Saturday, April 24, 2010

Armenian Genocide: 24 April , Day of Memory

From the New York Times, 18 August 1915:

"We now know with certainty from a reliable source that Armenians have been deported in a body from all the towns and villages in Cilicia to the desert regions south of Aleppo. The refugees will have to traverse on foot a distance, requiring marches of from one to two or even three months.
We learn besides that the roads and the Euphrates are strewn with corpses of exiles, and those who survive are doomed to certain death, since they will find neither house, work, nor food in the desert. It is a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people.
Courts-martial operate everywhere without cessation. [...]
Hundreds of women and young girls and even children groan in prisons. Churches and convents have been pillaged, defiled and destroyed. The villages around Van and Bitlis have been pillaged and the inhabitants put to the sword.
At the beginning of this month the inhabitants of Karahissar were pitilessly massacred with the exception of a few children"

The full article can be found at:

Some more from Wikipedia ( ):

"The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime, refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was implemented through wholesale massacres and deportations, with the deportations consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of resulting Armenian deaths is generally held to have been between one and one and a half million. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.

It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, as scholars point to the systematic, 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 that 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 Republic of 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. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.
Lt. Hasan Maruf, of the Ottoman army, describes how a population of a village were taken all together, and then burned. "The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in the various camps was to burn them." And also that, "Turkish prisoners who had apparently witnessed some of these scenes were horrified and maddened at the remembering the sight. They told the Russians that the stench of the burning human flesh permeated the air for many days after."

Trabzon was the main city in Trabzon province; Oscar S. Heizer, the American consul at Trabzon, reports: "This plan did not suit Nail Bey.... Many of the children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea and thrown overboard." The Italian consul of Trabzon in 1915, Giacomo Gorrini, writes: "I saw thousands of innocent women and children placed on boats which were capsized in the Black Sea." The Trabzon trials reported Armenians having been drowned in the Black Sea.

During the Trabzon trial series of the Martial court, from the sittings between March 26 and May 17, 1919, the Trabzons Health Services Inspector Dr. Ziya Fuad wrote in a report that Dr. Saib caused the death of children with the injection of morphine.

Dr. Ziya Fuad and Dr. Adnan, public health services director of Trabzon, submitted affidavits reporting cases in which two school buildings were used to organize children and send them to the mezzanine to kill them with toxic gas equipment.

Death Marches:
The Armenians were marched out to the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding desert. A good deal of evidence suggests that the Ottoman government did not provide any facilities or supplies to sustain the Armenians during their deportation, nor when they arrived. By August 1915, The New York Times repeated an unattributed report that "the roads and the Euphrates are strewn with corpses of exiles, and those who survive are doomed to certain death. It is a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people."

Ottoman troops escorting the Armenians not only allowed others to rob, kill, and rape the Armenians, but often participated in these activities themselves. Deprived of their belongings and marched into the desert, hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished."

Unfortunately Nazis were not the only butchers this world has encountered, and Jews not the only victims of human atrocity. I will come back soon with another story of forgotten brutality...

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