The Armenian Genocide (Warning: gruesome pictures)
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by young shanahan
Posted by Mike Opelka
What do you call the 1915 mass deportation of Armenians from the Ottoman
Empire (Turkey) that resulted in the death of 1.5 million people?
Most historians and Armenians around the world call it genocide. The Turkish
government and the United States are not among those who will officially accept
the word genocide when speaking of the decimation of the Armenian people in
the early part of the 20th Century. (And that list also includes U.S. Presidents.)
The lack of respect given to the Armenian genocide is shocking when you
consider the scope and brutality of the event that killed 75 percent of the
Armenians a predominantly Christian group.
Armenia was a trendsetter when it came to Christianity. The country adopted that
faith in 301 A.D. This was even before the formation of the Holy Roman Empire.
For centuries the Armenian people built a healthy and prosperous country.
However, in the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire absorbed Armenia and the
Armenians. The non-Muslim Armenians were classified as infidels and had to
pay higher taxes and saddled with fewer rights than Muslims.
The Ottoman Empire stayed dominant in the region through the 19th century and
into the early part of the 20th century. But in the late 1890s, Armenians were
growing tired of their status as second class citizens and continued their push for
more rights. In 1894, that push was met with a violent response from the Sultan
who turned loose his private army on the Armenians. In the ensuing battles
between 1894-96, it was reported that as many as 200,000 Armenians were
killed by Sultan Abdul Hamids troops in what has been called theHamidian
Massacre. However, the killing of the 200,000 Armenian Christians was nothing
compared to the 1915 genocide.
What led to the near extermination of the Armenians? It appears a combination
of a few factors were working together to create a rabid form of Turkish
nationalism that saw the Armenians as the enemies of the state. After all, the
non-Muslims were officially considered infidels in the eyes of the Turks.
In 1908, a group of young Turks forced the Sultan out and took control of the
government. At first they talked of bringing new freedoms to the Armenian
people. Unfortunately, those freedoms never were granted by the ruling Young
Turks. Instead the Armenians were seen as a threat to the shrinking Ottoman
Published by permission from Wallstein Verlag, Gttingen.
Armin T. Wegner. Wallstein Verlag, Gttingen. All rights reserved.
1912-13 had the Turks losing huge chunks of their land to Christian regions that
were breaking away. Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia were all successful in their
efforts to leave the Ottoman Empire. This was a devastating loss of power to the
Turks and was the spark for even greater nationalism to foment.
Muslim refugees from the now-Christian breakaway countries poured into
Istanbul with tales of Christian violence against their families. Some of the more
extreme members of the Young Turks formed the Committee of Union &
Progress (CUP). The CUP was focused on pushing Turkish nationalism, their
chant was Turkey for the Turks.
The growing Turkish nationalism was also fuel for more hatred against the
Armenian community, especially after Germany and Russia began warring in
1914. Turkey sided with Germany in this conflict. The Turks hoped a defeat of
the Russians would help in the prospect of rebuilding their empire. In December
of 1914, the Ottoman Turks tried to invade Russia, but suffered a horrible defeat.
More than 100,000 Russian troops stormed across the border into Turkey and
reports say that more than 5,000 Armenians helped the Russians, some even
enlisting in the Russian Army.
This was likely a move that enraged the Turkish leaders who saw the Armenians
as a liability. The Armenian members of the military were immediately disarmed
and moved into labor camps and subsequently executed.
Not long after that, on April 24th, a group of 250 Armenian intellectual leaders of
the community were rounded up and shipped off to a camp where they were
Turkey had killed off the Armenian soldiers and the cultural elites. All that
remained was to order the rest of the population to comply with a relocation order
that was essentially a death sentence. Most of the Armenians were forced to
march for sixty days and many did not survive the trip.
Like the Nazis, many Armenians were also transported via rail. And, also like the
Nazis, the Turks forced their victims to purchase tickets for the ride to their own
The accounts of the atrocities committed against the Armenians is as brutal and
disgusting as any you have heard about from Hitlers attempts to exterminate the
Jews from Germany and the world. Small children and old people were marched
over mountains and in circles, without food and water, literally until they died.
Young Christian girls were defiled by the Turkish soldiers. There are reports that
many killed themselves after being raped. The barbaric treatment of the
Armenian women went even further.
On page 96 we see the following image on the Armenians being crucified by
Figure 6: Crucified Armenian women in the area of the Der-es-Zor.
In his post on the genocide, (The Forgotten Genocide: Why It Matters Today)
Raymond Ibrahim recounted the story of a woman who claimed to have
witnessed the brutal crucifixion of 16 young girls.
In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and
thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islams rules of war). Unlike thousands of other
Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the
city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: Each girl had been nailed alive
upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind,
covered their bodies. Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary filmAuction
of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganians memoirs.
Why Wont America Call It Genocide?
Its a good bet that Turkey and its leaders do not want to use the term genocide
because it would likely cost them considerable sums of money in reparations, as
well as the public embarrassment they would have to endure. But what about
No American president has officially called the mass killings that started in 1915
genocide. President Bush went as far as publicly urging Congress to reject a
resolution on the subject.
In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that, as president, he
would acknowledge it, saying; Armenian genocide is a widely documented fact.
Despite that very clear language, President Obama was not been so quick to
follow up on his campaign promise. After he was elected, on Armenian
Remembrance Day, the president issued a statement. The word that was
conspicuously absent from the release genocide. That term was also absent
from every single April 24th Armenian Remembrance Day since 2009.
2009 Statement from President Obama
2010 Statement from President Obama
2011 President Obamas statement on April 24th.
2012 The President made another statement on April 24th.
Instead of using the word genocide the White House statements all use the
term Meds Yeghern. What does that mean? Meds Yeghern is an Armenian
phrase that has the same meaning as genocide in their language. But Armenians
want the world to recognize the atrocity they suffered at the hands of the Turks.
And while our presidents wont say the word or put it in statements, the Turks are
actually forbidden from using it. The word genocide is off limits as in illegal.
You can be locked up for saying the word or using it in a story. (The Blaze staff
would likely be placed under arrest and receive death threats for this article
Figure 4: Armenians tortured and violated. Taken on the road from Trapesunt
(Trabzon) to Ersnga by a German officer.
So, why wont a U.S. President call the very well-documented forced removal of
1.5 million people from their homes many who were forced to march more
than 50 miles into the desert where almost certain death awaited them
CBSs 60 Minutes filed a story that speculated our lack of ability to call this
genocide and what it really is: That it might have something to do with Americas
military relationship with Turkey and that the country is vital to delivering supplies
to our troops on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 60 Minutes segment also includes a chilling video shot on the banks of the
Euphrates River where it is believed 450,000 of the victims perished. In fact, the
remains of the Armenians are so prevalent in the area that all you need to do is
scratch the sand along the river banks and you will find pieces of human bones
that have been there