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Muslim Ethnic and Religious Cleansings / Turkish /
Assyrian Genocide



The part of the Assyrian Genocide, 1915-1918 that involved deportations: Assyrians sent out of future Turkey by train.
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Assyrians sent out of future Turkey by train.

Assyrian Genocide, 1915-1918.
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The Syracuse Herald in 1915. Assyrian Genocide, 1915-1918.
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The Syracuse Herald in 1915.

Assyrian Genocide, 1915-1918: Passing through the desert.
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Passing through the desert.

Genocide by the Ottomans against the Christian Assyrian population in 1915-1918. The facts around the genocide are disputed, and Turkish authorities maintain that such never happened. The highest number of alleged killed Assyrians is 750,000, while a 1922 Assyrian assessment set it at 275,000. Considering the actual detailed accounts, even the lower of these two numbers seem too high.
The genocide happened to the Assyrians of the now Turkish provinces of Hakkari, Sirnak, and Mardin and the now Iranian province of Urmia. The atrocities happened during the deportation of areas of modern Iraq. It coincided with the Armenian genocide and the atrocities against the Greek, in which an even larger number of people died.
There are several reasons for the Assyrian genocide, but religious cleansing of the Turkish heartlands seems to be central. This was a time when the political and military power of the Ottoman Empire had proven to be weak when facing Western powers. The Young Turk government, realizing that their territory at the end of World War 1 could be limited to an area not far beyond where Turks dominated, aimed at freeing up as much territory as possible for Turkic-speaking Muslims. The need to expedite this before international aid could come to the aid of the Christian peoples, may have been the real reason for the actions that caused the high number of dead.
There are many reports of local Muslims trying to protect their Christian neighbours, often with the result of risking their own lives.
The Turkish explanation to the deportation, was that the Assyrians were seeking autonomy, largely with the aid of the Russians.
Most of Assyrians dying during the genocide was during deportation to, and through, the Syrian Desert, largely from starvation and dehydration.

History
1915 February: Ottoman troops take 61 Assyrians near Urmia in hostage, releasing 20 for ransom, executing the remainder, including Bishop Mar Denkha.
February 25: Turkish civilians attempts to protect 750 Assyrian and Armenian refugees in the village of Gulpashan, just to see all male villagers be punished.
April: Ottoman troops invade the town Gawar and kill the entire population, consisting mainly of Assyrians.
— About 20,000 Assyrians are killed in about 30 villages in the Van Province.
1918 March 3: The Assyrian cleric, Mar Shimun 19 Benyamin, is murdered by Ottoman Kurdish troops, together with some 2770 Assyrians at Khvoy (Khoi). Assyrians retaliated for the first and last time against the Ottomans, killing 30 of their soliders.
Summer: The British establish a camp for the Assyrians at Ba'quba. Some 7,000 would die during the two years the camp was operative.




By Tore Kjeilen