posts 16 - 19 of 19
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

I unequivocally believe that the Ottoman government purposefully and systematically attempted to deport and murder the Armenian population in order to create ethnic homogeneity. There is an enormous amount of evidence in countless forms which backs up the actions and intent of the government at the time from photos, to intergovernmental communications, and witness testimony. The photos we looked at showed countless people laid out on the ground starving, or already dead. Others depict graveyards full of those who were killed in the genocide. Communications between the government and US ambassador reveal that they were specifically trying to prevent him from finding out more, or communicating about the genocide. To me, while that isn’t explicit evidence, it’s very telling that the government was trying to hide something. Policies like ordering Armenians to give up all weapons, and inviting leaders to meetings where they were later massacred are very evident of a systemic attack on the Armenian population. Furthermore, there are so many witness testimony’s which provide clear examples of the atrocities encouraged and carried out by the Ottoman government and many of its citizens. Taken together, there is little I doubt about what we’ve looked at. There may be minor details in witness testimony which aren’t exact due to the age of those left to remember the genocide, but to me the fact that they remember so much is telling of how traumatizing it was, and that any details that have changed in their mind are not central to implicating the Ottoman government and their role.

It can be difficult to identify “real history” from what isn’t, especially as there really is no “real history”, as people come from all different experiences and perspectives. “Fake history” which is grounded in no or little actual historical context and is prevalent and extremely damaging. However, looking at the scale, breadth, and specificity of corroborating evidence from a variety of sources makes it clear that the Armenian genocide is undoubtedly real. The evidence we looked is a fraction of what exists and yet managed to cover photographs from across the country and surrounding refugee camps, witness testimonies from people with all different yet equally horrifying experiences, and government communications which back up those same stories and the explicit intent behind them. There is no way for the sheer amount of evidence available to have been fabricated. The Armenians are not a small group, and the vast amount of experiences which are conveyed through their testimony, along with the emotion clear in their accounts is not something which can be faked. Furthermore, the version being told by the Turkish government which denies the genocide does not have this evidence to back it. It’s often general, and makes broad claims of unfortunate deaths across all ethnic and cultural groups in order to discredit that the large scale of damage against the Armenian population. Their answers come across as defensive, as I believe that if they were telling the truth about it being a horrible time for all, though less awful than the Armenians describe, they would still recognize the pain and trauma of the Armenian people. Rather, the Turkish government tries to make itself a helpless victim when it was clearly a ruthless perpetrator.

In response to the Turkish government’s denial of these events, I would ask them to provide me with specific evidence supporting their version, and clearly discrediting the accounts of the Armenian genocide. Based on the evidence we’ve looked at I unequivocally believe that the Armenian genocide happened and I think that the lack of evidence provided by the Turkish government in response to requests like St John’s is very telling. They have been accused of a horrific crime against humanity, yet have no way to back up their story besides vague generalities. Their refusal to acknowledge the genocide and harsh backlash to any person, group or nation to do so feels like they’re trying too hard to cover up something. At the same time, I would also criticize the US and other gov’ts for failing to recognize the genocide at all or only after lengthy periods of time. Obviously, geo-politics are a complicated issue and Turkey provides the US with strategic benefits, but I would argue that a crime against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide takes precedence.

In response to bubbles’s response to devious eggplant, I absolutely agree that the lack of action or acknowledgement by powerful countries besides Turkey is ridiculous. Especially for a country which prides itself on being a beacon of peace and democracy, I feel like the US’s recent acknowledgment of the genocide is too little too late.

In response to Twighlightsparkle22, I definitely agree with the point about the danger of “fake history” and “incomplete truths”. As mentioned, events like January 6th and even the Holocaust have been portrayed by a growing number of people as fake or misconstrued despite the large breadth and diversity of evidence proving them, and thoroughly disapproving opposing arguments.

brighton, ma, US
Posts: 9

What is unequivocally true about the Armenian Genocide is that the the Turkish Ottoman government condoned violence, displacement, torture, and humiliation of Armenians and Greek Christians. Photographs document starved Armenians, as well as the grotesque aftermath of systemic torture and murder. Turkish soldiers displayed Armenian heads and other body parts, crucified children, and trafficked and sexually abused women and girls. The Turkish government continues to deny these crimes, claiming that any violence faced by Armenians was merely the unavoidable consequence of war rather than an attempt to rid the Ottoman Empire of its Christian populations.

To determine whether or not history is “real” it is important to be incredibly critical and diligent, comparing multiple sources and seeing where they overlap or contradict. In the case of the Armenian genocide, survivor testimonies as well as military documents and photographs of the genocide share the indisputable truth that the Turkish military took actions to kill large populations of Armenians, and attempt to assimilate a small population of others, without their consent.

If I were to respond to the Turkish government’s email to St. John, I would first pick apart where they most blatantly lie. The email denies any order given to massacre Armenians or any intent to diminish their population. Taalat Pasha, Turkish leader during the genocide told Henry Morgantheau “t is no use for you to argue . . . we have already disposed of three quarters of the Armenians; there are none at all left in Bitlis, Van, and Erzeroum. The hatred between the Turks and the Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish with them. If we don't, they will plan their revenge.”

Tohollyfawn’s last paragraph:

“The government’s response was infuriating to read. First, Turkey depends on us like how we depend on them. We should find alternatives, and cut off relations with Turkey. When they acknowledge the genocide and make amends, then we can establish trade again - slowly. They’re basically buying our silence - how could America stand for that? (I know how, but it doesn’t make it justifiable). There is already a movement to force Turkey to acknowledge the genocide. We should support that movement. They need to pay reparations to Armenia, as well. Furthermore, it should be reconsidered if Turkey should be part of NATO in the first place. To be fair, NATO countries are always killing millions of people, so it would be pretty hypocritical to make another country acknowledge their wrongdoings without having done much about ours either. We have soldiers and air bases in Turkey - let's pull out of there. For that matter, why are we there? Surely there are better things to do. Regardless, we should support and recognize Armenia and rethink relations with Turkey. And we should not shy away from calling the event what it actually is - a genocide. If we could only recently admit that, why expect better from the perpetrator?”

I agree that the American government, and many other western (NATO) countries are in an unfit position to pressure Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. In America, there is still widespread doubt and denial about the genocide against Indigenous people and the government is doing very little to recognize this, or legally protect Indigenous people, land, and treaties today. However, I believe relying on government action to force Turkey to acknowledge the genocide and provide reparations to Armenians (at the expense at its own imperialist interests at that) is unrealistic and pressure from Turkish citizens, despite its dangers, is the most effective way to force Turkey to reckon with its history.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 11

I unequivocally believe the fact that Armenians were targeted, deported, and killed during this genocide. There is very clear evidence of the mass killings of Armenian men, women, and children by different unbiased newspapers, like the New York Times. They report time and time again on different events of Armenians being murdered, and because of the multitude of these articles and with the sources that they all reference, usually different institutions in England, it makes it much more clear to be true. In smaller cases, of events that are much less reported on and evidenced, it is harder to simply believe, but because of lists and lists of actions undertaken by the Turkish government against Armenian people, it seems to me like it is almost obvious that these events took place. There are some more biased news reports, which claims that the genocide is specifically of “christians”, which is obviously not really the focal point of what the Turkish government was doing. However, there is nothing else that makes me believe that the reports, which cover hundreds of different articles and have many different sources, are somehow made up, and not real.

“Real history” is really hard to define, because generally you can make a lot of different realities seem to appear just from mixing real, true, facts around. Because of this, it’s really important to not just find singular isolated facts, but more of a general narrative, of many different facts put together to tell a story of what really happened. While the word narrative can have negative connotations, that is really what we do when we look at history. The important part is just making sure that the story that you’re telling is truthful and correct. As for specifics, “real history” really has to be backed up by evidence. We can’t know if something happened, no matter how important, unless there is corroborated evidence. For instance, in the Armenian genocide, there was a massacre of Armenian people carried out in Sivas in a forrest. Without any sort of evidence or corroborated sources, while it could have happened, you can’t take it to be true. However, for this event, there was evidence, as a second group, Greek woodcutters, witnessed the event, showing it to be true history.

In response to the email from the Turkish embassy, I would bring up much of the evidence that we have looked at so far. Their reasoning seems to try to walk around what happened, claiming that many people died during WW1, so you can’t really blame it on them. It then splits from that, then kind of claiming that they deserved what happened because they had captured a Turkish town and were massacring civilians. This is very strange as it in no way justified a systematic extermination of a whole group of people, of men, women, and children. They then go on to claim that many of the laws brought up by the student were “construed wrong”, without offering any sort of justification or evidence. This seems like just a way to ignore the many laws taking away rights from Armenian citizens. Fully, this letter seems to want to have it both ways. One, that many people died in WW1, you can’t blame us for some Armenian people that died during the war, and two, they were attacking us and they deserved it. Combined with just straight up denying facts, it seems like they are just hoping that people won’t care, and will just take them at their word. That is why it is so important to know the real facts and the real history, to understand what happened during the Armenian genocide.

Posts: 13

The Armenians were not simply deported or sent away from the Ottoman Empire during WWI—they were brutally massacred and wiped out for being Christian in the name of a Muslim-only state. The Armenian genocide, despite its massive impact on the significant number of Armenians living there, was surprisingly, widely unknown to the rest of the world. Over time, much of the evidence supporting that a genocide even existed was destroyed, and only a couple documents and testimonies were salvaged from the dark and traumatic history. The Turkish government restricted coverage on the genocide, denying allegations and "hiding the bodies," to divert global attention to the Armenian situation. As a result, not many knew that countless Armenian men were separated from their families and lined up to be bayoneted, shot, or stabbed to death. Some testimonies, such as from Martin Niepage and Kalashian, said that these men were sent to nearby streams and "distant fields," where they would be killed. Soldiers were later ordered to kill all Armenians without hesitation, leaving many on the road to die. Although, I do have questions on how many Armenians were killed, as many Armenians were not given proper burials. In addition, because the Turkish Empire was so keen on keeping this information to themselves, I wonder if the numbers were skewed in any way? How about those who weren't buried? Where did they go?

It might not be easy or possible to decipher what's real or fake just by looking at one or two sources. So, given multiple sources in documents, pictures, and testimonies, we must find common ground to confirm if something did happen or not. Sources that have similar stories can speak to each other to weave together a larger story, reinforcing or even rebuking claims. What's reinforced more, where the unbiased sources lean toward, and testimonies that form to make a cohesive narrative are more believable to be "real history." Soghomon Tehlirian, the Armenian who assassinated Talat, was a member of a group of Armenians forced to relocate. He thought that he was the sole survivor of his caravan—everybody else was presumed dead; his family slaughtered, and his sisters were taken and raped by soldiers, then later killed in front of Tehlirian. Martin Niepage, a teacher at a German technical school at the time, reinforced Tehlirian's testimony about the rapes, reporting that there were "corpses of violated women lying around naked in the heaps." And, because of these massive heaps of bodies, one of Talaat's generals noted to Talaat that there was "no time to bury all the dead" because there were just too many. Sources that have connected stories like these can speak to each other, further understanding the truth of what actually happened in the past. And then there were some reports from Talat, who denied that there was a genocide or that Armenians were unjustifiably killed despite the myriad accounts of genocide by Armenians and onlookers who witnessed it happen. As Talat himself was the main instigator of the genocide and a Turk himself, he has strong biases to what happened. Therefore, his "facts" or testimonies are not as reliable, unless supported by other sources. Unlike Talat, Martin Niepage, who was one witness to the Armenian killings, was a teacher at a school and had no known affiliations to the Turkish government or to the Armenians. Cast as a mere onlooker, his testimony on the heaps of bodies on the streets has more credibility, given that Niepage does not lose or gain anything from reporting such a sight. The church, German missionaries, and Syrians also testified to the Armenian mass killings and would gain nothing from reporting. Thus, as unbiased sources, they have more credibility and therefore, a larger say in what the “real history” is.

After viewing the testimonies and documents that gruesomely supported an Armenian genocide, I found the Turkish embassy's email extremely out of place and nonsensical. He got too specific and too vague, depending on which side would benefit his argument that there was in fact, no genocide and that St. John was simply being overdramatic and jumping to conclusions. How can such a large population of Armenians be killed by soldiers and rounded up from their towns if someone or the government wasn't specifically targeting Armenians? Although there were rebellions, the majority of Armenians did not side with the Russian Empire nor did they conspire to destroy the Ottoman Empire. It was merely an elaborate excuse to drive out the Armenians for being Christians and non-homogenous to the state. The embassy also claims that Morganthau's perspective is biased and that "many would agree" with it, without clarifying who "many" pertains to and neglecting to explain why Morganthau would want the U.S. to engage in war. What about compassion? And empathy? Or the desire to uplift humanity? Lastly, the embassy also claims that the Armenian situation has no connection to the Holocaust because the Jews did not revolt, did not conspire, and Hitler explicitly stated that he would exterminate the Jews. This argument entirely neglects how the Armenians were killed in a similar fashion to the Jews, and that Hitler himself was inspired by the Armenian genocide to enact upon the Holocaust.

In response to i_love_pink, I agree wholeheartedly that even if the Armenians were planning to revolt against the Empire, that doesn't justify the killings and the annihilation of the Armenian population. Mentioning the potential conspiracies or even a couple rebellions does not mean that the government is excused to commit genocide.

Reading about mustardspider's response, although I argued that "real history" is a series of events that consider multiple perspectives, especially unbiased perspectives, to tell a story, I agree that there may not be anything considered "real history." After all, it's so easy to skew information or the way it is portrayed depending on who is reporting on it, and one story can have multiple interpretations, which can sometimes bring attention to certain aspects and exclude others.

posts 16 - 19 of 19