Home > News > Was the Ottoman Turk killings and deportations of Armenians during WWI genocide?

Was the Ottoman Turk killings and deportations of Armenians during WWI genocide?

This is a hot topic now in the US since the US Congress is considering a bill saying that the Ottoman Turk killings of Armenians during WW1 was a genocide. It passed House Foreign Affairs Committee by 27 votes to 21—so it was divisive.

Bush and his Administration are opposed to labeling the killings as genocide, and are urging the Congress to vote against the genocide bill.

French MPs have passed a bill making it a crime to deny that the Ottoman Turkish empire committed genocide against Armenians in 1915.

The great Western historian Bernard Lewis, expert on Islam and Turkish history, maintains that it was not a genocide (though he admits that massacres of Armenians have taken place).

What do you think?

What definition of genocide do you follow? The UN’s? Your own? Who’s?

If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a very quick overview of the situation from the BBC:


The Online Encyclopedia Britannica says:

The greatest single disaster in the history of the Armenians came with the outbreak of World War I (1914-18). In 1915 the Young Turk government resolved to deport the whole Armenian population of about 1,750,000 to Syria and Mesopotamia. It regarded the Turkish Armenians despite pledges of loyalty by many as a dangerous foreign element bent on conspiring with the pro-Christian tsarist enemy to upset the Ottoman campaign in the east. In what would later be known as the first genocide of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were driven from their homes, massacred, or marched until they died. The death toll of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey has been estimated at between 600,000 and 1,500,000 in the years from 1915 to 1923. (See Researcher’s Note: Armenian massacres.) Tens of thousands emigrated to Russia, Lebanon, Syria, France, and the United States, and the western part of the historical homeland of the Armenian people was emptied of Armenians.

(Source: Online Ency. Britannica, under “Armenia,” subsection on “Armenia and Europe.”)

More references


Categories: News
  1. samuelprime
    October 15, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    What the Turks are saying is true about there being an Armenian armed group who were resisting the Turks, but the problem is: does that mean that whole Armenian villages should be wiped off the map? And that they should be expelled in the 100,000’s to other lands only to die in the process? That’s what makes the genocide case stronger. The difference with the Holocaust is that in that case there was no Jewish armed group fighting the Nazis, and the killings happened in a much larger scale, with experiments done on them, gassings in gas chambers, deportations, etc, in short ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, both atrocities are genocides (by the UN’s definition).

    This US Congressional bill is very untimely. We can keep the fact that it was a genocide to ourselves and not let it (though it be a fact) make current matters and fact take an ugly turn. For one thing, it will embolden the Islamist radicals in Turkey, or harden the elected president and his party, which would not be in US interest (is that what Nancy Pelosi wants?).

    Let’s see what happens. It’s not quite the end of the story because Congress has not yet voted on the bill. (That was just a subcommittee that voted.) If I remember correctly they will consider it in November. All these repercussions we now witness may make them think twice about the bill and perhaps table the motion (perhaps indefinitely, or filibuster it). The sad thing is that Turkey is acting as if it’s a foregone conclusion. But that’s typical of middle easterners: they rush to judgment and act out of passion, but I hope the Turkish leadership would act more prudently than that. We’ll see.

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