Last month Armenians worldwide remembered the genocide which cost over a million people their lives. The genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government began on April 24, 1915 as forced deportations. Remembering the genocide is important to me because I am Armenian through my mother’s side. I recall my grandfather mentioning what Hitler said in 1939 before invading Poland, “Who today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?” By 1945, six million Jewish people were mercilessly slaughtered. My grandfather always maintained that if the world would have recognized what happened to the Armenian people, and some how held Turkey responsible, the Holocaust might never have happened.
Remembering in and of itself might seem insignificant when you consider how many genocides have occurred since 1915. Calling attention to the Armenian genocide is particularly important considering the Turkish government’s consistent denial. It is also important considering that Turkey aspires to be a member of the European Union.
Every year, the President of the U.S. makes a speech about the Armenian genocide on April 24, but fails to call it a genocide. This year, President Obama did not call it a genocide but “horrific.” As a presidential candidate, Obama vowed to recognize the genocide. Twenty-one countries have resolutions officially recognizing the Armenian genocide, including our neighbor to the north, Canada. Failing to recognize what happened in 1915 as a genocide, sends a message to a rogue government that it too can get away with a “final solution” for its “problem” ethnic group.
Let President Obama know that the Armenian Genocide needs to be recognized for what it was, a genocide by signing the petition, “Recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
Stopping the Darfur genocide by cutting off its funds
Almost a century has passed since the Armenian genocide, but unfortunately the 20th century was plagued with genocides. Equally unfortunate is the fact that a genocide is still going on in Darfur by the Sudanese government. It is a genocide funded by oil companies, such as PetroChina, operating in Sudan. Many companies with mutual funds invest in companies like Petrochina.
A proposal on JPMorgan Chase’s proxy ballot, called Proposal 10-Genocide-free investing, asks shareholders to vote on whether the Board “institute transparent procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in management’s judgment, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity.”
JPMorgan Chase asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow the proposal to be excluded from the proxy ballot, but the SEC denied the request.
Investors Against Genocide (IAG) launched a campaign to create awareness of “genocide-investing.” IAG took out full-page advertisement in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The ad asks readers:
Are Your Investments Tied to Genocide? Many financial institutions invest in PetroChina, a company which, through its parent, CNPC, provides Sudan‘s government with revenue that has been helping fund the Darfur genocide for years. The conflict has claimed 300,000 lives and left millions homeless. With a billion-dollar stake in PetroChina as of January 2011, JPMorgan Chase is one of its largest investors. On May 17, JPMorgan Chase shareholders have the opportunity to vote for genocide-free investing. How would you vote?
IAG’s awareness campaign includes Facebook ads that ask JPMorgan Chase credit card and banking customers, “Genocide in your wallet?” The ads link to an online petition with JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon as the target.
Photo from Rita Willaert via flickr