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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Anzac Day and the Armenian Genocide

As Australians mark Anzac Day this week, Armenians around the world will be remembering a disconcertingly parallel and not widely commemorated event -- the Armenian genocide of 1915. As Allied troops landed at Gallipoli, the Ottoman government was rounding up Armenian intellectuals and leaders, who were later executed en masse. The expulsion and slaughter continued for two years, and many of the Australian POWs from Gallipoli bore witness to the terrible treatment of Armenians - a witness that has only recently started to come to light through diaries and photos from those POWs.

Robert Fisk comments that Encouraged by their victory over the Allies at the Dardanelles, the Turks fell upon the Armenians with the same fury as the Nazis were to turn upon the Jews of Europe two decades later. Aware of his own disastrous role in the Allied campaign against Turkey Winston Churchill was to write in The Aftermath ... that 'it may well be that the British attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula stimulated the merciless fury of the Turkish Government'. (pp.393-4 The Great War for Civilisation: The conquest of the Middle East)

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