System of a Down waves to a crowd of Armenians in the Republic Square in Yerevan on April 23rd, after their first-ever performance in Armenia, commemorating the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Photo Credit: John Dolmayan Facebook

Today is a really important day in history — one that you should take a minute out of your afternoon to learn about. It’s one dear to me personally because it is the event that initially sparked my interest in politics & activism some 12 years ago (thanks to the help of the metal band System of a Down) and guided me on the journey that has led me to the views I hold today.

Today is the 100 year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide — the systematic mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians between the years 1915-1923 (of an original estimated population of about 1.8 million).

The genocide occurred in two primary stages:

First, guns were confiscated and all able-bodied men, intellectuals and scientists were conscripted into fighting for the Ottoman Empire during the Great War. These individuals were later led out to deserts and killed. Finally, without a means of defense, able-bodied men to resist, or intellectual voices to dissent — the Turks came in for the women, the children and the elderly – raping and killing them, often times in front of their families.

The Armenian Genocide is an important one because its execution was almost flawless, especially given that it was carried out amidst a time that the world saw industrialization and a raised sense of global awareness. So successful it was, that Adolf Hitler himself even said that it was the blueprint he used to carry out the Holocaust. Many others have since emulated the Armenian model.

Today, the Turkish government, along with its ally, the U.S., have denied that these killings were in fact a genocide. The Turkish government has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists groups to keep it that way. Obama, who promised as a candidate that he would call the genocide for what it was and recognize it, went completely out of his way in a recent speech commemorating the centennial anniversary, from using the “g-word” entirely.

There was some truth to Hitler’s words, during a speech justifying the invasion of Poland, when he said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

It’s a really sad piece of history, but one that deserves our knowing. Before, I was convinced that the only way to prevent genocide from occurring was a strong, collective international effort, but today I understand that to be an inherently flawed approach given that it relies on the use of the state — the same collective body of thugs that carried out the attack in the first place. Only free and unhampered markets that bring peace and prosperity to the maximum amount of people offer the greatest hope that the cycle of ethnic cleansing ends. For the more we render the state, which has throughout human history carried out attacks like this, obsolete, the weaker it becomes, and the stronger the individual.