The most controversial issue still arising from the First World War – was there an Armenian Genocide?
The most controversial issue left over from the First World War – was there an Armenian Genocide? – comes to a head on 24 April 2015, when Armenians throughout the world commemorate the centenary of the murder of 1.5 million – over half – of their people, at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government. Turkey continues to deny it ever happened – or if it did, that the killings were justified.
This has become a vital international issue. Twenty national parliaments have voted to recognise the genocide, but Britain equivocates and President Obama is torn between Congress, which wants recognition, and the US military, afraid of alienating an important NATO ally. In Australia three state governments have recognised the genocide (despite threats to ban their MPs from Gallipoli), but the Abbott government has told the Turks that Australia does not.
Geoffrey Robertson QC despises this mendacity. His book proves beyond reasonable doubt that the horrific events of 1915 – witnessed by Australian POWs – constituted the crime against humanity that is known today as genocide. In this book he explains how democratic countries can combat genocide denial without denying free speech, and makes a major contribution to understanding and preventing this worst of all crimes. His renowned powers of advocacy are on full display, as he condemns all those – from Sri Lanka to the Sudan, from Old Anatolia to modern Gaza - who try to justify the mass murder of children and civilians in the name of military necessity.
“'Genocide’, the ‘G’ word, is the gravest international crime. It is looked on with horror both by victims and alleged perpetrators. Most people accept that a terrible genocide of Armenian people was perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Turkey refuses to accept this judgment. Now Geoffrey Robertson presents the gruesome evidence and reaches compelling conclusions. They implicate both Turkey and Germany. Every day that genocide is denied or left unrepaired, it constitutes a continuance of the crime. Peace and reconciliation are impossible of acknowledgement without all the wrongs done in those dark days a century ago.”
The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, past Justice of the High Court of Australia and Chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in North Korea