On September 27th, my band, System of a Down, and hundreds of our fans, the Armenian National Committee of America, Axis of Justice, and the Armenian Youth Federation rallied in front of Speaker Dennis Hastert's offices in Batavia, Illinois, an hour outside of Chicago.
I told the crowd about my grandfather, Stepan Haytayan, a 97 year-old survivor of the Armenian genocide and my only link to the distant past. I promised him that I would try to talk to Dennis Hastert about the genocide resolution and about how it's important to honor the survivors by acknowledging the truth that our own archives attest to.
My grandfather was lucky and survived the genocide; John Dolmayan, System's drummer, never got to know his. His grandfather suffered from emphysema and was shot and killed by a Turkish solider in 1915 after coughing and being discovered hiding in a tree.
We stood together to ask Speaker Hastert to 'do the right thing' and keep his commitment to hold a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, officially recognizing Turkey's destruction of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.
Some in the US government and various special interest groups have repeatedly warned about the consequences of angering Turkey, a NATO ally, over their denial of the Armenian Genocide.
But by acting as apologists for Turkey, Congress is actually holding back Turkey's progress. By holding a vote, we will be doing the right thing morally and, at the same time, encouraging Turkey to deal honestly with its past and more openly with its future. Scores of nations have passed resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Recently, the European Parliament made Turkey's acceptance of the genocide a pre-requisite to acceptance into the European Union.
Not recognizing an atrocity such as this for political expediency, commerce, or other reasons is simply cowardice and unacceptable.
It is time to recognize that history does and will repeat itself, unless we stop that cycle and demand accountability. The 20th century is stained with genocides all over the globe since Turkey's murderous attempt at racial extermination in 1915.
We are currently ignoring the first genocide of the 21st century in Sudan.
Had the Allied powers who defeated Turkey in WWI, including the United State, along with the World Court recognized, condemned, and punished the Ottoman Turks for their genocide after WWI, there are many who believe that Hitler would not have ventured ahead with his own genocidal plans.
As Hitler often said in his speeches prior to the holocaust, "Who remembers the Armenians?"
It's time to remember.