Following the Ottoman Empire's entry into World War I on the side of the Central Powers, Ottoman war minister Enver Pasha announced his plan to destroy the Russian forces at Sarikamish. After his plan completely failed and the Ottoman forces were almost entirely destroyed, Enver Pasha publicly blamed the Armenians for his defeat as he claimed they had sided with the Russians. As a result, he issued Directive 8682, which forced all ethnic Armenians serving in the Ottoman armed forces to resign and join unarmed "labour battalions". As many historians have noted, this was a precursor to a premeditated genocide, as they were deliberately transferred to unarmed battalions so that Turkish gangs were then able to liquidate them with minimal resistance under the orders of the Ottoman government.
On 19th April 1915, the governor of the city of Van requested 4000 soldiers under the pretext of conscription for the Ottoman war effort. However, it was clear to the Armenians that the purpose was to eliminate the Armenian population of Van. The following day, two Armenian men were killed by the Ottoman troops, starting the siege of Van, in which the Armenians viscously defended themselves, resulting in the deaths of 55,000 Armenians until the Russian military arrived to relieve them.
On 23rd April 1915, Ottoman Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha ordered the arrests of 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders as a threat to national security. The Armenian leaders were detained until 29th May, when they were deported and assassinated by government agents.
On 29th May, Talaat Pasha implemented the deportation and mass murder of Armenian civilians. He also orchestrated the murder of Armenians through Death Marches, were they were forced to march trough the desert deprived of food, resulting in many deaths from starvation and from murder by the authorities. Rape also played an integral part in the Armenian death marches. Several Armenian women were sold as sex slaves in the Middle East, and those who survived the death marches were later murdered in Concentration Camps. The Ottoman government also mass murdered Armenians by burning them alive, forcibly loading them into boats and throwing them into the sea, inoculating them with typhus or overdoses of morphine and exposing them to toxic gas.