The Armenian Genocide

History is replete with cases of wars waged by various empires/ kingdoms against their neighbours etc. Normally the conquered peoples become subjects of the victorious party; answerable to the new masters. Such was the case with the Armenians of Anatolia who became subjects of the Ottoman empire through conquestbn andwere later to become the target of what is believed by many to be the infamous Armenian Genocide. It is believed that the population of the Armenians in the empire was in the region of two million by the close of the nineteenth century, by which time the empire was already showing signs of disintegration. The Ottoman Empire was ruled by the Turks, normally headed by a Sultan/Caliph with absolute powers.

The Armenians, a minority group in the empire, were Christians with Turks who formed the majority being Muslims. The Armenians were regarded as inferior to the Turks and were denied several rights like being involved in the running of government, yet they paid more taxes and did without security for themselves and their property etc. In spite of the condemnation to second class subjects, they were industrialists and merchants who were economically well off and envied by the Turks who were generally peasants or average civic workers and soldiers.

By the end of the nineteenth century cases of uprising by the Christian Armenians residing in the peripheral regions of the empire were taking place. At the same time sporadic cases of their persecution and killing was already under way. Indeed there are recorded cases of their massacre between the years 1894 to 1909. In 1908 The Young Turk movement , made up of army officers took reigns of power with a resolve to clean’ and modernise the empire. With the outbreak of World War 1, they joined in March 1914 on Germany’s in order to fight the Russians; their perceived enemy.

The critical moment came in 1915 April 24, marking the D-day.The Ottoman leadership began a well planned and executed ‘cleansing’ exercise that was to rid the empire of the ‘Infidels’. Thousands of Armenians were ejected from their homes, leaving behind their property and driven to the Syrian desert where some were shot; others were starved to death in what was obviously a death march. The killings continued for several years and by end of the war, it is believed that over one million had been butchered.

Even after the World War 1the massacre continued and by early 1920’s those lucky to survive were internally displaced persons [IDPs] with no homes. Indeed this genocide continued until 1923 when the Republic of Turkey was born.