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Mass crimes against humanity and genocides

The genocide against Armenians,
"Great Catastrophe" of 1915-1922:

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  • "There are times, young fellah, when every one of us must make a stand for human right and justice, or you never feel clean again." Lord John Roxton. Quoted in The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 15

  • "Armenia is dying, but it will survive. The little blood that is left is precious blood that will give birth to a heroic generation. A nation that does not want to die, does not die." Anatole France, French author, 1916.

  • "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact. ... I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915." Henry Morgenthau Sr., U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, 1919.

  • "In its attempt to carry out its purpose to resolve the Armenian question by the destruction of the Armenian race, the Turkish government has refused to be deterred neither by our representations, nor by those of the American Embassy, nor by the delegate of the Pope, nor by the threats of the Allied Powers, nor in deference to the public opinion of the West representing one-half of the world." Count Wolff-Metternich, German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire on 1916-JUL-10, in a cable to the German Chancellor

  • "It is generally not known in the world that, in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren't any Nuremberg trials." Former President of the U.S., Jimmy Carter 1978.

  • "Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it, … the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten." Former President of the U.S., Ronald Reagan, 1981.

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Time Location Perpetrators Victims Number of victims
1915 to 1922 Turkey Ottoman Empire Armenians and other Christians 300,000 to 1.5 million Armenian Christians; unknown number of Greek Christians and others.

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The Armenian Genocide:

"The [Christian] Armenian genocide of 1915-1916 effectively wiped out the Armenian population of Turkey, claiming the lives of from 300,000 to 1.5 million Armenian victims. Perhaps 75,000 Armenians remain in Turkey today, most of them in Istanbul." According to the web site, which is apparently no longer online:

"The Armenian Genocide occurred in a systematic fashion, which proves that it was directed by the Turkish government.This was the İttihat_ve_Terakki government 11 -- also known as the "Young Turks" -- of the Ottoman Empire. First the Armenians in the army were disarmed, placed into labor battalions, and then killed. Then the Armenian political and intellectual leaders were rounded up on [1915-]April 24 and killed. Finally, the remaining Armenians were rounded up, told they would be relocated, and then marched off to concentration camps in the desert between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor where they would starve and thirst to death in the burning sun...The authorities in Trebizond, on the Black Sea coast, did vary this routine: they loaded Armenians on barges and sank them far out at sea." 2

Although the main victims of this genocide were Armenian Christians, the approximately five million Greek Christians living in Turkey at the start of World War I were also targeted for programs of deportation, forced marches leading to extermination, and ethnic cleansing. These victims have been almost entirely forgotten. They include Greek Orthodox victims living along the Anatolian coast in 1914, at Adrianople, Constantinople and Smyra during 1916, in Ordou in 1918, etc.

By 1923, Greece had received about a million Christian refugees -- mostly composed of the elderly and children. Able-bodied adults generally were unable to make it to safety.

Mustafa Kemel, the founder of modern Turkey in 1923 , who later took the name of Ataturk, spoke openly about the genocide, calling it an "abomination of the past." However, the history books of current and previous governments of Turkey have either denied that the genocide actually happened, or suggested that typhoid, the Russians and the Germans were responsible for the massive loss of life. The use of the term "genocide" is  "categorically unacceptable," according to Yüksel Söylemez, the chairman of a group of former Turkish ambassadors. Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer said the accusations of genocide are baseless and that they "upset and hurt the feelings of the Turkish nation."


Recent acknowledgments of the genocide:

  • Some have suggested that Turkish government's unwillingness to admit to the past atrocity by its predecessor may threaten its prospects for its future membership in the European Union. In 2004, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said:

    "I believe that when the time comes, Turkey should come to terms with its past, be reconciled with its own history and recognize this tragedy. This is an issue that we will raise during the negotiation process. We will have about 10 years to do so and the Turks will have about 10 years to ponder their answer." 7

  • 1997: The Association of Genocide Scholars reaffirmed that the mass murder of over a million Armenians in Turkey in 1915 is a case of genocide which conforms to the statutes of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. It further condemns the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government and its official and unofficial agents and supporters. 12

  • 2001-JAN-18: France passed a law branding as genocide the mass murder of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

  • 2005-MAR: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition leader Deniz Baykal agreed to address the past. The Prime Minister noted that the state archives in Ankara and Istanbul are open to everyone. He said that an independent entity -- like UNESCO -- might participate in an historical fact-finding mission.

  • 2005-APR-24: On this date, the 90th anniversary of the genocide was observed. Essentially all survivors of the genocide will probably have died by the time of the next decennial remembrance in 2015.

  • 2005-JUN: A resolution was scheduled to be voted upon in 2005-JUN in the German Bundestag.

  • 2008-SEP: In a dramatic move, President Sargsyan of Armenia invited President Gul of Turkey to Armenia to watch a World Cup qualifier between their two soccer teams. This was followed by representatives of the two states meeting to discuss opening their border, establishing diplomatic relations, and generally improving tensions between the countries.

  • 2008-DEC-07: CNN presented a special program anchored by their Chief International Correspondent  Christiane Amanpour called "Scream Bloody Murder." It described various genocides thorough history with an emphasis on those who witnessed the atrocities, tried to stop them, and were ignored by the world.  Ara Khachatourian of Armenia was critical of the relative lack of coverage of the Armenian genocide, and commented:
    "Amanpour’s 'Scream Bloody Murder' is an important piece of journalism as it asks the very critical questions that could have prevented so many acts of Genocide. In its reporting, Amanpour is also very adept at pointing to US complicity in all these events, much like Samantha Power was in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book 'A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide'." 8.9
  • 2008-DEC-12: a group of about 200 Turkish academics, journalists, writers, artists, and other public figures sent an open letter to Abdullah Gul, the President of Turkey, urging him to recognize the mass murder as a genocide. The group issued an apology for the genocide themselves via the Internet . This event has been generally acknowledged by historians outside of Turkey. The group described the event as the "Great Catastrophe" and acknowledged that it was a "genocide." The letter said, in part:
    "The new situation formed in the South Caucasus as a result of the latest events, the bold step of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to invite you to Yerevan and the meeting held reaffirm that establishing good-neighborly relations between Armenia and Turkey requires courageous and realistic solutions. First of all we face the knotty issue of the Armenian Genocide. ... The new situation formed in the South Caucasus as a result of the latest events, the bold step of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to invite you to Yerevan and the meeting held reaffirm that establishing good-neighborly relations between Armenia and Turkey requires courageous and realistic solutions. First of all we face the knotty issue of the Armenian Genocide"
    According to Pakrat Estukian, editor of the Istanbul-based Armenian-Turkish newspaper, "Agos," each of the signatories of the petition were not pressured to sign. They did it only after "... listening to the voice of their conscience." 10

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  • 2014: By this time, governments of 22 countries including France and Russia, and the governments of 43 states in the United States have recognized this event as a genocide. The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny that it happened.

  • 2015-JAN-29: The State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide issued its "Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide." The Declaration condemns:

    "... the genocidal acts against the Armenian people, planned and continuously perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and various regimes of Turkey in 1894-1923, dispossession of the homeland, the massacres and ethnic cleansing aimed at the extermination of the Armenian population, the destruction of the Armenian heritage, as well as the denial of the Genocide, all attempts to avoid responsibility, to consign to oblivion the committed crimes and their consequences or to justify them, as a continuation of this crime and encouragement to commit new genocides,"

    The Declaration:

    "... Proudly notes that during the last century the Armenian people, having survived the Genocide,

    • demonstrated an unbending will and national self-consciousness and restored its sovereign statehood, lost centuries ago,

    • preserved and developed national values, achieved the renaissance of their national culture, science and education, bringing its unique contribution to the development of world heritage,

    • established a powerful and effective network of religious and secular institutions in the Armenian Diaspora, thus contributing to the preservation of their Armenian identity in Armenian communities worldwide, the shaping of a respected and esteemed image of the Armenian, and the protection of the legitimate rights of the Armenian people,

    • united and restored the national gene pool that was facing extermination as a result of the Genocide, through a pan-Armenian cooperation and extensive repatriation program,

    • made its valuable contribution to international peace and security during the First and the Second World Wars and won glorious victories in the heroic battle of Sardarapat and the Artsakh war.

    • Considers the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide an important milestone in the ongoing struggle for historical justice under the motto 'I remember and demand.'

    • Calls upon the coming generations of Armenians to protect their sacred native heritage with patriotism, consciousness and intellect and resolutely struggle and serve for:
      • a stronger Homeland, free and democratic Republic of Armenia,

      • the progress and strengthening of independent Artsakh,

      • the efficient unity of Armenians worldwide,

      • the realization of the centuries-old sacrosanct goals of all Armenians."
  • 2015-APR-24: This is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. This year it will be observed as the 100th anniversary of the date of the start of the genocide.

    The German Bundestag will hold a discussion on whether to recognize the tragedy as a genocide. Among the political parties in Germany. the Greens and the Left party favor official government recognition by the German government of the massacre. However, the governing coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) oppose recognition.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Genocide history brief," at: 
  2. "The Armenian Genocide," at: [Apparently off line)
  3. Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos, "Before the Silence," at:
  4. "Memories from Smyrni - 1900 - 1922,"  at:
  5. Roberto Lopes, "The Hellenic Genocide," at:
  6. Bernhard Zand, "Armenian Genocide Plagues Ankara 90 Years On," Der Spiegel, 2005-APR-25. at:
  7. "Turkey 'must admit Armenia dead;," BBC News, 2004-DEC-13, at:
  8. Ara Khachatourian, "Documented omission: CNN special report ignores Armenian history on genocide," Armenia, 2008-DEC-05, at:

  9. book cover Samantha Power "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," Harper Perennial, (2007). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store review by Shawn Carkonen:
    "During the three years (1993-1996) Samantha Power spent covering the grisly events in Bosnia and Srebrenica, she became increasingly frustrated with how little the United States was willing to do to counteract the genocide occurring there. After much research, she discovered a pattern: "The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred," she writes in this impressive book. Debunking the notion that U.S. leaders were unaware of the horrors as they were occurring against Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Iraqi Kurds, Rwandan Tutsis, and Bosnians during the past century, Power discusses how much was known and when, and argues that much human suffering could have been alleviated through a greater effort by the U.S. She does not claim that the U.S. alone could have prevented such horrors, but does make a convincing case that even a modest effort would have had significant impact. Based on declassified information, private papers, and interviews with more than 300 American policymakers, Power makes it clear that a lack of political will was the most significant factor for this failure to intervene. Some courageous U.S. leaders did work to combat and call attention to ethnic cleansing as it occurred, but the vast majority of politicians and diplomats ignored the issue, as did the American public, leading Power to note that "no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on." This powerful book is a call to make such indifference a thing of the past."
  10. Gayane Mkrtchyan, "Appeals for Genocide recognition: Intellectuals in Armenia, Turkey address 1915 events," Armenia Now, 2008-DEC-12, at:
  11. Also known, in English, as the "Committee of Union and Progress" or the "Union and Progress Party."
  12. "Armenian Genocide recognition," Wikipedia, as on 2015-APR-07, at:
  13. Richard A. Fuchs, "Armenians call for German apology on genocide issue," Deutsche Welle, at:
  14. "PanArmenian Declaration," 2015-JAN-29, at:

  15. book cover Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Lost World." CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2014). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store. Available in paperback and Kindle formats.

    Amazon review: "The Lost World is a novel released in 1912 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle concerning an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America where prehistoric animals (dinosaurs and other extinct creatures) still survive."


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Copyright © 2001 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JAN-1
Latest update: 2015-APR-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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