|What is Genocide?|
The term Genocide was coined by Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944, whose family was one of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust. By defining this term, Lemkin sought to describe Nazi politics of systematic murder, violence and atrocities committed against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Combing ‘geno,’ from the Greek word for race or tribe, with ‘cide,’ from the Latin word for killing, he created the word ‘Genocide’. The following year, the International Military Tribunal at Nurenberg charged top Nazi officials with crimes against humanity. Although, the word Genocide was included in the indictment, it was as a descriptive and not as a legal term.
On December 9, 1948, in the shadow of the Holocaust, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. See whole text
The Convention defines Genocide as an international crime, which signatory nations undertake to prevent and punish. According to the Convention, Genocide is one of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a. Killing members of the group;
b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
After the adoption of the convention some scholars have suggested other more inclusive definitions.
In 1959 Pieter Drost, a legal scholar defined Genocide as “The deliberate destruction of physical life of individual human beings by reason of their membership of any human collectivity as such”.
Israel Charny, the Editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide in two volumes, suggests that “Genocide in the generic sense is the mass killing of substantial numbers of human beings, when not in the course of military action against the military forces of an avowed enemy, under conditions of the essential defenselessness and helplessness of the victims”.
The UN convention does not include the killing of the members of political groups in the definition of Genocide, but many genocide scholars argued for the inclusion of that point in the definition. The prominent Genocide scholar and sociologist Leo Cuper noted that in the contemporary world, political differences are at least as significant a basis for massacre and annihilation as racial, national, ethnic or religious differences. In response to the omission of political groups from the Convention definition of Genocide, Ted Gurr and Barbara Harff have coined the new term Politicide.
The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during WWI is defined as the Armenian Genocide.
Those massacres were perpetrated throughout different regions of the Ottoman Empire by the Young Turkish Government which was in power at the time.
The first international reaction to the violence resulted in a joint statement by France, Russia and Great Britain, in May 1915, where the Turkish atrocities directed against the Armenian people was defined as “new crime against humanity and civilization” agreeing that the Turkish government must be punished for committing such crimes.
Why was the Armenian Genocide perpetrated?
When WWI erupted, the Young Turk government, hoping to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire, adopted a policy of Pan Turkism – the establishment of a mega Turkish empire comprising of all Turkic-speaking peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia extending to China, intending also to Turkify all ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenian population became the main obstacle standing in the way of the realization of this policy.
Although the decision for the deportation of all Armenians from the Western Armenia (Eastern Turkey) was adopted in late 1911, the Young Turks used WWI as a suitable opportunity for its implementation.
How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?
There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of WWI. Approximately one and a half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. Another half million found shelter abroad.
The mechanism of implementation
Genocide is the organized killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and an internal machinery to implement. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction.
On 24th of April in 1915, the first phase of the
Armenian massacres began with the arrest and murder of nearly hundreds intellectuals, mainly from Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul in present day Turkey). Subsequently, Armenians worldwide commemorate the April 24th as a day that memorializes all the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The second phase of the ‘final solution’ appeared with the conscription of some 60.000 Armenian men into the general Turkish army, who were later disarmed and killed by their Turkish fellowmen.
The third phase of the genocide comprised of massacres, deportations and death marches made up of women, children and the elderly into the Syrian deserts. During those marches hundreds of thousand were killed by Turkish soldiers, gendarmes and Kurdish mobs. Others died because of famine, epidemic diseases and exposure to the elements. Thousands of women and children were raped. Tens of thousands were forcibly converted to Islam.
Finally, the fourth phase of the Armenian genocide appeared with the total and utter denial by the Turkish government of the mass killings and elimination of the Armenian nation on its homeland. Despite the ongoing international recognition of the Armenian genocide, Turkey has consistently fought the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide by any means, including false scholarship, propaganda campaigns, lobbying, etc.
|“Armenians Horrors Grow” - The New York Times, August 6, 1915, “Armenians are Sent to Perish in Desert” - The New York Times, August 18, 1915|
|“500 000 Armenians Said to Have Perished” - The New York Times, September 24, 1915|
|“The Depopulation of Armenia” - The Independent, September 27, 1915|
|Tsitsernakaberd: memorial complex dedicated to the victims|
|Tsitsernakaberd in april 24: The Eternal Flame at the center of the 12 slabs, symbolizing the 12 lost Armenian provinces|
|Tsitsernakaberd : Hrant Dink, murderd by turkish nationalist in 2007|
|Serj Tankian: Yes It's GENOCIDE|