Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Posted in History, Holidays by chamblee54 on April 24, 2013

Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. According to wikipedia , “The starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day when Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople”
A site called The Straight Dope has an overview of the affair, Was there genocide in early 20th century Armenia? Here are a few excerpts.

It tells you something about human nature and the century just past that the typical response to this question is: What Armenian genocide? Hardly anyone remembers this appalling crime, even though at a million-plus deaths it was the first modern holocaust, ranking eighth on the list of high-body-count butcherings 1900-’87 compiled by genocide historian R. J. Rummel.
Few can even tell you where Armenia is. (The traditional Armenian homeland covers the modern republic of Armenia plus some of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, but the killings were confined to Turkey and other parts of the old Ottoman empire.) It’s not like the murders were conducted in secret or were over before anybody noticed — on the contrary, they spanned 30 years and received sustained worldwide publicity. So why the amnesia? Turkey’s adamant refusal to acknowledge the massacres is part of it, but equally important is the West’s agreement to forget…
What had the Armenians done to deserve all this? Not much — their main offense was to be a Christian minority in a crumbling Islamic empire. Like another much-persecuted Middle Eastern ethnic group whose sufferings are better known, the Armenians had an ancient language and culture plus a reputation for clannishness and a knack for finance, and they became the target of a similar type of unreasoning bigotry…
A massacre of 15,000 to 25,000 Armenians in 1909 set the table for the main event during World War I. Blaming the supposedly disloyal Christian minority for an early defeat by the Russians, the Turkish government starting in 1915 rounded up Armenians throughout the country, murdered vast numbers outright and deported the rest, with many dying on forced marches or in refugee camps. The brutal work was carried out by an elaborate bureaucracy that some historians consider a model for the extermination program of the Nazis. Add in a couple of additional massacres in the early 1920s and the Armenian death toll for 1915-1922 totals a million to a million and a half.

Another site, devoted to history, has a page, The Armenians.

The Turkish government viewed all Armenians with suspicion and instituted programs of relocation and mass murder. Beginning in June 1915, non-Muslim peoples were forced to move away from areas deemed to have military sensitivity. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forced to march to new homes, some to the Syrian desert, others to Mesopotamia. Little preparation had been made for this exodus and the toll from exhaustion, disease and starvation was staggering. Bands of Turks and Kurds would descend upon Armenian villages and slaughter entire populations.
The treatment of the Armenians was not unknown in the outside world. The Allied governments and even Germany issued protests, but the Turkish government was intent on cleansing their lands of all Armenian influence. Persecution continued into the early 1920s. For years afterward, parents in the West would evoke images of starving Armenians as a means to encourage their children to clean their plates.
It is impossible to assign accurate numbers to the slaughter. Reports provided by Armenian groups are usually regarded by historians as too high, but the official Turkish numbers appear too low. Mid-range figures indicate that perhaps between 600,000 and one million Armenians died during this period, out of a pre-war population estimated at 1.5 million.

The treatment of the Armenians ninety seven years ago remains a sensitive issue. Turkey staunchly denies that it happened. Since Asia Minor is a strategic piece of property, many governments are willing to go along with this denial. Even Israel , which knows a thing or two about ethnic cleansing, is sensitive to the need for allies.
Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. This is a repost.

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