Monday, July 11, 2016

History and Life

Congratulations to Serena Williams for winning her 2016 Wimbledon Championship. She is the greatest and she has worked hard for decades in tennis. Her serve is excellent, her will is incredible, and her love for excellence in inspirational. She defeated Angelique Kerber in the match. Now, Serena Williams has won seven Wimbledon titles and 22 Grand Slam titles. Serena has 4 Olympic Gold Medals and 15 Double grand slams. She will definitely win more. She is the greatest woman tennis player in history. She is the GOAT without question. Also, she plays in doubles with Venus Williams, who is another incredibly talented tennis player too. Serena Williams deserves all of the superlatives in the world. She is a beautiful and courageous black woman who has overcome challenges and has spoken up to oppose racism, sexism, police brutality, and economic inequality. Serena Williams is a role model for the youth and she is just getting started. Bless Sister Serena Williams. It's easy to know what I'm going to type. In this generation, we have a resurgence of the far right talking points. The old slander is that black people who want racial justice want to call all cops every name under the sun or that we should stop pointing fingers. The fingers have been pointed at us falsely for over 400 years in American soil by racists. Therefore, pointing the finger at racists and the 1% for creating this modern system of injustice is purely justified. We didn't create the Maafa, we didn't create Jim Crow, and we didn't create the Shoah or the Holocaust. One of the most evil, despicable acts done by people is some to blame black people collectively for every problem in America. One of the most evil acts done by some people is to promote self hatred and a naive interpretation of reality. This is reality. OUR JUSTICE AND OUR FREEDOM IS NOT UP FOR NEGOTIATION. OUR PAIN HAS THE RIGHT TO BE EXPRESSED NOT SUPPRESSED. PASSIVE ACCEPTANCE OF THE STATUS QUO IS OVER. WE, FROM THE YOUNGER GENERATION, DON'T PLAY THAT. THE ELDERS DON'T PLAY THAT EITHER. Many people want to promote a falsehood about love. Some people believe that love is to disregard black identity, to disregard the fight for social justice, and to believe in post racial myth that ignoring the beauty of color will cause a solution. Fundamentally, that's evil. I'm not ashamed of my black African heritage. I will always love my Blackness without apology. Loving my blackness has nothing to do with hating other people. It has to do with loving my identity and defending my human rights. Love is about standing up for truth, defending the oppressed, and never ignoring the struggle. Love is about honoring the progressive principle that fighting police brutality is a necessity and true equality is about promoting goodness and integrity in society. Part of promoting goodness is about being honest about the economic inequality, the bigotry, and the other evils that are found in America and throughout the world (and using social activism and other methods to fight against these evils). The struggle continues and we will fight for our liberation by any means necessary. That is the point.

Before the major events of genocide against Armenians, there were many historic developments in Turkey. There was the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. In 1908, elements of the Third Army and the Second Army Corps declared their opposition to the Sultan and threatened to march on the capital and depose him. Hamid was afraid of the wave of resentment, so he stepped down. Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Arabic people, Bulgarians, and Turks alike rejoiced in his dethronement. The Young Turks were nationalists who wanted the Ottoman Empire to end, so Turkey could be modernized in an European model. The coup d’état happened in July 24, 1908 where officers from the Ottoman Third Army (based in Salonika) removed Abdul II from power. The country was now a constitutional monarchy. Armenians were happy about this since they wanted to be free from Ottoman oppression. The Young Turk movement was made up of 2 groups. One was the liberal constitutionalists who were more accepting of Armenians and they were more democratic. The other nationalist group was less tolerant of Armenians and made many requests for European assistance. The Young Turk movement was part of an anti-Hamidian coalition. In 1902, during a congress of the Young Turks held in Paris, the heads of the liberal wing, Sabahaddin and Ahmed Riza Bey, partially persuaded the nationalists to include in their objectives ensuring some rights for all the minorities of the empire. The Committee of Union and Progress or the CUP was one of the major faction of the Young Turk movement. It was a secret, revolutionary organization. The CUP was made up of many disaffected army officers based in Salonika. It was behind the creation of many mutinies against the central government.

By early 1909, there has been the countercoup. It resulted in the Adana massacre of 1909.  The massacre about extremists (made up of Ottoman Empire military reactionaries, Islamic theological students, etc.) who wanted to control the control. They wanted to re-institute the Sultan and cause Islamic law to dominate society. The reactionary forces and the CUP forces fought each other in fighting and riots. The CUP put down the uprising and court martialed the opposition leaders. The reactionaries at first targeted the Young Turk government. Later, these reactionaries used pogroms against Armenians (as viewed as supporting the restoration of the constitution). Many Ottoman Army troops took part in pillaging Armenian enclaves in Adana province. The number of Armenians killed in the course of the Adana massacre ranged between 15,000 and 30,000.
The First Balkans War in 1912 was about then the Ottoman Empire using about 85% of its European territory. Many in the empire saw their defeat as "Allah's divine punishment for a society that did not know how to pull itself together.“ The Turkish nationalist movement in the country gradually came to view Anatolia as their last refuge. That the Armenian population formed a significant minority in this region later figured prominently in the calculations of the Three Pashas, who carried out the Armenian Genocide. After the Balkans Wars, there was a mass expulsion of Muslims (or muhacirs) form the Balkans. Many of them came into Turkey. Even in the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of Muslims (like Turks, Circassians, and Chechens) were expelled or forced to flee from the Caucasus and the Balkans (Rumelia) as a result of the Russo-Turkish wars and the conflicts in the Balkans. Muslim society in the empire was incensed by this flood of refugees. A journal published in Constantinople expressed the mood of the times: "Let this be a warning ... O Muslims, don't get comfortable! Do not let your blood cool before taking revenge.”  As many as 850,000 of these refugees were settled in areas where the Armenians were resident from the period of 1878–1904. The muhacirs resented the status of their relatively well-off neighbors and, as historian Taner Akçam and others have noted, the refugees came to play a pivotal role in the killings of the Armenians and the properties of the Armenians being taken during the genocide.

By November 2, 1914, the Ottoman Empire opened the Middle East theater of World War I. On that day, they entered hostilities on the side of the Central Powers and against the Allies. There were the battles of the Caucasus Campaign, the Persian Campaign, and the Gallipoli Campaign affected several populous Armenian centers. The Ottoman Empire, before entering the war, had send representatives to the Armenian congress at Erzurum to persuade the Ottoman Armenians to facilitate its conquest of Transcaucasia by inciting an insurrection of Russian Armenians against the Russian army in the event a Caucasus front was opened. Then came the Battle of Sarikamish. On December 24, 1914, the Minister of War Enver Pasha implemented a plan to encircle and destroy the Russian Caucasus Army at Sarikamish in order for them to regain territories lost to Russia after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Enver Pasha's forces were routed in the battle, and almost completely destroyed. Returning to Constantinople, Enver Pasha publicly blamed his defeat on Armenians in the region having actively sided with the Russians. This caused more tensions. On February 25, 1915,  the Ottoman General Staff released the War Minister Enver Pasha's Directive 8682 on "Increased security and precautions" to all military units calling for the removal of all ethnic Armenians serving in the Ottoman forces from their posts and for their demobilization. They were assigned to the unarmed Labour battalions (Turkish: amele taburlari). The directive accused the Armenian Patriarchate of releasing State secrets to the Russians. Enver Pasha explained this decision as "out of fear that they would collaborate with the Russians.” Traditionally, the Ottoman Army only drafted non-Muslim males between the ages of 20 and 45 into the regular army. The younger (15–20) and older (45–60) non-Muslim soldiers had always been used as logistical support through the labour battalions. Before February, some of the Armenian recruits were utilized as labourers (hamals), though they would ultimately be executed. Transferring Armenian conscripts from active combat to passive, unarmed logistic sections was an important precursor to the subsequent genocide. As reported in The Memoirs of Naim Bey, the execution of the Armenians in these battalions was part of a premeditated strategy of the CUP. Many of these Armenian recruits were executed by local Turkish gangs.

On April 19, 1915, Jevdet Bey demanded that the city immediately furnish him 4,000 soldiers under the pretext of conscription. However, it was clear to the Armenian population that his goal was to massacre the able-bodied men of Van so that there would be no defenders. Jevdet Bey had already used his official writ in nearby villages, ostensibly to search for arms, but in fact to initiate wholesale massacres. The Armenians offered five hundred soldiers and exemption money for the rest in order to buy time, but Jevdet Bey accused the Armenians of "rebellion" and asserted his determination to "crush" it at any cost. "If the rebels fire a single shot", he declared, "I shall kill every Christian man, woman, and" (pointing to his knee) "every child, up to here.” The next day, 20 April 1915, the siege of Van began when an Armenian woman was harassed, and the two Armenian men who came to her aid were killed by Ottoman soldiers. The Armenian defenders protected the 30,000 residents and 15,000 refugees living in an area of roughly one square kilometer of the Armenian Quarter and suburb of Aigestan with 1,500 able-bodied riflemen who were supplied with 300 rifles and 1,000 pistols and antique weapons. The conflict lasted until General Yudenich of Russia came to their rescue.  Reports of the conflict reached then United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, Sr. from Aleppo and Van, prompting him to raise the issue in person with Talaat and Enver. As he quoted to them the testimonies of his consulate officials, they justified the deportations as necessary to the conduct of the war, suggesting that complicity of the Armenians of Van with the Russian forces that had taken the city justified the persecution of all ethnic Armenians. The brutal treatment and murder of the Armenians were completely unjustified.

By Timothy

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