In 1877 one of the regular Russian-Turkish wars started, as a result of which the Treaty of San-Stefano was signed. According to that Treaty the Vilayet (Province) of Kars populated by Armenians was to be ceded to Russia, and Turkey was to undertake economic reforms in its areas populated by Armenians. This was a great option for Armenians. However, the West European Countries, troubled by the success of Russia, initiated another negotiation between the conflicting parties, this time in Berlin. There the implementation of reforms in Armenia was exclusively assigned to Turkey only. Instead the Armenian cause (”Haykakan Harts” in Armenian) emerged.
The Armenian Issue implied that the European countries would provide assistance to Armenians and thus improve their situation. However, as time showed, it had the contrary outcome. The European diplomacy started to use the Armenian issue as a means for suppressing Turkey. And the Turkish Government adopted a new way of struggle…
They chose the most inhumane and barbaric way for settling the Armenian Issue: the complete extermination of the Armenian people from the earth. For that purpose gangs called “hamidie” were established who were assigned to attack and raid the Armenian vilayets. The Armenian-hunting policy was strengthened and intensified. Sultan Abdul Hamid II became the immediate implementer of this policy. In 1895-1896 at his own initiative the first mass carnages of Armenians were started. They were then extended to many towns and villages of the Turkish Armenia. Some 300 000 Armenians were slaughtered in the massacre.
Clifford Lloyd, The Consul of UK in Erzrum has told on those events: “The Armenian citizens of the Sultan were literally without any protection, as a herd of sheep surrounded by wolfs.”
The Years 1908-1914
In 1908 the Young Turks seized power in a coup d’etat, which was supported by the Armenian parties as well. However, by that time the ideology of panturkism was being rooted in the Turkish policy. It was about unification of all Turkish speaking nations into one state and annihilation of all those nations that were in- between or on their way.
From April 1 to April 14 of 1909 the first mass destruction of Armenians was carried out by Young Turks in the Vilayet of Adana and some 30 000 Armenians were slaughtered.
Following the massacre in Adana, the destructions of Armenians became more intense. In October of 1911 the Young Turks convened a meeting where a decision was adopted on Ottomanization of all the citizens of Turkey (which they claimed should be achieved sooner or later) and it was clear that it cannot be achieved through peaceful means, therefore it was to be enforced by arms. Thus the entire Ottoman Empire was getting ready to deliver the final and last blow to Armenians. Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha, Jemal Pasha and Behaeddin Shakir Bay and others became in charge of annihilation of Armenians.
The Years of 1915-1916
Those in charge of the Young Turk Party decided to carry out the extermination in three phases.
During the first phase, all the Armenian males of 15-45 ages were recruited to Army; they were disarmed and then killed in separate groups of 50-100. The few arms and little ammunition that the Armenians possessed were also taken away.
The second phase was the slaughter of Armenian political, intellectual, cultural and military leaders. On April 24, 1915, in Constantinople 235 intellectuals were arrested and taken to prison and by April 29 this number was far beyond 800. They all were then subjected to unspeakable tortures and executed. Such famous Armenians as Siamanto, Grigor Zohrap, Ruben Sevak, Daniel Varuzhan and other progressive minded intellectuals turned into the victims of the Turkish sword.
The third phase, as masterminded by the Turk slaughterers, was the extermination of unprotected and peaceful Armenian population, the majority of who were women, elderly and children. Horrendous death marches, exiles and pogroms were on the way. Armenians were enforced either to denounce Christianity or be killed or be deported. All the wretched remnants of Armenians in the Western Armenia were forced into deportations and death marches heading towards the deserts of Mesopotamia, mainly to Der-Zor, where they were exterminated.
This massacre had outrageous and horrible outcome. The Western Armenia is deprived of its native population-the Armenians that used to be its permanent inhabitants for more than 2000 years. Within one year, some 200 000 Christian Armenians were forcibly turned into Muslims, who now live at the Basin of Chorox River. More than 1 000 000 Armenians became refugees and were spread all over the world.
The material losses that were suffered were also enormous. According to the Statistical data, the population of 66 towns and some 2500 villages of Western Armenia was slaughtered. 2350 churches and monasteries were looted and destroyed. 1500 schools and colleges were ruined. The Armenians suffered a loss of 14.5 billion francs. And during the years of 1915-1916, 1 500 000 Armenians were massacred.
The Turkish encroachment on Armenians did not end up here. During the 1918 invasion on the Transcaucasus another 500 000 Armenians fall victim to the advancing Turkish troops, and in 1920-1922 this time led by an already Kemal Government, as many as 260 000 Armenians were executed. During the period of 1895-1922 more than 2 500 000 Armenians were slaughtered.
It is doubtless, that the events of 1895 and following years are to be qualified as GENOCIDE.
It was Genocide as the annihilation of the entire Armenian nation, its physical extermination was planned at a Government level … It was the first Genocide of the 20th century and an unprecedented event that happened to Armenians. The Government of Turkey obstinately refuses to accept this undeniable fact. And many of the countries all over the world, following its example, continue to turn a blind eye in the face of the Reality