The Armenians across the world have been pushing to regard the mass killings of their kin by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as “genocide.”
Meanwhile, speculations are being drawn over the political implications of the decision by the German parliament to recognize the killings of Armenian people in Turkey during World War I as genocide. Germany has to depend on Turkey to get through to the European Union to accept a deal on the refugee crisis that stemmed mainly from the Syrian civil war.
“The way to close the dark pages of your own history is not by defaming the histories of other countries with irresponsible and baseless decisions,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu posted on Twitter, as quoted by the New York Times. “There is no shameful incident in our past that would make us bow our heads.”
However, the killings of the Armenians which is being lobbied to be recognized as genocide is far more complex than it appears and is of great emotional value to both the Armenians and the Turks. Following are five lesser known facts from the killings of the Armenians 100 years ago:
International courts have never identified the killings as a genocide, despite several opportunities to do so. Genocide is a distinct type of crime defined by the international law:
The tragic incidents were not a deliberate and systematic attempt to wipe out the entire race. According to Fact Check Armenia, the events of 1915 resulted in response to the Armenian uprisings over 20 years, which have been evidenced in supporting documents. However, according to the CNN reports, Turkey sided with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire during World War I. But it was afraid that the Armenian population in Turkey would back Russia which have long wanted to take control of Constantinople. Constantinople, now Istanbul, controlled access to Black Sea, which means access to Russia’s only year-round sea port.
According to many historians, at the time when the mass killings began the number of Armenians living in Turkey was close to two million.
There are conflicting claims on the number of Armenians killed in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. Turkey contended that around 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and about the same number of Turks died during the events while Armenians have put the number at 1.5 million, the Yahoo News reported.
Some of the images taken during the mass killings showed Ottoman soldiers posing with severed heads or standing amidst skulls strewn in dirt. The victims purportedly died in mass burnings, drownings, disease, torture, poisonous gas, and starvation.