Who are the Armenians?
Armenians call their homeland Hazastan, but we know it by the name of Armenia. Historically, the country occupied the mountains between the Caucasus, Asia Minor and Persia. In 301 this country, which has always been located on the border between Europe and Asia, established Christianity as its religion and thus became the first Christianized country.
However, with the regional changes in Anatolia, the country of Armenia was finally annexed by the Ottoman Empire, at its peak extending almost from the Caspian Sea to Vienna. Life within its borders is relatively easy for national minorities as long as they agree to abide by the rules imposed by the Sultan and to pay the taxes levied on them without fail.
This diverse country has enacted a number of laws designed to ensure the safe coexistence of citizens of different nations living within its borders. Although it worked well at first, the advent of the 19th century changed everything. Only then did the national identity begin to grow stronger, with separatist ideas appearing among the Armenians. These sentiments were not captured by the empire, which led to the first massacre of the Armenian people, carried out on the orders of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
These events took place in the years 1894-1896, during which an estimated 300,000 people died. Armenian. This provoked a tragedy that was yet to come.
In 1908, a new political movement – the Young Turks – came to power in the Ottoman Empire. They carried out a military coup, forcing the dictator Sultan Abdul Hamid II to step down.
The group was referred to as an umbrella organization with a better view of the country than the Sultan. They believed that the state could not be developed without a constitution and parliament. They must be the forerunners of a new era, signifying a change in attitude toward unbelievers. This was reflected, for example, when the Armenians agreed to join the army. However, the joy of these changes did not last long.
In 1912 and 1913, as a result of the two Balkan wars, the Ottoman Empire lost more than 70 percent of its land on the Balkan Peninsula. Its European territory. It was a severe blow, further aggravated by waves of Turkish refugees from these areas.
In Istanbul, more than 100,000 people appeared in a very short time. War immigrants. They were a crowd of bitter people, their wealth was lost, and hunger was waiting for them in the streets of the city because the government could not help them. Their stories about what happened to them with Christians reinforced nationalist sentiments and internal tensions, centered on the infidels who remained in the Ottoman Empire.
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Fear of the Balkan loss and further uprisings became the main driving force of Turkish nationalism. It was feared that the Turkish nation would lose Anatolia, with the hope that all means of defending it would be justified.
Influenced by these events, in 1913 a radical, nationalist youth group gained full control of the government. It was co-chaired by Mehmet Dalat, who co-chaired the “young Turkish victory” with Defense Minister Ismail Enwar and Navy Minister Ahmed Semal. Turkish nationalism was at the center of their ideology, and the main goal was to create a homeland for the Turks in Anatolia. The slogan behind their actions was: “Turkey for Turks”.
The enemy inside
After the outbreak of World War I, the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany. Enver believed in using German influence to expand the country’s borders to the east. He planned to conquer the Russian part of the Caucasus and Central Asia, thus uniting the Turks living there. This was the next step on the path to creating a larger Turkish state.
Unfortunately, the Turks were defeated in the first conflict with Russia, and the most tragic was in January 1915 in Sarikamis. The Ottomans blamed the Armenians for this defeat.
There were many Armenian soldiers on the Russian teams. They came from tsarist lands, but there were also Turkish refugees among them. Their presence in the enemy army angered the Ottoman generals.
Fearing that a large number of Armenians would join the enemy, the “young Turkish conqueror” saw the Armenian nation as a threat within state borders. The decision was made to disarm all Armenians in the ranks of the Turkish army and to enlist them in the serving battalions. They were killed after work on building roads or cleaning toilets.
The elimination of young, strong men is the first stage of the Armenian Genocide.
On April 24, 1915, an arrest warrant was issued for Armenian intellectuals and spiritual leaders. They were isolated from the rest of the community and imprisoned there, where they were tortured and killed. In total, practically the entire generation of Armenian intellectuals was killed. This strategic move confused the people and made it very vulnerable to attempts to destroy it.
Another feature was the emergency legal measures that allowed the arrest and deportation of Armenians from all parts of the empire. These activities led to the displacement of entire villages and towns. People were informed that they would be relocated to unknown residences in the interior of the country. In fact, police, along with troops, were marching columns of insecure Armenians into what is now the Del-El-Dijor desert in Syria.
These death marches were planned to kill as many people as possible. Special forces (made up of ex-convicts), as well as the heat, water scarcity, lack of rest and regular attacks by Kurdish and provoked local communities led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians.
The routes of the march went through very long paths through the mountains. People died one by one without stops, food, water and medical facilities. The weak – the sick, the elderly, pregnant women and children – were the first to leave. Those unable to continue the column were killed on the spot. Death march tracks mark bodies left on the roadside. With each passing day the merchants narrowed their eyes.
There is evidence that many bodies were thrown into the Euphrates, and the river water turned red with blood. People who could not bear the pain and suffering ended up drowning themselves in this dream march.
Some of the Armenians were transported by train to Del-El-Desor in freight cars. For many of them this journey is dangerous. Like cattle slaughtered, they died of thirst and lack of air. The terrible truth is that the Armenian people had to pay for the ticket themselves, which should be a cover for the Turkish government and its actions.
The brutality of the Turks towards the Armenians is astonishing – it seems that the torturers deliberately led them into a kind of inhumanity. Thrown out of their homes and led nowhere through the desert, on the way to being looted and brutally murdered, they finally became obsessed with hunger and thirst – they stopped showing normal human reactions. It is difficult to imagine the suffering they experienced. Of course, it would not help much to cite some of the cases that have been documented, such as the shoeing of persons handled by Dwight Pasha, known as the “Pakali fake lover,” or the sinking of boats with tiger people. Arson, dismemberment and gang rape are common practices of Turks against the Armenian people.
Some who reached the desert settled in makeshift concentration camps. Many of them were starved or killed. It is estimated that more than a million Armenians died during the entire massacre. The events of 1915-1916 were visited by many foreign journalists, missionaries, diplomats and military officials, who sent home reports on the marches and the death toll. The largest archive with about 4 thousand. Eyewitnesses to these events are now based in the United States.
After World War I, the Turkish government refused to call the events genocide, despite the fact that the perpetrators of this crime were punished. However, in the light of this policy, it is worth noting that Rafas Lemkin, the creator of the word “genocide”, cited the tragedy of the Armenians as one of the prime examples of this type of crime against humanity.