International Red Cross : a mission to nowhere

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Stavros T. Stavridis


In 1922 the Entente —Great Britain, France and Italy— and the United
States received information from American relief workers that the Kemalists were deporting large numbers of Christian minorities (Greek Pontians and Armenians) from the coastal regions of the Black Sea into the Anatolian
interior. Many innocent people perished along the way from starvation and
disease. The European powers, in particular, wanted to maintain their policy
of strict neutrality in the Greek-Turkish conflict. Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary 1919-1924, suggested to his counterparts in Paris, Rome and Washington that allied officers be dispatched to investigate these claims. The French tried to delay the setting up and sending of an inter-allied mission to Asia Minor. Such delaying tactics worked to the advantage of the Turkish Nationalists. In order to maintain allied unity, Britain was able to win the support of the other powers, whereby the International Red Cross (IRC) as an impartial international organization was to be approached to conduct the investigation of the reported atrocities in Anatolia. The IRC wanted the Entente and US governments’ to provide it with funds so that it could discharge its duties. This article will address two issues: firstly that the Entente and the US
used the IRC as a convenient front in order to avoid responsibility towards
protecting the Christian minorities from Turkish reprisals. It should be further
stated that the Europeans and the Americans were interested in winning
economic concession from the Kemalists; and that the deportation of
Christians was an act of genocide committed by the Kemalists regime in order
to solve permanently the minority problem.

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