During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Armenians living in their ancestral lands which were then part of the Ottoman Empire were targeted for systematic extermination. From 1894 to 1896, up to 300,000 Armenians were killed in the Hamidian massacres. From 1915 to 1923, the Armenian Genocide took the lives of around 1.5 million Armenians, who were killed by the Ottoman government.
German political scientist Christoph Zürcher writes in his 2007 book The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus:
"Genocide" became a key word, which had several connotations. "White" genocide or "white" massacre denoted the repression, assimilation, or forced migration of Armenian from their historical lands (which were far larger than Soviet Armenia and included Karabakh, as well as areas belonging to contemporary Turkey).
Western Armenians consider Armenians who assimilate within the local population of the country where they were eventually forced to emigrate (such as United States, France, Argentina, Brazil, Canada etc.) as lost to their nation due to the continuing exile after the actual genocide itself, and thus consider that lost Armenian to be another victim of the genocidal attempt to eliminate the Armenians.
The term has also been used by some Armenians to describe the discrimination against Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan, which has caused Armenians to leave their homes. Some have used it for Javakheti region of Georgia.
- Armenian Church: 1976-1980, Volumes 19-23, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, p. 30, "The Armenian community is shaken in all parts of the world by civil war, revolution, and the "white genocide" of assimilation."
- Conflict Studies, Issues 223-236, Current Affairs Research Service Centre, 1989, p. 1 "...subject to being assimilated, a situation referred to by some Armenians as the "white genocide."
- Carolin Alfonso, Waltraud Kokot, Khachig Tölölyan. Diaspora, Identity and Religion: New Directions in Theory and Research, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 9780203401057, p. 72 "Interethnic marriages, on the other hand, would eventually lead to a loss of identity and to so-called 'white genocide'; 'white genocide' is a popular term describing the threat of assimilation used in the dominant discourse of identity in Armenian diaspora communities all over the world."
- Huberta Von Vos. Portraits of Hope: Armenians in the Contemporary World, Berghahn Books, 2007, ISBN 9781845452575, p. 128 "The catholicos is thoroughly opposed to the growing assimilation of diaspora Armenians, and coins for it a strong term, for it: "white genocide", or also "dissapprearance by assimilation"."
- The re-appropriation of the past: History and politics in Soviet Armenia, 1988--1991, Harvard University, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2003. p. 392 "For example, environmental degradation was “ecological genocide,” while assimilation and outmigration were viewed as “white genocide.”"
- We are thankful for the blessing of hope, Armenian Reporter, November 29, 2008 "It was hope of survival as a people that kept "White Genocide" at bay. It was hope of a return to the homeland that nurtured generations and trained them to love the ethereal idea of a homeland."
- MultiCultural Review: Dedicated to a Better Understanding of Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Diversity, Volume 7, GP Subscription Publications, 1998, p. 12 "Armenian Americans face other challenges. Kasbarian describes the "White Genocide," the gradual assimilation of Armenian immigrants and their descen- dents into the broader American culture..."
- Melkonian, Markar (2004). My brother's road: an American's fateful journey to Armenia. London: I. B. Tauris. p. 78. ISBN 9781850436355.
...by facilitating Armenian emigration from the Middle East to assimilation in the West, the Council had implicated itself in a "white genocide" that would put the oldest and strongest Armenian communities of the diaspora.
- Zürcher, Christoph (2007). The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus. New York: New York University Press. p. 156. ISBN 9780814797099.
- Donald Eugene Miller, Lorna Touryan Miller, Survivors: An Oral History Of The Armenian Genocide, p. 166
- Waltraud Kokot, Diaspora, Identity and Religion: new directions in theory and research, p. 72
- New Times, New Times Publishing House, 1994 "This would inevitably result in a "final solution," a new carnage of Karabakh Armenians or, at best, if international control is established, in "white genocide," that is, the breaking up and ousting of the national group by economic means..."
- Tsypylma Darieva, Wolfgang Kaschuba. Representations on the Margins of Europe: Politics and Identities in the Baltic and South Caucasian States, Campus Verlag GmbH, 2007, ISBN 9783593382418, p. 111 "Thus, the notion of »genocide«, as perceived by the people, included the expressions »white genocide« (bearing in mind the example of the ethnic cleansing of Nakhichevan and Nagorno- Karabagh of Armenians)..."
- Ole Høiris, Sefa Martin Yürükel. Contrasts and solutions in the Caucasus, Aarhus Univ. Press, 1998, ISBN 9788772887081, p. 234 "...the Azerbaijanization of Nakhichevan is called a 'white genocide', that is, one that operates by erasure of evidence of Armenian residence"
- Mark Malkasian, Gha-ra-bagh!: the emergence of the national democratic movement in Armenia, p. 56
- Stuart J. Kaufman, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War, p. 55
- James Sperling, S. Victor Papacosma, Limiting Institutions?: the challenge of Eurasian security governance, p. 51
- Yerevan protest urges respect for Armenian cultural heritage in Georgia, BBC Monitoring Central Asia, December 11, 2009