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11 Holocaust & Genocide Stud. 28 (1997)
The Turkish Military Tribunal's Prosecution of the Authors of the Armenian Genocide: Four Major Court-Martial Series

handle is hein.journals/hologen11 and id is 34 raw text is: The Turkish Military Tribunal's Prosecution
of the Authors of the Armenian Genocide:
Four Major Court-Martial Series
Vahakn N. Dadrian
Genocide Study Project, H. F Guggenheim Foundation
This article examines the indictments, proceedings, and verdicts of a num-
ber of important trials of perpetrators of the Armenian genocide. While
the actual transcripts still are not available to scholars, daily abstracts pub-
lished in the government's newspaper provide a unique window into the
evidence heard during the trials. Relying upon this and other sources, the
author argues that the very fact that the trials took place at all reflected
the weakness of Ottoman Turkey after its defeat in World War I. With the
ascendancy of the nationalist Kemalists, later the trials were gradually
brought to an end, and sympathetic bureaucrats found ways to shelter
most of the guilty from severe punishment for their crimes. Though this
leniency may have emboldened those who would perpetrate genocide
elsewhere, the author observes, the trials nonetheless demonstrated for
all to see that the World War I Ittihadist government had attempted to
destroy an entire nation in its ancestral homelands.
The prosecution of dozens of World War I Turkish war criminals by a Turkish Military
Tribunal has yet to engage the attention of scholars of legal history, in particular geno-
cide studies. The present article continues efforts by this author to counteract this
negligence by directing attention to those trial sessions which previously received
only passing attention.' When analyzed to some extent, however, these sessions may
shed significant light on the twin issues of prevention and punishment that are the
touchstone of the UN Convention on Genocide. These issues continue to punctuate
contemporary debate on genocide as the ultimate crime.
Yielding to German political and military pressure, on October 29, 1914, Turkey
relinquished its openly proclaimed neutrality in the war which was then raging in
Europe. Through a combined surprise attack against Russian warships and coastal
installations in the Black Sea, Turkey on that day entered the war. England and
France, Russia's allies, declared war against Turkey on November 5, three days after
Russia. This aggression would entail for defeated Turkey legal and political liabilities.
Two factors animating this belligerence appear critical.' Turkey signed on August 2,
28                        Holocaust and Genocide Studies, VII N1, Spring 1997, pp. 28-59

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