1915 to 1918 were gruesome years for the people of Armenia. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), also called the Young Turks, was the political party in the Ottoman Empire that decided to carry out the Armenian genocide. The CUP was made up of many government officials, including the Prime Minister. The Armenians were starved, deported, tortured, and killed. The majority were moved to Syria, where most died from hunger and dehydration in the desert. The year following the end of W.W.I was relatively quiet, but then from 1920 to 1923 the CUP began removing and torturing the Armenian people again. This was one of the first modern genocides to ever take place.
On September 13, 1915 the CUP declared that all property belonging to Armenians were to be confiscated.
Although the Turks went to great lengths to ban photography and reporting, U.S. missionaries and diplomatic representatives saw what was happening and reported it back to the U.S. Many German and Turk officials also testified later as to what they saw.
Even though this took place nearly a century ago, it is still making news headlines today. In a recent interview, French President Sarkozy asks Turkey to look back on the Armenian genocide and take responsibility for what happened. French parliament went on to propose a bill that would make denying the Armenian genocide a crime. Turkey Prime Minister responded by accusing France of not recognizing their own history. The bill was approved on December 22, 2011 and made the crime punishable by a fine of $58,000 and one year in jail. The bill was later ruled unconstitutional and against freedom of speech. Several countries still refuse to believe that the Armenian genocide even took place. Some living in Turkey today describe what is still an unsafe and unfriendly environment, especially toward Christians. Turkey still denies the genocide ever took place, and claims that the Armenian people were only removed from war zones. Damad Ferit Pasha is the only Turkish government to recognize the Armenian genocide and held trials against many officials and several others. They were found guilty by the Turkish court and sentenced to death.
Today there are more than one hundred memorials in 25 countries. Since the 1920's countries who recognize the Armenian genocide have designated April 24th as a day of remembrance. Each year on this day thousands of Armenians march silently to the genocide memorial and place flowers around the eternal flame, to honor the 300 leaders and business men who were killed in Constantinople, along with 5000 poor Armenians.