The Armenian genocide began on April 24, 1915, with the murder of 600 Armenian notables in Istanbul. By 1923, “1.1 to 1.8 million [had been] killed out of about 2.5 million Armenians alive in the Ottoman lands at the onset of the slaughter in 1915”.
The issue remains highly sensitive in Turkey to this day, where the accusation of genocide is met with fierce denials. According to an October 2007 Guardian article, listed below:
The genocide label is a sensitive issue in Turkey, which has long claimed that mass killings, plus famine and disease, were part of the civil upheavals accompanying the collapse of the Ottoman empire. Armenians and most western historians believe the events of 1915 were state-sponsored genocide. Estimates of the death toll range up to 1.5 million people.
As of November 2007, both the US and Israel continue to deny that what occurred in Turkey deserves the label “genocide”.
According to Robert Fisk of The Independent, the Turkish Interior Minister, Talaat Pasha, sent these instructions on 15 September 1915 to his prefect in Aleppo, detailing how that official should deal with the thousands of Armenians living there: “You have already been informed that the government … has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons living in Turkey…. Their existence must be terminated, however tragic the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to any scruples of conscience.”
In an interview published August 1, 1926, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern secular Turkish republic, seemed to acknowledge these events as genocide, speaking in an interview with the Los Angeles Examiner:
These left_overs from the former Young Turk Party, who should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse, from their homes and massacred, have been restive under the republican rule. They have hitherto lived on plunder, robbery and bribery and become inimical to any idea, or suggestion to enlist in useful labor and earn their living by the honest sweat of their brow.
1.1. to 1.8 million Armenian Christians. Men were killed first; in fact, some refer to these events as “gendercide”
But this was not the first Armenian genocide.
Turkish soldiers and civilians, and Kurdish tribespeople, in a process initiated by Enver Pasha, Cemal Pasha, and Talat Pasha, the leaders of the Central Committee of the “Young Turk” government, who planned systematic extermination and expulsion of Turkish Armenians.
The Independent (10/11/07) Robert Fisk: Holocaust denial in the White House
The Guardian (10/10/07): Bush warns Congress not to recognise Armenian ‘genocide’
The Independent (15/10/07): Robert Fisk: A reign of terror which history has chosen to neglect
The Independent (27/10/07): Survivors protest at Israel’s stance on Armenian genocide