Statement made on 24 April 2012 by Senator Maria Chaput
Hon. Maria Chaput:
Honourable senators, today I am joining with the thousands of our Armenian-Canadian citizens who have gathered on Parliament Hill and across the country to honour the memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915.
On this day, 97 years ago, the Turkish Ottoman government proceeded with the mass arrest of the Armenian intellectuals on its soil. The arrest, deportation and execution of these hundreds of intellectuals was only the beginning of the atrocities that followed. Left without its elite, the Armenian population was brutally decimated in the months and years that followed. More than 1.5 million men, women and children fell victim to an ethnic cleansing campaign that was planned and orchestrated by the central government.
Some 97 years later, the Turkish government continues to deny this crime that was committed by its Ottoman predecessor despite the academic consensus on the genocidal nature of these acts and the fact that a number of countries, including Canada, recognize this genocide.
Ninety-seven years later, the Armenian people continue to fight on two fronts: they are fighting for their rebirth and for the full recognition of this crime. They are fighting for recognition by keeping their language and traditions alive, by establishing and developing vibrant communities throughout the world. And they are fighting for the renaissance of the young Republic of Armenia which, since 1991, has taken its place in the international community.
They are fighting for recognition of this crime to honour the memory of their ancestors and for justice and human rights, to raise awareness and to prevent such tragedies, to encourage mutual acceptance among all peoples, for the Jews of Europe and the Ukrainians, for Cambodia, for Rwanda, for Yugoslavia and Sudan, for all of humanity.
A famous member of the Armenian diaspora, the great singer Charles Aznavour, wrote these lyrics about his people:
They fell . . . never knowing the cause. The women fell as well, and the babies they tendered . . . they fell believing their children could grow . . . they fell like flies . . . all in vain, for just one helping hand . . .
Honourable senators, we will never be able to explain why they fell. Nevertheless, 97 years later, Armenians are standing up for their cause and for all of humankind. I hold out my hand to them and stand in their honour.