Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

The Ottoman Turks have denied the Armenian Genocide for 103 years. Between 1915 and 1918, the Ottoman Turks systematically organized and orchestrated the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians. The genocide began during World War I when the Turkish government planned to eliminate Armenians who lived in the Ottoman Empire. On April 24, 1915, under the direct orders of Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha and Jemal Pasha, Ottoman Turk soldiers imprisoned and executed all Armenian intellectuals, clergy and community leaders.

Once the leaders were removed, the rest of the population was easy to manipulate and control. Turkish soldiers forced Armenians out of their homes, stole their possessions, burned their houses and made them march in the Mesopotamian Desert with no food or water. They were stripped of their clothes and forced to walk under the sweltering sun until their death. If a person stopped marching, they were executed by the Turkish soldiers.

The soldiers were so cruel to the Armenians that they would drown them in rivers, bury children alive, crucify them, throw them off cliffs, rape the women and burn them alive. Many families were separated and never reunited. Children and women were forced to convert to Islam and live with Turkish families. In addition to the 1.5 million Armenians that were killed, it is estimated that several hundreds of thousands were forced to convert to Islam, never to return to their ethnic Armenian or Christian roots.

By the early 1920s, the genocide ended. The Ottoman Empire surrendered at the end of World War I and the leaders of the genocide immediately fled to Germany for protection. They were  charged with crimes against humanity and tried in absentia. Talaat, Enver and  Pasha were found guilty of committing massacres and condemned to death.

The Armenians that were left in present-day Turkey had to get back to their own lives while still facing prejudice and oppression by Turkish citizens. To date, the Turkish government still denies the harmful acts committed against the Armenians.

My mother, who grew up in Diyarbakir, current day Turkey, felt the need to hide who she was as an Armenian just so that she could avoid persecution from her Turkish peers. Going to school, her classmates would bully her and call her names for having an Armenian last name and being different compared to everyone around her. She was excluded by not being invited to gatherings. My grandparents were too afraid to educate my mother and her siblings about the Armenian Genocide until they were able to understand how important it was not to acknowledge it living in Turkey, since they would get in trouble with the government.

To this day, all Armenians who live in Turkey are not allowed to speak of the genocide since it is illegal in the country. Due to this denial, Armenian communities all over the world gather every April 24 to protest the Turkish government’s denial and to spread the word about the Armenian Genocide.

It is our hope that more people will learn the truth, recognize the Armenian Genocide and put an end to the denial. As a proud Armenian, I am reaching out to the West Chester community to take a stand and recognize what my ancestors and 1.5 million other Armenians had to suffer through in 1915.

Zabelle Minasian is a student at West Chester University. ✉ ZM891685@wcupa.edu.

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2 thoughts on “Remembering the Armenian Genocide”
  1. This is lovely written. I hope this really helps brining awareness to such an important time

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