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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTTOMAN ARMENIANS? (III)

Nurşen MAZICI
16 October 2006 - Turkish Daily News
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.E `°="justify">The Armenians after the armistice:

  After being deported by the Ottoman government to Syria, the Armenians restarted their fight against the Turks by collaborating with the French Army, which was located in the Levant. They formed an Armenian Legion and massacred thousands of Turks. The chief of the bureau of operations of the French troops explained how the Armenians killed Turks. He describes the military quality of an Armenian soldier while fighting against the Turks as capable of learning quickly and as having a passion to bear arms and for military exercises, proud of his volunteer's uniform and impatient to meet the Turks.[1] Col. Romieu, the other French commander, also explains how the Armenians killed Turks during the funeral ceremonies of Armenians on Sept. 20, 1918 as follows:

  "The Armenian battalion approached the objective assigned using an obstinate assault; it maintained itself stubbornly under the shadow of the hills of Arara[t], which the Germans had converted into the most powerful point of Turkish resistance in this region, and it was right at this point that the Turkish line of resistance was broken. … The magnificent behavior of the battalion, not withstanding its losses, made it possible for us to fulfill the mission that had been entrusted to us … our Armenian heroes, who fell in the first line, facing the enemy [Turks are implied] … rest in your glory." [2]

  In short, although there was not any genocide during World War I, Armenians and Muslims massacred each other because of the imperialistic aims of the British, French, Russians and Germans.

  As a matter of fact, Professor Richard G. Hovannisian, an expert on the Armenian issue from the University of California, criticizes the European Powers on the Armenian issue without discussing the ARF massacre of hundreds of thousands of Muslims before and during World War I. But he states that after the Central powers lost the war in 1918, there was a small Armenia in existence and the desire of Armenians was that Turkish Armenia be added to the existence of the one in the southern Caucasus. According to him, the realization of this hope was dependent on the benevolence of the Allies, who were the victors of the war. He adds, The key determining the course of that independence was in the hands of the nations of Europe and America. [3]. He implies that although these nations promised justice to the Armenians, they ignored the representatives of Armenia in Western Europe in late 1918.

  Though Bliss [4], extremely and subjectively blamed the Ottoman government on the Armenian issue, he shares a similar idea with Hovannisian by questioning the European Powers and Russia of that time. He believes that they might have prevented the massacres if they had made the correct decision. [5]

  American Gen. James Harbord, who wrote the report about eastern Anatolia after visiting the region in 1919, confirmed the massacring of both sides. He says that the situation of the Turks was worse than that of the Armenians. [6] According to Harbord's report, before the war the population of Turkish people in Armenian provinces had been 1,750,000; after the war there were 1,000,000 left. [7] In the report, after objective observation, Harbord's Commission says that:

  "Some Turkish officers were pointed out to us by American missionaries as having refused to carry out the 1915 order for [Armenian] deportation. That order is universally attributed to the Committee of Union and Progress, of which Enver Bey, Talat Bey and Djemal Pasha were the leaders. A court has been sitting in the capital practically since the armistice, and one man and an unimportant subordinate, has been hung. Talat, Enver and Djemal are at large and a group of men charged with various crimes against the law of war are at Malta in custody of the British, unpunished except as restrained from personal liberty." [8]

  Although they had not been found guilty by the British court in Malta, both Talat Bey and Djemal Pasha were killed by Armenian terrorists in Berlin and Tbilisi in the early 1920s.

 

Conclusion:

  In my opinion, which side first began to massacre the other and who killed more than the other is not as important as who encouraged the Armenians and Muslims, who were equal subjects of the Ottoman Empire at that time, to massacre each other for the sake of expanding and exploiting the desires of imperialism. It was catastrophic that both innocent Turks and Armenians died during World War I. Consequently, it is understood that War World I caused the massacre of too many people as current wars do in the world. According to U.N. figures, more than 50 ethnic or religious massacres or genocides occurred in the 20th century, and some of them are still continuing. Therefore, every person who identifies himself/herself as a human being must struggle to stop wars through nongovernmental organizations by supporting the United Nations to prevent the most shameful events of the 20th century from occurring in the contemporary world.

 

Footnotes:

  [1] N (National Archives) RG 59 Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations Between the United States and Turkey, 1910-1929" Roll No: 6, M : NO:365 Document No:711.672/473, p.18,21

  [2] ibid, p.20

  [3] Richard G. Hovannisian, Armenia on the Road of Independence, University of California Press, 1969, p. 242

  [4] He was one of the Christian missionaries in the late 19th century in the Ottoman Empire.

  [5] Edwin Munsell Bliss, Turkish Cruelties Upon the Armenian Christians, Monarch, Chicago, 1896 p.557-558

  [6] Major General J.G. Harbord, Plain Pact About Asia Minor and the Trans-Caucasus, The New York Times, Feb. 22, 1919

  [7] Report to Maj. Gen. James. G. Harbord, US Army Chief, American Military Mission to Armenia on Political Factors and Problems, Capt. Stanly, K. Hornbeck, Ord. Dept., United States, on board USS Martha Washington, Oct.16,1919, p. 6

  [8] Harbord, "Conditions in the Near East," p.10

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