Turkey has the dubious honour of being the first nation to perpetrate a genocide against its own people in the twentieth century.
By the year 1915, Turkey had already perfected its plans for the “final solution” to liquidate (expel and massacre) the two million Armenian residents of the country. Armenia was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Armenians, were viewed as “Kuffar” infidels who were considered inferior to Muslims and who in compliance with Islamic Sharia law were subject to the punitive JIZYA tax and enjoyed very few political and legal rights
Despite these tremendous obstacles, Armenians prospered . They were better educated and more resilient than their fellow Muslim citizens. Their prosperity lead to the envy and resentment of the Turkish majority. Added to this mix, the Ottoman Empire began to crumble resulting in serious dislocation and internal strife. The despotic Sultan Abdul Hamid found the perfect scapegoat in the Armenians who were blamed for all the ills of his nation by then known as the “Sick Man of Europe”.
Ordinary Armenians were turned out of their homes and sent on death marches through the Mesopotamian desert without food or water. Frequently, the marchers were stripped naked and forced to walk under the scorching sun until they dropped dead. People who stopped to rest were shot.
The process of ethnic cleansing lasted almost seven years by which time 1.5 million of Turkey’s two million Armenian citizens were massacred and many thousands were forcibly deported.
Records show that during this ethnic cleansing campaign government squads also kidnapped children, converted them to Islam and gave them to Turkish families. In some places, they raped women and forced them to join Turkish “harems” or serve as slaves. Muslim families moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property. Several hundred Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed. *
In 1908 a group of disgruntled army officers who became known as the Young Turks deposed the Sultan and seized power. The purge of the Armenians however continued until 1922. Several killing squads or “butcher battalions” as they became known were created to carry out “the liquidation of the “Christian elements.” as the Armenians were referred to. These killing squads drowned people in rivers, threw them off cliffs, crucified them and burned them alive.
The Treaty of Serves between the victorious allied powers and the vanquished ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War signed in August 1920, provided for an independent autonomous Kurdistan,
In 1923, Kemal Ataturk a leading figure within the Turkish army, who became knows as the “father of the nation”, ascended to power and proceeded to de-Islamise the state “we must join the modern world” he declared. He closed all religious courts and schools, prohibited the wearing of headscarves among public sector employees, abolished the ministry of canon law and pious foundations, lifted a ban on alcohol, adopted the Gregorian calendar in place of the Islamic calendar, made Sunday a day of rest instead of Friday, changed the Turkish alphabet from Arabic letters to Roman ones, mandated that the call to prayer be in Turkish rather than Arabic and even forbade the wearing of fez hats.
Under Ataturk’s leadership in other words the role of Islam in public life shrank drastically and he eventually succeeded in establishing a secular and quasi- westernized country.
On his death in November 10, 1938, Atatürk, was replaced by his prime minister Is met Inonu, who continued Ataturk’s progressive policies of modernization.
Turkey’s Enlightened Era 1923-2002
Between 1923-2002 Turkey enjoyed a relatively stable democratic secular era with free elections, a multi-party system, a free press and an independent judiciary. The army assumed the role of the guardian of Ataturk’s legacy. This period in modern Turkey’s history is often referred to as Turkey’s Enlightened Era during which the country elected its first female Prime Minister Tansu Ciller from 1993 to 1996.
In 2002 the democratic process led to the election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the conservative, Islamic Justice and development Party.
Deconstructing the State
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is hard at work laying his own version of a final solution to crush the fifteen million Kurds in the country – a fifth of his own population. .The Kurds have no political rights nor freedom of speech . Over the last decades over 2000 Kurdish villages have been destroyed and tens of thousands have been killed.
Human Rights Watch has reported that «The government’s erosion of media freedom continued. Readiness to limit freedom of expression, restrictive approach to freedom of assembly, and readiness to prosecute demonstrators while tolerating police violence against them, were among features most damaging to Turkey’s democratic credentials… Trials continued of Kurdish political activists, journalists, students, and lawyers on widely used terrorism charges such as ‘membership of an armed organization.’ The evidence against them in most cases concerned nonviolent political association and protest».
Ailing Economy -The Rise of a Dictator
The country’s ailing economy over the recent years resulted as it did at the turn of the 20th century vis a vis the Armenians, in whipping up the flames of hatred and blame against the country’s Kurdish minority.
Genocide by Attrition
The purge of the Kurds continues to this day. The bombardment of Kurdish soldiers fighting the terrorist organization ISIS, financed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and once a friend and ally of Turkey, goes on relentlessly Erdogan is determined to crush the fifteen million Kurds in Turkey – a fifth of his own population – and is being unashamedly brutal in his campaign.
The Kurds’ choice , like that of the Armenians before them and that of most minorities in Islam throughout history is stark: Assimilate Or Die
Hannah L S Sikma of The Sunday Times recently referred to the war against the Kurds in Eastern Turkey as Erdogan’s “hidden war” which is sweeping across the region flattening entire neighbourhoods and displacing hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants.
On the political front Erdogan’s agenda is clear. He wants to replace his country’s system of parliamentary government with an all-powerful executive presidency. This will give him the constitutional and legal right to issue executive and legislative decrees and have veto power over parliament as well as being able to appoint ministers and judges to higher courts, in many ways echoing Hitler &the Weimar republic of 1933.
Should the world be concerned about a second genocide in Turkey against the Kurds?
Genocides come in many forms; some take place in a short span of time and others are spread out over many years. The war of attrition started by Erdogan against his Kurdish citizens, if unchecked, will inevitably lead to the elimination of a great number of Kurds and the destruction of their homeland both in southern Turkey and Northern Syria. Let us bear in mind that Genocide is defined as “a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people”)
Genocide in the 20th Century
|Armenians in Turkey||1915-1922||1,500,000|
|Stalin’s Forced Famine:||1932-1936||7,000,000|
|Rape of Nanking:||1937-1938||300,000|
|Pol Pot in Cambodia:||1975-1979||2.000.000|
History has taught us that dictators are bullies who must be resisted. Erdogan stated that he would renege on his recent agreement with the European Union and threatened to open his borders to unleash hundreds of thousands of refugees into Europe. He is also threatening to withdraw from NATO and has already established closer ties with Russia’s Putin.
His bluff must be called.
Extracts from “The Rise of Turkey’s new Sultan” to be published Summer 2017
* The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922.
- DAVID FROMKIN World War I and its aftermath, “A Peace to End All Peace
- ROBERT FISk: Living proof of the Armenian genocide Tuesday 9 March 2010
- THE NEW YORK TIMES covered the issue extensively — 145 articles in 1915 alone by one count — with headlines like “Appeal to Turkey to Stop Massacres