Struggle is intersectional

After more than a century of quiet cowardice, the United States House of Representatives voted to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, condemning the killing of 1.5 million Armenians and other Christians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.

405 members of Congress voted in solidarity with Armenians while 11 voted against the resolution and three abstained. A nearly unanimous, bipartisan House vote raises the question: why has it taken more than 100 years for Congress to form this consensus?

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the only Democrat to abstain from voting rather than recognize the genocide, calls the vote a “cudgel in a political fight” against Turkey, amid tensions involving military operations in Syria. According to Omar, the genocide should be recognized “based on academic consensus outside the push and pull of geopolitics.” The Congresswoman also used the vote as an opportunity to call for a “true acknowledgement of historical crimes against humanity” which addresses not only the Armenian Genocide, but also the transatlantic slave trade and systematic murder of Indigenous people.

According to academic consensus, the Armenian Genocide accounts for some of the most brutal instances of human rights abuses in history. Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the word “genocide,” named the mass murder of Armenians as a definitive example of the term. Over 30 countries announced solidarity with Armenians prior to the United States in the wake of violence experienced by their ancestors as well as the continued violence perpetrated by genocide deniers.

It’s naive of Omar to suggest that the Armenian Genocide could exist “outside the push and pull of geopolitics.” The mass extermination of a group of people doesn’t happen by accident; it’s calculated, organized, and entirely political. The fact that Turkey, along with many other countries, will not acknowledge the struggles of Armenian people to have their history recognized, emphasizes the importance of the House’s decision to vote.

Perhaps this is what’s so jarring about Omar’s position; instead of acknowledging the collective trauma involved in a 100-year-old contested genocide, the Congresswoman uses the House as a soapbox to speak over the issue at hand, advocating instead on behalf of black and Indigenous people and the systematic violence they have faced. Although black and Indigenous struggle in America predates the Armenian Genocide – not to mention both groups continue to face discrimination and violence – it’s hypocritical to advocate for an intersectional call to arms encompassing all genocides only to abstain from voting in solidarity with Armenians. Intersectionality and solidarity involves showing up for one another; the House has passed resolutions recognizing the struggles of black and Indigenous people in America before, but this is the first affirming the Armenian genocide.

Though America is not the first country to pass this kind of resolution, its position encourages a dialogue about accountability and solidarity which  may motivate other countries to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide in the future. 

Graphic @sundaeghost


Student Congress reaches consensus

Large-scale support comes out for sustainability and engineers

Concordia’s Student Congress met on Friday, Nov. 21 to discuss and come to an accord on several issues among the assembled student groups, ultimately passing motions concerning student space, engineering minors, and sustainability.

Since the congress represents the largest assembly of student groups it was decided to adhere to high voting standards, by asking for a 90 per cent voting threshold. This meant several motions did not pass, but several big ones did.

The Engineering & Computer Science Association (ECA) successfully argued to allow engineering students to take a minor should they want to. Up until now, the 120-credit engineering bachelor program has denied engineering students the possibility of choosing minors or taking classes outside their department.

An initiative to add a mandatory 200-level course on sustainability to each program was initially rejected because of concerns it would needlessly overlap with existing courses in certain faculties. There were also criticisms that adding an extra course would delay graduation for some programs (such as biology, in which students have difficulties as it is graduating on time) by up to a full year. The proposal was later passed after amendments agreed to the necessity of the idea, but left the actual details—such as the level and nature of the course—open to future discussion.

The successful motions aren’t binding in any way to the university administration but they do signal a strong desire of the student body, via their student group representatives, of the direction they would prefer the school to pursue.

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