By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Last month, I reported in this column the results of the Zogby Analytics survey, which found that 35% of the American public was aware of the Armenian Genocide. I thought this was a low figure, having expected that a larger percentage of Americans would be cognizant of the Armenian Genocide.
Several readers correctly pointed out that the 35% figure is not low at all since:
1) One third of the US population of over 300 million means that at least 100 million Americans are aware of the Armenian Genocide.
2) Most Americans are unaware of events occurring in their own time, let alone a genocide that took place in a far off land a century ago.
This week, I would like to present the results of another important survey conducted in 31 countries by two French groups: Fondapol (Foundation for Political Innovation) and Foundation for the Memory of Shoah. This international poll asked 33 questions in 24 languages to 31,172 young people between the ages of 16 and 29, regarding their knowledge and characterization of various significant world events, including the Armenian Genocide.
Here are highlights of the 164-page global poll, originally published in French:
-- On average, 90% of respondents in 31 countries acknowledged that the Jewish Holocaust was a genocide, while 77% considered the killings of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish government also a genocide. This is a significantly high percentage since 100 years later the memory of those barbaric acts continues to remain alive in the minds of much of the world’s younger generation.
-- The percentage of those aware of the Armenian Genocide is even higher among Europeans (82%), with France in the lead (93%), followed by Greece (90%), United Kingdom (68%), and Americans (64%). Not surprisingly, the lowest figure was registered in Turkey (33%). However, this percentage is not as discouraging as it seems at first glance. Despite a century long genocide denial concocted by the Turkish government, using massive state resources, it is a miracle that fully one-third of the Turkish youth, in tens of millions, reject their government’s propaganda by responding truthfully to the pollsters without any reluctance or fear. The 33% figure also shows that the facts of the Armenian Genocide are acknowledged in Turkey much beyond the small circle of Turkish liberals and intellectuals.
-- The percentage of the young people cognizant of the Armenian Genocide in the other 26 countries is as follows: Australia (67%), Austria (85%), Belgium (81%), Canada (71%), China (80%), Croatia (87%), Czech Republic (74%), Denmark (81%), Estonia (81%), Finland (83%), Germany (83%), Holland (76%), Honduras (87%), India (51%), Israel (88%), Italy (87%), Japan (68%), Latvia (84%), Lithuania (70%), Poland (87%), Romania (72%), Russia (84%), Serbia (86%), Spain (86%), Switzerland (87%), and Ukraine (65%).
-- The Rwandan Genocide of Tutsis by Hutus has the third highest public awareness (76%) in 31 countries, less than the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, despite its more recent occurrence 21 years ago!
-- A varying percentage of survey respondents classified the following events as genocide, while ignoring the existence of the Cambodian Genocide:
1) United States dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 70%.
2) The 1937 Nanking Massacre in China by the Japanese Imperial Army: 66%.
3) Colonization of African and Asian countries by Europe and the United States: 55%.
4) The 1932-33 famine in Ukraine: 41%.
5) The 1943 famine in India: 37%.
The above figures indicate that the knowledge of the Armenian Genocide among young people in 31 countries is higher than those five historic cataclysms.
The most important revelation of this global survey is the Turkish government’s obvious loss of the protracted battle of genocide denial not only internationally -- as an increasing number of countries have recently recognized the Armenian Genocide -- but also domestically, since one-third of the Turkish youth also acknowledges it!
Finally, if we assume that the entire population of the surveyed countries has a similar knowledge of the Armenian Genocide as its youth (77%), we can estimate that around three out of the four billion people living in these 31 countries are informed about the Armenian Genocide. We can similarly extrapolate that 77% of the world’s total population of 7.25 billion -- over five billion people -- recognize the Armenian Genocide!