On this day 101 years ago over 235 Armenian intellectuals in the Constantinople area were arrested; the first wave of many more that would follow. Many were killed by judicial or extrajudicial assassination while in custody. Others were deported, many of whom died along with a million other people during the journey to Der Zor. 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian people, displaced only because of their ethnic or religious affiliation, met their demise in the years that followed. This was possible because of, at least, a grave indifference to the immorality of the system which deported them, coupled with, at least, a grave indifference to the human needs of the population that was being "relocated." This grave indifference - coupled with the intentional policies that instigated the whole thing - much (but sadly not all of the world - I'm looking at you, the United States) of the world now rightly calls the Armenian genocide.
I've often looked back on this type of "relocation" and compared it with historical ones, such as the Trail of Tears. But we live in a world today that gives us no shortage of modern comparisons; over 13.5 million Syrian people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 6.6 million who are internally displaced by war and 4.8 million who are refugees abroad. I don't claim to have any sort of panacea here and I would encourage huge skepticism towards anyone who claims otherwise. I do know that politicians and political candidates turning Syrian refugees into boogeymen are playing a game that I consider shameful and immoral. I feel contempt for those who argue against resettlement on the basis of any perceived economic cost; these are real people, who have been forced into a position where everything is at risk, and their survival is more important than money.
A century from now it's my hope that we won't have to look back on today's forced migrations and think that the world showed a reckless indifference to their human needs. It's my hope that the survivors don't view today as the dark days that were the start of another genocide. We will see.