The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide occurred between the years of 1915 and 1918, this was the first genocide of the twentieth century. [1]

Why is the Armenian Genocide Important?

What is Genocide?

The term ‘genocide’ did not exist before 1944. [2] Prior to the coining of the term, it was commonly referred to as “the crime without a name”. [3] In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin sought to create the word.

Raphael Lemkin

[9] Raphael Lemkin

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. [2]

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: [2]

(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. [4]

Armenia-Present Day

[10] Armenia-Present Day

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. [5] However, Russia had allied with Great Britain and France. [6]

[11] Ottomon Empire During the First World War

[11] Ottomon Empire During the First World War

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. [7] As Non-Muslims, they were commonly discriminated against.

Discriminatory Actions Included: [7]

  • 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. [1] 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. [7] 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 Turks

[12] Young Turk Leaders

[12] Young Turk Leaders

In 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. [1]

Turkish Nationalism

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. [1]

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. [1]

Acts of Genocide Included: [1]

  • 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)
  • Imprisonment
  • Systematic murder
  • Hangings
  • Shooting
  • 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
    [13] Deportations

    [13] Deportations

  • Stolen from
  • Killed for pleasure, without reason
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape of young girls and women
  • Denied food and water
  • Beatings
  • Abductions
  • Slavery

Over the course of the genocide (1915-1918), it is estimated that approximately one million five hundred thousand Armenians perished. [7] As a result of unrelenting threats by the Young Turks, resistance by the Armenians was very infrequent.

Legacy

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. [1] The occurrence of the genocide formed a diaspora of the Armenian population, they are spread across the world without a true homeland. [7]

Denial

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: [8]

  1. Uruguay-1965
  2. Cyprus-1975
  3. European Union-1987
  4. Russia-1995
  5. Canada-1996
  6. Lebanon-1997
  7. Belgium-1998
  8. France-1998
  9. Greece-1999
  10. Vatican-2000
  11. Italy-2000
  12. Switzerland-2003
  13. Argentina-2004
  14. Slovakia-2004
  15. Netherlands-2004
  16. Venezula-2005
  17. Poland-2005
  18. Lithuania-2005
  19. Chile-2007
  20. Sweden-2010
  21. Bolivia-2014
  22. Austria-2015
  23. Luxembourg-2015

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.

Questions

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?

References:

[1] No Author. United Human Rights Council,. ‘Armenian Genocide | United Human Rights Council’. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/armenian_genocide.htm

[2] No Author. Ushmm.org,. ‘What Is Genocide?’ 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007043

[3] Fussell, James T. ‘”A Crime Without A Name” – Prevent Genocide International’. Preventgenocide.org. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/crimewithoutaname.htm

[4] No Author. Nationsencyclopedia.com,. ‘Armenia – Location And Size, Population, Mining, Manufacturing, Services, Tourism’. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Europe/Armenia.html

[5] No Author. Encyclopedia Britannica,. ‘Allied Powers | International Alliance’. 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/16380/Allied-Powers

[6] No Author. Encyclopedia Britannica,. ‘Central Powers | European Coalition’. 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/102591/Central-Powers

[7] Adalian, Rouben Paul. ‘Armenian Genocide’. Armenian-genocide.org. Retrieved 12 May 2015. From http://www.armenian-genocide.org/genocide.html

[8] No Author. Armenian Genocide Centennial,. ‘States’. 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2015. From http://armeniangenocide100.org/en/states/

[9] Raphael Lemkin. Leipzig, Arthur. ‘The Man Who Criminalized Genocide | Duke Magazine’. Dukemagazine.duke.edu. 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2015. From                          http://dukemagazine.duke.edu/article/man-who-criminalized-genocide

[10] Armenia-Present Day. Infoplease.com,. ‘Armenia Atlas: Maps And Online Resources’. Retrieved 13 May 2015. From http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/country/armenia.html

[11] Ottomon Empire During the First World War. Raymer, Gayle Olsen. ‘Hist 111 Fall 2014 Introduction’. Users.humboldt.edu. 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2015. From http://users.humboldt.edu/ogayle/hist111/Intro2014_WWI_Iraq.html

[12] Young Turk Leaders. Buxton, Charles Roden. ‘Ottoman Empire’. Wikipedia. Retrieved 14 May 2015. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire#/media/File:Young_Turk_Revolution_-_Decleration_-_Armenian_Greek_Muslim_Leaders.png

[13] Deportations. No Author. Genocide-museum.am,. ‘Genocide Museum | The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute’. Retrieved 14 May 2015. From http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/gen_musium.php

 

 

20 comments on “The Armenian Genocide

  1. Brianna G. says:

    I was not aware of this event and I felt that is was strange that people deny it of ever happening. However when you factor in human nature, people don’t like to be in the wrong and they don’t want to deal with the consequences of their actions. This reminds me of the topic of residential schools I wrote about. There are people that don’t believe it happened but there will be people denying every event. No matter what, there is always two sides to every story. Do you think this could be because people are not fully aware of the situation therefore it is easy to deny it? Meaning people who have not been aware of the situation previously. As for your last question, I think that a blog post about it is a great start but also maybe posting it on social media. social media is a great way for news to spread quickly and I believe that it will get it a lot of recognition.

    • Abiha H. says:

      You have brought to light an interesting point. When people are unaware of a situation, how can they even deny it? If they do not know what the Armenian Genocide is, if they have never heard of it, how can they proclaim that it never happened? Denial is not conducted by the general population, instead, by the government. The government is well informed. I believe that in order to accept that this genocide occurred, it needs to be recognized. Other factors that would affect belief or denial are the ever present, two very unique perspectives. People would speak about their actions and or thoughts eventually. A perpetrator would discuss his hate against the Armenians, a feeling that may be passed down through lineage and family history.

  2. Brianna G. says:

    Also I noticed you had “World World” I think you meant World War.

  3. Laela S. says:

    The event itself I have heard of it but I never knew any information about it.It’s interesting to see what happened and I can really relate with what’s going on because my own country especially my mom and dad have been through and seen what a genocide can do and is,and from their experience its unbelievable what people can do to survive and saddening to hear what they go through.I find it really sad that people actually denied something like this from ever happening ,I think that even if your country is to be blamed you should still take it into consideration and learn from it then pushing it away and denying it ever happening and by doing so making yourself look bad.The best we can do to aid the recognition of this genocide is to educate,I think its the best you can do because the past is that past and to teach the world that genocide is not the way to go at something ,its unacceptable and causes to many innocent people to die for stupid reasons.

    • Abiha H. says:

      What country are your parents from? When did the genocide in that area occur? By, and against whom?

      I agree; not only does Turkey look bad because of their actions, but because they have refused those actions as well. They have refused to learn from and correct their mistakes. It is very important that they accept their actions. By denying genocidal treatment against the Armenians, Turkey has additionally denied and ignored their history. One cannot learn from their errors until they recognize them. Turkey has further prevented the Armenian people from seeking justice and a reconciliation. The Armenians are unable to move on.

      • Laela S. says:

        From Kurdistan, the genocide occurred in 1988. The Halabja Poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein against all Kurds. It’s actually quite common for turkey to deny things they have done, they have done that on several occasions with the kurds.

      • Abiha H. says:

        What are other events or actions that Turkey has denied against the Kurds? Have there been movements to recognize the treatment? Sadly, it seems that denial has become a norm of the Turkish system. It is official, planned, organized and well executed. It may be easy for them to deny various events/actions because they have done so since a long span of time; since the Armenian Genocide.

      • Laela S. says:

        Another event that Turkey has denied against the Kurds was, just recently, all the ISIS stuff. They denied in helping at all and taking in refugees. Plus, they are supplying ISIS aswell and still deniying it. No their have not been movements to recognize the treatment. All the kurds can do is try to stop it from happening by the army. It sucks that we can’t do anything to actaully stop this because we have been enemies for a very long time. But they need to figure out a way of peace and stop since its gone too far.

  4. Mohamed M. says:

    Very well written post and interesting topic. Before I read this post I didn’t know about the Armenian Genocide. I remember hearing something about it in the announcement, but generally I don’t care about or listen to the announcements. I think that, as the guy in the video said, a country can’t be better without acknowledging their mistakes.

    • Abiha H. says:

      I am glad that you remember hearing about the Armenian Genocide through the announcements! In order to commemorate the Armenian Genocide on its centennial, all HWDSB and HWCDSB schools agreed to read the same announcement on April 24, 2015. The recitation of this announcement, as well as a poem was an act of remembrance by schools throughout Hamilton. The decision to make this gesture was independently made in accordance with Armenian Genocide organizations.

  5. Subhan A says:

    Amazing post Abiha! Wow I have truly learned a lot! You did a great job at describing the background information before you went into the actual genocide which engaged me into reading the entire post, and kept me interested. I was aware of the Armenian Genocide, however I did not know that much about it, I only knew some general info. I was disgusted to read about how the Armenians were treated based on their religion and I was truly appalled. I was shocked to see that only 23 countries recognize this genocide, and 2 of them are from this year! Unfortunately, it will take time for every country to recognize it. The problem is people don’t like to admit that their wrong, and Turkey is a prime example of this. It is hard to say what we can do to make people more aware. However, what Brianna said is right, social media is a powerful tool that we have today and it can be used to spread the word. Finally, more Armenians coming out and telling their story can help support the cause.

    • Abiha H. says:

      We must remember that 2015 has marked the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Survivors are no longer alive or capable of sharing their experiences. Although, many descendants have chosen to share the experiences of their ancestors and educate. Personally, I believe it is our responsibility to share the knowledge we have acquired. By learning about the Armenian Genocide, we have become witnesses to the horrific event, we must do all that we are capable of in order to prevent such an event from reoccurring.

      • Subhan A says:

        Right, that is extremely important to raising awareness on the Armenian Genocide. The more people speak out, the more educated the public is. I agree with you, we must not allow history to repeat itself, and should work extremely hard to prevent another genocide.

  6. Subhan A says:

    Just something you can edit, in the “Rise of the Young Turks” category you should try to fix the spacing so that there isn’t a divide between the first line and the second.

  7. Adam S. says:

    This is a really interesting topic you chose. To answer your questions, I did not know about this event even though it’s a very depressing one. In my head while reading this post, I was disgusted and ashamed that our race is capable of doing this. We should look for peace but instead everything we do is about war. We could aid in the recognition of the genocide greatly by learning and sharing information in ways you have, or in any other form. Talking about this issue on the social networks is the most effective way because there are so many teens and young adults using the internet, and there’s just this vast ocean of networking, we could all learn about the Armenian genocide and spread the recognition. I liked how you included a lot of maps and images, but I would’ve enjoyed them a lot better if they were a bigger size because I constantly have to zoom in and go back to the post. Good job!

    • Abiha H. says:

      I completely agree Adam; learning about the Armenian Genocide left me disgusted and ashamed as well. I was bewildered and unable to comprehend the actions of the perpetrators. After all, the perpetrators were people completely sane; psychologically balanced and sober. They were ordinary people, people like you and I.

      Thanks for the suggestion, I have re-sized the images.

  8. Emily R says:

    Great job Abiha! Your post is very well written and it is very informative. I only knew a bit about the genocide from what you had shared with me from your class. I am very interested in the subject of genocides and crimes against humanity and would love to take the genocide course next year. I think it is very bizarre that many countries deny that it ever happened even through there is evidence to prove that it did. Overall, really great post.

    • Abiha H. says:

      I would definitely recommend taking the ‘Genocides and Crimes Against Humanities’ course. I feel that we are very lucky to be attending a school that provides it. We have been given the unique opportunity to learn from history and become active global citizens. We are the hope of the future. It is our responsibly to create change. This course allows students to comprehend and analyse events through the course of history. Events studied include the Armenian and Rwandan Genocide, as well as the Holocaust. Students are given an insight and better understanding of the human race. They learn more about themselves as a person, as well as about the people around them.

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