Armenians marched by Ottoman soldiers - Creative Commons via Wikipedia
CAIRO – 28 April 2017: Can one imagine the horror children, women and old men and women faced crossing the Syrian Desert during WWI? Out of 2 million Armenians, only half a million survived and moved in marches to the Syrian Desert. Rape, murder, robbery, and deprivation of food and water is the least of what Armenians had to live with, or better said, die of.
The Armenian genocide, or known as the Armenian holocaust (Meds Yeghern), one of this world’s miseries faced by a whole race. Great sum of population still remember the date until today April 24, 1915 is when the massacre conventionally started. It started with 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and leaders were murdered or arrested when they thought of rebelling against the Turks. The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922.
The Armenian highlands have been under the Turkish Ottoman rule, and then divided into western Armenia, and eastern Armenia that became under the Russian rule (Republic of Armenia) today. The Armenian highland for thousands of years extending from north Syria to south Georgia and Azerbaijan, and Anatolian plateau on the west.
The Ottoman Government is accused of systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, and still Turkey in denial. With more than 20 states of the international society recognizing what happened as a “genocide”, according to the UN definition of it, still Turkey in denial, the UK, the US, and Israel with no official recognition of the genocide.
Armenians were an essential part of a region extended from North Syria to South Georgia and Azerbaijan, including West Anatolia, they even created an Armenian empire under the leadership of Dikran the Great who ruled this region in the second century B.C. “If thousands of Armenians fled eastern Armenia to Deir el Zour in east of Syria through Aleppo, then where did the rest of them go if not murdered?” Alaa El-Sayed, a Syrian historian and lawyer asks in answer to that “for Egypt Today”. “Were they not Armenians those who lived on that geographical area for thousands of years?” he affirms. Answering this question helps us decide either the accusations upon Turkey are valid or not.
In the late 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire was retreating, the Armenians demanded the return of their occupied territories, but the Ottomans considered it a direct threat, so a campaign of arrests has been launched against Armenian intellectuals, community leaders, and religious figures. This campaign reached its peak under the "Young Turks" leadership in 1915, organizing a mass deportation of Armenians from Eastern Armenia near Georgia walking all the way to Aleppo and Deir Ezzor in Syria.
“Under the Ottoman Empire rule, Armenians among other communities were forced to live under the mercy of a Turkish rule, which imposed a policy of Turkification. For more than 23 centuries,” said Kevork Almassian, a Syrian Armenian political journalist, founder of “Syriana Analysis” Alternative Media Channel, and researcher at the German center for Eurasian Studies, to Egypt Today.
While the Turkish have always denied the genocide claiming that many people died during the fugue of WWI, including Armenians, however, most historians and scholars agree that the Ottoman Empire has preplanned committed a crime against humanity by killing 1.5 million Armenians and around 500 thousand Assyrians, Syriacs, Greeks, and Alawites. According to the New York Times, Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts found a deciphered copy of a telegram that helped convict the Ottoman official, Behaeddin Shakir, for planning what scholars have long acknowledged and Turkey has long denied the organized killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians. “The unpunished crime has encouraged other evil forces to perpetrate new genocides and holocausts,” comments Almassian.
“If this is not a genocide in itself, what a genocide would be, and what would be considered an acceptable justification of killing masses in cold blood?,” El Sayed asks in vain.
Armenians who took of Syria second home, relate today's leadership of Turkey as before under the Ottoman Empire, since the Turkish leadership claims to be “a neo-Ottoman government” that wants to bring back the "glories" of the past. That's why Turkey is using the instability in the region, especially in Syria to achieve its ambitions in occupying part of the Syrian lands, to eradicate the Kurdish threat, and bring back the lost dream of “Ottomanism”.
As an Armenian Syrian Almassian says, “But the collective memory of Syrians from all spectrums reminded them of the dark past of Turkey, so they fought back and resisted the Ottoman invasion under different brands, such as Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar Al-Sham, Muslim Brotherhood and (Islamic State) (IS) (terrorist group.) Today's (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan is more dangerous than his ancestors are, because he relies on proxy armies”.
Almassian continues, “The same thing happened in Egypt where Erdogan used the terrorist organization of Muslim Brotherhood to make Cairo dependent on Ankara. Yet Turkey failed.”
Well, the Turks have previously used proxy armies in the Armenian genocide including junior army officers “The Young Turks”. Yet, the Kurds too have been used by the Turks in the genocide, as in the opinion of Laith Marouf, a Syrian Senior Consultant at the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) in Canada, saying to Egypt Today: “The Kurdish inhabitants of the Kurdish mountains have taken a part in the Armenian genocide after being promised by the Turks the lands they can clear, and the victims beyond and above all were the Armenians”.
Would the Turkish denial to the genocide continue with such evidence? Would the Turkish behavior continue to depend on brutality and proxy militias, as it did in Armenia, especially in the region? The answer to that would depend on how much the neo-Ottoman government of today’s Turkey can be halted.