From the Federalist:
April 24 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, a massive tragedy that brutally snuffed out the lives of up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire. It was a systematic attempt to exterminate an entire race of people.
And now, on the one hundredth commemoration, President Obama joins those who deny it by refusing to call it was it was: genocide. This is the seventh time he’s retracted his 2008 election-year promise that if elected he would recognize the Armenian genocide.
About 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered by the government of the Ottoman Empire. It was jumpstarted on April 24, 1915, when hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople, arrested, and killed.
The goal was to exterminate every Armenian Christian, whether child, woman, or man. The killings themselves often included all manner of butchery, torture, and humiliation. My grandmother lamented the crucifixion of her father, who was known in the village as a holy man.
Another part of this extermination program involved deportations that forced Armenians out of their homes and basically put them on death marches into the Syrian Desert. Many died of starvation and exhaustion on these caravans. Others succumbed to diseases like typhus in lice-infested camp conditions.
Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines. My grandmother’s younger sister was taken into a harem.
Some of the most harrowing accounts of the murders are included in the extraordinary memoirs of the survivor Bishop Grigoris Balakian, entitled “Armenian Golgotha.” For in depth documentation of the genocide online, I recommend this website.
Who Were the Main Actors?
The Armenians were Christians living in a Muslim empire. But their history as a civilization goes back thousands of years. Armenia was also the first nation to adopt Christianity—in 301 A.D.
Before the massacres, Armenians were well integrated into the Ottoman economy as merchants, professionals, craftsmen, intellectuals, and farmers.
The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were Muslims who had previously tolerated Armenian Christians, though required them to pay the tax for not converting to Islam. By the time of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse, and the government of the Young Turk “Committee of Union and Progress” felt threatened by Armenian nationalists.
In the eastern provinces particularly, this was considered a problem, especially since Armenian communities existed on both sides of the Ottoman border with the Russian Empire. The three pashas were the architects of the genocide, and worked in concert to solve the problem of nationalism by systematically exterminating every Armenian.GO READ THE WHOLE THING.