April 25, 2015

INCIDENTAL:

Was there an Armenian genocide? It depends on Turkish 'intent.' (Arthur Bright, APRIL 24, 2015, CS Monitor)

The existent case law on genocide predominantly interprets "intent to destroy" as meaning what lawyers call "specific intent." That is, those who committed the crime didn't simply intend to act they way they acted, but rather that they intended a specific result as well. It's like the difference between firing a gun and firing a gun to kill a specific person. The former was an intentional act, but it wasn't necessarily meant to result in that specific person's death. The latter was specifically aimed at an end result of that person's death.

A good example is the difference between the crimes of murder and manslaughter. In both cases, someone has died. But it is only the first case where there was a targeted intent to kill someone - the latter may have been a reckless accident.

In essence, Turkey argues that what happened to the Armenians during the war was more like manslaughter than murder. As the Turkish Foreign Ministry argues on its website, "no direct evidence has been discovered demonstrating that any Ottoman official sought the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians as such." In addition, the Turks argue, the Ottoman Empire's relocation policy wasn't targeted at Armenians because of their ethnic identity - rather, the Ottomans were targeting insurgent groups within the Armenian community.

Revisiting the Armenian Genocide (Guenter Lewy, Fall 2005, Middle East Quarterly)

The key issue in this controversy is not the extent of Armenian suffering; both sides agree that several hundred thousand Christians perished during the deportation of the Armenians from Anatolia to the Syrian desert and elsewhere in 1915-16. With little notice, the Ottoman government forced men, women, and children from their homes. Many died of starvation or disease during a harrowing trek over mountains and through deserts. Others were murdered.

Historians do not dispute these events although they may squabble over numbers and circumstances. Rather the key question in the debate concerns premeditation. Did the Young Turk regime organize the massacres that took place in 1916?

Most of those who maintain that Armenian deaths were premeditated and so constitute genocide base their argument on three pillars: the actions of Turkish military courts of 1919-20, which convicted officials of the Young Turk government of organizing massacres of Armenians, the role of the so-called "Special Organization" accused of carrying out the massacres, and the Memoirs of Naim Bey[3] which contain alleged telegrams of Interior Minister Tal√Ęt Pasha conveying the orders for the destruction of the Armenians. Yet when these events and the sources describing them are subjected to careful examination, they provide at most a shaky foundation from which to claim, let alone conclude, that the deaths of Armenians were premeditated.



Posted by at April 25, 2015 10:26 AM
  

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