How much can happen in two years? You grow up, and have break ups and hook ups. It only took two years, 1915-1917, to annihilate between 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman, Turkey and surrounding areas that now make up present day Turkey. The highly ignored systematic massacre of an ethnic group inspired Raphael Lemkin to coin the word “genocide,” a word later used to described the systematic destruction of people like the Jews in World War II and the Hutus and the Tutsis during the Rwandan Civil War. Out of 196 countries, only 27 officially recognize the Armenian genocide. How does the majority of the world, including the US, ignore 1.5 million people being slaughtered out of prejudice?
Turkey itself, the exact land where the Armenians were massacred and deported from, denies the genocide. The country’s official position on the happenings is that it was simply a casualty of World War I and Tehcir Law. Even though the Turkish Human Rights Associations recognize it, that is not enough.
Political officials may apologize for the deaths but continue to condemn and punish countries who attempt to categorize it as what it was: the systematic killing of Armenians in Ottoman, Turkey for two years. Recently, Austria decided to officially label it as genocide, something Turkey has now struck back against.
“This declaration… has caused outrage for us,” said Turkish Foreign Ministry. He said that Austria is attempting to “lecture others on history.” However, with a quick keyword search in Google, anyone can learn more about the black stain on Turkey’s history.
Turkey has recalled their ambassador from Vienna due to the Austrian government’s declaration, showing that even if Turkey says they apologize for the killings, it really not more than a political stunt to appear better to the rest of the world.
Even the United States’ own president, Barack Obama, has flipped his public stance on the genocide. In 2008, before he was president, he said, “The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.”
Obama also at the time promised during a campaign speech, “As president I will recognize the Armenian genocide.” He stated on April 23, 2015 during his Armenian remembrance statement, “This year we mark the centennial of the Meds Yeghern, the first mass atrocity of the twentieth century. Beginning in 1915, the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire were deported, massacred, and marched to their deaths. Their culture and heritage in their ancient homeland were erased. Amid horrific violence that saw suffering on all sides, one and a half million Armenians perished.”
But he didn’t call it a genocide as he did before, failing on his promise to recognize the events as such. Calling it “deported” and “massacred” is not enough. We use these words to describe school shootings and the struggles of illegal immigrants being sent back to their homeland. While these are terrible, they are not the same as entire populations of villages taken to be burned all together.
The horrors do not end at burning entire villages. “The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in the various camps was to burn them,” said Lt Hasan Maruf during the Key Indictment, in the Trabzon trial series. Oscar S. Heizer, American consul at Trabzon stated, “Many of the children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea and thrown overboard.”
Boats would arrive “with three fifths of passengers missing,” wrote Hoffman Philip, who was at Constantinople as the American chargé d’affaires. Countless Armenians were drowned in the Black Sea and the Euphrates River. The amount of bodies in the Euphrates had changed the course of the river for a few hundred meters, according to Robert Fisk. 900 women drowned in the Bitlis River according to the same source; even that wasn’t enough to satisfy the need to exterminate the Armenian population of Turkey.
Dr. Haydar Cemal wrote, “on the order of the Chief Sanitation Office of the Third Army in January 1916, when the spread of typhus was an acute problem, innocent Armenians slated for deportation at Erzincan were inoculated with the blood of typhoid fever patients without rendering that blood ‘inactive'”. They were also poisoned and given morphine drug overdoses. There are two cases in which two schools were used to be sent to the mezzanine so they could be killed using toxic gas equipment.
With all these atrocities, there were trials and convictions, but nothing that ruled it genocide. It’s easy to see that it’s a genocide; even Famous for Being Famous celebrity Kim Kardashian speaks up about it. Only her family that escaped in 1914 is left alive today, something her father instilled in her and her sisters. In her Times article she calls for Obama to “use the word genocide.” Kardashian also reminds us that the outside countries aren’t the only ones who need to remember and recognize it, though. “It’s time for Turkey to recognize it. It’s not the fault of the people who live there now; it was 100 years ago on Friday. I think if they recognize it and acknowledge it, everyone can move on,” said Kardashian.
Moving on won’t happen until the remaining 169 countries remember and full on acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The genocide that annihilated around 1.5 million people within only two years. The importance of this event cannot be denied by any party, especially with the evidence that proves it.