Monday, November 30, 2009
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն, translit.: Hayoc’ C’eġaspanowt’yown; Turkish: Ermeni Soykırımı), also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Calamity (Մեծ Եղեռն, Meç Eġeṙn, Armenian pronunciation: [mɛts jɛˈʁɛrn]), was the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterised by the use of massacres, and the use of deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of Armenian deaths generally held to have been between one and one-and-a-half million. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.
It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, as many Western sources point to the systematic, organized manner the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians.
The date of the onset of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace. The Armenian Genocide is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.
The Republic of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate description of the events. In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, twenty countries have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.