Armenian Genocide denial
| Not just a river in Egypt|
|♫ We're not listening ♫|
“”Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
Armenian Genocide denial refers to the denial of the genocide against (already systematically discriminated) Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians committed by the Ottoman Empire under the rule of the Young Turks[note 1] from 1915 to 1918. Turkey denies that the Ottomans were responsible for the killing of one million Armenians during World War I, arguing that:
- The death toll has been inflated;
- Ethnic violence killed Turks as well;
- Deportations and death marches were simply "temporarily relocation" of Armenians for "security reasons" (i.e. the pesky Armenians were being overtly "rebellious", "hostile", or pro-Russian); and
- The Ottoman leadership didn't intend to exterminate the Armenians, so it can't be called a "genocide."
World War I and aftermath
As early as 1915, Britain, France, and Russia issued a statement that the Armenians were the victims of crimes against humanity and civilization (the term "genocide" didn't exist then). The Treaty of Sèvres signed in 1920 created an Armenian state. However, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first then-president of the Great National Assembly, refused to abide by the treaty. An Armenian Republic had been founded and new borders (which still didn't change) were drawn between Armenia and Turkey by the Treaty of Kars, signed with the Armenians and the Soviet Russia respectively. This Armenian Republic, much smaller than that which was intended in Sèvres was then subsumed into the Soviet Union by the Treaty of Moscow.
Many more deportations of Armenians took place in the process. Turkey escaped being held responsible by the international community.
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a thorny issue since Turkey occupies a very strategic position in the world. Currently, 43 nations provide some level of recognition of the event. Historically, Turkey has leveraged its position as an important ally in the Middle East to keep the United States from recognizing the genocide. The United States has recently joined the group of nations that recognize what the Ottomans did. Another holdout is Israel, which has only tepidly recognized the genocide. This is largely because the Israelis are in-between a rock and a hard place; Turkey is one of the few predominantly Muslim nations in their region which maintains some level of diplomatic ties with them.
The Turks are probably the most outspoken objectors to the term "genocide." In fact, a Turk, in Turkey, can even be arrested for acknowledging that one took place (a strange inversion of laws that criminalize Holocaust denial). This falls under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which makes it a crime to "insult Turkishness" (regardless of whether it's true). Prosecutors brought such a case in 2005 against writer Orhan Pamuk, who later won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
There are other Turks outside the Armenian community who recognize the Armenian Genocide. This includes scholars like Fatma Muge Cocek (a.k.a. Fatma Müge Göçek), and Taner Akçam. This has not gone over well with much of the Turkish public, especially nationalists.
Certain bigots have accused Jews of deliberately not giving the Armenian Genocide (as well as other genocides) enough attention in the media (as they supposedly run it) in order to focus solely on the Holocaust. This conveniently overlooks the fact that unlike the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust had the benefit of the occupation of the Allies who made sure to scrupulously document, photograph, and film as much of it as they could, as well as put as many perpetrators as they could find on trial, thus creating a lot more historical material to study. But who needs things like logic when you can blame the Jews for everything?
That said, Israel (as opposed to the nebulous group of Joooz!!!11!) has been rather loath to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and careful about not drawing parallels with the Holocaust so as not to offend Turkish officialdom, a fact eagerly snapped up by the aforementioned bigots. This has less to do with any anti-Armenianism and more to do with Turkey being pretty much the only country in the region not hostile to Israel.
Red herrings in CUP genocide denialism
The CUP (Committee of Union and Progress) was a Turkish political faction that basically controlled the nation's politics during and slightly before the First World War. During and slightly after that war, it engaged in genocide against Turkey's religious minorities, mostly Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks. It was a branch of the Young Turks (no, not those). Since the, the Turkish governments and especially Turkish nationalists have adopted a denialist stance on the issue, using deceit and tricks in order to attempt to obscure and justify the atrocities, including numerous red herrings, in order to deceive the public.
"Armenians/Greeks were rebelling and killing Turks/Turks also died"
Turkish nationalists often claim that Armenians were rebelling against the Ottoman state and collaborating with the Russian army in order to justify their slaughter. This is usually followed with a ton of blaming the victim and making themselves out to be the victims of the violence. However, such a stand is historically problematic for a number of reasons.
- Turks and Kurds had already been slaughtering Armenians for decades in an attempt to eliminate them. In 1895, Turkish leader Sultan Abdulhamid II, confronted with the horrifying spectacle of Armenians defending themselves against Muslim depredations, ordered his troops to "give them a box on the ear" launching pogroms that killed hundreds of thousands.
In fact, Turkish oppression of Christians went back hundreds of years, with one major burst of slaughter that could easily be characterized as genocide in 1019. The Ottoman devshirme Janissary gathering system also counts as genocide.[note 2]
- All Armenian rebellion and resistance was completely justified as an act of self-defense. All Armenian resistance was preceded by massacres of Armenian civilians.If they had not resisted, they would have died. As it was, mass rapes and forced conversions (about 200,000) still occurred.
As if the above wasn't enough, the infamous conservative tabloid Breitbart launched an article on the 100th anniversary of the genocide claiming that the world refused to recognize the genocide out of fear of offending Muslims. The article also claims that the genocide, which was committed by the secular Young Turks, actually had been done out of Islamism. The article conveniently ignores that Syria, Lebanon and Iran all recognize the genocide and that Armenian Christians often live closely with the Arab Muslims in many of the countries they reside in.
Needless to say, Armenians are probably not too thrilled about either bigoted inversion listed above, as they're primarily meant to detract from focus on the genocide itself to other bigoted conspiracies.
- See the Wikipedia article on Armenian Genocide.
- See the Wikipedia article on Armenian Genocide recognition.
- Armenian National Institute genocide research library
- State of Denial by Peter Balakian
- The Centennial of the Armenian Genocide
- Denying Your History | Armenian Genocide video on "Knowing Better" YouTube channel
- No, not those Young Turks.
- Under section E of Article II of the 1948 U.N Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
- Adolf Hitler, Statement on the Armenian Genocide
- France, Great Britain and Russia joint declaration, May 24, 1915
- Parrot, Friedrich (2016) . Journey to Ararat. Translated by William Desborough Cooley. Introduction by Pietro A. Shakarian. London: Gomidas Institute. p. xxix. ISBN 978-1909382244.
- The Treaty of Moscow between Turkey and Russia (in Russian)
- What you don't know Turkish?!
- Turk 'genocide' author faces jail (1 September 2005, 18:03 GMT 19:03) BBC.
- Turkish Professor Concludes There Was An Armenian Genocide (April 14, 2015) WBUR.
- Historian Taner Akçam uncovers 'smoking gun' of Armenian Genocide by By Angela Bazydlo (January 17, 2018) Clark University.
- Killing Orders: Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide by Taner Akçam (2018) Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 3319697862.
- Committee for Union and Progress- Encyclopedia
- This was genocide, but Armenians were not its only victims
- Why Cenk Uygur Is Getting Confronted about the Name "The Young Turks," and Why It Matters
- An example of this tactic, used by Turkish denialists
- History.com's article on the subject
- Fundie source. Information found elsewhere previously. Can and should be replaced if a better source is found.
- A relevant source. Pardon the right-wing pro-gun stance.
- "Why the world ignores the Islamist Armenian Genocide"