More From Alder's Ledge

October 10, 2014

1915's ISIS

The Young Turks and The Islamic State

With the continued spread of the Islamic State terrorists across Syria and Iraq the world has bore witness to what genocide in the modern era looks like. This is not genocide committed by a state, it is not genocide committed by one particular ethnic group; this is genocide being committed in the name of religion. Though the Islamic State (often called ISIS, IS, or ISIL) does not practice Islam, in it's purest form, they do believe that their calling to create a caliphate and implement strict Islamic laws is called for by Islam itself. Their rigid devotion to these goals has created a wave of terror that has rapidly spread across the Middle East. It is so brutal, so barbaric, in it's nature that even old enemies have begun to work together in efforts to suppress the threat ISIS poses to the modern world.

The belief system that has spawned ISIS is not new. It is not the first time extremists within Islam have committed grotesque acts of genocide in their devotion to a perverted ideology which exploits their faith. As early as the turn of the 20th century there were modern day extremists who had found a niche in perverting Islam for their own political agendas. Sure, there have been many since. And there is little doubt that there will many more in the future. But one in particular stands out when thumbing through the history books. One that was just as hedonistic and savage in it's use of genocide to prop up a failed caliphate.

The Rise Of The Young Turks

 "You are greatly mistaken. We have this country absolutely under our control. I have no desire to shift the blame onto our underlings and I am entirely willing to accept the responsibility myself for everything that has taken place." 
~ Enver Pasha

In 1889 the Young Turks movement began with a conspiracy hatched in the Imperial Medical Academy in Istanbul, Turkey. What began with the goal of deposing the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and instituting a constitutional government rapidly failed as the students who had organized it fled to Europe. Yet their dream of a more democratic society within the Ottoman Empire did not die. As with most ideological revolutions, the methods utilized by the sultan to combat it were ineffective in crushing the ideals already embedded within Turkish society. Once the seeds of the revolution had been cast, the Ottoman Empire could do little to stop them from taking hold. 

As the movement grew so did the ideas being fed into it. While some within The Young Turks had pushed for more equality amongst the diverse population of the Ottoman empire, many of The Young Turks pushed a policy of "Turkification". The illusion of a more democratic society being constructed under The Young Turks would rapidly vanish as Turkish nationalism took hold amongst it's leadership. When they finally did get the sultan to step aside in 1908 with the creation of a constitutional government the more rabid members of The Young Turks movement took charge. 

In the beginning there was the proposed idea that minority ethnic groups and religions would have equal rights as Turkish Muslims. However, with the rise of the Pashas, the new leaders of The Young Turks, this promise vanished into thin air. Instead of offering unity amongst the diverse population of the Ottoman Empire, the Pashas set out to vilify certain ethnic groups and religions. This goal became easier to achieve as the world was plunged into "the great war" in Europe. With Russia and the Balkan states threatening the spread of yet more war and bloodshed on Ottoman lands, the Pashas capitalized upon the fear these wars created. 

World War One would offer the Pashas the cover behind which they could implement their policy of Turkification. The undesirables, as they saw them, could now easily be disposed of as the world focused on the threat Germany posed to Europe. Old scores could now be settled with the ethnic groups in the Balkans. A long standing hatred of Armenians could now be rehashed across the eastern portions of the Ottoman Empire. And the ancient Christian communities in the Middle East could now be targeted for annihilation without much backlash from Christian Europe or the rising influence of America. World War One offered the Pashas their chance to revitalize what they viewed as their own caliphate. 

Flirting With The Quran

The mixture of patriotism and religion helped The Young Turks rally large portions of the Turkish population to their cause. By not only offering the Turkish citizens greater freedoms than that the sultan permitted them but by also giving them a sense of superiority over "the others", The Young Turks had snared many of their fellow country men. The sense of religious superiority that The Young Turks had fed the Turkish citizens of the Ottoman Empire came through their denial of similar rights to other faiths within the empire. This elevated Muslim citizens to a higher level within society while engineering a new sense of serfdom amongst members of other faiths. And nowhere was this made more evident than with the Christian subjects now trapped under The Young Turks harsh dictate. 

By hen-picking verses from the Quran to support their ideology, The Young Turks set out to segregate Muslims from other faiths within the empire. This process utilized an already existing method that divided society up into "millets", or social classes. This stage of Turkification is also currently recognized in the stages of genocide as the classification stage. By using the millet system to pit Turks against "the others", the Pashas had set the Ottoman Empire on course with seemingly endless bloodshed.

Classification was just the start. Once the Young Turks had created an atmosphere in which millets could thrive they needed to accelerate the Ottoman's race toward all out genocide. This required the Pashas' to utilize their political influence over the mosques within the empire. Through this influence they could twist Quranic verses to take the next step toward genocide, symbolization. 

By taking the labels applied to "indigenous Christians" and mixing in a tone of "us verses them", the Young Turks were able to push toward genocide. This also permitted Muslim leaders across the empire the opportunity to re-institute unjust taxation under distorted interpretations of the Quran. Where the Young Turks had set up labels for the "enemy within", the Muslim community leaders had taken the leap into the stages of dehumanization and organization against Christian minorities. All of which was seemingly justified by the Young Turks' policies dictated by the umbrella of Turkification. And with religious leaders within the Muslim community backing the politics of the genocide, bloodshed was inevitable.

Rivers Of Blood

“Turkey is taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention.” 
~ Talat Pasha

The Pontic Greeks

(Greeks Mourn After Massacre, 1922)

In 1914 the Pontic Greeks became the first victims of Turkification. Though they had existed along the shores of the Black Sea for far longer than any Turks had, the Young Turks claimed all the land as Turkish. And since both ethnically and religiously the Greeks were seen as unable to be "truly Turkish" the order for their expulsion and destruction came without hesitance.

Ottoman commanders gave the order, "There is nothing but death for the Greeks, who are without honor. As soon as the slightest sign is given you, destroy everything about you immediately. As for women, stop at nothing. Do not take honor or friendship into consideration when the moment of vengeance arrives."

The Greeks within the Ottoman Empire had done nothing to warrant the genocide they would now suffer. They had simply been born Greek in a land where the governing body had embraced radical nationalism and religiously fueled hatred. The "moment of vengeance" had arrived upon them as a result of the Ottomans' defeat in the wars in the Balkans in 1912-1913. Though none of them had, with any real evidence to be supplied, fought against the Ottomans. They simply lived too close to the Balkans and just happened to be Christians.

For the Young Turks the opportunity to expel the Pontic Greeks from the Ottoman Empire was one they had long awaited. The Pashas had eyed a make-believe fortune they thought the Greeks' church and community had stashed away. And then there was the land itself. The millet system had dictated that both the land and wealth of the Greeks was rightfully Turkish. This genocide was therefore obligated by the very policies the Young Turks had set for their failed empire.

Greek men and boys were immediately rounded up to be used as "labor battalions" in the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks justified this by saying that the Ottoman Empire was under assault from the Russians and Balkan states. Their reasons were well picked in the fact that they could easily paint the outside attackers as Christian armies and thus claim that the Greeks should be forced to defend Turkish lives. This permitted the Young Turks to further dehumanize the Greeks and at the same time claim they were forcing the Greeks to prove their loyalty. It was a method that both fed into the nationalistic fervor and the religious ideology that was plaguing Turkish society at the time. No mention was given as to what conditions the Greek slaves would face in their tormentous captivity.

Greek women were often taken as sexual slaves by Turkish military members and their own Turkish neighbors. Girls were considered cheap and their value in Ottoman society was clearly less than that of man when the laws The Young Turks used are scrutinized to any degree. These women, if they survived the rape, were rarely given freedom. Many would be disposed of once the system under which they were held as slaves was finally abolished. Others would die in captivity from relentless abuse and neglect. While others would live out their lives as even less than third class citizens in a nation that had promised equality just a decade ago.

The rest of the Greek population was subjected to outright massacres and deportations. In the massacres the Ottoman military saved their bullets by utilizing knives to slash and kill their victims. Their assaults on unarmed civilians were brutal and personal. The perpetrators of the genocide against the Greeks had to watch as their victims gasped for their last breath and as blood and life slipped from the victims' bodies. This was a savage campaign that one can only guess was meant to harden the soldiers for the genocides still yet to come. It was a method that Hitler's SS death units would utilize in their creation of soldiers that could kill without hesitation.

Those who were deported were raped, robbed, and beaten as they were herded out of their homes and into the barren central lands of the Ottoman Empire. There they were left in concentration camps where food, water, and shelter were not provided. The lands upon which they were left were void of any means with which to support themselves. Those who dared to venture beyond the camps were killed if caught or died in the deserts upon which they had been placed.

The genocide of the Pontic Greeks would last from 1914 till 1923. By the time the killings ended the Young Turks had presided over the massacre of around 700,000 - 950,000 Greek civilians. The genocide had been fueled by the lack of ability on behalf of The Young Turks to "Turkify" the Greeks. Or otherwise put; the Young Turks could not force the Greeks to accept the culture or religion that The Young Turks had wished to impose upon them. The Greeks had kept their faith and their culture in spite of the brutal treatment the Young Turks had given them.

The Assyrians

 (Western Media Reported as Genocide Occurred)

In the third century the Assyrian people of Mesopotamia adopted an emerging faith that was quickly spreading, Christianity. This adaptation within Assyrian society was one for which the Assyrian people would die for time and time again. Yet it is such an intrinsic part of Assyrian society that despite their persecution for it, it still persist to this day.

At the end of the 19th century the Ottoman sultan had grown weak in his control over the Ottoman Empire. In an attempt to break up what the sultan saw as a "troublesome" portion of the empire's ethnically diverse population, the Assyrians suffered deportations from their native homelands. The irregular army, mainly Kurdish cavalry, was brutal in it's treatment of Assyrian civilians. Yet this was just the start of Assyrian suffering in the modern era.

Prior to the political instability of the late 19th century, the Assyrians had embraced the millet system under the sultan. It had provided them with some degree of religious and political autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Yet when the Young Turks came to power the very system that had protected them became the same system that would permit even greater persecution of the Assyrian people. With the redefining of the millet system came the demonetization of the "indigenous Christian" communities. And thus the targeting of the Assyrian community under the guise of implementing the millet system to the letter of the law.

Assyrian churches became targets of local Turkish militias, often sponsored by the Young Turks, as all signs of Assyrian Christendom came under fire. The community leaders amongst the Assyrians were taken off to be falsely accused of trumped up charges only to end up executed. The Young Turks wished to decapitate the Assyrian community as a whole. They wanted a defeated Assyrian population from the start. The goal was absolute submission and then annihilation. It was a strategy that was designed to limit resistance to the genocide The Young Turks had begun to carry out.

In 1914 the Turkish army began to ethnically cleanse Assyrian villages in mass operations commanded by Pashas. Men and boys from the villages were often killed on the spot while at other times the Assyrian men were forced into slave labor. Those who were forced to work for the Turkish army were given little to no food and absolutely no protection from the elements. These slave labor battalions were worked to death with the intent of killing the Assyrian male population. Those who ended up on the front lines of Turkey's war with Russia were placed in areas where they could be killed easily by both Ottoman forces and Russian shelling. The Young Turks fully intended for all Assyrian men and boys to be dead no matter how loyally they served their oppressive dictators.

Turkish men and soldiers were rewarded for their depravity by the Pashas by allowing them to abduct and enslave Assyrian girls. Women who were too old to be considered useful for sexual slavery were often raped and then killed or simply put to death on the spot. For the sexual slaves, death would come in either its physical form or through the trauma inflicted upon them as they were forced into a living hell. These abducted girls would be forced to denounce their faith, convert to Islam, and rid themselves of any signs of their native culture. To the Pashas, this was the quickest way to destroy the Assyrian culture and ethnically cleanse their bloodlines.

For those who were not outright killed in the initial massacres the horrors of deportation awaited them. The elderly, the ill, the young, and the survivors were forced into cattle cars and sent into the interior of the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks claimed this was for their own good since it removed them from areas close to the war front. Yet the concentration camps they were sent to were nothing more than barren patches of land upon which food would not grow nor could it be found.

In 1915 the London Times reported that thousands of Assyrians were being kept in concentration camps around Baghdad, Iraq. The Turks would not admit to how many Assyrians had started out on the initial death marches into Iraq's barren desert. Yet by the time news was filtering out into the British media there was only around thirty thousand survivors left alive. While the British government petitioned to take these survivors into their protection, the Turks stalled any attempts to rescue the starving Assyrians from the concentration camps the Pashas had established. For The Young Turks, this would have meant that the genocide of the Assyrians would not be complete.

By the end of the Turkish genocide of the Assyrians an estimated 750,000 Assyrians had been slaughtered or starved to death. Their property and their homes had been handed over to Turkish and Arab neighbors. The lives they had led in their homeland were now a memory to those who had managed to cling to life. And the acknowledgement of their suffering under The Young Turks genocidal regime still has yet to be achieved.

The Armenians

(Armenian Community Leaders Hung Publicly in Constantinople)

There was no minority that The Young Turks hated more than the Armenian people. The radical nationalists had long accused the Armenians for every military defeat and political crisis that the Ottoman Empire had suffered. Armenians were the perfect scapegoat for The Young Turks not only for their faith but also because of the Armenians' historic claims to a national homeland. This allowed the Pashas to not only create a "Turkey for the Turks" through the genocide of the Armenians, but also permitted them total control over Armenian lands. The destruction of the Armenians fed both the Pashas' hatred of non-Muslims and their political ambition of reconstructing their empire. 

On April 24th, 1915 the Pashas orders for the arrests and executions of Armenian community leaders was given. On that fateful day the genocide of the Armenian people began in earnest. Turkish military was deployed and prominent Armenians were immediately arrested. The Pashas had desired to eliminate those they viewed as capable of rallying Armenians in a resistance movement against the coming genocide. Yet in spite of the Pashas' attempts, the Armenian people were only galvanized by the attacks on their community. And resistance to the onslaught by Turkish authorities would be met with resistance by the common Armenian civilian. 

The Mountain Of Moses

(Armenian Defenders of Musa Dagh)

As the Turkish military razed Armenian villages and began deportations of Armenian civilians there were four areas where resistance was organized. Musa Dagh was one of those locations.

Six villages laid at the base of the mountain, Musa Dagh. This scenic mountain stands along the edge of the Mediterranean Sea just south of modern day Iskenderun, Turkey. And it was in these six villages that the Armenian civilians were ordered to submit to the deportations ordered by the Pashas. They were told that they would leave the shadow of Musa Dagh and be sent off into the deserts of Syria. Yet none of them believed the reasons The Young Turks were giving for leaving their homes. 

Taking only a few hundred rifles and a months supply of food, the Armenians took to the mountain to seek refuge from the approaching Turkish army. On July 21st the Ottoman forces laid siege to Musa Dagh in an attempt to force the Armenians down the mountain and into captivity, or certain death. Those trapped on the mountain put up fierce resistance in their attempts to keep the Turks from coming up the mountain after them. Every Armenian on Musa Dagh was prepared to die there if help did not arrive. None of the Armenians wanted to be taken by the Turks who had already begun to wipe out their homes below. 

By the time September arrived the Armenians knew that their survival relied upon gaining the attention of passing Allied ships. World War One was still raging and Turkey was still the enemy of the Allied forces. Yet the Armenians knew that there was an off chance that their homemade banners could eventually capture the attention of a passing friendly vessel. 

On September 12th the survivors on Musa Dagh managed to gain the attention of a passing French warship. Once the French forces were able to bring five ships close enough for the Armenians to evacuate the mountain safely the survivors were permitted to board the Allied vessels. By this point only around four thousand Armenians were still alive. Yet for them this was a victory. For this was their salvation from certain death at the hands of their Turkish assailants. 

These four thousand would spend the rest of the genocide in refugee camps in Egypt. Despite the conditions endured as refugees, these were the fortunate ones. They had managed to resist the genocidal efforts of The Young Turks. They had managed to defy the orders of deportation and the horrors of the concentration camps in Syria's deserts. And for the women; they had managed to escape possible rape, murder, and/or sexual slavery.

Slave Battalions

(Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians utilized as slave labor by Turks)

The Greeks and Assyrians suffered the same slavery at the hands of the Turkish military. Yet it was the Armenians who were more regularly forced into this humiliating form of suffering as the Ottomans sent endless battalions of slaves to the front lines. The Young Turks had recognized the fervor with which Turkish soldiers tortured and tormented their Armenian slaves. And therefore permitted more and more Armenian men and boys to be forced into conscripted labor for their failing army. 

In the autumn of 1914 there had been 40 thousand Armenian men serving loyally in the Ottoman military. These men were the first to be turned into slave labor battalions. Their rifles were confiscated and all their equipment that could be used to resist was taken away. Their comrades in arms were suddenly their masters. And their job went from defending their homeland, the empire, from foreign invaders to suddenly being forced to work as slaves for new tyrants. 

Slave laborers in the Turkish military were utilized as human pack-mules. They were made to carry the equipment of their old comrades and pull the wagons upon which weapons of war were taken into battle. There was no job too degrading for them to be forced to do. The more filthy and dehumanizing the task, the more back breaking the work, the more the Turkish slave drivers forced their captives to do the tasks at hand. 

When a slave labor battalion outlived it's uses the Turkish military turned their rifles upon men who had once fought to maintain Turkish sovereignty. If a slave labor battalion would cost too much to transport, if the food to keep them alive was running low, if there was simply a lull in the war; the slaves could be dispensed of without concern or care by the Turkish forces. Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians serving as slaves were not to be considered human. Their torture and torment was dictated from the top down. And their lives were cheap. To outlive their purposes on the battle field was a death warrant for these unfortunate souls. 

Slave labor would continue well after World War One and the war with Russia. The Ottomans kept the institution of slavery alive so that the genocide of the "indigenous Christians" could persist.

The Bounty Of War

(Armenian Woman Tattooed During Her Sexual Slavery)

As men and boys were being sent off to die as slaves the Armenian women were left vulnerable to a different form of slavery. The Young Turks had designed in their dictates certain clauses which permitted the forced marriages and temporary holding of Armenian women as sexual slaves by Turkish men. This form of slavery was meant to reward the butchers who had cleared Armenian villages and executed countless Armenian civilians. It was a perverse incentive for the Turkish soldiers and politicians who supported the genocidal regime in Istanbul. And it permitted Turkish neighbors to literally move into an Armenian home and claim both the building and woman as their own. 

In almost every genocide there is a certain focus on the "blood purity" of an enemy. While Hitler's Nazi's would seek to cleanse their own people of "impure blood", The Young Turks sought to destroy the blood lines of their victims through mixing their own with it. The goal in both is to destroy a lineage that can be idealized by the victims that will inevitably survive even the most thorough genocidal attempts. It is the desire to wipe clean any memory of the victims' culture, community, heritage, and supposed racial identity. 

For the Young Turks this was made evident as they supported practices that not only dehumanized the victims of this sexual slavery but also set them apart from any offspring that might result form their abuses. The Young Turks incited a campaign to tattoo, or mark visibly in some way, sexual slaves that were kept long term in Turkish homes. This act would set aside women who were slaves from the rest of Turkish society. It would permit them to be ostracized by the community in which they were being held captive. And it would further make it easier for Turkish families to take any resulting children and raise them separate of their mothers.

It became common practice for many Armenian women who were taken slaves to be used in mass rapes and then, if they survived the rape, to be killed. When this occurred amongst the Turkish military it often led to Armenian girls being beheaded, having their throats slit, bayoneted, stabbed, shot, or hung. These victims were first made to suffer the barbaric rapes inflicted upon them only to have to be tortured to death by the rapists. 

There was no mercy shown to the sexual slaves taken by Ottoman Turks. Their enslavement was meant to not only separate them from the rest of the Armenians but served as a way to segregate the victims from the rest of humanity. The tattoos, the piercings, the rape, the beatings, the public humiliation; all were ways the Ottomans sought to break their spirits and kill the Armenians' soul.

(Armenian Girl Who Survived Torture By Turks)

Death Marches and Death Camps

"The Ottoman Empire should be cleaned up of the Armenians and the Lebanese. We have destroyed the former by the sword, we shall destroy the latter through starvation."
~ Enver Pasha

In April of 1915 the Pashas gave the order for the Turkish military to begin forced deportations of all Armenians across the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks wanted every Armenian village cleared out and the Armenians in them to be sent in one way or another to the deserts of Syria. In some cases the Armenians were put in cattle cars and shipped toward Syria. But in almost every case, at some point, the Armenians were forced to march into the desert where they were expected to die from exposure. 

Around 75 percent of all Armenians who were deported would die along the way to the concentration camps. Those who reached the concentration camps were not met by the sight of gas chambers or barbwire fences. These death camps were simply patches of barren earth where the victims themselves were expected to stay under the guard of nearby Turkish soldiers. If they dared to try to leave they would be executed by sword or a bullet. 

There were no means with which to provide themselves protection from the harsh winters of Syria's deserts. There was no way to hide from the summer sun. And water was nowhere to be found. Food was a distant memory for the victims of deportation. There was simply no way for life to continue in these hellish conditions. 

Those who had died along the way had suffered rapes, torture by the Turkish military, and random executions. If the deportees had not been able to carry onward to their deaths the Turkish soldiers were more than willing to oblige them with a beheading or impalement. The corpses of those who had gone ahead of them lined the ditches and pathways. Bodies of victims were strung up in the brush along the way. Rape victims decayed in the streams and behind shrubs. The signs of death were never far away. 

Death marches were used to deplete the numbers of Armenians who would need to be executed later. The Young Turks knew well what would happen to the Armenians as they were forced to walk into the deserts. This was just death by another cruel method. The goal, after all, was annihilation of the Armenians. 

The Aftermath

(Armenian Child Receiving Care In A Refugee Camp)

When the genocides committed by the Pashas and Turks finally did end the carnage was spread across the entire breadth of the Ottoman Empire. While the Ottoman Empire itself would dissolve and modern nation states arose in it's place, the legacy of Turkish atrocities did not dissolve so easily. Mass graves still remained along the trails of death and around the concentration camps and razed villages. Burnt out villages still smoldered in the wake of war. And countless refugees now were left in limbo. 

1.5 million Armenians had been exterminated during the genocide of the Armenian people. Nearly a million Assyrians and a million Greeks had been slaughtered as The Young Turks committed genocide against them. For the Assyrians, those left displaced in Iraq, genocide would strike again in 1933 and under Saddam Hussein. For all three peoples the memory of death would linger for generations so as to never be forgotten. 

Not a single orchestrator, participant, or beneficiary of the genocides committed would ever face trial for their crimes against humanity. The nation of Turkey would be quickly forgiven as the Western allies attempted to gain a foothold in the Middle East. The United States, the nation who documented the Armenian Genocide while it occurred, would go on to becoming allies with the Turks. Both Europe and America would base their military and establish their sphere of influence out of Turkey. If anything, the former Ottomans benefited greatly through their genocides against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians. 

Historians now refer to the genocides committed by Turkey as "the forgotten genocides". For the most part, this pathetic analysis of one of history's largest (and unpunished) crimes is very true. Over three million lives lost and history has forgotten them. 

The Islamic State

Modern Islamists have little in common with the organized government of the old Ottoman Empire. Yet the crimes that the Islamic State (ISIS, IS, ISIL) commit are eerily familiar. The goal of constructing an Islamic caliphate under which only Muslims (and even then, not all Muslims) are permitted to live directly reflects The Young Turks' ambitions. A desire to force a culture, no matter how perverse it may be from the original, upon all those trapped within a failed caliphate mirrors what the Pashas wished when they said, "a Turkey for the Turks".

When the ISIS militants laid siege to the Yazidis who had fled to a mountain they had, if only for a moment, recreated the crimes of the Turkish military at Musa Dagh. They intentionally isolated and fired upon a surrounded and outnumbered civilian population. Regardless of geography, the intent behind the crime was identical. And the only way out of the snare for the trapped victim was certain death or slavery.

As the ISIS militants force Syrian and Iraqi Christian minorities to convert to Islam or face death they reconstruct the orders given by The Young Turks. And just as with The Young Turks, conversion to Islam does not guarantee the victim that he/she has evaded death. For those who do manage to live under their new oppressors are put into a system of classes where they are the lowest ranking member.

While ISIS beheads, buries alive, burns, tortures, shoots, stabs, and butchers minorities they are following in the footsteps of the Turkish army who came before them. In burning out entire villages the ISIS members ignite the flames that Middle Eastern Christians saw lit under the Ottoman Turks. Forced evictions that often lead to death marches place these minorities in the footsteps of their ancestors. And for the Yazidis, the sexual slavery their girls face is exactly like that which Christians faced under the Ottomans.

There is nothing new that ISIS can bring to their genocide of the Middle East's ethnic and religious minorities. There have been savages like them in the past. And there will be barbaric heathens like them in the future. What must change is the willingness on the part of the outside world in addressing these crimes against humanity. We must learn to combat the perpetrators of genocide not only after the genocide has occurred but also while it is happening. There is no reason that we, in our modern age of information, should be willing to look the other way like we did with the Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians. While there is nothing new that ISIS can bring to the table, there is something we can... the desire to fight.

History is not written by the meek, the pacifists, or those who pray for a better tomorrow. It is written in the blood of those who have fallen while others looked the other way. All evil has ever needed to prevail is the willingness of good men to say nothing, do nothing, and beat their chests when its over as though they won the day. We do not currently face the same tragedy in what was once the Ottoman Empire because of the religion of those perpetrating it. We face the reality of yet another genocide because we have closed our eyes to the reality of it. We have covered our ears so as to not hear the cries of the dead ringing out from graves they never should have had to go to. History has been written in their blood because our "free world" decided to set on the sidelines while others died.

If in a hundred years the genocides being committed by ISIS are not remembered or even recognized it will not be because they didn't happen. If the crimes of ISIS are forgotten it will be because, just as we have done with the Armenians, we will have decided to forever turn our backs upon those left in the killing fields.

We will have once again lost our humanity.


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Some of the resources used for this post can be read by following the links listed below. 
Please note that not all sources are listed.

Tattooing of Armenian Girls:

Basic overview of the Genocide:
The Young Turks