I am writing to the Bulletin in the hopes of bringing awareness of a tragedy that the Armenians faced back in April 24, 1915.The Armenian Genocide was a tragic event that is unknown to many Americans and other cultures. This tragedy that 1.5 million Armenians faced began on April 24, 1915.
Armenia was a peaceful culture that focused on the arts, religion and progression. This culture had a humble beginning.
Armenia (Hayastan) officially the Republic of Armenia, is sovereign and democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage. It is located in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran the south.
But the present-day Republic of Armenia constitutes only one-tenth of what was once Armenia.
The country, then called Urartu, was established in 860 BC and reached its height under Tigran the Great.
Armenia became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD. The Apostolic Church is the world’s oldest national church and was the country’s primary Christian denomination.
Unfortunately, this peaceful culture was forced into constant war with neighboring countries for many centuries, with little rest. The war for Armenia began with the expansion of other nations who clashed with the Armenian faith in Christ.
On April 24, 1915 the Ottoman Empire and present day Turkey began a tragic and systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians. This extermination the Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, would last until 1923.
The deportation of approximately 270 Armenian intellectuals and leaders from Constantinople to the region of Ankara, where most were murdered on the 24th was the Ottoman Empire’s first step to eliminate the Armenian culture.
The killing of all able-bodied men through massacre and forced labor was the next phase, after the elimination of their leadership. It is estimated that approximately 60,000 of these men were forced into the Ottoman army and ultimately killed by Ottoman soldiers.
The remaining men were made into army transcripts and/or later brutally killed. This genocide continued through World War I and ultimately was directed at the remaining Armenians.
The second phase of this genocide began with death marches leading to the Syrian desert. The death marches were comprised of women, children, the elderly who were starved and they were under constant threat of robbery, rape and murder.
The few survivors of the death march died from diseases or were forced into slavery.
Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide as an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has, in recent years, been faced with repeated calls to recognize this event as genocide.
To date, 29 countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide, as have most genocide scholars and historians.
By Jina Maleksarkissians , who was born and raised in Armenia and now lives in North Platte, where she manages the Regency Retirement Center.