Exactly one hundred years ago, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks and many were deported from their historical homeland. Today, on April 24, Armenia and the Armenians around the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The Armenian Genocide has been recognized and condemned by Uruguay (1965), the Republic of Cyprus (1982), Argentina (1993), Russia (1995), Canada (1996), Greece (1996), Lebanon (1997), Belgium (1998), Italy (2000), Vatican (2000), France (2001), Switzerland (2003), Slovakia (2004), The Netherlands (2004), Poland (2005), Germany (2005), Venezuela (2005), Lithuania (2005), Chile (2007), Sweden (2010), Bolivia (2014). The Armenian Genocide has been recognized by the Vatican, the European Parliament and the World Council of Churches. 43 of 50 U.S. states have recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide. Parliaments of several European countries have adopted laws criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey, however, denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide.

What is the Armenian Genocide?

The extermination of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the surrounding regions during 1915-1923 is called the Armenian Genocide.

Those massacres were masterminded and perpetrated by the government of Young Turks and were later finalized by the Kemalist government.

The First World War gave the Young Turks the opportunity to settle accounts with Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, thus implementing the decision of the secret meeting of 1911 in Thessaloniki. The plan was to tukify the Muslims and to exterminate the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Talaat Pasha (Interior Minister), Enver Pasha (Minister of Military Affairs), Djemal Pasha (commander of the Palestinian Front), Behaeddin Shakir Bey (Young Turk Central Committee member) and others were among the orchestrators of the project.

Intending to annihilate Armenians, they wanted to eliminate the Armenian Question. Armenia and Armenians were an obstacle on the way of the project of the Yong Turks. Their dream of “Great Turan” was to stretch from the Bosphorus to Altai. During the First World War the Young Turks perpetrated massacres against Assyrians, Greeks and Arabs living in the Ottoman Empire.

In February 1915 the military minister Enver Pasha ordered to eliminate the Armenian soldiers serving in the Army. On April 24 and the following days 800 Armenians were arrested in Constantinople and exiled to the depths of Anatolia. Armenian writers, journalists, doctors, scientists, clergymen, intellectuals including Armenian members of the parliament were among them. A part of them died on the way of the exile, while others died after reaching there.

The first international response to the violence resulted in a joint statement by France, Russia and the Great Britain in May 1915, where the Turkish atrocities against the Armenians were defined as “a crime against humanity and civilization”. According to them, Turkish government was responsible for the implementation of the crime.
How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?

There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire before the First World War. Approximately one and a half million Armenians were killed from 1915-1923. The remaining part was either islamized or exiled.

Why was the Armenian Genocide perpetrated?

When WWI erupted, the government of the Young Turks adopted the policy of Pan-Turkism, hoping to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire. The plan was to create an enormous Ottoman Empire that would spread to China, include all the Turkish speaking nations of the Caucasus and Middle Asia, intending also to turkify all the ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenian population became the main obstacle standing in the way of the realization of this policy. Besides, the constitution restored after the Revolution of 1908 promised equal rights to all citizens of the Ottoman Empire. Armenians enthusiastically embraced this opportunity, however the change of status of previously deprived Armenians increased the hostility of the Turks towards Christians. This hostility was formed long ago, as even in the conditions of deprivation Armenians of the Ottoman empire provided unprecedented social, cultural and economic development. The genocide was a means to suppress this ascent, as well as to seize the Armenian wealth created during decades.