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Armenians Mark 104 Years Since 1915 Genocide

Armenians Mark 104 Years Since 1915 Genocide

Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 - 09:30
The remains of a mass grave dating back to the Armenian genocide (AFP)
Beirut- Nazeer Rida
Barely holding back her tears, Henazant's grandchild grimaces at the memory of her grandmother's survival story in 1915, when the Ottoman Empire cracked down on Armenians with inhumane brutality and sought to wipe out the entirety of the ethnic group.

Recounting events to her grandchildren, the senior said her grandmother was one of the lucky ones who lived to tell the tale of crawling out from a bloodbath and a pit stacked with corpses in order to take the first steps in a long death march to Syria.

Henazant’s heartbreaking survival story is one of many others that evoke the horrors and carnage left behind by Ottoman massacres against Armenians, which claimed the lives of 1.5 million civilians.

Considered the first attempt at total ethnic cleansing in the early 20th century, the Ottoman’s rape, mass killings and arrest of Armenians resulted in a sweeping millions-strong exodus whereby violence escapees sought refuge in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.

Even though nearly a century has passed since untold suffering, matching that witnessed in Nazi Germany’s Holocaust, was exacted on the people of Armenia, descendants of survivors remain by-and-large affected by barbarism their grandparents faced.

A Lebanese deputy of Armenian descent has gone as far as refusing to recall any of the events due to the sheer terror attached to the memory.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the lawmaker said that “watching a film about the Armenian genocide or listening to living witnesses spurred feelings of sorrow and stoked grievances similar to those felt by an orphan reminded of their missing parent.”

Every year, on April 24, Armenians commemorate the memory of their ancestors lost to the brutal genocide ordered by Ottoman rulers.

On the night of 23–24 April 1915, known as Red Sunday, the Ottoman government rounded up and imprisoned an estimated 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders of the Ottoman capital, Constantinople, and later those in other centers, who were moved to two holding centers near Ankara.

This date marked the start of the systematic targeting of Armenians in the region.

Turkey, the Ottoman Empire’s successor, until this very day, challenges labeling the hundreds of deaths as genocide.

The parliaments of twenty countries, the EU, and the Vatican have all recognized the Armenian genocide.

As for Armenian territory, swathes of lands were unlawfully annexed to Turkey.

Addressing lost assets, Armenian activist Ara Sissirian told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country’s historical geography was diminished from 180,000 square kilometers to 30,000 square kilometers, which constitute today’s Armenia.

The Tehcir Law, named after a word of Arabic origin in Ottoman Turkish and meaning "forced displacement,” brought some measures regarding the property of the deportees.

The Ottoman parliament passed the "Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation," stating that all property, including land, livestock, and homes belonging to Armenians, was to be confiscated by the authorities.

But its legality has been challenged on the grounds that Armenian assets aren’t "abandoned goods", the proprietors did not abandon their properties voluntarily; they were forcibly, compulsorily removed from their domiciles and exiled.

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