Monument to the Armenian Genocide of 1915 in Arnouville, France. (photo: P.poschadel/Wikimedia)

One of the truly under-reported human rights tragedies of the 20th Century was the Armenian Genocide undertaken by the then Ottoman Empire (soon to be Turkey) under the rule of the “Young Turks”.

In an ethnic cleansing that served as a model/inspiration for the Nazis a generation later, thousands of Armenians were butchered and then the remainder were forced into the desolate interior of Anatolia where a great many perished via starvation, disease, or violence. As the First World War was occurring simultaneously it was little noticed by the outside world at the time.

For nearly a century the cries of justice from the survivors (and occasional acts of reprisal) and their kin has been offset by the Turkish governments policy of pretending it didn’t happen, or laughably, it was all just a big misunderstanding. For 99 years if you wanted to have a decent relationship with the Turkish government it was the thing that could not be named.

Until, suddenly, now…kind of.

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has offered his condolences to the families of more than 1 million Armenians who were massacred during the first world war, in Turkey’s most conciliatory remarks yet over the highly contested episode.

Speaking on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the start of mass deportations of Armenians, Erdoğan said the mass killings by Ottoman forces – seen by many as the first genocide of the 20th century – were “inhumane”.

It seems rather unbelievable, considering not one person alive bears any responsibility for these events that THIS is all they have gotten around to…but at least its a start. Hopefully, some truth will be conceded more directly on the 100th Anniversary.

But don’t count on it.