Nearly 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, during World War I. Turks by and large do not believe mass killings were planned.
CUNGUS, Turkey — The crumbling stone monastery, built into the hillside, stands as a forlorn monument to an awful past. So, too, does the decaying church on the other side of this mountain village. Farther out, a crevice is sliced into the earth, so deep that peering into it, one sees only blackness. Haunting for its history, it was there that a century ago, an untold number of Armenians were tossed to their deaths.
“They threw them in that hole, all the men,” said Vahit Sahin, 78, sitting at a cafe in the center of the village, reciting the stories that have passed through generations.
Mr. Sahin turned in his chair and pointed toward the monastery. “That side was Armenian.” He turned back. “This side was Muslim. At first, they were really friendly with each other.”
A hundred years ago, amid the upheaval of World War I, this village and countless others across eastern Anatolia became killing fields as the desperate leadership of the Ottoman Empire, having lost the Balkans and facing the prospect of losing its Arab territories as well, saw a threat closer to home.
Worried that the Christian Armenian population was planning to align with Russia, a primary enemy of the Ottoman Turks, officials embarked on what historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century: Nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed, some in massacres like the one here, others in forced marches to the Syrian desert that left them starved to death.
The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War. It also remains that conflict’s most bitterly contested legacy, having been met by the Turkish authorities with 100 years of silence and denial. For surviving Armenians and their descendants, the genocide became a central marker of their identity, the psychic wounds passed through generations.
“Armenians have passed one whole century, screaming to the world that this happened,” said Gaffur Turkay, whose grandfather, as a young boy, survived the genocide and was taken in by a Muslim family. Mr. Turkay, in recent years, after discovering his heritage, began identifying as an Armenian and converted to Christianity. “We want to be part of this country with our original identities, just as we were a century ago,” he said.
Following the Pope’s lead:
The European Parliament backed a motion on Wednesday that calls the massacre a century ago of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces a “genocide”, days after Pope Francis triggered fury in Turkey by using the same term.
Pope Francis sparked a diplomatic row last Sunday by calling the killings “the first genocide of the 20th century”. His remarks prompted Turkey to summon the Vatican’s ambassador to the Holy See and to recall its own.
The European Parliament sprang to the pope’s defense, commending the message the pontiff delivered at the weekend.
I like the “sprang to the pope’s defense” part.
More (from Reuters): European Parliament votes to call 1915 Armenian killings genocide
Who says women don’t make good Soldiers? Gjohnsit reports,
On Monday the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that the isolated Kurdish enclave of Kobani was “about to fall” to a massive, sustained assault from ISIS.
Also on Monday, Rooz Bahjat, a Kurdish intelligence officer stationed in Kobani said the city would fall within “the next 24 hours.” By now ISIS was expecting to be slaughtering civilians by the score.
Instead, something totally unexpected happened - ISIS has been forced to pull back.
A local Kobani official, Idris Nahsen, told AFP that fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had managed to push ISIS fighters outside several key areas after “helpful” airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition
“The situation has changed since yesterday. YPG forces have pushed back ISIS forces,” he said.
Mark Strauss Brought to my attention, a people I had never heard of before
New research by an Istanbul-based artist has documented hundreds of haunting, sepia-toned photographs belonging to Turkey’s mysterious Dönme community—a once-thriving religious sect that practiced a unique set of beliefs based on Sufi mysticism and Judaism. Today, few remain after their true identity was discovered.
Dönme is a Turkish term meaning to “turn from one path to another” or, in this context, to convert. Originally, the community was followers of the heretical, 17th-century rabbi, Sabbatai Zevi, who rejected many traditional Jewish beliefs in pursuit of iconoclastic mysticism. Proclaiming himself the Messiah, the charismatic Zevi traveled the Ottoman Empire, promising Jews imminent deliverance from their long exile, until the authorities decided to put an end to his troublemaking by offering him the choice of death or conversion to Islam.
Zevi chose to convert, leaving thousands of followers bewildered and abandoned. But some 300 families joined Zevi in converting to Islam. By the late 1600s, they had established a community in Salonika, a city with a large Jewish population in Ottoman Greece.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of “barbarism that surpasses Hitler” during its ground invasion of Gaza.
Erdogan made the comment during a campaign speech Saturday in the Black Sea port city of Ordu. He is running for the presidency in elections next month.
He has been speaking out strongly against Israel during its offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, which has killed more than 300 Palestinians. He accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and has said the operation there has derailed efforts to normalize Turkish-Israeli ties. Those soured after Israel’s 2010 raid on an aid ship which killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American.
Hundreds have also staged protests in recent days outside Israeli diplomatic mission in Ankara and Istanbul.
The genius behind Sarah’s simple but profound invention is that the Wonderbag is a non-electric, heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source. Today, due to Sarah’s passion, energy, and perseverance, 750,000 bags have been distributed, first round of carbon credits registered and issued, production capabilities in Rwanda, Mexico and Turkey with launches in Kenya, Nigeria and Somaliland. 14,000 bags have been sold in the UK, Europe and USA, with a buy-one-give-one model to support getting Wonderbags into humanitarian relief.
There is a certain sense of destiny behind Sarah and Paul’s meeting. “Our office was in Durban as was Unilever’s South Africa headquarters located. I had followed Paul’s move into the CEO ranks and what he was trying to accomplish. But I had no understanding of corporate politics and just asked for a meeting. Paul was in for the World Cup, when we were running our first pilot program with 100,000 bags as part of a promotional package,” says Collins.
“If he senses fear in you, he will chase after you like a dog,” said Stephanie Jones, an employee. But it’s a female. I don’t know if it would really do anything, if it has spurs or anything. But I don’t know, she likes to terrorize people.”
It’s a world of excitement here in SW PA!
The three major Axis powers — Germany, Japan, and Italy — committed a host of catastrophic errors during the war. But some of these miscalculations were considerably worse than others. Here are the most significant blunders made by the Axis during WWII.
Above: German soldiers fighting in Russia.
Late last year we told you about the 8 worst mistakes made by the Allies during the war. Time now to turn our attention to the most serious mistakes made by Axis planners. The list, which is ordered (somewhat) chronologically, addresses planning and strategic errors rather than operational ones.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has labeled an investigative reporter who has published a number of leaked documents related to a widening corruption scandal a traitor. Mr. Erdogan’s lawyers have also filed suit against a newspaper columnist, once a reliable supporter of the prime minister, for his critical Twitter messages.
Under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has gained a reputation for harassing and intimidating the news media. More journalists are in jail in Turkey than anywhere else in the world, including China and Iran.
In Turkey as elsewhere in the Middle East, the explosion of Internet-based media outlets has surpassed the ability of the government to control information completely. When Nazli Ilicak, a longtime journalist here, lost her job recently at the pro-government newspaper Sabah after emerging as a strong voice against the government’s handling of the corruption inquiry, she said she would simply keep up her criticism on Twitter and on independent websites.
“I have 500,000 followers,” she said in a recent television appearance. “That’s more than Sabah’s circulation.” [Emphasis added.]
I’m not sure whether this is an article about Turkey or an article about Twitter. Fascinating, either way.