Genocides don't go down in history

Torremolinos now joins countless other towns and cities in recognising this atrocity committed by th Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century


Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is observed by the Armenian diaspora on 24 April. Last Sunday, the Armenians of the Costa del Sol along with local authorities commemorated the victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915. It was a series of massacres and starvation of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottomans.

Traditionally in Benalmádena, but for the first time in Torremolinos, roughly one hundred people walked to the La Paloma and La Batería parks, respectively, to lay flowers at the khachkars, carved memorial cross-stones.

The first khachkar in Spain was erected in Alicante as a commemoration gift from the government of Armenia. Later, more were erected - in San Sebastián and in Barcelona, where last year they anointed their second khachkar.

The Costa del Sol's first khachkar was inaugurated in La Paloma park in October 2016. This was achieved after Benalmádena's council met in August 2016 and officially recognised and condemned the Armenian genocide. Later Malaga and Marbella joined more than twenty other cities in Spain, including a couple of towns in Seville and Cordoba provinces, that also recognised the clear aim of destroying Armenian culture and identity in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. On 23 October 2021, a khachkar was erected in Torremolinos, in the Parque de la Batería.

On Sunday, the mayor of Torremolinos, Margarita del Cid, in the context of commemorating the genocide in Armenia, also remembered the victims of the war in Ukraine, calling it "a senselessness that fills us with despair".

Genocide has been recognised as the most horrendous crime in international law. Genocides nevertheless are still occurring besides other numerous atrocities. The Darfur genocide during the ongoing conflict in Western Sudan started in February 2003. It has become known as the first genocide of the 21st century. But who could even expect that the word 'genocide' will be expressed again in Europe in 2022?

Genocide is defined as the intentional destruction of a people - usually as an ethnic, national, racial or religious group - in whole or in part. Although the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide came into force in 1948, its effectiveness is still disputed.

The very application of the term 'genocide' is usually applied very slowly and quite cautiously. However, the president of Estonia's parliament, Jüri Ratas, already claimed that "acts of genocide" had been committed against civilian populations in the town of Bucha and many other Ukrainian settlements.

Estonia became one of the first countries in the EU to label Russia's actions in Ukraine as genocide. Moreover, the country's parliament called on other governments and international organisations to "do the same".

Latvia and Poland have since also recognised Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "genocide". Will more countries do the same? In the more than 100 years since the Armenian massacre, this has been recognised as genocide by only 31 countries. So, that's hard to say or guess.