The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during WWI are defined as the Armenian Genocide. Those massacres were perpetrated throughout different regions of the Ottoman Empire by the Young Turkish Government which was in power at the time. The first international reaction to the violence resulted in a joint statement by France, Russia and Great Britain, in May 1915, where the Turkish atrocities directed against the Armenian people was defined as “new crime against humanity and civilization” agreeing that the Turkish government must be punished for committing such crimes.

Why was the Armenian Genocide perpetrated?

When WWI erupted, the Young Turk government, hoping to save the remains of the weakened Ottoman Empire, adopted a policy of Pan Turkism – the establishment of a mega Turkish empire comprising of all Turkic-speaking peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia extending to China, intending also to Turkify all ethnic minorities of the empire. The Armenian population became the main obstacle standing in the way of the realization of this policy. Although the decision for the deportation of all Armenians from Western Armenia (Eastern Turkey) was adopted in late 1911, the Young Turks used WWI as a suitable opportunity for its implementation.

How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?

There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of WWI. Approximately one and a half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. Another half a million found shelter abroad.

The mechanism of implementation

Genocide is the organized killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and internal machinery to implement. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction. On 24th of April in 1915, the first phase of the Armenian massacres began with the arrest and murder of nearly hundreds intellectuals, mainly from Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul in present-day Turkey). Subsequently, Armenians worldwide commemorate the April 24th as a day that memorializes all the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The second phase of the ‘final solution’ appeared with the conscription of some 60.000 Armenian men into the general Turkish army, who were later disarmed and killed by their Turkish fellowmen. The third phase of the genocide comprised of massacres, deportations and death marches made up of women, children and the elderly into the Syrian deserts. During those marches, hundreds of thousands were killed by Turkish soldiers, gendarmes and Kurdish mobs. Others died because of famine, epidemic diseases and exposure to the elements. Thousands of women and children were raped. Tens of thousands were forcibly converted to Islam. Finally, the fourth phase of the Armenian genocide appeared with the total and utter denial by the Turkish government of the mass killings and elimination of the Armenian nation on its homeland. Despite the ongoing international recognition of the Armenian genocide, Turkey has consistently fought the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide by any means, including false scholarship, propaganda campaigns, lobbying, etc.

Armenian history timeline

  • 400,000 – 7000 B.C.
    The Old Stone Age
  • 7,000 – 3200 B.C.
    The New Stone Age
  • 3,000 B.C.
    Beginnings of Bronze Age
  • 1,300 B.C.
    Nairi Confederation on Armenian Plateau.
  • 1,000 B.C.
    Iron Age 9 Century B.C. Urartu, the first kingdom in Armenia.
  • 585 B.C. – 200 B.C.
    The Yervandunis (Orontids), the first Armenian Dynasty.
  • 189 B.C. – 10 A.D.
    The Artashesian (Artaxiad) Dynasty. The Armenian Empire reaches the greatest size under Tigran the Great (95 – 55 B.C.)
  • 66 – 428
    The Arsacid (Arshakuni) Dynasty.
  • 428 – 640
    Armenia under Persian and Byzantine rule.
  • 451
    Battle of Avarayr against Persian Mazdeists.
  • 640 – 884
    Armenia under Arab domination.
  • 884 – 1045
    Bagratuni Dynasty.
  • 1050 – 1500
    Armenia under Turkish, Mongol, and Turkmen domination.
  • 1080 – 1374
    Armenians in Cilicia. Rubenid, Hetoumian, and Lusignian Dynasty 15th Century Western Armenia becomes part of the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1828
    Treaty of Turkmanchay awards Nahichevan and the area around Yerevan to Russia.
  • 1878
    “Armenian question” emerges at the Berlin Congress.
  • 1885
    The first Armenian political party, the Armenakan, is formed.
  • 1895 – 1896
    Turkish and Kurdish forces, with orders from Constantinople, begin a systematic attack on Armenian villages and on the Armenian quarters in the towns. 200,000 Armenian are killed. Tens of thousands emigrate. The red crosses, drawn on the Armenian houses by the Jews, help the Turks kill thousands of Armenians in Constantinople.
  • 1909
    The Salonica’s branch of the Committee of Union and Progress, controlled by Jews, led the Turks in their massacre of the 25,000 Armenians in Adana (Cilicia).
  • 1915
    The Armenian Genocide continues and reaches its peak. The first greatest organized crime in history: Young Turks deport and massacre more than two million Armenians.
  • 1918 May 28
    Battle of Sardarabad takes place. The independence of little Armenia is proclaimed. The first Armenian Republic is organized.
  • 1920
    The nationalist soldiers of Kemal Ataturk invade part of Armenia, slaughtering 30,000 Armenian civilians in their advance.
  • 1921
    Sovietization of part of Eastern Armenia.
  • 1922
    Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republics combine Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia as a single republic within the Soviet Union.
  • 1936
    Part of Eastern Armenia becomes a separate republic within the Soviet Union.
  • 1936 – 1937
    Purge in Soviet Armenia reaches its peak. Thousands of Armenians are killed or sent into exile in Siberia.
  • 1988
    The Armenian Nationalist Movement is revived. Karabakh government votes to unify their autonomous region of Azerbaijan with Armenia. An earthquake in northern Armenia heavily damages the town of Gyumri.
  • 1989
    Mass demonstrations in Armenia achieve the release of Karabakh committee arrested by Soviets. Azerbaijan begins a blockade of Armenian fuel supply lines because of Karabakh issue. Karabakh National Council declares unification of Karabakh with Armenia.
  • 1990
    Moscow sends troops to Azerbaijan, supposedly to stem violence against Armenians in Karabakh.
  • 1991
    Soviet troops invade Azerbaijan under the pretext to halt anti-Armenian programs. Armenian voters approve national independence. Ter-Petrosian is elected president of Armenia. Armenians in Karabakh declare themselves as an independent state.
  • 1992
    Karabakh Armenian forces liberate Lachin corridor that links Karabakh to Armenia. Armenia is admitted to the United Nations.
  • 1994
    A cease-fire takes hold on the Karabakh conflict when Karabakh Armenian forces liberate Karabakh from Azerbaijan domination.
  • 1998
    Robert Kocharian is elected president of Armenia.
  • 2000
    Blockade of Armenia continues. Blockade and international negotiations concerning Karabakh continue. After Uruguay (1965), Argentina ( 1985), Cyprus (1990), Russia ( 1995), Greece ( 1996), Lebanon, Australia ( 1997), and Belgium (1998), the Armenian genocide was recognized by Sweden, France and Italy.