Voices of the Middle East and North Africa

Voices of the Middle East and North Africa – January 19, 2005

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Part 1 of a 2 part series on the 1915 Armenian genocide. Rising nationalism due to capitalist development in Europe found its reflection in the Ottoman empire as a new, religiously and ethnically pure nation state. As the new "Turkish" identity was fabricated, the previous tolerance for diverse ethnic and religious structure of the Ottoman Empire was dropped. The new nation required all previous subjects of the empire to adopt the Turkish ethnicity and Islam as their religion. The Greeks and the Armenians had to be exiled from the land they lived for thousands of years to make way for paranoid rulers of the Turkish Nation which suspected any diversity as treason.

The Attacks against the Armenians from the mid 1800’s culminated in a mass exile and a genocide in 1915. The attacks from the Muslims against the Christian Armenians murdered more than half of the population of that time. Sometimes whole villages were forced to march on foot for months while being subject to attacks on the way as the Armenian population perished.

Mehmet Bayram investigates the events in an interview with Professor Stephan Astourian from UC Berkeley and discusses this forgotten crime that gave birth to the modern Turkish nation. He and Melanie from The Middle East Radio Project also interview Yvonne Tanielian, who tells her family’s story of how they were able to escape from the massacre in 1922.

Both Armenian traditional and modern music is played in the show and the lyrics of a beautiful song, "Where were you God?" is read.

On our next show on February 2nd, part 2 will be aired where the focus will be mostly on the reconciliation efforts between Turkey and the Armenians.