The Ottoman Empire was the first nation to recognize Armenian genocide


Armenian refugee children
©From the collection of the library of Congress

April 26, 2015

Translated from Russian by Kristina Rus

Although contemporary Turkey continues the policy of denial of Armenian Genocide, the truth is that the first nation to recognize this event was in fact the Ottoman Empire. This was announced at a press conference by a historian, Turkologist Meline Anuman, referring to the documentation of the trial held by the Young Turks on the issue of the Armenian Genocide.

“We are talking about 1919-1921.: there were 63 trials of the Young Turks in special military agencies of Istanbul or court cases regarding deportation and massacres of Armenians” – said the expert.

According to her, during this period the term “genocide” simply didn’t exist, it was introduced into scientific circulation only in 1948. The expert stressed that lawsuits undertaken in that era, indictments ruled in these cases, the sentences clearly testify to the legality of the use of the term “genocide” in regard to facts represented in these trials.

The turkologist, recalling that the main factor of the term “genocide” is the thesis of crime organized by the state, said: in the indictment of the main trial of the Young Turks, consisting of 41 official documents, the emphasis was on the fact that this crime was planned by the Party and the Government of the Young Turks from the start.

Anuman called the most important among the 63 trials – the case of members of the party and the government of the Young Turks (April 28 – July 5, 1919). The expert has reminded that, death sentences in absentia were given to Talaat, Enver and Jemal Pasha. Charges were brought against Dr. Nazim, who was also one of the organizers of the Armenian Genocide.

The expert noted that until 2005, the official Turkish historiography has tried to minimize mentioning the events of the early 20th century, although even then Turkish historian Taner Akcham, living in Germany, and an outstanding specialist in the study of genocide Vahagn Dadrian began publishing on this subject.

“When the Turks were convinced that it is impossible to hide the facts about the trials that took place, they chose a different tactic,” – she said.

In 2015, said the Turkologist, by order of “the horn is the official history of Turkey” – “The Turkish Historical Society,” a book was published in Ankara devoted to court trials about the deportations and massacres of Armenians. “Naturally, this book was written with the purpose of denial, concealment and falsification of numerous facts,” – she concluded.

It is known that the fact of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was recognized by many states. The first was Uruguay in 1965, whose example was followed by Russia (1995), France (1998), Italy (2000), the Netherlands (2004), Belgium (1998), Poland (2005), Lithuania (2005), Slovakia (2004), Sweden (2010), Switzerland (2003), Greece (1999), Cyprus (1975), Lebanon (1997), Canada (1996), Venezuela (2005), Argentina (2004), Chile (2007), The Vatican (2000), Bolivia (2014).

 The Armenian genocide was also recognized by the European Parliament and the World Council of churches. 43 out of 50 U.S. states officially recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide and also announced April 24 as Day of memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide. 

The parliaments of several European countries have enacted laws criminalizing the Armenian Genocide denial. However, Turkey still denies the mass murder of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World war.

On the eve of the WWI two million Armenians lived in the Ottoman empire, and approximately 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 to 1923, the remaining half million Armenians were scattered throughout the world.


Turkey’s denial of Armenian genocide is pragmatic. Armenians were successful businessmen and masters of their trades in the Ottoman empire, for which they were often envied, and the stolen Armenian wealth became the basis for the future wealth of many Turks. 

In addition, Western Armenia, or Eastern Anatolia was the birthplace of Armenian civilization (and the most ancient origin of humanity, as some believe). Armenian national symbol is mount Ararat, associated with Noah’s ark, and it is now located in Turkey. 

Acknowledging Armenian genocide would trigger claims, reparations and perhaps give rise to territorial disputes. 

After all the Armenian genocide was carried out in order to preserve the territorial integrity of Turkey on lands where Armenians lived for thousands of years. Armenians generally saw Russia as their defender and having lost its Balkan territories to Russians, Turkey saw Armenians as the “fifth column” and a threat to the state, who would welcome the Russians. Thus the entire power of the state was used to exterminate them.

The Armenian genocide has become a highly politicised issue. Reportedly many archives in Turkey have been destroyed, the historial society is at the service of the state, those who stray away from the official line are persecuted, to the extent of blowing up publishing offices.

Attempts to revise history are unsettling, especially when the term genocide was created specifically to describe the massacre of Armenians and the Jews, when a new word was needed to describe the horrific scale and barbarity of this act.

Failure to recognize the Armenian genocide by Turkey only prolongs the agony of the Armenian people, whose family history is sufficient evidence. 

Armenian genocide illustrates why so many small nations on the periphery of Russia sought protection from the Russian Empire, and what happened on those territories, which Russia failed to reach.

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