Armenians were Belligerents

May 03, 2008 by Prof.Dr. Turkkaya Ataov (Emeritus of international relations)

VICKEN Babkenian (Armenia’s angels’’, Opinion, 25/4) states that “at the time the Australian troops landed at Gallipoli another event of historical importance was taking place in Turkey’’.
It’s true that a tragedy occurred in Turkey then, but in a way much different than the one stressed by Babkenian.

British authors Stephen Pope and Elizabeth-Anne Wheal, in their joint military classic Dictionary of the First World War, state that between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians were living in Turkey in 1914, that the Armenian nationalists ``slaughtered an estimated 120,000 non-Armenians while the Turkish Army was preoccupied with mobilisation’’, that ``2500 rebels took (the city of) Van in April 1915 and proclaimed a provisional government’’, and that armed Armenians ``resumed control in late 1917 killing perhaps another 50,000 non-Armenians’’.

The commanders of the Armenians, such as Armen Garo Pasdermadjian, confess in their published memoirs that they bore arms, organised large forces and fought against the Turks in several fronts. The title of Pasdermadjian’s book proudly asserts thatArmenian participation was ``A Leading Factor in the Winning of the War’’ by the Allies.

Published documents prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that Armenians committed violent assaults, armed terrorism, destruction, rape, assassinations and wholesale murder of various Muslim groups. Such misdeeds were condemned as contrary to the rules of war even by the Tsarist Russian and French officers who had provided them with uniforms,weapons and all kinds of support.

Many Armenian, British, US, French, Russian and Turkish sources indicate that the Armenians were not as helpless, unprotected, un-armed and non-belligerent as mainstream opinion claims them to have been.

Turkkaya Ataov
Professor emeritus of international relations
Ankara University, Turkey
Copyright 2007 News Limited. All times AEST (GMT +10).

Vicken Babkenian
April 25, 2008
AT the same time as Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, another event of historical importance was taking place in Turkey: the Armenian genocide. The Gallipoli landing took place one day after the mass arrest of Armenian leaders in Istanbul, which is known as the beginning of the genocide. "Who, after all, remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?" were Adolf Hitler's famous words before he embarked on his heinous crime of the Holocaust.

One group who remember the Armenians are a handful of Australians who were at the forefront of the relief effort, yet their stories have been largely hidden. Not one Australian historian has devoted any attention to these remarkable Australians, who have been forgotten along with the "forgotten genocide". For example, Edith Glanville from Haberfield, Sydney, lost her son Leigh, from the 1st Battalion, who died in battle at Gallipoli. Thus began her extraordinary journey with the Armenian people.

Glanville was the first woman justice of the peace in NSW and founded both the Quota and Soroptimist clubs in Australia. Most notably she was honorary secretary of the Armenian Relief Fund of NSW from 1922, and became a driving force in raising more than $100,000 worth of supplies (about $19 million in today's value) within months. Other members of the relief fund included Charles Lloyd Jones, the first chairman of the ABC; and Oscar Lines, the general manager of the Bank of NSW. Glanville was so concerned about the plight of the Armenians that she ended up adopting an Armenian orphan. Former Menzies cabinet minister and British high commissioner Thomas White was a prisoner of war during World War I in Turkey. As a witness to the Armenian genocide, he later returned home and joined the Armenian relief effort. Another prominent Australian, the Rev J.E.Cresswell from Adelaide's Congregational Church (now the Uniting Church), was national secretary of the Armenian Relief Fund of Australasia in the 1920s. Witnessing the plight of Armenian refugees in Syria in 1923, Cresswell said: "Over 6000 are here. The sights within these caves are beyond words. No words seem adequate to describe the misery that must be the portion of these poor people." He oversaw relief programs from port to destination, including setting up an Australian-funded orphanage for 1700 children who survived the genocide in Antelias, Lebanon. That site is now one of the holiest for Armenians, the Catholicosate of Cilicia. In 1918, Sydney mayor James Joynton Smith set up the Armenian Relief Fund, which included prominent philanthropists and business people such as the Griffith brothers, one of the largest suppliers of tea and coffee in Australia, and the Elliot brothers, one of the nation's biggest pharmaceutical groups. This fund, with the help of many Sydneysiders, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the Armenians, all when Australians were already sacrificing so much during World War I.

Even prime minister Billy Hughes promised that free freight would be provided by commonwealth steamers for any contribution to the fund. These are just some of the hundreds of Australian stories of generosity, hope and moral decency that have been unearthed. In the words of Robert Manne: "In world history there is an intimate connection between the Dardanelles campaign and the Armenian genocide." So, as we reflect on the sacrifices of brave Australians who landed on those distant shores, let's also remember those Australians who lost loved ones and, through the kindness of their hearts, were able to save others. Vicken Babkenian is director of the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.',25197,23594423-21147,00.html


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