genocides

 

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TALKING ABOUT GENOCIDE - GENOCIDES

 
 


ARMENIA 1915

- before the genocide
- the genocide
- after the genocide
- witness
- issues

GENOCIDES
NAMIBIA
ARMENIA
UKRAINE
the HOLOCAUST
CAMBODIA
GUATEMALA
RWANDA
BOSNIA

issues

When nation oppresses nation, it stores up a future of oppression. It may well become oppressed itself. Here's an account of the attempt in Bulgaria to erase everything Turkish from its history:

'If there is one thing missing in Bulgaria, it is any sense of the country's Ottoman past. Even the word "Ottoman" is "not really one to use in Bulgaria". The centuries of Ottoman rule (1393-1878) are portrayed as Bulgaria's dark ages, "slavery under the Turkish yoke". This emotive, nationalistic spirit takes stone form at the Freedom Monument, which commemorates the decisive victory over the Turks at Shipka Pass. It can be seen for miles around from the surrounding plains, and it is here that we begin to understand how historical hatreds can be kept alive.

Nothing Ottoman has been preserved in the museums, and relics have been smashed. Turkish towns and villages were given Bulgarian names in 1940. From 1972 fierce campaigns were waged to make Turks adopt Bulgarian names - at least 50 Turks were killed. Muslim traditions were discouraged, mosques closed down, and speaking Turkish in public was prohibited. The few remaining mosques (as well as synagogues) are a target for skinheads.'


The denial of people's language, as a means of oppression, has been practised officially and unofficially in many other places - including the UK (Ireland and Wales).

No act of oppression is without long-term effects, including prejudice and tension between nationalities. This means that the chances of different national, religious and cultural groups living together are much lower, the likelihood of tension much higher. Consider what conflicts are taking place between Muslim and Christian communities in European countries today.

Mutual tolerance is threatened wherever there is a history of mutual conflict. There's a difficult balance to be reached: if people are 'assimilated' in a country not their traditional home, is there a line to cross beyond which their individual histories and heritage are, in effect, exterminated? How far can racial, religious, national observances be maintained without seeming defiant and aggressive?

People also become victims of conflicts between wider communities, as the Armenians became the victims of conflict between two rival empires, both requiring Armenian loyalty and support. On a small scale, in local communities, it is the same. Allegiances to factions and power groups always carry risks of bitter hostility that may break out in violence and the use of force.

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