By Jayden Oxton-White
April 24, 1915, was the beginning of the slaughter 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in what is now Turkey. This set a dangerous precedent that has been copied and expanded upon by later despotic governments. Despite its morbid place in world history, governments around the world, including major international powers, refuse to acknowledge that it ever happened.
At the start of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire was declining. It lost territory in the Balkans, and within Turkey 2 million Armenians were in open rebellion demanding better treatment. They were being unjustly persecuted and taxed on the grounds they were Christian within the predominantly Muslim country.
At this time, the Young Turks were ruling the Ottoman empire. Led by Talat Pasha, the movement decided that Turkey was only for Muslim Turks. In the name of this new ideology, they moved viciously against the Armenian community. On April 24, 1915, the Turkish military invaded the homes of Armenians living within the empire.
Armenians who were not immediately butchered were sent on death marches across the Syrian desert. When they asked where their destination was, they were simply told: “Nothingness.”
To this day, the Turkish government has refused to acknowledge the genocide. It claims it is a “Western lie”. Turkey has spent millions of dollars trying to erase the genocide from its history, destroying Armenian monuments and even changing the names of animals with the word Armenia in them.
Because of Turkey’s position on the genocide, countries including the US, Britain, Italy and Australia have also refused to acknowledge the crime. They do this because they have diplomatic and trade relationships with Turkey.
Furthermore, Turkey is strategically important due to its geographical position. If the genocide is acknowledged, there is the potential for damage to such relationships.
The refusal of these governments to recognise the Armenian genocide has caused much disappointment among the survivors and their families. These people have survived horrific cruelties, which have stayed with them and their families.
Armenians have argued and pleaded for recognition. But so far, this has not been forthcoming from Turkey, the US, Britain Australia or Italy.
Since the Armenian genocide, there have been other genocides all over the world, such as that committed by Nazi Germany.
There is evidence that Hitler used the Armenian genocide as a template for his holocaust. He believed Turkey showed how to commit genocide and get away it — in 1939 he remarked, “after all, who remembers the extermination of the Armenians?”
This trend has continued into the 21st century in Turkey with the war against the Kurdish people. During the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Turkey has attacked Kurdish civilians. Just like in the case of the Armenian genocide, Kurdish civilians in Turkey have found no assistance from the international community.
If history has taught us anything, it is that if past crimes are not acknowledged and punished, they will happen again. We must recognise the Armenian genocide to prevent a new one.
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