5 Things You Should Know About the Armenian Genocide

Tuesday marked the 103rd anniversary of the genocide of Armenians, the vast majority of whom were Christians.

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government arrested and executed hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and subsequently killed 1.5 million other Armenians, some whom were crucified. By 1922 there were fewer than 400,000 Armenians left in the Ottoman Empire.

The issue remains politicized, however, as many nations refuse to recognize the atrocities as a genocide because of the political implications and actions required when using that word, particularly on an international stage.

“Today, #Armenia’ns in all the corners of the world pay tribute to the memory of victims of #ArmenianGenocide. Today we are more than vocal that #NeverAgain promise should kept and #crimesagaisnthumanity should be prevented. #ArmenianGenocide103” the official Twitter account for the country of Armenia posted Tuesday.

Here are five things you should know about the Armenian genocide, Armenians today, and the 103rd anniversary.

Coinciding With World War I

Armenia, a former Soviet republic, is a landlocked country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. It was the first nation in the world to declare Christianity its official religion in the fourth century. In the 15th century, the Armenians, who were mostly Christian, were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire and were ruled by Muslims, a backgrounder from the History Channel explains.

Although conflict had been brewing for decades before the genocide, a pivotal moment occurred when a nationalist group known as the Young Turks, who wanted to “Turkify” the Ottoman Empire, rose to power in 1908 and Armenians were regarded as a threat.

As the Turks sided with and joined Germany in 1914 during World War I, the religious leaders in the Ottoman Empire declared jihad against all Christians except those who were allied with them.

Turkish hostility toward the Armenians only increased as Armenians organized battalions to assist the Russians in the fight against the Turks in the region.

After the April 24, 1915, slaughter of the intellectuals in Constantinople, now Istanbul, Armenians were expelled from their homes and were forced to march to their death through the Mesopotamian desert. Many were stripped naked, humiliated, and those who paused to rest were shot.

Meanwhile, the Young Turks also launched an organization that dispatched squadrons comprised of murderers and ex-convicts who carried out “the liquidation of the Christian elements,” according to one officer. Christians were murdered in particularly brutal fashion: crucifixions, being burned alive, and were thrown off cliffs to their death. Following the surrender of the Ottomans in 1918 in World War I, the leaders of Young Turks fled to Germany, which promised not to prosecute them for waging a genocide.

Turkey Continues to Deny That Genocide Happened

A considerable amount of international attention was given to the genocide three years ago because it was the 100th anniversary of the genocide. Turkey’s posture has remained unchanged, though one member of the Turkish Parliament introduced an “unprecedented” measure seeking to recognize the Armenian genocide and called for redress for the descendants of its survivors, EurasiaNet reported Tuesday. The bill is not expected to gain traction.

In 2015 after Pope Francis called what happened to the Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century and said that “[c]oncealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” the Turkish government recalled its ambassador from the Vatican.

Turkey has only acknowledged that “some” Armenians died, referring to them as war casualties, and blaming other things like disease and chaos. The nation insists that their deaths were not deliberately planned to wipe them out as a group and therefore does not constitute genocide.

“It is out of the question for there to be a stain, a shadow called ‘genocide,’ on Turkey,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time.

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Source: Christian Post