Sunday, January 30, 2011

Diana Der-Hovanessian: Definitions

Trying to warn about Hitler’s
plans for the Jews, Raphael
Lemkin,  linguist and jurist, 
invented the word genocide 
in 1943 describing the
annihilation of the Armenians
in 1915,“a systematic destruction
of a population segment, or
race, by a ruling government.”
Wholesale massacres by Turks
were taught them by their
ancestors, Genghis Khan
and Tamerlane.  In 1895 the word 
Holocaust was used by missionary
Corwin Shattuck to label the 1895
burning of Armenians in the Urfa
cathedral. These fires leveling
churches with Armenians locked
inside, spread to schools and barns.
Then to neighbors. Assyrians
named it Seifo.The Greeks,
the burning of Smyrna.
 The Arabs, Nakba  for catastrophe,
 calamity, disaster.  The Kurds
used the words The Anfal. Africans,
apartheid, gypsies, annihilation,
 the Syrians, intrafada.  The Jews
named the crime by the Nazis, Shoah.
Then  the Balkans called it ethnic
cleansing.  But the present day Turkish
label for two and a half million lost
Armenians: unavoidable wartime casualties.

This poem appears by kind permission of the author

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