Between 1915 and 1923 the rulers of the Ottoman Empire gave the order to execute 1,500,000 Armenians. This episode is considered the first genocide of the 20th century. The Armenian people were then under Ottoman rule, but they maintained their own cultural identity.
While the Ottoman Turks practiced the Muslim religion, the Armenians were Christians and had a history and a language of their own.
Historical context of the massacre
In the territory of Armenia controlled by the Ottoman Turks, the Armenians did not have the same rights as the Turks and were somehow treated as second-class citizens. In this sense, they had to pay more taxes, they could not access public office and they were victims of intense xenophobia.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a group called “young Turks” staged a coup d’etat against the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and a nationalist regime was implemented that granted citizenship rights to the population of Turkish origin and of Muslim religion.
Those who were not part of this category were considered enemies of the homeland.
The Armenians became the main target of the Turkish authorities and for this reason it was decided to launch a mass extermination campaign.
In April 1915, the arrest and murder of more than 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders was ordered. Thus began a period of atrocities that lasted eight years. According to most historians, one and a half million Armenians were killed.
In 1915 the new Turkish government had allied with Germany in World War l. In this context the Armenians were accused of traitors, since they were considered allies of the Russians.
After 100 of the genocide, the Turkish state assumes no responsibility
The European Parliament has produced different reports on the killing of Armenians. With them it is intended that the rulers of Turkey recognize the tragedy suffered by the Armenian people a hundred years ago. However, no Turkish government has recognized the existence of the genocide.
Pope Francis, the United Nations and some national parliaments have also spoken about this tragedy.
The Turkish authorities accept that there were atrocities in the past, but do not consider it to be a systematic organized extermination. In this sense, they maintain that the events that occurred must be interpreted as a tragic episode in the context of the First World War.