The Word on the Week

Armenian Genocide

In this decade of remembering anniversaries the Armenian one, which was commemorated this week, almost escaped our attention. Indeed it is not an easy task to find Armenia on the map, tucked in between Turkey on the West and Kurdistan on the East and having Russia and Syria as neighbours on the other borders.

It was on the 24th April one hundred years ago that the Ottoman government seized 250 Armenian leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople, put them in prison and later had them slaughtered.

While this was happening the Allied forces were embarking on their fateful attempt to take Constantinople via Gallipoli, on the West side of Turkey, after unsuccessful attempts to break through the Dardanelles by sea.

Commemorations of both these events took place this week with our President taking part on behalf of the 3,000 Irish who died there.

We first came across the Armenian genocide when we met Roger Carswell’s mother in Leeds. She had been a girl at the time of the massacre and wrote a first hand account of it.

Under the pretence of deportation whole populations from the Arminian provinces were driven from their homes to perish in the sands of the Syrian Desert. At the time Winston Churchill described the massacres as “an administrative holocaust”. The land was emptied of its people and the effects are seen to this day.

Those who escaped formed Armenian communities overseas and today the diaspora numbers 5 million whereas the population at home is about half that number.

So this was a First World War genocide, one that invented the word. It preceded the Hitler genocide of the Jews in the Second World War. This week the German government President said his country was in no position the judge Turkey but could offer assistance in dealing with past crimes.

To this day Turkey has not been able to acknowledge that they were involved in genocide.

This desire to wipe out a whole population has occurred more than once to the Jewish nation. It also arose in miniature when King Herod, in an endeavour to kill the infant Christ, had all the male children under the age of two put to the sword (St Matthew Chapter 2 verse 16). This was one of a number of attempts Satan made on the life of Christ. The final time was when He was invited to come down from the cross (St Matthew Chapter 27 verse 42) and ostensibly save his life but at the cost of our salvation. Jesus went through with his holocaust for sinners taking their place and making a way for the repentant guilty ones to go free.

In remembering the Armenians don’t forget the one whom they followed and because of whom death was not the end but the entry to heaven (St Matthew Chapter 10 verse 28).