National Security Justifications for Ottoman Greek Expulsions and Killings:
Reading Denialist Accounts in Light of International Law
Historians who grapple with the topic of genocidal intent, particularly the emergence of such intent during late Ottoman persecutions and deportations of ethnic and national minorities such as the Armenians and Greeks, often fall prey to an important misunderstanding. Suggesting that “war” and “genocide” are diametrically opposed concepts, they attempt to prove that there was rebellion or resistance on the part of the victim group. The assumption is mass atrocities taking place during the defense of an empire or nation do not “count” towards genocidal intent. This presentation juxtaposes these assumptions against the original meaning and emerging legal definition of the term “genocide.” It argues that historians need to introduce greater legal and theoretical sophistication into their understanding of genocidal intent. Sources reviewed include the Turkish government’s public statements, publications by Turkish scholars who are linked in some way to the Turkish state’s historical initiatives, scholarly publications in Greece and other countries that attempt to “soften” the narrative of Pontian Greek persecutions in 1919-1923, and the findings of international courts and tribunals on genocidal intent during security crises.