For nearly 7,000 years, Anatolia, geographically known as Asia Minor was an ancestral homeland to the Greeks and Armenians. Notable Greek and Armenian historical events took place in and around Asia Minor such as: Xenophon’s Anabasis, The Trojan War, the writings of Socrates and Homer’s Iliad. After the annexation of Asia Minor by the Seljuk’s and later by the Ottomans, the Greek and Armenian populations fell under Turkish authority for nearly 500 years. During the lifespan of the Ottoman Empire, the Christian populations of Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians of Asia Minor served as the backbones of the Empire. These sects were the bankers, teachers, archaeologists, lawyers, doctors, and businessmen of the empire. The West directly traded and conducted business with these sects as the Turks of the populations primarily were used for military conscription. The Empire could only sustain itself in this manner. After the Greek War of Independence, where mainland Greeks gained their independence and military setbacks against Russia and the Balkans, a relative calm in the empire soon turned into a graveyard for the minorities under Ottoman authority. From the year 1900 to 2000, ethnic cleansing campaigns and genocides occurred within Asia Minor while the world has remained silent. Ethnic cleansing is defined as the mass expulsion or killing of members of an unwanted ethnic or religious group in a society. Differing, genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part. This article will detail how this happened.
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II and Mehmed V, the Ottoman Empire suffered major military defeats at the hands of the Italians in Libya, and the Balkan League, which expelled the Ottoman Empire from the rest of its remaining European Territories. Turkish refugees flooded Turkey and the empire declared bankruptcy. The Sultan was overthrown by the CUP (Young Turks) who re-amended the constitution. Initially, Armenians and Greeks were enthused about the constitutional changes, but did not realize the true motives of the Young Turks, until the actual occurance. With WW1 looming, the Young Turks Party saw the Armenians and Greeks as thorns at their helms, assuming they would fight alongside the advancing Russian Empire that gazed its eyes on Eastern Anatolia. With a rising nationalist movement, the population of Turkey wanted a pure homogenous society, absent of the second class Christian minorities. The liquidation of the Christian religious sects came in full swing on April 24th, 1915, when the aforementioned leaders of the Empire were arrested in Constantinople, ultimately later to be executed. On May 29th, 1915, the CUP enacted the Temporary Law of Deportation (Tehcir Law), which enabled the military to forcibly remove anyone they deemed a “threat” inside of the fading Ottoman Empire. This law essentially set in motion the forced death marches of Armenians from Anatolia to the Syrian Desert. ”When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.” –Henry S Morgenthau Sr. Armenians were virtually starved to death and dehydrated during their death marches, and those who made it alive to the Syrian deserts were executed in the provinces of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor. Over 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. For the Greeks living in Turkey, massacres ensured in Constantinople, Smyrna, Adrianople, Cappadocia, Pontus, and other areas in Anatolia and Eastern Thrace. Close to 1 million Greeks were killed in their genocide.
After the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the combined efforts of the British and French Empire, Turkey was set to be partitioned in the Treaty of Sevres. Greece was originally set to have Eastern Thrace, Constantinople, and outlying areas of Western Asia Minor by the Aegean Sea, while the Armenians were set to receive Mount Ararat, a historical mountain in Armenian history. Ultimately, promises were not kept.
During the rise of the Kemalists led by Kemal Atatürk, the newly formed military of the Republic of Turkey sought to rid French rule out of Asia Minor and set their own terms from losses of WWI. When the Greece and Armenia realized Turkey was not going to comply, they asked for permission from the members of the Allied Powers (England and France) to reclaim their homelands. Armenia pressed on to Mount Ararat, while Greece initially wanted to push into Eastern Thrace and ultimately to Constantinople. Fearing that their empires would lose influence in Asia Minor,_______Hypothetically, if Greece and Armenia reclaimed their ancestral homelands, the British redirected Greece to attack through mainland Anatolia instead. Ultimately, the Armenians ultimately fell to the Turkish Army. Thus leading to Turkey to secure Mount Ararat. For Greece, they were ultimately pushed back into Smyrna (modern day Izmir) by the Kemalists who were backed by the French and British intelligence operations. During the last stand of Greek forces in Smyrna one of the most horrific tragedies in human history took place, which was the Great Fire of Smyrna. The city was set ablaze by Kemalists forces. The Armenian and Greek quarters of the city were set ablaze, except for the Turkish quarters. Over 100,000 Greeks and Armenians were either burned alive, massacred in the city by Turkish forces, or drowned in the ports of the city attempting to escape the horror. After the Kemalists solidified their rule, they forced the powers of the West to sign the Treaty of Lausanne, which ensured no member of Turkey was responsible for WWI or the Genocides of 1915. Additionally, Turkey, former Ottoman Empire belonged to ethnic Turks. They also forced a population exchange between Turks living in Greece and Greeks in Anatolia. The deported Greeks were generally harassed and massacred by Turkish forces during the population exchanges. The Kemalists ultimately did what the Sultans and Young Turks could not do, they fully expelled and purged the Greek and Armenian populations out of Asia Minor.
Presently, there are continuous island disputes within in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas between Greece and Turkey. The Turkish invasion of another ancestral homeland of Greeks, Cyprus, has worsened relations between the two NATO members. This happened because the terrorist splinter Greek group, EOKA, which terrorized the Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations of Cyprus. Turkey used this a disguise to invade the Northern Area of Cyprus to “protect” the Turkish Cypriot minority. Turkey did this with help from the United States and England, alongside NATO weaponry as the west wanted to secure their interests in the oil rich nation of Cyprus. They feared it would reunite with the Kingdom of Greece. As of 2019, the northern area is still under Turkish military occupation and a splinter state (Northern Cyprus) has formed. Various Greek news outlets have reported on the ethnic and cultural cleansing in Northern Cyprus against ancient Byzantine and Christian heritage. This state is only recognized by Turkey. Under the regime of Tayyip Erdogan, numerous violations of airspace and naval integrity has been widespread by the Turkish nation against the sovereignty of Greece. “Someone must explain to this spoiled brat not to try our patience,” he railed. “If they [the Greeks] want to fall into the sea again, if they want to be hunted down, they are welcome, the Turkish army is ready. Someone must explain to the Greek government what happened in 1922. If there is no one to explain it to them, we can come like a bullet across the Aegean and teach them history all over again.” – Turkish nationalist opposition leader Devlet Bahçeli. Due to the neutrality of the EU and NATO, Greece fears another military conflict with Turkey, this time one that can spiral out of control due to their revived nationalistic policies.
In order “entirely” wipe out the heritage left behind by the Greeks and Armenians, the Turkish government has waged a full information warfare since its inception since 1923. The erasure began with one of the first acts of Kemal Ataturk, changing the alphabet. The Turkish alphabet initially aligned with its Islamic brethren with Arabic script. In its attempt to be more globalized and integrated, the alphabet was changed into Latin script. Additionally, often times ethnic Armenians who spoke Turkish used the Armenian alphabet to communicate in the initial Arabic script of the Turkish language during the Ottoman Empire. Through this encroach of history, the Turkish government could rewrite its history (and the history of Armenians and Greeks) and deny the crimes it committed when teaching its present citizens and forthcoming generation. Today in Turkey, Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians are painted as the aggressor instead of the bullied. The use of these methods involve Turkish businessmen, scholars, government officials and spending millions to lobby against legislation recognizing that recognized what the Armenians went through. Within Turkey, the Armenian Genocide is taught as myth and even as a story of an uprising that was crushed against “traitors” in the empire. Article 301 is a resolution passed in the Republic of Turkey that makes it illegal to “insult Turkishness.” A law which condemns any free speech criticizing the republic, especially on the issue of the Armenian Genocide. Citizens and non-citizens can be detained by the authorities for even speaking out on the genocides inside of the Republic. There are 3 main arguments that the Turkish government uses for the 1915 genocide denial:
1. Claim that the mass killings of Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians were in self-defense against people who were disloyal to the Ottoman Empire during a World War.
2. Claim that the Turks also suffered many deaths. In truth most of those deaths were in battles against Britain, Australia, France, and Russia, not from their religious minorities.
3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent, due to lack of food and water, not due to intentional destruction.
Our neglect against indigenous ethic groups inside the former Ottoman Empire gave rise to the situation you see on the map below today, as Turkey couldn’t’ have do it by themselves without the world turning a blind eye to the atrocities talked about today. For our sins of the father, Armenians and Greeks say “Farewell Anatolia.”
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