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The Imperial War Museum on Crimes Against Humanity

The Imperial War Museum on Crimes Against Humanity that opened on 5 December 2002 has gripped the attention of many Armenians (and non-Armenians) world-wide.The initial fear that the Armenian Genocide was being swept fully under the carpet proved to be somewhat unfounded in that the film refers (but ever so cursorily) to the Genocide as does the interactive and participatory part of the exhibition.

However, the IWM inserted an exclusion clause in the exhibition to the effect that 'The insistence of Armenians and most academics, that the killings of 1915 constitute a genocide is fiercely opposed by Turkey. The disagreement had produced violence by Armenians against Turkish government officials, and continuing opposition from Turkey to public commemorations and official recognition of what happened'.

Although this statement could be considered in some sense factual, and might even boomerang against the Turkish denial, it is still dangerous.

aa. It implies that recognition for the Genocide has only been granted by Armenia and academics but ignores the many recognitions from different parliamentary, legislative and international sources world-wide (such as the Vatican, European Parliament, Italy, France, Lebanon, Sweden, Argentina and others).

bb. It uses the term 'fiercely' in a disparaging manner and implies that such resistance is wrong morally, legally and politically.

cc. The denial per se is self-tortuous! As one prominent Armenian commented on it in a message to the museum, having Turkey deny the Genocide is as valid as Eichmann denying the Holocaust.

As such, one suggestion that has already been promoted in different shapes and that is today also applied by CRAG is to have mail / email / card campaign by different individuals during this festive season.

The message could be addressed to Admiral Sir Jock Slater, Chairman of the Board of Turstees at the Museum, or to Mr Robert Crawford, its Director-General, or to Ms Suzanne Bardgett, its Project Manager.

The Imperial War Museum is located at Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ, and its e-address is mail@iwm.org.uk

You could simply send a card that wishes the IWM festive wishes from an Armenian who is a survivor of Crimes Against Humanity. Or else, you might add another wish that focuses on the poignancy of the Genocide and the wantonness of the IWM statement itself.

Why do it?

Although the exhibition is already on, it would send a message for future issues relating to the Armenian Genocide - such as Holocaust Memorial Day 2003 or any BBC programme(s) about the Genocide to be possibly shown in the new year.

It is important to begin establishing parameters of action that impact Armenians in the UK as much as elswhere.

But in the final analysis, you retain the choice of action, the course of such action, and also the option of visiting the exhibition (if possible) and making your own mind up.

How?

In large numbers! One or two messages do not have the same weight, definition and meaning as scores of messages.

In the final analysis, the choice is yours since the cause is yours too.

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