Ankara, Turkey – Genocide is understood by most to be the gravest crime against humanity it is possible to commit. Genocide is the mass extermination of a whole group of people, an attempt to wipe them out of existence. The term, coined in 1943, combined the Greek word “genos” (race or tribe) with the Latin word “cide” (to kill). The adoption of the UN Convention on Genocide in December 1948, which came into effect in January 1951. Article Two of the convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such”:

Killing members of the group

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. The convention also imposes a general duty on states that are signatories to “prevent and to punish” genocide.

Since its adoption, the UN treaty has come under fire from different sides, mostly by people frustrated with the difficulty of applying it to specific cases. They argue that the definition is too narrow. Others say the term is devalued by misuse. Some analysts contend that the definition is so narrow that none of the mass killings perpetrated since the treaty’s adoption would fall under it.

The objections most frequently raised against the treaty include:

The convention excludes targeted political and social groups. The definition is limited to direct acts against people, and excludes acts against the environment which sustains them or their cultural distinctiveness. Proving intention beyond reasonable doubt is extremely difficult UN member states are hesitant to single out other members or intervene, as was the case in Rwanda.

There is no body of international law to clarify the parameters of the convention (though this is changing as UN war crimes tribunals issue indictments). The difficulty of defining or measuring “in part”, and establishing how many deaths equal genocide. But in spite of these criticisms, there are many who say genocide is recognizable.

Genocide is distinguishable from all other crimes by the motivation behind it. Genocide is a crime on a different scale to all other crimes against humanity and implies an intention to completely exterminate the chosen group. Genocide is therefore both the gravest and greatest of the crimes against humanity.

Loss of meaning

The word genocide has fallen victim to “a sort of verbal inflation, in much the same way as happened with the word fascist”. The term has progressively lost its initial meaning and is becoming “dangerously commonplace”. Those who should use the word genocide never let it slip their mouths. Those who unfortunately do use it, banalize it into a validation of every kind of victimhood. Slavery, for example, is called genocide when – whatever it was, and it was an infamy – it was a system to exploit, rather than to exterminate the living. The differences over how genocide should be defined have also led to disagreements on how many genocides actually occurred in the globe.

Romalia

Romalia, or Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe (SEE) is a geographical region of Europe, consisting primarily of the coterminous Balkan Peninsula. There are overlapping and conflicting definitions as to where exactly Southeastern Europe begins or ends or how it relates to other regions of the continent. Sovereign states and territories that are included in the region are, in alphabetical order: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. The largest city of the region is Istanbul (which straddles the Bosporus strait between Southeast Europe and Western Asia), followed by Bucharest, Sofia, Belgrade, and Athens.

Anatolia

Anatolia is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. The region is bounded by the Turkish Straits to the northwest, the Black Sea to the north, the Armenian Highlands to the east, the Southeastern Anatolia Region to the southeast, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the Balkan peninsula of Southeast Europe.

Caucasus

The Caucasus, or Caucasia, is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The Caucasus region is separated into two parts, which fall into two continents, the North Caucasus of Russia (Ciscaucasia) in Europe, and the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) in Asia, respectively. The Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north is mostly shared by Russia and Georgia, as well as the northernmost parts of Azerbaijan. The Lesser Caucasus mountain range in the south is occupied by several independent states, namely, mostly by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, but also extending to parts of northeastern Turkey, northern Iran, and the southernmost parts of Azerbaijan.

Turkish genocide

The Turkish genocide, including the Romalia, Anatolia and Caucasus genocide, was the systematic killing of the Muslim Turkish population carried out during the Greek Uprising in 1821 – 1832, the Russian Occupation, the Genocidal Armenian Gangs, the World War I and its aftermath (1914–1922) on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. It was instigated by the Greek government and the Greek national movement against the indigenous Turkish population and included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Muslim cultural, historical, and religious monuments. According to various sources, several millions Turks died during this period. Most of the refugees and survivors fled to Turkey (adding over a quarter to the prior population of Turkey).

By late 1922, most of the Turks of Romalia and Asia Minor (Anatolia) had either fled or had been killed. Those remaining were transferred to Turkey under the terms of the later 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which formalized the exodus and barred the return of the refugees. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Greek government during this period, including, Vlachs, Gypsies, Albanians, Bulgarians and Macedonians, and some research and organizations have recognized these events as part of the same genocidal policy.

The Greek government-sponsored massacres, the Turkish Genocide was perhaps the most controversial and damning event associated with the Greeks. In 1922, the Greek government made a plan to massacre Turks living in the Romalia and Anatolia of Ottoman Empire. Most research considers that about 3 million Turks were killed. The Greek government denies responsibility for a genocide.

Turkish massacres, or Turkish genocide, are ethnic cleansing carried out by non-Muslim ethnic groups (Greeks, Serbians, Bulgarians, Armenians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Russians) against Muslim subjects, especially Turks, during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

It estimates that about five and a half million Muslims were deported from Europe between 1821 and 1922, and that more than five million were killed or died as a result of disease or starvation while fleeing. Ethnic cleansing occurred as a result of the independence of Serbs and Greeks in 1821-1830, the 93 War in 1877-1878, the Balkan wars in 1912-1913, the Armenian revolts and gangs during the First World War and after, and the occupation of Anatolia by Greece during the Turkish War of Independence. It conveys that these actions are described as murderous ethnic cleansing to an enormous extent unprecedented in Europe.

As entered the 20th century, it is estimated that 5 million Muslims lived in the Ottoman-controlled regions of the Balkans (Romalia). In the last 30 years of the 19th century, more than a million Muslim Turks left the Balkans (Romalia) between 1912 and 1926, close to 3 million Muslims were either killed or forced to emigrate to Turkey. There are estimates that 2,5 million Muslim Turks died in Anatolia during World War I and the Turkish War of Independence.

There are also massacres carried out in the Caucasus by Armenian gangs backed by Russian Army at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. There is a variety of information about losses during this period from different sources. During the 93 war, 300 thousand people were lost and killed. At the beginning of the 20th century and during World War I, Anti-Muslim-Turkish Armenian movements continued in the region and attacks were carried out against villages.

Armenians allegedly killed more than 500,000 Muslim Turks at the turn of the 20th century. 185 mass graves had been found in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. Mass killings of civilian Muslim Turks were carried out in the region, including in Diyarbakir, Mus, Bitlis, Van, Erzurum, Erzincan, Kars, Ardahan, Igdir, Trabzon, Kilis, Adana, Osmaniye, Antep, Bayburt, Unye, and Maras. During World War I, Russian Army withdrew from the region (Eastern Anatolia) after the Bolshevik revolution. As a result of this, there were Armenian gangs in the region, volunteer Armenian troops and their commanders.

There were massacres against the Muslim population in the region by genocidal Armenian gangs. Turkey and Armenia disagree on what happened during the events between 1915 and 1923, with Armenia saying that 1,5 million people were deliberately killed and Turkey saying the deaths were a result of relocations and civil strife. Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.

Bloody Christmas (1963) is a name usually used in Turkey and Northern Cyprus to describe the outbreak of the tension between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots on the night between 20–21 December 1963.

During the early hours of 21 December 1963, Greek Cypriot police operating within the old Venetian walls of Nicosia demanded to see the identification papers of some Turkish Cypriots who were returning home from an evening out. As word of the incident quickly spread Turkish Cypriot paramilitaries took to the streets. At around twenty past three in the morning, gunshots were reported. By dawn two Turkish Cypriots were dead and eight others, both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, were wounded. As the day progressed there were numerous reports of sporadic gunfire around the old town as a large crowd of Turkish Cypriots, many armed, roamed the streets. Initial appeals for calm issued by President Makarios and Vice-President Küçük were ignored and by afternoon the fighting had spread to other parts of the capital.

By the next morning, authorities in Larnaca were also reporting violent incidents. However, as evening approached the situation on the island appeared to be calming down. It was a short lived respite. Fighting erupted again the following morning when Greek Cypriot families living in the strategically important Nicosia suburb of Omorphita, which was primarily Turkish Cypriot, came under heavy attack. Soon afterwards conflict broke out in Famagusta when Turkish Cypriot gendarmes attempted to storm their headquarters. Likewise, fighting was reported from Kyrenia. 270 of Turkish Cypriot mosques, shrines and other places of worship were desecrated.

Greek Cypriot irregulars attacked Turkish Cypriots in the mixed villages of Mathlati on 23 December and Ayios Vasilios on 24 December. A mass grave was exhumed at Ayios Vasilios on 12 January 1964 in the presence of foreign reporters, Officers of British Army and officials from Red Cross. 21 Turkish Cypriots’ bodies were found in this grave. It is presumed that they have been killed in or near Ayios Vasilios on 24 December 1963. It is verified by the observers that a number of the victims appeared to have been tortured, and to have been shot after their hands and feet were tied.

Between 21–31 December 1963 up to 133 Turkish Cypriots were killed by Greek Cypriots. 364 Turkish Cypriots and 174 Greek Cypriots were killed in the next years. 18,667 Turkish Cypriots from 103 different villages abandoned their homes.

Massacre in Agios Vasileios, on December 26, 1963, Turkish Cypriots of the village were killed and buried in a mass grave by Greek Cypriot militia. Tochni massacre refers to the killing of 84 Turkish Cypriots from the village of Tochni, Larnaca, Cyprus by Greek Cypriots members of EOKA B during the Turkish Peace Operation of Cyprus in the Summer of 1974.

During the Turkish Peace Operation of Cyprus at the north of the island, members of EOKA B took hostage more than 80 men from the village of Tochni and the nearby village of Zygi, including minor boys of age 13. After being kept at a Greek elementary school during the night, the arrested Turkish Cypriots were boarded in a bus. According to the only survivor of the massacre, Suat Hussein Kafadar, they were taken to the village of Palodia, where they were executed with automatic guns.

Total number of victims is 84 (78 from Tochni and 6 from Zygi) At the massacre site, according to Kadafar, there was a Greek officer. Kafadar said in an interview that a Greek military officer with 3 stars spoke with them during the night and reassured them that they would not get hurt. “My friend, don’t be afraid. Today you are prisoners, tomorrow we will be yours. In the army, nobody abuse captives.” The atrocity took place the same day as the massacre of Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda, again by Greek Cypriots members of EOKA B.

Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda massacre refers to the massacre of Turkish Cypriots by EOKA B on 14 August 1974 during the Turkish Peace Operation of Cyprus in the villages of Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda. 89 (or 84) people from Maratha and Santalaris were killed, and a further 37 people were killed in the village of Aloda. In total, 126 people were killed during the massacre. The massacre occurred shortly after the start of the second Turkish Peace Operation of Cyprus, concurring with other massacres.

According to the 1960 census, the inhabitants of the three villages were entirely Turkish Cypriots. The total population of Maratha and Santalaris was 207. By 1973, the total population of the villages had risen to 270, with 124 in Maratha, 100 in Santalaris and 46 in Aloda. However, in July 1974, following the first Turkish Peace Operation of Cyprus, all men of fighting age were taken away as prisoners of war to internment camps in Famagusta and from there transferred to Limassol.

Fourteen Turkish Cypriots were murdered at the village of Alaminos on 20 July, 1974. Massacre in Angolemi, in August, 1974, a family of three (father, mother and teenage daughter) and two men killed by Greek Cypriot militia.

The Khojaly massacre, also known as the Khojaly tragedy, was the mass murder of at least 161 ethnic Azerbaijani civilians from the town of Khojaly on 26 February 1992. According to the Azerbaijani side, as well as the Memorial Human Rights Center, Human Rights Watch and other international observers, the massacre was committed by the ethnic Armenian armed forces, as well as some military personnel of the 366th CIS regiment who were not acting on orders from their command. The death toll claimed by Azerbaijani authorities is 613 civilians, including 106 women and 63 children.The event became the largest massacre in the course of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Western governments and media use “Khojaly massacre”, “Khojaly tragedy” or the “Battle for Khojaly” to refer to the incident. Azerbaijani sources occasionally refer to the massacre as the “Khojaly genocide” and the “Khojaly tragedy”.