The first genocide
of the twentieth century
. From 1915
, the Young Turk government
of The Ottoman Empire
) murdered 1.5 million Armenians
and drove another 1 million
from their native homeland
. It should be noted that the figure of 1.5 million killed is the number that is accepted
by most historians. More conservative estimates have it at 1 million but some figures go as high as 1.9 million.
The plan was simple. Setting: World War I. The Ottomans are at war with the Russian Empire. The Christian Armenians, already the victims of extreme discrimination by the Muslim Ottoman Empire, are targeted again, this time accused of being pro-Russian. In 1908, the revolutionary Young Turk party had launched a campaign supposedly dedicated to reviving the dying Ottoman Empire and ending hostilities towards its minorities. For this reason, they had the support of the Armenians and were subsequently elected that year. Soon, however, their real plans for the Armenians surfaced. Secretly, the Young Turk government had long ago decided that the Armenians were a threat to the attempts to Turkify the populations to the east (now the Caucasus) and therefore they were to be exterminated. For this reason, and under the guise of "relocating" the civilian population away from areas where they could "aid the Russians", the entire population was sent on what was effectively a forced death march towards the deserts of Syria. The tragedy began on April 24, 1915. Hundreds of Armenian leaders were murdered in Constantinople (Istanbul) after being summoned and gathered. From then on, across the Empire, the same events transpired from village to village, from province to province. Thousands at a time were deported to neighboring countries such as Syria, and during these marches were where the bulk of the deaths occured. Turkish prison inmates were released from jail to lead these travels. The Armenians were beaten, raped, tortured, kidnapped, starved, and murdered. Those who miraculously survived these would often be killed upon arrival into the Syrian desert.
Though these events are well-documented and there was much coverage of the genocide at the time, the world has slowly forgetten what happened nearly a century ago. It doesn't help that to this day, Turkey has the gall to deny it ever happened. This is known as revisionist history. Despite overwhelming evidence including original telegrams, pictures (especially those of German Armin T. Wegner), Armenian and non-Armenian (odar) accounts (including the now-published Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's Story, who was the US ambassador to the Empire at the time), Turkey claims that it was no more than a civil war. A civil war which seems to have claimed the lives of more women, children, and elderly than it did able-bodied men. Luckily, however, an ever-increasing number of countries have officially recognized this crime against humanity. This list includes, but is certainly not limited to, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Greece, Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium, Cyprus, Lebanon, and most recently, France. It has also been mentioned in two United Nations reports. The partial story of the struggle to obtain recognition in the USA can be found in Remember the Armenians.
Armenians will never forget and will never accept denial. On April 24th, every year, Armenians around the world gather to commemorate the Genocide.
"Go on. Kill without mercy. Who now, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?" - Adolf Hitler addressing his troops before the invasion of Poland.
I am saddened to see that Turkey's misinformation campaign has leaked into Everything2. "Pasa
"'s (now-deleted) writeup in this node spreaded the now-defunct, revisionist
views which are still held true by the Turkish government: that the Armenian Genocide never happened, and we might even have it backwords.. the Armenians perpetrated the genocide against the Turks! Pasa
's claims such as "(the Armenians killed) 100000s of Turks" are not supported by any evidence and yet are presented as fact
. His story is mostly refuted in the Armenian Genocide FAQ
On a broader note, the Turkish government is desperately trying to keep the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people as a "topic under debate", while more and more Western countries recognize the Genocide every year. Fear of having to compensate the victims of the Genocide keeps Turkey from acknowledging the crime of their ancestors, showing a great lack of respect to those who perished in the massacres. The compensation that Turkey fears is not only monetary compensation, but also the possibility of having to return the territory of Western Armenia, where 3 million Armenians once flourished as a community, but was nearly devoid of the Christian minority after the "mysterious events" that transpired during World War I. This land is now a part of Eastern Turkey under the Treaty of Kars, signed in absence and without the approval of Armenian officials.
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I have no qualms with mauler's writeup, but have to question the phrase, "Arnold Toynbee's figure of 600,000 dead has become the figure most widely cited by scholars seeking an objective estimate". This is a little misleading. Having read many, many documents on the issue, I can say that the figure of "600,000" deaths is usually preceeded by "at least" or "over". That is to say, this figure is presented as the low-end estimate of the number of deaths. A quick internet search will support this assertion.