April 24 marks Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day and is a national holiday in Armenia. It is observed every year to commemorate the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.

The Wikipedia article states that this is widely acknowledged to be one of the first modern genocides due to the systematic and organised nature in which Armenians were killed and persecuted.  It is generally held that the genocide began on 24 April 1915 when 250 intellectuals and community leaders were arrested in Constantinople.  Forced removals followed and Armenians were marched for hundreds of miles and deprived of food and water to the desert of what is now known as Syria.  Massacres took place and were indiscriminate of both age and gender and rape and sexual abuse were common place [Source: Wikipedia].

It sounds like classic genocide to me.  I had not heard of the Armenian Genocide before a month or two ago and everything I know is based on the article above.  When US President Barack Obama was campaigning to become president, he apparently undertook to formally recognise the Armenian genocide if he was elected.  It sounds like an easy thing to do but it could greatly jeopardise US relations with Turkey if the US were to formally recognise that a genocide had been committed.

There is a resolution pending in the US Congress to formally recognise the killings as genocide and many Armenians had hoped that President Obama would support it.

Link: Obama not expected to recognize Armenian claims after joint statement []

This article posted yesterday casts doubt on whether this will happen though.  Turkey have said that if the US did recognise the genocide, it would not only permanently damage ties between the US and Turkey, but they would discontinue the reconciliation process with Armenia.  Obama conceded in a visit to Turkey earlier this month that his view on the matter had not changed but that it was important not to derail the reconciliation process.

Turkey claim that it was a civil war in which 300,000 Armenians perished but that there were just as many Turkish casualties.  They claim that Armenians took up arms in a Russian-backed bid for independence in the eastern Anatolia region.

I am sorry but the Armenian genocide is the second most studied genocide after the Holocaust (according to Wikipedia) and there is evidence and history of the forced removals and massacres.  I don’t hold the Turkish government of today responsible for what happened almost 100 years ago but I do think that the truth needs to come out here.

About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is an accountant living and working in London. She is passionate about world events such as genocide and apartheid and has a desire to understand how these events continue to occur in the modern world. With a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, A Passion to Understand reflects her continuing research and reading on these topics.
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