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Refugees from Armenia

The Republic of Armenia contains a largely Christian population and is located south of the Caucasus mountain range and borders Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

Ancient Armenia was a lot larger than today’s territory and is one of the oldest centres of civilization. During the 16th to 19th century Armenia was controlled by the Ottoman and Persian empire. While Western Armenia remained under Ottoman rule, Eastern Armenia was seized by the Russian empire in the 19th century.

Under Ottoman rule religious minorities, such as Christians, were granted limited autonomy and afforded few rights, despite having to pay higher taxes. Nevertheless, the Armenian community tended to be better educated and more affluent than the Turks which fuelled resentment and suspicion. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed during a state sanctioned pogrom between 1894 and 1896 under Ottoman rule. Suspicion continued and the Young Turk government, which came to power in 1908, viewed Armenians as a threat to their new Turkish state. Claiming that the Armenian people were helping the Russian empire to defeat the Turks, the government started the ‘relocation’ of Armenians from the Eastern battlefront.

In 1915 Armenians were sent on death marches across the Mesopotamian desert while others were arrested or executed. By the end of the genocide approximately 1 million Armenians had been killed which laid the groundwork for the homogenous nation building of the Republic of Turkey. To this day Turkey has not accepted the matter as genocide and holds on to claims that Armenians posed a threat to the national security. In 1963 Armenia became part of the Soviet Union until declaring independence on September 23, 1991.

However, the status of Nagorno- Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, remains disputed and has caused several armed conflicts. In September 2020 a war broke out in the region with Turkey supporting Azerbaijan and Russia helping Armenia. In November Armenia surrendered and a ceasefire was signed. Nonetheless, the hostility between the two countries remains.

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