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| Ethnic Group Conflict Essay

Hovannisian (1992) indicates that “human rights advocates use the Armenian Genocide as an object lesson about the failure to confront and punish the crime and some among them seek legal remedies for the continuing trauma and injustice associated with that failure” (p.14). The main concern was that it was not openly voiced. The significance of these examples of genocide was diluted by the inclusion of other atrocities of committing more crimes (Hovannisian, 1992).

The Armenian Genocide as one of which intentionally perpetrated against a national, ethnic, racial or a certain religious group (Hovannisian 1992). This means that there was some conformity to some social needs. This genocide involved killing members of a certain group and causing serious bodily or mental harm. According to Hovannisian (1992) it also involves deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole.

Conformity therefore as defined by Kazarian (2001) refers “to behavioral patterns of going along with or giving in to the opinions and actions of other” (p. 194). Some factors that that relate to conformity include gender, group identification, and public announcement, ambiguity of task, personal competence and social supporter (Kazarian, 2001). These factors are known to contribute towards the culture of binding individuals to a certain group of people.

Waller (2002) in analyzing his experiments on obedience to authority indicated that there are some binding factors, or cementing mechanisms that cause a certain group to be involved in genocide. Conformity is one of the factors that cause a group and hold the individual tightly to a rigid definition of these situations thus closing off the freedom of movement to focus on features of the situation other than its authority structure (Waller, 2002). He thus says that conformity to peer pressure helps initiate and sustain perpetrators involvement in extraordinary evil. Waller also established that it is difficult for anyone who is bounded by links of mutual affection and interdependence to break away and openly refuse his or her participation in what the group is doing (p. 220).

These binding factors according to Waller (2002) play a significant role in for example extraordinary evils such as genocide. He continues to say that specifically three mechanisms often institutionalized in military or paramilitary organizations serve to help perpetrators disregard the effects of their acts of extraordinary evil. Waller (2002) sated that these include diffusion of responsibility, de-individuation and conformity to peer pressure (p.212). Within the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide it can be established that conformity to the Turkish authority was a major cause of this Genocide.

Furthermore, Hovannisian (1992) says that conformity may dictate a particular group to claim itself a right to life, hence becoming a threat to other humans. The Armenian Genocide as indicated by Hovannisian (1992) “illuminates with special clarity the dangers inherent to political manipulation of truth through distortion, denial and intimidation” (p.2). It also helps us to recognize that it is possible to make a transformation of consciousness, one that rejects every manifestation of genocide, including denial, conformity and as an instrument of state policy (Hovannisian, 1992).

Social perception according to Kazarian (2001) refers to the process of making sense of people. He continues to say that is has five critical aspects which include how people form impressions of others and how people present themselves to others. Kazarian (2001) stated that it involves also “how people attribute causes to the behaviors of others, why people are attracted to others and finally why people dislike or hate others” (p. 88). He continues to say that person schemas refer to people beliefs about a particular group of individuals. Kazarian (2001) also says that “self schemas which involve self knowledge and personality traits and behaviors patterns that are central to our own self” (p.89). This are the basis upon which the Turks government carried out genocide on the Armenians. Self schemas for example of western cultures tend to be more collectivistic, which means interdependence in social relationships is more highly valued (Kazarian, 2001).

Social perception or cognition on the other hand also involves role schemas which refer to people’s knowledge about norms and behaviors expected of them in particular social or occupational positions Kazarian (2001). The last type of social cognition is event schemas or scripts. As noted by Kazarian (2001) event schemas involve organized sequences of well-known activities in well known situations (p. 190). The representation of the Armenians to the Turkish could have meant to influence intimidation hence causing the extra ordinary evil of genocide.

Valentino (2005) stated that “ethnic mass killings result from the effort to fundamentally reorganize society at the expense of certain groups” (p.153). Valentino (2005) continues to say that the basis may be to transform the economic and political organization of the society which relies mostly on the concept of social cognition and perception. Other forms of genocide may have their basis on transforming the ethnic, national or religious composition of a society (Valentino, 2005). Therefore according to Valentino (2005) stated “Armenian genocide was the final move in a long series of responses by the Turks which was designed to halt the accelerating disintegration of their empire” (p. 157).

Valentino (2005) continues to say that documentary evidence of the Turkish leader’s decision making during those periods was convinced that mass killing and other potential options of dealing with Armenian had already failed and therefore would not provide a permanent solution to Turkey’s problems. With these conclusions Valentino (2005) noted that t”he Young Turks concluded that ethnic cleansing was the most appropriate means to deal with the Armenian threat resulting to the Armenian Genocide” (p. 165).

The most important social perceptions that need to be addressed to address this issue of the Armenian Genocide fall under three categories which include forgive, forget, fairness to others and not encouraging violence (Hovannisian, 1992). On the other hand Hovannisian (1992) says that what may lack is that ethical notions come with the demand that that Armenians should forgive and forget the wrongs which were done to them. It is also important to note that the Armenians have been subject to discrimination and server economic pressure. Hovannisian (1992) also states that while neither ethnocide nor discrimination constitute to genocide, they do display the attitudes of dehumanization and rejection which are necessary elements in physical genocide and they also indicate the desire to remove the Armenian culture from a society.

Waller (2002) says that beyond a cognitive bias we should not be resistance to situational explanations because they are more absolving to attributes extraordinary evil to the dispositional flaws of others. Therefore in order to avoid this occurrences Waller (2002) stated that individuals should articulate that “most human behavior is an interaction of dispositional and situational influences” (p.229). It is also equally important to have a positive attitude towards social perceptions for example person, self, role and event schemas. Coupled with a positive attitude these social perceptions do not inflict actions associated with extraordinary evils such as genocides.

In summary Waller (2002) states that a “culture of cruelty, combined with conformity to some evil binding factors within a group can be seen as the major containers in a social context that encourage rewards of genocide” (p. 229). Waller continues to say that in order to avoid genocide we must borrow the perspective of the perpetrators and view their extraordinary evil not as the work of lunatics but instead view them as actions with a clear and justified purpose (2002).

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