Sunday, May 15, 2011

War crimes

Genocide and ethnic cleansing

Ottoman Empire

The ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Empire's Christian population, with the most prominent among them being the deportation and massacres of Armenians (similar policies were enacted against the Assyrians and Ottoman Greeks) during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is considered genocide. The Ottomans saw the entire Armenian population as an enemy that had chosen to side with Russia at the beginning of the war. In early 1915, a number of Armenian nationalist groups, such as the Armenakan, Dashnak and Hunchak organisations, joined the Russian forces, and the Ottoman government used this as a pretext to issue the Tehcir Law. This authorised the deportation of the Armenians from eastern Anatolia to Syria between 1915 and 1917. The exact number of deaths is unknown, although Balakian gives a range of 250,000 to 1.5 million for the deaths of Armenians, the International Association of Genocide Scholars estimates over 1 million. The government of Turkey has consistently rejected charges of genocide, arguing that those who died were victims of inter-ethnic fighting, famine or disease during the First World War.

Russian Empire

Approximately 200,000 Germans living in Volhynia and about 600,000 Jews were deported by the Russian authorities. In 1916, an order was issued to deport around 650,000 Volga Germans to the east as well, but the Russian Revolution prevented this from being carried out. Many pogroms accompanied the Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War, 60,000–200,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities throughout the former Russian Empire.

Rape of Belgium

In Belgium, German troops, in fear of French and Belgian guerrilla fighters, or francs-tireurs, massacred townspeople in Andenne (211 dead), Tamines (384 dead), and Dinant (612 dead). On 25 August 1914, the Germans set fire to the town of Leuven, burned the library containing about 230,000 books, killed 209 civilians and forced 42,000 to evacuate. These actions brought worldwide condemnation.

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