Turkey’s Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian Christians, which predominated in the region before its colonisation by Turkic Muslims, were subjected to a “staggered campaign of genocide” from 1894 to 1924, which reduced them from 20 per cent of the population to less than 2 per cent, according to Israeli researchers.
Dr Benny Morris and Dr Dror Ze’evi, of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel, say that the British, French, Turkish, and U.S. archives, along with “some Greek materials” and German and Austro-Hungarian foreign ministry papers, confirm “Turkey’s Armenian, Greek and Assyrian (or Syriac) communities disappeared as a result of a staggered campaign of genocide beginning in 1894, perpetrated against them by their Muslim neighbours.”
Summarising findings published in full in their book The Thirty-Year Genocide, Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894-1924 in a Wall Street Journal essay, Morris and Ze’evi identified a “strikingly consistent pattern of ethno-religious atrocity over three decades, perpetrated by the Turkish government, army, police and populace” against Asia Minor’s Christian minorities, extending well beyond the infamous Armenian genocide — still denied by the Turkish government — of 1915-16.
“The bloodshed was importantly fueled throughout by religious animus,” the Israeli scholars asserted.
“Muslim Turks — aided by fellow Muslims, including Kurds, Circassians, Chechens and Arabs — murdered about two million Christians in bouts of slaughter immediately before, during and after World War I… organized by three successive governments,” they explained.
“These governments also expelled between 1.5 and 2 million Christians, mostly to Greece.”
While the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople — the former Byzantine capital renamed as Istanbul by its conquerers — is still based in the city to this day, the Turkish government recently prevented the training of new Orthodox Christian priests by shuttering the island seminary of Halki.
Morris and Ze’evi noted that the aggression against Christians was often sexual in nature, quoting American consul-general George Horton’s observation that one of the “outstanding features” of the Turkish reprisals in the Anatolian city of Smyrna, which the Greeks had tried to take back after the collapse of the Ottoman empire, was the “wholesale violation of women and girls.”
“[W]e found that tens of thousands of Christian women suffered rape, abduction and forced conversion during this period, along with the mass murder and expulsion of their husbands, sons and fathers,” the Israelis noted.
“The German people and government have long acknowledged the genocidal horrors of the Third Reich, made financial reparations, expressed profound remorse and worked to abjure racism,” they concluded ruefully.
“But every Turkish government since 1924 — together with most of the Turkish people — has continued to deny the painful history we have uncovered.”