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The first large-scale massacres
In the wake of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, the Armenians and their lands were trapped between the three despotic empires of the region – Persia, Russia and especially the Ottoman Empire. They were also pawns in the European powers’ struggle for influence. Like other non-Muslim subjects of the Sultan-Caliph, they were organized into an ethno-confessional community (
The Armenians are under the authority of their patriarch in Constantinople. Like the Greeks and the Jews, they were granted both religious and cultural autonomy within the framework of the millet (or nation), but under the discriminatory status of dhimmi (protected tributaries), they were forbidden to bear arms and heavily taxed. ). As the Ottoman Empire weakened and declined, gradually losing its possessions in Europe and struggling to improve its mode of governance, the fate of the Armenians darkened. The demographic balance of the region was upset by intersecting migrations of Muslims in the Balkans and the Caucasus deported by the Russians to Anatolia, and Armenians that the very Christian Tsar sought to attract to the country’s new lands.
The Armenian Question became part of the Eastern Question at the Congress of Berlin (1878), which insisted on the need for reform in order to ensure the safety of Christians. The failure of such reforms radicalized some of the new urban elites that emerged in the context of early modernization by the Empire, shaped by Enlightenment ideals. The first Armenian political parties appeared, advocating national emancipation, and a self-defence movement was formed in rural areas, centered around fedais, "bandits of honour". Out of fear of separatism and in order to hold the empire together, Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) took the route of Islamism and repression, pitting Kurdish tribes against Armenia villagers. In 1894-96, a minor tax revolt minor served as a pretext for mass killings throughout the country, led by the army and regiments of Kurdish hamidiye or tcherkesses, modelled after the Cossacks. The repression left over 200,000 dead, an equal number of refugees who left for the Russian Caucasus, Europe and the US, and tens of thousands of orphans.
In July 1908, a group of officers, members of the Young Turk opposition party, restored the first Ottoman constitution (1876) that had been suspended by Abdulhamid II in 1878. This brought renewed hope, and the various communities began to mix. Starting in April 1909, however, when supporters of the Sultan attempt a counter-revolution, new massacres occurred in Adana, leaving 30,000 dead.
To learn more, click on the link below :
Massacres of 1894-1896 (see the Genocide section of the bibliography)
Chronological Index : The Extermination of Ottoman Armenians by the Young Turk Regime (1915-1916) (In : Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence)