Congress Must Recognize the Armenian Genocide
"559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Armenian priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam." Lepsius concluded with this rhetorical question: "Is this a religious persecution or is it not?"
"And at a time when jihadist violence from Darfur to Ground Zero has spilled so much innocent blood, dissimulation about the jihad of 1915 [emphasis added] can only aid our enemies."
Denial of genocide -- whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews -- is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Rather, it sows confusion by appearing to be engaged in a genuine scholarly effort. Those who deny genocide always dismiss the abundance of documents and testimony as contrived or coerced, or as forgeries and falsehoods. Free speech does not guarantee the deniers the right to be treated as the 'other' side of a legitimate debate when there is no credible other side"; nor does it guarantee the deniers space in the classroom or curriculum, or in any other forum. Genocide denial is an insidious form of intellectual and moral degradation...
...to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record [emphasis added] relating to the Armenian Genocide.
Woodrow Wilson of the efforts to rescue as many Armenians as possible (and including the obstacles confronting the rescuers' efforts) -- are perhaps the most salient examples of the evidence, as per the language of HR/SR 106, "documented in the United States record." This combination of official diplomatic correspondence, and private memoirs, provides a lucid, often repellently detailed historical accounting of what the U.S. government knew regarding the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian genocide.
The ruin and devastation that is being wrought here is heart-rending. The government is using its present opportunity while all other countries are at war, to obliterate the Armenian race...
...and the worst of it is that it is impossible to stop it. The United States as a neutral power has no right to interfere in their internal affairs, and as I receive report after report of the inhuman treatment that the Armenians are receiving, it makes me feel most sad. Their lot seems to be very much the same as that of the Jews in Russia, and belonging to a persecuted race myself, I have all the more sympathy with them.
...persecution of Armenians is assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate a systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary efforts, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.
The deportation of Armenians from their homes by the Turkish Government has continued with a persistence and perfection of plan...32,751...[arrived in Aleppo] by rail from interior stations...In addition thereto it is estimated that at least 100,000 others have arrived afoot. And such a condition as these unfortunates are in, especially those coming afoot, many having left their homes before Easter, deprived of all their worldly possessions without money and all sparsely clad and some naked from the treatment by their escorts and the despoiling depopulation en route. It is extremely rare to find a family intact that has come any considerable distance, invariably all having lost members from disease and fatigue, young girls and boys carried off by hostile tribesmen, and about all the men having been separated from the families and suffered fates that had best be left unmentioned, many being done away with in atrocious manners before the eyes of their relatives and friends. So severe has been the treatment that careful estimates place the number of survivors at only 15% of these originally deported. On this basis the number of those surviving even this far being less than 150,000 up to September 21, there seems to have been about 1,000,000 persons lost up to this date. [emphasis added]
There have been persistent reports of the selection of great numbers of the most prominent men from nearly every city, town and village, of their removal to outside places and their final disappearance by means of which we are not positively informed but which the imagination can more or less accurately establish, as months have passed and no news has come of their existence. The heinous treatment of thoroughly exhausted women and children in the open streets of Aleppo by the armed escorts, who relentlessly beat and kicked their helpless charges along when illness and fatigue prevented further effort, is evidence of what must have happened along the roads of the interior further removed from civilization.
The exhausted condition of the victims is further proven by the death of a hundred or more daily of those arriving in this city. Travelers report having seen the numberless corpses along the roadside in the adjacent territory, or bodies in all sorts of positions where the victims fell in the last gasps of typhoid, fever and other diseases, and of the dogs fighting over the bodies of children. Many are the harrowing tales related by the survivors, but time and space prevent the recital thereof.
Few localities could be better suited to the fiendish purposes of the Turks in their plan to exterminate the Armenian population than this peaceful lake in the interior of Asiatic Turkey, with its precipitous banks and pocket-like valleys, surrounded by villages of savage Kurds and far removed from the sight of civilized man. This, perhaps, was the reason why so many exiles from distant vilayets [provinces] were brought in safety [from afar]...and then massacred in the "Slaughterhouse Vilayet" of Turkey. That which took place around beautiful Lake Goeljuk in the summer of 1915 is almost inconceivable. Thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.
Some of the bodies had been burned...probably in the search for gold. We estimated that in the course of our ride around the lake, and actually within the space of 24-hours, we had seen the remains of not less than 10,000 Armenians who had been killed around Lake Goeljuk. This, of course, is approximate, as some of them were only the bones of those who had perished several months before, from which the flesh had entirely disappeared, while in other cases the corpses were so fresh that they were swollen up and the odor from them showed that they had been killed only a few days before. I am sure, however, that there are more, rather than less, than that number; and it is probable that the remains which we saw were only a small portion of the total number in that vicinity. In fact, on my subsequent rides in the direction of Lake Goeljuk I nearly always discovered skeletons and bones in great numbers in the new places that I visited...
During the war, Germany and Austria-Hungary disposed over a vast network of ambassadorial, consular, military, and commercial representatives throughout the Ottoman Empire. Not only did they have access to high-ranking Ottoman officials and power-wielding decision-makers who were in a position to report to their superiors as locus in quo observers on many aspects of the wartime treatment of Ottoman Armenians. They supplemented their reports with as much detail as they could garner from trusted informers and paid agents, many of whom were Muslims, both civilians and military...
I do not intend to frame my reports in such a way that I may be favoring one or the other party. Rather, I consider it my duty to present to you the description of things which have occurred in my district and which I consider to be the truth.
The murder and annihilation of the Armenians and the plunder and expropriation of their possessions were the result of the decisions made by the CUP...These atrocities occurred under a program that was determined upon and involved a definite case of willfulness. They occurred because they were ordered, approved, and pursued first by the CUP's [provincial] delegates and central boards, and second by governmental chiefs who had...pushed aside their conscience, and had become the tools of the wishes and desires of the Ittihadist society.
Through the episodic interventions of the European Powers, the historically evolving and intensifying Turko-Armenian conflict had become a source of anger and frustration for the Ottoman rulers and elites driven by a xenophobic nationalism. A monolithic political party that had managed to eliminate all opposition and had gained control of the Ottoman state apparatus efficiently took advantage of the opportunities provided by World War I. It purged by violent and lethal means the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the empire. By any standard definition, this was an act of genocide.
[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the "rayah" [dhimmi] Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited, and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians.
"...breach...restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property."
It became their normal routine first to assemble the Moslem population in the largest mosque in a town, then to declare, in the name of the Sultan, that the Armenians were in general revolt with the aim of striking at Islam. Their Sultan enjoined them as good Moslems to defend their faith against these infidel rebels. He propounded the precept that under the holy law the property of rebels might be looted by believers, encouraging Moslems to enrich themselves in the name of their faith at the expense of their Christian neighbours, and in the event of resistance, to kill them. Hence, throughout Armenia, the attack of an ever increasing pack of wolves against sheep...
Each operation, between the bugle calls, followed a similar pattern. First into a town there came the Turkish troops, for the purpose of massacre; then came the Kurdish irregulars and tribesmen for the purpose of plunder. Finally came the holocaust, by fire and destruction, which spread, with the pursuit of fugitives and mopping-up operations, throughout the lands and villages of the surrounding province. This murderous winter of 1895 thus saw the decimation of much of the Armenian population and the devastation of their property in some twenty districts of eastern Turkey. Often the massacres were timed for a Friday, when the Moslems were in their mosques and the myth was spread by the authorities that the Armenians conspired to slaughter them at prayer. Instead they were themselves slaughtered, when the Moslems emerged to forestall their design. The total number of victims was somewhere between fifty and a hundred thousand, allowing for those who died subsequently of wounds, disease, exposure, and starvation...In each of thirteen large towns the numbers of those dead ran well into four figures. In Erzurum, the bazaar of a thousand shops was looted and wrecked by the Moslems, while some three hundred Christians were buried the next day in a single massed grave...Cruelest and most ruinous of all were the massacres at Urfa, where the Armenian Christians numbered a third of the total population. Here in December 1895, after a two-months siege of their quarter, the leading Armenians assembled in their cathedral, where they drew up a statement requesting Turkish official protection. Promising this, the Turkish officer in charge surrounded the cathedral with troops. Then a large body of them, with a mob in their wake, rushed through the Armenian quarter, where they plundered all houses and slaughtered all adult males above a certain age. When a large group of young Armenians were brought before a sheikh, he had them thrown down on their backs and held by their hands and feet. Then, in the words of an observer, he recited verses of the Koran and "cut their throats after the Mecca rite of sacrificing sheep."...When the bugle blast ended the day's operations some three thousand refugees poured into the cathedral, hoping for sanctuary. But the next morning - a Sunday - a fanatical mob swarmed into the church in an orgy of slaughter, rifling its shrines will cries of 'Call upon Christ to prove Himself a greater prophet than Mohammed.' Then they amassed a large pile of straw matting, which they spread over the litter of the corpses and set alight with thirty cans of petroleum. The woodwork of the gallery where a crowd of women and children crouched, wailing in terror, caught fire, and all perished in the flames. Punctiliously, at three-thirty in the afternoon the bugle blew once more, and the Moslem officials proceeded around the Armenian quarter to proclaim that the massacres were over. They had wiped out 126 complete families, without a woman or a baby surviving, and the total casualties in the town, including those slaughtered in the cathedral, amounted to eight thousand dead.
If you believe in God, in his faith and apostle, hear the words of our sages as recorded by his holy prophet. 'You believers take not the Jews and Christians as friends unto you, He who loves then shall be called one of them'. 'God shall not foster the tyrants'. You believers accept not unto you friends of these who abuse your faith and mock thereof. They are called unbelievers, and you hearken unto the words of God of you believe. Therefore if after you will put to heart to these sacred words, perhaps they have been spoken to you by God not to acquire unto us Jewish or Christian friends. From these holy words you will realize that it is forbidden us to approach those who mock our faith - Jews and Christians, for then God forbid, God forbid we shall be deemed by the almighty as one of them God forbid.... After all this how can we believe in the sincerity of your faith when you befriend and love unbelievers, and accept their Government without any rising without attempting to expel them from your country. Therefore arise and purify yourselves of such deeds. Arise to the Holy War no matter what it costs so as to carry into execution this sacred deed. It is furthermore said in the Koran 'If your fathers if children taken unto them friends of the unbelievers, estrange yourselves even from them.'... The Mohammedan religion enjoins us to set aside some money for Government expenses and for preparations of a holy war. The rest of your tithes and contributions you are duty bound to send to the capital of the Caliphate to help them to glorify the name of God, through the medium of the Caliph. Let all Mussulmans know that the Holy War is created only for this purpose. We trust in God that the Mohammedan lands will rise from humiliation and become faithfully tied to the capital of the Caliphate until, so as to be called 'the lands of Islam'. This is our hope and God help us to carry through our holy aims to a successful issue for the sake of our holy Prophet... A holy war is a sacred duty and for your information let it be known that the armies of the Caliph is ready and in three divisions, as follows: War in secret, war by word of mouth, and physical war. War in secret. This is the easiest and simplest. In this case it is to suppose that every unbeliever is an enemy, to persecute and exterminate him from the face of the earth. There is not a Mussulman in the world who is not inspired by this idea. However in the Koran it is said: 'That such a war is not enough for a Mohammedan whether young or old, and must also participate in the other parts of the Holy War. War by word of mouth. That is to say fighting by writing and speaking. This kind of war for example should pertain to the Mahomedans of the Caucasus. They should have commenced this war three or four months ago, because their actual position does not permit them to but the carrying on of such warfare. Every Mahomedan is in duty bound to write and speak against the unbelievers when actual circumstances do not permit him to assume more stringent measures, as for instance in the Caucasus. Therefore every writer must use his pen in favor of such a war. Physical war. This means actual fighting in the fullest sense of the word... Now let us mention here the means to be adopted in carrying on this holy war, as follows: Every private individual can fight with deadly weapons, as for example. Here is the following illustration of the late Egyptian Verdani who shot the unbelieving Butros Gal Pacha the friend of the English with a revolver. The murder of the English police Commissioner Bavaro in India by one of our Indian brethren. The killing of one of the officials of Kansch on his coming from Mecca by the Prophet's friend 'Abu Bazir El Pzachbi', peace be unto him! Abdallah ibn Aatick and four colleagues killed 'Abu Raafah Ibn El Hakiki'. The leader of the Jews of Khaybar so famous for his enmity to Islamism. This was executed by our Prophet's command, so did Avrala Ibn Ravacha and his friends when they killed Oscher Ibn Dawas one of the Jewish dignitaries. There are many instances of similar cases. Lord of the Universal What fails us now, and why should not some of us go forth to fight this sacred war for exalting thy glorious name?
Are we then simply forbidden to speak of the Armenians as persecuted on account of their religious belief'? If so, there have never been any religious persecutions in the world...We have lists before us of 559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; of 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Gregorian (Armenian) priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam. We repeat, however, that those figures express only the extent of our information, and do not by a long way reach to the extent of the reality. Is this a religious persecution or is it not?
The genocide of the Armenians was the natural outcome of a policy inherent in the politico-religious structure of dhimmitude. This process of physically eliminating a rebel nation had already been used against the rebel Slav and Greek Christians, rescued from collective extermination by European intervention, although sometimes reluctantly.
The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these masssacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims' property, houses, and lands granted to the muhajirun, and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the jizya. The four stages of the liquidation -- deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and massacre -- reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out in the dar-al-harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives, whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the Armenian experience in the twentieth century.
Dadrian has reduced these particular attempts to characterize the Armenian genocide as 'debatable' into the following three lines of argument (which he aptly terms "disjointed"):
(i) the Ottoman governments intent was merely to relocate, not destroy, the deportee population;
(ii) in the context of the larger global conflagration, i.e., World War I, the Armenians and Turks were engaged in a civil war, which was itself directly responsible for heavy Turkish losses;
(iii) Turkish losses during the overall conflict far exceeded Armenian losses.
...how did the Young Turk authorities expect to resettle in the deserts of Mesopotamia hundreds of thousands of dislocated people without securing the slightest accommodation or other amenities affording the barest conditions of subsistence for human beings?
As official documents unmistakably reveal (and American Ambassador Morgenthau confirms) only the rapid deterioration of Turkey's military situation and the resulting time constraints prevented the authorities from carrying out the projected comprehensive deportation and liquidation of the rest of the Armenian population. In the case of Istanbul, for example, then the capital of the Empire, by November 1915 already 30,000 Armenians had been surreptitiously, and by a system of quotas, removed, according to a confidential report to Berlin by German Ambassador Metternich. As to Smyrna, only forceful intervention of German General Liman Von Sanders, the regional military commander, stopped the completion of the deportation of that major mercantile harbor city's Armenian population. That intervention was triggered by the dispatch of Smyrna's first Armenian deportee convoy as ordered by the province's Turkish governor-general Rahmi. This intervention proved a mere respite, however, as in 1922 the insurgent Kemalists destroyed Smyrna in a holocaust that consumed large segments of the surviving Armenian population, as well.
...was not only fully functional but on account of its armed forces were able to wage for four years a multi-front gigantic war against such formidable enemies as England, France and Tsarist Russia. The wartime emergency measures, martial law and the temporary suspension of parliament were conditions which helped invest the executive branch of the Ottoman government with enormous and concentrated power, power that was more than enough to exercise dictatorship. Moreover, most able-bodied Armenian males were conscripted into the Ottoman Army long before Turkey intervened in the war. What was left of the Armenian population consisted by and large of terror stricken women, children and old me desperately trying to stay alive in an environment filled with the memories of past massacres, a consuming apprehension regarding new and impending disasters and burdened with all sorts of war-related hardships.
Germany's consul in Aleppo, Walter Rossler, described the Urfa uprising in similar terms. Imbued with the recent memory of the brutal 1895 massacre, and the unfolding spectacle of mas murder in their vicinity during the summer of 1915, the Urfa Armenians made a hasty, last ditch effort to defend themselves. German Ambassador Paul Count von Wolff-Metternich filed a 72-page report to his government in Berlin addressing all four of these uprisings. Metternich maintained that each of these uprisings was a defensive act attempting merely to ward off imminent deportation, and he stated bluntly "...there was neither a concerted general uprising, nor was there a fully valid proof that such a synchronized uprising was organized or planned." As Dadrian observes,
How could desperate groupings of people trying to stay alive by defending themselves be described as 'rebels'supposedly bent on undermining a mighty state system intent on destroying them?...without exception these uprisings were improvised last-ditch attempts to ward off imminent deportation and destruction. Without exception they were all local, very limited, and above all, highly defensive initiatives; as such they were ultimately doomed to failure. The temporary success of the Van uprising was entirely due to a very fortuitous circumstance: the timely arrival of the advance units of the Russian Caucasus army. A delay of one or two days in this movement might well sealed the fate of the defenders.
Individual Armenians and even some small groups of Armenians in very isolated cases resorted to espionage, sabotage, and other anti-Turkish hostile acts...[and]...several thousands of Armenians from all over the world, including several hundred former Ottoman subjects, rushed to the Caucasus to enroll in the ranks of the Russian Caucasus army to fight against the Turks; the majority of them were, however, Russian subjects.
...does the ensemble of these facts warrant a decision to deport and wantonly destroy an entire population? The answer should be no for a variety of reasons but in one particular respect that answer is cast into special relief. The reference is to a host of other ethnic and nationality groups and individuals who likewise indulged in such anti-Turkish hostile acts during the war, including sabotage, espionage and volunteering for service in the armed forces of Turkey's enemies. Foremost among these were the Kurds, who like the Armenians, were engaged in pro- as well as anti-Turkish activities. On the eastern front several of the spies caught by the Turks were themselves Turks; so were a number of Greeks operating in the west of Turkey. Nor can one exempt the Jews who provided two distinct volunteer corps fighting the Turks at two different fronts, the Dardanelles (in 1915) and Palestine (in 1918). Moreover, one of the largest wartime espionage networks, the NILI in Yaffa, Palestine, which was caught by the Turks, was run by a small Jewish group. And yet...[T]hese [Turkish] authorities at that time did not think it prudent to extend their operations of ethnic cleansing to these nationalities and minority groups and thereby compound the already existing problems arising from the ongoing mass murder of the Armenians.
... disparate categories of events such as losses in World War I, losses in the post-Turkish campaign for independence, as well as losses due to epidemics, malnutrition and succumbing to the rigors of the elements... What is fundamental in all these losses is that overwhelmingly they are the byproducts and the results of warfare with Turkey's external enemies. These warfare losses are cryptically blended, juxtaposed and composed with the number of victims of an organized mass murder. Indeed, the two categories are collapsed whereby victim and victimizer groups are subsumed under a single, undifferentiated category, having been leveled almost beyond differentiation, and no longer discernible as separate, if not antithetical, categories.
...Under the pretext of searching for arms, of collecting war levies, or tracking down deserters, there had already been established a practice of systematically carried-out plunders, raids, and murders [against the Armenians] which had become daily occurrences...
Public attitudes in Turkey towards the U.S. are overtly negative. During early March 2005, an announcement poster inviting the public to attend a large scale anti-US demonstration, on March 19, 2005 was displayed extensively throughout the streets of Istanbul, and in the lobbies and hallways of public buildings as well. The poster depicted the US as a giant octopus with long tentacles strangling the globe, and proclaimed, "America Get Your Hands Off the Middle East." Signatorie