The term Genocide was coined by Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944, whose family was one of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust. By defining this term, Prof. Lemkin sought to describe Nazi politics of systematic murder, violence and cruelty and atrocities committed against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as well.
On December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention defines Genocide as an international crime, which signatory nations undertake to prevent and punish.
What is the Armenian Genocide?
The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during WWI is defined as the Armenian Genocide.
Those massacres were perpetrated throughout different regions of the Ottoman Empire by the Young Turks Government which was in power at the time.
The first international reaction to the violence resulted in a joint statement by France, Russia and Great Britain, in May 1915, where the Turkish atrocities directed against the Armenian people was defined as “new crime against humanity and civilization” agreeing that the Turkish government must be punished for committing such crimes.
Why was the Armenian Genocide perpetrated?
When WWI erupted, the Young Turks government, hoping to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire, adopted a policy of Pan Turkism – the establishment of a mega Turkish empire comprising of all Turkic-speaking peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia extending to China, intending also to Turkify all ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenian population became the main obstacle standing in the way of the realization of this policy.
Although the decision for the deportation of all Armenians from the Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolya) was adopted in late 1911, the Young Turks used WWI as a suitable opportunity for its implementation.
How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?
There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of WWI. Approximately one and a half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. Another million found shelter abroad or Islamized.
The mechanism of implementation
Genocide is the organized killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and an internal machinery to implement. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction.
On 24th of April in 1915, the first phase of the Armenian massacres began with the arrest and murder of nearly hundreds intellectuals, mainly from Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul in present Turkey's capital). Subsequently, Armenians worldwide commemorate the April 24th as a day that memorializes all the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The second phase of the ‘final solution’ appeared with the conscription of some 60.000 Armenian men into the general Turkish army, who were later disarmed and killed by their Turkish fellowmen.
The third phase of the genocide comprised of massacres, deportations and death marches made up of women, children and the elderly into the Syrian deserts. During those marches hundreds of thousand were killed by Turkish soldiers, gendarmes and Kurdish or Circassian mobs. Others died because of famine, epidemic diseases and exposure to the elements. Thousands of women and children were raped. Tens of thousands were forcibly converted to Islam.
Finally, the last phase of the Armenian genocide appeared with the total and utter denial by Turkish government of the mass killings and elimination of the Armenian nation on its homeland. Despite the ongoing international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey has consistently fought the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide by any means, including falsification of historical facts, propaganda campaigns, lobbying, etc.
The fact of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman government has been documented, recognized, and affirmed in the form of media and eyewitness reports, laws, resolutions, and statements by many states and international organizations. The complete catalogue of all documents categorizing the 1915-23 widespread massacre of the Armenian population in Ottoman Empire as a premeditated and thoroughly executed act of Genocide, is extensive.
Below is a brief list of those states and organizations, provincial governments and town councils which have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide
Parliamentary Resolutions, Laws and Declarations
- Resolution of the Federal Senate of the National Congress of the Federative Republic of Brazil - June 2, 2015
- Sweden Riksdag Resolution - March 11, 2010
- MERCOSUR, Joint Parliamentary Committee Resolution, Nov 19, 2007
- U.S. House Committee Resolution - October 10, 2007
- Chile, Senate, Resolution - Jule 07, 2007
- Argentina, Law, January 11, 2007
- Argentina, Senate, Special Statement - April 19, 2006
- Lithuania, Assembly, Resolution - December 15, 2005
- European Parliament, Resolution - September 28, 2005
- Venezuela, National Assembly, Resolution - July 14, 2005
- Germany, Parliament, Resolution - June 15, 2005
- Argentina, Senate, Resolution - April 20, 2005
- Poland, Parliament, Resolution - April 19, 2005
- Netherlands, Parliament, Resolution - December 21, 2004
- Slovakia, National Assembly, Resolution - November 30, 2004
- Canada, House of Commons, Resolution - April 21, 2004
- Argentina, Senate, Declaration - March 31, 2004
- Uruguay, Law - March 26, 2004
- Argentina, Draft Law - March 18, 2004
- Switzerland (Helvetic Confederation), National Council, Resolution - December 16, 2003
- Argentina, Senate, Resolution - August 20, 2003
- Canada, Senate, Resolution - June 13, 2002
- European, Parliament, Resolution - February 28, 2002
- Common Declaration of His Holiness John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II at Holy Etchmiadzin, Republic of Armenia - September 27, 2001
- Prayer of John Paul II, Memorial of Tzitzernagaberd - September 26, 2001
- France, Law - January 29, 2001
- Italy, Chamber of Deputies, Resolution - November 16, 2000
- European Parliament, Resolution - November 15, 2000
- France, Senate, Draft Law - November 7, 2000
- Lebanon, Parliament, Resolution - May 11, 2000
- Sweden, Parliament, Report - March 29, 2000
- France, National Assembly, Draft Law - May 28, 1998
- Belgium, Senate, Resolution - March 26, 1998
- Lebanon, Chamber of Deputies, Resolution - April 3, 1997
- U.S., House of Representatives, Resolution 3540 - June 11, 1996
- Greece (Hellenic Republic), Parliament, Resolution - April 25, 1996
- Canada, House of Commons, Resolution - April 23, 1996
- Russia, Duma, Resolution - April 14, 1995
- Argentina, Senate, Resolution - May 5, 1993
- European Parliament, Resolution - June 18, 1987
- U.S., House of Representatives, Joint Resolution 247 - September 12, 1984
- Cyprus, House of Representatives, Resolution - April 29, 1982
- U.S., House of Representatives, Joint Resolution 148 - April 9, 1975
- Uruguay, Senate and House of Representatives, Resolution - April 20, 1965
- U.S., Senate, Resolution 359 - May 11, 1920
- U.S., Congress, An Act to Incorporate Near East Relief - August 6, 1919
- U.S., Senate, Concurrent Resolution 12 - February 9, 1916
- France, Great Britain, and Russia, Joint Declaration - May 24, 1915
- The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity - April 9, 2007
- Human Rights Association of Turkey, Istanbul Branch - April 24, 2006
- International Center for Transitional Justice Report Prepared for TARC - February 10, 2003
- European Alliance of YMCAs - July 20, 2002
- Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly, Declaration - April 24, 2001
- Le Ligue des Droits de l'Homme - May 16, 1998
- Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly, Declaration - April 24, 1998
- The Association of Genocide Scholars - June 13, 1997
- Parlamenta Kurdistane Li Derveyi Welat - April 24, 1996
- Union of American Hebrew Congregations - November 7, 1989
- Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, Verdict of the Tribunal - April 16, 1984
- World Council of Churches - August 10, 1983
- UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities - July 2, 1985
- UN War Crimes Commission Report - May 28, 1948
- UN General Assembly Resolution - December 9, 1948
Provincial governments, town councils
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Province of New South Wales
- Province of Cordoba
- Province of Buenos Aires
- British Columbia
- Ontario (including the City of Toronto)
- Quebec (including the City of Montreal)
- Geneva Canton
- Vaud Canton
- Comune Di Bertiolol
- Comune Di Udine
- Commune di Sesto San Giovanni
- Il Consigilo Comunale di Salgareda
- Comune di Belluno
- Comunale di Roma
- Comune di Massa Lombarda
- Comunita' Montana Feltrina
- Comune di Genova
- Comune di Thiene
- Comune di Castelsilano
- Comune di Firenze
- Comune di Ravenna
- Comune di Feltre
- Comunale di Venezia
- Comune di Imola
- Comune di Faenza
- Comune di Parma
- Comune di Solarolo
- Comune di Villafranca Padovana
- Comune di Milano
- Comune di Ponte di Piave
- Comune di Conselice
- Comune di Lugo
- Comune di S. Stino Livenza
- Comune di Cotignola
- Citta di Asiago
- Comune di S. Agata Sul Santerno
- Comune di Monterforte D'Alpone
- Comune Di Padova
- Comune di Montorso Vicentino
- Comune di Fusignano
- Comune di Bagnacavallo
- Comune di Russi
- Comune di Sanguinetto
- Comune di Camponogara
Acts and measures undertaken to destroy any nation's or ethnic group's culture are called ‘cultural genocide’. The word ‘Genocide’, coined by Raphael Lemkin, does not only refer to the physical extermination of a national or religious group, but also to its national, spiritual and cultural destruction. The concept of cultural genocide was not included in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Many facts prove that along with the massacres and deportation, the Young Turk government was also implemented a premeditated and planed destruction of the material testimonies of the Armenian culture. Realizing the role of the church and Christian faith for the Armenian nation, they intentionally massacred Armenian clergymen, destroyed churches, monasteries, thousands of medieval manuscripts and other church property.
An Arab witness of the Armenian Genocide, Fayez el Hussein, writes in his memoirs "... After the massacres of the Armenians, the government established commissions that were engaged in selling the leftover property. Armenian cultural values were sold at the cheapest prices... Once I went to a church to see how the sale of these things is organized. The doors of the Armenian schools were closed. Turks used the textbooks and scientific books in the market for wrapping cheese, dates, sunflowers... "
In 1912-1913 the Armenian Patriarchy of Istanbul presented an account of the churches and monasteries in Western Armenia (Eastern Anatolia) and in the Ottoman Empire. More than 2300 were accounted for including the early unique Christian monuments of IV-V centuries. But most of them were looted, burned and destroyed during the genocide.
The policy of destruction adopted by the Young Turks with regard to Armenian historical and cultural heritage has been continued in Republican Turkey, where these relics have been viewed as the undesirable witnesses of the Armenian presence.
At the end of 1920s, Turkey began changing the names and titles (toponymy) of certain locations in Western Armenia. Nowadays 90% of the Armenian cities, towns and buildings in Western Armenia have been Turkified. The names of Armenian geographical sites have also been replaced with Turkish names. Devising a systematic method of destruction, hundreds of architectural monuments have been destroyed and all Armenian inscriptions erased.
In 1974 UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in need of complete repair.
Armenian architectural buildings are consistently being demolished with dynamite explosions and used as targets during Turkish military training exercises; the undamaged stones are also used as construction materials. In some rural places, Armenian monasteries and churches serve as stables, stores, clubs and in once case, even a jail. On many occasions the Turkish government converted Armenian churches into mosques.
On June 18, 1987 the Council of Europe adopted a Decree demanding from the Turkish government to pay attention to and take care of the Armenian language, culture and educational system of the Armenian Diaspora living in Turkey, also demanding an appropriate regard to the Armenian historical monuments that are in modern Turkey’s territory.
Cultural genocide against the Armenian heritage on the territory of Turkey continues ...
Following slides present numerous Armenian medieval monuments destroyed during and after the Armenian Genocide.
Horomos Monastery, 10th-11th centuries
• The view of the Horomos Monastery before 1965 and in 1998 (photo S. Karapetian)
Sourb Prkich (Holy Saviour) Church of Ani, 11th century
• The view of the monument in 1910s and in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)
Bagnayr Monastery, Bagnayr (Ghozluja) Village, 11th-13th centuries
• The view of the Bagnayr Monastery monument before the 1960s and in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)
Khtzkonk Monastery, 7th-13th centuries
• The view of Monastery complex, early 20th century photo
• The view of Monastery complex after explosion in 1966
• The view of Monastery complex, early 20th century photo
• The part of Monastery complex nowadays (photo S. Karapetian)
• The view of Monastery complex, early 20th century photo
• The view of Monastery complex, in 2000 after explosion in 1966 (photo S. Karapetian)
Tekor Temple, 5th century
• The view of the monument before 1912 and in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)
St. Hovhannes Church of Bagrevand, 613-619
• The view of the monument before 1966 and in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)
• Ani, mediaeval Armenian capital, coat of arms of the city in 1910s and 2000, after the Turkish restoration
• Van, region of Aghbak, St. Bartholomew the Apostle Monastery, 1913 and 1980 (photo A. Hakhnazarian)
• Van, Hermitage of Lim Island, North Eastern view, early 1900s and 2004 (photo S. Karapetian)
• Moosh, Sb. Arakelots (of the Holy Apostles) Monastery, 4th-15th centuries, early 1900s and 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)
• Moosh, Sb. Karapet Monastery, 4th-18th centuries, South Western view, early 1900s
• Moosh, village Cankly, on the site of Sb. Karapet Monastery in 2000 (photo S. Karapetian)
• Van, region of Rshtoonik (Gevascd), the Village-Monastery of Narek, South Western view, early 1900s
• Van, region of Rshtoonik (Gevascd), Mosque built on the site of destroyed Narek Monastery in 2004 (photo S. Karapetian)
• Van, village of Koghbantz, ruins of the Monastery of Salnapat, 10th-13th centuries South Western view, early 1900s and 2004 (photo S. Karaperian)
• Van village of Shoushants, site of the Monastery of Karmravor Sb. Asdvadsadsin, early 1900s and 2004 (photo S. Karapetian)
• Van, Varaga Monastery, 10 -11th centuries. Early 1900s and 2004 (photo S. Karapetian)
Source of photographies: RESEARCH ON ARMENIAN ARCHITECTURE www.raa.am