posts 16 - 25 of 25
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

How can Genocide be Stopped?

At times, the crime of genocide can be so clearly identified, yet at other times, for various reasons, proving that genocide occurred is extremely difficult. In the Armenian Genocide, around one million Armenians were killed by the Turks, and when you look at the state of Turkey today, the effects of the genocide are still felt so heavily. It is believed to be against the existence of Turks as a whole to even acknowledge that the genocide happened. Even though it has been proven that a genocide truly did happen, how did the Turks get away with denying almost all of it?

There are two distinct reasons why this happened. The Turks used the ongoing World War I to excuse the deaths of the Armenians, and because genocide became seen as a legal crime after the Geneva Convention, the Turks could not be punished for a crime that did not exist. World War I was a chaotic time for countries across the globe, and acted as a distraction for the true atrocities that were occurring. America, however, was very much aware that this genocide was happening. Christian groups worked with the Red Cross to raise money and awareness to help the Armenians. America was not able to punish the Turks, or truly help the Armenians because they were occupied with helping the Entente Powers during the war. Alliance systems such as this are another reason why genocide goes unchecked. For example, today, America does not speak up about the Armenian genocide in order to keep political ties with Turkey.

The key that lies between a genocide being proven or not is a simple word, "intent." According to the United Nations Office, the evidence of the case must be carefully and thoroughly examined, as making the distinction between a war crime and genocide is a complex legal decision. If this is the case, we must ask, is there any way that a Genocide can be stopped before it starts? Intent being so hard to prove creates a lag between the crime happening and the decision on whether it constitutes charges of genocide, not to mention, deciding who in particular is responsible for this crime. From the government officials to private citizens, navigating who should be punished is not a task that can be accomplished in a timely manner. If we cannot stop this atrocity before or while it is happening, we need to strengthen how it is approached after the fact.

Genocide is sometimes called the "crime of crimes," so if it is truly to be perceived as such, should it not constitute the "punishment of punishments?" The Genocide Convention lays out many different parameters of what counts as genocide, like in Article II, "Complicity in genocide." However, there are no specifications of the consequences that happen if these criteria are met. If the penalties faced for committing this crime are truly scaled to the right extent, genocide should ideally never happen in the first place, but here is the catch. The rest of the world is not capable of carrying out these consequences. After the Armenian Genocide, the Turks essentially lost World War I, but still were barely punished, only having a few international officials. If the Turks had won the war, they would have exponentially more power. How could nations with less power possibly enact a penalty on them? The Geneva Convention and all of the progressions made after World War I were a step in the right direction. Recognizing that there is a real problem happening, and putting a name to this horrible crime is the only way it can even begin to be combatted. Nevertheless, can the brutal cycle of power, alliances, and war truly ever be shifted so that genocide ends for good?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

Learn to Question Post 5: Reflections on the Armenian Genocide

With the rise of Nationalism, Ottoman Turks began to see others as outsiders. Because the Ottoman Empire was losing its power at this time and was known for being the “sick man of Europe” growing insecurities led to the targeting of Armenians. When Armenians wanted more rights and to be treated better, this worsened their situation and put them in a place that was equivalent to an enemy of the Ottoman Turks. They were blamed for the loss at the battle of Sarikamish because some Armenians fought on Russia’s side which garnered a lot of attention from other Ottomans and they became scapegoats for the fall of the Ottoman empire. A human behavior theory that shows in the Ottoman Turks is how they saw the Armenians as an us vs. them, where the Armenians had a different culture and alphabet among many other things. The Armenians being Christian led to the Turks assuming that they were trying to take their position of power and brought propaganda. Stopping this behavior requires everyone to be inclusive and recognize their similarities with each other. To prevent an us vs. them mindset, we have to think of what they’re going through and how they feel. Looking for similarities between each other creates connections that stop us from thinking of them as an alien. The suffering of the Armenians was not well heard throughout the world in 1915. With World War 1 receiving attention from all of the powerful countries, the genocide was carried through without the intervention of another country. They were aware of what was happening but it simply did not appeal to them to help while there was a war of that scale going on during that time. Although the war left the genocide to go under the radar, it was still considered a crime no matter what time it happened during, as we see in Article 1, “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.” (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide) To stop these atrocities there must be education on past genocides as a way to bring awareness to the future generations. Education is a way to show how harmful nationalism can be when taken to the extremes, and our future will be brighter if our future leaders are aware of how bad indifference can be when these tragedies come up. With the knowledge that ignorance counts as taking a part in a genocide, people are more inclined to help once they realize what a big impact awareness will have. From Excerpt from RWANDA AND GENOCIDE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, it states, “According to Lemkin, genocide signifies 'the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group' and implies the existence of a coordinated plan, aimed at total extermination, to be put into effect against individuals chosen as victims purely, simply and exclusively because they are members of the target group.” A connection that can be made between war and genocide is how it both brings the destruction of life. While genocide is only because they are members of a group, war usually comes with the goal of acquiring land which a specific group occupies. Both war and genocide causes a specific group of people to die but genocide is exclusively because they are part of that group while war is because they are in the land.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10


As the genocide of the Armenians happened, so did World War I. The world is going to be more aware as it's a bigger occurrence and there would be more news coverage on it. Not many people know about the Armenian genocide today, so imagine back then. Unfortunately, it takes the spotlight and the world not only may be more occupied with the war at hand, but it gives them an excuse to not intervene the genocide. It states in Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide by Charlie Laderman, “Wilson followed a policy of noninterference during the war” showing the unfortunate inaction in America due to the war. Moving forward, the United States, as well as other countries should shine more light on these issues and apply some sort of pressure or help reach a compromise. Staying silent while being aware of such atrocities because of political ties is being complicit, and though it is a complicated situation when those ties are brought in, the situation at hand is far more urgent. Millions of lives could be lost in those moments of silence. The Armenian genocide happened between 1915-1923, but was only recognized much later. All those lives are already lost, but at the same time, there is now a standard of genocide. Moving forward, when such atrocities are happening, it can be recognized much more quickly due to the set standard. For example, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted in December 9, 1948. It lists the standards of considering a situation a genocide, like “Killing members of the group” or “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”. It lists the different ways in which it should be handled and its legalities, for example, “Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals”. It’s a term with heavy weight, and should have serious consequences. Though there are repercussions set, they aren’t enforced as heavily as they should be. And it’s understandable, because who is going to be dealing out the repercussions? Who corrects them if that power is abusing it? There are situations which can make it unclear in legalities, and whether it can be considered a genocide or not, in which requires more delicacy in using the term. When the Turkish were attempted to be held accountable, the trials were held within the state and the Turkish judged themselves on right or wrong. The Armenians were unable to receive the justice they deserved as they didn’t see their actions as wrong. Having the Convention of Genocide, although it doesn’t provide a solution, its a big step forward in making things right. At the end of the day, these crimes are born out of the greed of power and hatred. Having the ‘us vs them’ mindset is what caused such a large division between the Armenians and Turkish. Because the Armenians were Christian, having that different religion caused such hatred towards them, along with the fact that they were a minority. Being a majority, there is power felt in big groups, driving the greed and power of the Turkish.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

It is important that genocide requires “specific, irrefutable evidence” to be legally proven, because this means that no one can deny a genocide, provided that they are considering all the evidence. For example, Turkey denies the Armenian genocide, but to continue to do so, they have to ignore and deny evidence.

According to “Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide,” the world was, indeed, aware of what was happening to the Armenian people in 1915, and several American diplomats corresponded to officials at home and each other, relaying the atrocities against Armenians they were witnessing. And yet, despite this irrefutable evidence, the United States government never acted to end the violence (they did provide aid). The article explains that this was the result of a combined lack of public and political will: President Wilson (in power in 1915) neglected to intervene in the Armenian genocide at first because he did not want to provoke Germany (allied with the Ottoman Empire) and get dragged into the war, and later because he did not believe that attacking the Ottoman Empire was a good military strategy.

Wilson’s policies reflect the theme in World War I of seeing people as expendable and without inherent value. Conversely, many individual Americans sent aid to Armenia, and missionaries (who had lived in Ottoman territory since before WWI) were the principal providers of humanitarian aid. However, these missionaries also opposed US involvement in the Ottoman Empire, because they believed it would threaten the “preeminent position” they had earned in the empire, as well as lead Ottoman officials to prevent them from giving aid to Armenians.

Interestingly, after WWI, the public and Wilson swapped places: Wilson attempted to send American troops to protect independent Armenia, but met with opposition among the American public and Republican Congresspeople, who argued “America first.”

During the Armenian genocide, the US could have taken military action against the Ottoman Empire, and in the wake of the genocide, we could have given Armenia military support, aid, or exerted political pressure on countries on the verge of invading Armenia. However, it is not clear to me whether any of these actions were realistic, or had a true chance of success, largely because of their war-time context: war makes diplomacy nearly impossible and military action costly; as such, it facilitates genocide and makes intervening in genocide as it is occurring, a crucial measure to proserve human life, very difficult.

Additionally, genocides have occurred since the UN Genocide Convention that have seen little intervention (for example, the Rwandan Genocide). Thus, although the Genocide Convention states that planning, committing, and being complicit in genocide are all punishable, it does not do enough to prevent genocide or encourage other countries/groups to step in. The UN should strengthen its convention, but to truly prevent future genocides, the world needs to change our minds: we have to value and respect life and culture more than anything else, and we must hold ourselves accountable for past genocides and complicity in them.

West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 10

The Armenian Genocide

In 1909 the Young Turks, a group of young Turkish reformists, found themselves as the leaders of the declining Ottoman empire. Various fights within the state and the progression of World War I, all caused tensions in the area to rise. These tensions in the area were mainly between the Turkish government and the Armenian people because of the fact that Armenians were Christian and due to this were experiencing violence. Before the genocide began in 1915, Armenian revolts occurred to protest how they were being treated in the state. These allowed for the Turkish government to inflict acts of violence on them and have it be “justifiable”. The violence also stemmed from an Us v. Them mentality, with the Turkish nationalists viewing their nation as superior.

When governments start othering members of their society in the present day, it is crucial for people to act. If other countries do not, something like the a genocide is more likely to happen because the nation commiting the crimes is getting no repercussions. This lack of recognition by other countries while the genocide occurs is a very serious problem. Each country had their justification behind them not stepping in with genocide in general. For example “Woodrow Wilson’s indifference to the massacres inaugurated a century of U.S. presidents adopting a “consistent policy of nonintervention in the face of genocide” (Humanitarian Intervention or Humanitarian Imperialism? America and the Armenian Genocide). He thought a universal way of viewing these genocides as neutral would give the United States no room for being involved in the conflict. The United States took a different approach with how they reacted to the Armenian Genocide but if they did not, the numbers of death could be even larger.

It is important that genocide is a word used in a legal sense that require specific and irrefutable evidence. If the word genocide is used in any cases, it waters down the severity this word should be matched as. That doesn’t negate the fact that other massacres and mass killings are still horrible and should be prosecuted but the word genocide shows an unfathomable level of violence, ethic cleansing, and murders. The United Nations states that “The legal definition of genocide is precise and includes an element that is often hard to prove, the element of ‘intent’” (United Nations: Genocide Convention and Responibilty to Protect). This difficulty to prove allows genocide to be an exclusive only used in the most intense of cases. Also persecuting things under the notion of proved genocide allows for the perpetrators to be persecuted accordingly. Punishing people for even orchestrating genocide is also important. They should not have to have the same punishment as the people commiting the genocide but should still have to take responsibility for their actions. It is necessary that when genocide starts to begin in real time for other countries to react accordingly. Even though it may be difficult, watching a country mass murder, torture, and ethically cleanse it is necessary for another country to react accordingly. This can either be seen by powerful nations speaking out on what's going on or in extreme cases, getting involved themselves. Taking these actions is vital in denouncing genocide will cause for genocide to no longer exist.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Armenian Genocide, the atrocity within an atrocity.

The world was decently well informed about the atrocity occurring within the Ottoman Empire, as is stated by Laderman in HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION OR HUMANITARIAN IMPERIALISM? AMERICA AND THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, "Herbert Hoover declared that the “name Armenia was at the front of the American mind”". While it may seem that in contrast to this widespread information there was much inaction to prevent the genocide, there were multiple problems that arose when it came to the approach of such a problem. Firstly, the U.S. didn't want to start a war with the Ottoman Empire, which would most certainly be provoked by the intervention and salvation of the ethnic Armenians. Secondly, while the U.S. was well informed of the genocide and many denounced it, there wasn't a sufficient percentage of the population or people in power to make any substantial impact. As Laderman writes, "Ultimately, congressional agitation did not lead to executive action", leading to the Armenians being left to fend for themselves. Additionally, under the context of war at the time it was questionable whether mass killings of a certain group of people was really any worse than the millions already dying on the battlefield. Also, at the time, during the middle part of WWI, the USA was very powerful because of their constant trade with Europe, and had everything worked out, an intervention of sorts could have been carried out. If that were the case not much else would have changed, since ultimately the U.S. did get dragged into the first world war, but later on after the sinking of the Lusitania and the Zimmerman telegram. In both the war, and the genocide, there was countless loss of human life, and so some people could as such devalue the loss of life in the genocide by putting it under the umbrella of "the price of war".

Recognition of an event as a genocide according to the rules laid out by the Genocide Convention is a very serious matter. The United Nations, which now makes up the vast majority of countries in the world, follow the definitions of genocide provided in those documents. As such, the understanding of the Armenian Genocide as a globally recognized genocide, has many implications. The first of which is the loss of Turkish pride and/or a greater push from Turkish officials for nationalism and a turn away from the outside world. Many Turkish officials, as we saw in the documentary, call for their people to resist the ideas of the West, because they are using these claims of genocide to undermine the authority of the Turkish, and then take advantage of the significantly weakened state. While there may be a point there as to how western countries love to take advantage of countries with access to land in the Middle East for natural resources, that alone cannot justify what genocide truly is, the targeted killings or prevention of populations of a certain ethnicity or group with the intent of eradication. On one hand, calling to the people to tell them an event is a genocide is a powerful way to draw attention because of the sheer horror of such an event, but on the other hand, one must be careful with which events are referred to as a genocide. If every infraction of human rights were considered a genocide, it becomes difficult to tell which problems are the most atrocious, and the public will likely become desensitized by the violence and more likely to just ignore it because of its distance to them.

Boston, Massachusettes, US
Posts: 8

Reflections on the Armenian Genocide

Some conditions that led to the genocide include, World War 1, being a minority, and the Ottoman Empires panic, due to a loss of large territory. More specifically the Armenians were seen as a threat because of their circumstances.The article HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION OR HUMANITARIAN IMPERIALISM written by Charlie Laderman explains, “Persecution against the remaining Christians, especially the Armenians whose homeland was at the state’s strategic crossroads, increased as the government perceived them as potential fifth columns for European intervention and a barrier to the establishment of a more consolidated, Islamic empire.” Armeninans demanded more rights and that was seen as an act of rebellion towards the government so Sultan Abdul Hamid II enacted the Hamidian Massacres killing over 200k Armenians. The Young Turks took a similar approach and used the Armenians as a scapegoat.

The world was aware that these atrocities were happening because when the US found out, many people turned to churches and private charities to try and provide some relief. “Private charities and churches took the lead in marshaling relief efforts. They were led by the American missionary movement, which had been proselytizing in the Ottoman Empire since the early 19th century and had established the largest mission field of any nation, with Armenians as their principal wards.” A truly noble act by private civilians, however the government refused to get involved. And even when congress passed a resolution calling for intervention, it ultimately led to no significant change. Realistically, the US and the rest of the world could not have done all that much. With the beginning of World War1 and its new deadly battle strategies, many countries were already at their limit financially and in regards to military reserves. The US was also allied with the Empire, so if they were to openly go against them, it would only add fuel to the fire of World War 1.

Something that is lost if the term genocide is used to describe every mass atrocity or human rights violation is its weight in serious conversations that determine the punishment. When something is used constantly and incorrectly, it loses its meaning and effect that it can draw from people. For it to lose meaning and seriousness, then the punishment would have to be loosened for its new broader meaning. And in turn, the people who deserve to be punished, can and probably will escape proper justice. The victims would also lose any satisfaction gained by that. The United Nations states in an article, “... United Nations officials should rely on the determinations of lawfully constituted courts. Where there has been a final legal determination of genocide in relation to specific events, use of the term may become less politically contested, though not necessarily free of controversy. Where such a determination has not been made, use of the term is likely to be vigorously contested by affected communities and can result in political tensions.” Something lost by Turkey if there us official recognition of the genocide is their pride and everything they know to be true. Talking about the genocide or even calling it a genocide can have you arrested. Something gained by Armenians is closure because they have had to deal with the after effects and people calling them liars. In the legal sense genocide should definitely require irrefutable evidence. Because of how serious the offense is, to be charged with that crime without solid evidence is not fair and can be biased. The punishment is not a strong enough deterrent because it is a crime that still happens today.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10
The parameters of a genocide have been debated over and over again throughout all of history, with specifics changing and the genocide convention updating all the time. Despite these constant changes, what happened to the Armenians was undeniably a genocide. The Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire, an empire that was controlled by Muslim rulers and was primarily Muslim. The Armenians were a Christian group, and they had a different language and culture than their Muslim rulers. They thrived in this state, however they began to ask for more human rights, and that was seen by Sultan Abdul Hamid II as an act of rebellion. They were already othered because of these conditions, but when they were seen as a threat, the Sultan began to suppress them and kill them. A human behavior that explains this is the idea of in-group versus out-group mentality. The Ottomans were doing very well economically and socially, and they had everything set, however when they began to decline and the Armenians continued to prosper, they started to feel threatened. Previously, the Armenians were considered as the out-group, but once the Ottomans weren’t secure in power anymore, they felt the need to push the Armenians further under to assert their power. An analogy that can be used is, for example, a bully is pushing another student around, but the bully gets yelled at by a friend and the student walks away. The bully will then feel powerless, and in order to feel better about himself, he will make the student feel bad and as if he was less-than. As a society, it is essential that we are able to stop these behaviors of one group being better than another, then genocides will become less common. If children grow up around people who are different from themselves, they will grow up smarter and with a better understanding that diversity is a strength.

Although recognition that the Armenian genocide is a genocide will not go back and bring people back from the dead, it provides an acknowledgement that it was a horrible crime where murder of people, culture, religion, and life took place. Using the term genocide to call attention to mass atrocities gives the recognition that is so important, but it doesn’t hold anyone accountable, and that is a huge problem, because if people are not punished, then nobody will feel scared to commit heinous acts of genocide, and they will continue. Although the Convention on Prevention and Punishment for Crime and Genocide says that genocide “is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish,” the lack of actual punishment renders these words empty and meaningless. On the other hand, as “When to Refer to a Situation as a Genocide” says, genocide is “precise and includes an element that is often hard to prove, the element of ‘intent.’” Because it is so hard to prove a genocide, the term becomes reserved for specific events that have been researched for a very long time with concrete evidence presented and a strong “intent” proven. In this case, the Armenian genocide is definitely categorized as a genocide, but even still, Turkey refuses to admit the crime. It leaves us with the question -- what can the power of a word really do for the millions of people massacred? For the culture, language, and religion lost?

boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

Reflections on Armenian Genocide

The United States is notorious for never minding their business and getting involved in conflicts that have nothing to do with them, but at what point should they intervene, at what point should other countries intervene along with them? As a separate nations there is only so much that can be done to stop another country from committing war crimes, like genocide, whole nations can be like toddlers, you can tell them over and over to stop doing something or else there will be consequences but at some point, once there actions get too far, there is no point in going back if they already know the repercussions they will have to face. The UN can impose a sanction or insist they pay reparations but that can’t ensure they won’t do it again or take things even further. It is also very important to bring awareness to atrocities like genocide, especially when there are events such as World War I that distract from it, and even if the people dying were put into consideration they would just be viewed as casualties of the war. That is why having a set definition for the term ‘genocide’ was and important thing to implement. Especially in war, use of the word can get rather messy. When you consider the state of countries during war, there is a concrete example of the “us vs. them” mentality, which plays significantly into their nationalism. This mentality can lead to extreme nationalist viewing every “them”, fighting in the war or not, as the enemy making them feel the need to get rid of them as a whole. We see this played out in the events leading to the Armenian genocide; the Ottoman empire was against the Armenians through and through because they were Christian they were discriminated against and treated as less than, in order to assert their dominance and superiority, the Ottmans began to villainize the Armenians to their people making them be seen as more of an “other”. Article 2 clearly outlines what is to be considered genocide, specifically targetting, killing, torturing, removing children from, or imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group. Having these characteristics that define what genocide is, can not only make it easier for the UN to punish them for the crime but it can also help to bring aid to the victims. Although the punishment given for orchestrating genocide should be enough to stop it from happening, as we can see it has not done its job to the fullest extent. It would be so much more effective and so much less harmful if the world could respond to genocide sooner rather than waiting for its end and losing millions of lives in the meanwhile. As previously stated, if the punishment is anticipated, what is going to stop the continuation of the same acts? This all goes back to when nations should intervene in these events, there is a way to stop a genocide before it gets as far as it is intended, the world just seems to find itself too preoccupied with other things to get to that solution.

Posts: 11
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 were that the people of the Ottoman Empire blamed the Armenians for their fall from grace. The Ottoman EMpire has been known as the sick man of europe and was constantly affected by interventions from european nations and such. As a result they have lost land, gone to war, and was losing control over all. The wars they had gone in were lost. All of these unfortunate results was blamed on the Christians and Armenians. This persecution can be blamed on the scapegoating of the Armenian people because of the need to find someone or something to blame. Other phenomena can play a part such as groupthink because as the thoughts grow of blaming the Armenians, it snowballs and continues to get stronger until it is normal to believe that. Since they are two different groups of people, it can also be them vs. us situation where they feel threatened by another group that is not like them. We can stop these types of behaviors in society by placing less emphasis on the differences between groups and their differences. It should be recognized but not enough to be considered completely different people. The world was too preoccupied with the great war. With the war, everybody was busy and too focused on trying to win. Realistically, no nation could do anything about the genocide as a result. There would not have been a ceasefire to address the genocide, especially because the Ottoman empire was on the same side as Germany. The resources were too focused on the war effort as well since it was total war. World War 1 impacted the genocide because there were laws established for war so that some of the atrocities would not happen or at least on the same scale. Intervention may also mean further war and so intervention would be even harder. A sense of justice, a step in right direction against genocides. However, this was before rules against genocide were really in place. So while it may be justice, it may also be unfair to Turkey since it was befoe they agreed to no genocides officially. War and genocide are connected in how they pit groups of people against each other. This leads to a us vs them mentality and resentment towards a group grows. This resentment grows until it reaches its boiling point and explodes with a rash decision such as genocide. The idea of using a term such as genocide to address mass atrocities can lead to false alarms as people may exagerate what is going in the world. This may cause mass panic in the people. However, a lot of good can come from this as atrocities can no longer go unnoticed as there is now a term that specially addresses it. It helps stop any future genocides. There should be some type of proof before legal action is taken against a state or person. This is because false accusation could be devastating to a nation or a person who had no part in it. The potential for punishment is all that can be used as a deterrent for genocide. Genocide is morally wrong and yet still may occur, so drawing attention to the immoral aspects of genocide may be ineffective. Punishments however will leave a mark and are more effective in stopping possible genocides. Human right groups should have a greater funding so that they are able to do something during rather than after the fact. Human right groups are the best bet at peacefully resolving atrocities, since militaries cannot do anything without the possibility of greater conflict.
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