The Forgotten Genocide of the Ottoman Empire

Other | Monday 19th March 2018 | Ed

Between 1914 and 1923 – throughout the First World War and after it – the Committee for Union and Progress (the C.U.P a.k.a the Young Turks) carried out the systematic and conscious massacring of all non-Muslims.

It was led by the evil triumvirate known as the ‘Three Pashas’, Talaat Pasha, Djemal Pasha and Ismail Enver Pasha. They were jointly responsible for the death of approximately 3.5 million Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians in an area of the Ottoman Empire now known as Turkey, although exact figures are not known. The justification for this deliberate genocidal action was that Islam is the only true religion, and Talaat stated in 1915 that “there is no room for Christians in Turkey”.

Christians and non-Muslims alike were killed in their thousands in mass drownings, burnings, poisonings, shootings and death marches into the Syrian desert with nothing but their immediate personal belongings. Families were systematically separated, whole communities were deported to the Ottoman interior to what were effectively concentration camps and everything was taken from the persecuted, right down to their tooth fillings. In addition to this, Christian monuments and other cultural property were destroyed. If people tried to escape from the camps, they would be tortured to death in front of the other prisoners as an example.

Arbitrary executions would also take place throughout towns and cities, and it was common for the corpses to buried upright with the head still above ground, in the middle of the road. Passing carriages would crush them, with the families of the dead still watching.

After the genocide came to an end and justice was being demanded internationally for the Three Pashas, Talaat and Djemal were assassinated, although Ismael Enver escaped direct punishment and died in battle.

Whilst it may not be surprising that the genocide in the Ottoman Empire has been overshadowed by the vastly more destructive horrors of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany or Maoist China, these atrocities are still denied and rejected by the Turkish government.

There has been a long and heated debate between spokespeople of the victims of the slaughter and officials about whether or not the events of 1914-1923 can be termed genocide. There are also many filmed addresses by human rights lawyers and politicians petitioning the Turkish government to recognise and condemn what is referred to in one case as “90 kilos of evidence” supporting the truth of the genocide.

By Ed Edwards. Find my blog here: