If you know only one thing about Armenia, it is probably the genocide of 1915-17. On April 24, 1915, authorities in what was then the Ottoman Empire arrested somewhere between 235-270 Armenians then living in what was then Constantinople. They were then placed on a series of trains which spread them out to several locations, but many were ultimately being led to their death. This was followed by the rest of the Armenian community being rounded up and marched hundreds of miles into the Syrian desert, largely without food or water, and being repeatedly attacked on the way. Those who made it were then placed in a number of concentration camps. By the end of it all, the death toll is placed anywhere between Turkey's number of 600,000, and the Western number of 1.5 million people.
Which brings us to the second thing you would know about Armenia: Turkey's steadfast refusal to accept responsibility for it and the pressure placed on other nations to go along with it, the United States being no exception. They prefer to call it the results of civil unrest. We disagree here.
Which brings us to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year ruled 2-1 that heirs could not sue insurance companies that sold life insurance policies to victims of the genocide. On Friday, one of the justices, Dorothy Nelson, changed her mind and reversed her vote and the ruling, now allowing those heirs to sue. Which apparently is a thing you can do. The previous decision was that the American government had sided with the Turkish government against calling it a genocide, but here in the reversal, it was reconcluded that there wasn't anything officially stated either way.
There is a push to take one more shot at a resolution in Congress recognizing it as a genocide. And just in case you thought this was one place you could get away from the Kardashians, you should be informed that they are of Armenian heritage and that Kim has called on her fans to help give it a shove in the right direction. The "Organization For Fighting Against Baseless Armenian Allegations"- there's a name for you- is displeased.
Meanwhile, today there is an international conference, "The Crime Of Genocide: Prevention, Condemnation and Elimination of Consequences", kicking off in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. Needless to say, calls to recognize it are taking center stage. One of the few Turkish academics to recognize it, Taner Akcam, said that genocide needs a new definition that takes into account more of what happened with the Armenians. Tessa Hoffman of Germany has advised Armenia to take it to The Hague. Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said that failure to recognize it enabled other genocides to occur over the years.
The fight doesn't appear to end anytime soon. But the Armenian community is advancing.