Counterinsurgency as Genocidal Intent: From the Ottoman Christians to the Bosnian Muslims
According to publications and statements by the Turkish government, the question of genocide in the late Ottoman Empire is ultimately a question of intent. The Turkish Foreign Ministry, as well as many contemporary Turkish and US-based scholars, argues that Ottoman imperial leaders lacked genocidal intent during the First World War and its aftermath because Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks rebelled against the government, killed Turkish and Kurdish civilians, and survived in some areas of the empire, including Constantinople, Smyrna, Aleppo and Mosul. These factors allegedly indicate an intention on the part of Ottoman officials to engage in military operations rather than to target civilian communities for destruction. Surveying the reports of the German and Austro-Hungarian allies of the Ottomans during the war, this chapter points out that genocidal intent on the part of imperial leaders preceded the larger-scale outbreak of Armenian rebellions in the eastern Ottoman Empire. Genocidal intent, according to the ICTY's jurisprudence, is consistent with war and rebellion, and may be inferred from repeated or systematic atrocities, and expressions of a desire to seek vengeance, prior to or during a war. On the whole, the German and Austro-Hungarian diplomatic traffic, as previously argued by Vahakn Diadrian and other scholars, supports the conclusion that the Ottoman policy was disconnected from rebellious activity,dispropor-tionate in the historical context of warfare, and uniquely religious and sectarian in its motivation and execution. The chapter concludes that denialist arguments misunderstand the nature of genocide, which does not necessarily refer to the complete destruction of a group or a totally one-sided slaughter.
International Law | Law
Hannibal Travis, Counterinsurgency as Genocidal Intent: From the Ottoman Christians to the Bosnian Muslims, in The Armenian Genocide Legacy: The Armenian Question Revisited After 100 Years 149-167 (Alex Demirdjian ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).