Terdjanian remembers stories his grandmother told of her childhood.
The killing was religious: Islamic Turkey versus Christian Armenia. His grandmother, Anna, was separated from her parents and sold with her younger brother into Turkish slavery when she was 5; her 2-year-old brother was kept outside the house, tied to a tree where he froze to death. When she was older she met another Armenian, a house servant, Hugas. They married and together fled the country ahead of Turkish soldiers, who would either kill Armenians or sell them into slavery to the Kurds for pocket change.
"A lot of Armenians were marched to death,” Terdjanian said. "The Turks didn’t want to waste their bullets shooting them.”
It angers Terdjanian that Turkish atrocities have not been acknowledged by the U.S. government as genocide.
"During the presidential campaign Mr. Obama repeatedly promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Terdjanian said. "However, since assuming office he has broken his pledge. According to Sen. [John] Ensign of Nevada the president has even gone so far as to pressure Congress against adopting legislation commemorating this crime against humanity.”
Terdjanian believes people need to know about the Armenian genocide. He hopes, armed with this information there will be an end to massacres like those in Rwanda, Cambodia and Serbia. A member of the Christian Apostolic Church, he worships at St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection in New Britain.
Though it has been nearly a century since the genocide the memory hasn’t faded.
"The Turkish government’s crime against humanity makes barbarians look like angels,” Terdjanian said. "Turkey is an unreliable ally; they blow like the wind.”
Genocide victims to be honored Saturday
State Rep. John C. Geragosian, D-New Britain, and state Rep. Christopher Wright, D-Bristol, along with members of Connecticut’s Armenian community will honor victims of the Armenian genocide Saturday during a ceremony at the state Capitol. It begins at 10 a.m. with the raising of the Armenian flag on the south side of the Capitol, followed by the remembrance ceremony at 10:30 a.m. in the Hall of the House of Representatives commemorating the 95th anniversary of the genocide.
"We must never forget the Armenian genocide,” Geragosian said. "The suffering of the Armenian people was one of the most horrific events of the 20th Century. We must make sure it is recorded by history in bold ink.”
"While we wait for the U.S. Congress to finally vote to recognize the Armenian tragedy, we in Connecticut pause to honor the victims of the Armenian genocide,” Wright said. "It’s appropriate that we honor the victims at our state Capitol. This sends an important message to people in our state and particularly to young people who will follow us.”
Twenty-six countries have recognized the genocide but it has not been officially recognized by the U.S. government. This year, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a resolution (House Res. 252) recognizing the "systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians” by the Turkish government from 1915 to 1923. The resolution awaits action by the full U.S. House of Representatives.
"This is an historic first step,” Geragosian said. "I urge the full House to vote on this important resolution. The United States has a moral duty to recognize the Armenian genocide.”
In a letter Wednesday to President Obama, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D of California, wrote in part:
"While we fully acknowledge the importance of the U.S.-Turkey relationship, we should never, for any reason, fail to call a tragedy of this magnitude by its rightful name. As such — on this April 24 — we urge you to stand on the right side of history and unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide.”
Fourteen U.S. Senators including Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, co-signed the letter.