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Armenian Genocide

The term Armenian Genocide (also known as Armenian Holocaust or Armenian Massacre) refers to two distinct but related events: first, the campaigns conducted against the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II in 1894-1896; and second, the deportation of Armenians by the Young Turks government in 1915-1916.

Table of contents
1 First Armenian Massacre
2 Second Armenian Massacre
3 Statistics of the Second Massacre
4 Latter Assessments

First Armenian Massacre

In 1890 there were 2.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, of whom the vast majority were of the Roman Catholic or Oriental Orthodox Christian faith. The Armenians were encouraged by Russia to push for autonomy. Russia for territorial reasons wished to weaken the Ottomans, ultimately hoping to take Constantinople. Although the movement for autonomy grew rapidly, Abd-ul-Hamid remained determined to maintain control. To counteract the autonomy movement the Ottoman government encouraged anti-Armenian feelings among Kurds who neighbored the Armenians. The resulting harassment by the Kurds and an increase in taxes led to an Armenian revolt. In response Ottoman troops and accompanying Kurdish irregulars killed thousands of Armenians and burned several villages (1894). Two years later, apparently in an attempt to gain international attention, Armenian revolutionaries seized Ottoman Bank in Istanbul. Mobs mostly of Muslim Turks then killed 50,000 Armenians. The level of Ottoman government involvement with the mobs is not well known and debatable.

Second Armenian Massacre

During World War I the Ottoman Empire came under the Young Turks government. The Young Turks feared the Armenian community, which they had believed was more sympathetic to allied powers (specifically Russia) than to the Ottoman Empire. In early 1915 battalions of Russian Armenians organized the recruiting of Turkish Armenians from behind the Turkish lines. In response the Young Turk government executed 300 Armenian nationalist intellectuals and ordered the deportation of the 1,800,000 Armenians living in Anatolia to Syria and Mesopotamia. In the process several hundred thousand died from starvation, disease or exhaustion. Several hundred thousands more were massacred by Kurdish militia and Ottoman army, giving a total of 1,500,000 Armenians dead.

Statistics of the Second Massacre

Statistics regarding the number of Armenians living in Ottoman Anatolia and the number killed during the Second Massacre are disputed. The lowest numbers are given by Turkish sources and the highest by Armenians sources.

In 1896 the Ottoman government recorded 1,144,000 Armenians living in Anatolia. Justin McCarthy estimated that there were 1,500,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1912. According to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople there were between 1,845,000 and 2,100,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1914. Estimates range from 1,000,000 given by some Turkish sources to more than 3,500,000 given by some Armenian sources. Arnold J. Toynbee who served as an intelligence officer during World War I estimates there 1,800,000 Armenians living in Anatolia in 1914. Arnold Toynbee's estimate is generally considered the most accurate of the ones given above. Encyclopaedia Britannica upon reviewing all available estimates took 1,750,000 Armenians living in Anatolia as their estimate.

Estimates for the numbers of Armenians who died during the Second Massacre vary even more. Some Turkish sources claim that that 200,000 Armenians died whereas some Armenian sources claim 2,500,000 Armenians died. Talat Pasa, a prominent Young Turk and Grand Vizier from 1917-1918, claimed that 300,000 Armenians died. This claim has been repeated by the Turkish Government. Toynbee estimates that 600,000 Armenians died during the Second Massacre. McCarthy (whos is liking Turkey) independently arrived at the same number of deaths. The historians estimate there were between 500,000 end 2,000,000 dead, but 1,500,000 is mostly used and accepted.

Latter Assessments

While most historians agree that the Armenians were subjected to a genocidal campaign, the Turkish government officially denies that such an event occurred. Instead, Turkey claims that most of the Armenian deaths resulted from armed conflict, disease and famine during the turmoil of World War I.

In 2000, French President Jacques Chirac signed into law a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, adding France to a growing list of nations that acknowledge the atrocities of 1915.

During a speech given in 1939, Adolf Hitler is said to have declared, "Who now, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?", suggesting that nobody would remember the actions he would take against Poles during his invasion of Poland. The quote is etched on a wall of granite in the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

In a sense, one of the first Usenet spamming incidents can be linked to the Armenian Genocide. During the first few months of 1994, an individual under the psuedonym "Serdar Argic" posted thousands upon thousands of messages to many different newsgroups; these messages contained long diatribes claiming that the genocide had never taken place. Similar campaigns on Usenet over this issue and others relating to attempted-genocide still continue today.

The Armenian Genocide is the subject of a novel by Franz Werfel, Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and a 2002 film by Armenian Canadian director Atom Egoyan, Ararat.

The American rock band System of a Down, whose members are Armenian in ancestry, wrote the song P.L.U.C.K. (Political Lying Unholy Cowardly Killers), about the Armenian Genocide.

R.J. Rushdoony, a far right Christian conservative author and founder of Christian Reconstructionism, is believed to have been strongly influenced by his parent's narrow escape from the Armenian Genocide.