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Old 04-17-2007, 07:07 PM   #1
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Default April 24th, 1915 Armenian Genocide

Some of you may remember me posting about the Armenian Genocide a couple years ago. This is an issue that is very important to just about every Armenian, as it is an unclosed tragic chapter in our history. So I feel compelled to do my little part each year to expose as many people as I can to this issue. As the 92nd anniversary is quickly coming up, I decided to do a little write up about the history and circumstances leading up to this event. I did my best to summarize a complex event, even though it looks like a lot of text. I've proof read it several times, but being I did it all in one exhausting days work, it'* entirely possible that I made some errors here and there, though I am fairly positive everything is accurate from my extensive research on this subject. I know most won't care, and that'* fine. But thank you in advance to those of you who do take the time to read it.



The History

Armenians are an ancient people from Anatolia dating back more than 5,000 years. Their founding father, Haik, is believed in Armenian legends to be the great, great grandson of Noah (Noah'* Ark landed in the "mountains of Ararat", which was in the middle of the Armenian Highland at the time). He merged the various tribes of that region (Hayass, Armens, etc.) into a single entity known as Armenians. Their first kingdom, Urartu, was established around 1000 BC. It'* name, given by their Assyrian rivals, was a derivative of the word Ararat, and a direct reference to the Old Testament. Armenians also referred to this kingdom as the "country of Ararat". In the year 301 AD, Armenia became the first Christian state in the world by adopting the faith as its official state religion. Throughout the course of the next few centuries, Romans, Assyrians, Persians, and the likes would invade Armenia. The last of these conquests would turn out to be the most significant and tragic in Armenian history: The Islamic Seljuk Turks.

The Turks were Mongols who had migrated to the Anatolian region around the 11th Century AD. They conquered Constantinople in 1453, and in the 15th Century, Armenia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire. As with all minorities within the Empire, they were allowed their own religious community in the Millet system, in which they could rule themselves, so long as they followed the "non-believer", or non-Muslim laws, such as paying higher taxes. They were not allowed in the military, nor were they allowed to bare arms or vote. In spite of these discriminatory policies, the Armenians actually did quiet well under this system, and prospered for centuries. However, as the 18th Century came to a close, there was growing dissatisfaction with the treatment of the non-Muslim Ottoman minorities (of which, the Armenians were the largest). This outcry only increased in the 19th Century, and subsequently, was met by Armenian massacres for several decades in an attempt to silence and diminish the demands for equality.


The Build-Up

In the 1880'*, tensions increased dramatically, and animosity was further strengthened on both sides. The Henchak and Tashnag political parties (among several others) were established to try and end the social, political, economical and religious oppression of the Ottoman Armenians. As diplomatic pleas to the outside for help yielded no results, small pockets of revolutionaries were formed, and took a more violent approach. In one case in 1896, they took over an Ottoman bank. Through the course of 3 major uprisings, they killed many Turks and Kurds, including approximately 100 Turkish officials (who were usually their targets). As a result of these uprisings, the Hamidian Army committed large scale mass slaughters of various Armenian villages, sending a clear message that resistance or retaliation, especially violent ones, were not tolerated. It is estimated that anywhere from 80,000 to 300,000 Armenians were killed in the last decade of the 19th Century, during what is known to Armenians as the “Great Massacres”. However, this was only a very mild foreshadowing of what was to come.

In 1908, a new group of visionaries, the Young Turks, would overthrow the Sultan and take control of the Ottoman Empire. This actually gave Armenians cause for hope, as the new body promised equal rights for minorities (such as being allowed to serve in the military), and progression through a constitution and parliament. However, goals of advancement and progression were brought to a screeching halt in 1913, when a series of major military defeats were suffered in the Balkans, striking a massive blow to the pride of this once almighty Empire. Fueled by their frustration, these events only helped lend to the growing notion that the Christians were out to get the Muslims, as thousands of Muslim refugees poured into Istanbul with horror stories. Many Turks felt more and more that a mixed religious and cultural population was making their goals of re-strengthening the empire nearly impossible. Thoughts of equality for all quickly turned into intense hatred towards the remaining Christian subjects within the Empire, and greater intensity in Islamic Turkish nationalism.

Following a violent takeover by a radical wing of the Young Turks who subscribed to this notion, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) was established in 1913. Headed by 3 major figures, Talat Pasha (Minister of the Interior), Enver Pasha (Minister of Defense), and Cemal/Djemal Pasha (Minister of the Navy/Marine), their main goal was to create a pan-Turkic nation for Muslim Turks through any means necessary, and to once again becom an almighty empire. In August of 1914, the beginnings of WWI were breaking out. With the help of Germany, the Young Turks hoped to expand the Empire by conquering the caucuses. Their major obstacle and enemy at this point was Russia, and in December of 1914, the Ottomans would set fourth with their plans by striking them at the boarder. They were brutally defeated in a strategic disaster.

Looking for a scapegoat, the CUP used the fact that there were approximately 6,000 Armenians out of the 120,000 troops in the advancing Russian army as an excuse to blame the Armenians for their losses, even though only a very small fraction of those troops had defected from the Ottoman side. Nearly all were Russian citizens. Combined with their already extreme hatred for Christians, and their paranoia that more Armenians would join their "Christian Orthodox brothers" and take this opportunity to strike their oppressors, the Young Turks labeled the Armenians a threat, and enemies of the state. Their solution was the extermination of the entire Ottoman Armenian population, and while the world was preoccupied with WWI, they saw 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 Empire in the winter of 1915. These soldiers, making up the majority of the able-bodied men who might put up a defense 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/villages, and taken to a prison in the interior. They were tortured and killed, or otherwise never heard from again. The Armenians were now leaderless.

Step 3: 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 exhaustion and starvation. Many more were beheaded, shot, raped or beaten to death. Women had their breasts cut off. Pregnant women had their babies cut out. 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/converted to Muslim. Kurds and Turkish civilians alike, who took advantage of the situation to steal their possessions, attacked these convoys. 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'* Turkish government vehemently denies the genocidal intent of these deportations. They hold the small pockets of rebellions, and the self defense last stands of the Armenians in cities like Van, and Musa Dagh as “evidence” that what happened to the Armenian people was a civil war, or unorganized revenge killings, and not a state ordered genocide. They have repeatedly threatened any nation willing to accept the genocide or distribute media pertaining to it, saying that it would be committing political relations suicide. 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 a grotesque misunderstanding of the history of events, or a complete lack of knowledge altogether.

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 come clean about 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.




If you have any questions about the Armenian Genocide, please feel free to ask. Or better yet, don't take my word on any of this. Research the subject yourself, and make up your own mind about it.
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Old 04-17-2007, 07:28 PM   #2
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im in texas so im not going to go back and read that whole thing
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Old 04-17-2007, 08:32 PM   #3
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Wow. That relocation part sounds alot like what Elie Wiesel described in Night about the Holocaust relocations.
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Old 04-18-2007, 05:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ieatfeets
im in texas so im not going to go back and read that whole thing
....


This is a very important issue, especially with Turkey making a bid for entrance into the EU next year. I was quite proud when the Canadian government stepped up (without the US, which rarely happens) and recognised it.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ieatfeets
im in texas so im not going to go back and read that whole thing
Ummm.....what exactly was the point of stating this?


Quote:
Originally Posted by 95naSTA
Wow. That relocation part sounds alot like what Elie Wiesel described in Night about the Holocaust relocations.
You'll find a LOT of parallels between the Armenian Genocide, and the Jewish Holocaust. On several occasions, large groups of Armenians were stuffed into caves, where the mouth of the cave was set on fire. Primitive gas chambers. They were crammed into freight trains, where many of them died of asphyxiation. The list goes on. In many ways, it served as a blueprint for the Holocaust.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
I was quite proud when the Canadian government stepped up (without the US, which rarely happens) and recognised it.
As great as that was, I'm far more surprised that France recognized it. Ballsy moves are not exactly in their repertoire.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:30 AM   #6
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As a quarter Armenian, I've always been meaning to study this. Besides this essay, which is excellent, btw, do you recommend any books that might help me research this further? thanks a bunch
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Old 04-22-2007, 03:54 AM   #7
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Barev. There are a LOT of great books, and a few movies out there. I spent a lot of time reading over Russian, American, British, etc. archives for info. A bit more involved than just reading a book or two, though there are some great ones out there that go over a lot of the same info. I'll give you a few suggestions to get you started on your way.

Books

A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility by Taner Akcam

This one'* VERY good. It was done by a TURKISH historian, which is taboo in Turkey, and is quite refreshing to see. While he reaches his conclusions based on many nation'* archives, what'* important here is that he delves deep into Ottoman archives; something Turkey has long claimed shows that they're NOT guilty of this crime. He exposes what those archives really say about the intentions of these "deportations'.

The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide by Yair Auron

Written by an Israeli, gives great detail about the Zionist involvement in helping Turkey deny these acts. Ironically enough, Israel is the only nation besides Turkey that flat out denies the Armenian genocide.

A Crime of Vengeance: An Armenian Struggle for Justice by Edward Alexander

This was the first book I read many years ago. Bordering on a thriller, it'* a well written piece by a retired Foreign Service officer who knows a thing or two about archives and evidence. This true story follows the life of the young Armenian who tracked down Talat Pasha in Germany, and shot him in broad daylight. The book goes through the whole story of the subsequent trail, with flashbacks in between to stats and stories of atrocities committed by the Turks.


Movies

Ararat by Atom Egoyan

There was a LOT of controversy surrounding this movie'* release. Threats were made left and right by Turkey towards any country willing to show/distribute it. There are mixed reviews about this film, but I liked it. It'* not a documentary, but rather a drama featuring characters whose lives are interwoven in complex ways. It'* a bit confusing the first time, but still well worth a viewing. Also stars Eddie Bogosian (Under Siege II, Talk Radio).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0273435/...ay-E17797-10-2

Screamers by Carla Garapedian (and Serj Tankian/System of a Down)

This movie is more like a documentary. It'* being played very scarcely in theaters right now, with a supposed DVD release date of June-ish. It was a cooperative effort between Carla Garapedian, and Serj Tankian (lead singer of the band System of a Down, all of whom are Armenian). I have yet to see it, but even within the trailers, I can see I'm going to like the approach. I see a lot of footage featuring Turks protesting at Armenian Embassies, an issue seldom dealt with by the Armenian side. It appears that this piece doesn't avoid the issue of the Turkish claims/reasons for denial, and I'm all for that. It also features some of the last interviews with Hrant Dink before he was shot dead in Turkey for his outspokenness on this issue (a few weeks ago). :(

http://www.screamersmovie.com/trailers.asp
http://www.screamersmovie.com/movie_clips.asp

Armenian Genocide: PBS Documentary by Andrew Goldberg

This documentary aired on most PBS stations around the country last year. Not only was the move by PBS controversial, but the debate panel that was aired on most stations afterwards was even more so. While most Armenians protested against the debate airing, I, for one, was for it. I WANT the Turkish reasons for denial presented, so their lunacy can be exposed. I was very pleased to see that Peter Balakian, who is a brilliant authority on this subject, as well as Tanar Akcam (the Turkish historian from the first book I mentioned) were the 2 gentleman on the panel from the Armenian side. LOTS of useful info in this piece. Well worth the viewing for those looking to be educated on the subject pretty thoroughly.


Websites

www.theforgotten.org (currently hacked by Turks; go figure )
www.20voices.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide
http://www.armenian-genocide.org/
http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.ph...enian_Genocide
http://www.never-again.com/



Hope this helps you develop an even better understanding. If you ever need any help, or have any questions, please don't hesitate to drop me a PM!
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Old 04-22-2007, 06:18 AM   #8
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Somewhat ironic...I actually got in a fist fight over this last night. There are a lot of Turkish people in Germany, and most of them are perfectly nice, but this one guy was such an anti-Semite, then he started going off about this....anyways.

Good on you for trying to educate people on this issue.
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Old 04-24-2007, 06:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
Somewhat ironic...I actually got in a fist fight over this last night. There are a lot of Turkish people in Germany, and most of them are perfectly nice, but this one guy was such an anti-Semite, then he started going off about this....anyways.

Good on you for trying to educate people on this issue.
Thanks. I do what I can. Yeah, most Turks you run into will get quite hostile when it comes to this subject. You're directly offending their pride in the history (their version) they've been taught about their nation. Once in a great while, you'll get someone that will surprise you. I remember years back, I was ringing up this middle-aged customer. The screen would show the name on the credit card, and his looked like something from that region. I asked what ethnicity he was. He said, "Turkish". I said oh....nodded, and looked down, waiting for the receipt to print. He must have caught the split second look on my face, because he goes "and you?" I said Armenian, and he goes "ooh! On behalf of the Turkish people, I apologize!" Needles to say, I certainly didn't see that one coming. I thanked him, and we chatted a bit about the rivalry on that issue back home, vs. here in the states.

This was a far contrast to the only other Turk I've ever run into, who was going on and on about Turkey while I was waiting for my sister (both were getting their hair done). She must have noticed my eyes shoot up at her when she started mentioning Ankara, Istanbul, etc. She asked if I'm Turkish. I said no, Armenian. She was like "you know, Armenian have very bad attitude against Turkish in America". I didn't say anything. The person doing her hair asked, "why?" She says "because we kick them out of our country". At this point, I was grinding my teeth, but still kept silent. The person doing my sister'* hair asked me to come over because she wanted my opinion on how it looked. As I walked past the Turkish woman to get to her, she goes "you know, they talk lots of things (meaning Armenians lie about the genocide, of course). Don't believe it". I snapped. I pointed at her, and screamed "THAT'* why Armenians have 'bad attitude' with Turks!". She was scared sh*tless. I walked away. Later, after she left, I apologized to the employees, and explained what the outburst was about, and the truth about her "kicking" us out of Turkey comment. The one doing her hair was Romanian, or Lithuanian, or something from the Balkans (I forget) who also had an accent. She said "I hate Turks. I hate them". I said "yeah....so does most of the East".

So yeah. Be prepared to do battle when it comes to *trying* to discuss this subject with a Turk. They've been trained since birth that their nation is the greatest thing on Earth, and that Armenians are liars. I'd like to thank you for being willing to fight for what you believe in, though.

Anyway, today is the Memorial Day, so one last bump.
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Old 04-28-2007, 02:59 AM   #10
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Right on buddy. Right on.

Chrimson
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