My Bio: I'm William Bairamian, the publisher and editor in chief of The Armenite, an online periodical of Armenian news, culture, politics, society, and history, with showcases of art and literature.

Tomorrow, April 24, marks the 99th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. During the Genocide, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred and expunged from their historical homeland on the Armenian Highlands. To this day, the Republic of Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire, denies that a genocide took place.

The Armenian Genocide is one of the most significant historical events in the 20th century and has had myriad political, societal, and historical consequences.

If there is anything more you want to know, I'm at your disposal.

My Proof:

*EDIT*We've been going strong for almost three hours and I want to thank all of you for participating. Moreover I appreciate everyone's thoughtful questions and respectful demeanor. It was a pleasure to interact with you all and I hope you got something meaningful out of it. Have a great night! Բարի գիշեր:

Comments: 143 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

manolo8822 karma

Mr. Bairamian, thanks for doing this.

My question was, why have the United States and the Republic of Turkey not described what happened in 1915 as "genocide"?

TheArmenite37 karma

Glad to be here.

In fact, the United States is on record describing it as genocide several times. The House of Representatives recognized it twice on the House floor, once in 1975 and once in 1984.

Additionally, President Ronald Reagan stated, ""Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it — and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples — the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten."

There are of course several resolutions recognizing it in several committees in the US Congress.

Turkey's denial of the Genocide is complex but mostly comes down to the fact that the country itself is built upon the ashes of the Genocide. Because the forefathers of the Turkish Republic, some of whom participated in the Genocide, denied it in the early days, it has become increasingly difficult - though no less justified - to admit to the atrocities and the role they played in establishing the country that exists today.

ShotgunZen17 karma

I was adopted and found out that my birth mother was Armenian. What can I do to become more involved with and understand more of my heritage?

armeniapedia17 karma

You should definitely take a trip to Armenia, you'll be blown away with the beauty of the country and the friendliness of the people.

Armenian Volunteer Corps can hook you up with a good volunteer gig and Birthright Armenia will pay for your trip if you qualify!

TheArmenite5 karma

Right on!

Here are the links:

AVC - Birthright -

Both are great organizations.

TheArmenite10 karma

What a wonderful discovery.

You can start by reading The Armenite!

Otherwise, I would recommend reading:



Armenian-American Literature

Artsakh War


Finally, you should look into Armenian organizations in your area.

BeadsOfGlory3 karma

Just bought the Literature book you mentioned, thanks for sharing these links :)

TheArmenite3 karma

My pleasure. It's a good one. Enjoy!

TheCilician12 karma

What are your thoughts about KEssab and how some in the media are claiming that it's the continuation of Genocide? Do you think that's true?

TheArmenite15 karma

I wouldn't call what happened in Kessab a genocide. Rather, I believe it was ethnic cleansing. The entire population of an Armenian town was removed by an Islamist military operation supported by Turkey. Given how heavily militarized Turkey is generally, how sensitive they are in their southeastern region, and how they have had a civil war raging on their border for several years, it's hard for me to believe that Turkey did not know that a military operation being launched from its side of the border was going to have that effect on the Armenian-populated town. Given Turkey's track record of working to obliterate every remnant proving an Armenian presence within its own modern borders, it isn't far-fetched to believe that they were complicit with this operation in the same vein.

PlanKash10 karma

inb4 turkish denialists. looking forward to reading all your answers William jan

TheArmenite7 karma

Thanks for your support, /u/PlanKash!

schubear9 karma

Hi William,

I'm half-Armenian and my family came over (in part) during the Genocide. Our collective stories of escape and the horrors of the event are something that need to be chronicled. Is there any place to share our family histories? Of course I know of individual tales such as Armenian Golgoth and Between the Two Rivers (among others), but there are many, many more stories that need to be shared. Any thoughts/plans to collect these stories before our grandparents pass on?

Also, any suggestions for material to learn Armenian? I've always wanted to learn it but have had a difficult time doing so.

TheCilician7 karma

you should check out "a textbook of Modern Western Armenian" - good way to learn - atleast for me. also study abroad in armenia - best practice ;)

TheArmenite4 karma

This is a good book, too. Thanks!

TheArmenite6 karma

Hi /u/schubear. Thank you for sharing your story with us here.

There are definitely ways to enshrine the stories of our elders before they pass.

There have been a few large undertakings in this area. One is J. Michael Hagopian's recording of survivors and their stories. His film is now being digitized for storage at USC Shoah Foundation. You can try contacting them.

The other is the Oral History Project of Dr. Richard Hovannisian at UCLA. He has been doing it for decades and I'm not sure if he's still doing it but you can try emailing him here to see if it's ongoing: [email protected]

Of course, it would also be worth contacting the Armenian Genocide Museum in Armenia.

As for learning Armenian, you can try the AGBU Virtual College. If you're more interested in an autodidactic approach, I'd recommend Dora Sakayan's books. She has both Eastern and Western Armenian textbooks.

What'll help most is going to Armenia! Check out Birthright Armenia. You're Armenian so you're eligible.

KingOfKerfuffle8 karma

I'm fuzzy on my history, was it a genocide for religious differences, or rebellion?

TheArmenite18 karma

Ethnicity and race played the greatest role in the Turkish decision to eradicate the Armenian population. Although previously there were clear differences among Ottoman "millets," as they were called, according to religion, the rise to power of the secular, nationalistic Committee of Union and Progress (a.k.a. Young Turks) shifted the basis of identity from a religious to ethnic/racial one.

The Genocide was meant to purify and cleanse the land of non-Turks.

The religious factor was nevertheless prominent, as recorded by survivors and others: Armenians were often referred to as "gyavur," which is a derogatory term meaning "infidel."

armeniapedia5 karma

In addition to what William said, there was one other thing that made Armenians a target. The Armenian populated lands separated the Turks in Anatolia from the Turkic people of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and other parts of Central Asia. The architects of the Armenian Genocide dreamed of one continuous Turkic union, and the Armenians were in the way.

TheArmenite6 karma

This is indeed true. Thank you /u/armeniapedia!

The concept of Pan-Turanism was and is a strong motivator for ultra-nationalistic Turks.

BiggieAndTheMets8 karma

Hello- former resident of Los Angeles' Little Armenia here. Is there still outrage in the Armenian community surrounding Kobe Bryant's spokesmanship for Turkish airlines?

TheArmenite6 karma

Thanks for the question.

In case anybody doesn't know what /u/BiggieAndTheMets is talking about, here is some background:

The outrage has abated somewhat although it was, and continues to be, a difficult pill to swallow for many Armenian-Americans, thousands of whom were supporters of Kobe and are diehard fans of the Lakers. I think most people are still disappointed that, although he seemingly had no need to take on that sponsorship, he nevertheless did, not taking into consideration a huge part of his fanbase.

notalakersfan13 karma

Wait, I am really surprised by this. What's the controversy? That he made a deal with a Turkish company? According to Armenian-Americans, should Americans never do business with Turkish people? Is this not completely hypocritical?

Edit: I want to clarify this a bit. Would it not seem completely insane if Kobe had made a similar deal with Lufthansa and the entirety of the Jewish-American population of Los Angeles protested it because it was a German company? I just don't understand the logic behind it at all.

TheArmenite0 karma

Although that's not at all the suggestion, I still wouldn't be sure where the hypocrisy lies.

The controversy has to do with Turkish Airlines being partly owned by the Turkish government which, as we know, denies the Armenian Genocide. The logic goes that by helping Turkish Airlines, Kobe was helping the Turkish government in bringing it more business, meaning more money. Money which would be recycled to pay for high-powered lobbyists in Washington, DC, to deny the Genocide.

BiggieAndTheMets3 karma

Has he ever publicly addressed these concerns?

TheArmenite3 karma

No, he hasn't.

doctorwhodds7 karma

What percentage of Armenians at the time were living in the area that is now the country of Armenia?

Did Armenian Christianity play a role in the genocide?

Didn't the Ottomans claim that the Armenians were in league with the Russians to overthrow them?

TheArmenite10 karma

Thanks for the question.

It's hard to say what percentage of Armenians lived in current Republic of Armenia but I can tell you that it was small. Although most villages in the current republic were populated by Armenians then, the vast majority of Armenians lived in western Armenia, which is where the bulk of the Genocide took place, in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), Tiflis (Tblisi today), and Baku.

Christianity certainly played a role; it was, after all, only Christians (Greeks, Assyrians, and others) who were subject to wholesale massacre. Nevertheless, the primary discernible motivation was to cleanse Turkey of ethnically/racially different Armenians.

As with any genocide or massacre, officials did indeed give reasons for why they were destroying civilian populations. It was, and is, curious that Turks use that line about Armenians colluding with the Russians given that Armenians were, for better or for worse, known as millet-i sadika, which translates to the "loyal millet."

BeadsOfGlory7 karma

My question is 2-parts..

1) Where could I learn more about Armenian life during Ottoman times? I don't just mean right before the Genocide, but for the few hundred years leading up to it?

2) How much different was typical Armenian life during the few hundred years before the Genocide, compared to the lives of Greeks, Turks, Kurds, and other cultures of Anatolia?

3) If you absolute had to take a swing at guessing what the single most important cause of the Armenian Genocide, what would you say it was?

Thanks and much love from Glendale/Los Angeles you are doing great work with the Armenite. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on here.

TheArmenite4 karma

Thank you for your kind words.

1) You could read a history book, and probably should at some point, but I would recommend reading the literature to get an idea of what life was like for Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. A lot of it, unfortunately, hasn't yet been translated, so taking that route supposes that you know Armenian. Some books in English are available from the Gomidas Institute but they are not about the hundreds of years before the Genocide. You might look into books published in Venice and Vienna by the Mekhitarists as well as periodicals but, again, you will have to read Armenian for most of them.

Two people to look into:

Israel Ori and Joseph Emin. Two Armenian nationalists that preceded the Armenian national movement by several hundred years. Joseph Emin wrote a lengthy book about Armenian national liberation, in English. Here it is.

This is a good opportunity to note that there is a wealth of Armenian literature and history out there that hasn't yet been studied or translated. For any budding students of history, it's uncharted territory!

2) There were many similarities among the people living in the Ottoman Empire, whatever their background. However, religious differences were not lost on anyone and Christians, Armenians and Greeks included, were second-class citizens. If you read any books by Raffi, although they're fiction, they're based on real events, and you can see how differently Armenians were treated from Turks and Kurds.

Of course, when it concerned more mundane daily things like the food they ate, there was much diffusion among them.

3) Fear. The Armenians were the scapegoat for the Turkish authorities' fear of losing land, power, and control.

70696 karma

Hi, I am not armenian, but I am incredibly facinated with armenian history, language and culture. So as someone who is an outsider- I was curious. How has the genocide shaped your own personal self identity as an armenian and just as an individual. It has been really interesting to see how themes of the genocide ring through loud and clear through things like music and poetry. (I'm currently reading der-hovannisyans poetry on the genocide and diaspora). Then branching off of that question. I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is middle eastern and Jewish who was talking about her family raising her without stories of the Jewish holocaust because they didn't want her to grow up with a "victim mentality" associated with her cultural heritage. Putting aside the correctness of her family's approach... How do you think the focus on the armenian genocide effects the collective consciousness of its people? Surely it must impact their sense of justice, but Do you think it is something that is unifying and empowering or do you think the focus and rememberance creates a more victim like mentality? I hope I asked those questions respectfully enough. Thanks so much for doing this ama. It's so important and good that you do!

TheArmenite5 karma

Howdy. Thanks for your thoughtful questions.

It is hard to overestimate the impact the Genocide had on my life. It's also difficult to know how extensive that effect has been because it surely affects parts of my life I don't even realize. I will say that my strong feelings toward my Armenian identity were urged on by wanting to know about the history of the Genocide. I am, after all, a Diaspora Armenian who probably wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my people being massacred in their homeland. This had led me to explore my history and my identity well beyond anything having to do with the Genocide - indeed, it's spurred me to explore the seemingly unending depths of Armenian history before it - but once you realize the significance of the Genocide on any Armenian's life today, whether that Armenian's family was directly affected by it or not, it is difficult not to have an interest in knowing more.

With all due respect, I reject the notion that by learning the history of a genocide in a people's past, particularly if you're a part of that people, reinforces a "victim mentality." That is up to the people and, more importantly, the person. There is undoubtedly a victim mentality that exists but my opinion is that it's more greatly concentrated among the older generations who either experienced the Genocide firsthand or intimately through their parents.

As I mentioned above, because it is difficult for Armenians to look at themselves today and divorce their existence from the Genocide, it has unified Armenians in their resolve to win justice for their people. Those efforts have taken different shapes but they have almost always been on the same trajectory.

Palatz6 karma

Why do you think the Genocide lead by Hitler is the most talked about?

TheArmenite5 karma

There has been a lot of great work done on the Holocaust and I would recommend reading it to get a better answer than I can provide here.

Izeake6 karma

Everything I know about this genocide, which isn't very much, I learned from the band System of a Down, specifically the band's frontman Serj Tankian. I have no idea how to properly formulate a question for you, so I apologize for that, but thanks for coming here and sharing your knowledge, I am always interested in learning more about everything!

TheArmenite8 karma

Hey, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! SOAD is great. Rock on.

Isthisausernameyet5 karma

Third generation Armenian here, bless you for posting this! My question is, what are your thoughts on the situation currently in Kassab, and what can we do to help their cause?

TheArmenite4 karma

Thank you for your support!

I wrote my thoughts about what is happening in Kessab in this ode.

One recommendation I have is that, in trying to understand what to make of Kessab, and what to do in the future, Armenians look to their past and look to their leaders who wrote and spoke prolifically about what Armenians needed to do. You can start here.

Isthisausernameyet4 karma


TheArmenite3 karma

Khntrem! =)

yaynana5 karma

Barev William. Turkish news sources have claimed that the Turkish archives have been opened and the Armenian ones have not. Is this true, and if so, why?

TheArmenite5 karma

Thanks for your question. It's misleading for Turkish sources to say that Turkey's archives are open. First of all, there is more than one archive and they are located in different places (i.e. Istanbul, Ankara).

It would be best to refer to what historians who have actually visited the archives have to say about the experience. Here is a paper written by one of the preeminent Armenian scholars on the Genocide, Ara Sarafian, with dozens of citations. He has actually gone to the archives and provides some useful insight. Another scholar who has visited - or tried - to visit the archives is Dr. Kevork Bardakjian.

TheArmenite3 karma

I'd like to add that another way saying the archives are open is misleading is that the doors to the archives may be open but archives aren't libraries. That is, you can't always walk up to a stack and pick out what you're looking for. Who is to stop the government worker from whom you request something from 1894 or 1915 to say that they don't have what you're looking for?

llosa5 karma

Thank you for doing this. I don't want to come across as ignorant, but:

1) Why do you think many genocides happened in the Eastern Europe area? (eg Croatia from 1941 to 45, the Holocaust, Bosnian Genocide and the Armenian Genocide).

2) Is there any way we can remember the victims? Perhaps something traditional in the Armenian culture that we can all do?

3) Are you looking for help (unpaid, even) with your website? It looks really interesting and as someone who would like to major in history, it seems like a great resource.

TheArmenite8 karma

P.S. Nothing you wrote was at all ignorant. We are all always learning.

TheArmenite6 karma

Thank you for your thoughtful inquiry, /u/llosa.

1) It would be very difficult to answer about each genocide here. If you were going to distill it, vitriolic hate is toward another is what must drive someone to kill their neighbor, women, children, and elderly. It's the one thing that is ubiquitous in all genocides, everywhere, whether in Europe, Africa, or Asia. The question of how a human arrives at such hate for another human is one for the ages.

2) Absolutely. You can, of course, visit the Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan, Armenia. If you can't make it there, you can visit one that is closer to where you live.

3) Thank you for your kind words. We're indeed looking for people. Take a look here and drop us a line! You can also send me a PM through reddit.

llosa4 karma

Thank you for your kind answers. I live in Australia, but I have a passion for linguistics/history and writing. I will definitely be emailing you directly with a few samples of my writing and some other things about me.

TheArmenite3 karma

Great! I'll look forward to it.

If you're in Australia, this might interest you:

shaneoinsaino2105 karma

How do those fancy letters work? I really like the calligraphy of the characters

TheArmenite8 karma

I recommend taking a look here: