Background of Armenia Armenia was a part of the Ottoman Empire. While the empire was Muslim, Armenians remained Christians. They were tolerated, but did not experience full equality under Islamic law. In 1867, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, came to power and attempted to stop the many revolutions within his empire. He did this mainly by encouraging Muslim groups to settle in Armenian lands.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II, also known as the “Red Sultan” for his role in the genocide.
Armenian Background Cont… This caused wide spread conflict and in 1894, Hamid falsely charged the Armenians for rebelling without authority. The Muslims, backed by the Ottoman Empire, were allowed to attack the Armenians. Over the course of the next 2 years, 200,000 Armenians died from attack and/or starvation.
The Young Turks In 1908, a group of young intellectuals over threw the sultan-called The Young Turks. This new leadership sought to make the Ottoman Empire exclusively Turkish and Muslims. In 1910, the Armenians were labeled enemies of Muslim Turkey (due to not fitting the above description)
The Genocide Begins In 1914, Turkey entered WWI. A military offensive against Russia ended in disaster and Turkey accused the Armenians of aiding Russia. On April 24, 1915-Turkish authorities arrested and executed Armenian leaders in Constantinople. This date would be forever remembered as the beginning of the Armenian genocide.
The Genocide Continues… In June 1915, the Armenian population was deported to the desserts of Syria and Iraq. Prior to deportation, all able- bodied males were shot. 25% of those that left Turkey would eventually arrive in Syria and Iraq. The majority of people were either murdered or died of thirst and starvation along the way.
The Genocide Ends In 1919, the Young Turks were put on trial for war crimes and were found guilty for the destruction of the Armenian people. In 1923, a war hero Mustafa Ataturk came to power, formed the Republic of Turkey, and released all prisoners found guilty of war crimes (including the Young Turks).
In the end, the Soviet Union carved out territory for the Armenians. Over 1 million Armenians died during the genocide. Today, the country of Turkey still formally denies that any premeditated genocide took place.
Why do we know so little about this event during WWI? 1 million deaths is not a lot compared to millions lost in other countries. Europe is in shambles, each country has its own issues to deal with. The term “genocide” is created by Professor Raphael Lempkin in 1946, (after WWII ) and recognized at a United Nations convention in 1948. Genocide, briefly, is the intent to destroy, in whole or part, ethnic or religious groups.
You decide…. Based on the evidence provided and the UN covenant….. Do you believe the events in Armenia were genocide? Provide evidence to defend your position.