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April 24, 2015

April 24, 1915: Armenian genocide begins

A century ago, the Ottoman Empire had plunged full-force into the Great War. Among its fears was insurrection from within by Russian sympathizers; one ethnic group in particular stood out.

On this day in 1915, the mass extermination of Armenians began when Ottoman authorities rounded up around 250 Armenian intellectuals.

TDIH April 24, 2015

The facts are clear: between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians died in the Ottoman Empire during the Great War. Various forms of execution were carried out, some of which are too gruesome to describe here. The Turkish government still refuses to use the term genocide, saying that the losses were a fact of war.

What is even more pathetic, however, is the recalcitrance the United States and the United Kingdom to call it what it was – all in the name of maintaining relations with Turkey. President Obama, as a senator, called for official recognition of the genocide, but today, he’ll refer to it by its Armenian name, Meds Yeghern, or great catastrophe.

Pope Francis recently acknowledged it as a genocide, saying that to deny it “is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.” And even Russia has done so. Now that’s saying something

For more on the “genocide” issue, see this Vox article; for a more personal take, check out Raffi Khatchadourian’s piece in The New Yorker.

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