In the Nov. 13 issue of The GW Hatchet, the opinion article “The Forgotten Armenian Genocide,” (p.4) said that “while countless State Department documents, congressional hearings, consular reports and missionary statements testify to the brutal massacre of Armenians . seldom will you find this historical fact in any textbook or scholarly journal.” The writer asks why that omission is the case.
Some of the evidence is not considered as fact by scholars, and I believe it has no place in textbooks or scholarly journals.
Before analyzing any accusations of genocide, it is important to note that the Ottoman Empire had laws providing ethnic equality and freedom in every area it ruled during its 500 years. These rules included special privileges for its Armenian citizens, many of whom enjoyed elite lifestyles that were not available to its Turkish subjects.
Why would a government commit genocide upon one of its ethnic groups? During World War I, Ottoman forces fought on five fronts and faced an armed uprising of Armenians, instigated by czarist Russia. The revolts in what is now eastern Anatolia started because Russian-backed Armenians wanted to break from Ottoman rule and unite with Russia.
Czar Nicholas III told the Armenian National Bureau in Tiflis that “from all countries Armenians are hurrying to enter the ranks of the glorious Russian Army, with their blood to serve the victory of Russian arms. Let the Russian flag wave freely over the Dardanelles and the Bosporos,” (Stanford Shaw & Ezel Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Vol. II).
And on April 28, 1915, in Van, Armenians – comprising 42 percent of the population – united with Dashnaks from Russian Armenia, organized a revolt and carried out a general slaughter of the local Muslim population.
During this period the Ottoman Empire was falling apart – the country was divided among the Allied forces and the empire was unable to protect its civilian population from famine, disease and civil wars.
“The conventional wisdom that the Anatolian Armenians died has always neglected to consider that Muslims died, as well . the commonly accepted history of what happened to the Armenians has not been correct. The lesson to be learned is an old one – history should not be partisan. It is time that we consider the events of 1912-1922 for what they were, a human disaster. It is time to stop labeling them as sectarian suffering that demands revenge,” writes Justin McCarthy, in The Anatolian Armenians.
In fact, it is believed that 2.5 million Muslims and non-Christians died at the hands of Armenian revolutionary groups. Boghos Nubar, head of the Armenian delegation at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, openly acknowledged that it was the Armenian contributions to the Allied war effort that led to their mistreatment by the Ottoman authorities.
Nubar said, “I wish strongly to urge that the Armenians, having of their own free will cast their lot with the champions of rights and justice . have secured (themselves) a right for independence.”
I have tried to prove there are scholarly works available for those who are seeking the truth. If the writer would like more examples of scholarly works on the subject, I would be more than willing to provide them. What passed on between the Armenians and the Turks was not genocide – it was a war!
It is time Armenian Americans take the lead from the Armenians of Armenia and start burying the hatchet. During the ’70s and ’80s, Armenian terrorist organizations killed more than 70 innocent people around the world, including more than 40 Turkish diplomats.
Though 2.5 million Muslims died as a direct result of Armenian treason, we don’t teach our children to hate; we love our children too much to teach them to hate. Turkish and Armenian descendants deserve better.
-The writer, a graduate student, is president of the Turkish Student Association.