This coming April 24th marks the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust. It was on that day one hundred and one years ago that the systematic extermination of Armenian Christians began in the area of present-day Turkey by the Ottoman empire.
The genocide began when about 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to Ankara. Most of them were murdered. After that, they began killing the Armenian men or forcing them into slave labor. This was followed by the deportation of the elderly, the ill, and women and children, who were sent on death marches into the Syrian desert where they were deprived of food and water, and subjected to rape and murder.
The relatively few who were fortunate enough to have escaped to other countries formed the present-day diaspora communities that exist today.
Despite repeated calls over the last century, the Turkish government today still refuses to officially recognize that the genocide ever took place, which claimed up to 1.5 million Armenian lives.
Most Americans, including myself, have not heard the full story of the Armenians until recent years, until another genocide against Christians began and drew attention to the Armenian Genocide.
Armenians are comprised of three basic denominations. The majority of Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic denomination. The rest belonged to the Armenian Catholic or Armenian Protestant denominations.
Armenians also faced massacres from 1894 – 1896, and in 1909, but had been brutally ruled by Muslims for several hundred years. During the 1915 genocide, rape and sexual abuse were rampant. Women were stripped naked and sold as sex slaves.
Others were sent to concentration camps, where they lived only a few days. Many men were beheaded, and photos exist of 16-year old girls who were stripped naked and crucified. Other reports stated that large groups of children were loaded onto ships, taken to sea and thrown overboard. There were mass burnings. Others were poisoned or starved to death.
While we consider these actions of a century ago brutal, inhuman and demonic, we now find many of the same actions being carried today out against Christians in Iraq, Syria, and other locations.
In a recent news release by CNS News, it was reported that Mark Arabo, a California businessman and Chaldean-American leader, stated that “Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst… children are being beheaded, mothers being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung…there’s actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick.”
Despite the fact that thousands of Christians have been murdered by ISIS, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes to the safety of other countries, the Obama administration has, until recently, refused to call what is happening there a genocide. Several weeks ago, John Kerry finally admitted that ISIS responsible for genocide of Christians in Iraq and Syria, stating during a news conference at the State Department that “My purpose here today is to assert in my judgement (ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shite Muslims.”
Oddly enough, genocide was not even considered a crime until 1948 when it defined it as acts meant “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
It is not just the United States that had difficulty admitting that Armenians had been subjected to genocide. The European Commission, the United Kingdom and the United Nations all have refused to describe what is going on as genocide. The government in Turkey admits that mass killings took place, but refuses to admit that they met the definition of genocide.
Regarding the present-day genocide against Christians, Mark Arabo also stated that “They (ISIS) are absolutely killing every Christian they see. This is absolutely a genocide in every sense of the word. They want everyone to convert, and they want sharia law to be the law of the land.”
The Armenian Genocide of 1915 has become the model for ISIS today to murder Christians in Iraq and Syria. If not stopped, it could spread throughout the world.