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The Armenian thesis claims that the events constitute a genocide, that the Ottoman government had an
official (albeit hidden) intent to exterminate the Armenian nation. It makes extensive references to the
Holocaust to create the impression that the Armenian Genocide had similar methods and goals and is
just as indisputable as the Holocaust. This position is historically not correct. Below, we provide
evidence in hope to enable a better assessment of the historical truth.
By the end of the 19th Century, almost all Christian nations of the Ottoman Empire gained their
independence following national uprisings. The Armenian independence movement started somewhat
later than other nations, around the 1880s, mostly because the former were much more integrated into
the Ottoman society and had a privileged position among the non-Muslim populations of the empire.
Still, the main reason why the events did not follow the same course was demographic. Armenians
were dispersed all over Anatolia and Istanbul; they were a minority even in most of Eastern Anatolia.
When WWI began, Armenians formed militias to help the Russian advance into Anatolia. Large-scale
uprisings in different parts of Anatolia, notably in the city of Van, created panic in the rear of the
Turkish army. By February 1915, the local Muslim and Armenian populations in the country were in a
fierce communal conflict. In April, the Ottomans were pulling back from the Eastern front and the
Armenians were in control of certain provinces. At the end of April, the Ottomans gave the first order
for “relocation.” The following months witnessed the plight of Armenians: As they were transported to
Syrian provinces of the empire, they were killed by attacks of local Muslims, gangs, hunger and
epidemics — as well as the difficulties of moving through mountains and deserts of the region. In the
provinces under Armenian control, atrocities of similar scale were taking place, and the Muslim
population fled in huge numbers in order to save their lives.
Prominent historians such as Bernard Lewis and Stanford Shaw maintain that there was no official
policy of genocide. The claim is based on the fact that the comprehensive Ottoman archives contain no
documents suggesting such a plan. The reports of misconduct by soldiers and civil servants almost
always mention them in the context of how such behavior should be and is penalized; we have accounts
of 1,397 officers being punished, creating a striking contrast with the Holocaust. Furthermore, the
relocations began only after the Russian and Armenian armies began to move into Anatolia and were
mostly confined to the region around the line of fighting.
After the Ottomans lost the war, the British High Commission in Istanbul arrested 144 high Ottoman
officials and deported them to Malta for trial on charges of harming the Armenians. While the
deportees were interned on Malta, the British appointed an Armenian scholar, Haig Khazarian, to
conduct a thorough examination of the Ottoman, British and U.S. records to substantiate the charges.
Though granted complete access to all records, Khazarian’s corps of investigators discovered an utter
lack of evidence demonstrating that the Ottoman officials either sanctioned or encouraged killings of
Armenians. The British Procurator General exonerated and released all 144 detainees.
A state is responsible for the protection of all its citizens, even if they are insurgents. The death of
innocent people cannot be justified by any argument. The Ottoman state certainly deserves the blame
for letting this happen. However, the evidence tells that it is the inability of the state to control its
provinces, rather than its intended plan, that lead to the atrocities. The government authority in most of
that area in question was limited to a network of alliances with Turkish and Kurdish warlords, over
which it had limited control. These and other similar facts cannot make the huge human toll disappear,
or in any way justify it, but they are important nonetheless if we are to understand what really
The issue of the Armenian genocide today is loaded with emotion, as the generations of Armenians
living today identify themselves with the stories told by the previous generations who suffered through
the atrocities. Yet, it is also loaded with politics, and rulings on the Armenian genocide are the
playground of parliaments and state assemblies. Repeated invitations by the Turkish side to resolve the
issue by objective historical inquiry are being declined by the Armenian side.
This reluctance to give up politics in favor of historical research prevents the true story from being
unearthed and the lessons to be learned from them. The Armenians claim they want their suffering
recognized as genocide to prevent something like this from happening again. Yet evidence tells that the
events were not the plan of a group of sick-minded officials that wanted to exterminate a race,
apparently in the need of a scapegoat. This was the result of inter-communal warfare that was like a
fire engulfing the whole region, driven by the mistrust and suspicions between communities, and the
political ambitions of the powers surrounding them. The Armenians were not innocent victims of the
atrocities, but they played a role in starting them. Nor were the Muslims ruthless killers of innocent
children and women. To present the events as a genocide ignores the complex history that led to the
suffering of millions of people, Armenians and Muslims alike, and would only be a disservice to
humanity in preventing future atrocities like this.
It is our hope that this debate, which has served nothing but to create further estrangement of the two
nations will be dropped soon and objective historical inquiry will be permitted to cast light on the
events of 1915. The issue with the Armenian Genocide is not to condemn horrible atrocities, it is a
question of understanding and as hard as it is to admit, Armenians are standing in the way of it.
the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group
originally posted by: The angel of light
a reply to: Aliensun
Yes Dear Aliensun, that is the only reasonable aspect of the so compromising declaration of the Pope today, and I think it could be an interesting subject for the speech of Vatican Historians attending a conference of History of the XX century, even for a documentary.
Nevertheless, in the context of todays reality and problems of the world and the middle east it is definitively a so risky action since does not contribute at all to improve the so deteriorated relationship in between the Western Hemisphere and the Islamic world.
In the level of priorities the agenda of to endorse the Historicity of the Armenian Genocide does not have the weight to sacrifice the present for a past that by the way is part of a very confuse and conflictive time for the entire world, not only for Armenia or Turkey, since it corresponds to WWI.
I think the world is right now expecting from the Pope other kind of attitudes, moreover a leadership that help to prevent other WW exploding from the middle east crisis, and not to enter in controversial topics or to give lessons of how to interpret a chapter of a war of a century ago, that is a job that correspond to Historians or expert scholars of the Gregorian University with all respect.
The Church has many brilliant experts or other functionaries of less hierarchy that could attend such a ceremony if the idea was to express solidarity with the tragedy of other Christian people, it was not necessary to compromise the entire institution with the presence of the Pope endorsing that cause.
More than 80% of the Armenians of Today are even not Catholics, but members of a church that was the first one that cut ties with the Roman Church in History. The Armenian Schism was just in the V century AD.
Now, what the Pope said today that this was the First Genocide of the XX Century is not really accurate, it requires a very selective lens to be qualify in such a way.
The Angel of Lightness
originally posted by: liveandlearn
My sister in law's father and uncle escaped to the US from Armenia during this period and it is clear to them there was a massacre. To this day descendants do not know what happened to remaining family.