The Armenian Weekly

December 2, 2020

Editor’s Note: The Armenian Weekly received the following op-ed from Dr. Gregory Stanton regarding Dr. Henry Theriault’s open letter to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) published on November 4. Since Dr. Stanton addresses portions of the letter that have already been published online and in print, we are only including his rebuttal comments here.

Without the required vetting by the IAGS listserv moderator, Henry Theriault misused his position as IAGS president to directly post on the IAGS listserv an attack on Genocide Watch, on our Ten Stages of Genocide model, and ad hominem on its founding president.

Genocide Watch does not have the time to write an article to refute all of Theriault’s baseless allegations about Genocide Watch, our country report on Armenia, or the Ten Stages of Genocide model we have used successfully to predict genocides for over 20 years. Instead, Genocide Watch offers the following comments on Theriault’s letter and the errors in it.

The Genocide Watch country report on Armenia, released on October 31, makes no assertion that Armenians are about to commit genocide against Azeris. Genocide Watch did not say that Armenians are about to commit genocide against Azeris and does not believe this. Genocide Watch challenges Henry Theriault to find any sentence in our Armenia country report that asserts that ”Armenians are about to commit genocide against Azeris.”

Apparently Theriault is unfamiliar with the difference between our genocide warnings about specific current threats and our country reports which include the historical context of human rights situations in the country analyzed.

Theriault's statement: “most striking feature of the second ‘warning’ is that it closely follows the official manipulated Azerbaijani narrative of history with Armenians” is also false. Genocide Watch rejects the propaganda from Azerbaijan that Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) is still part of Azerbaijan.

Genocide Watch did not accept any Azeri propaganda, and we also included the historical context in both our genocide alert on Azerbaijan’s invasion of Artsakh and in our country report on Armenia. In fact, the historical context in our Armenia country report which Theriault denies is the expulsion of Azeris from Armenia and Artsakh. That is a historical fact. Genocide Watch didn’t accept any Azeri propaganda to determine it.

Genocide Watch would gladly compare Genocide Watch’s website with any other website on genocide in the world, including the website of the IAGS, initiated by the Genocide Watch's founding president in 2007.

Contrary to assertions in Theriault's letter, Genocide Watch shares and vets its warnings quite carefully with members of our distinguished board of advisers, with specialists on the countries we monitor and with other member organizations of the Alliance against Genocide. Additionally, the country report on Armenia doesn’t “parrot” propaganda from Azerbaijan or from any other source.

Theriault states, “a ‘warning’ from ‘Genocide Watch’ based on an unscientific process is meaningless. The facts of the risk of genocide by Azerbaijan and Turkey are rather clear; a ‘warning’ from ‘Genocide Watch’ adds no weight or legitimacy to those facts, but simply summarizes a body of evidence that is already clear and stands on its own.”

Actually, many policy makers take our warnings seriously. Just days after Genocide Watch issued its Alert, the British Parliament specifically noted our Genocide Emergency Alert on Azerbaijan’s invasion of Artsakh.

Genocide Watch hereby challenges Theriault to send the chapter he mentions critiquing the “10 Stages Approach” to Genocide Watch before it is published so Genocide Watch can write a rejoinder to be included in Jim Cox’s forthcoming volume.

In his letter, Theriault misrepresents the Ten Stages model. The stages are processes. They are not linear or teleological or consistent. Many stages occur simultaneously. The reason the model is useful is that it identifies processes that may lead to genocide, and it shows that there is a logic to the processes because they reinforce each other.

We do not claim that these are the only processes (stages) that contribute to genocide. Indeed, in 2012, Genocide Watch added two stages to its Eight Stage model. Genocide Watch does not believe that the Ten Stages of Genocide were handed down on a stone tablet on Mount Sinai.

Theriault has never discussed the Ten Stage model with us or with anyone else from Genocide Watch before he presumes to “critique” it. Elisa Forgey, for one, could explain the model to Theriault, or the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, which uses the Ten Stage model as the structure for comparing genocides in its permanent exhibit. Genocide Watch also uses other models such as Barbara Harff’s and the Minority Rights Group’s.

The Ten Stage model says in its opening paragraph that it is not a linear model. Theriault portrays it as a linear model that can only apply to past genocides.

In fact, it is merely a logical model of ten of the processes that may result in genocide. The model has proven useful in comparing genocides for many scholars and teachers, and it is one of the most powerful models yet discovered for noting processes that have been proven to contribute to genocide.

Contrary to comments in Theriault’s letter, the model is most useful for noting events in a country or situation that are danger signs of possible genocide. The model is oriented toward the future, not the past. No one claims that the model is causal. And it certainly isn’t magical.

Theriault reveals his mistaken view that the Ten Stages model is linear and must occur in order and totally misses the purpose of the model, which is to look forward, and to indicate warning signs of processes that contribute to genocide.

Stating that the “‘10 stages’ approach is completely unscientific,” Theriault demonstrates his inadequate view of the scientific method. He echoes political scientists who think the model is “unscientific” because it is not based on statistical analysis. In fact, it is as scientific as models of the processes of photosynthesis or of the double helix, which are also not based on statistical analysis.