Remembering the Armenian Genocide

Today is the one hundredth anniversary of April 24, 1915, which is generally considered to mark the beginning of the genocide against the Armenian people carried out by the Ottoman Turks. The greatest massacres occurred during 1915, but the killing went on for years. The slaughter even continued after the end of the Great War, during the euphemistically described period of “population transfers”, notably the massacres of Greeks and surviving Armenians during the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922.

For the past few weeks the Turks have been ratcheting up their usual rhetoric in advance of the anniversary, decrying the “racism” of anyone who refers to the events of 1915 as a genocide, and charging those Turks who so characterize the actions of the Ottoman State with “insulting Turkishness”, the all-purpose crime used to silence discussion of Turkish atrocities past and present.

Surprisingly, some of the European countries that have formerly held their tongues are now breaking ranks and declaring publicly that the massacre of Armenians during the Great War was a genocide. In the past week Germany, Austria, and the European Parliament have become “insulters of Turkishness”, and Pope Francis has made headlines and angered the Turkish government with his public utterances about the genocide.

The following is a brief documentary by the Genocide Education Project about what happened to the Armenians in 1915. Warning: some of the images and descriptions in this clip are disturbing:

Below are excerpts from a series of recent news stories that discuss the Armenian Genocide. First, from France24:

Turkish PM Says Genocide Recognition is ‘European Racism’

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday angrily condemned the European Parliament for adopting a resolution urging Turkey to recognise the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, saying it was a sign of growing “racism” in Europe.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Davutoglu said such statement ignored the suffering of Muslim Turks in World War I and risked inciting hatred towards other non-Christian religious groups.

The European Parliament on Wednesday agreed a resolution urging Turkey to use the centenary of the 1915 tragedy to “recognise the Armenian genocide” and help promote reconciliation between the two peoples.

From Jihad Watch:

Mufti of Ankara: Pope Acknowledging Armenian Genocide Will Hasten Hagia Sophia’s Becoming Mosque Again

Turkish political parties (with one exception) released a joint statement against the European Parliament’s ‘genocide’ vote on the mass killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I.

At the same time, Mefail Hizli, the mufti of Ankara, spoke out against Pope Francis for his use of the word ‘genocide’ in connection with the mass slaughter of Armenians, saying that the pontiff’s remarks will accelerate the rededication of Istanbul’s Saint Sophia Basilica as a mosque.

From Asia News:

Armenian Genocide: Turkish Politicians Criticise the EU; Mufti Reacts to Pope’s Words Threatening to Turn Saint Sophia Into a Mosque

Erdogan’s moderate Islamist party as well as the Kemalist and right wing nationalist parties issue a statement slamming the European parliament as “partial” and “intolerant”. For the mufti of Ankara, Pope Francis’ statement was “extremely spectacular.” For the first time in 85 years, a passage from the Qur’an was recited at Saint Sophia. A symposium during Holy Birth Week was held in Istanbul on “The Prophet and Cohabitation Ethics and Law”.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – Turkish political parties (with one exception) released a joint statement against the European Parliament’s ‘genocide’ vote on the mass killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I.

At the same time, Mefail Hizli, the mufti of Ankara, spoke out against Pope Francis for his use of the word ‘genocide’ in connection with the mass slaughter of Armenians, saying that the pontiff’s remarks will accelerate the rededication of Istanbul’s Saint Sophia Basilica as a mosque.

On Wednesday, the European parliament passed the motion on the Armenian genocide. Calling on Ankara to acknowledge the event, it urged Turkey and Armenia to use the occasion of the centenary of the genocide to establish diplomatic relations.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as well as the main opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), yesterday released a joint statement “harshly condemning the partial approach” of the European Parliament, which backed a motion calling the mass killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I a “genocide.”

The statement condemned the parliament’s “partial” approach as against “the idea of peace, toleration and building of a common future.”

“Despite our objections, the European Parliament prefers to deepen the problem and gap between our two societies . . . and prevent impartial and scientific research of the issue,” said the joint statement.

Only the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) abstained from signing the declaration, calling the reaction against the pope by Erdogan and the other parties as childish. Instead, “The government should found a truth and reconciliation commission in order to face the past,” HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas.

For his part, the Mufti of Ankara Hizli Mefail said, “The statement that the Catholic world’s spiritual leader pope delivered three days ago, saying Armenians had been subjected to a genocide, is extremely spectacular”.

In his view, the pope’s statement reflects “a modern colour of the crusader wars launched in these lands for centuries.”

“Frankly, I believe that the pope’s remarks will only accelerate the process for Hagia Sophia to be re-opened for [Muslim] worship”.

The latter echoes other voices who, in recent years, have called for Saint Sophia Basilica to be turned into a mosque.

Following the city’s conquest by the Ottomans in 1453, the church was used as a mosque. This lasted until the authorities of Turkey’s new Republic reopened it in 1935 as a museum.

Last Friday, for the first time in 85 years, a Muslim cleric recited the Qur’an in Hagia Sophia.

A passage from the Qur’an was recited late on April 10 at a ceremony at the basilica to mark the opening of a new exhibition titled ‘Love of the Prophet’ as part of this year’s Holy Birth Week. This includes a symposium that opened today on “The Prophet and Cohabitation Ethics and Law”.

From ANSAmed:

Grand Mufti Says Pope’s Genocide Comments ‘Immoral’

‘I cannot link statement to basic Christian values,’ Gormez says

(ANSAmed) – ANKARA, APRIL 21 – The Grand Mufti Mehmet Gormez, the top Sunni Muslim religious authority in Turkey, has repeated his criticism of Pope Francis for describing the 1915 mass killing of Armenians as genocide, Turkish media reported Tuesday. Gormez described the remarks as “immoral”, according to the reports.

“I consider the pope’s statement to be immoral and I cannot link it to the basic values of Christianity,” Gormez is quoted by the online edition of Zaman as saying.

The pope stirred controversy earlier this month when during a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica attended by the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and top church leaders he referred to “the first (tragedy of the 20th century), which is widely considered ‘the first genocide of the 20th century’”.

Turkey, which has always denied a genocide in the mass killings, denounced Francis’s comments even though the pope’s statement and the phrase “first genocide of the 20th century” were actually borrowed from remarks written in 2001 by former Pope John Paul II in a joint declaration with the Armenian church leader, Karenkin II.

Subsequently the Vatican said Francis used the term ‘genocide’ as part of a “precise and coherent line of dialogue”.

“This speech was very clear for those who wanted to grasp (its meaning), it was very rich”, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

“In the end, (it was about) the desire for reconciliation and dialogue between the Turkish people and the Armenian people”, he continued.

Gormez first criticised the pope the day after he made the comments, saying the remarks were “without foundation and inspired by… political lobbies and public relations firms”.

Numerous governments, experts and scholars in the field support Armenia’s position, concluding a genocide occurred.

Armenia and many historians say up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915.

From Fox News:

Turkey Recalls Ambassador to Austria After Parliament Issues Armenian Genocide Declaration

Turkey said Wednesday it is recalling its ambassador to Austria after parties represented in parliament signed a declaration recognizing the massacre of Armenians a century ago as genocide.

The six parties signed a declaration on Tuesday and held a minute of silence in memory of the victims.

“Due to the historic responsibility — the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was allied with the Osman Empire during World War I — it is our responsibility to recognize the terrible events as genocide and to condemn them,” the declaration stated.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as genocide.

Turkey, however, has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. It has fiercely lobbied to prevent countries from officially recognizing the massacres as genocide.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement protested against the Austrian move, saying the country’s parliament had no right to “accuse the Turkish people of a crime” that was “contrary to legal and historic truths.”

From Deutsche Welle:

Turkey Calls on Leaders to Reject Armenian Genocide Label

Turkey’s president has blamed Armenia for making plans to “insult Turkey” during ceremonies to mark 100 years since the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians. Ankara rejects assertions the 1915 killings were genocide.

Speaking in Ankara on Wednesday, Erdogan said he had talked to US President Barack Obama about the issue, and he “said it should be left to the historians, not the politicians,” to determine whether the killings constituted genocide.

Meanwhile, US Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes steered clear of using the word “genocide” when meeting heads of America’s Armenian community at the White House.

From The Press Enterprise:

Armenian Genocide: Inland Residents Attending Montebello Commemoration

One hundred years ago Friday, Ottoman Turks began what Armenians mark as the beginning of the 20th Century’s first genocide.

On Saturday, about 10 Inland people of Armenian descent will be in Montebello at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial Monument for a ceremony commemorating the murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians during the waning days of the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire, said the Rev. Stepanos Dingilian, pastor of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Riverside. Dingilian is among those attending.

The commemoration is one of several planned over the next few days in Los Angeles County, home to the nation’s largest Armenian population.

From Fox News again:

Erdogan Tells Peace Summit: Turkey’s Ancestors Never Committed Genocide Against Armenians

On the eve of the day marking the centenary of the Ottoman massacres of Armenians, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his nation’s ancestors never committed genocide.

Addressing a meeting billed as a peace summit Thursday, Erdogan also accused European nations of indifference toward refugees and wanting migrants drown at sea.

Britain’s Prince Charles and the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand were among dignitaries attending the event marking the centenary of the Gallipoli Battle in World War I.

Erdogan said: “The Armenian claims on the 1915 events… are all baseless and groundless.”

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks, an event widely viewed as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide.

From the BBC:

Armenian Mass Killings: Iranian Author’s Diary in Animation

Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh witnessed some of the atrocities committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenian minority.

He was among a group of Iranian nationalists working in Ottoman-ruled Baghdad during World War One.

As British forces approached Baghdad, Jamalzadeh, together with two Swedish officers of the Persian gendarmerie force and a few fellow Iranians left the city for Istanbul.

On their travels, Jamalzadeh described what he saw as “brutal and shocking”. Later he wrote a diary about what he saw as “the mass murder and looting of Armenians”.

100 years on from this historic event, Jamalzadeh’s writings are important as he is seen as a relatively objective witness. Most memoirs of those times were written by people involved in the conflict.

Finally, again from the BBC:

Armenian Killings Were Genocide – German President

German President Joachim Gauck has described as “genocide” the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks, a move likely to cause outrage in Turkey.

He was speaking on the eve of a debate in the German parliament on the issue.

The Armenian Church earlier canonised 1.5 million Armenians it says were killed in massacres and deportations by Ottoman Turks during World War One.

Turkey disputes the term “genocide”, arguing that there were many deaths on both sides during the conflict.

On Friday commemorations will mark the 100th anniversary of the killings.

Hat tips: for the articles: C. Cantoni, K, Fjordman, Insubria, JLH.

12 thoughts on “Remembering the Armenian Genocide

  1. First the Turks disarmed the Armenian Christians, then they rounded them up and took them at gunpoint into the desert, and left them there to sink or swim, most of them sank. No water, no food, and an agonizing death.

    Who? Us? no, we Turks didn’t kill them, we just transported them to new locations more suitable and safe for infidels…… They just failed to take full advantage of their new environments.

    The prophet never changes his spots

  2. Unfortunately, Western governments that acknowledge this genocide only use it to denounce all “racism,” “discrimination,” ‘exclusion,” “intolerance” — in their own countries and in their own peoples, not in Dar al-Islam. And they deploy that to justify their ethnocide –of their own peoples. Trickle genocide too if one considers the many ways in which the Muslim and African aliens imposed on the Europeans, and those plus the uncountable border-crossing Latino gangbangers and rapists unleased on American, prey on the autochthon population. And in the smaller, most crazed multiculti European countries, with Camp of the Saints scenario in full bloom and current demographic trends continuing, the trickle may torn torrential…

  3. The Turks, even before the Armenian/Greek genocide had for centuries had policies to reduce the native populations of the countries and peoples they conquered through a mix of pitting one group against another, starvation, pogroms, etc. Arnold Toynbee in a article available on Scribd goes into it.

  4. This time its the Armenian Genocide, with Turks, those modern day remnants of the brutal Islamic Ottoman empire screaming at the west for daring to acknowledge the actions of the Turks 100 years ago as genocide, which it most obviously was.

    Disgusting, brutal, heartless and inhuman, that unspeakable act is part of Turkey’s repulsive history, whether they care to acknowledge it or not.

    Sadly, the observance of this terrible act will pass with a minimum of grumbling throughout a world becoming inured to Islamic atrocities, with so-called ‘peacemakers’ once again calling for dialogue, which muslims rightly look upon as weakness.

    How long will it be, if ever, when westerners finally wake up to where all this dialogue, appeasement and cheek-turning is leading us; when we seem to have forgotten who our mortal enemy was 1000 years ago—and still is?

  5. The Turks were killing off Christians in the 19th century as well.

    There are period books that document this savagery.

    It was just not carried out as efficiently as the weaponry of WW I allowed.

    Islam is genocide.

    Against all who will not submit.

  6. The Qur’an calls for the death of the infidel, the looting of the infidel’s property and prevarication when conversing with the infidel.
    Hmmm, anyone else we know who is a thief, murderer and a liar?

  7. The term “racism” has been progressively (pun!) debauched over the past three or so decades almost to the point of meaninglessness. So congratulations to Turkey’s Prime Minister for now having rendered it utterly meaningless by his claim that formal European recognition of the Armenian Genocide is “racism” towards the Turks as the perpetrators of that genocide.

    • The Turks are sort of like a race, aren’t they? They claim to be not Arabs. They unequivocally killed many members of another race in @1915. Maybe we SHOULD be racist toward the Turks? But, of course, we can’t blame the descendants too long. But what if the descendants haven’t digested and learned from this dastardly act? Perhaps it is just and fair to be somewhat racist toward the Turks until we see some contrite behavior?

  8. Eight years ago I posted these two articles on the Armenian genocide:

    They describe how the Armenian enclave of Zeitoun was able to resist the Turkish massacres of 1895, but succumbed to those of 1915. The difference was an Ottoman army in which the planning and staff work was now done by officers of the German army such as Lieutenant General Hans von Seeckt, later to become the architect of the post-World War I force that formed the nucleus of Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Commenting on the annihilation of the Armenians, Von Seeckt airily declared that “The requirements of the war made it necessary that Christian, sentimental, and political considerations simply vanish.”

  9. Concerning the pope’s statement on the Armenian genocide:
    “I cannot link it to the basic values of Christianity,”
    Gormez said, in his distraction tactic. No? Everybody can link it to the basic values of Islam, though.
    “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.”
    That is Koran 9:5, part of Islamic law, with the death penalty for denying it.

  10. After this, how can the European Union continue to discuss the admission of Turkey to its ranks?. There would be mayhem on every street. Actually, there already is in parts of Birmingham and the East End of London.

  11. Terming the situation as “genocide” could not possibly harm Turkey in any material way. Any findings for compensation could easily be ignored by Turkey.

    One must conclude that the Turks are upset because it is a case of Muslims being criticized by non-Muslims. Their religion commands them to follow sharia law and suppress the criticism by any means possible, including the laughable use of the term “racism”. Once the Muslims achieve more political strength and virtual immunity for criminal actions, the protest by the expatriate Turkish community, with the encouragement of the Turkish government, will take a much more violent and direct form. Again, not for any material benefit to Turkey, except to continue the implementation of sharia law and its absolute ban on criticism of Islam by non-Muslims (or Muslims, for that matter).

Comments are closed.