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Introduction


OTTOMAN ARCHIVES YILDIZ COLLECTION THE ARMENIAN QUESTION I -TALORI INCIDENTS
 

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The Foundation for the Establishment and Development of Centers for Historical Research and Documentation has begun publishing a collection of forty-eight volumes of documents from its archives. This corpus of material is divided into two groups under the heading of The Yildiz Collection: “The Armenian Question” and “Armenian Documents - 1331 (1915)”.

These documents will be published in fifteen volumes and will cover aft aspects of the Armenian minority communities, whose members were subjects of the Ottoman Empire and who were referred to by the government as Millet-i Sad?ka - “The Faithful Nation” - between the years 1860-1919 including their circumstances, their activities, the incidents of which they were the cause, the ideas and attitudes that directed and governed events, the acts and conduct that threatened the existence of the state, and the policies that were followed and the measures that were taken in the face of all these.

The Foundation will be placing at the disposal of the reader the documents in its archives (photographed in such a way as to retain unaltered aft their original features) together with their transcriptions and their translations into modern Turkish and into English.

The aim of the Foundation in its publication of these documents (whose originals are in the National Archives) is to be of assistance in bringing an end to the falsification and speculation that has been pursued (owing to what ever attitudes and expectations) and to enlighten public opinion concerning the events and deeds that took place within the historical process in question.

It has become understood in the “Information Age” in which we live and whose power we are only beginning to discover, that false interpretations of events that have taken place in the field of historical fact cannot long be promoted or disseminated in such a way as to turn individuals or communities into enemies of one another. The revolution in information has prepared the means whereby all mankind is capable of discovering and broadcasting the truth in aft its clarity. It is for this reason that, historical events should be regarded, interpreted, and disseminated as sources of experience that will guide people and societies towards love, peace, prosperity, and peace of mind and not incite them to hatred, terrorism, or murder. It surely cannot be not right for the unlimited opportunities to secure and produce knowledge through the means that mankind has today acquired to be restricted and limited to solely to examining current events and making projections about the future: mankind should also make use of these opportunities to shed light on events of the past which - deliberately or not - have remained in darkness or which have been distorted for one reason or another. And the reason is that the century that is now on the point of ending is filled with hundreds of examples proving that no dark, unknown, or distorted past can ever shed light on the future of humanity. Each one of these examples has been most costly to mankind: the first and second world wars whose disturbing effects have still not subsided, the lingering worries of the Cold War, innumerable conflicts and local wars; and at last we have come to the realization that political avarice, personal passions, conflicts of interest, and facts veiled by social expectations (and particularly by religious, sectarian, racial, ideological, and conceptual bigotry) are not the cause of human happiness, affluence, and peace of mind but rather of more and more spilled blood, wasted lives, misery, and want.

The Foundation believes that the series of publications that it is now embarking upon will enlighten public opinion on such matters.

An important point deserving consideration with regard to the features of historical sources that ensure their value is the problem of making good use of them.

There is no disagreement that every act and event that is included among the assets of history is the consequence of specific causes and views or that it is bound by conditions of time and place. In the examination, appraisal, and interpretation of documents that attest to or reveal the act or event however there are differing opinions and it is known that different approaches can lead to different conclusions.

We see that as a result of prejudicial, manipulated, and tendentious investigation, interpretation, and appraisal of events in history, enmities and conflicts among societies have persisted for centuries and that attempts are made to pass feelings of rancor, hatred, and revenge down from generation to generation and keep them alive. Because historical events cannot be made to occur again years later under the same conditions and furthermore because it is impossible to reveal the true aspects of events by means of methods acceptable to all such as testing and experimenting, opportunities are presented that can always be exploited by those holding set attitudes and views and this prepares for them areas in which to maneuver. The serious efforts made by impartial investigators and true scholars on the other hand in the face of such persons require great patience and assiduity - qualities that are difficult to expect always of people - and necessitate a great sense of responsibility and commitment. Particulary  when researchers and scholars investigate matters that are of concern to their own societies, to their personal loyalties, and to the values they hold, psychological factors influence their interpretation and appraisal of events. In all such instances, the struggle to find the truth runs up against the interpretations and evaluations that prejudiced individiuals, tendentious opinions, and manipulated attitudes assign to events. The “truth” that supposedly has been found creates a result that is disputed, and as it is disputed it slowly loses its worth; but at the same time the result ensures the constant currency of conflict, enmity, rancor, and hate.

Another important situation that keeps inter-communal hostility constantly alive is the desire to interpret and evaluate historical acts and events not within the framework of their own conditions but rather within one of present-day attitudes and values or by attributing them to causes that are entirely artificial. In such situations, the truths inherent in events and acts are dispensed with and what gets marketed instead are the “truths” that are desired, which, as anile are the material from which propaganda may be made.

The manner of approach that directly or indirectly leads to the results that are revealed in any investigation and evaluation of historical events is also concerned with the events’ documentary evidence and with efforts to use and interpret such documents.

With the start of recorded history, humanity increased the means whereby it might acquire correct information about acts and events in its past. Today, the opportunities available toils have reached mind-boggling proportions. The ability to discover and understand the acts and events that make up one’s historical assets in all their aspects and elements has reached a level that will open up new horizons for mankind.

The evidence that helps us to discover and understand events reaches us in the form of documents. These documents are the sources that enable us to determine events directly and that help us to understand the consequences of them. However in order to understand and use documents correctly, a number of technical conditions must be fulfilled. Most important of all, the political, economic, social, cultural, and technological developments of the time when the document took form must be known, for every act and every event in history takes shape, proceeds, and comes to an end under the influence of such conditions and leads to and is the cause of a new act or event.

A second important point in the matter of the research and examination of documents is that one should never lose sight of the fact that they constitute a whole. To suppose that acts and events taking place in history can be fully explained by means of documents that one happens to come across by chance or that shed light on only one aspect of them is naive, to say the least. The obligation to deal as a whole with the circumstances that preceded the development of the act or event, its occurrence, and the subsequent stages makes it necessary for documents to be examined, researched, and understood only in that way. It is through efforts that make us understand the facts behind an event and not merely establish its existence, that documents become historical evidence: failing this, they never become more than material for propaganda and after a while they are gone and forgotten.

One of the most striking examples - of the immediate past and of the present day - of attempts to distort historical events and conceal facts undertaken on the part of those who view the realization of their interests and expectations as lying in continuing inter-communal disagreement and dispute and in keeping alive the feelings of rancor, hate, and revenge handed down from generation to generation may be witnessed in the efforts and activities that are disseminated under such names as “Armenian incidents” and “Armenian genocide”.

The publications and efforts that prepared the sources, environment, and groundwork for the Armenian terrorism between 1983 and 1986 and that provoked, encouraged, and gave psychological support to such terrorism cannot be expected to come to an end overnight for such undertakings and practices have for a century possessed not only the director indirect - support of more than just one country but also the willing - or unwilling - help in the form of provocation and encouragement on the part of religious and private institutions. For those committing these deeds furthermore, such activities, acts, and publications are each a source of income while in some circles they take the form of political, social, and/or economic “investments”. Ultimately there is not, in such encouragement, provocation, or support, even the slightest concern either for the societies in conflict or for the blood spilled or for the time and opportunities lost. The moment the slightest threat or danger is felt, the groups and individuals who will become the first targets and be neutralized will be those who have been provoked, encouraged, and supported. Whenever it is realized that interests and expectations cannot be realized in this way or by these means, new subjects of dispute and disagreement will be chosen.

It is now well understood that public opinion can be enlightened about these undertakings and activities - for which all Armenian communities or individual Armenians cannot be held responsible - only by laying out all the facts in full view. It is out of this belief that the Foundation has begun the publication of this series. But in doing so it seeks not only to enlighten public opinion but also to present these documents for the attention - and for the conscientious consideration - of those who have endeavored to turn two societies into enemies by distorting historical facts. There is no other service that one may render for the world of humanity.

In order to realistically appreciate and interpret the events set forth by the documents that are to be published in this series, one needs to know about the times in which the documents were generated and thus it is worthwhile knowing in outline the opinions, acts, and policies of certain foreign states concerning the matters covered in these documents, since it was these states that maneuvered and gave direction in line with their own interests and expectations to the Armenian minority communities in the Ottoman Empire and to Armenian activities within the historical process of that empire. It is with aim that the following information is presented for the benefit of the reader.


 

 

The Ottoman Empire  

During the last three decades of the 19th Century and during the first two of the 20th the Ottoman Empire was faced with a host of domestic and foreign threats and dangers, and with wars and struggles that it was forced to engage in. Without being aware of the attempts to hinder, maneuver, and direct the empire’s every attempt to flourish and protect its existence, it is impossible either to understand or assess the events that took place in the historical process or the policies that were pursued.

The events of this half-century led to a steady attrition of the empire’s resources of manpower, land, and much more and also made it inevitable that this great Turkish state would be broken up, that its territory would be occupied by foreign powers, and that it would become a thing of the past.

Between 1870 and 1920, the Ottoman Empire lost 85% of the land under its dominion and control and 75% of its population. In the 1880’s the territory in which the Ottoman state was truly capable of defending and exercising its sovereign rates consisted partially of Rumelia and also of Anatolia, though even of the latter, some of its most vital parts in the northeast had been lost. What remained of the empire in Syria, Mosul, Hejaz, and Yemen could be considered to exist only because of the presence of its armies there.

The Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-78 and its consequences laid the groundwork for European countries’ establishment of a system whereby they sought to pay the price of the political balance they wished to preserve in Europe with the land, dominions, resources, and manpower of the Ottoman Empire and they made it possible for them to develop that system.
 
The Treaty of Berlin (13 July 1878) secured acceptance of this system at the international level and represents its basic document. At the conference where the treaty was prepared, the thought in the minds of European countries was to keep from upsetting the balance in Europe. Even Russia, emerging tired and distraught from war, wished to maintain the existing political balance and just about every country realized that upsetting the balance would make a great European war unavoidable and that aft existing relations would come undone. Europe was not ready for war.

The Treaty of Berlin did more than make it possible for the Russians (who already had the Ayastefanos-Ye?ilköy Agreement that was signed at the end of the war) and for the British (who had the Istanbul Agreement) to maintain, with minor alterations, their existing control over the rights and sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire: it also eventually gave every European country the means whereby it might intervene in any affair and undertaking in which the empire was concerned. It also represented the starting point of their strategies to erase the Ottoman state from the map of Europe.

In general, the system that the Treaty of Berlin set up secured two important opportunities for Russia and for the countries of Europe and also established time mechanisms whereby these could be realized. The first of these was a mechanism for massive intervention in the internal affairs of the empire through demands for and oversight of the reforms that were supposed to be carried out by the empire in Anatolia, particularly in the areas where Armenians were present. The second was an opportunity to breakup and divide the Ottoman Empire and wipe it from history, since when one European country sought to achieve its interests and expectations in the territories of the empire, other countries considered themselves free to take the same action. This system lasted up until the first world war and prepared for the end of the
Ottoman Empire.

In the face of the threats and dangers that this system created, the basic policy of Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1908) was to defend the final, remaining “fatherland” of Anatolia and Rumelia. For this reason, re-establishing the territorial integrity of Anatolia (which had been violated when Kars-Ardahan had been given to the Russians under the Treaty of Berlin) was a continuation of the geographical unity provided in Rumelia with the provinces of Selanik, Manast?r, and Kosova. Abdülhamid believed that social, economic, and cultural development was needed and he also regarded as essential a multi-faceted foreign policy. In domestic policy on the other hand he believed that problems could be dealt with through a fully centralized system governed by a single hand. The reflection of the social and cultural structure of the Ottoman state in its political life on the other hand explains why, under the conditions prevailing, the state was quickly brought to the point of collapse and the clearest examples of this is may be seen in the workings of the Ottoman parliamentary assembly that was formed under the constitutional administration following the acceptance of the Constitution of 1876.

For Abdülamid II, the aims of the Ottoman Empire were based fundamentally on the notion that the European power balance did not appear very durable in the long run and would eventually result in a European war. Under the circumstances, if the empire could keep out of such a war and remain neutral then in the meantime it could bring about its economic, social, and cultural development; furthermore if it could do this with a sound currency while achieving an accumulation of capital, then it might be able to take advantage of the opportunities that would present themselves in the confusion and collapse that would prevail in the postwar period, thus making itself secure and possibly even regaining its former strength in the region and in Europe. For this reason, the goals were to await the outbreak of European strife; until then, refuse to enter into any disputes or agreements with any other states and follow a fully balanced foreign policy; if necessary and only if it were unavoidable, consider engaging in localized “displays of strength” as in the war with Greece. At the same time, it was state policy that the most modern models should be followed in education and social life that economic opportunities should be exploited, and that resources should be put to work.

As late as the beginning of the 19th Century, the line of defense of the Ottoman Empire ran through the Danube, the Adriatic, the Persian Gulf and the Caucasus. Its areas of sovereignty in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas and its partial control of the Red Sea were what constituted the security of this line of defense. During the first three decades of the century however this line disappeared entirely and the territories under the empire’s rule came under the control of other countries. The system set up by the Treaty of Berlin in a sense placed the empire under a global threat and danger coming from the countries of Europe and from czarist Russia.
Through the capitulations, the bilateral trade agreements, the privileges granted for one reason or another, and the “build-operate-transfer” models to which recourse was had in order to encourage and increase foreign investment inflows, the Ottoman Empire’s economic, commercial, and fiscal life was to a large degree surrendered to the control of European countries.

In addition to all this, beginning in the second half of the 16th Century there were attempts to protect, spread, and strengthen various Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant religious sects on the part first of France, then of Russia, and then later of England under the guise of defending different minority communities in the empire but in fact to achieve a variety of interests and expectations. These, combined with the system of foreign schools, American missionary organizations, and similar activities all had a substantial Influence on the social and economic life of the Ottoman Empire and they pushed minority communities into rebellion and revolution and into engaging in bloody, rancorous, armed struggles.

Under such conditions, the Ottoman Empire could have no goal except to protect and defend its territories in Anatolia and Rumelia and to undertake reforms that would ensure development and prosperity in them. The Ottoman state regarded the protection and defense of Anatolia and Rumelia the sine qua non of its being and continued existence. It is natural that any act or activity that might lead to any separation, breaking off, or division of these territories should have been regarded as an assault on its existence. Indeed as it happaned, the loss and breakup of Rumelia and Anatolia did spell the end of the empire: with the loss of Rumelia after the Balkan War and the occupation of Anatolia by foreign forces after the first world war, the empire became a thing of the past.

In the system that the Treaty of Berlin setup and fostered the central question was how to decide to pay the cost of any competition, disagrements, and conflicts of interest that might occur among the countries so as to preserve the political balance in Europe. The “payment” they decided upon consisted of the land, domain, and resources of the Ottoman Empire. In a region in which Russia was preparing to take control of eastern and southeastern Anatolia - preparation for which was to be achieved by stirring up and inciting the Armenian minorities there, steering them towards revolt and thereby creating a pretext for intervention - all of which Britain considered tube contrary to its petroleum policies and its Mosul - Persian Gulf strategies, and which it regarded ultimately as a threat to its communications with lndia, Russian and British interests were in conflict and thus there could be no talk of a “share” in the payment that was to be made: Russia wanted the whole thing as its share, and Britain demanded the same for itself. This competition and conflict of interests on the one hand prepared, broadened, and developed the path to the events that history now calls the “Armenian Question”; but at the same time, because it postponed any British-Russian alliance, it also prolonged the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire. This situation is indicated most clearly in a letter that the British prime minister Salisbury sent to grand vizier Said Pasha through the British ambassador in Istanbul:

I draw your attention to the great danger that the Ottoman government finds itself in. Since assuming office. I have watched with amazement as public opinion in Britain has turned against the Ottoman government. Opinions to the effect that this state cannot continue increase day by day.

It is important to regain British public opinion. For this reason, it is of vital concern that the reforms that are being demanded on behalf of the Armenians be put into effect without delay.
No one is asking for independence for the Armenians; all that is desired is justice... Officials that Europe can feel confidence in must be assigned to the East and the administration there must be strengthened. It makes no difference to Britain what religious group these officials may be from; only they must be left free by the sultan to do what their work requires of them.
Neither Germany, nor Italy, nor Austria can block Britain’s policy on the Eastern Question. France on the other hand remains faithful to Russia.

The one and only thing that ensures the continued existence of the Ottoman state is the fact that Britain and Russia are not in alliance and cannot come to an agreement. Should they become allied and reach an agreement the danger would reach its final and most extreme point and the Ottoman state would come to an end. (Said Pasha’s Memoirs, Volume I, p. 271 ff.)



 

 

The Armenians

 

Any impartial observation and examination of the circumstances of the Armenian minorities in the Ottoman Empire reveals two noteworthy and very important points.

First of aft, the rights and liberties of the Armenian minorities in the Ottoman state, their economic opportunities and assets, and their social and cultural lives were more advanced and developed than those of other minorities and indeed than those of the Muslim Turkish elements as well.

Secondly until the Ottoman-Russian war of 1877-78 (indeed not until the end of the war), there was no “Armenian Question” in the Ottoman state, no “Armenian Problem”. There were, to be sure, disagreements among the Armenians themselves and these were within their own organizations and were based predominantly on sectarian differences; but there were no disagreements with the Ottoman state or government. Before this date, incidents along the eastern border and in the areas near the border in which Armenian communities - with Russian or Persian influence - began migrating or provided Russia with support in wars were nearly aft of a localized nature and never took the form of a rebellion or revolution.
 
The views of Professor Enver Ziya Karal on the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire are today shared by aft authors, historians, and researchers who have concerned themselves with this subject:



 

 

The Circumstances of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire

 

Armenians could be found everywhere throughout the Ottoman Empire. They were fairly concentrated in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, but nowhere did they constitute a majority in comparison with the Turks. Only 39% of the population of the cities and environs of Erzurum. Bitlis, Harput, Diyarbak?r, Erzincan, and Harran was Armenian; and in the province of Adana this figure was much lower. As for the Armenians living in central and western Anatolia and also in some of the cities of Rumelia, they were a minority less even than the Greeks. In addition, there lived more populous, communities of Armenians in the neighboring Persian and Russian territories.

The Armenians demonstrated no sectarian unity and adhered to three churches. The majority were members of the Gregorian Church and this was followed in number by the Armenian Catholic Church. As for the Armenian Protestant Church, it was still in a state of development having been founded in the first half of the 19th Century.

Because the Armenians never constituted a majority anywhere and furthermore because they were divided along sectarian lines, they were insufficient in number to maintain their national cultures - as such other Christian communities as the Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, etc. had managed to do - in the face of Turkish culture and in many aspects they had become Turkish. The majority spoke the Turkish language. Even those priests and intellectuals that wanted to speak Armenian expressed themselves with heavy borrowings of words from Turkish. Armenians had adopted Turkish customs and folklore and there were even among them those who untertook scholarly investigations of Turkish literature and art. The Armenians who lived in the towns and villages of eastern Anatolia for the most part busied themselves with farming, local industries, and trade on a small scale. Unlike in Rumelia, these farmers were not the servants or partners of landholders on big farms but rather they worked the land that they owned. As for the Armenians living in the cities, these engaged in such economic and financial activities as domestic trade, foreign trade, money - changing, jewelry - making, banking, contracting, and revenue - farming. Instead of compulsory military service, the Armenians paid a light tax. (It was for this reason also that they always had the opportunity to busy themselves with their own business and affairs.) Their circumstances were more prosperous than those of the Turks yet their prosperity never was the cause of jealousy among the Turks or among other Muslims. It was for this reason that from the foundation of the Ottoman state until the reign of Abdülhamid II, Armenians lived side by side with Turks, as friends and brothers and in a state of peace and safety.

Because the Armenians had adopted Turkish culture and were aware of European civilization that they never chased after ideas of independence like other Christian communities in the empire and they were employed in government positions. Particularly after the Greek uprisings and following the Gülhane firman, business at the court and in the foreign ministry that previously had been the province of Greeks now began to be assigned to Armenians. Abdülhamid II relates the following about the relations between Armenians and the court: “I remember from the time of my father, Sultan Mecid: everybody - down even to the cellarers - was Armenian. In the Privy Treasury there were members of the Artin Pasha and Gümü? Gerdanlar families. 1 know of one ancient family who were tailors to the queen mother and were assigned duties virtually like harem aghas. In all the mansions of the powerful and the mighty they were the chief stewards. My father used to visit the Gümü? Gerdanlar family once a week and dine there. They would visit in return and be accommodated in the royal harem.” (Atif Hüsnü v. 9 p. 14.) After the reform firman we see them being brought into the leading services of the state and some were appointed governors, governors-general, inspectors, ambassadors, and even ministers. In addition, Mustafa Re?it Pasha, Ali Pasha, Fuat Pasha, and even Mithat Pasha all employed Armenian advisers. In the records we come across references to the help that Odian Efendi gave in Mithat Pasha’s drafting of the Ottoman constitution. Until 1983, even Abdülhamid II himself got along well with the Armenians for he appointed Armenians to ministerial positions.



 

 

The Attitude of The Ottoman Empire Towards The Armenians

 

One of the documents that most clearly puts forth the attitude of the Ottoman Empire towards Armenian activities and deeds is expressed in a memorandum of an interview held by Sultan Abdülhamid II on 16 January 1984 with the prince of Radolen, then the German ambassador, in which the situation and his opinions are given.

Document

From: Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II
To: The Prince of Radolen, German ambassador in Istanbul, to be conveyed to the German Kaiser Wilhelm
Date: 16 January 1894
Text of the interview given in writing to the Kaiser.

Armenian instigators have been encouraging the Armenians of Sus not to pay their taxes and to do violence to government officers and Muslims. The Armenians are clearly in a state of rebellion.

They have been acting with extreme cruelty, having dismembered a number of defenseless Turks and tortured others with burning gunpowder. The obvious object of the Armenians is to incite the Turks and when the forces come to suppress them assert that they are being treated cruelly and draw down upon themselves the mercy of Europe - and particularly of England. Thanks to a repeat of the legend of “Bulgarian atrocities”, the Armenians seek to gain a sort of autonomy like the Balkans have. Yet the Armenians are not congregated nor do they constitute a majority anywhere and for that reason they cannot justifiably ask for autonomy.

In this rebellious state of theirs, the Armenians have been emboldened by the rounds made - supposedly for the purpose of inspecting the country and the populace - here and there by the British consul in Van. Such visits have convinced the violent Armenians that the consul is interested in them and in their activities. Furthermore there is quite a widespread belief in the Armenian region that in the near future the “red coats” - that is, the British army - will be coming to deliver their country. A few Armenians disguising themselves as Turks have been apprehended. They were instigators who were murdering Armenians and in that way sought to stir Armenians up against the Turks. The names of a number of Turks who allegedly murdered Armenians were given to the British ambassador but l was able to prove to the contrary that it was the Turks whose names were given who had been murdered by Armenians.

I have heard that the British ambassador wishes to send a “military attache” to Erzurum to make an investigation. I do not consider this appropriate; the appearance of a British army officer there would be cause for the Armenians to rebel in the most open way possible. Is wear to you that I will not under any circumstances bow to these unjust and oppressive Armenian demands and I would rather die than agree to any reform that would lead to autonomy.



 

 

The Views of Foreign Representatives Concerning Armenian Activities

 

From the standpoint of the works to be published here, it would appear particularly beneficial to document the views of the representatives of foreign countries concerning the activities of Armenian minority groups (whose members were after aft Ottoman subjects and living in the Ottoman Empire) between 1880 and 1913.

George Washborn, who represented Great Britain for many years in Istanbul had the following to say about the incidents of 1894 in his work Fifty Years in Constantinople.

The circumstances of the Armenians began to change and become more difficult, particularly in the interior of Anatolia, after the Congress of Berlin. British policy shares a great deal of the responsibility for this situation. Britain came forth claiming to be defending Armenians’ rights and by suggesting that she would have reforms brought about and have an independent Armenia set up for Armenians, she incited them. She did this partially out of Christian zeal but rather more to serve her own personal interests - that is, out of an expectation that an independent Armenia would be a barrier to Russian advances into Anatolia. In the end, she succeeded in causing the Armenians to rebel against the Ottoman state.

A report dealing with the “Armenian Question” sent by Vangenheim, the German ambassador in Istanbul to the German foreign ministry on 10 June 1913 displays not only some of the most serious and impartial views on the subject of Armenian activities and deeds but also how the subject affected relations between countries.

Document

No one would claim that the circumstances of the Armenians in the Turkish state are extraordinarily good; yet hardly anyone could prove that any of the other in habitants of Turkey - particularly the Turks - are in a better situation than the Armenians or that the present circumstances of the Armenians are worse than they have been at any other time in Turkish history. One thing is certain and that is that the present Turkish government is entirely convinced of the necessity to do something for the Armenians and that it is ready to fulfill Armenian aspirations to the best of its ability without falling into the danger of severing the various parts of the state. The Armenians in Turkey are under relatively better conditions than those under which the Jews, Poles, and Finns find themselves in Russia today. Despite this, propaganda operating through the most radical of vehicles seeks to create the impression all over the world that the agonies suffered by Armenians are increasing day by day and that today they have reached such a point that European intervention has been rendered indispensable. A number of Armenian envoys playing the role of martyr have been making the rounds of the European capitals where they have also set up an office that collects the complaints coming from Armenians in the Turkish provinces and, after skillfully working them up into bulletins, disseminates them all over the world. Such printed complaints used to come to the imperial embassy once a week whereas now I receive one or even two a day. While news coming from non-Armenian sources gives no information whatsoever concerning any increase in Turkish excesses, it is clearly apparent that there has been an increase in systematic agitation. The reasons for Armenian agitation are clear and evident: the Christian races in European Turkey have been delivered from Turkish domination; now the Christians of Asia Minor want to be delivered. But in the case of the Armenians, there are no brother allies who can take up the sword to rescue them. For this reason, all their hopes are dependent upon the good will of the major powers. In the opinion of the Armenians, it is a mistake not to take advantage of a time when government cabinets are busy with the winding-up of Turkey-in-Europe and with the future of Turkey-in-Asia. Had the Armenians been reasonable, it would have been easy, under present conditions, for an agreement to have been reached between other governments and Turkey concerning the amelioration of their destiny. The Armenian demands however go far beyond whatever Turkey can give without endangering her own existence. The country that has been the cause of rising Armenian demands is Russia. With the assistance of the Katogikos, of the Armenian patriarch here, and of their countless agents working in the Armenian regions as well as by means of the expenditure of great sums of money, Russia has for years been inciting Armenian discontent. it is Russia that has been blocking the construction of roads and railways in eastern Anatolia. But without roads and railways, the Turkish government can never establish peace between the Kurds and the Armenians. It is a fact that Russia has been giving assistance in the form of money and weapons not only to the Armenians but also to the Kurds so that the latter may perpetuate their brigandage at the expense of the Armenians. The Armenian central committee here receives both money and advice from the Russian embassy. For Russia, the Armenian movement is a vehicle that makes it possible for her to keep Turkey-in-Asia in a state of constant uproar and in a condition that will make it possible, when the time comes, for her to intervene there as an interested neighboring country. With the assistance of the Armenian question, Russia wishes to keep the road to Constantinople open. For her, it is a key which, when the day comes, will open the straits. For Russia the problem of the straits and the problem of the Armenians are mutually dependent and we may agree without reservation that whenever Armenian complaints rise in St. Petersburg concerning their condition, one may immediately expect a move there in the direction of Constantinople. For this reason I cannot concur with the opinion of my many çolleagues who explain the present action of Russia as being a desire to regain in Asia Minor the prestige that she lost in Europe because of the failure of her Balkan bloc. Certainly what we have here is not a sudden upsurge of Russian policy but rather an act that has been carefully planned in the grand style. At a time when the Balkan states were jointly celebrating their victory, the Russians were diligently working up the Armenians.

Russian designs on Constantinople have been occurring with ever-greater frequency. The most recent was the attempt by Mr. Charikoff, which Europe acting jointly managed to render unsuccessfu4 whereupon Mr. Charikoff was dismissed. Mr. Von Giers took up his predecessor’s plan in a more comprehensive manner and what they failed to achieve by sea two years ago he is trying to achieve overland.

For this reason, the inspiration coming from the Petersburg cabinet deserves all the serious attention we can give it. Should Russia be given freedom of action, there could be a great move because of what was a rather harmless program prepared for the conference at the time; and this could go as far as the dismemberment of Turkey. In Mr. Von Giers’s hands, the Armenians are a powerful vehicle by means of which he can exert pressure on his colleagues. If the negotiations make no progress, there could be outbreaks of disorder everywhere just by a single sign from Russia. Such disorder cannot fail to have an effect on the results of the conference. The first massacre that takes place near the Russian border could be an excuse to march.

Nevertheless I cannot concur with the ideas of the Marquis of Pallavitchini to the effect that the partition of Turkey has been decided upon by the Triple Alliance and that the curtain will rise on the last act of the Turkish drama in the near future. One senses quite clearly here the fact that Russia and France wish to bring this Turkish business to an end. Only yesterday Mr. Von Giers repeated his request to your excellency that you arrange talks with the Russian government so as to clearly delimit the areas of interest of both parties. In his opinion, the time for this has come. Mr. Bompar has also put forth his idea that an agreement between us concerning the division of territory would be desirable. The implication is that Russia and France wish to break up Asia Minor without quarreling with us. As for whether or not the underhanded ambitions of these two countries can be realized or whether or not a conference on the Armenian question can be transformed into a court to decide the division of an inheritance, that is a matter that is dependent not upon France and Russia but first and foremost upon Britain. If the Triple Alliance acts with solidarity, Germany will - more or less as she was in the matter of the islands - be alone in her desire to preserve Turkey and she may expect only a limited measure of help from her allies. That, it would seem, is the point of view of my Austrian colleague: Germany cannot, by herself, rescue Turkey. During the last few months I found an opportunity to observe British policy. If my impressions are correct, I doubt whether Britain would give Russia and France freedom of action in the matter of Turkey. After its experience in Persia, Britain does not wish to enter into any joint enterprise with Russia in which the benefits are rather more on the Russian side. Britain must take into account the possibility that Germany might not wish to be left out of any partition. From what Britain has been doing lately it is clear that she will endeavor to preserve Turkey - not because she wants to but because she has to - and for that reason she will try to align herself to a degree with Germany. If Britain were seriously considering the abandonment of eastern Anatolia to the Russians, it is quite unlikely that she would have decided to send to Turkey reformers for Armenia.

This is why I wish, with your excellency’s consent, to bring the situation up in line with this view at the conference of ambassadors that may be taking place in the near future. It is possible that Britain may ask Germany to oppose excessive Russian demands, her aim being to avoid having to do so herself, Of course it would be a mistake for us to pull the chestnuts out of the fire just for Britain’s sake. So long as Britain fails to make it clear that she is not falling into line with excessive Russian demands, l intend to remain a prudent distance behind her. If Britain wants to see Turkey partitioned, then there remains nothing for us to do but officially demand our own share of the inheritance.

For the time being, lam of the opinion that it will suffice to indicate - by means of clear manifestations as has been done so far - the specific parts of that inheritance so as to render Britain interested in preserving Turkey.



 

 

The Views of Russia

 

The interests and expectations that Russia wanted to achieve in the Ottoman-Russian war of 1877-78 were the acquisition of certain rights over the Balkan and Macedonian territories of the Ottoman Empire and over the societies living in them under the theme of “Pan-Slavism”. Russian hopes regarding eastern and southeastern Anatolia on the other hand may be summarized as an opening of the fine connecting the Caucasus and Iskenderun. This line of course had to be entirely under its own control and it was for this reason that Russia opposed any move for Armenian independence in this region - particularly if that Armenian independence was to be “dependent” upon Great Britain; for were the Armenians to achieve a position of superiority or independence in that region, it might happen that Russia’s own Armenians, who engaged in acts that occasionally turned into rebellion, might be motivated to take action. This is why Russia looked with complete disfavor on any Armenian rebellion or revolution though it did not overlook opportunities to bind Armenians to itself for at the same time Russia wished to make use of them as a means whereby it might render the Ottoman Empire even weaker, and so did not deny them support in the form of weapons and supplies. Russia in a sense considered its acquisitions of Kars-Ardahan and Batum after the Treaty of Berfin as the starting point of its eastern and southeastern axes. It was with these thoughts that Giers, the Russian ambassador in Istanbul, met with the Armenian doctor Zavaryan, a Dashnaksutian representative, and provided him with the following information which while being of the greatest interest to him is also an indication that the Armenian committees could be managed and directed by means of the least sign from Russia.

The imperial government makes the biggest contribution to the Armenian destiny. Nevertheless, Armenians should not lose sight of the present exceptional conditions. They should not make their positions more difficult with imprudent acts. Armenians must appear to European eyes as the victims of the arbitrary rule of Turkish despotism and they should not turn into political revolutionaries desiring to take advantage of Turkish military defeats in order to achieve their national goals. Armenians should not incite the Turks in any way whatsoever nor should they initiate even the most minor act of rebellion. They should not make any political demands of Europe at all. On the other hand, it is their natural right to try to seek to make public opinion aware through the press and through declarations of the murderous injustice they have suffered at the hands of the Kurds and of Turkish officials.



 

 

The View of France

 

Under the Treaty of Istanbul, Britain achieved the means to establish its control of Cyprus and these means were even further strengthened by the Ottoman Empire’s obligation under the treaty to make reforms not only where its Christian subjects lived in Anatolia but elsewhere, a fact that bothered France. For this reason, France was not in favor of any Armenian rebellion or revolution that anyone - particularly Britain - might give direction to in Anatolia nor of the independence that might result from it. Of course France was also aware that there was no possibility of such a situation and for that reason it took a position of keeping watch over Armenian activities and acts and assumed an attitude that appeared to support them in order to satisfy its own public opinion at home.

The following document indicates the views of the French ambassador in Istanbul in 1895 and his explanations on the subject of the Armenians were both the source of and the support for the policies indicated.

Document

From the French Ambassador in Constantinople M.P. Cambon to the President of the French Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs M Casimir-Perier.

Pera, 20 February 1894

Two years ago a high-placed Turkish government officer said to me “There is no ‘Armenian Question’ but we are creating one. “His prophecy has come true. Today there is an ‘Armenian Question’. For more than a year now, Armenia and the provinces bordering on it have truly been the scene of events of the utmost seriousness. The Turks are reopening the Eastern Question on the Asian front. In order to indicate the importance of the present events and to determine precisely the attitudes of countries on the Armenian Question it would appear that the time has come to note briefly the stages that have been passed through in recent years. Mr. President, you are aware of the military and political- importance of Armenia. The impassable mountains that reinforce it so dangerously divide it in two and completely sever the Ottoman Empire’s two Muslim areas of Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin was concerned with the fate of the Armenians and the Cyprus Treaty of 1878 declared the necessity of “ameliorating the living conditions of the Armenians”. At that time, the awakening of Armenian nationalism had still not taken place. There was no concept of Armenian independence; or if there was, it was in the minds of only a few intellectuals who had taken refuge in Europe. The great mass simply wished for reforms and dreamed of nothing more than orderly government under Ottoman rule. The insensitivity of the Ottoman government however discouraged Armenian good intentions: the promised reforms were not carried out; the oppression and malversation of government officials was shameful; there was no redress to justice. The Kurdish Hamidiye regiments that were set up supposedly to keep guard over the borders were nothing more than an official organization for looting and the commission of robbery at the expense of the Christian Armenians. From one end of the empire to the other, Greeks, Albanians, and Arabs all complained about injustice, the corruption of officials, and the lack of security of life; but it was the political importance of Armenia that particularly attracted countries’ attentions to those living there. It was close to 1885 that Europe first became aware of the existence of an Armenian movement. Armenians dispersed about in France, England, Austria, and America united in a common action: a national committee was created and newspapers servings as the organs of national rights and causes were published in French and English. One by one they skillfully set about revealing the evils of Turkish administration, thereby warning Europe that the Treaty of Berlin was being violated by the Turks. Armenian propaganda originally sought to win France over to its own cause and appealed to feelings of “chivalry” and “heroism”: a few articles were published in journals; festivals were held; speeches were given; demonstrations took place at the grave of Lusignan in Saint -Denis. One has to agree however that France understood none of this and showed no interest in people who were talking about Mount Ararat, Node, or the Crusades. Armenians had a better reception in London. The Gladstone government attracted to its side those who were discontent, brought them together, and brought them under some discipline. It made them promises of support. Ever since then the propaganda committee has taken up residence in London and that is where they draw their inspiration from. The mass of Armenian people had to be instilled with two very simple ideas - the idea of nationalism and the idea of freedom - and the committees undertook to do this. Slowly the lives of people who had become accustomed to slavery became unbearable and intolerable. By repeatedly telling the Armenians that the Turks were plotting against them, they eventually got the Armenians to plot; by repeatedly being told that Armenia did not exist, the Armenians eventually came to believe that it did. Thus in a few years secret societies were set up and in line with their own propaganda they spread, throughout all of Armenia the word of the evil and error of Turkish administration and the idea of a national awakening and independence. With the ground thus prepared, nothing remained lacking for the development and appearance of action but an excuse, or incitement, or support. The Armenians found their excuse (or incitement or encouragement) in the appointment, to the office of Catholicos, of Monseigneur Kirimian, the former Armenian patriarch in Istanbul who had been exiled to Jerusalem for his Armenian chauvinism. My official reports last year informed you of the incidents taking place in Kayseri and Merzifon (January 1893), of the arrests that followed them, of the trial in Ankara (May-June), and of the execution of five of the condemned (July). This is the true situation of the Armenian Question here at the beginning of 1894. What methods of solving so complex a problem may be recommended or even forseen? An independent Armenia? That should not be given consideration. Armenia is not like Bulgaria or Greece for it constitutes no state defined by natural borders nor is it identifiable by masses of people. Armenians are scattered to the four corners of Turkey and in the truest sense they have become interspersed with Muslims all over Armenia. To this, one should also add that Armenia is split up among Turkey, Persia, and Russia. It is hardly at all likely that it would be possible, were Europe to insist on the establishment of a new Armenian state at the end of some future war, to determine its borders. The same difficulty would obtain even if consideration were given to the setting up of a semi-autonomous province with special privileges, for where does Armenia begin and where does it end? What remains then is he promise of reforms. But we know what value such promises have in Turkey. In order to bring about reforms it is first necessary to re-establish and recreate everything all over again. As for the correction of details that might have made the Armenians happy ten years ago, one fears that nowadays they will not be satisfied with just that. In my opinion, there is no possible solution to the Armenian Question. It will remain open and through their misgovernment and injustice the Turks will do nothing but make it worse still. From time to time some crude act will stir up a crisis and more strident complaints or even incite rebellion after which the European press will again take up these interminably renewed incidents, public opinion in Christiandom will feel pity, and the movement that is today restricted to England and France will spread to every Christian nation. The Treaty of Berlin will again be taken up as a subject of debate and intervention will become unavoidable. Will this happen tomorrow? A few years from now? We can set no date at all. All that can be said is that the most extraordinary conditions can last in Turkey for a long time. It is always possible to see them collapsing and yet the surprising thing is that they do not.



 

 

Armenian Activities and Rebellions After The Treaty of Berlin

 

The first instances of intervention - under the system set up with the treaties signed at Ayastefanos (Ye?ilköy), Istanbul, and finally Berlin after the Ottoman-Russian war of 1877-78, - in Anatolia (land that constituted the basis and core of the Ottoman Empire’s existence) by European states (foremost among them being Britain and Russia) proffering the excuse of
the Armenians (who were dispersed and nowhere in that land constituted a majority)began in the 1880’s. The establishment of Armenian secret societies also took place around this time. As we enter the 1890’s, these societies - as well as the states that encouraged and supported them - also started putting into practice what has come to be known in history as “Armenian rebellions” and “Armenian activities”. The most comprehensive and realistic research on this subject to have been carried out so far is The Armenians in History and the Armenian Question, by Esat Uras. The excerpt from this book that we present below summarizes Armenian activities and rebellions during the roughly four-year period from 20 June 1890 to March 1894. The “Talori Incidents” (or the “First Sasun Rebellion” as it is also known) referred to in the summary are associated with the documents published in this volume.



 

 

Mutinies and Rebellions

 

The following are the most important of the mutinies instigated by the revolutionary committees:



 

 

The Erzurum Incident

 

The Erzurum mutiny took place on June 20 1890. The governor, Samih Pasha, and several other responsible persons had received information that the Armenians had imported weapons and ammunition from Russia and that these had been stored in the Sanasarian School and in several of the churches. In July orders were given for a search of the school and the churches to be carried out by the zaptiye and the police, but the Armenians, who had received word of this, took the necessary precautions and prepared to resist. At the first order, the rebel Armenians opened fire on the approaching soldiers, killing one officer and two men. A policeman was also killed. A search was carried out in the church. The following account was given by an Armenian who was an eye-witness of the event.

The founder of the Sanasarian School died in 1890. Prayers were said for his soul, and a period of mourning declared. Meanwhile, the government received information that arms had been stored in the school. The informers are thought to have been Catholic Armenian priests. Before the search took place, a member of the “Citizen’s Defence League” known as “Bogos the Dog” sent word that the school was to be searched with in two hours. Everything that was likely to attract attention, such as national history books and notebooks were immediately removed. The search revealed nothing. The Armenians shouted, “The entry of the Turks into the church is an abomination and a desecration.” Later, the followers of Gergesian, one of the founders of the “Citizen’s Defence League” who had been ‘killed by order of the Erzurum centre of the Dasnaktsitiun Revolutionary Committee, began to incite the people to mutiny. Shops were closed, church services were forbidden, and no bells were rung. The Armenians were in complete control of the situation. Taking advantage of this, the mutineers began shouting, “The Armenians have been free for three days, we shaft defend that freedom with our arms.” At the same time they demanded the lowering of taxes, the abolition of the military service exemption payment, the burning and reconstruction of churches that had been desecrated and the implementation of article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin. For three or four days they remained within the limits of the cemetery, the church and the school. The Armenian leaders who tried to persuade them to disperse were beaten up. A government order that everyone should go about their daily business was completely ignored. The members of the revolutionary committee went around inciting the people. Meanwhile, Gergesian’s brother shot and killed two soldiers. A two-hour battle broke out between the two sides. The following day the consuls toured the city. On both sides there were over a hundred killed and two to three hundred wounded. Dr. Arslanian, who had submitted a report to the consuls on behalf of the Armenians, was wanted by the government and fled from the city.”

The most important passage in these memoirs is the following:
“During these events a cold foreign wind could be felt blowing from the north. On the occasion of the Armenian demonstrations the Russian Consul, Tevet, visited the Vali and said that if these events had taken place in Russia the rebellious mob would have been utterly crushed. At the same time, he told the Armenian marhasa that life was not worth living under a barbarous administration like that of Turkey.”

Hanazadian writes the following in his memoirs:
“The most remarkable aspect of the affair was the situation of our own people in Trabzon and the other cities. We had believed that the consuls of the European governments would immediately send horrifying accounts of the events to their respective governments and that a solution would at once be found. When this failed to happen we were all left utterly bewildered.

We discussed the matter in our executive committee and reached the following conclusion: To awaken the great European Powers from their stony indifference it would be neccessary to stage a demonstration in the Sultan’s capital, under the Ambassadors’ very noses.
 
Great hopes and been placed on the Erzurum mutiny, but it had produced none of the results hoped for. Nevertheless, it was a first step.



 

The Musa Bey Incident

 

The Kumkap? demonstration staged in Istanbul by the Hunchak Revolutionary Committee was preceded by the Musa Bey incident, which was exploited in various ways by the revolutionary committee in the form of propaganda directed towards a European audience. The incident was used as a basis for bitter complaints concerning the question of the security of Armenian life and property in Turkey.

Musa Bey, a native of Mutki, was the subject of the following complaints:
Complaints and appeals concerning him had been completely ignored in the region. He had been involved in cases of rape and robbery. He had carried off a girl by the name of Gulizar, the niece of a priest from Mu?, taken her to his house, raped her and then given her as wife to his brother, who however, insisted that she become a Moslem. On the girl’s refusal to renounce her faith she was so brutally beaten by Musa that she lost the sight of one eye. Having managed to escape from the house, she went to Istanbul with a group of citizens from Mu? with the intention of lodging a complaint.

Fifty-eight citizens of Mu?, including the priest and the girl herself, presented a petition to the Grand Vizier and the Ministry of Justice. They received no reply. The revolutionary committee arranged for them to have accommodation in a han. On the instigation of the revolutionary committee they cried for mercy during the Friday procession of the Sultan to the mosque, and were thereupon taken into the palace and interrogated.

Musa Bey was brought to Istanbul and tried before a large audience including foreign political representatives and members of the press. Some sixty plaintiffs and witnesses were heard. No grounds were found for an accusation and Musa Bey was acquitted. The whole incident, to which the revolutionary committee had given such importance, produced no result whatever. Nevertheless, it remained a powerful propaganda topic. Photographs were taken of Gulizar, her mother and her uncle, the priest, and hundreds of copies sent out, particularly to foreign countries. It was hoped in this way to arouse Christian zeal.

The newspapers of 13 November 1305 contained a detailed account of the trial, which the Patriarchate and the Revolutionary Committees regarded as partial and unjust, although in actual fact aft the plaintiffs and witnesses had been heard in the presence of foreign observers.



 

The Kumkapi Demonstration

 

An account of this demonstration, claimed by the Hunchaks to be the first peaceful demonstration in Istanbul to be held purely to demand justice, was given by one of the organizers, H. Djangulian:

1.- It was felt that a protest demonstration should be held in response to the Musa Bey and Erzurum incidents, otherwise the Armenians would feel that they had been forgotten.
2.- Crimes committed in Anatolia hold little interest for Europe It was essential, therefore, to attract European attention by holding a protest demonstration in the actual presence of the foreign ambassadors.
3.- If Armenian protests had been solely confined to Armenia itself this would have attracted the attention of Russia, who might have grown suspicious and annexed the territory. If, however, demonstrations were held in other provinces, and particularly in the capital, this would attract the attention of other countries. As we found England much more sympathetic to our cause than Russia, the Armenian issue could thus be presented in a way much more in conformity with our own interests.
4.- As the Armenian people were to be found in their own homeland dispersed among people of different races and religions, action taken in the Armenian homeland was doomed to failure. It was thus essential that Armenian operations should be held outside Armenian boundaries. Istanbul was obviously the most suitable centre for such an operation. Istanbul contained more than 200,000 Armenians mostly I single men who had come as workers from other provinces.
5.- The seat of all evil was in Istanbul. Therefore it would be more effective to hold a demonstration there, right in front of the Palace.
6.- Once the spirit of mutiny and rebellion had been awakened in a people who had remained in servitude for five or six hundred years, it was essential that the revolutionaries should take advantage of this and invest it with qualities of a sounder, more basic and widespread character. One of the aims of revolutionary activity was to spread the spirit of rebellion among the people and to render it more effective and productive.
7.- The Turkish government and the Turkish people would then realise that in the present context of Armenian national unity, any blow aimed at Armenia would spark off a reaction in other areas, particularly in Istanbul, a centre of international interest, and in that case they would follow a more cautious policy amid would not dare arrange a new massacre.

The leaders of the revolutionary committee met in the presence of an individual of Russian nationality by the name of Megavorian who lived in a house belonging to a foreigner in one of the back streets in Beyo?lu. At this meeting they decided:

1.- To, inform Sultan AbdulHamid on the first day of Kurban Bayrami through Patriarch Ashikian of their intention to hold a peaceful demonstration on 15 July at the patriarchate and cathedral at Kumkapi.
2.-That the members of the committee Hanazad, Megavorian, Simeon and Rapael, being of Russian nationality, should not take part in the demonstration.
3.- That one member should read out the manifesto from the pulpit during the service, and that two members should be chosen to accompany Patriarch Ashikian to the palace to submit their requests to the Sultan. Another two colleagues were to be chosen by secret ballot to direct the demostration. Djangulian undertook to escort the Patriarch to the palace, while Murad undertook to read the manifesto.

All telephone communication was cut on the Anatolian side. The Hunchaks gathered in the church. Copies were made of the manifesto and distributed to the people. During the service Djangulian ascended the pulpit and read the manifesto. The Patriarch Ashikian, who was conducting the service, fled from the church and took refuge in the Patriarchate. He refused to go to the palace with the members of the revolutionary committee. The Hunchaks occupied the Patriarchatre, broke aft the windows and wreaked considerable damage on the building.

Finally, the Patriarch was forcibly persuaded to accompany them to the palace and was placed in a carriage. A crowd that had gathered there shouted, “Long live the Hunchak Committee! Long live the Armenian people! Long live Armenia! Long live Freedom!” But as the government had already been informed of the situation by the Vartabets Dadjad and Mampre, the carriage was turned back by a troop of soldiers arriving on the spot the revolutionaries opened fire on the soldiers. Djangulian writes that, “Our people savagely flied round upon round at the soldiers, while the soldiers attempted to arrest those who were firing. Six or seven soldiers were seriously wounded, about ten slightly wounded. Two of our own people were killed.” Thus ended the “peaceful” demonstration!

The Armenian manifesto distributed by the organizers of the Kumkapi demonstration may be translated as follows:

“Armenians,
By your demonstration today you wish to publish your demands to the whole world. You know full weft that the realization of these demands will be no easy task. You endanger your lives with every just and legal step you take. But there is no alternative. No matter how terrified you may be, you must take the most extreme action in order to make your voice heard in the world at large and to attain your just objectives. That is the aim of our action today. It is our duty to further our cause, to defend our rights even at the heaviest cost.

What are your demands?
The cause of aft poverty and destitution is the economic situation. That situation must be changed. The soil of your native land is not your own. You plough it. You sow it. You graze your flocks, and you work under the gravest difficulties. But the produce is not your own. You want the land to belong to the farmer, you want everyone to work honourably for his own livelihood. Once your economic demands are met, you will have a responsible assembly, and you yourselves will introduce freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and free elections.

Our demands:
Our deeply respected father, Your Beatitude, the Patriarch:
For many years, Armenia has witnessed arbitrary arrests, unjust decrees, pitiless banishments, and the patience and resignation of the people in the face of such injustices has only resulted in the steady increase in the number of such incidents, and particularly in the wilful damage done in recent years to our schools, our monasteries, our churches and our private dwellings. The same things were witnessed in Erzurum, and as a result of the just complaints of the local inhabitants, this innocent and defenceless people were herded like sheep by rabid troops and mercilessly slaughtered. No importance was given to the Armenian dead, the hundreds, the thousands of wounded, the screams of pregnant women, and such atrocities are perpetrated every day in Van, Mu? and other Armenian towns and cities. Although even the very bread-knives were collected from Armenian homes, fire-arms were distributed to the Turks and Kurds. In the end our native land was placed in a state of siege and every action of every Armenian viewed with suspicion. We declare, on behalf of the Armenian people, that so long as this situation persists, there can be no security of life, property or honour. At the same time, Your Beatitude, the National Council remains indifferent. You are in fact, powerless to find a remedy or provide a cure. That is why we want to take you with us to the Palace to submit the just complaints and requests of the Armenian people. 



The Merzifon, Kayseri and Yozgat Incidents

 

 

In the years 1892-1893 the Hunchak Revolutionary Committee began to engage in more open activity in Kayseri, Develi, Yozgat, Çorum, Merzifon, Tenus, Aziziye and various other districts. In all these places, notices were hung on the mosque doors and manifestos bearing the Hunchak emblem distributed.

Hunchak activity was organized from the Merzifon centre, which bore the name of The Revolutionary Committe of Lesser Armenia. The leader of the committee was Karabet Tumaian, a teacher in the Merzifon American College, while its secretary was Ohannes Kayaian, a teacher in the same school. Both of them were Protestant Armenians. Tumaian and Kayaian corresponded under the aliases of Baron Meleh and Vahram.

These two men, accompanied by the Protestant preacher Mardiros,first of all visited Çorum, Yozgat, Kayseri, Burhaniye, Tenus, Sivas, Tokat and Amasya, stirring up the Armenians, giving political speeches in the guise of sermons, opening new branches, choosing executive committees, calling upon the Armenians to unite after the divisions caused by the ‘93 Turco-Russian War, declaring the necessity of activities that would attract the attention of foreign powers and engaging in revolutionary propaganda. One of their main activities consisted in uniting the Protestant and Catholic Armenian communities in the national cause.

In 1892 a great revolutionary assembly met in Merzifon. Here it was decided that:
1.- that conventional arms should be supplied,
2.- that the rebels should wear Georgian costume and head-gear,
3.- that the members of the revolutionary committees should buy their own weapons and ammunition,
4.- that the revolutionaries should be divided into groups,
5.- that the entrance money and monthly donations should be allotted to purchasing arms for the destitute,
6.- that subscriptions should be canvassed for the Hunchak newspaper.

Tumaian sent his Swiss wife to France and England to collect money, ostensibly to be used for the building of a hospital in Merzifon, but actually for the revolutionary committee. She spent four and a half years in these countries and collected 3000 pounds sterling for the Hunchaks. At the same time, Jirair of Hachin, the brother of Hamparsum Boyadjian and a member of the revolutionary organization, spread word among the people that Armenians should arm in order to protect their lives in the event of hostilities.

While time Merzifon centre was engaging in this type of activity in the neighbouring region, Andon Rishtoni, one of the representatives of the Hunchak Committee, arrived in Kayseri.

Andon Rishtoni was a native of Istanbul who, after teaching in Armenian schools in Galata, Beyo?lu and Çorlu and spending some time as an actor, had gone to Iskenderun, where he published one or two numbers of an Armenian newspaper. He finally returned to Istanbul in a state of complete destitution. As his association with the organizers of the Kumkap? incident had brought him to the attention of the authorities he fled from Istanbul to Athens where, on the instructions of the Hunchak Committee, he and the Russian Leon Parseh were entrusted with instigating rebellion among the Armenians in Adana. These two activists went first of all to Cyprus, where they managed to procure British passports, and thence to Mersin. Leon was expelled by the government, while Rishtoni went on to Adana. From there he proceeded to Everek in the province of Kayseri, where he spoke in the churches. From there he went to Talas, finally settling down with the priest Daniel in the Divonik monastery, which he had selected as the centre for his activities. While there, he engaged, with Daniel’s help, in various acts of incitement and provocation. He then joined Jirayir in distributing the notices and manifestos prepared by the Merzifon centre to the people in the various towns and villages.

The guerilla bands operating under the instructions of the Derevenk and Merzifon revolutionary centres acted in accordance with a carefully thought out plan:

The Osmandj?k mailcoach was intercepted and the drivers and zaptiyes attacked.
Guerillas by the name of Zaropian of Gürün, Toros, Gülbenk, Kasbar and Serop killed the guard, Ibrahim, and the driver, and seized the horses, weapons and money. They then attacked the Derbend karakol (guard house) between Çorum and Merzifon and murdered the Derband zaptiyes.

Activists by the name of Panos and Misak robbed the mall-coach belonging to the salt mines. They also seized the horse belonging to Izzet, a guard in the service of the Commission for Public Debt, and brought it to Deverenk. There the priest Daniel, who had previously altered the color of the horse, killed it.

Ismail, the driver of the Maden mafi-coach, and the zaptiye Necip were both murdered.
Three activists by the name of Gülbenk, Panos and Mihirdjan, while passing through Ankara on their way back from Istanbul, seized a coach, strangled the driver, Kaltakç?o?lu Köse Hasan, on the Yozgatroad, and buried him in a ditch. They then seized his horses, his watch and his money, later selling the horses in Tokat.

Rishtoni was arrested in the Deverenk monastery where he was staying. A letter of commission from the Hunchak Committee dated 29 July 1892 was found on his person, together with the official seal. A search carried out in the monastery yielded a number of other documents, and Tumaian and Kayaian, both teachers in the American College, were revealed as the organizers of the incidents.

This, then, is an objective and impartial account of an event that caused such a sensation in the European press.

For more information on these punitive expeditions one may turn to the account given by M. Ximenes, who remained in Bitlis throughout these incidents until November 1894.

“On the request of the governor of Bitlis, Zeki Pasha was given orders to send in troops for the restoration of order. Four battalions were mustered to disperse the rebels. The soldiers encountered a force of 3000 Armenian rebels on the slope of a mountain. They first of all hurled stones and insults at the troops. Then they opened fire, and the soldiers fired back. Later the rebels collected in a narrow valley. The soldiers marched on their position. The Turkish commanding officer tried to persuade the rebels to come to terms and disperse. Some of them accepted his advice, but most of them stood their ground patiently and stubbornly. The soldiers twice opened fire. Altogether three hundred rebels were killed.

This was the only real confrontation in the whole series of incidents. It is true that several prisoners were taken, but these were later freed.”

While investigations were continuing in Mu?, another appeal for the implementation of reforms in the six provinces was made by Great Britain, Russia and France, who joined together to submit the well-known May reform project It was while this project was being discussed that the Hunchaks arranged a demonstration at the Sublime Porte.



CONCLUSIONS

 

The apparent aim of the acts of Armenian terrorism committed against Turkey and Turkish citizens in the years between 1973 and 1985 - the murders, the massacres, the kidnappings, the woundings, the bombings, and so on - was to turn the “Armenian Question”, which began in the 19th Century during the Ottoman imperial period and which persisted until the territories of the great state were divided, broken up, and occupied, into a subject - newly conceptualized as the “Armenian Cause”- that would be talked about and debated by world opinion and for which solutions would be developed. Nevertheless, it was impossible any longer to refer to the existence either of an “Ottoman empire” or of an “Armenian minority in Anatolia”. The disappearance of the Ottoman Empire from its historical location took place with a national struggle brought about by the Turkish nation and the Republic of Turkey was founded. This struggle is one that could serve as an example to the history of all mankind and the foundations of the newly-formed state rested on the principles of human rights, freedom, and independence. All the people living in its territory were Turkish citizens and were struggling to grow and develop in affluence, peace, and happiness. The Republic of Turkey was a European state, a member of NATO, and one of the most respected (and earliest) members of the United Nations. It was a country that felt worry whenever disorder or disquiet occurred anywhere in the world and that made every effort to do what it could to eliminate such conditions. In the region where Turkey was located - from the Pacific Ocean to the Aegean and from the North Sea to the Mediterranean - it was the only country that was attempting to achieve its development and growth under the principles of democracy, principles whose existence Turkey regarded as indispensable elements. It was engaged in no disputes - neither over land nor over interests of any other sort - with any other country whatsoever.

This then in general outline is the picture as it appeared in 1973 of the country and its citizens that Armenian terrorism took as its target.

Before the eyes of the world this terrorism, which could never for any reason or cause be justified and which was rejected by nearly all Armenians living around the world, led to the death of nearly a hundred sons of Turkey and to the wounding of nearly three times that number of Turkish citizens. Turkish diplomats, believing themselves to be under the protection of the country in which they were located, were attacked and murdered and the missions of the Turkish foreign ministry suffered heavy, irreplaceable losses. These losses gave rise to important debilities in the general policies of European states and particularly in their relations with countries of the Middle and Far East. Their influence was reduced and the vacuum created was not restored for a long time.

Armenian terror required years of preparation in the form the dissemination of propaganda and those who wished to keep the subject of the Armenians fresh in people’s minds by distorting historical events made use as their theme a thesis that they put forth. The force of their psychological effect was based on this theme as well. They began to work up on a comprehensive scale the notion that in 1915 the Ottoman Empire had the intention of committing a purposeful, planned, and organized slaughter of its own Armenian subjects; that it deported them; and that in this way it endeavored to destroy the Armenian race. It was explained that the terrorism being caused was being committed to take revenge for these events and that modern-day Turkey was responsible for incidents taking place in 1915. It was also announced that the murders and massacres that were perpetrated would, by putting pressure on the Republic of Turkey, lead to the realization of the matters being demanded of it Things went so far that one even encountered books and articles that held up and treated Armenian terrorism as a “new war of independence model”. The more this theme was worked, the more terrorism was committed. Every murder, every killing took place for this theme, spread the theme, embellished the theme. In short, it was almost as if they attempted to make it seem as if the people being killed, destroyed, and maimed were the ones responsible because Turkey refused to accept the demands of Armenian terrorists. From police flies to courthouse corridors, from congressional lobbies to plenary sessions, the “deportation thesis” was made the subject of debate in virtually every investigation, study, or trial concerned with the subject and was employed to garner political support. All attention was drawn to it.

Just as took place in the past, a number of countries that had designs on or expectations concerning the territory that Turkey possessed as its homeland and its resources saw in Armenian terrorism a means by which they might realize those designs and expectations or at the very least, prepare in the medium or long term the ground for conditions under which they might be realized. Binding their hopes to such terrorism they became its encouragers and supporters. They provided terrorists with money, shelter, and means. For them, the “Armenian deportation” was a branch to cling to. Through publications and broadcasts in their own country they sought to take charge of the “Armenian cause” with so-called research and studies. They made their own people and electorates interested directly or indirectly in Armenian matters. In short, they tried to make the “Armenian Question” a vehicle for and the material of their foreign and domestic policies. But in the end, the questions and subjects that stuck in people’s minds could no longer be resolved by means of Armenian terror, furthermore, terror began to threaten those who had encouraged and supported it Those who, until that day, had attached no importance to the murder and massacre of Turks and who even out of historical hatred applauded such acts, now one by one began taking sides against terrorism and the terrorism stopped. The propaganda however has not: activity in the form of a planned psychological operation with a variety of goals and aimed at many target audiences has continued. The subject has now taken on the appearance of examining historical sources for the existence - nor non-existence - of deportation and the present situation and consequence appears to have turned into a search through archives and documents.

Thus it is that the Foundation wishes to serve, through this series, by publishing documents for those who wish to seek, discover, and learn the truth. In the preceding pages we have summarized how Russia and the countries of Europe approached the subject of the Armenians within the system set up and fostered by the Congress of Berlin. This volume presents for the attention of public opinion the “Talori Incidents”, which served as the most important (and also most typical model) of the mechanism whereby the system of the Berlin treaty could be put into action. The mechanism, back in the 1890’s, was to focus world public opinion on the Ottoman Empire and bring about the intervention of European countries by dragging the empire’s Armenian subjects into rebellion and revolution and causing them pain and agony. Today, a hundred years later, the goals of this terrorism committed against Turks outside Turkey is to influence world public opinion, increase the pressure exerted by particular countries on Turkey, hinder the development of the Republic of Turkey, and create threatening and dangerous conditions in Turkey and abroad and thereby prevent the continuance of stability in the region. If through this series the reader is able to make comparisons to the current events of his day on the one hand while on the other following activities and events that took place in the history of the past, then he will be able to look forward to the next century with greater hope and more human values.

The sole aim of the Foundation in this service is to put forth the facts and thereby prevent the further distortion of events and keep societies and individuals from regarding one another with feelings of hostiliy and ultimately to contribute to the abandonment of people’s feelings of malice, hatred, and revenge - even if only where in this matter is concerned.

For years these two men had been printing the committee manifestos in the college printing press and attempting to win over to the Armenian cause al the young Armenians attending the college. Their arrest sparked off an Armenian mutiny in Merzifon. A number of the demonstrators were arrested and tried in the Court of Appeal in Ankara. Tumaian, Kayaian and a few others were sentenced to death, while others were given various punishments.

Protestant newspapers and religious circles in England appealed to the Sultan and the Ottoman government only on behalf of the Protestants Tumaian and Kayaian. They were both pardoned. Tumaian went to London, where he became one of the most influential members of the revolutionary committee. At meetings held there he was always introduced as an innocent, much-wronged Armenian.

The letter written by Sir Clare Ford to Lord Roseberry contains some interesting information regarding Armenian activity in Merzifon and the situation of the Armenians there.

Sir Clare Ford to the Earl of Rosebery - (Received May 31.)
Constantinople, May 27, 1893.
My Lord

I have the honour to forward to your Lordship herewith copy of a Memorandum which I have received from Sir A. Nicolson respecting an interview which he had yesterday with certain American gentlemen who had just arrived from Marsovan and district.
I have, &c.

(Signed) Francis Clare Ford

Memorandum
(Confidential)

The Rev. Dr. Smith, Dr. Farnsworth, and Surgeon Dodd came to see me this morning, being introduced by the Rev. Joseph Greene. The first of these gentlemen lives at Marsovan, while Dr. Farnsworth and Mr. Dodd reside at Caesarea. All these gentlemen have no doubts but that numerous Secret Societies existed among the Armenians; that the members of these Societies were determined and desperate; that they were procuring arms and collecting money; that their aims were distinctly revolutionary; that they blindly obeyed the orders of the head-quarters of these Societies; that they did not flinch from assassination when instructed, and that they were commencing to exercise a terrorism over their more peaceably disposed compatriots. Dr. Farnsworth and Mr. Dodd were more explicit, and appeared to have fuller information on the subject than the other two gentlemen. They informed me that the seditious movement was not confined to the Gregorian Armenians, but was also extending among the Protestants; that the members of the Societies were becoming more outspoken in their views and intentions, stating that they would in the summer take to the mountains, exercise brigandage, and make the life of a zaptieh a burden to him; and that they would compel the attention of the Powers to the Armenian question, The Mussulman population was becoming alarmed, and a serious tension of feeling was arising between Moslem and Christian. Dr. Smith told me that to his knowledge some Russian agents at Marsovan, Amasia, and another place whose name l have forgotten, were instigating and encouraging the movement. The revolutionary party no doubt, the gentleman added, received indirect encouragement from the sympathy and interest which the Armenian grievances evoked in England and other countries, and of late their attitude had become bolder and more aggressive. The terrorism they exercised over their more tranquil compatriots was increasing, and some murders which had recently occurred of supposed informers or lukewarm supporters had deepened the fear of the peaceable. The latter felt, in many instances, compelled to contribute to the secret funds; if they refused they were liable to serious consequeuces; if they agreed they ran the risk of being discovered by the Government and impeached for conspiracy - an awkward dilemma. Dr. Farnsworth was of opinion that the majority of the Armenians were in sympathy with the objects of the movement, though not with the methods. Both he and Mr. Dodd considered that the Armenians have no special grievances as Armenians; in any case, they were not worse off than the Greek rayah, and in many respects they suffered equally with the Moslem subject. The evil results of a corrupt and unjust administration fell equally on the Moslem and the Christian, while the former had no foreign Power to take his interests to heart. Equality before the law perhaps did not exist, the evidence of a Christian was scarcely considered of the same value as that of a Moslem, but this would necessarily always be the case. Still, during the last ten years there had been an improvement in the lot of the Christians, and both Dr. Farnsworth and Mr. Dodd considered evidently that, on the whole, there was no justification for the sedition among the Armenians, which they considered very prevalent and possibly very dangerous in the near future. Both these gentlemen had seen M. Tumaian recently at Angora and found him in good health and well cared for.

The general impression I received fom a conversation with these gentlemen, all men of experience and of good knowledge of the country, and especially of the Armenians, was that the seditious movement is more widely spread and more active than we had imagined, and the vanguard of the revolutionary party are more desperate than was believed, and desirous of bringing about a state of things which may, in a different field and in a different degree perhaps, be similar to the situation in Bulgaria before the war.
 
May 26, 1893

 
After the Kumkap? incident the suspicions of the Hunchak Committee were aroused and attacks began to be made on Armenians thought to be government supporters.

Hatchik, a lawyer, was murdered by a fifteen year old Armenian boy by the name of Armenak.

Dadjad Vartabet, a preacher in the Gedik Pasha church, was torn to pieces.
Mampre Vartabet, who had been chosen member of the clerical assembly, was wounded in an assassination attempt.

The Patriarch Ashikian was suspected of having revealed the committee’s plans to the Ottoman government, and was wounded in an assassination attempt carried out in the church of the Patriarchate on 25 March 1894 by Agop of Diyarbakir, a young Armenian who had been chosen by lot by the committee. The Montenegrin revolver used by the assassin failed to fire and the young Armenian was arrested.

On 10 May 1894 an attempt was made by two militants under the orders of the Hunchak committee on the life of Simon Maksut, believed to be a Mend of the Patriarch, in front of Havyar Han in Galata.

Information on these two assassination attempts was sent to the French Foreign Ministry by M. Cambon, the French Ambassador in Istanbul:

From M. Cambon to Casimir Perier

Beyo?lu: 3 June 1894

Last Sunday just as the Patriarch Ashikian was leaving the Kumkapi chuch after the service to return to the patriarchate, an eighteen year old Armenian youth aimed a revolver at him and fired several times. The revolver was faulty and none of the bullets hit the Patriarch, who fainted and was taken home and given treatment. The young Armenian was taken to the police station and, when interrogated as to the reason for his attempt at assassination declared that Ashikian was an enemy of the Armenians, that he had frequently given information to the government and that the Armenians had sworn oath to get rid of him. At the same he declared that both he and his co-religionists were loyal subjects of the Sultan.

Cambon.

From Cambon to the Minister of the Interior, Hanotaux

Beyo?lu: 3 June 1894

An attempt was made a few days ago in Istanbul on the life of a member of the Armenian community. This person, who is now out of danger, is Simon Maksud Bey, a rich banker and one of the contractors employed by the Ministry of War. Maksud Bey, who was also head dragoman to the Patriarchate and a member of the Patriarchate popular assembly, had long been regarded by his co-religionists as a traitor in the pay of the Turks. Last year, when the Sultan forbade any celebrations to be held on the occasion of his granting the Armenian National Constitution, Maksut Bey had refused to work for the lifting of the ban. Since then he has been regarded by the Armenians activists and militants with the most vehement detestation.

The Armenian labourers who attempted his assassination had suffered a great deal at the hands of the Kurds and the Turkish officials.
 
There can be no doubt that we are here confronted with a political crime. The assassins were carrying documents and letters written by the Armenian Revolutionary Committee and they confessed that they had been hired for the purpose by a person by the name of Levon. They said they had been given arms by the militants, who told them that they wished in this way to issue a warning to the various members of the upper classes of the Armenian community who, since the attempt on the life of the Patriarch, had become friends of the Turks and traitors to the national cause. By these various operations the revolutionaries hoped to strike at the government in the capital rat her than merely in the provinces, thus making their activities more highly effective over a much wider area.

The fact that the Sultan was greatly shocked by the assassination attempt is proved by the large number of arrests made by the Istanbul police.

Cambon

After the Kumkapi incident Murad Hamparsum Boyadjian became leader of the Istanbul branch of the Hunchak Revolutionary Committee.

About this time Vart Badrikian arrived from the Caucasus as a representative of the Hunchaks. He was arrested a couple of months later but, being a Russian subject, he was handed over to the Russian Embassy. Ardavazt Ohandjanian was sent from the Caucasus to take his place. The assassination attempts were made during his period of office.



The First Sasun Mutiny

 

Sasun, famous for its mutinies, was at that time a kaza connected to the administrative centre in Siirt containing over a hundred villages and situated about fourteen hours from Mu?. Nearby were the kazaz of Mutid and Garzan. The mountainous and inaccessible nature of the terrain made it difficult for the government to exert any great influence. The people, including the Armenians, spoke a mixed language of Zaza and Kurdish.

Accordingto V. Cuinet the distribution of the population of Sasun was as follows:

Muslim 10,370
Armenian  8,389
Yezidi 970
Others 372
Total 20,101

Although no census was carried out, Armenians probably made up one fifth of the population, the rest being Kurds.

In the 1890’s the district was toured for three years by an Armenian by the name of Mihran Damadian, who disseminated Hunchak propaganda and incited the people to revolt. On information given by the Armenians this man was arrested in 1893, taken to Istanbul for trial and later freed.

The Sasun mutiny, which place some time after the Kumkap? incident, was organized by the Hunchak Revolutionary Committee with the sole purpose of inviting foreign intervention, and was carried out according to a plan prepared by Murad (Hamparsum Boyadjian).

On his way to Sasun, Murad passed through Caucasia, where he received help and support from the Dashnaktsution Committee. On arriving in Sasun he collected a number of Armenians around him and began to prepare his plans.

Before the actual incident, a letter in the name of the Hunchak Committee appeared in the third number of the Hunchak newspaper, dated 1894, which clearly heralded the storm that was about to break. This letter was written by Armenak from the village of K?z?la?aç in the province of Mu?, who went by the alias of Hrair Tjokh and continued working in that region until the second Sasun mutiny of 1904. The letter was as folows:

“Brother Armenians,
A t last the day we have been awaiting for centuries has arrived. The bells ring out from the hills of Sasun, red flags wave from the mountains, carried by a people whose humanity and Armenian soul have been trampled underfoot. The hour of vengeance has struck. The time has come for a decision to be made on the life or death of the oppressor.

Today the Armenian cause is entering its latest and most glorious phase. The resignation and submission of the destitute, the sighs and silence of the humiliated, the stifled complaints of the oppressed, will soon be replaced by the roaring of a lion.”

According to Varandian:

“The Hunchak organization was in a weak position. They were anxious to do something as quickly as possible and to produce a stir.

The inhabitants of Sasun fought heroically, even with their fairly primitive weapons, against the Kurds, but they were unable to withstand the attack by regular troops. In August 1894 the Armenians annihilated the Kurds after a successful onslaught and were about to carry off their flocks when they were suddenly surrounded on all sides by troops. No one has ever been able to give even an approximate number of the Armenians killed. Some say six or seven thousand, others say around one thousand. Probably the latter is nearer the truth.”

This mutiny, which had been carried out with the sole aim of attracting the attention of foreign countries, was reported abroad by the Patriarchate and the revolutionary committees in the bloodiest and most sensational manner. Meetings were held in support of the Armenians in various European capitals and statements made in the various parliaments. Everywhere, references were made to the responsibility Britain had assumed in signing the Cyprus Convention.

Hallward, the British consul in Van, wished to go to Sasun to examine the situation but the Ottoman government, who regarded him as one of the instigators of the rebellion, refused to grant him the necessary permisson.

The government set up a commission to carry out investigations on the spot and applied to the American government for a consul that would participate in the work. This appeal, however, was turned down by the American government.

The British Embassy at first wished to sent Colonel Chermside, the Military Attaché, to the spot, but later abondoned the idea. Mr. Shipley, Dragoman to the Embassy, was appointed assistant to the Consul in Erzurum, and was ordered to visit the site of the incident.

After a great deal of correspondence, the principle was finally accepted that the states with Consuls in Erzurum, namely, France, Great Britain and Russia, should participate in the work of the Ottoman investigation commission. These were to be present at the meetings as observers, and could, if necessary, ask questions.

The commission appointed by the government was to be presided over by ?efik Bey, head of the petition department of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Omer bey, the Director of the Emniyet Sand???, Celalettin Bey, President of the Criminal Court of Appeal and Mecit Efendi, from the Ministry of the Interior. The consuls taking part as observers were Vilbert, the French Consul, the Russian Consul-General Jevalsky, and the British Consul, Shipley.

The commission carried out investigations for six months, from 4 January to 21 July 1895. It held 108 meetings and heard more than 190 witnesses. Omer Bey had to resign from the commission on 29 January on his appointment as deputy Governor in Bitlis. Murad was arrested on 23 August.

A certain amount of fight is shed on the situation by the following rather more accurate passages of the reports of the Consuls, which tend on the whole, as is only to be expected, to be biased in favour of the Armenians:

“After those events, Hamparsum Boyadjian, a native of Adana who had studied medecine in Istanbul and Geneva and who employed the alias “Murad” to avoid recognition, arrived in the Talori region accompanied by an armed band, one of the members of which was Damadian, an old friend of his whom he had recently met.

He toured the villages in the Kavar region under the pretext of carrying out madical practice, inciting the Armenians to free themselves from Kurdish domination. But neither he nor the five companions whom he had supplied with arms and ammunition for their defence, could offer a convincing explanation of their presence in the mountains. One of them gave as a reason the wrongs he and his family had suffered at the hands of the Kurds. Practically aft the Armenian witnesses said that they had never heard the name “Murad”. On the other hand, the Kurds and the government witnesses said that they had heard the name. It was impossible, under these circumstances, for the Commission to Investigation to collect the information necessary for a true understanding of the event It would appear from the evidence collected that he and his colleagues roamed around the Talori regions and the neighbouring villages and sometimes even the mountains giving, as he himself confirmed, advice on relations between the Armenians and the Kurds, persuading the former to engage in revolutionary struggle and the second to withhold government taxes in order to attract attention.

Furthermore, the notebook filled with patriotic poems that was discovered on his person and employed in his attempts at provocation, as well as notes forming the beginning of a letter written in pencil, which he admitted to be his own, describing the events of 1894, clearly prove that Murad, like Damadian, had arrived in the country on a secret mission with the aim of sowing discord between the Armenians and the Kurds.”

Another passage from the reports runs as follows:
“It is impossible to deny the propaganda work, or the fact that Murad and his friends took part in the first armed conflicts.”

The Armenians had set great hopes on the Sasun mutiny. They had hoped that the mutiny would lead to European intervention and the realization of Armenian aspirations. A great deal of money for the prosecution of the mutiny was collected by the Hunchaks in Istanbul and other provinces by the sale of tickets bearing the Hunchak emblem.

During the Sasun incidents the Russian Armenians appealed to the Catholicos Khrimian in Etchmiadzin to intervene in favour of the Armenians in Turkey. The Catholicos, in spite of his advanced age and the inclemency of the winter weather, immediately set out for St Petersburg, where he told the Emperor that the Armenians in Turkey looked upon him as their sole protector and were awaiting his help and protection. Khrimian’s appeal produced an intense political reaction The British Ambassador Sir Philip Curries told the Patriarch Izmirlian that he was amazed that the Catholicos should make such an appeal at a time when the Armenian Question was being discussed on the international forum.

Vte. des Coursons gives the following account of the Sasun mutiny:

“Murad (Hamparsum Boyadjian) deceived the Armenians by hinting at British support for the Sasun mutiny. In March 1895 the text of a circular sent from London was published in the French newspapers. This circular had been sent to Vehabedian, the Marhasa of Adana, and the spiritual leaders of the Armenian church.”

As for the incident itself, the best thing would be to quote the article in the New York Herald Tribune, a newspaper that could never be accused of partiality for the Turks.

“European observers are of the opinion that the Armenian revolt was instigated by Armenians from abroad. The rebels were armed with the most up - to - date weapons from England. After committing crimes of arson murder and looting they resisted an attack carried out by regular troops and withdrew to the mountains. The investigating committee concluded that the Ottoman government was fully justified in dispatching troops against the rebels. These troops were able to defeat the rebels only after a bloody conflict. It takes more than persuasive words or newspaper articles to overcome a body of nearly three thousand well-armed rebels who have taken refuge in inaccessible mountains.

The Armenians ringleaders appeared in the Talori Mts. to the south of Sasun and Mu?, between Bitlis and Genç. Here they were joined by a person by the name of Hamparsum who had already instigated disorders in the region under the alias of Murat, and placed their forces under his command. This Hamparsum had been born in Hachin and had studied medicine in Istanbul for eight years. After taking part in the Kumkap? demonstration he had fled first to Athens and then to Geneva, after which he returned to Bitlis via Iskenderun and Diyarbakir in disguise and under a false name. He there joined with five others in subsersive activities. Hamparsum tricked the simple people into believing that he had been sent by the European Powers to overthrow Turkish domination and thus succeeded in realizing his murderous plans.

They first of all occupied the Talori region which included the villages of Siner, Simai, Gülli-Güzat, Ahi, Hedenk, Sinank, Çekind, Effard, Musson, Etek, Akcesser. In 1894, leaving their wives, children and property in these inaccessible spots, the Armenians joined forces with other armed bands coming from the Silvan districts in the plain of Mu?, after which the whole body of 3000 men gathered in the Andok Mt. Five or six hundred wished to surround Mu?, and started off by attacking the Delican tribe to the south of the city. They slaughtered a number of the tribe and seized their goods. The religious beliefs of the Muslims who well into their hands were derided and disparaged, and the Muslims themselves murdered in the most frightful manner. The rebels also attacked the regular troops in the vicinity of Mu?, but the large numbers of the regular forces prevented them from occupying the city.

The rebels joined the bandits in the Andok Mts., carrying out the most frightful massacres and looting among the tribes of the neighbourhood. They burned Omer Agha’s nephew alive. They raped a number of Turkish women at a spot three or four hours’ distance from Gülli-güzat and then strangled them.

At the beginning of August the rebels attacked the Faninar, Bekiran and Badikan tribes, perpetrating equally horrible atrocities. The rebels in the villages of Yermut and Ealigernuk in the nahiye of Cinan in the kaza of Cal attacked the Kurds in the neighbourhood, as well as the villages of Kaisser and Çatçat.

Towards the end of August, the Armenians attacked the Kurds in the vicinity of Mu? and burned down three or four villages, including Gülli-Güzat. As for the 3000 rebels in Talori, they continued to spread death and destruction among the Muslims and other Christian communities, refusing to lay down their arms. Regular troops were finally sent to force them to submit.

Hamparsum fled to the mountains with eleven other rebels. He was finally captured alive, but only after he had killed two soldiers and wounded six. By the end of August all the rebels had been crushed.

The women, the children, the aged and the lame were treated by the Turks in accordance with the charity and humanity characteristic of Islam. The rebels who died were those who refused to surrender and preferred to continue fighting against the legitimate government of the country.”

 ----------------------
- OTTOMAN ARCHIVES YILDIZ COLLECTION THE ARMENIAN QUESTION I -TALORI INCIDENTS
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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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