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The Armenian Genocide took place in Turkey during World War I. The Ottoman Empire was in control of Turkey at the time with their capital in Istanbul. They were ruled by a sultan and were also predominantly Muslim. The Armenians were a Christian group that was forced to live a second class existence because of Ottoman policies towards them. After years of Armenian groups demanding more protection from neighboring groups like the Kurds and more political autonomy, the Ottomans decided to resolve what they called the, “Armenian Question” once and for all when World War I broke out.
Under the cover of what was publically called a “resettlement program” tens of thousands of Armenians were rounded up and marched by government troops towards the deserts of Syria. They were treated harshly, forced to walk and given little food and water. Those that didn’t die in the death march were systematically starved and buried in mass graves. The Ottoman government then plundered the wealth of the Armenians that was left behind, and tried to play down the entire episode as best they could. Some resistance did occur, such as in the city of Urfa and Van, for the most part any Armenians who resisted were killed by army irregulars and civilian Turks. Atrocities such as rape and torture were commonplace as the Armenians were marched south.
Foreign governments began to get wind of the “relocation” and sent aide as the war drew to a close. American and French relief supplies were sent and saved countless lives, but by them more than 1.5 million Armenians had been killed and hardly any Armenians lived in their historic homeland. The Turkish government has adopted a policy of denying that a genocide ever took place, a policy which they continue to this day.
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