"Every woman's story is different," says Elyse Semerdjian by phone. Semerdjian is a historian who studies the Ottoman Empire and is a professor at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She's currently working on a book about the Armenian Genocide and gender-related issues. Part of her research for the book includes a look into the history of Armenian women who were tattooed during the Genocide.
Semerdjian has been poring over archives, including those of the League of Nations at the United Nations, to find photographic documentation of the tattoos, and there isn't much to find. Overall, she says, tattooing Armenian women wasn't an extremely common practice during the Genocide, but the images and stories that do exist illustrate one of the tragedies associated with genocide. "It's a minority of women who ended up rescued during World War I who actually bore the tattoos," she says. "But, the ones who were tattooed, they capture our imagination because it's come to mean so much about that forced assimilation, that moment of forced assimilation."
14 What was the outcome of the genocide and how many died?
The roots of the Karabakh conflict go back to the days of the genocide and its immediate aftermath. Shortly after the First World War was the Bolshevik leadership in Moscow was hoping that Turkey would be their next big expansion. To appease Turkey, Russians chose to annex Karabakh, as well as Nakhchivan, both recognized integral parts of the then Republic of Armenia in 1919-1920, to Azerbaijan, Turk's closest cousins in the Transcaucasus (Kars treaty between Russia and Turkey, October 23, 1921). Until then, Nakhichivan actually had no common border with Turkey, but Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's negotiator could persuade Moscow to annex a narrow strip of land to Nakhichevan so that the area could get a limited strip of 15 km with Turkey. In addition, Nakhichevan's status would not be able to change without Turkey's direct consent.That the decision was made primarily by Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Commissar for Nationalities, is clearly documented in the decision making process. Svante Cornell believes that this was a concession by Stalin against the newly formed state of Turkey due to the fact that "Atatürk was hostile to any territorial arrangements favoring Soviet Armenia, since a strong Armenia could have potential territorial claims on Turkey."
The Karabakh issue resurfaced again in the late 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev launched his policy of perestroika (reconstruction and economic reform) and glasnost (openness and freedom of expression). This relaxation of the strong authoritarian Soviet regime was the catalyst which the different repressed conflicts and issues in the Soviet Union needed to be triggered again. On February 13, 1988, Karabakh Armenians began demonstrating in their capital, Stepanakert, and demanded re-unification with the Armenian Soviet Republic. Six days later, they received the support of mass demonstrations in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. On February 20, 1988 the Karabakh Soviet of People's Representatives (the equivalent of Parliament), with the numbers 110 to 17, voted for the transfer of the region to Armenia. The answer to these demands in Azerbaijan was brutal deeds on February 26, 1988, by Azeri nationalists in Sumgait, the third largest city in Azerbaijan and its second largest industrial city on the Caspian Sea. Armenian individuals were attacked in their homes, on their jobs and on the streets. The vicious persecution of Armenians went on for two days without the Azerbaijani authorities making the slightest intervention. According to official figures at least 32 people (26 Armenians and Azeris 6) were killed before Soviet troops put an end to the bloodshed. Soon other assaults and similar acts followed in the cities of Kirovabad and Baku. The majority of Armenians compared the massacres in Sumgait, Kirovabad and Baku with the prelude to the genocide in Turkey during the First World War. What had started as a democratic movement during the glasnost did now culminate in an armed conflict that claimed over 30,000 lives and made nearly a million people refugees.
Armenian Genocide of 1915: An Overview - New York …
The so-called triumvirate consisted of Ottoman Interior Minister Talaat Pasha, Minister of War Enver Pasha and Minister for the Marine and also the Governor of Syria and Palestine, Djemal Pasha. These three, together with some few other Turkish leaders formed the inner circle of the Young Turk regime and were ultimately responsible for the planning and the execution of the genocide in the Ottoman Empire. These were members of the Committee of Union and Progress (Turkish Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti) who in the 1908 revolution and later in a coup in 1913 took power in Turkey and ruled the empire with a rod of iron. They purged the military and police forces from all disloyal individuals and manned these positions with their own loyal people, while eliminating all the liberal opposition parties and rivals within the Committee of Union and Progress. Thus, in 1914 they had full control over the events within the empire and could orchestrate a genocide.