California Sees Rise In Anti-Armenian Hate Crimes

Armenian genocide
Armenian genocide monument in Larnaca, Cyprus. Cyprus was among the first countries to recognize the genocide. |

Hate crimes against Armenian Christians in California are escalating, reports say.

Four anti-Armenian hate crimes including arson and vandalization were recorded just in San Francisco Bay Area, as per the San Francisco Examiner. These all occured in the last six months, the International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.

About 2,500 Armenian-Americans reside in the bay area of San Francisco who are subject to these hostilities. Their plight was compounded by their home country's war against Azerbaijan which catapulted in September. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict for years over territorial dispute.

Acts of Aggression

On Sept. 17, 2020 an unidentified suspect attempted to burn down the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church. The damage was extensive. The FBI's San Francisco Field Office, in response, said it will reward anyone who can give helpful information about the arsonist.

FBI Special Agent Craig Fair stated, "This act of violence was not just an attack on a building, but on a congregation. This was an attack on a community."

Other incidents include shooting and hateful graffiti on an Armenian school using Azerbaijani colors. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

The Root of the Conflict

The spread of the Armenian diaspora in free countries like the U.S. was due to the mass killings of Armenians in 1915-16 by the Ottoman Turks. A century passed and the Turkey government denied allegations of genocide. Turkey is also a supporter of Azerbaijan.

This systematic spread of aggression against Armenians wherever they moved

was the result of the clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the land of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Hatred against Armenians is "already widespread within Turkey, and continues to grow as a result of anti-Armenian rhetoric used by the Turkish government," the ICC reported.

In solidarity with the Armenians, about 35,000 people marched around the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles last year. People also gathered outside the Armenian Consulate. Their protest was on Turkey's alliance with Azerbaijan against the people of Armenia.

Turkish Consul General Can Oguz said his country has nothing to do with the two warring countries, the LA Times noted in their report.

"Turkey has strong relations with Azerbaijan, it's no secret..based on history and culture. Accusations leveled against Turkey in the recent confrontation are just aimed to distract attention from this illegal occupation and the violation of our recent cease-fire."

The Armenian Christians

Armenian Christians were a minority in their homeland but have peacefully lived there until the gradual downfall of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century.

Their causes, however, attracted interventions from many European countries. This led to their persecution.

They're regarded as "potential fifth columns for European intervention and a barrier to the establishment of a more consolidated, Islamic empire," observed Charlie Laderman, a lecturer in international history in the War Studies Department, King's College, London.

Between 1894 and 1896, the oppression turned to the massacre of 100,0000 Armenians. This was known as the Hamidian massacres. Another greater mass killings of Armenians followed in 1915.

America sent humanitarian aid to Armenia through missionaries. Despite reports of ongoing atrocities against Armenians, the missionaries advised that it's better for the U.S. government to not try to do anything that will agitate the Ottoman Empire.

This is because they have worked on establishing a good reputation and have also built friendships among the Ottoman Turks. Declaring war against the empire will jeopardize the missionaries' efforts of bridging peace between Ottomans and Armenians.