Dit is wat ik in mijn proefschrift over de kwestie schreef:
Successive Turkish governments between the 1890s and the 1920s wanted to rid themselves of as many Armenians as possible. In 1890 there were some 2.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Between 1894 and 1896, Sultân ‘Abd al-Hamîd II had mass killings organized, leading to approximately 200,000 victims.
During World War I the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany and Austria against England, France and Russia. Russia tried to enlist the Armenians to take up arms against the Ottomans but, overall, it was not very successful. However, the Young Turks regime that in 1915 succeeded the sultân, used the war as a pretext for mass killings of the Armenians on a nation-wide scale in 1915-1916.
Mustapha Kemal Atatürk (Father of the Turks), who built Turkey as a secular state, organized more killings in the early 1920s.
The total death toll between 1915 and the early 1920s was between 500,000 and 1.5 million, both through direct killings and through organized death marches. Among these people killed,
were also hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christians.
The motivation behind the killings was a combination of extreme nationalistic and Islamic jihâdist fervor coupled with a strong desire for racial and religious purity in Turkey.
During the Ottoman court-martials of 1919 and 1920, many of the perpetrators publicly prided themselves in having ordered or implemented the mass murders for the sake of the well-being of the Turkish Empire. The tribunal was fully Turkish but even though the vast majority of Turks were supportive of the mass murders, the tribunal substantiated the key charge of premeditated mass murder. The proceedings of the trials can be found in Takvim i Vekayi, the official gazette of the Ottoman parliament.
The key indictment referred to the Turkish atrocities as massacres with the plundering of properties, torching of corpses and buildings, rape, torture and torment. The tribunal concluded that the crimes were perpetrated in a particularly organized way, calling it ‘the extermination of an entire people constituting a distinct community’. The court condemned many to long prison sentences and the heads of the Young Turks government were sentenced to death in absentia.
Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris: A History of the Armenian Genocide (London, 2003), pp. 342-4.