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17-Jul-2016 07:35

Now, as power in the land was seized by a junta of nationalist officers known as the Young Turks, persecution turned to unbridled savagery.Over the next six months, there was to be a systematic uprooting and slaughter of perhaps as many as 1.5 million Armenians — on the grounds that they were infidels, racially inferior ‘dogs’ and traitors who were siding with Russia against Turkey.Those who weren’t put to death on the spot, their faith cruelly mocked — such as Aghavni’s father, a mild-mannered, cultivated spice merchant who spoke five languages — were hounded in columns, eastwards, into the deserts of Syria and Iraq to die.

But this, they maintain, happened as a result of chaotic wartime conditions, civil strife, starvation and in response to Armenian violence, not because of a deliberate, officially organised and systematic plan to eliminate an entire people.In court in Switzerland earlier this year, she took up Armenia’s case and challenged a nationalist Turkish MP who maintained in public that the Armenian genocide was an ‘international lie’.We also rent instruments and and offer music lessons on site.Not until first light did Aghavni dare to creep downstairs on that morning 100 years ago.

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The Armenians — who lived on the eastern edge of the empire ruled from Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) — were Christians and had been since the year 301, making theirs the first nation officially to adopt Christianity, even before Rome.But here, among the Islamic Turks, they had long been second-class citizens, a persecuted minority.