This week commemorative services were conducted by Armenians in their homeland and Armenians of the diaspora for the 103rd anniversary of the genocide of Armenians orchestrated by the government of the Ottoman Empire. Yes, during this week of April the church leadership and intelligentsia of the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey were arrested in Constantinople, jailed, and “deported” (killed) in 1915. But that was not the beginning of the planned extermination of a people.
The scheme against this people group actually began months earlier. Armenian gendarmes were stripped of their weapons. Armenian homes were raided by soldiers looking for caches of weapons. When none were found, the soldiers stacked their own weapons and took photos of them to send to Talaat, the Minister of the Interior, as “proof” that the Armenian population were planning a rebellion. In March of 1915, Armenians who had previously served in the Army of the Ottoman Empire were re-conscripted into road construction brigades. They were “armed” with ropes and shovels, and marched under armed guard (Turkish gendarmes) to locations distant from towns and villages. There the brigades of unarmed Armenians were murdered. (See posts: Confiscations and Protests, February 8, 2013; The March Madness of 1915, March 11, 2013; and Black April in Ottoman Empire, April 27, 2013)
What Talaat had done was effectively remove all the men capable of leadership or defense from the Armenian population in the months prior to his planned extermination. He had positioned Armenian elderly, women, and children defenseless for what came next.