Armenian Genocide denial

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Human remains from the massacre of the Armenians at Erzincan
Not just a river in Egypt
Denialism
Icon denialism.svg
? We're not listening ?
Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
Adolf Hitler[1]

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."[2]

World War I and aftermath[edit]

See the main article on this topic: World War I

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).[3] The Treaty of Sèvres, signed in 1920, created an Armenian state. However, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of the Great National Assembly, refused to abide by the treaty. An Armenian Republic had been founded, and new borders (which changed in Turkey's favor) were drawn between Armenia and Turkey by the Treaty of Kars,[4] signed with Armenians and Soviet Russia. This Armenian Republic, much smaller than that which was intended in Sèvres, was then subsumed into the Soviet Union by the Treaty of Moscow.[5]

Many more deportations of Armenians took place in the process.[6] Turkey escaped being held responsible by the international community.

Nope, not a genocide!

Recognition[edit]

Turkish nationalist rally outside the White House.

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, but the United States 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.

Within Turkey[edit]

The Turkish government, as well as its nationalist supporters, is probably the most outspoken objector 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).[7] Prosecutors brought such a case in 2005 against writer Orhan Pamuk, who later won the Nobel Prize in Literature.[8]

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 G??ek),[9] and Taner Ak?am.[10][11] This has not gone over well with much of the Turkish public, especially nationalists.

Red herrings in CUP genocide denialism[edit]

The (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.[12] During and slightly after that war, it engaged in genocide against Turkey's religious minorities, mostly Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks.[13] It was a branch of the Young Turks (no, not those).[14] Since then, 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"[edit]

Corpses of Armenian children slaughtered by the Ottomans during the 1895 Hamidian massacres.
Turkish nationalists often claim that Armenians were rebelling against the Ottoman state and collaborating with the Russian army in order to justify their slaughter, with hilarious anecdotes that include Armenians boiling pregnant Muslim women in vats of jam.[15][16][17] 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.
An Armenian slave woman in Turkey after the genocide carrying thistles for fuel.
  • Turks and Kurds had already been slaughtering Armenians for decades in an attempt to eliminate them. In 1895, Turkish leader , 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] As it was, mass rapes and forced conversions (about 200,000) still occurred. Armenian slaughter of Turks was non-systematic and there was no organized plan to slaughter the Turkish population of Anatolia. Turkish and especially Kurdish women participated in the atrocities and where therefore legitimate targets of Armenian retaliation.[21][22] Muslim children, meanwhile, would grow up to become the same butchers their parents were. Since the Turks were hell-bent on exterminating the Armenians and establishing a homogenously Muslim Anatolia, the only way to get them to see reason was to hit them where it hurt, namely by slaughtering their loved ones. Such actions had the added advantage of damaging the CUP's demographic plans. Turkish children also served as child soldiers and provided vital war labor services to the Ottoman state.[23]

Further Turkish propaganda aims to portray Armenians as collaborating with the Tsar in order to justify their slaughter.[24] However, as noted above, to the degree this actually happened, it was perfectly excusable as self-defense. In fact, despite the horrors they had been subjected to, Ottoman Armenians in 1914 generally were loyal to and fought for the Ottoman Army.[25] Most Armenians fighting in the Russian army before the Tehcir decree were Eastern (that is, living in areas the Russians already controlled) Armenians, and the first victims of the genocide were ethnic Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army, who were about the most loyal people possible. Until they realized they were being subjected to wholesale massacre, Armenians generally even complied with Turkish deportation orders.[26] 550,000 Greeks were killed by the Turks before the war even started, during a period where the Greek government was pro-German (and hence friendly to the Ottomans.)[27][28] Thus, it is clear that the genocide was not for legitimate wartime reasons, or caused by fear of Armenian collaboration, but rather the product of bigotry against religious minorities.

Furthermore, it is usually conveniently forgotten by Turkish apologists that a significant portion (in fact, probably a majority) of Muslim deaths in Anatolia during the First World War were caused by seizures of property and food by the Ottoman government, which even forced Muslim poor and peasants to be worked to death in forced labor gangs (along, of course, with Christians).[29] Similarly, the massive quantities of dead bodies from victims of genocide lead to considerable Muslim deaths from disease due to all the rotting flesh.[30] The amnesia over these events, with the corresponding shift of blame onto "Armenian gangs", is therefore a convenient method of hiding embarrassing and unappetizing history. Additionally, Turkish historians have taken to exhuming the mass graves of dead Armenians slaughtered in the genocide and portraying these as corpses of Muslims in order to pretend the perpetrators of the genocide were in fact its victims.[27]

"There was no intent to exterminate Christians/It was just deportation"[edit]

) and an unidentified worker are in the background.

Turkish denialists similarly claim that because "there was no intent" to exterminate Christian minorities, it wasn't a genocide.[31][32] This is similarly false. The Ottoman state created "butcher battalions" to slaughter Christians and engaged in the mass rape of women of Christian ethnicities, while kidnapping children and forcibly converting them to Islam.[33] From this, we know that either the massacres were intended or the Turks made organizations to do things they didn't want to do.

An Armenian mother with the corpses of her five children.

It is well documented that the deportation marches were specifically designed to slaughter minorities. Disease outbreaks among deportees went deliberately untreated., where even today the Turk is directing his genocidal attentions, was tortured for money by one of the gendarmes, who then , nearly every house had at least one Armenian slave-maid, with an estimated 5,000 in the city at the time of the genocide.[34]

Armenian corpses along the "deportation" route.

Nor was this the limit of the atrocities. The Turks and Kurds would forcibly undress young girls, make them bend over, rape them, then have them impaled through their without regard for age or sex. remarked that what was being done to the Armenians was " Muslim, Hadji Ghafour, ordered an Armenian slave girl stripped of her clothes and beaten to death with a whip by his black slave for refusing to convert to Islam.[43]Chechen auxiliaries in Ottoman pay enjoyed grabbing young girls, throwing them up in the air, and spearing them with their swords until they died, making a communal game out of the process, with dismounted Chechens providing the initial throws. Those who survived the first spearing were "reused" until they finally died. Jews, meanwhile, were forced by the Mohammedans to dispose of Armenians bodies, although they were not killed.[44] , the Ottoman governor of Van vilayet, referring to his job of killing Armenians, stated that he "had no job to do {but} so much fun". His statement became a slogan for Ottoman soldiers doing the same thing. Gendarmes would sell Armenian girls to the highest bidder as concubines and field laborers.[45] Babies born on the deportation marches were generally killed.[46] At Sheitan Deressi (Devil's Gorge), the Turks killed all the men and mutilated the women, sparing only those who could later be sold as slaves.[47] German soldiers also participated in massacres.[48] Armenian monks were forced to convert to Islam -or die, and their monasteries were looted and transformed into "government schools" to turn children into Turks.[49]

on November 18, 1918.

There is similarly no lack of proof or intent. It was official Ottoman policy that "Armenians girls be , the governor of Trebizond, ordered Armenians, especially women and children, to be rowed out to building to be turned into a "pleasure den", where he and his 14-year-old son raped young Armenian girls and drowned those they did not rape in the Black Sea, joking that "the anchovies will multiply due to the waters being choked with bodies". In fact, a more moderate sultan's government later sentenced him to death for his crimes, supported by numerous sworn accounts of his wrongdoing.[53] Unsurprisingly, however, modern Turkey has named a school after the guy, with a glowing biography glorifying the genocide and referring to him as a "martyr" on its website.[54]

The genocide was based on clear orders from above. Ottoman Interior Affairs Minister Talaat Pasha ordered Diyarbakir governor Reshid Bey to exterminate the Armenians within his jurisdiction in a telegram containing three words-"Burn-Destroy-Kill".[55][note 5] He gladly admitted that he was completely intolerant of any Armenians remaining in their ancestral homeland in eastern Anatolia, stating that they should be forced to die in the Syrian desert.[56][57] Since Talaat had planned to exterminate the Armenians since at least 1910, confiding his desire to the Danish ambassador, it can safely be said that the deportations were not a legitimate war measure. The CUP government had similarly been providing funding to units of Turkish irregulars, ordering them to slaughter the Greek population of Ionia around Smyrna since even before the war, killing about 100,000 in the area before the war even started.[58] Similarly, mass slaughters by Ottoman troops and pro-Ottoman irregulars of Armenian and Assyrian civilians occurred in Urmia, which was not even Ottoman (Urmia was, and still is, Persian territory).[59][60] In fact, the Assyrian genocide began there, in a country that attempted to be neutral during the war.[61][62] Note that very few deportations actually occurred it Urmia (it was basically just butchery.)

"Negligible numbers of Christians died/There were less than 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in 1914"[edit]

Other common tactics by Turkish denialists are to claim that the numbers of dead Armenians was far lower than it actually was (usually put by the revisionist slime in the mere hundreds of thousands) or that 1.5 million Armenians couldn't have been killed, because there weren't 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in 1914. The Turkish government itself, the denier-in-chief, puts the death toll at around 300,000.[63] This number, however, is based on the Ottoman census, which was known to be highly inaccurate, generally undercounting populations severely, especially those of ethnic and religious minorities. Populations of non-Muslims often were not re-counted for decades.[64] The Armenian church, which had the benefit of being able to collate all records of births and deaths within the Armenian community, gave a figure of 1,914,620 in 1914, although the church failed to assess populations in significant parts of western Turkey.[65]

It should also be noted that in 1844, the Ottoman Armenian population was given as 2.4 million, and a reliable historian at the time () said that number was almost certainly too low, by a significant amount. were balanced out or more than balanced by natural Armenian population growth (as all data, including the official Ottoman censuses, seems to suggest), we are left with a figure of at least 2.7-2.8 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1914 from the later data.

It should also be noted that considerable numbers of Armenians were killed in areas not under Ottoman control in 1914, such as Urmia (which was Persian), and in the oblasts of Kars and Batum and the Erivan Governorate (which contained the Armenian iconic site of Mount Ararat), which were Russian before the war.[68][69][70][71] Obviously, these regions would not have been included in the Ottoman census, and thus their inhabitants would not have been included in any estimate for the pre-genocide Ottoman Armenian population. This fact seems to be oddly missing from Turkish literature.

"Ottoman officials made sure deportees were well cared for and fed them"[edit]

Armenian refugees squatting around a dead horse in the Deir-ez-Zor concentration camp. These fellows sure look well fed!
An Armenian girl dead of starvation in the fields near Aleppo, with her mother and sister looking on. In the visionary, comprehensive, and well thought-out model of the universe proposed by Turco-denialists, well-fed people provided for by the government often mysteriously drop dead of starvation.

This is a bullshit claim made by denialists, similar to claim No. #2 above. It is usually coupled with a claim that "Ottoman officers ordered Armenians to be protected".[72]
However:

"The Kajaznuni manifesto exposes Armenian lies"[edit]

Turkish denialists claim that a manifesto written by , the first Armenian prime minister. It is widely alleged by Turkish denialists to be evidence of Armenian deceit or... something along those lines. They have not exactly been specific on what Mr Kajaznuni's manifesto allegedly proves, although they all hold it to be some sort of "smoking gun" that apparently blows the lid off of some giant Armenian conspiracy.[74] Their method of achieving this has been to forge a fake alternative translation of the manifesto in which Turkish atrocities are not mentioned.[75][note 6]

"OMG Armenians were involved in Turkish society"[edit]

This is a moronic in content and completely irrelevant attempted red herring used by Turkish denialists as a distraction tactic in order to obscure actual events. However, unlike the others listed, not only is it technically true, but the fact of its truth has no effect on the historicity of the Armenian Genocide. It is thus complete, unadulterated bullshit and deceit.[76]
In order to deal more thoroughly with this argument, it might be useful to note participation of minorities in certain areas prior to their being subjected to genocide.

For example, here is a comparatively short and by no means exhaustive list of prominent German Jews prior to the Holocaust:

Conclusion[edit]

presents with souvenirs from his favorite hobby.