In the News
Instances of Genocide Can't Be Forgotten
The Burlington Times
July 15, 2012
In July, people in Bosnia and around the world remember the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst war crime in Europe since World War II.
Seventeen years ago, on July 11, 1995, the Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic executed over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim civilians in an attempt to eradicate an ethnic group. In 2004, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia concluded that the massacre constituted a genocide. In the recent weeks, 520 more victims of the Srebrenica crime have been identified and laid to rest in Bosnia.
Marking the anniversary of this genocide, President Obama stated that the “a measure of justice is finally being served for the victims” as the perpetrators are “now being called to account for their actions.”
While atrocities in the Balkans drew a suitable international response, another war crime committed in Eastern Europe 20 years ago was left out of attention. On Feb. 25-26, 1992, the armed forces of Armenia carried out a brutal mass killing of hundreds of Azerbaijani civilians, including women and children, in the town of Khojaly. Human Rights Watch called it the worst massacre of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but the Khojaly crime did not get a fitting international legal assessment and its perpetrators were never brought to justice.
Failure to prevent the war crimes in Srebrenica and Khojaly emphasizes the necessity of a pre-emptive response to humanitarian crises. July 20 marks the anniversary of the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation by the Turkish Armed Forces to protect Turkish Cypriots from ethnic cleansing masterminded by the Greek-dominated government in Cyprus. The tone for atrocities was set by the Cypriot Interior Minister, Polycarpos Yiorkadjis, who proclaimed that “there is no place on Cyprus for anyone who does not speak, think and constantly feel Greek.” Consequently, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots were massacred and over 100,000 of them have been forcefully displaced from their homes before 1974.
I join Turkic-Americans, members of the Pax Turcica Institute, the Assembly and the Federation of Turkish-American Associations, Azerbaijani-American Council and Azerbaijan Society of America, to properly recognize the victims of the massacres in Srebrenica and Khojaly in our legislature and to commend the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation by Turkey as an exemplary action to prevent a genocide.