The Armenian Genocide 1914-1917
The long gone debate of the Armenian Genocide in the years of 1914-1917 will continue. I, Hayk Yeghiazaryan - an Armenian citizen living in the United Kingdom will not only discuss about the events from 1914-1917, but also the large amount of massacres made by the Ottoman Turks in the late 1800's.
In 1876, the Ottoman government was led by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. From the beginning of the reform period after the signing of the Berlin treaty, Hamid II attempted to stall their implementation and asserted that Armenians did not make up a majority in the provinces and that Armenian reports of abuses were largely exaggerated or false. In 1890, Hamid II created a paramilitary outfit known as the Hamidiy ewhich was made up of Kurdish irregulars who were tasked to "deal with the Armenians as he wished. As Ottoman officials intentionally provoked rebellions (often as a result of over-taxation) in Armenian populated towns, such as the Sasun Resistance in 1894, these regiments were increasingly used to deal with the Armenians by way of oppression and massacre. Armenians successfully fought off the regiments and brought the excesses to the attention of the Great Powers in 1895 who subsequently condemned the Porte.
The Powers forced Hamid to sign a new reform package designed to curtail the powers of the Hamidiye in October 1895 but like the Berlin treaty, was never implemented. On October 1, 1895, 2000 Armenians assembled in Constantinople to petition for the implementation of the reforms but Ottoman police units converged towards the rally and violently broke it up. Soon, massacres of Armenians broke out in Constantinople and then engulfed the rest of the Armenian populated provinces of Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Harput, Sivas, Trebizond and Van. Estimates differ on how many Armenians were killed but European documentation of the violence, which became known as the Hamidian massacres, placed the figures from anywhere between 100000–300000 Armenians.
Although Hamid was never directly implicated for ordering the massacres, he was suspected for their tacit approval and for not acting to end them. Frustrated with European indifference to the massacres, Armenians from the Dashnaktsutiun political party seized the European managed Ottoman Bank on August 26, 1896. This incident brought further sympathy for Armenians in Europe and was lauded by the European and American press, which vilified Hamid and painted him as the "great assassin" and "bloody Sultan. While the Great Powers vowed to take action and enforce new reforms, these never came into fruition due to conflicting political and economical interests.
On July 24, 1908, the hope of many Armenians to equal rights in the Empire brightened, when a coup d'etat staged by officers in the Turkish Third Army based in Salonika, removed Hamid II from power and restored the country back to a constitutional monarchy. The officers were part of the Young Turk movement that wanted to reform administration of the decadent state of the Ottoman Empire and modernize it to European standards. The movement was an anti-Hamidian coalition made up of two distinct groups: the secular liberal constitutionalists and the nationalists; the former was more democratic and accepted Armenians into their wing whereas the latter was more intolerant in regard to Armenian-related issues and their frequent requests for European assistance. In 1902, during a congress of the Young Turks held in Paris, the heads of the liberal wing, Sabahheddin Bey and Ahmed Riza, partially persuaded the nationalists to include in their objectives to ensure some rights to all the minorities of the empire. Among the numerous factions of the Young Turks also included the political organization Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Originally a secret society made up of army officers based in Salonika, the CUP proliferated amongst military circles as more army mutinies took place throughout the empire. In 1908, elements of the Third Army and the Second Army Corps declared their opposition to the Sultan and threatened to march on the capital to depose him. Hamid, shaken by the wave of resentment, stepped down from power as Armenians, Greeks, Arabs, Bulgarians and Turks alike rejoiced in his dethronement.
A countercoup took place on April 13, 1909. Some Ottoman military elements, joined by Islamic theological students, aimed to return control of the country to the Sultan and the rule of Islamic law. Riots and fighting broke out between the reactionary forces and CUP forces, until the CUP was able to put down the uprising and court-martial the opposition leaders.
While the movement initially targeted the nascent Young Turk government, it spilled over into pogroms against Armenians who were perceived as having supported the restoration of the constitution. When Ottoman Army troops were called in, many accounts record that instead of trying to quell the violence they actually took part in pillaging Armenian enclaves in Adana province. 15000–30000 Armenians were killed in the course of the "Adana Massacre"
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers. Minister of War Enver Pasha developed a plan to encircle and destroy the Russian Caucasus Army at Sarıkamış, to regain territories lost to Russia after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. Enver Pasha's forces were routed at the Battle of Sarikamis, and almost completely destroyed. Returning to Constantinople, Enver publicly blamed his defeat on Armenians living in the region actively siding with the Russians.
On February 25, 1915, The War minister Enver Pasha sent an order to all military units that Armenians in the active Ottoman forces be demobilized and assigned to the unarmed Labour battalion (Turkish: amele taburlari). Enver Pasha explained this decision as "out of fear that they would collaborate with the Russians". As a tradition, the Ottoman Army drafted non-Muslim males only between the ages of 20 and 45 into the regular army. The younger (15–20) and older (45-60) non-Muslim soldiers had always been used as logistical support through the labor battalions. Before February, some of the Armenian recruits were utilized as laborers (hamals), though they too would ultimately be executed.
Transferring Armenian conscripts from active field (armed) to passive, unarmed logistic section was an important aspect of the subsequent genocide. As reported in "The Memoirs of Naim Bey", the extermination of the Armenians in these battalions was part of a premeditated strategy on behalf of the Committee of Union and Progress. Many of these Armenian recruits were executed by local Turkish gangs.
On April 19, 1915, Jevdet Bey demanded that the city of Van immediately furnish him 4000 soldiers under the pretext of conscription. However, it was clear to the Armenian population that his goal was to massacre the able-bodied men of Van so that there would be no defenders. Jevdet Bey had already used his official writ in nearby villages, ostensibly to search for arms, which had turned into wholesale massacres. The Armenians offered five hundred soldiers and to pay exemption money for the rest in order to buy time, however, Djevdet accused Armenians of "rebellion," and spoke of his determination to "crush" it at any cost. "If the rebels fire a single shot," he declared, "I shall kill every Christian man, woman, and" (pointing to his knee) "every child, up to here."
On April 20, 1915, the armed conflict of the Van Resistance began when an Armenian woman was harassed, and the two Armenian men that came to her aid were killed by Turkish soldiers. The Armenian defenders protecting 30000 residents and 15000 refugees in an area of roughly one square kilometer of the Armenian Quarter and suburb of Aigestan with 1500 able bodied riflemen who were supplied with 300 rifles and 1000 pistols and antique weapons. The conflict lasted until General Yudenich came to rescue them.
By 1914, Ottoman authorities had already begun a propaganda drive to present Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire as a threat to the empire's security. An Ottoman naval officer in the War Office described the planning:
In order to justify this enormous crime the requisite propaganda material was thoroughly prepared in Constantinople. [It included such statements as] "the Armenians are in league with the enemy. They will launch an uprising in Istanbul, kill off the Committee of Union and Progress leaders and will succeed in opening the straits (of the Dardanelles).
On the night of April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government rounded-up and imprisoned an estimated 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders. This date coincided with Allied troop landings at Gallipoli after unsuccessful Allied naval attempts to break through the Dardanelles to Constantinople in February and March 1915.
To be honest, this kind of stuff has been done before by many other people. It won't change every single human being's opinion. However, if it manages to change a single opinion anywhere in the world, then I will be delighted. They will do everything they can to get the point across and that way we will succeed in our mission.
I think that the evidence is very strong and Politicians and Historians should take a very good look at it. I would like to urge everyone to get in touch with me if they would like to know some more. Have a discussion maybe. If so, my Hotmail is firstname.lastname@example.org and my Yahoo is email@example.com. Please, get this point across and don't ignore. Thank You.