The 20th century introduced humanity into an era of dramatic episodes; an era of totalitarianism where modern technology and industrialization connected with the realization of total war and genocide. The Armenian genocide consists the first episode of a genocidal series which included the genocide of the Jews and Gypsies by the Nazi in the Second World War, the ethnic conflicts in the “Third World” and the conflicts in the post-communist regimes of the Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia. The Armenian population was spread in various minorities groups, who were living in areas, scattered throughout the Ottoman Empire. Their demographic presence, apart from some exceptions at a local level, they never consisted of any serious majority groups. Their historical presence though goes back to the early Middle Ages and in some cases like the areas of the eastern provinces of Anatolia, it goes back the era of the Armenian settlement, almost 3,000 years before. During World War I, the Armenians suffered from the atrocities by the Ottoman Empire. The killings and the deportations of a population to the deserts where today are located Iraq and Syria, lead to further killings and mistreatment by the Ottoman forces Turkish and Kurdish. The Armenians were persecuted from a land in which their historical legacy was unquestionable and the facts of their extinction, which compose the Armenian genocide, leading to the death of almost one million people and the deportation of the two-thirds of the population.
In the following paper, we will attempt to further examine the origins of the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Armenians. We will point the nature of that conflict and what consequences had for the Armenian population. We will further discuss the radicalization of the policy against them after the overthrown of the Sultan by the nationalist movement of the Young Turks. The shift of the political status ended an era of the Ottoman Empire and introduced an era of Pan – Turkism with the horrible outcome for the Armenian population. The genocide of the Armenians will concern us regarding the motives behind it and the organization of it. In addition, we will analyze the possible reasons for the European failure to prevent the genocide from happening. Until today the Armenian genocide receives very limited attention, and the reasons for this will be also part of a small chapter. In the end, we will have a brief overview to the argument that is related to whether the genocide was a stage of a pre-existed plan or it was developed gradually within the frame that the World War I created.
THE ARMENIAN QUESTION
The Ottoman Empire included in its interior various non-Muslim populations which enjoyed a status quo based on heterogeneity and up to an important degree these populations for many years lived in a frame of religious independence. But the millet system which was established in the Empire was far from being characterized as a system that treated equally the non-Muslim and the Muslim populations. During the end of 19th century these minorities, chose the support of the European powers which at that time were pressing the Ottoman authorities for political changes that would lead to a more liberal system. The peace treaties that occurred after the wars between the European side and the Empire brought for some of the non-Muslim populations, some privileges such as the recognition of their independence. This was not pleasantly accepted by the Muslim authorities and the society who believed that they started to lose their “sense of superiority towards the infidel.
The Armenian population was encouraged by seeing three other populations (Serbia, Romania, Montenegro) gaining their independence within the borders of Ottoman Empire, after the Treat of Berlin (July, 1878) which was composed by the European forces. This fact raised their hopes and increased their efforts to liberate from the oppression and the abuse that they suffered by the Ottoman Empire. The refusal of the Empire to recognize similar rights to the Armenians lead to the emersion of “Armenian revolutionary” cells inside the Empire and across Europe. This attempt is interpreted in some cases as an act probably of desperation after the Armenians saw the inability and failure of the European Powers in helping them for that purpose.
The issue of the Armenian Question as a problem of conflict between the Turkish and the Armenians was formally appeared inside the Ottoman Parliament during 1877 – 78, by some Armenian deputies who manifested the killing of thousand Armenians in the border regions by Ottoman soldiers, including Kurds. As an issue of international importance, it presented also at that time in the Berlin Conference after the Russian – Ottoman war. But the Armenian Question existed before these formal assemblies since the Armenians were seeking for many years before an end to the oppression and injustice that suffered inside the Empire.
In addition, the origins of the conflict and the upcoming genocide is located in the emersion of the Turkish national movement, the Young Turks, which found to the Armenian revolutionary a chance to overthrow Abdul Hamit from power and gain the authority for themselves. The leaders of this movement initially cooperated with the Armenian revolutionaries in order to gain the power from the Sultan in 1908 after a military uprising, but later they became “the masterminds of the World War I Armenian genocide.
To be continued…