The Armenian Genocide occurred between the years of 1915 and 1918, this was the first genocide of the twentieth century. 
Why is the Armenian Genocide Important?
What is Genocide?
The term ‘genocide’ did not exist before 1944.  Prior to the coining of the term, it was commonly referred to as “the crime without a name”.  In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin sought to create the word.The term genocide is derived from the Greek word ‘geno’, meaning race or tribe, and, ‘cide’, the Latin word for killing. The United Nations established genocide as an international crime on December 9, 1948. 
The word genocide has been defined as:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 
(a) Killing members of the group
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
The Location of Armenia
Present day, the country of Armenia is located in modern day Turkey, in the southwest Caucasus Region. It shares borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan to the north, and Iran and Turkey to the south. Pre-World War One, Armenia was a state in the Ottoman Empire. This area was a desert. It bordered off of the Black and Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, the Ottomon Empire neighboured the countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Russia.
The Ottomon Empire and the First World War
The Armenian Genocide occurred under the cover of the First World War. During the War, the Ottomon Empire had allied with Germany.  However, Russia had allied with Great Britain and France. The surrounding countries, as well as the national and international communities were at war. Each country was acting in their own best interests. They were focused on fighting and trying to gain victory. No one was paying attention to, or noticing the crimes and mistreatment that were being conducted against the Armenians.
We and They-The Creation of the “Other”
The Ottomon Empire was a monarchy, ruled by the Turkish majority under the Sultan. The Turks practised the religion of Islam, Ottomon law widely complied with Islamic law. Yet, the Armenians were a Christian minority, second class citizens and a subject population.  As Non-Muslims, they were commonly discriminated against.
Discriminatory Actions Included: 
- Being obligated to pay additional taxes.
- Denied participation in the government
- Prohibited from entering the Ottoman army
- Subjected to exploitation
- Made to work hard labour jobs
Scattered across the empire, and not concentrated in a certain area, the Armenians were unable to become an independent nation.
Armenians Aspire for Change
Political and economic differences in the Ottomon Empire resulted in ethnic tensions. The Armenians yearned for equal representation and participation within the government. Between the years of 1890 and 1908, the Armenians began to take a stand and fight for change. Young Armenians pressed for a constitutional government, the right to vote and an end to the discriminative taxes.  Political Armenian organizations demanded administrative reforms, as well as improved police protection. Their pleas were met with persecutions and massacres by Sultan Abdul Hamid, the reigning sultan since 1876.  Additionally, rumours were fabricated and spread throughout the empire. The Sultan further made symbols and words related to the Armenian people and the state of Armenia illegal. These actions were meant to frighten the Armenians and weaken their expectations. However, the Sultan’s days were numbered.
The Rise of the Young TurksIn response to the ethnic crisis within the empire, the Young Turks (a new political group), seized power by revolution on July 8, 1908. The Young Turks were reform-minded Turkish nationalists, they guaranteed basic rights and campaigned towards forming a constitutional government. Armenians were delighted with the sudden change of events and the prospect for a better future. Both, Armenians and Turks publicly rallied for freedom, equality, and justice. 
Hopes of a brighter future were soon crushed. In 1913, three members of the Young Turks; Mehmed Talaat, Ismail Enver and Ahmed Djemal seized full power of the government by staging a coup. The Ottomon Empire fell under a dictatorial rule. These men began to plan for the future of a new, Turkish empire; with one language and one religion. They wanted to unite the Turkish people in the region while expanding the borders of the empire eastward. Their motto was, “Turkey for the Turks”. Unfortunately, the traditional, historic Armenian homeland laid directly in the path of the Young Turks’ plan to expand eastward. 
The Genocide Begins
The Young Turks were determined to resolve the “Armenian question” by elimination and extermination. The decision and instructions to annihilate the entire Armenian population were given by Mehmed Talaat, Ismail Enver and Ahmed Djemal. Orders were transmitted though coded telegrams. Armed arrests began on April 24, 1915. 
Acts of Genocide Included: 
- Confiscation of weapons
- Formation of labour battalions
- Forced to build roads
- Human pack animals (pulled wagons and heavy loads in the place of animals)
- The massacre of 300 Armenian intellects (political leaders, educators, writers, clergy and dignitaries)
- Systematic murder
- Use of bayonets
- Stabbed with knives and sticks
- Death marches
- Thrown off of cliffs
- Burned alive
- Drowned in rivers
- Separation of men, women, children, elderly, diseased and handicapped
- Forced to convert to Islam
- Given Turkish names
- Confiscation of property
- Confiscation of valuables and jewelry
- Confiscation of belongings
- Relocated and concentrated in certain areas
- Stolen from
- Killed for pleasure, without reason
- Sexual abuse
- Rape of young girls and women
- Denied food and water
Over the course of the genocide (1915-1918), it is estimated that approximately one million five hundred thousand Armenians perished.  As a result of unrelenting threats by the Young Turks, resistance by the Armenians was very infrequent.
During the genocide, the Armenians were not provided with aid or humanitarian intervention. However, they managed to acquire weapons, fight back and repel against Turkish invasions. Following the victory at the battle of Sardarabad, Armenian leaders declared the establishment of the independent Republic of Armenia in a small portion of their historic homeland.  The occurrence of the genocide formed a diaspora of the Armenian population, they are spread across the world without a true homeland. 
The Armenian Genocide is widely denied by countries around the world. The year 2015 marked the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, sadly, it has only been officially recognized by twenty-three countries.
These Countries Include: 
- European Union-1987
Turkey, the country where, and by whom the genocide was carried out denies it as well. Denial occurs on a very professional and official level. Access to all websites that refer to the Armenian genocide are blocked. In addition, books are regulated. Denial is part of the Turkish educational system as well. Universities around the globe are influenced by Turkey, grants are provided in order to deny the genocide. Also, the media is often challenged . Speaking about the Armenian Genocide and related events is illegal and punishable.
Not only are survivors and Armenian descendants left with the pain of their experiences. They hold the knowledge that their ancestors died in vain. The world, globally, does not recognize or commemorate the death of these individuals. The Armenians continue to fight for recognition to this day.
Was the Armenian Genocide an event you were aware of?
What were some of your thoughts, feelings and reactions while reading this blog post?
How do you think we can aid in the recognition of this genocide?
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