On 24 April, Armenians worldwide, along with many countries, commemorated the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians went to Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan to remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey denies the fact of Armenian Genocide. Uruguay (1965), the Republic of Cyprus (1982), Argentina (1993), Russia (1995), Canada (1996), Greece (1996), Lebanon (1997), Belgium (1998), Italy (2000), the Vatican (2000), France (2001), Switzerland (2003), Slovakia (2004), the Netherlands (2004), Poland (2005), Germany (2005), Venezuela (2005), Lithuania (2005), Chile (2007), and Sweden (2010) recognise and condemn the Armenian Genocide. The Council of Europe and the World Council of Churches also recognise and condemn the Armenian Genocide.
The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during World War I are what we now call the Armenian Genocide. The Young Turk government perpetrated these massacres throughout all of the regions of the Empire. The first international reaction to the violence came in a joint statement by France, Russia, and Great Britain in May 1915, where they defined the Turkish atrocities directed against the Armenian people as “a new crime against humanity and civilisation”, with an agreement that that the Ottoman government must be punished for committing such crimes.
Why did the Armenian Genocide happen?
When World War I erupted, the Young Turk government, hoping to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire, adopted a policy of Pan-Turkism, that is, the establishment of a Turkish empire comprising all Turkic-speaking peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia extending to China, with the additional intention of Turkifying all ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenians were the main obstacle standing in the way of the realisation of this policy. Although the government took the decision to deport all Armenians from Western Armenia (Eastern Turkey) in late 1911, the Young Turks used World War I as a suitable opportunity for its implementation.
How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?
There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of World War I. Approximately one-and-a-half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. Another half-million found shelter abroad.
The mechanism of implementation
Genocide is the organised killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and internal machinery to implement it. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction. On 24 April 1915, the first phase of the Armenian massacres began with the arrest and murder of hundreds of intellectuals, mainly from Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire (now, Istanbul in present-day Turkey). Subsequently, Armenians worldwide commemorate 24 April as a day to memorialise all the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The second phase of the “final solution” was the conscription of some 60,000 Armenian men into the Ottoman Army. Then, Turkish soldiers disarmed them and killed them. The third phase of the genocide was massacres, deportations, and death marches of women, children, and the elderly into the Syrian Desert. During those marches, Turkish soldiers, gendarmes, and Kurdish mobs killed hundreds of thousands. Others died of famine, epidemic diseases, and exposure to the elements. Turkish soldiers raped thousands of women and children. Tens of thousands were forcibly-converted to Islam. Finally, the fourth phase of the Armenian genocide was the total and utter denial by the Turkish government of the mass killings and elimination of the Armenian nation. Despite the continuing international recognition of the Armenian genocide, Turkey’s consistently fought the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide by any means, including false scholarship, propaganda campaigns, lobbying, etc.
24 April 2013
Orthodox Christianity and the World