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The Armenian Genocide

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Essay title: The Armenian Genocide

By the late 1880's there were approximately 2,500,000 Armenian people living in the Ottoman Empire. Since World War I, the number of Armenians in Turkey has barely reached more than 120,000. The difference can be accounted for in the large number of Armenians who were slaughtered or forced to flee to other countries in the period from 1894 to 1921.

The tension began when Armenians in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire started to impress upon the people the idea of Armenian self-government, under the encouragement of Russia. As the number of revolutionaries grew, they formed into various political groups, ad finally into two revolutionary parties. The first party, developed in 1887, was called Henchak, meaning "The Bell." The second, called Dashnaktzutiun, meaning "Union," was established in 1890. During this time, Sultan Abdulhamid II, the leader of the Ottoman Empire, was promoting nationalistic feelings and animosity towards the Armenians among neighboring Kurdish tribemen, in hopes of suppressing the revolutionaries. The persecution that resulted, along with an escalation in taxes, gave the Armenians two solid reasons for a revolt. In 1894, Armenians in Sasum fought back by refusing to pay the required taxes. Their revolt was not successful- Armenian villages were burned and thousands of people were killed by Kurdish tribesmen and Turkish troops.

Two years later, the Armenians again attempted to rise against the Turkish autocracy. Hoping to make European powers aware of their motives, they took over the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul. Groups of Muslim Turks organized by government troops halted their effort by killing more than 50,000 of the Armenian dissenters.

The persecution of the Armenians continued during World War I. Armenians who volunteered to help the Russian army fight the Turks were forced to leave when the Turkish government ordered all Armenians to deport to Syria and Palestine. Even those fighting with the Ottoman army were removed. They were taken to labor battalions where they were subjected to the same horrors as all the other Armenians- premature death. Sometimes the method of execution was slow and painful, such as starvation or physical abuse. Other times the method was quick and brutal, such as machine-gunning. The Turks left no one alone. On April 24, 1915, two hundred fifty-four Armenian intellectuals were arrested in Istanbul and then taken to the provinces of Ayash and Chankiri, where most of them were later killed.

The Armenians were now left almost without leadership. The Ottomans destroyed both their military and social defenders. Taking advantage of the Armenians'

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