The Pontiff’s plea on behalf of the Armenian people, A hundred years since the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman regime, a dark page in the history of Europe has been recalled again. The Pontiff , recalling it has wanted to take up the exact words of Pope John Paul II and the Catholics of the Armenian Karekin Church on 27th September 2001. “ Mankind has lived through enormous unimaginable tragedies during the last century – it reads – the first one being, what is considered generally to be the first genocide of the XX century, which involved your people, the first Christian nation”. ” The Holy Seat is far from the historical reality” Ankara hastily commented, where the Vatican ambassador has been summoned to the protests of rite. A denial, on the part of the Turks that has made it the only existing truth in these areas concerning the drammitc event. Strongly difended, even resorting to Manu military oppression against those who even dared mention the massacre.
And yet, this grim episode iso ne of the main underlying causes of tense relations between the EU and Turkey and France has even prescribed imprisonment to those who even deny its existance The origins of the ethnic ‘clean-up’ orignate back to the difficult co-habitation between the Turks and two million Armenians who lived in the Ottoman Empire at the turn of XIX century. A large majority belonged to the Appostolic Armenian Church and were supported by Russia in their fight for indepence. In order to repress the moviment advocating autonomy, the Ottoman regime instilled amongst the Kurds, who also inhabited the historical Armenia, sentiments of hatred towards the Armenians. The oppression alongwith the rise in taxes to which this people were subjected to, led them to rebel against the regime, whose army retaliated with armed repression, killing thousands of people and burning some ten and more villages in 1894.
The period preceding the first world war, the government of “Young Turks” had been established in the Ottoman Empire “ They feared that the Armenians could ally themselves with the Russians and this would have been sufficient enough t ogive way to new massacres. Between the nights on 23rd and 24th April 1915, the first arrests were undertaken amongst the Armenian élite in Costantinopole. The operation was to continue in the following days too. In just one month, more than a thousand intellectuals pertaining to this ethnic population, amongst whom were journalists, writers, poets and even political delegates were deported into the interior of Anatolia and massacred along the way.
In the ‘death’ marches that involved the killing of 1.200.000 people, hundreds and thousands died from hunger, disease or exhaustion. These deportations were organised under the supervision of German army officials (then allies of the Ottoman Empire) in conjunction with the Turkish army and according to some historians it can be considered as a “general rehearsal” of what was to be the more notorius marches against the Jews during the second world war. Further thousands were massacred by the Kurd militia and Turksh army. It was a full-scale extermination which modern Turkey still denies. The simple fact of remembering it is considered an offence. This is just the umpteenth censureship on shame.
In death marches, involving 1,200,000 people, hundreds of thousands died fromstarvation, disease or exhaustion. These deportations were organized under the supervision of the officers of the German Army (then an ally of the Ottoman Empire) in conjunction with the Turkish army, and according to some historians may regard as a”dress rehearsal” of the most famous marches against the Jews during World War II.Hundreds of thousands were massacred by Kurdish militia and the Turkish army. Afull-blown extermination that modern Turkey continues to refuse. Just remember it iscrime. Yet another complaint of shame.
Translation provided by Marina Stronati