posts 1 - 15 of 25
Ms. Bowles
US
Posts: 20

Questions to Consider:


1. What are some of the conditions that led to the Armenians becoming targets of persecution and violence in the Ottoman Empire before the genocide began in 1915? Which human behavior theories help to explain their persecution? Are there ways that we should attempt to to stop or disrupt these types of behaviors in society that could lead to genocide?


2. How aware was the world of what was happening to the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915? What could the United States or any other nation do, realistically, to stop these atrocities? How did World War I impact the genocide and limit intervention? What is the connection between war and genocide?


3. What is gained and what is lost by the recognition of what happened to the Armenians between 1915-1923 as an official genocide? What is gained and what is lost by using the term genocide to call attention to mass atrocities or human rights violations that may be presently occurring?


4. Should genocide, in the legal sense, require specific, irrefutable evidence? Is the potential punishment for orchestrating genocide enough of a deterrent to stop it from happening? Should the world strengthen our ability to respond to genocide while it is occuring instead of after the fact? How could this be done?



Word Count Requirement: 500-750 words



Sources to Reference:


Please refer to the ideas, either using a quote or paraphrasing, from at least two of the sources in your response and please respond in some way to at least two of the question sets.


You are also free to refer to the chapter that you read from Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction (Jones, 2006) or the film that we watched in class The Armenian Genocide (PBS International).


Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide (Laderman, 2020)


Excerpt from Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th centiury (Destexhe, 1995)


Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide (United Nations, 1948)


When to Refer to a Situation as ‘Genocide’ (United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect)



Rubric to Review: LTQ Rubric
souplover
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

reflections on the Armenian genocide

Those who wish to restrict the use of the term ‘genocide’ point to how the commonality of the word waters down the meaning. If we are constantly labeling acts of violence as genocides, then how can we separate those from actual genocides? Others might refute: ‘but what is the point of creating levels of terror? How is this different from ranking atrocities or having ‘oppression Olympics’?’ It boils down to the question: “if we rarely label something as a genocide, does this create more motivation for the international community to take a stance?”

According the the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, legal use of the term ‘genocide’ depends on the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Arguably, the intention part of the definition is both the hardest to prove and the most important element. The term was coined because the description of the Holocaust as ‘mass murder’ was, according to author Raphael Lemkin, inadequate. It didn’t account for intention due to prejudice and failed to separate the crime from the conduct of war. Lemkin argued that the immorality of genocide shouldn’t be confused with the amorality of war. Immoral refers to something that goes against social morals, while amoral describes something that completely lacks morals. War is chaos, but genocide is direct, planned, and purposeful. To be thought of as an enemy is different than, as author of ‘Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century’ Alain Destexhe says, “a particular species of vermin to be systematically wiped out.” Here is where the Turkish government defends themselves against genocide. They claim that the murder of Armenians was not motivated by ethnic or religious differences, but because a small number of Armenians fought against and contributed to the defeat of Turks at the Battle of Sarikamish. But this victim-blaming ignores the fact that Armenians were oppressed before this ‘betrayal’, and the said ‘betrayal’ was motivated by the Hamidian Massacre and the deaths of 200,000 Armenians. Going back to the fifteenth century, Armenians were viewed as an ‘other’. Their isolation and seemingly prosperous lifestyles further separated them from the Muslim Turks, and after the Battle of Sarikamish, Armenians as a whole were seen as traitorous and treasonous. These beliefs and the government’s use of an ‘us vs. them’ strategy perpetuated the Armenian Genocide, in which the role of the average person cannot be ignored.

Sectarianism, groupthink, and social identity theory all aided in the Turks’s participation in genocide. Sectarianism refers to an excessive attachment to one group due to a biological ‘us vs. them’ mentality. Your judgment is heavily influenced by the majority opinion in your group, because of a fear of social exclusion that leads to groupthink. People’s self-concept is based on their sense of membership, so they seek out groups to build self-esteem. These groups affirm previously held beliefs and contribute to in-group bias, or the exaggeration of differences between groups.


cbgb1946
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

The Armenian Genocide's Legacy, and Impact.

The Armenian Genocide was a premeditated event, with The Ottoman Empire fueling their hatred for The Armenians with their religious, and cultural, differences. Before the genocide officially began, in 1915, The Armenian population of The Ottoman Empire began to speak up upon their rights, for they were being suppressed by The Ottoman Empire’s government. The Young Turks, a radicalist group, took over The Ottoman Empire’s government, creating an even more extremist society against The Armenian population. The ideologies of “Us Vs. Them,” and the internalization of an “In Group,” and an “Out Group,” created an implementation of hatred into the minds of The Ottoman Empire’s population. The Young Turks saw the exile of The Armenian population as essential to the betterment of society, and saught out genocide to do this. Though at the time people denied that this genocide was occuring, and people still do so today, there have been steps taken to attempt to stop future genocides from happening. The United Nations Office of Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect published an article, entitled “When to Refer to a Situation as ‘Genocide’ (United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect,” outlining The United Nation’s definition of genocide, and how a nation can be held accountable for it. The goals of The United Nations was to strictly define the term “genocide,” by reasoning for, “(i) its frequent misuse in referring to large scale, grave crimes committed against particular populations; (ii) the emotive nature of the term and political sensitivity surrounding its use; and (iii) the potential legal implications associated with a determination of genocide” (The United Nations).

During the time in which The Armenian Genocide was occuring, the rest of the world was not fully aware of the atrocities that were being committed. The United States deployed ambassadors, to nations in Europe, to try to prove what was happening, for it was being denied by a large percentage of the world’s population. Although the ambassadors were sent to investigate the state of the nation abroad, President Franklin D. Roosevelt emphasized the importance of American nationalism, and focusing on internal problems, rather than the ones present abroad. In his article, “Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide,” Charlie Laderman outlined Roosevelt’s beliefs for The United States, for he thought that the country “had a duty to censure international wrongdoing because it had, on the whole, demonstrated its commitment to ‘principles of civil and religious liberty and of orderly freedom’” (Laderman, 2020). The Armenian Genocide’s effect on World War I led to the eventual development of consequences for the act of genocide, written at The Genocide Conference, and The Vienna Conference. The act of genocide’s occurance during a time of war is often used as a cover up for the targeted killing of a group of people, seen by The Ottoman Empire’s justification of a multitude of lives lost, from both sides of the conflict.

The recognition of The Armenian Genocide has given The Armenian population acknowledgement of the atrocities that they have faced, but the retroactive accountability for genocide cannot be taken into account, leaving The Armenian population still being left in the dust. The usage of the term of “genocide,” gains the recognition of a targeted attack towards a certain group of people, but does not help with holding groups of people accountable. The Armenian Genocide is recognized as an official genocide, in the present day, but there cannot be any accountability taken, to those who contributed to the deaths of millions of Armenian people. On December 9, 1948, The General Assembly, of The United Nations, held their Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, which “[Recognized] that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity, and Being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required,” and went on to list out the consequences, of the act of genocide, though it was created after World War II, and cannot include retroactive accountability. Though The United Nations, has taken steps to prevent genocide from happening, their not allowing of retroactive recognition damages the generations of the specific targeted group, for it is indirectly denying the accountability of their ancestor’s genocide.

behappy19
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Reflection on the Armenian Genocide

The genocide of the Armenian people never should have been allowed and WWI can not be fully to blame. The Turkish government used the intense war period as the opportunity and form of cover-up for their horrific actions towards the Armenian people. These killings were in part due to the toxic nationalism of a dying empire. Their empire dies nevertheless and the Turkish government still has yet to apologize to the Armenians.

The Armenians had been part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries and established their own culture and alphabet. I mean you know a group of people have been around a long time if they have their own alphabet. One reason that contributed to them being a target for the Turks was that they were Christian. This plays into the Us vs. Them concept and the Turks completely separated the Armenians from themselves, Muslims. The Armenians were granted less rights and after trying to push back the Hamidian Massacres occurred where the Sultan violently suppressed them leading to many deaths. If this was not a warning sign I do not know what is. In the article, Humanitarian Intervention Or Humanitarian Imperialism? America And The Armenian Genocide by Charlie Laderman it states, “After reports of renewed Armenian massacres in 1904, Roosevelt was urged to intervene. Yet the muted American response to his message chilled his ardor.” This exhibited how other countries could view these warning signs, but did nothing to intervene. America claimed to be distraught by the actions towards the Armenian people, but did nothing to aid them.

The massacres preceded the genocide of the Armenian people beginning in 1915 and ending in 1923. These happen to be during WWI. Coincidence? I think not. The Turkish government felt threatened by the Armenian people because some were allying with Russia. The answer to why they were allying with Russia is because they wanted basic human rights. The Turks used the chaos of the war to kill the Armenian people by making them travel in circles through harsh conditions until they no longer could. The actions committed against the Armenians were disgusting and no nation helped them. The evidence was substantial with the immense amounts of photographs and accounts of what occurred. There was no question that the Turks committed genocide against the Armenian people.

The Turkish government is in denial of what they did. The shame is apparent and this is why nationalism is forced upon the citizens of Turkey. Books are even being burned written by those against the Turkish government. The Armenian people deserve to be recognized as survivors of a genocide, but Turkey refuses. The government knows that what happened is a genocide, I mean the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states in Article two:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

Most if not all were committed by the Turks and so they can not argue that what occurred was not a genocide no matter how hard they try. The Armenians deserve to gain justice and be recognized by the perpetrators of the crime against humanity.




Bingus_the_cat
US
Posts: 10

The Armenian Genocide and the problems behind it

We cannot deny that Armenians were always seen as somewhat of an ‘other’ within the Ottoman empire. The different religion, culture, and writing create a sense that they are rebellious to the Ottoman empire. The Hamidian massacres began the extent of the atrocities against the Armenians, and caused the ‘us vs them’ mentality to really begin. The system that the Ottomans used to persecute the Armenian people played into the current psychological theories. They barely had to try to alienate the Armenian people, as they were pretty much already alienated. Once the genocide started, they could play into social pressure that could sustain the level of harshness towards the Armenian people. We could attempt to stop this alienation from happening by working with the UN “ Based on that assessment, the United Nations can advocate for action to prevent, halt and/or punish such “alleged” or “possible” crimes.”” and using international pressure we could possibly prevent a genocide from happening in this day and age. While the world was somewhat aware of what was happening to the Armenians during the genocide, the first world war most definitely covered up most of the atrocities occurring. Realistically, nothing more could be done. I guess that they could have given more financial aid or sent more of the red cross to help them out, but since the Ottoman empire was at war, they were heavily defended from the US if they wanted to invade to stop the genocide. Not to mention the already stressed supply lines that happened because of WWI and the fact that for most of the war the US was abstaining from joining the conflict. The whole genocide was strengthened by the war as it engaged the ‘us vs them’ mentality even more, a pattern that we see in most genocides. If we as a society fail to recognise and condone the Armenian genocide, we fail to recognise the hundreds of thousands of people who died because of it. “The Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and failure to act against Turkey is to condone it.” Quite frankly, if the country that did the genocide does not even consider it a genocide, it makes some of the claims that other countries make seem illegitimate. If we call some sort of conflict a genocide, it adds a sort of urgency to the conflict, as many people see genocide as one of the greatest evils humanity can commit. Yet if a conflict is called a genocide that truly does not seem like one, people could lost faith in the term as it could begin to seem overused. In that sense, genocide should require some sort of evidence. However the current system we use is somewhat flawed as we cannot recognise genocides that occurred before the genocide convention. There must be an edit made that allows older genocides, such as the Armenian genocide to be recognised as such, or certain problems will never be resolved. Overall, the Armenian genocide is a conflict that needs to be recognised, as the factors that caused it were just as deadly as the genocide itself.
buttercup
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

LTQ 5

Some conditions that led to Armenians becoming a target were the structure of Ottoman society, instability of the empire, isolation of Armenians, and surge in popularity of nationalism. The Ottomans used a millet system, and millets had to obey laws that were often discriminatory toward Christians. The Ottoman empire was unstable due to its weak government/loss of territory, which made them “the sick man of Europe.” The people’s insecurities/fears about the weakening empire resulted in increased hatred towards any outsiders. Since European powers were taking their land and groups within the empire were revolting, particularly Christians, the Ottomans began to view any minorities as a threat to the success of the state. There were also distinct differences between Armenians and the rest of the empire - they were Christian, not Muslim, and had a unique culture and language. So, the government began an open assault on Armenians, which was justified because, as behappy19 said, “the Turkish government felt threatened by the Armenian people because some were allying with Russia…[the Armenians] wanted basic human rights.” This shows the extreme imbalance in power and the hatred they had for each other, which led to increased tensions and violence. This was also exacerbated by the increase in nationalism because of the rise of the Young Turks, an exclusionary hyper-nationalist party, as well as the Ottomans losing 75% of their European territory.


Important ideas that help explain this are us vs. them, demonization of the other, groupthink, and mob mentality. Us vs. them is based on the innate need to categorize people into the in-group/out-group. Ottomans strongly identify with their own group, and separate themselves from the “other” (Armenians) as a means of survival. The Ottomans believe this would prove that they are better/more powerful, which further boosts their strength/confidence as a nation (nationalism). Consequently, this leads to a heavy in-group bias and harmful behaviors, such as alienating/demonizing the “other” (Armenians) as a way of making the Ottomans feel better about themselves. Once they did this, it reduced their cognitive dissonance and allowed them to rationalize targeting Armenians, who were perceived as a threat to Ottoman survival/success. Groupthink furthered these harmful actions, as individuals felt compelled to agree with the empire’s consensus about Armenians as dangerous, alongside ignoring the moral consequences of mistreating them. Mob mentality also helps one understand why the Armenians were persecuted to such extremes. Mob mentality states that “people feel less responsible for their actions when in large groups.” Applied to this scenario, mob mentality indicates that individual Ottomans/subjects within the empire did not feel the moral obligation to treat the Armenians as equals or as people because everyone else was treating them maliciously, so their actions would not make a difference.


We should ensure that people follow the laws on genocide and suitable punishments are delivered. We need to emphasize the fact that genocide is a crime, with the definition being “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a. killing members of the group; b. causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c. deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d. imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e. forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” (Excerpt from Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century). We should emphasize the importance/protection of all human rights. We also need society to recognize the value of each and every human life, which I feel is the main reason why genocide should never even be considered in any of our minds. We need to keep ourselves vigilant and hold ourselves accountable for our thoughts and actions that could lead to genocide, because genocide is completely unexcusable regardless of the situation. The idea of seeing genocide as a good thing at all is something I fail to grasp, and rightfully so. The potential punishment is enough of a deterrent to stop it from happening, but the fact that there has to be a punishment to prevent people from committing genocide is shocking, because committing such an act already has such a huge mental/moral burden; you are doing something with the intent to get rid of an entire group of human beings, how does that not feel wrong to you?


The world definitely should strengthen its ability to respond to genocide while it is happening instead of after the fact, and this could be done by emphasizing that this crime be brought to global attention, that it is handled professionally and efficiently by the correct governing bodies, and not using genocide as a weapon or tool for power. It is difficult for us to hold ourselves accountable, because for many countries, if a genocide does not directly impact them, then they see no reason to get involved. Strengthening our ability means that each and every individual needs to be able to recognize and properly define what a genocide is when it is happening, we need to be able to raise awareness, we need to be willing to genuinely provide help/aid to the victims, and we need to be able to hold ourselves accountable and recognize that genocide is a crime against humanity that needs to be stopped. In the United Nations guidance note, they say they aim to provide “guidance on the correct usage of the term ‘genocide’” to its ambassadors. They go into much analysis about the criminalization, applicability of the convention, historical cases, and use of the term genocide. While I recognize the importance of this article, I also think that we should not hyperfocus on the semantics of what is and what isn’t a genocide. While yes, it is important to make the distinction, the fact of the matter is that there are innocent lives being lost and useless bloodshed. Instead of getting caught up in micro-labelling every single situation before taking action, we need be proactive and deal with genocide appropriately and efficiently. For example, the UN has produced many articles on the prevention of genocide, but there is little to no follow through with these lofty ideals. I like to follow the logic of if not us, then who? because we cannot always rely on others to do what needs to be done. We cannot remain victims of the bystander effect; we need to be the ones to take initiative and do what is right.
xoxogossipgirl
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 12

1+1 doesn't equal 3

An A-list celebrity has broken their leg but so have I. The whole world will know about their leg and not mine. That doesn’t mean that my leg isn’t as important as hers. New York City is on fire but so is this secluded unknown town far away. Do the importance or location of these places dictate the importance of the damage done? At the same time as the Armenian Genocide, World War One was occuring. It is in no one’s power to compare such a war with this genocide but it is easy to compare the coverage. World War One was a globally known event due to the amount of nations involved. It is unrealistic to say that nations involved in world war one should have dropped everything to help with the Armenian genocide because they were involved with the war on a small scale. But it is important to know that the United States wasn’t fighting in the war from 1914-1918. With the Armenian genocide taking place in 1915 and the United States having involvement during 1917, the United States could have tried to provide aid or at least spread news of this genocide. Nations that were fully involved in the war were obviously preoccupied with having part of their population out on the battlefield. World War I caused many countries to be distracted with their own national problems. The unfortunately problem with war is that it usually includes 2 or more sides and genocide involves one side dominating another. When both unfortunate events happen at the same time, it’s easy for them to get swept under the rug and forgotten by the people. Specifically with this genocide, no one knew what genocide really meant. This was until the UN came to save the day with actual distinct and defined terms for genocide. And although this convention came out 33 years after the Armenian genocide began, they made it clear that “the Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish” (United Nations, 1948). So if these rules came after the genocide, how can we even consider it genocide. Well let’s think of it this way: if I test you on something that you haven’t been taught, then how can you be punished for it? The short answer is that you can’t. The detailed answer is you cannot be punished for something you were never taught but that doesn’t mean that 1+1=3 just because no one told you it equaled 2. 1+1 will always be 2 no matter when you learn it. So genocide will always be defined as having the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” So we can’t punish the Ottoman Empire or people who are a part of Turkey now, but we can recognize that they did the wrong thing. The people of Turkey today don’t want to recognize the fact that they committed genocide because their nationalism blinds them from the truth of their past. And based on the definition of genocide, it’s hard to truly get evidence of intent. “The determination as to whether a situation constitutes genocide is thus factually and legally complex and should only be made following a careful and detailed examination of the facts against relevant legislation” (United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect). Using the term genocide correctly helps people to use it as an outline for those to see what genocide actually is. When we don’t recognize the Armenian Genocide as a Genocide, we excuse those who try to do the same thing as them and we prevent Armenians from getting closure. Many of them lost family and lost their sense of humanity. Nothing is gained from the lack of identification except for evil. The numbers and statistics from the Armenian genocide are more than numbers. They are people who should have had the ability to live a safe life without being forced to go through mental and physical torment.

Dak Prescott
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

The Armenian Genocide

Before the beginning of the genocide in 1915 the American people faced a lot of discrimination in the Ottoman empire. Armenians were Christian people and in the Muslim Ottoman empire they were treated as second class citizens. They were forced to pay higher taxes and seen as outsiders never fully accepted by other Ottomans. This led to some Americans fighting against the Ottomans in WW1, this eventually led to more separation between Ottoman Turks and Armenians. After the rise of the nationalistic Young Turk government they called the Armenians traitors and this is what started the genocide. This persecution is the use of an us v.s. their mentality which is a fundamental part of human psychology. While there is no way to make these feeling in people go away, the way to use this knowledge to stop genocide is to never allow one ethnic of religious group to gain too much power in government.

The world new about many of the atrocities the Armenians were committing before, during, and after the Armeninan genocide. As stated in Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide (Laderman, 2020), many Americans new of the racial discrimination of the Ottomans as early as 1904. However there was a political discussion in the United States about what the apportate response should be. Some said the U.S. should get involved with the humanitarian crisis, however others said The United states government had no business getting involved in other countries affairs. Other countries realistically had very little they could do to stop the Armenian genocide. The Allies once almost took over part of the Ottoman Empire which would have liberated the Armenians, however they lost the battle. Sending humanitarian aid was almost impossible because most nationals were focusing all of their resources on War and its aftermath. There is connection between war in genocide because unfortunately some violance in the world tends to lead to more violence.

The Armeniains are able to gain some sense of visibility and justice by the international comunity through the recontion of the Armenian Genocide. In the article titled Excerpt from Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th centiury (Destexhe, 1995), it is stated that the main difference between mass killing and genocide is intent. By using this term it evokes a very specific and brutal crime that should have real consequences. However the punishment for the crime of genocide under the ICJ cannot be applied to the Armenian Genocide. This is because the killing occurred before the genocide convention therefore the UN has no authority to prosecute governments involved. There is nothing lost by calling anything fitting the definition of genocide as genocide. Because in the present day with all of the information and knowledge people are able to access it is easier and more important to label humanitarian crisis genocide.

Gencoide as it is defined requires evidence of intent and I think the definition of genocide is perfect as it is. As an international community the countries of the world should come together to do what they can to punish the continued guilt of crimes against humanity. The most common and simple way people can do this is through economic sanctions.

asdfghjkl;'
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Armenian Genocide

The Ottoman Empire was on its downfall. It was losing power and gained the nickname the “sick man” of Europe. From this many smaller nations gained independence leaving the Ottoman empire smaller. In the article, written by Landerman, “Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism?” it stated the Empire “suffered numerous outside interventions by European powers, many in support of uprisings by the empire’s Christian minority subjects.” This leads to hatred toward those who follow Christianity, which is greatly seen after their attempts to reform. Under Sultan Abdul Hamid treacherous amounts of persecution took place, especially towards the Armenians. This Christian minority was threatened since, as Landerman states, their “homeland was at the state’s strategic crossroads.” This oppression of Armenians culminated into the Hamidian massacres from 1894 to 1896. Along with these, the Arminias had also been seen allied with the Russians during the war, which infuriated the Turks. The points discussed are all conditions that led to the Armenians becoming targets of violence in the Ottoman Empire before the genocide began in 1915. The persecution done by the Ottoman also connects to human behavior theories. Those being the idea of “otherness” and cognitive dissonance. The Turks used the idea of “otherness” or “us versus them” in order to oppress the Armenian. Since they are not the same religion they are seen differently. Along with this is cognitive dissonance regarding violence where the Turks justify their actions by dehumanizing the Armenians. If they believe they are not human it is easier to harm and persecute them. The treatment of the Arminian people within the Ottoman Empire is -- in every part of the word-- a genocide. Genocide, as described in the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” is acts committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” An example of these being “killing members of the group.” Genocide, in the legal sense, should require specific, irrefutable evidence. The act of genocide is vile, but needs to be proven before it is legally called one. The term genocide, as described in the convention, is not the same as mass atrocities or human rights violations. The true crimes that are present in genocide may not be seen in atrocities presently occuring. This causes a loss to the true definition of genocide, and confusion on the true actions committed. This causes society to lack the full grasp and weight of genocide, because the definition cannot be placed on every circumstance. However, as stated in the “United Nation Office on Genocide Prevention and the Resposibility to Protect,” “there is no established “hierarchy of gravity” of international crimes.” All war crimes can be equally shocking and vile, but having structure as to prove something as grave as genocide is important. Following this, the potential punishment for orchestrating genocide is not enough of a deterrent to stop it from happening. Once people gain a following for their heinous crimes it allows for others to join their violence. The hatred of others outweighs the potential of punishment. The world needs to strengthen our ability to respond to genocide while it is occuring instead of after the fact. Society needs to see the violence and prove it as a genocide with irrefutable evidence as soon as possible. Those orchestrating these crimes should be charged before, and that is why Article III in “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” states that the “conspiracy to commit genocide” is punishable. Those who are conspiring should be convicted swiftly when given the evidence to prove their crimes.

pinkavocados
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

An excerpt from Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th century states: “the specificity of genocide does not arise from the extent of the killings, nor their savagery or resulting infamy, but solely from the intention: the destruction of a group.” War and other violence, despite how horrific it is, is a fact of our world. This is difficult to process, and even more difficult to accept. We can not prevent every death, or every war. That is something that is out of the average person’s hands, and involves complex geopolitical decisions which take into account alliances, economic partnerships, military strength, and many other intertwined factors. But one thing people can focus on is drawing attention to what is going on around the world and giving name to it properly. This means being conscious of what terms like “genocide,” “war crimes,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “human rights violations” mean and how to properly use them in order to accurately shed light on these incredibly difficult topics.

The word genocide specifically requires a lot of care before it is used. In general, recognition of genocide provides healing and validation to people who’s lives have been very deeply impacted by heartless atrocities, and this is incredibly important. Something that is “genocide” is something that has undergone the legal process of trial for genocide, and means that those who committed genocide will be punished under international law, and will receive repercussions and be unable to cause future harm. To call an event genocide is to recognize this.

Using genocide too loosely makes the term lose meaning and lightens the weight that should be associated with the term and could deter people from seeking to actually exert the legal process and punishment for genocide because its meaning has become convoluted. The United Nations guide on the use of the word “genocide” states that “the determination as to whether a situation constitutes genocide is thus factually and legally complex and should only be made following a careful and detailed examination of the facts against relevant legislation. This examination has been carried out for the purpose of establishing State responsibility or individual criminal responsibility for the crime of genocide” This further establishes that genocide is the name of a CRIME under law and thus should only be used when refering to events which have been charged in this legal process. This should not prevent people from discussing mass atrocities and human rights violations; it is key that people continue to bring awareness to the horrors occuring at any time across the globe. It only means that the word “Genocide” has incredibly strong implications, it is the worst crime that humanity can commit, and thus it should not be thrown around lightly.

The excerpt from Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th Century states “genocide is a crime on a different scale to all other crimes against humanity and implies an intention to completely exterminate the chosen group. Genocide is therefore both the gravest and the greatest of the crimes against humanity.” Words have immense power, and the word genocide specifically has massive implications. The weight of this word should recognized, and used cautiously, but it is also crucial that when a genocide does occur, it is called what it is.

bumblebeetuna
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Power of Language

First, Armenians were targeted during the Ottoman empire because they were Christian. They had converted to Christianity as early as the 300’s CE and along with that had developed their own language and culture. For centuries the Ottoman empire, which was Muslim, had treated Armenians generally well under the millet system. However, during the end of the 1800’s, as many provinces started to break away from the Ottoman empire, Ottoman Turks started to feel that the all encompassing “Ottoman” identity was losing its power. This led to the rise of Turkish nationalism, and with it, feelings of “us vs them”. They started to conceive of Armenian identity and Turkish identity as totally separate in a way they hadn’t before. While the Armenians’ unique culture had always existed, it was now seen as a threat to Turkish culture. This is especially because many Armenians were very successful in politics or finance leading to the myth that Armenians were in charge of the government and were leading to the downfall of the Turks. Persecution only worsened when Armenians stood up for themselves and started to demand more rights, because the Turks sawtheir declaration of independence as the next logical step. Finally, at the start of WWI, a small number of Armenians joined Russia and fought for them at the battle of Sarikamish (an Ottoman loss). Ottomans blamed the whole Armenian population for this loss even though the vast majority fought on the side of the Ottomans. This was the final blow that made Armenians a permanent target of persecution and would give rise to their genocide. In this phase, closer to the start of the genocide, I believe bystander syndrome played a big role in their persecution. Everyone could witness the atrocious acts being committed against the Armenians, but no one felt a personal responsibility to save them because they lived in segregated communities. The expected altruism for neighbors didn’t apply because Turks viewed Armenian neighbors as strangers, even enemies. Furthermore, Turks who helped the Armenians were at risk for punishment and therefore weren’t as inclined to help. Fear and lack of personal connections both contributed to the whole Turkish population acting as bystanders during, and later perpetrators of, the genocide.


Much is gained by recognizing the mass killing and forced removal of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as an official genocide. First, it is an important step on the healing path for current Armenians, many of whom have generational trauma from the events. Denying the genocide blocks the ability for Armenians to properly grieve, receive reparations, and have their stories told. Denial can be seen as a continuation of the genocide, because it continues to “cause serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide). This harm means insanity or depression, which happens when people are continually told that their stories and existence, their roots, are simply fabricated. Recognition is the first step to ending this cycle of trauma.


In the current Israel-Palestine war, using genocide is a way to garner immediate sympathy and anger on behalf of the Palestinian people and makes Israel the antagonist. This is very important on the one hand, as Israel’s history of occupation of Palestine, their recent statements about desiring to eliminate all Palestinians if necessary, and the sheer number of innocent civilians killed makes the situation more serious than just “war crimes”. According to Destexhe, “ in the case of genocide as a crime, the principle that any national, racial or religious group has a natural right to exist is clearly evident. Attempts to eliminate such groups violate this right to exist and to develop within the international community” (RWANDA AND GENOCIDE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY). Israel does not believe Palestine has the natural right to exist - just like Hamas doesn’t believe Israel does. So both groups can be accused of genocidal acts in my opinion. But I think it’s just as important to look at power balance, structure, and outcome when terming things genocide, not just the intent, and is why many have passionately called for the use of genocide to describe to describe Israel’s actions but not Hamas’s. (Just like we don’t call the KKK a genocidal group but could call the US government’s eradication of Native Americans a genocide- even though the KKK is more explicitly racist). People argue that just because there’s not an official statement calling for the eradication of the Palestinian people, the indiscriminate killing is evidence of the desire to eradicate the people because they are Palestinian, not because they are Hamas.

However, the danger in possibly misusing genocide is it removes the gravity and weight that it carries and can lead to a rise in Anti-Semitism (e.g. the Swatstika discovered in the school gym). People who believe the IDF and the Israeli government are committing genocide may apply that to Israeli and Jewish civilians and believe all Jewish people are committing genocide, an extremely dangerous and violent belief to hold (but one that is promulgated online more frequently than may be expected).


In both the case of the Armenian genocide and the Israel-Palestine war, language during conflict is extremely important because it influences how much assistance, power, and emotional release people affected by the conflicts receive.


coolcat16
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide was inevitable in the sense that the religious and racial discrimination that they faced while living in the Ottoman empire was eventually going to boil over into a violent event. The Ottoman empire was an empire that had many nationalist views, and they wanted complete control over the inhabitants of the empire. Armenians were isolated, primarily because of their different alphabet and protests for more political and economic rights. Armenians were christians, and that made them susceptible to rumors and discrimination in an empire that was predominantly of a different religion. The Us. vs Them phenomenon explains the Ottomans distaste for Armenians, as they were independent and different in many aspects. The Ottoman empire was experiencing a decline in their power, as they lost a lot of their land through military defeats, which used to be their strong suit. The minorities that were fighting for more rights frightened the Ottomans, as they didn't want to ruin their strong state reputation. The Hamidian massacres were the first signs of Genocide, with about 300,000 deaths that were mostly of males.


In this day an age, Genocide can be prevented with the documents that were established after WW1 by the international genocide convention. In the article “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” it is stated that “The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.” In this article genocide is defined and any person and/or nation complicit to genocide will be punished. This means that conspiracy, complicity and killing people because of who they are is genocide. With these articles in place, genocide can be completely avoided. The Armenia Genocide became official through evidence from participants, victims and old artifacts that prove that over half the population was deported and killed. The recognition of this event helps Armenians continue on in life and begin to heal. It is a very sad fact that Turkish people still deny this fact, and that knowledge of this key part of history is inaccessible in Turkey. The burning of books and outright denials of the genocide don't help anyone move on. The international genocide convention was established only after the Armenian genocide, which means that Turkey can't be forcibly held accountable or repair their relationship with Armenia. Although genocide is now a well defined term that is inecxusable, it's a fact that the atrocities were very well hid, which is the direct result of many people's ignorance. During the time of war, there were many things that were happening at the same time. The United States had knowledge of the atrocities that were happening to the Armenians during the Ottoman empire, and they did not do anything to act. The genocide could've been avoided if people spoke up and didn't let these crimes against humanity continue on. The United States could have put pressure on the Ottoman empire to acknowledge and take responsibility for their crimes by protests and organized rescue missions. This would've been hard in times of war.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Reflection on the Armenian Genocide

When the Armenian genocide began in 1915, there were a number of factors that contributed to the Turks’ reasons for carrying it out. First of all, the Armenians were a Christian minority in a largely Muslim empire. This creates some resentment towards them, especially because their culture meant that they were better educated than a lot of people around them and they were even able to obtain some positions in government. In addition to this, there was already some preexisting resentment towards Armenians due to previous crimes committed against them, such as the Hamidian massacres. Then World War I began, giving the Ottomans a very convenient moment to carry out the genocide because much of the world was preoccupied with the war. It also provided them with another reason to dislike the Armenians, because some groups of Armenians had sided with their nearby rivals the Russians in the war. These can be viewed through an “us vs. them” lens, because the Muslim Ottomans viewed the Armenians as “them” and themselves as “us”, creating an enemy out of something that didn’t need to be.

At the time the genocide occurred, World War I was in full swing. It was the first time a war of this scale had ever occurred, and because of that many countries devoted all of their attention and manpower to it for most of its duration. Because of this, the Armenian genocide was able to fly under the radar of many of the more powerful countries who might have been in a position to stop it otherwise much more than it would have without the war. Of course, countries were still aware that it was happening, and some tried to supply aid, but it was secondary to the immense war that was going on. In addition to this, other countries would not have been able to do much without invading the empire itself. Russia was able to help some because of its close proximity to the Ottoman empire, and its preexisting relationship with the Armenians, but in the end, many countries decided it was better for them to keep to themselves. In general, war can set a stage that makes it easy for genocide to take place, because with many people already dying on the daily and something to distract major powers, it makes it much easier to get away with a genocide.

Recognizing the Armenian genocide is very important for armenians alive today. It gives them some closure for the events that happened in their country’s history. It also creates the possibility of Turkey paying some reparations to those whose ancestors were affected by the genocide. Turkey recognizing the genocide also sets a precedent for other countries and makes it clear that genocide can not be tolerated and countries will have to take responsibility for any genocides they partake in. There are not too many downsides to this, but Turkey may lose some of its status in the eyes of other countries and its national pride will be damaged. Using a term like genocide can have both positive and negative sides. It is positive because of the weight that the word carries, so when something horrible happens that would be considered a genocide, people know right away that something terrible is happening, and makes it easier for legislature to be passed to prevent it. However, when used incorrectly, the meaning of the word can be skewed and it can be used in situations where it isn’t actually applicable, leading to a desensitization of the word and misunderstandings being created about situations that aren’t actually genocide.

For similar reasons, genocide should absolutely require irrefutable evidence. An accusation of genocide is a very strong accusation to make and not one that should just be thrown around lightly, or the crime will lose its meaning and make it hard for people to be punished for it. In addition, if countries are accused of genocide without evidence, it makes it much easier for all countries to deny a genocide because they can claim that there is not sufficient evidence against them. Currently the punishment for genocide is not enough of a deterrent because it is too easy to get away with. Especially if a nation is very powerful on the world stage and has a big influence on the United Nations and the international courts, they may be treated more leniently in cases like these, allowing them to get away with much more than they should be able to.

blotitout
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Reflections on the Armenian Genocide

By recognizing what happened to the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 as genocide, the UN fully verifies and highlights that as one of the many genocides throughout history, forever recording yet another example of the human capacity for horrifying atrocities. This means that all of the events that led up to the occurrence of the genocide can be studied and analyzed, allowing us as a collective to get a better idea of the factors that contribute to a genocide so that we may avoid them. In addition to this, recognizing these atrocities as a genocide gives closure to the families and descendants of the people affected, which all though too little too late, can at least make it easier for groups who were victims of genocide to move on. Despite this, the late recognition of the Armenian genocide to how much of the impact of the conflict is still not fully recognized throughout the world.

The word genocide is a very powerful and heavy word that must be used responsibly. In its official statement, the UN declares that "United Nations officials adhere to the correct usage of the term, for several reasons; (i) its frequent misuse in referring to large scale, grave crimes committed against particular populations; (ii) the emotive nature of the term and political sensitivity surrounding its use; and (iii) the potential legal implications associated with a determination of genocide". The UN very clearly states that the definition of genocide must be clearly outline because of the severity of the crime, and that the accusation must be levied only in accordance with very strict definitions because of how serious the charge is. This is both a good and bad thing; if the word genocide is used responsibly, it can effectively designate an event as one of the gravest crimes a person can commit, allowing us to come together and recognize the atrocity and learn from it. The power of the word genocide is also an issue though, as if something does not fully pass the qualifications to be called genocide it will be not be called as such and therefore may not get the recognition it deserves. On the other hand, if the word is used too lightly, it can be used to radicalize people against each other, by calling a group "genocidal" when they aren't.

Because accusing someone of genocide carries so much weight, many argue that it absolutely must require specific irrefutable evidence as the nature of genocide is very distinct from other violations of international law and has a very harsh punishment. According to the UN, genocide is "(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group". The issue with requiring specific irrefutable evidence for genocide is that the UN has many varying definitions for genocide, which may vary in how difficult they are to prove. Someone's compliance or cooperation in a genocide, which is considered genocide, may be impossible to prove, but that doesn't mean that they don't deserve justice. There are many issues with having "evidence" for genocide as its very difficult to prove intent, so it's hard to say whether irrefutable evidence should always be needed all the time as there may be times where someone who is deserving of justice is not prosecuted because there isn't sufficient evidence.


MeliodicBlueStories
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Importance of the Term Genocide and How its Correct Usage Can Lead to Prevntion of its Horror in the Future.

Facing History DUE: Friday, December 8

Learn to Question Post 5

The Armenian Genocide


Instructions:


Sign on to the Learn to Question site (discussions.learntoquestion.com). Once you log in by entering your username and password at the upper right, you will see these instructions posted there.


Questions to Consider:


1. What are some of the conditions that led to the Armenians becoming targets of persecution and violence in the Ottoman Empire before the genocide began in 1915? Which human behavior theories help to explain their persecution? Are there ways that we should attempt to to stop or disrupt these types of behaviors in society that could lead to genocide?


2. How aware was the world of what was happening to the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915? What could the United States or any other nation do, realistically, to stop these atrocities? How did World War I impact the genocide and limit intervention? What is the connection between war and genocide?


3. What is gained and what is lost by the recognition of what happened to the Armenians between 1915-1923 as an official genocide? What is gained and what is lost by using the term genocide to call attention to mass atrocities or human rights violations that may be presently occurring?


4. Should genocide, in the legal sense, require specific, irrefutable evidence? Is the potential punishment for orchestrating genocide enough of a deterrent to stop it from happening? Should the world strengthen our ability to respond to genocide while it is occuring instead of after the fact? How could this be done?



Word Count Requirement: 500-750 words



Sources to Reference:


Please refer to the ideas, either using a quote or paraphrasing, from at least two of the sources in your response and please respond in some way to at least two of the question sets.


You are also free to refer to the chapter that you read from Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction (Jones, 2006) or the film that we watched in class The Armenian Genocide (PBS International).


Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide (Laderman, 2020)


Excerpt from Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th centiury (Destexhe, 1995)


Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide (United Nations, 1948)


When to Refer to a Situation as ‘Genocide’ (United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect)



Rubric to Review: LTQ Rubric






During World War I, the Armenians faced the worst crime humanity has to offer- genocide. During the pre-World War I time period, the Ottoman Empire was in major decline. Tensions in Europe were boiling hot, contributing to hyper-nationalistic ideas in each country. An important aspect of nationalism is finding an, “out group,” to rally against. Such, “Us vs Them,” mentality is dangerous because the, “in group,” thinks of themselves as superior in every way, and blames all issues on the, out group.” Before their persecution Armenians in the Ottoman Empire lived in isolated communities, but managed disproportionate prosperity. This, along with their following of Christianity in a primarily muslim empire, led to the perception of the Armenian people as the, “others.” Once Armenians were established as undeserving and inferior, it became easy for people in the Ottoman, “in group,” to rectify their cognitive dissonance by adding the new thought that Armenians deserved their cruel treatment.

With the recurring knowledge that these natural human behavior patterns can lead to genocide, it is important to work together to prevent these behaviors from leading to genocide. Recognizing the past horrors of genocide is an important step to take to have a genocide-free society. Calling out the atrocity of genocide is sure to make people think more about the noticible societal reoccurences that lead to genocide, and can in turn, combat the natural human behaviors that contribute to, “othering,” certain groups. Almost as important as calling out genoicde is making sure the term is used correctly. According to the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Because intent, a concept exceedingly difficult to prove, is included in the United Nations’ definition of genocide, it is challenging to prove in a legal sense. While some might make the valid argument that acts that don’t legally qualify as genocide can also be awful and inhumane, it is important to recognize the power behind a term that under the United Nations’ definition, can call the immediate attention of every moral person in the world, as it is used in only the defined situations. In the United Nations article, “When to refer to a situation as Genocide,” it highlights the existing, “ emotive nature of the term and political sensitivity surrounding its use.” Using the term to simply call attention to actions one isn’t in favor of simply diminishes the effectiveness of the term when it is used correctly. This would result in less emotive nature and political sensitivity when the term is used for actions that are, “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”


While discussing usage of the term genocide, Buttercup said that, “I also think that we should not hyperfocus on the semantics of what is and what isn’t a genocide […] Instead of getting caught up in micro-labelling every single situation before taking action, we need be proactive and deal with genocide appropriately and efficiently.” I do agree with the sentiment that proactivity towards calling attention to actions we may perceive as harmful can lead to an efficient response to the action. However, I completely disagree with the notion that the words one choses to describe a situation are insignificant, especially when using the word genocide. For example, when the term, “genocide,” was used in the Argo, to title a beautiful shared statement between Jewish and Muslim students, it appeared to be a misinformed attempt to call attention to the Israel-Hamas War. The usage of the word did actually cause significant pain in members of the Jewish Community at BLS. The words we chose are important, especially when using a term like genocide outside of it’s definition contributes to lessoning the emotional impact the word holds and was designed to illicit.

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