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The Armenian genocide

Date: 26 April 2020 Tags: Historical Places

Issue

The Armenian diaspora marks April 24 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. This year marks 105 years since the beginning of the genocide, something Turkey has consistently denied.

 

Background

The Armenian Genocide is often called the first genocide of the twentieth century. It refers to the systematic annihilation of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 to 1917.

 

Details

  • The Armenian Genocide occured during the First World War, and in many ways a direct result of the developments during the war. Although Armenians had always faced harassment and persecution in Asia Minor, this heightened around 1908. During the Ottoman rule, minorities like the Armenians were subjected to discriminatory treatment.

  • The Armenians in the Ottoman empire were Christians by faith and the Ottoman Caliphate feared that the Armenians would bear allegiance to neighbouring countries, Russia for instance, with similar religious affiliations than the Ottoman empire, especially during a war.

  • A result of this continued hostility and suspicion towards Armenians was the first state-sanctioned pogroms called the Hamidian Massacres between 1894–1896. These violent massacres were implemented to crush protests against discrimination that was being perpetrated against minorities in the Ottoman Caliphate.

  • The reigning monarch, Abdul Hamid II was never held accountable for the massacres although researchers believe that the violence was perpetrated with his approval.

  • In 1908, a political reform movement that called itself the Young Turks formed of intellectuals and revolutionaries led a rebellion against Abdul Hamid II in an attempt to overthrow the monarchy in favour of a constitutional government.

  • However, as the political ideology of the Young Turks changed, the group became less tolerant of Armenians asking for liberties and freedoms. The Russo-Turkish wars and the conflict in the Balkans and Russia further increased hostilities against the Armenians.

  • The Ottoman Turks believed the Armenians would side with Russia in the war and aggressively engaged in propaganda against them.  This resulted in the Ottoman Turks engaging in a mass-removal campaign of Armenians from the border areas along the Eastern Front.

  • On April 24, 1915, Ottoman Turkish government officials arrested and executed thousands of Armenian intellectuals.  Women and girls were subjected to widespread sexual violence and abuse and were also trafficked into sexual slavery.

  • Researchers of the Armenian Genocide say may actions against Armenians bear similarities to abuses and torture perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

  • As of 2020, the Armenian Genocide has been formally recognised by 32 countries and parliaments. While other countries may not have officially recognised the genocide, presently, only Turkey and Azerbaijan openly deny the occurence of the genocide. 

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