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This lesson explores the challenges facing Armenians during the second half of the 19th century as they advocated for equal rights within the Ottoman Empire. Throughout the 19th century, Armenians and other minorities struggled to obtain equal rights. At the same time, nationalism swept through the Ottoman Empire, convincing Greeks and other nationalities to demand independence. Most Armenians rejected calls for separation and instead pushed for reform of the Ottoman government. They looked for allies both inside and outside of the empire, including leaders of what would become the Young Turk movement. During this period, many European and Russian diplomats became increasingly concerned about the treatment of minority groups within the Ottoman Empire. Their arguments and efforts to protect those minorities would set important precedents for the international movement for human rights. However, in the absence of adequate protection, Armenians found themselves facing increasing discrimination and violence. In this lesson, students will consider the consequences of choices made by the Ottoman Government, the international community, and Ottoman Armenian leaders.The lesson addresses these essential questions: Who are the Armenians? What is the Ottoman Empire? What rights did Armenians have in the Ottoman Empire? What choices were available to Armenians as they sought equal rights in the Ottoman Empire? How did the Ottoman government respond to Armenian political demands? What happened when Armenians began demanding more rights? How did officials in the Ottoman Empire respond? What challenges do minorities face when they demand for more rights? How is religion and nationality used to create distinctions of "we" and "they"?
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