Armenian Prisoners, Kharper, Armenia, Ottoman Empire
April, 1915 (Wikimedia)
Today marks the day that hundred years ago, over 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire. According to most historians this was a genocide, i.e. the systematic destruction of all or a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group - according to Wikipedia, which lists as examples of genocides, the Holocaust, the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides, and the Armenian Genocide. Turkey, however, does not want to call this tragic episode a genocide. What do eyewitnesses say? The Washington Post's article "Is this genocide? What four Americans saw happening to Armenians 100 years ago" presents quotes from a recent book Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide by Thomas de Waal, an expert on the South Caucasus region. One quote is from then U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau in a cable sent to Secretary of State Robert Lansing on July 10, 1915:
"Persecution of Armenians assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate systematic attempts to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary arrests, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage, and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them. These measures are not in response to popular or fanatical demand but are purely arbitrary and directed from Constantinople in the name of military necessity, often in districts where no military operations are likely to take place."
Morgenthau went on, explaining the shocking reasons behind the violence: