When a leading Turkish novelist said earlier this year that 1 million Armenians were murdered in his country during World War I, he broke a deep taboo.

Three lawsuits were filed against Orhan Pamuk, accusing him of damaging the state. “He shouldn’t be allowed to breathe,” roared one nationalist group. In Istanbul, a school collected his books from students to return to him. On a news Web site, the vote ran 4-1 against him.

Turkey’s mass expulsion of Armenians during World War I - which Armenians say was part of a genocide that claimed 1.5 million lives - is a dark chapter rarely discussed in Turkey or taught in its schools.

But slowly the veil is being lifted. One reason is that Turkey is more open and democratic today, another is its ambition of joining the European Union; French President Jacques Chirac has said Turkey must first acknowledge the killings.

Turkey is also eager to counter Armenian diaspora groups that are pushing European governments and the United States to declare the killings genocide. And the approach of April 24, the 90th anniversary of the date Armenians mark as the start of the killings, is focusing attention on the issue. ~Louis Meixler, AP (courtesy of MyWay.com)

On Sunday Armenians will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the genocide of their people, an atrocity of which most Americans are at best only dimly aware if at all. It is high time that Washington called the genocide what it is and that Ankara acknowledged the crimes of the Ottoman and republican governments.