AN ANSWER TO A FORUM WRITER
To my mind the counter argument you have submitted as to “since POWs were interned at Armenian Church, so it is to do with Armenians” is hollow thinking.
Because, some POW were in fact held at a “ Medrese’s” and some at private homes, some at factories and some at railway yards and yet some at farms, and some at abandoned school buildings, none of which were surrounded by barbed wire.
The exact number of POW deaths in Turkish POW camps is not known.
There were no hate speeches in the Ottoman Empire against Armenians prior to WW1 events. About 300 thousand Armenians suffered or died as a direct and inevitable result of revolt against the central government in WW1.
I have observed that the current “Armenian Genocide claims” is in essence political. I accept that nothing is pure black or white. I have acknowledge that Armenians were duped by the Russians into fighting for a greater Armenia, having armies and fighting units at war with the Turks, that there were casualties on both sides as is natural in a war.
Genocide is the proof of intent to eradicate a minority. Genocide is an arbitrary crime attributed to governments who commit massacres or encourage them in order to wipe out a group. This was not the case of the Ottoman Empire and the Armenians.
Many Armenians were killed. But many Ottoman Muslims were killed by Armenian volunteer units, gangs, and rebels whether under Russian or French flags. There is still no proof of intent by the Ottoman government to eliminate Armenians, because there seems no motive to eliminate the Armenians. Wasting money, time, effort, and man-power, that you do not have, to exterminate a race requires more logistics to support the motives. To my knowledge, even Armenian historians struggle to find authentic evidence of genocide. Some of the “evidence” point to forgeries, some point to death tolls and speculation as proof.
People must learn to put their prejudices aside and take the time to conduct their own research.
Genocide Scholar, Guenter Lewy, has this to say…
“According to Article II of the Genocide Convention of 1948, “intent to destroy” is a precondition of genocide. A large number of dead alone is not sufficient. Thus, for example, collateral casualties of an aerial bombing do not constitute genocide, no matter how large the number of victims. There exists no evidence that the Ottoman regime had intent to destroy the Armenian community.“
On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that Armenians committed massacres.
I observe that a truly tragic historical event seals the mind of many at the hand of politically motivated game pieces, as it has been hammered into the minds of generations since the end of 19th Century. My approach to this matter is from reason. No faith has been put into this thought process , which otherwise I believe would furnish new grounds for conflict to continue, which in turn would be the result of a lesson not learned, which I do not desire. The arguments parties could develop are infinitely variable and interpretations will differ. Therefore, I will try and convey my interpretation of the historical matters on the basis of analyses of documentation, records, proof, allegations, evidence, attempts at reprisals and sanctions and ultimately punishment in terms of Universal law. At no time will I deny the tragic deaths of thousands of Armenians as direct result of “divide and conquer” policy by the then world powers and for their own expansion purposes. What I do find odd is that whenever there are attempts to fill in the gaps to Armenian blood bath relaying the events that happened before, after and during that period. Armenian Revolt at WW1 is well documented. Russian, Ottoman and US records point out to deaths of thousands of innocent Anatolians at the hands of Armenian bandits when larger towns. I shall certainly not stand aside and see tragic events such as outrages against Armenians and POW treatment tabulated.
Throughout the last 500 years or so, there have been Christian Missionaries sent to many different countries throughout the world by French, German and British, and for the last 2 hundred years by US. Anatolia and Mesopotamia, the Land of bible was always and continues to be in 2011 the ultimate center of attention. Some of the most ancient roots of humanity are located in the Near East as are the beginnings of most major religions.
The first of US missionaries were in 1819 given the commission by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and were there to compete with others who had been there much before:
“From the heights of the Holy Land, and from Zion, you will take an extended view of the widespread desolations and variegated scenes presenting themselves on every side to Christian sensibility; and will survey with earnest attention the various tribes and classes who dwell in that land, and in the surrounding countries. The two grand inquiries ever present in your minds will be, WHAT GOOD CAN BE DONE? and BY WHAT MEANS? What can be done for Jews? What for Pagans? What for Mohammedans? What for Christians? What for the people in Palestine? What for those in Egypt, in Syria, in Persia, in Armenia, in other countries to which your inquiries may be extended?” (UCBWM 150 Years).
The Ottoman Empire as of 1453 grew from the ashes of the Roman Empire and controlled Middle East, much of Near East and parts of Africa and Europe until about the beginning of 19th century. As such there was no specific race controlling the empire and the children of conquered peoples held powerful office in the Ottoman Empire and Armenians were not spared.
During the nineteenth century the politics of the area were dominated by conflicts between Russia, Germany, Italy, England, the European governors in the Near East and the native people, governments and religions of the Near East. This was feed and encouraged by the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the instability of its political structure. The outer fringes of the Ottoman Empire were seen as rich prizes in the expansion of Russia and the European communities.
Turkey came through WW1 without being completely over run and divided amongst the Allies. Throughout the turmoil of one political crisis and war after another, multi-national missionary groups struggled to spread the word of Christ. These individuals had multiple objectives in their occupation of the Near East countries. Primary may have been the desire to restore the Christian faith in the area.
The Turks were, indeed, defeated at the end of World War I, despite their previous victories at Gallipoli and elsewhere. The armistice was concluded at the port of Mudros, Lemnos, on October 30, 1918. Admiral Calthorpe, signatory of the armistice, was appointed British High Commissioner at Istanbul. He was provided with a special staff for this new post.
The Allies did not wait for a peace treaty after the armistice for claiming the Ottoman territory. Just 13 days after the Armistice, French, and British Troops entered the city in November of 1918. Early in December 1918, Allied troops occupied sections of Constantinople and set up an Allied military administration.
On February 5th, the Foreign Office instructed the British High Commissioner in Istanbul to ask officially the Turkish Government to hand over to him or nearest allied commander such Turkish officers or officials accused of following offences: (i) Failure to comply with armistice terms, (ii) Impending execution of armistice terms, (iii) Insolence to British commanders and officers, (iv) 111- Treatment of prisoners, (v) Outrages to Armenians or other subject races in Turkey and Transcaucasia, (vi) Participation in looting, destruction of property, etc., and, (vii) Any other breaches of the laws and customs of war.
Soon in same year the allies were informed that the Ottoman Empire was in compliance with its full apparatus to the occupation forces. Armenian claims and POW matters would be investigated by a commission.
Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919–1920 were courts-martial of the Ottoman Empire during the aftermath the World War I. Former officials were court-martialled including the charges of the massacres of both Armenians and Greeks as well as ill treatment of POWs in Turkish hands.
Most of the Turkish courts-martial were dismissed and the serious ones were relocated to the "International Court-Martial in Malta" rather than being held in a Turkish court whose "findings cannot be held of any account at all." (John de Robeck,) The courts-martial were labeled "Turkish" because of their selective accusation of only the Turkish subjects of the Ottoman Empire. During the second stage the international trials, Ottoman politicians, generals, and intellectuals were relocated from Constantinople jails to the British colony of Malta, called the Malta exiles, where they were held for some three years while searches were made in the archives of Constantinople, London, Paris and Washington to find proof of their guilt.
The tribunals were held under occupation, thus the judges were under the scrutiny of the occupying forces. However, the validity of the evidence presented in these testimonials has been questioned owing to a lack of defendant rights. The validity of the evidences presented, such as letters and orders have been in study. Some of them had proven to be forgeries. In some cases hearsay was an issue as direct evidence has never been presented. When the international trials were staged, the High Commissioner at Constantinople, Calthorpe, was replaced by John de Robeck, the Commander-in-Chief, and Mediterranean, who said "that its findings cannot be held of any account at all."
New series of deportations continued, in small groups, from March to November 1920, and the number of Turkish detainees at Malta reached the total figure of 144 persons.
The alleged offenders were already in British hands, detained at Malta prison, The British forces were in occupation of Turkish territory. Therefore all Turkish Central State Archives and some of those kept in provinces were at the disposal of British authorities. The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul was, from the very beginning of allied occupation, in close collaboration with the British authorities in Turkey, and nearly all Armenian informers, spies, and "witnesses" offered their services to their British masters in order to revenge the Turks.
On July 19, 1920, Winston S. Churchill submitted to his Cabinet the following secret memorandum expressing his concerns in the matter of Malta Tribunal: "I circulate to the Cabinet a long list of prominent Turkish politicians, ex-ministers, generals, deputies and others whom we are still keeping as prisoners at Malta. It seems to me that this list should be carefully revised by the Attorney General, and that those men against whom no proceedings are contemplated should be released at the first convenient opportunity." PRO?FO. 371/ 5090 and C.P. 1649: Memorandum by the Secretary of State for War (Cabinet) on position of Turkish prisoners interned at Malta, dated July 19, 1920. On March 31,1921, Lord Curzon sent the following telegram to Sir Auckland Geddes, the British Ambassador in Washington: ?There are in hands of Majesty’s government at Malta a number of Turks arrested for alleged complicity in the Armenian massacres. There are considerable difficulties in establishing proofs of guilt. Please ascertain if the United States government is in possession of any evidence that would be of value for the purpose of prosecution. British Archives. PRO?F. 0. 371/ 6500/ E.3552, Curzon to Geddes Telegram No 176, dated March 31, 1921
Upon this memorandum by Mr. Churchill, the whole question of Turkish prisoners in Malta was discussed, for the first time, at the British Cabinet meeting held on August 4, 1920, At the same time the Law Officers of the Crown were consulted on the subject and they had submitted to the Cabinet an interesting memorandum. It was clear that the Law Officers were dealing only with few Turkish deportees accused of ill-treatment of British prisoners of war. No material or evidence ever existed about alleged and propagandized Armenian massacre. Therefore, the Law Officers of the Crown abstained from accusing anyone of Turkish deportees of such a crime. They have given to the Cabinet the following opinion:
"The list of Turkish subjects who have been sent to Malta on the instruction of H.M. High Commissioner at Constantinople and detained there falls roughly into three categories: 1) political offenders, 2) persons accused of deportations, pillage and massacres, 3) persons accused of ill-treatment of prisoners of war."
"The third category is the only one which comes within our purview, and we have no knowledge as to the individuals contained in the other categories."
"The identification of those charged with ill-treatment of prisoners of war, is a matter of some difficulty... The only person on this list who appears to be quite clearly identifiable is 2707 Major Mazlum Bey Edip... In addition it is possible that 2676 Djelal Bey, 2679 Tevfik Mehmed, 2680 Tevfik Ahmed, 2694 DjemalEfendi Abdul and 2710 Hakki Bey Ibrahim maybe identical with persons of similar names.."
"So far as concerns the material that has been before us, the above are the only persons whose detention on the ground of ill - treatment of prisoners of war seems desirable. But we would observe that the arrests have all been made on the instructions of the High Commissioner at Constantinople. He no doubt acted on evidence which came into his hands and reference to him would appear to be desirable before any definite action is taken for the release of any of these men."
At their meeting held on August 4th, 1920, The Cabinet agreed that:
"The list (of the Deportees) should be carefully revised by the Attorney General with a view to selecting the names of those it was proposed to prosecute, so that those against whom no proceedings were contemplated should be released at the first convenient opportunity."
This decision was accordingly communicated to the Attorney General. This was the first step toward the release of Turkish detainees in Malta.
Sir Auckland Geddes stated: “I have made several inquiries at the State Department, and today I am informed that while they are in possession of a large number of documents concerning the Armenian relocations, from the description, I am doubtful whether these documents are likely to prove useful as evidence in prosecuting Turks confined in Malta. Should His Majesty’s government so desire, these documents will be placed at the disposal of His Majesty’s Embassy on the understanding that the source of information will not be divulged. [Intimation that the available documents are flimsy, as such if their sources are revealed it would be embarrassing for the U.S. State Department.] British Archives: PRO?F. 0.371/ 6500/ E.6311 Geddes to Curzon, Telegram No 374, dated June 1921.
But until March 1921, absolutely no evidence at all was produced against those persons and no action whatsoever was taken for their prosecution. Nothing as evidence or material ever existed neither at the possession of the British authorities in London nor in that of the Governor of Malta, and, therefore, all hopes were centered on H.M. High Commission in Istanbul.
"The present section (i.e. Armenian and Greek Section of H.M. High Commission) can only collect such information as is passed to it or which voluntarily finds its way here. The section now has recorded in easily available form of information concerning the 118 deportees, all alleged to have been guilty... (But) none of this information is in itself has strict legal value...
"The Americans must be in possession of a mass of invaluable material..."
To sum up, there was no evidence at all to prove that such a crime as alleged Armenian massacre ever committed in Turkey. Therefore it was proved impossible to produce any dossier in the legal sense against anyone of Turkish deportees at Malta-
On September 19th, Lord Curzon authorized Sir H. Rumbold to negotiate as proposed and even to consent to the release of the eight Turks in question. He wrote: "The War Office however is ready to forego trial of the eight Turks charged with cruelty to British prisoners if release of all British prisoners can thereby be secured before winter. Should you therefore find it necessary, you may agree to release of the above mentioned eight Turks thus fall back on an "all for all" exchange. (96)
Sir H. Rumbold made it clear that the British authorities waived all claims to bring the eight Turks to trial whether by a Turkish or another court.
Thus, the meticulous search conducted by the British for 30 months with an utmost zeal to vindicate the Armenian allegations produced nothing. The much-touted "eyewitness accounts," "hard proof" and "evidence" proved to be grotesque lies.
The British, deeply embarrassed by this unexpected turn of events, offered to exchange their prisoners of war in the hands of the Ottoman government with the deportees of Malta. At that point, those prominent Turkish nationals detained arbitrarily and willfully in Malta were no longer suspects but hostages in the hands of the British government. To spare themselves further embarrassment, the British dropped the case. Field Marshal Plumer, Governor and Commander-in-chief of Malta, reported that all Turkish deportees in Malta embarked on board HMS "Chrysanthemum" and R.F.A. "Montana!" on the afternoon of the 25th October, 1921. "Chrysanthemum" and "Montenal" arrived at Inebolu on October 31st and all deportees of Malta landed safely on Turkish soil. And all British prisoners who were handed over to their authorities reached Istanbul on November 2nd.(102).
The episode of the deportees of Malta thus ended.
Hovhannes Katchaznouni, First Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnagtzoutiun) had these to say about the state of affairs (The Manifesto of Hovhannes Katchaznouni, First Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic. Translated from the original by Matthew A. Callender, Edited by John Roy Carlson (Arthur A. Derounian):
“At the beginning of the Fall of 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war but had already been making preparations, Armenian revolutionary bands began to be formed in Transcaucasia with great enthusiasm and, with especially, much uproar.... In the Fall of 1914 Armenian volunteer bands organized themselves and fought against the Turks because they could not refrain from organizing and fighting. This was (in) [sic.] an inevitable result of a psychology on which the Armenian people had nourished itself during an entire generation: that mentality should have found its expression, and did so. He declares: one of the main aspects of Armenian « national psychology... [is] to seek external causes for [Armenian ] misfortune. ». .... When the skirmishes had started the Turks proposed that we meet and confer. We did not do so and defied them...The troops were constantly retreating and deserting their positions; they threw away their arms and dispersed in the villages. Our army was demoralized during the period of internal strife, the inane destruction and the pillage that went [on] without punishment. ..... And the advancing Turks fought only against the regular soldiers; they did not carry the battle to the civilian sector.
Edward Fox, the American District Commander at Kars, in a telegram, dated October 31, 1920, (7) to Admiral Bristol, the U.S. High Commissioner in Istanbul, wrote that “. The Turkish soldiers were well-disciplined and that there had not been any massacres... When on November 2, 1920, the armies of Kâzim Karabekir Pasha reached Gümrü (Alexandropol, now Leninakan) negotiations with Turks began and It was decided that; the Turkish and the Armenian Governments, « for the purpose of putting an end to the hostilities and to find a basis of agreement, have sat down for an examination of the facts. The discussions resulted in the following agreement : The state of war between Turkey and the Armenian Republic was to be ended. The frontier between Turkey and Armenia was established. The territories designated for Turkey were to remain as such « by irrefutable historical, ethnic and legal rights. »
118 Ottoman officials were imprisoned in the island of Malta for two and a half years and without lawyers because the British public demanded justice for massacres of Armenians that were always appearing in the newspapers. Though Britain knew that the media was used throughout World War I to paint an evil picture of the Central Powers and especially the Ottoman Empire, they fell victim to their own propaganda and were forced to create a military tribunal to punish the Ottomans for war crimes and try to calm the British public they themselves had enraged.
The Malta Tribunal that began on May 28, 1919 was a predecessor to the Nuremberg trials, even with all the evidence and archives of the Ottoman Empire at their fingertips they failed to find any evidence supporting the theory that the Ottomans had ordered a plan of genocide to exterminate the Armenians. The arrests continued as evidence was searched for throughout the world.
In fact, the Ottoman archives, since they were captured by the British (the occupation of Constantinople), were handed to an Armenian archivist who could read Ottoman documents, Haig Kazarian, to search for any evidence of crimes against humanity.
One must note that in such a desperate time, the Ottoman Empire would be too busy fighting a world war on several fronts to commit soldiers, time, and money to kill Armenians.
The primary sources you talk about describe massacres, killings, starvation, and disease. Primary sources talk about how they witness death and suffering, which was happening to almost every ethnicity during World War I. However, only forgeries have been offered by Armenian historians to prove that the government intended to exterminate Armenians.
You cannot simply accuse an empire of genocide without sufficient evidence.
The death of civilians within a war should not be automatically labeled genocide without a real systematic attempt by a group to eliminate them from this world.
You claim something and then when someone asks you where the evidence is, you call them a liar or denier. This is unjust.
Armenians have more churches in Turkey than in Armenia! There is no proof of Armenian churches being damaged purposefully. There are many Armenian churches in Turkey that are not damaged. Recognition of Armenian Genocide by governments is simply a result of good political campaigning by Armenians living in France, Canada, and Greece. This doesn't mean those who vote for recognition are historians and it doesn't prove genocide just because some countries recognized it. A huge percentage of the Armenian population survived. Many even boarded Allied ships and started new lives in France, Russia, Italy, and the United States. Is it any wonder that the largest populations of Armenians today happen to be in Russia, France, and the United States? If they were mostly killed off, did they multiply faster than all the other ethnic groups in the world?
When the Ottoman army itself is going into battle starving and with disease---is it any surprise that Armenians too would die?
What happened to the Ottoman Armenians cannot be described as genocide because of the lack of evidence that it was a genocide. In addition, there are plenty of contradictory facts that completely falsify any thesis of genocide.
The allegations of Turkish mistreatment of POW have also been repelled at the said tribunal. ( 2011)