Narek Hovnanian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide speaks to students to tell his story.
Hello students today I will talk about just war theory and my perspective as a survivor of the Armenian Genocide
Growing up as an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire was though. We were often treated as second class citizens and frequently experienced violence from our Turkish neighbors. But we were not prepared for what was to come.
In order for it to be right to go to war. It must be declared to the public by the proper authorities, the war must have a high chance of success, the actions taken in the war should be proportional to the objectives, it must have the right cause (which is to only establish peace, and it must be used only as a last resort.
This is where I will get into one of the parts of just war theory: just ad bellum. This means the right to go to war.
At the time the Ottoman Empire was being defeated by the allied powers in Word War 1. Many in the government (which was controlled by the Young Turks which was Turkish nationalist movement.) blamed it on the local Armenians as some joined the opposing side. This led the War Ministry releasing directive 8682. This conscripted all Armenian men into unarmed "labor battalions. It later became clear that this was de-arm and then kill any Armenian man.
Not long after that Tehcir law was passed. This then allowed the military to deport anyone who it sensed was a threat, this was later used to deport millions of non-Muslims from the Ottoman Empire.
It also fails the proportionality criterion. If they wanted to just get rid of the Armenians that were rebelling then they would have done that but instead they went after all Armenians. It also fails the probability of success criterion as by deporting and killing Armenians would just result in Armenians rebelling. And finally it fails the last resort criterion as there was no previous attempt to create peace.
This it what starts the Armenian Genocide and why it can not stand up to the criterion of Just ad Bellum. It does stand up to being publicly declared by the proper authority, however, it completely fails the right cause criterion as the true intent was to a purely Turkish empire which does not further the goals of peace.
The next part of just war theory is Jus in Bellum which means the right conduct in war. This is composed of the distinction between combatants and civilians, the fair treatment of prisoners of war, actions only based on military necessity, and avoidance of use of weapons that or actions that are considered evil such as mass rape and bio-weapons.