In 1915, the Turkish government systematically organised the wholesale slaughter of a complete race, the Armenians. Under the cover of World War I, through the secret organisation of unofficial gangs of Kurds, released prisoners, German officers and Turks who had lost their lands in the war against the Balkans, over 1 million Armenians were murdered, starved, raped and left to die. Following the War, as the Nationalist movement began to rise up from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, the allies tried to persecute the perpetrators of the genocide, in a series of trials where the term 'crimes against humanity' was first used, Turkey was allowed to hide its recent history. It has remained hidden ever since. As the nation attempts to enter the European Union, the question of 1915 has become ever more important with the arrest of writers such as Orhan Pamuk, and the introduction of Turkey into the EU.
Tan Akcam is a Turkish historian who was one of the first to term the events of 1915 a 'genocide'. He was imprisoned for his actions, yet escaped and has since been named a 'prisoner of conscience' by Amnesty International. He now teaches at centre for Holocaust and Genocide studies, Minnesota.