpson
Professor of Communications, American University

Roger Smith
Professor of Government, College of William & Mary

Susan Sontag

Wloe Soyinka
Nobel Laureate, Woodruff Professor of the Arts, Emory University

Max L. Stackhouse
Stephen Colwell Professor of Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary

Charles B. Strozier
Professor of History, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Rose Styron
Writer; former Chair Freedom to Write Committee, PEN American Center

William Styron

Ronald Suny
Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Raymond Tanter
Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

D.M. Thomas

John Updike

Kurt Vonnegut

Derek Walcott
Professor of English, Boston University; Nobel Laureate for Literature

Cornel West
Professor of Philosophy & Religion, and Afro-American Studies, Harvard University

Howard Zinn
Professor Emeritus of History, Boston University

A Statement by Concerned Scholars and Writers