Genocides of Armenians and Kurdsby Rit Nosotro
Compare the 1915 genocide of Armenians (a Christian minority within the Ottoman /Muslim Empire) with the massacres of the Kurds under Iraqi leadership.
What if, instead of slavery, the United States had murdered all of the African Americans? What if, instead of relocating some Native American tribes, they were completely wiped out? This annihilation is essentially what happened with the Armenians in the early 1900's and the Kurds in the 1980's.
The histories of both the Armenians and the Kurds have similarities. Both the Armenians and the Kurds have lived in their homelands for a long time. By the 12th century AD, the land of current Iraq was known as Kurdistan. The Armenians are identified by the 6th century BC. Both groups have been a struggling minority, but the Kurds have always rebelled, while the Armenians have been more passive. The Armenians have been dominated and suppressed from Persians, Muslims in the 7th century, to Seljuk Turks and Turcomens in the 13th and 14th century. This ruined the land and destroyed the state of Armenia. In the 16th century, the Armenians came under the control of the Ottoman Empire Turks. The Kurds in Iraq have also been dominated by the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, and neither of these groups would take in the Kurds.
Another similarity between the two groups is the constant subjugation and terrors they underwent before their specific genocide. Besides being lesser people, not allowed to have weapons for any purpose, the Armenians were forced to leave their homes, so that Armenia could be a more Turkish state. Persians, Kurds, and other peoples moved into the Armenian lands. This mass migration, and re-population of Armenian lands by other people (Persians, Kurds, etc.) before what is considered the genocide corresponds to a similar eradication of Kurds from their homes in 1975. The Kurds had been promised an autonomous state at the Treaty of Sevres, after the Ottoman Empire collapsed. But, Britain wanted the oil in Kurdish lands, so those areas were left out of their promised land. After Saddam Hussein came to power, he promised the Kurds an autonomous state, but once again, the oil fields which were rightful Kurdish lands, were left out of the deal. The main Kurdish revolters, Bzarni and his followers, claimed their land. Iraq, in return, changed the boundaries of countries to give Arabs a majority. This futher supported Saddam and undermine the Kurds. Bazarni and his men, the peshmerga, would not accept these terms.
In 1983, Iraq went to war with Iran. Iraq had claimed a river bank on Iranian soil which led to a decade of fighting and millions killed. The USA reluctantly supported Iraq's secular leader rather than Iran's Islamic extreamist government but they were sympathetic to the plight of the Kurds. The Kurdish Democratic Party along with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, fought with Iran, against their own country during the Iran/Iraq war. Iran provided the Kurds with weapons, funds, and medical help, in exchange for the PUK's help in destroying the Ba'ath party and Suddam Hussein. Although the PUK had at first been against the KDP and it's siding with Iran, the destruction of their land during the war by the Ba'ath party, forced the PUK to join arms with Iran to protect themselves, and keep the hope and fight of the Kurds alive. The Kurds accrued the help of the United States and Iran to aid in their own revolt against Iraq. When Iraq finally promised Iran partial control of the waterway to end the war, Iran withdrew aid to the peshmerga. The USA, not wanting war with Iraq, also ended its covert assitance of the Kurdish rebellion. Because of Kurdish 'treason' to the country by crawling to foreign powers for help, Saddam gassed the Kurds and forced the survivors to leave their homes. To make Iraq have a more Arab population, the Kurds were sent to houses far away from one another, in the middle of the desert, with no way to provide for themselves. Their old homes were destroyed, and different people were moved into their lands.
Another similarity between these two groups is that they tried to get help from foreign powers. The Armenians took advantage of the fact that European powers were beginning to trade with the Middle East, and they tapped into the trade. This gave them money, rejuvenated them as a people, and sponsored education. Because the Armenians had contacts in Europe, they appealed to fellow Christians for help against the Muslim Turks who were endangering their lives. The Turks blamed their shrinking empire on European powers who had bypassed the dying Ottoman Empire in their global trade. The Turks took their rage out on the Armenians, who were friendly with the Europeans. Like Hilter, who blamed the Jews for Germany's ills, the Muslim Turks blamed the Christian Armenians for their own self imposed destruction. This is why the Turks committed such an appaling genocide.
The largest genocide against the Armenians took place in 1915. It had many similarities with the main genocide against the Kurds in 1987-89, a campaign known as Anfal. One similarity is that both the parties responsible for the genocides, killed off the men. The Turks summoned all the Armenians who were in the army, and had them killed, blaming them for their war troubles. Next, they rounded up the important men in society, the clergy, newspaper editors, and other tradesmen, and had them executed. In Iraq, the men gathered from the prohibited areas the government set up, and those captured after a village was destroyed, were killed if they were between 15 and 70 years old. The main way of annihilation in the Armenian genocide was the Turks forcing the Armenians to leave their homes. The Turks used deportation to do the killing. They forced the Armenians to march for a long way, and allowed Turks and Kurds to rape, abduct, kill, and steal from the many Armenians marching through the countryside. Many died of starvation, murder, and exposure. Those who finally made it to the forced destination, the desert, were put in camps and died or were killed.
The Anfal campaign against the Kurds used deportation as well, but in a different way. Anfal considered everyone who was living in the 'prohibited areas' to be peshmerga, whether or not, they were actually in a guerilla rebellion group. The Ba'ath party usually attacked a city first with chemical bombs, then sent in militia to destroy everything and round up the inhabitants of the villages for removal to camps for processing. The men and teenage boys were separated, and most of the men were killed in mass shootings. The women and children were sent to different camps and prisons.
The survivors of both genocides continue to suffer. The Armenian population decreased by over a million, while the Kurdish population had lost 50-100 thousand at least. The Armenian generation and their children were left in poverty. The many Kurds that were exposed to chemical gases, are suffering from many diseases and cancers. The Kurdish population has a huge decrease in its' male population. Widows and children are left alone, and many women can no longer have children because of effects of the chemical attacks. In both cases, the world has largely sat by and watched. Americans sent food, medical, and educational assistance to the Armenians. They also pressured Turkey, her long time ally during the cold war, into reversing the policies toward the Armenians. The world has also done little to help the Kurds. In fact, the when the United States aided Iraq in the war against Iran, it indirectly helped Iraq in it's campaign against the Kurds. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the Bush administration supported another uprising by the Kurds against Saddam, and did enforce a no-fly zone in northern Iraq as they fought Desert Storm to remove Iraq from Kuwait. The sanctions against Iraq following the US led victory granted the Kurds a protected land. The no-fly zone was only partially effective against Saddam's renewed retailiation against the Kurds. It was not until Saddam's capture that a lawful return of the Kurds was attempted by US coallition forces in spite of Arab opposition.
The Kurds and the Armenians genocide are alike in that hey were both persecuted long before the genocides that killed off the male population and deporting the people away from their homes. Why would God allow the horrors that continue to plague the Armenians and Kurds? Perhaps God has used the suffering of the Kurds and Armenians, at the hands of the Turks, to be an issue of contention which prevents Turkey from joining the EU. Furthermore, perhaps God allowed for the suffering of the Kurds under the reign of Saddam Hussein, in order to build up a USA collation that took that dictator out of power. In this senario, if Saladin would have created a Kurdish state then the geopolitical history of that region would have been radically different. One thing is for certain, God is all wise and all just as he builds up and tears down nations for His glory. What must be done to prevent these types of atrocities of unwanted minorities from being murdered? If everyone followed God's commandments, it would be fairly simple: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39).
What similarity did the Armenian and Kurdish genocide have?
a) They were both squashed by giant meatballs.
b) Both groups were hit with chemical weapons.
c) The men in both parties were targeted and killed.
d) They were both hated because they were Christians.
e) Suddam Hussein was responsible for both genocides.
What is one of the problems that plagues the Kurds after the genocide?
a) Survivors of chemical attacks suffer from cancer, infertility, and other diseases.
b) Many suffer from eggplant phobia.
c) The Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire put yucky pictures of the Kurds in their newspapers.
d) Kurds have government problems now that they have their own country
e) Everyone has lost his or her enjoyment of smiley faces.
What was one reason the Turks and the Ba'ath party killed the Armenians and
a) They sang too loud.
b) Their feet stunk.
c) The Armenians were not Christians, and the Kurds were Arabs
d) They were minorities, sided with, and accepted help from foreign powers.
e) Both groups were overrunning the country with their cows.
When did the genocides take place?
a) 1915 and 1960
b) 1915 and 2001
c) 1876 and 1988
d) 1954 and 1916
e) 1915 and 1988
1. Iraq's Crime of Genocide. Human Rights Watch/ Middle East. Yale University Press, New Haven and London. Copyright 1993
2.1 Adalian, Rouben Paul. " Remembering and Understanding the Armenian Genocide." Armenian Genocide. 10 January 2004. < www.genocide.am/adalian/content.htm> ( January 10, 2004)
3. 1 Chambers, Richard L. "The Ottoman Empire." Turizm.net. 10 January 2004. < www.turizm.net/turkey/history/ottoman3.html> ( January 10, 2004)
4. 1 Goldberg, Jeffrey. "The Great Terror." Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iraq KDP International Site. 10 January 2004. < www.kdp.pp.se/JEFFREY&.htm> ( January 10, 2004)
5. 1 Jones, Adam. "Case Study: The Anfal Campaign (Iraqi Kurdistan), 1988." Gendercide Watch. 10 January 2004. < www.gendercide.org/case_anfal.html> ( January 10, 2004)
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