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Old 24.04.2009, 01:11   #1
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Default Let us remember the victims of the Armenian Genocide

Today is April 24, 2009, 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
May the Souls of innocent victims may rest in peace and give light of enlightenment to the cowards.



Quote:
The History

Armenians are an ancient Anatolian people originating from the Caucasus with a history that dates back more than 5.000 years. Many Biblical scholars believe Armenia to be the setting for the Garden of Eden, and the Bible states that Noah's Ark landed in the "mountains of Ararat", which were in the middle of the Armenian Highland at the time. According to legend, Haik, the founding father for whom native Armenians named their country, is said to be the great, great grandson of Noah himself. Haik established the first Armenian nation in 2492 BC by defeating the Babylonian king Bel. In 301 AD, Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official state religion. Over the course of the next few centuries, Romans, Assyrians, Persians and the likes would invade Armenia both for political, as well as religious reasons. The last of these conquests would turn out to be the most significant and tragic in Armenian history: The Islamic Ottoman Turks.

The Ottoman Turks were successors to the Seljuk Turks, a group of Mongols that had migrated to the Anatolian region from Central Asia around the 11th Century AD. They had paved the way for the Ottomans to move in and conquer Constantinople in 1453, declaring it the capital for their new Empire. Subsequently, Armenia was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. At its height, the Empire encompassed all of Anatolia, the vast majority of the Middle East, large portions of the most northern and northeastern tips of South Africa, and almost all of southeastern Europe. The Turk’s original Mongolian culture and ancestry slowly dissolved and diluted over the course of their 600 year rein as they absorbed and assimilated to the cultures of these conquered territories, especially those of the Anatolian region.

As with all Christian minorities within the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were allowed their own religious community in the millet system. Within this system, they could rule themselves so long as they followed the dhimmi, or non-Muslim laws. While these laws fluctuated as rulers changed hands throughout the years, for the most part, they remained quite bigoted towards the non-Muslim minorities. Christians were not allowed to own horses (the only means of transportation at the time), build churches near Mosques, bare arms, vote, testify against Muslims in court, or serve in the military, for which, they were obligated to pay an exemption tax. This was on top of paying higher taxes than the Muslims to begin with, and those taxes steadily increasing over the years as the empire struggled financially towards the end. In short, the Christian minorities were considered second-class citizens whose treatment was similar to what African Americans endured in the U.S. prior to the civil rights movement. They weren’t massacred en mass every other day, but it was clear that they were considered to be beneath their Muslim rulers, and were commonly the victim of hate crimes. Yet in spite of these discriminatory policies, the Armenians actually did quite well under this system. For centuries, they prospered as successful businessmen and moneylenders, and held prestigious positions both within their communities, as well as in government, quickly becoming the wealthiest ethnic group within the Ottoman Empire. And unlike most of the other Christian millets, the Armenians resisted revolting against their oppressors for the better part of the Ottoman reign, leading the Ottomans to label them as millet-i-sadika, or the "loyal millet".




The Build-Up

While the Christians lamented over their oppression under Ottoman rule, it would pale in comparison to the lack of compassion and intolerance Sultan Abdul Hamid II would show when he took over the empire in 1876. Sultan Hamid II already had a great dislike for Christians due to their many, and often times violent attempts to secede from the empire in the past. One of his first lines of action he took when he gained control was to suspend the constitution, leaving him to rule the empire in whatever fashion he best saw fit. His disdain for the Christians only grew after the Ottomans lost the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, which led to the independence of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro, autonomy for Bulgaria, reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ceded parts of Armenia to Russia. Between the significant and embarrassing loss of territory, and the additional burden of paying a colossal remuneration to Russia on an already financially struggling state, the Empire was quickly diminishing. This only served to shorten Hamid’s fuse, which in turn led to many slaughters against all Christian subjects, quickly earning Hamid nicknames such as “the Bloody Sultan”.

The 1890’s became an increasingly violent time as a struggle ensued between the Armenians, who were no longer taking their mistreatment sitting down, and Sultan Hamid, who struggled to show he was still in control. The Henchag (1887) and Dashnag (1890) political parties were formed to create an organized voice for the Armenians in their demands for equality, and autonomous land. They initially set forth upon their mission by peaceful means, like holding protests against their mistreatment in Constantinople, or refusing to pay the exorbitant taxes in certain Armenian villages. But the Sultan did not take kindly to this kind of objection to his rule, especially by a loathed Christian minority, leading him to often responded with brutality. As these peaceful protests were met with violence, and diplomatic pleas to the outside for help yielded no results, small pockets of Armenian revolutionaries took a much more aggressive stance. Amidst smaller skirmishes, there were three major uprisings led by these revolutionaries, which included a take-over of an Ottoman bank in 1896, and ended in the murder of over 100 diplomats and officials, as well as some Turkish and Kurdish citizens. Unfortunately, these small-scale revolutionary groups did not have the organization or firepower to make much of an impact, and only served to infuriate Hamid. Sighting such rebellious incidences as cause for action, Hamid ordered a wave of mass slaughters against several Armenian villages from 1894 - 1896 in what is known as the “Hamidian Massacres”. It is estimated that anywhere from 80,000 to 300,000 Armenians were killed in the last decade of the 19th Century.

The turbulent close to the last century left the Armenians in despair. Confused and angry, the nationalist notion that had swept over the other Christian minorities much earlier was quickly growing support amongst the Armenians. But there was a new hope on the horizon. A group of visionaries, the Young Turks, were also growing increasingly dissatisfied with Hamid’s rule of the Empire. They believed the only route to progress was through reinstating the constitution and parliament that the Sultan had ceased. During the opening years of the 20th century, they solicited the help of the Christians and Jews by enticing them with promises of equal rights, and a secular regime if they were to obtain control. Seeing that they shared the same goal, the Dashnag party put their suspicions aside, and agreed to aid the Young Turks. In June of 1908, they succeeded in a bloodless coup, absolving the Sultan of all his authority. The Christians rejoiced as the Young Turks made good on their word by immediately reinstating the parliament and constitution as promised, and giving the Christians certain rights, like being allowed to serve in the military, and having a political voice. Even the Dashnag party had a place within the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the now governing body. Things finally appeared to be looking up for the minorities, and the rebellions settled down.

However, due to the Young Turks lack of organization, inability to form a post-election government, and loosing Bulgaria within their first year of power, this new liberal body was not finding much support amongst its more fundamentalist Muslim citizens. Meanwhile, Sultan Hamid’s promises of returning to a rule of religion if put back in power kept many in his favor, enough so to inspire an attempted countercoup in 1909. On April 13th (referred to as the “31 March Incident” due to the Julian calendar used by the Ottomans at the time), Sultan Abdul Hamid II momentarily regained power as a military revolt took place in Istanbul. The revolt only lasted 10 days, after which, the Young Turks took back control and exiled the Sultan for good, giving his position to his brother, Mehmed V. The countercoup was a failure. Unfortunately, the Sultan’s brief reclaim of power afforded the Ottoman nationalists enough time to spark a mass killing spree of Armenians in the province of Adana. The angry Muslim mobs blamed the Armenians for the first coup of the Sultan, and rumors of a possible uprising or revolt to combat the countercoup only served to anger them more. The Armenians were also targeted due to their relative wealth in a time of financial hardship for most Turks. Uncontrollable violence quickly spread to other provinces. By the time they regained control, the Young Turks had great difficulty stopping the events, as the soldiers sent out by the military to control the areas either reacted slowly, allowed what was going on to continue, or even joined in on the killings themselves. It took a month for order to be restored, but not before 15,000 – 20,000 Armenians had been killed in what is known as the “Adana massacre”. Disgusted by the actions of these nationalists, the subsequent trials ordered by the Young Turks in July of 1909 ended in the execution of 124 Muslims for their instigation, and/or involvement in the massacres.

The state of the empire continued to decline under the rule of the CUP. The initiation of the 1st Balkan War saw the Ottomans loose more military battles and land in 1912, striking yet another massive blow to the pride of this once almighty Empire. As thousands of Muslim refugees poured into Istanbul from the lost territories with tales of brutality committed against them by the Christian, animosity and tension was at an all-time high. The radical wing of the Young Turks was outraged, and felt that a mixed religious and cultural population was poisoning the empire from the inside, ruining any attempts to re-strengthen it. The massive losses the Ottoman Empire was suffering during the Balkan Wars gave this wing the support they needed to make their move. In January of 1913, following the assassination of the Minister of War, Nazim Pasha, the Liberal Union secularist wing of the Young Turks was overthrown. Now spearheaded by the triumvirate of Mehmed Talat Pasha (Minister of the Interior), Ismail Enver Pasha (Minister of Defense), and Ahmed Cemal Pasha (Minister of the Navy/Marine), the CUP quickly passed a law making themselves the only legal political party in the Ottoman Empire. Despite this new takeover, the Turks still lost the 1st Balkan War in May of 1913. Infuriated with the Christians, they sought to carry out their main objective of creating a pan-Turkic nation under religious rule, and expanding the empire along the way. The biggest obstacle standing in the way of this objective was the Armenians, but the Young Turks had a plan to rid themselves of “the Armenian question”. The War Office started a propaganda campaign in early 1914 declaring the Armenians to be a threat to the state in an attempt to gain support for what would come later. To aid them in their plan, they would enlist the help of the Germans, whom they had formed an alliance with earlier when it was agreed upon by Sultan Hamid II that the “Silk Road” (Orient Express) would be extended through Baghdad, and on up to Germany, allowing for easy access to oil. In exchange, the Germans would help remove the Armenian population from that area so that they could achieve this goal.

In August of 1914, the German Empire declared war on the Russian Empire, and WWI was under way. The Ottomans entered the war in November, quickly making their initial move to regain the caucuses. They struck Russia at the boarder in an attempt to take the city of Baku. Much like in the Balkan War, their strategic and numerical disadvantages left them brutally defeated, costing them nearly 90% of their 3rd army. Their frustrations culminated into the perfect opportunity to solidify their campaign against their most hated Christian subjects. The CUP blamed the Armenians for their losses, citing that Armenians had joined and aided the Russian troops in attacking their army. In reality, there were approximately 6,000 troops out of the 120,000 members of the advancing Russian army who were of Armenian decent, the vast majority of which were Russian citizens fulfilling their duties. Only a very small fraction of those troops had defected from the Ottoman side. Never the less, amidst the paranoia that more defectors would take this opportunity to join their “Christian Orthodox brothers”, the CUP felt they were not justified in seeing their burning desire for a pan-Turkic nation through. They officially declared Armenians traitors, and enemies of the state. Initially disguising their true intentions, so as to minimize resistance from Turks and Armenians alike, they stated that Armenians were to be “relocated” out of the war zones at once, both for their own protection, and to eliminate the risk of more defectors. Once the relocations were under way, they could exercise their true, intended solution to “the Armenian question”. And while the world was preoccupied with WWI, they were afforded 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 Army in February of 1915. These soldiers, making up the majority of the able-bodied men who might put up a resistance against what the Turks were about to do, were either worked to death, or massacred. The Armenians were now defenseless.

Step 2: On April 24, 1915 (the date Armenians commemorate the genocide on), approximately 250 - 300 Armenian intellectuals were rounded up and arrested from various towns and villages. They were taken to a prison in the interior where they were either tortured and killed, or otherwise never heard from again. The Armenians were now leaderless.

Step 3: With the help of the Germans, 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 disease, exhaustion or starvation. Many more were burned, beheaded, shot, raped or beaten to death. Women had their breasts cut off. Pregnant women had their babies cut out of their wombs. 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 after being converted to Islam. Kurds and Turkish civilians alike took advantage of the situation to attack the convoys and steal their possessions. 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. When all was said and done, up to 1.5 million Armenians had perished.


Current Situation

Today's Turkish government vehemently denies the genocidal intent of these deportations. Modern day Turkish revisionists claim that there is no evidence of a planned extermination of the Armenian people, and blame the events on a civil war/unrest due to Armenian nationalist movements. They claim that there were no more than 300,000 deaths resulting from the Turks defended themselves against huge revolts. However, this perspective is almost the direct opposite of what happened, as it ignores the decades of unwarranted violence that preceded any revolts, or formation of the “dangerous” political parties that supposedly organized them, forcing Armenians to take action towards self-preservation. It also blows the scale of these revolts grotesquely out of proportion, and gives far too much credit to a largely unarmed, tiny minority with no centralized government. In other words, the Armenians were in no position to be seen as a threat. The majority of the rebels who revolted directly prior to the genocide were outsiders who found very little, to no support from the Ottoman Armenians they solicited for help. Lastly, the majority of these “revolts” denialists refer to were last stand attempts at self-defense in certain terror-stricken cities like Van, coming well after the genocide was under way.

Regardless, this has not stopped Turkey from repeatedly threatened any nation willing to accept the genocide, saying that it would be committing political relations suicide. One needs only look at Turkey’s reaction to resolution HR106 passing in the US House Committee in October of ’07 to understand the severity of the situation. It is also well known that the Turkish government has intervened at every conceivable step of the way when it comes to the creation, release, and/or distribution of any movies, books, documentaries, school curriculums, etc. pertaining to the Armenian Genocide in any nation that considers them an ally. 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 either denialist propaganda and school curriculums circulated in Turkey (as well as outside of it) that promote inaccurate information and timelines, or a complete lack of knowledge altogether about the history of events.

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), 41 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 finally face 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, Chili, 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, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Armin T. Wegner © Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen. All rights reserved.




Genocide Photo




Photographed by a German Officer in Turkey. Source: Nazer.




Turkish hangmen and their victims in Aleppo, 1915. Source: Nazer.




Genocide Photo. Source: Nazer.




Armenians from Kesaria in front of jail one hour before all were killed. Source: Nazer.




Genocide Photo. Source: Nazer.




Genocide Photo. Source: Nazer.




Genocide Photo. Source: Nazer.




Genocide Photo




Genocide Photo




Genocide Photo




Orphans




6,000 Orphans form star for "Near East Relief" aid organization




Genocide Photo




Genocide Photo




Genocide Photo





"This group of human wreckage represents tens of thousands when first approached with aid"




Armenians being marched out of Harput. Red Cross/Burning Tigris
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