Armenians were not generally oppressed by governments, but more by regional people of power. They were in fact the second-most respected people of the Ottoman Empire, first being the Muslims (since it was an Islamic Empire). In fact, Albertus Bobovius, who was enslaved by Crimean Tatars and sold into the palace in the 17th century, reports that both Armenians and Jews were exempt from the dev?irme levy. He writes that the reason for this exemption of Armenians is religious: That Gregorian church (Armenian Church) is considered to be the closest to Christ's original (therefore Muhammed's) teachings.

Under the Millet system, the Turkish rule gave Armenians many rights that other nations would not. The Armenian National Constitution or Regulation of the Armenian Nation (Turkish:"Nizâmnâme-i Millet-i Ermeniyân") established in 1863, granted Armenians many rights that the Armenian church still uses today. The Armenian National Assembly established at this time allowed for Armenians to self-govern themselves and work out their problems in a peaceful fashion.

It was not until the 1890s, when the spread of nationalism encouraged Armenians to rebel. Although this was not the largest majority of Armenians, it was enough to instill paranoia and fear into Muslims in the area that the Armenians may secede and establish their own nation like the Christians did in the Balkans. The many Muslim refugees from the Balkans spread horror stories about Christian massacres of Muslims once the rebellion had started. Thus many Muslims in the area, mostly Kurds, felt threatened by the Armenians in the area by 1892.

Kurdish tribe leaders demanded more from the Armenians in the form of tribute. In some cases Armenians refused and rebelled against the Kurdish warlords, and sometimes the Ottoman Gendarme (National Guard) was caught in the conflicts. The result was large amounts of deaths by Armenians, Turks, and Kurds, who mutually massacred each other because of the spread of nationalism and the increased tension caused by the European Reform policies forced on to the Ottoman Sultan to protect the Armenian minority.

Dr. Guenter Lewy describes in his book that the European nations who hear the constant complaints of Armenian propagandists about Ottoman and Kurdish oppression, wanted to help the Armenians have more say in government and more protection for their Christian friends. The problem was, while European consuls continuously pressured the Ottoman Sultan for reforms to improve the Armenian peoples' condition, they did not provide the ability and method to enforce these reforms. Thus, many reforms were lightly implemented, and only caused further tension between ethnic groups in the region. This tension later grew into an all out civil war with mutual massacres by Kurds, Turks, and Armenians.

While the Armenians were occasionally oppressed by regional Muslims such as Kurds and Turks. This was not the central policy of the Ottoman government. There was no encouragement of hate or oppression against Armenians by the Ottoman government.

The constant tension and fighting of ethnic groups in Eastern Anatolia, caused large sums of death tolls for everyone in the region. Hate being a viscous cycle of revenge, sometimes provoked by Armenian rebels, and sometimes provoked by Muslim attacks, caused the deaths of many poor Armenian, Turkish, and Kurdish lives.