• This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Above, members of an Armenian community in Romania hold banners in downtown Bucharest April 24, 2012, during a rally observing the anniversary of the beginning of the mass killings of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire.Reuters File
  • A monument with the inscription at its base, ''To the Memory of the the 1,500,000 Armenians who were Massacred during the Genocide in 1915'' is seen in a square in Decines, near Lyon, December 22, 2011.Reuters File

On 24 April, thousands around the world will mourn 100 years of an 'evil' plan designed by the Ottoman Turks, in the midst of the chaos of the First World War, to annihilate Armenian Christians from their homeland.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the mass killing of Armenians was the 'first genocide of the 20th Century.' Two million Armenians living in Turkey were thrown out of their historic homeland through deportations and massacres between 1915 and 1918.

It is estimated that up to a million and a half Armenians were systematically massacred over three years by Ottoman and Turkish military and paramilitary forces.

On 24 April, 2015, many countries will join in to observe the Armenian Genocide Centennial.

Even after 100 years, Turkey – the perpetrator of the crime – continues to avoid recognising the injustice done to the Armenians. 

Here we have compiled five things that you must know about the Armenian Genocide: 

Why is it called a genocide?

The word 'genocide' is referred to as 'the organised killing of a people' and this was what exactly the Ottoman Empire did to Armenian Christians during the First World War. The Armenian Genocide was planned and orchestrated by the Turkish government against the entire Armenian population.

The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. The bulk of the Armenian population was forcibly removed from Armenia and Anatolia to Syria, where the vast majority was sent to the desert to die of thirst and hunger.

Who are to blame for the Armenian Genocide?

The political power in command in Turkey was the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (or Ittihad ve Terakki Jemiyeti), popularly known as the Young Turks, who propagated the ideology of ethnic exclusivity.

  • Armenians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers. Kharpert, Armenia, Ottoman Empire, April, 1915Creative Commons
  • Corpses of massacred Armenians in Erzurum in 1895Creative Commons
  • Armenian intellectuals who were arrested and later executed en masse by Young Turk government authorities on the night of 24 April 1915.Creative Commons

How many were killed in the Armenian Genocide?

There were over 2 million Armenian Christians living in the Ottoman Empire, when the planned extermination of Armenians began in 1915. It is estimated that by 1923, about 1.5 million were killed. Thousands were butchered in the beginning. Many others died of starvation, exhaustion and disease, which ravaged the concentration camps.

Who were witnesses to the Armenian mass killing?

US diplomats and American missionaries were the first ones to send out reports of the mass killing. The Young Turks had imposed restrictions on reporting and photographing, and hence it was up to the foreigners, including Germans and Russian military officers who witnessed the systematic termination of Armenian Christians, to tell the world about the crimes against Christians in Turkey. Armeanian genocide photos taken by these foreign nationals have survived to tell the story of the persecuted Christians of Turkey.

Why is the Armenian genocide commemorated on 24 April?

It was on the night of 24 April, 1915, the Young Turk government arrest over 200 Armenian community leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople. Soon they were all summarily executed. And this was the beginning of the long systematic plan of the government to 'cleanse' the country of all Armenians.