Santiago History Classes Explore the Armenian Genocide


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April 24th is the Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.  Last year, on this day, President Obama delivered a speech that became quite controversial due to the concerted efforts of the Turkish Consulate to make sure that President Obama does not label it a genocide.  President Obama, instead, called it a Medz Yeghern or the Armenian term for “great crime”.  Two History teachers, Cathy Whalen and Paulla Tilton, asked their classes to analyze 8 documents beginning with Obama’s speech and the 10 stages of Genocide to give them a framework to decide for themselves whether or not this historical event should be considered a Genocide.  Their culminating project was to write a letter to President Trump outlining the event and recommending to him to either call it a genocide because it was one OR to not call it a genocide because it wasn’t one. 

Here are a few of their letters!

Dear President Trump:

I am Alex Jones I am a sophomore at Santiago High School. I am writing this letter as part of a grade for my 5th period history class. We have been dicussing the Armenian genocide. We have also been talking about the holocaust in Language arts class. And I was wondering why we as Americans don’t call it a genocide but refer to it as a mass killing.

There are 8 stages and each stage is clearly displayed in the Armenian genocide. The first stage is classification. The Armenians were classified as unequal and were separated with a Turks vs. Armenians POV. The second stage is symbolism. Armenian were consisted of mostly Christians, but the Turks were Muslim, so they were labeled as infidels.the 3rd stage is dehumanization. The Armenians were denied basic human rights and even food and were to strip themselves. The 4th stage is organization. Where the Committee of Union and Progress had figured out who and how they would go about carrying out their plans. The 5th stage is polarization which was displayed when the Armenians had been isolated and could not go to public places or events. The 6th stage is preparation. This is clearly seen when the Armenians were not allowed to have weapons and were forced to turn them in. the 7th stage is extermination where 1.5 million Armenians were murdered during this stage. The 8th stage is denial where the Turkish government still to this day deny killing the Armenian people.

Sincerely

Alex Jones

Santiago High School

 

Dear President Trump:
I as a student at Santiago High School in Corona California am currently learning about the meaning of a genocide and how it made a big impact throughout history. To be clear we specifically focused on one event that may have been a genocide at the same time not. The situation was took place recently with the Armenians and Turkey and how Turkey treated the Armenians. The real question is here is, how would you President Trump declare what happened to the Armenians as a genocide on April 24, 2015? I would really appreciate if your response is well explanatory.

To go deep into this topic last week the Austrian Parliament signed a declaration that the slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks that commenced in 1915 was a genocide this was reported by LA Times. Many articles reported how between 1915-1923 many Armenians were unfortunately killed including women, men, and children. To make things a little more depressing all of this happened during WW1. Many described this genocide as a massacre. Just imagine if any other country tried to kill millions of americans today and for there to be war again, we both know we don’t want that. There’s a saying that says we must learn from the past to not commit the same mistake. With this genocide we can agree that we as a united nation could prevent from another massacre to happen.

Another genocide to happen here in the future will be tragic, but with role as president you can stop that and be more secure as a country. We as a united nation need to work together to bring peace and end war against each other. At the end of the day we realize we are all made of flesh and bones and die. Instead of separating people we need to come together and put our ideas as one. Thank you for making the time to read this letter and have a good day.
Sincerely,
Alexandra Lopez
Santiago High School

 

Dear President Trump,

My name is Colby and I’m a student at Santiago High School.  The purpose of my letter is to have you declare what happened to the Armenian’s as genocide on April 24, 2017, even though what happened is hard to talk about and I’m going to tell you why.

I think we all understand what the Ottoman Turks did to the Armenian’s was incredibly wrong; enough time has passed that now we need to acknowledge it as ‘genocide’.  Genocide is classified as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.  In this mass atrocity, 1.5 million Armenians were killed.  Genocide has 10 stages and I can give you a clear understanding from examples of the text “Analysis Why Armenia Genocide recognition remains a tough sell”.  An example of classification is by saying “… by being Christian or…” Today the Turks show another step of genocide, denial; The History Place says, “However, they avoided genocide.”  The Turks give an example of persecution;  “they blamed Armenia for the genocide.”

I think you can catch my drift on why this should be classified as Genocide.  I gave you specific evidence from credible sources and the proof is in the text and this is why I think you should use the term genocide when at your speech.  20 nations have already recognized it as genocide, so why don’t you?

Sincerely,

Colby Nowiki
Dear President Trump:

My name is Eddie Matamoros a 10th grade straight A student athlete.  My reason for writing you this letter is to let you know about what had happened to the Armenians. In which I have to give my opinion on whether or not what happened to the Armenians should be considered a genocide. Which you’ll declare that on April 24, 2017, but if not it shouldn’t be officially declare a genocide even though they haven’t declared it should be. The only problem I have with it is that it should’ve been declared many years ago. In at least the mid 1900’s cause now we are left with on the idea if it is or not. In some ways it can be resemble to the Holocaust past on what happened to the Armenians. Can best resemble what happened to the Jews.

This event occurred through the years 1915 to 1917 was lots of massacres and deportations. Towards the end it let to 1.5 million Armenians dead and others removed from the country. You may be wondering what a genocide is? There are ten stages that make a genocide. Classification, symbolization, polarization, extermination, denial, organization, persecution, discrimination and preparation. All are the key components to a genocide. Some examples of a genocide are that the Armenians were known as “Turks” and not Turkish which is symbolization. A law was made that forced them to abandon their property known as discrimination. Officially was recognized the mass killing of U.S minion Armenians a genocide this is known as extermination. These examples are just barely some of the facts that happened to the Armenians. There are tons and tons more things that had occurred during this time Mr. Trump. I encourage to see it in your heart and do right by these people. In

In conclusion I hope you take action and see through these facts and examples that I’ve provided for you. Please, Mr. Trump declare this a genocide because on April 24, 2017 you’ll shall be judged based on your decision. So, please do what’s right let it be a genocide and let the Armenians have there peace. Think about it what if something happened to us Americans. Americans wouldn’t want to be cleansed to if we were in the same situation as the Armenians. On a final note Mr. Trump these people were so haunted by what happened to them that it is illegal to talk about it in Turkey. I trust you to make the right choice….

Sincerely,
Eddie Matamoros
Santiago High School

 

Dear President Trump:

My name is Ethan Alfelor and I am a student from Santiago High School in Corona, California. As a citizen of the United States, I implore you to openly declare the atrocities committed against the Armenian people from 1915-1917 as a genocide. The reason I am writing to you is in reaction to Obama’s speech on the Armenian genocide. Obama promised in 2008 to recognize the Armenian massacre as a genocide but he called it a “first mass atrocity of the 20th century” or “the horrors of 1915”. The only person who considered it a genocide was Pope Francis.

The ones responsible for the genocide were the Turks. Because the Armenians changed their beliefs to Christianity they were being over taxed by the Turks and were forcing them turn their beliefs into Islam. After the Russians signed the Treaty of Berlin the Sultan Abdul Hamid attempted to falsely blame the Armenians of not making up any of their provinces. Then Hamid created a paramilitary of Kurds and tasked them to “deal with the Armenians as they wish”. In stating the 8 major stages of the genocide I hope you will understand why this should be called as such. The 8 stages were classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination, and denial. I will explain each with an example. In classification, the Armenians were classified as non-Muslim and Christians. In symbolization, the Armenians were symbolized as second class citizens and were called gavours or unbelievers. In dehumanization, the mistreatment of the Armenians was humane in the eyes of Turks and civil-restricting laws were put on Armenians. In organization the Central Community of the of the Turks they deployed killing units on the Armenians. In polarization intermarrying is forbidden and second class citizen division increases. In preparation Armenian property were stolen and their leaders are then executed. In extermination deportation, shootings, and massacres begin on the Armenians. In denial the modern Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and outlaws any accusation or mention of the event. How are these not seen as a way of removing a certain type of people? This was not just due to their “political aims”. The number of people killed should not make this any less a genocide.

I understand that this request upon a president has become an issue of not wanting to create strain between the US and other nations, but we cannot ignore truths. I ask you to push for our nation to recognize the Armenian deaths as the result of a genocide. You are a president who has already shown to not back down to threats. You have stood your ground on your beliefs. Now as a citizen who believes that truths, as bad as they may be, should be acknowledged. Denying a historical fact will not make this go away. Many countries, US states and cities have already acknowledged the genocide. Why can’t we as a country stand together and state this as well?

Sincerely,

 

Ethan Alfelor

Santiago High School student

 

President Donald Trump

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington DC 20500

 

Dear President Trump. My name is Hovsep Demirjian I am a sophomore at Santiago High School, today im writing this letter because this year in history class we talked about the Armenian Genocide, how Turks attacked Armenia and killed a million and a half people by destroying their villages and controlling them and taking over their places that belonged to Armenia and I want you President Trump to help me out about this story by answering my letter and declaring the Armenian Genocides story.

Of what I know is that in 1915 Turks attacked Armenia to control them because they knew all the Armenians where Christians and all of the ottomans (Turks) had different religions. So what they did was that they all planned to attack on Armenia and control places of their countries, so on 1915 Turks attacked Armenian people and killed a million and a half people by hanging them and hurting them till they die. Which was bad because Armenians did not do things against Turkish people and The Turkish people till now don’t accept that they did all of that murder to the Armenians and it belongs you President Trump and I to discuss about this history.

I think we should talk about this because we could help Armenian people be proud because we could be on their side, because the history is true that Turks killed the Armenians.

Sincerely

Hovsep Demirjian

Santiago high school

 

Dear President Donald Trump:

Hello my name is Isaiah. I am writing to you because I believe the mass slaughter of the Armenians from 1915 to 1917 should be considered a genocide. Due to what they were put through and had to go through. In our World history class we learned about the Armenians and what they endured during their time. I believe all that mess should not be ignored and well considered a genocide. Please declare it a genocide on April 24th.

For the Armenians 1915 to 1917 was a total nightmare for them. They were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks for various reasons. They were killed because of the belief that they were traitors, that they weren’t human. Their religious beliefs also lead to the killing of Armenians. Over 1 million Americans were killed between that time. They were ripped away from their home, stripped naked and forced to walk through the desert until they dropped dead. The women were sexually assaulted and their children sold as slaves.

I believe this action should be cleared onto what it really is due to the way Americans were discriminated and mistreated all over false beliefs. This mass slaughter should not be let go or brushed aside so easily.

 

Sincerely,

Isaiah Morales

Santiago high school

 

Dear President Trump:

 

My name is Jacob Davis Garcia.  I am writing you this letter to address the Armenian genocide.  I am 16 years old, a believer in God and one of your supporters.  During history class, the Armenian genocide was brought to my attention.  The purpose of this letter is o bring to your attention what has happened in the past and how to prevent it in the present.  In my opinion, no innocent person should have his or her life cut short.

 

In 1915, the leaders of the Turkish government set forth a plan to kill Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire.  In 1917, the Armenian genocide came to an and with 1.5 million Armenians dead.  When a genocide is put into effect it goes through ten phases.   They are classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization polarization, preparation, persecution, and extermination.  The tenth phase is denial.  I know that you and I desire the safety for the people of our country.  I thank God daily for all the ways this country has been blessed.  However, seeing the news of all the terrorist attacks around the world frightens me.  The reason I address this to you, Sir, is so that you can do all you can to make this country a safe place for all Americans.

 

Mr. President, I want you to be aware of this and keep this in your mind as you lead our country.  Please recognize the steps toward genocide; so in the future no more lives will be lost.  I believe you are already doing a great job.  I see that your truly care for this country and its people.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this letter, Sir.  May God bless you.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Jacob Garcia

Santiago High School

 

Dear Mr. President —

 

My name is Kyle McGee and I am currently a sophomore student at Santiago High School in Corona, California, and it as an honor to address you in this letter. As you already know, Armenian Remembrance Day is coming soon, on April 24th, and the events that occurred in the land formerly known as Armenia have been a controversial and sensitive topic, especially when it comes to political leaders outside of modern day Turkey. Now, I urge you to break this barrier of timid American political leaders past and officially declare and nationally recognize the atrocities of Armenia in 1915 as a genocide this April.

 

The Armenian Genocide follows the 10 stages of genocide almost perfectly. The first stage is classification, which is the act of distinguishing of populations by race, ethnicity, or, in this case, nationality. Before the infamous death marches and unjust deportations, the hatred of the Armenians from the Turks began with the Ottoman Turks separating themselves from the non-muslim, Christian Armenians, and began treating them as “infidels”, which falls into the second stage, symbolization. Soon, the Turkish government became involved, making it socially acceptable to abuse the Armenians and civil-restricting laws aimed directly at the Armenians were put into place. The infamous Young Turk Party builds mass militias and kill squads to prepare for mass killings of Armenians, falling into the next stage, organization, and the same party proposes intense amounts of propaganda to persuade more Turks to their cause, segueing into the polarization stage. Finally, on April 24th, 1915, the infamous extermination stage began, with thousands of needless murders, deportations, and massacres begin. And finally, as with any mass genocide, comes the final stage of denial, which we still see in Turkey today. The government refuses to acknowledge these events as a genocide and a past mistake on their part. Even today, the mention of these events is seen as a national insult and mention of these events as a genocide is outlawed, prompting President Obama to make a timid address in commemoration of last year’s Armenian Remembrance Day, delivering a speech that fell flat and made no impact on the country and less of an impact on the meaning of that holiday.

 

I implore you to make the stand, make the change, and most of all make the difference on the meaning of this day and the impact it has on this country and the rights of free speech and remembrance of the thousands of lives lost during the first mass atrocity of the 20th century.

 

Respectfully,

Kyle McGee

(March 2017)

Dear President Trump:

 

 

Hello President Trump, my name is Luis Diaz and I’m from Corona, California. I am in 10th grade at Santiago High School. I am also a brother to a sister and two brothers.  I am writing you this letter to ask you to declare what happened to the Armenian’s on April 24, 2017 as a genocide. This is what I believe you should do. This is better than to not officially declare it as a genocide.

 

 

Essentially, people aren’t quite sure that what happened in Armenia from 1915-1917 was a massacre, a genocide, or something else. In 1915, the Young Turk of the Ottoman Empire created a systematic genocide that killed over one million Armenians by execution, murder forced death marches and torture. The rest of the Armenian population was exiled. The exact definition of the word genocide is the deliberate liking of a large group of people, especially those who belong to a particular ethnic group/nation. This was deliberate, and a large amount of people were killed. If this had happened in America, Im sure you would consider it an official genocide.

 

 

In conclusion, I think that you, President Trump, should declare what happened to the Armenian’s as a genocide on April 24, 2017. You should remember that over one million Armenians were killed and tortured. This qualifies as a genocide.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Luis Diaz

Santiago High School

 

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Santiago History Classes Explore the Armenian Genocide