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What is Genocide?

Posted on May 07 2021

What is Genocide?


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By Larry Marotta

On April 24, 2021, Joe Biden did something no American president had done before: he recognized the mass killing of Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire as an act of genocide. The killings began in 1915, while World War I raged in Europe. By 1922, an estimated 1.5 million Armenian people died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish dynasty which ruled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries.

“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” the U.S. president said in statement. “Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination.”

Until last month, the U.S. remained reluctant to condemn the Armenian genocide out of respect for Turkey, a country the U.S. considers an important ally. Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, admits that many Armenians died during World War I. However, Turkey claims that the numbers of Armenians killed were in the thousands, not millions. It also argues that most Armenians died while fighting against Ottoman forces. Since it was not a systematically orchestrated campaign against the Armenian people, the Turkish government maintains, it was not genocide.


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