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 What is the Armenian Genocide?

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Kody
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PostSubject: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:55 pm

Credit to Anomolous from Soadfans.


Mmkay, so last year, I typed up a brief summary of the events leading up to the genocide (...well...as brief as you can get while trying to cover the complexity of the situation fairly thoroughly). I typed the whole thing up in one day, trying to condense an ocean of information into a tiny pond. It was quite the daunting task. I spent the last few weekends correcting, tweaking and fine tuning that piece. There is a lot more pertinent info added to it, but by reworking it a bit, it's only a page longer than last year's piece. Unfortunately, I've been trying since the 4th to get a few people well versed on this subject to proofread it for any remaining historical or time line inaccuracies to no avail. Sad But anyhow, I'm almost positive it's completely accurate, and the memorial date of the 24th is too close now to wait any longer, so I'm throwing it up as is. It's my small part for the cause of getting this even recognized, and making people aware of it. I know this will be of little concern to most, but for those that are interested, I thank you in advance for taking the time to read. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Once I finally DO get a few qualified people to proofread this, I'd like to see if we can get this stickied and locked somewhere on this message board.





The History

Armenians are an ancient peoples dating back more than 5,000 years to the Anatolian region. According to the Bible, Noah's Ark landed in the "mountains of Ararat", which were in the middle of the Armenian Highland at the time, and many Biblical scholars believe the setting for the Garden of Eden was in Armenia. Their founding father, Haik, for whom the natives named their country, is believed in Armenian legends to be the great, great grandson of Noah himself. Haik established the first Armenian nation in 2492 BC after defeating the Babylonian king Bel. In 301 AD, Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official formal religion. Throughout the centuries, Romans, Assyrians, Persians and the likes would invade Armenia both for political, as well as religious reasons. The last of these conquests would turn out to be the most significant and tragic in Armenian history: The Islamic Ottoman Turks.

The Ottoman Turks were successors to the Seljuk Turk who were originally Mongols that migrated to the Anatolian region from Central Asia around the 11th Century AD. They had paved the way for the Ottomans to move in and conquer Constantinople in 1453, declaring it the state capital for their new Empire. Subsequently, Armenia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. At its height, the Empire encompassed all of Anatolia, the vast majority of the Middle East, large portions of the most northern and northeastern tips of South Africa, and almost all of southeastern Europe. The Turk’s Mongolian culture and ancestry slowly dissolved over the course of their 600 year rein as they absorbed and assimilated to the cultures of these conquered territories, especially those of the Anatolian region.

As with all Christian minorities within the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were allowed their own religious community in the millet system. Within this system, they could rule themselves so long as they followed the dhimmi, or non-Muslim laws. While these laws fluctuated as rulers changed hands throughout the years, for the most part, they remained the same and were quite bigoted towards the minorities. Christians were not allowed to vote, bare arms, testify against Muslims in court, serve in the military (for which, they were obligated to pay an exemption tax), and were taxed more heavily than Muslims. These taxes were increased even more in 1875 due to the Empire being on the verge of bankruptcy. In short, the Christian minorities were considered second-class citizens whose treatment was similar to what African Americans endured in the U.S. prior to the civil rights movement. They weren’t slaughtered en masse every other day, but it was clear that they were considered to be beneath their Muslim rulers, and were to be subservient to them. Yet in spite of these discriminatory policies, the Armenians actually did quiet well under this system. For centuries, they prospered as successful businessmen and moneylenders, and held prestigious positions both within their communities, as well as in government. And unlike most of the other Christian millets, the Armenians resisted revolting against their oppressors for the better part of the Ottoman reign, leading the Ottomans to label them as millet-i-sadika, or the "loyal millet".


The Build-Up

While the Christians lamented over their oppression under Ottoman rule, it would pale in comparison to the lack of compassion and intolerance Sultan Abdul Hamid II would show. Sultan Hamid already had a great dislike for Christians due to their many violent rebellions in the past. One of his first lines of action when he took over the Empire in 1876 was to suspend the constitution and parliament, ruling the Empire in whatever fashion he best saw fit. His disdain for the minorities only grew after the Ottomans lost the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, which led to the independence of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro, autonomy for Bulgaria, reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ceded parts of Armenia to Russia. Between the significant loss of territory, and the additional burden of paying a colossal remuneration to Russia on an already financially struggling state, the Empire was quickly diminishing. This only served to further shorten Sultan Hamid’s fuse with the minorities, which in turn led to many mass scale slaughters against all Christian subjects at the slightest sign of protest, and earned Hamid nicknames such as “the Bloody Sultan”.

The 1890’s became an increasingly violent time as a struggle ensued between the Armenians, who were no longer taking their mistreatment sitting down, and Sultan Hamid, who struggled to show he was still in control. Amidst the brutality displayed by the Sultan, the Henchag (1887) and Dashnag (1890) political parties were formed to create an organized voice for the Armenians. Initially, they set forth by peacefully protesting against their mistreatment in places like Constantinople, demanding equality and autonomous land. But as these protests were met with bloodshed, and diplomatic pleas to the outside for help yielded no results, small pockets of revolutionaries took a much more violent approach. Amidst several smaller skirmishes, there were three major uprisings led by these revolutionaries in the mid 1890’s, ending in the death of over 100 Turkish diplomats and officials, as well as the death of Turkish and Kurdish civilians. The violence had been going back and forth between the Armenians and the Sultan until Sultan Hamid trumped the actions of the Armenian rebels by ordering a wave of mass slaughters. These mass slaughters of various villages from 1894 - 1896 are known as the “Hamidian Massacres”. This was somewhat similar to the Ottoman response to the Bulgarian Uprising in April and May of 1876, only the Bulgarian Uprising was a far better prepared and organized, preplanned movement. The Armenian rebellions were more of an impromptu response to the violence the short fused Sultan displayed against their protests, and had little to no organization. Also, the Hamidian Massacres were on a much larger scale, and aimed primarily at innocent villagers rather than armed rebels. It is estimated that anywhere from 80,000 to 300,000 Armenians were killed in the last decade of the 19th Century.

The turbulent close to the last century left the Armenians in despair. Confused and angry, the nationalist notion that had swept over the other Christian minorities much earlier was quickly growing support amongst the Armenians. But there was a new hope on the horizon. A group of visionaries, the Young Turks, were also growing increasingly dissatisfied with Sultan Hamid’s rule of the Empire. They believed the route to progress was through reinstating the constitution and parliament that Sultan Hamid had suspended. During the opening years of the 20th century, they solicited the help of the Armenians, as well as other Christians and Jews by enticing them with promises of equal rights and a secular regime if they were to reach power. Seeing that they shared the same goal of overthrowing the Sultan, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation put suspicion aside, and agreed to aid the Young Turks. In June of 1908, the Young Turks succeeded in a bloodless coup, immediately taking away the Sultan’s authority, and ceasing the suspension of the parliament and constitution as promised. The Christians rejoiced as they gained some rights, like being allowed to serve in the military, and having a political voice. Even the Dashnag party had a place within the new governing body. Things finally appeared to be looking up for the minorities.

However, due to the Young Turks lack of organization, inability to form a post-election government, and loosing Bulgaria within their first year of power, this new liberal body was not finding much support amongst its more fundamentalist Muslim citizens. Meanwhile, Sultan Hamid’s promises of returning to a “rule of religion” if put back in power kept many in his favor, enough so to inspire an attempted countercoup in 1909. On April 13th (referred to as the “31 March Incident” due to the Julian calendar used by the Ottomans at the time), Sultan Abdul Hamid II momentarily regained power as the military revolt took over Istanbul. The revolt only lasted 10 days, after which, the Young Turks took back control and exiled Sultan Hamid for good, giving his position to his brother, Mehmed V. The countercoup was a failure.

Unfortunately, the Sultan’s brief reclaim of power afforded the Ottoman nationalists enough time to spark a mass killing spree of Armenians in the province of Adana. The angry Muslim mobs blamed the Armenians for the first coup of the Sultan, and rumors of a possible uprising or revolt to combat the countercoup only served to anger them more. The Armenians were also targeted due to their relative wealth in a time of financial hardship for most Turks. Uncontrollable violence quickly spread to other provinces. By the time they regained control, the Young Turks had great difficulty stopping the events, as the soldiers sent out by the military to control the area either reacted slowly, allowed what was going on to continue, or even joined in on the killings themselves. It took a month for order to be restored, but not before 15,000 – 20,000 Armenians had been killed in what is known as the “Adana massacre”. Disgusted by the actions of these nationalists, the subsequent trials ordered by the Young Turks in July of 1909 ended in the execution of 124 Muslims for their instigation, and/or involvement in the massacres.


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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:56 pm

The state of the Empire continued to decline under the rule of the CUP. The initiation of the 1st Balkan War saw the Ottomans loose more military battles and land in 1912, striking yet another massive blow to the pride of this once almighty Empire. As thousands of Muslim refugees poured into Istanbul from the lost territories with tales of Christian brutality against them, animosity and tension was at an all-time high. Many Turks felt more and more that a mixed religious and cultural population was poisoning the Empire from the inside, and ruining any attempts to re-strengthen it. One such group who subscribed to this notion was a radical wing of the Young Turks. The massive losses the Ottoman Empire was suffering during the Balkan War gave this group the support they needed to make their move. In January of 1913, following the assassination of the Minister of War Nazim Pasha, the Liberal Union secularist wing of the Young Turks was overthrown. Now spearheaded by the triumvirate of Mehmed Talat Pasha (Minister of the Interior), Ismail Enver Pasha (Minister of Defense), and Ahmed Cemal Pasha (Minister of the Navy/Marine), the CUP quickly passed a law making it the only legal political party in the Ottoman Empire. Despite this new takeover, the Turks still lost the 1st Balkan War in May of 1913, leaving them infuriated. Their main objectives and focal point now became to create a pan-Turkic nation under religious rule through any means necessary, and to expand the Empire. The biggest obstacle for the former objective was Armenia. The latter was once again Russia, but this time, the Turks had the Germans to back their side. The two had formed an alliance earlier when it was agreed upon by Sultan Hamid that the “Silk Road” (Orient Express) would be extended from Anatolia to Baghdad, and on up to Germany.

In August of 1914, the German Empire declared war on the Russian Empire, and WWI was under way. The Ottomans entered the war in November, quickly making their initial move to regain the caucuses. They struck Russia at the boarder in an attempt to take the city of Baku. Much like in the Balkan War, their strategic and numerical disadvantage left them brutally defeated, costing them nearly 90% of their IIIrd army. Looking for a scapegoat for their losses, the CUP blamed the Armenians, citing the approximately 6,000 troops of Armenian decent out of the 120,000 troops in the advancing Russian army. Unfortunately, this ignored the fact that the vast majority of these Armenians were Russian citizens. Only a very small fraction of those troops had defected from the Ottoman side. Never the less, amidst the paranoia that more defectors would take this opportunity to join their “Christian Orthodox brothers”, the CUP felt they now had enough cause to declare the Armenians traitors, and enemies of the state, a campaign for which the War Office had begun spreading propaganda since early 1914. Their solution was the extermination of the entire Ottoman Armenian population under the guise of “relocations” to limit resistance from Turkish and Armenian citizens alike. And while the world was preoccupied with WWI, they found the perfect opportunity to see their plans through.


Architecting a Genocide

Step 1: The first step the CUP took to eradicate the "Armenian question" was to disarm all the Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman Army in February of 1915. These soldiers, making up the majority of the able-bodied men who might put up a resistance against what the Turks were about to do, were either worked to death, or massacred. The Armenians were now defenseless.

Step 2: On April 24th, 1915 (the date Armenians commemorate the genocide on), approximately 250 - 300 Armenian intellectuals were rounded up and arrested from various towns and villages. They were taken to a prison in the interior where they were either tortured and killed, or otherwise never heard from again. The Armenians were now leaderless.

Step 3: With the help of the Germans, state ordered deportations were organized and carried out for the remaining women, children and elderly. The Armenians were told they were being relocated out of a war zone for their own protection, and that they would be brought back when it was safe to do so. They were allowed only what they could carry, meaning very little food, and the clothes on their backs. Most of the journeys were over 60 days long, taking the longest routes possible. The atrocities that occurred along the way, which were the point of these marches, were some of the most horrid acts in history. Many perished due to disease, exhaustion or starvation. Many more were burned, beheaded, shot, raped or beaten to death. Women had their breasts cut off. Pregnant women had their babies cut out of their wombs. Evidence shows that so many people were killed and thrown in the Euphrates River, that the river ran red. Wealthy Turks often took young girls to be their brides after being converted to Muslim. Kurds and Turkish civilians alike took advantage of the situation to attack the convoys and steal their possessions. Many killed themselves as they could not take the pain, or did not want to be raped or taken into Turkish harems. The few that survived the journey discovered that the term "relocation" was a farce, as the marches ended in the Syrian Desert, where they were left to die. There was never any intention of bringing the Armenians back home.


Current Situation

Today's Turkish government vehemently denies the genocidal intent of these deportations. Modern day Turkish revisionists, and those who claim the events of 1915 do not constitute genocide, blame the events on a civil war due to Armenian nationalist movements. They claim that there were no more than 300,000 deaths resulting from the Turks defended themselves against huge revolts. However, this perspective is almost the direct opposite of what happened, as it ignores the decades of unwarranted violence that preceded any revolts, or formation of the “dangerous” political parties that supposedly organized them, forcing Armenians to take action towards self-preservation. It also blows the scale of these revolts grotesquely out of proportion, and gives far too much credit to a largely unarmed minority with no centralized government who were in no position to be seen as a threat. The majority of the rebels who revolted directly prior to the genocide were outsiders who found very little, to no support from the Ottoman Armenians they solicited for help. Lastly, the majority of these “revolts” denialists refer to were last stand attempts at self-defense in certain terror-stricken cities like Van, coming well after the genocide was under way.

Regardless, this has not stopped Turkey from repeatedly threatened any nation willing to accept the genocide, saying that it would be committing political relations suicide. One needs only look at the Turkish reaction to resolution HR106 passing in the US House Committee in October of ’07 to understand the severity of the situation. It is also well known that the Turkish government has intervened at every conceivable step of the way when it comes to the creation, release, and/or distribution of any movies, books, documentaries, school curriculums, etc. pertaining to the Armenian Genocide in any nation that considers them an ally. This steadfast stance has also raised a generation of Turkish citizens who not only deny the genocide, but counter-attack by claiming it was the Armenians who were the aggressors, and committed a genocide against the Turks. This is due in large part to either denialist propaganda and school curriculums circulated in Turkey (as well as outside of it) that promotes inaccurate information and timelines, or a complete lack of knowledge altogether about the history of events.

But as the years have progressed, the issue has gotten more and more exposure, and there are now several Turkish historians and scholars coming fourth and breaking away from the company lines. Likewise, a number of nations have officially recognized the events that took place as state ordered genocide (see below). While the United States as a whole refuses to use the “G word” to describe the events of 1915 (due entirely to political/ally ties to Turkey), 39 states have individually recognized the genocide (see below). With pressure mounting globally, and Turkey making a bid to be in the EU, there is a glimmer of hope for the Armenians, all be it a dim one, that Turkey will finally face its past. All that can be done at this point is to press on in the cause to shed light on a very dark event in human history, and not let time wither away the memory, or allow the perpetrators to quietly ride off into the night.




Countries officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide:

Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.


US States officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.



Had to make it two posts, it was too long and i couldn't find anything in the Administrator panel to make it longer.

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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:39 am

Oh,you had a big and hard work,thanks from all Armenians of this site.
But I'm afraid some people will be too lazy too read it Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:28 pm

Yeah ...really ...thanks Kody ...Its really pleasant to know that other people(mean not armenians) don't forget about Armenian Genocide ...

I just hope that someone(but me and Anahit) would read it....Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:33 pm

Yeah i'm hoping to get this stickied to this forum but i can't find the tool to do it.


EDIT: GOT IT! Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:24 pm

Wow, you have to much free time^^

Yes, I think, lot's of ppl will not read it. I read it maybe tomorrow (I have to cook lunch in 15 minutes). If it's good we could make a sitemap with it. So it'll be in the google index, too.

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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:23 pm

^^I didn't write this, some guy from Soadfans with Armenian decent wrote this for all of the people wondering what the Armenian Genocide was.

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PostSubject: Re: What is the Armenian Genocide?   Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:23 am

Yeah,really,Anecdores or Random Spamming threads are more interesting for some people.
Anyway,Kody thanks for posting it.
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