Turkish official teasing starved Armenian children by showing bread during the Armenian Genocide, 1915

Turkish official teasing starved Armenian children by showing bread during the Armenian Genocide, 1915

The Armenian Genocide also known as the Armenian Holocaust, and traditionally among Armenians, as the Great Crime was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. It took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. Even today, almost a century later, the Euphrates River is filled with the bones of dead Armenians. The Assyrians, the Greeks and other minority groups were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy.

It is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, as scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust. The word genocide was coined in order to describe these events.

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. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.

Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate description of the events. In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, twenty countries have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view.

Actually Turkey recognizes the deaths but disagree on the motive. Turkey recognizes that there have been deaths, but they also assert that genocide was never a motive. There are also state archive records of punishments of Turkish officials who were cruel to the migrating Armenian people. The reason for moving the Armenian people was the Armenian bands who collaborated with invading Russian troops.

The current Armenian claim is that the motive was genocide, much like the Nazi Germany. This point is what Turkey doesn’t agree upon. AFAIK they haven’t disputed the deaths or cruelty towards Armenians. They argue it just wasn’t a state policy to do so, it was individual zealots/psychopaths – who were punished (by hanging) when they were found guilty.