Here, the author chronicles the Armenian atrocities against the Muslim population prior to the deportation order of April 1915. There is immense evidence in Ottoman archives clearly proving the Ottoman decree of relocation was in self defence. If only the Diaspora could face up to historical facts.
The situation faced by the Turks as well as the Ottoman Empire during World War I can be understood upon reading the following information. Hunchak Organization which believed that the Armenian Republic could be founded by terrorist methods published organized instructions on how to kill the Muslims, and how to demolish the cities. One of the articles from the “Hınçakyan İhtilal Komitesi Azası’nın Vezaifine (Vazifesine) Dair Talimat” [The Duties of Hunchak Revolutionary Committee Members] instructions booklet is as follows:
Article 8: Each Committee should have a chief executioner with a team of executioners around him who share his values. Duties of this team include getting rid of those who disobey within and around the committee with the orders of the Committee. There are three methods of punishment: (1) warning, (2) beating, (3) death. There are three methods of death: (1) dagger, (2) revolver, (3) choking or poisoning.”
Methods of blowing up buildings are described as: “…Methods to be used for blowing up homes and other buildings: (1) solid dynamite, (2) dynamite solution, salicylic chemical, (3) derivatives of explosives prepared with gunpowder!”
Another similar document titled “Müdafaa-i Şahsiyye İçin Talimat [Instructions of Self Protection]” and bearing the signature of Toman was printed in 1910 and was distributed by the thousands. Although it poses as a self-protection, this document actually prescribes various ways of wiping out Muslims. On page 4, after explaining which weapons should be used under each circumstance, it goes on to explain how to raid on villages and set them on fire as follows:
“There are three kinds of villages. (1) Armenian villages among other Armenian villages that are habited by Armenians, (2) Villages habited by Armenians but located among villages which are habited by others, (3) Villages where Armenians live altogether with others.
“In all three types of villages, organizations bear no difference. They all should join the “forces” with their ammunition and weapons. The forces are divided as (1) stationary and (2) mobile. Each force should be assigned a chief and an assistant to the chief. The mobile and stationary forces should each elect an experienced chieftain for their village. These chieftains will be the ultimate authority in the villages and all the forces in that village will be under his command. These chieftains will be the representatives of the government and of the armed forces in their villages. All village chieftains will get together to elect three persons in their district as temporary armed command commissions. These government representatives (Erkanı Harbiye Heyeti) and the commander will have the power to collect arms from disabled users and redistribute them to more experienced persons during skirmishes. Messengers should be formed to inform nearby village forces in case of a surprise attack on a village. If the Armenians living as a minority among others find themselves under attack and if they are unable to get help in time, they should collect their valuables and move into other Armenian villages.
“In villages where the enemy numbers are fewer than Armenians, the former should be asked to leave if they have not done so on their own. Those who do not leave could be taken as hostage depending on the situation and the decision of the government.
“During skirmishes, doors will be kept open and those who are escaping from the army or police forces will be allowed to enter. Civilians wandering around without weapons should be forbidden. The villagers have to pay for any weapons lost to the enemy. Weapons taken over from the enemy belong to whoever confiscates them.”
“In order to attack villages:
1) Fortification points of enemy villages must be known.
2) The escape routes must be decided beforehand and kept under control of the outpost.
3) Villages that may aid to the enemy must be explored beforehand and must be prevented.
4) Only three sides of the village to be attacked must be kept under siege. One side must appear like an escape route for the residents. (If contained from all four sides, the enemy may counter attack and endanger our victory.) Only a small contingent should be hidden on the fourth side to press and to inflict casualties on them. Actually, the real reason to leave an open side is to assure speedy victory by dividing the enemy’s forces, more so than allowing an escape route to them.
5) Attacking at dawn would surprise the enemy. Attacking earlier would cause us losses while waiting for the light.
6) In order to create chaos and commotion, fires must be started in different places at the same time and expanded. Necessary equipment must be prepared beforehand.
7) If there are no cavalrymen among the attackers, spare horses must be brought along to carry the wounded and the dead bodies into the Armenian villages so that they cannot be identified.
“A few days before the attack, strong and reliable agents selected by our Chief Armed Forces (Erkanı Harbiye Heyeti) must be sent to the targeted village. They must stay there as long as it requires to collect the necessary information. Consequent attack preparations must be planned based on these agents’ reports.”
While the Turkish Army was fighting on multiple fronts, thousands of kilometres away from their homes, Armenians were busy preparing brutal plans to eradicate their neighbours of 900 years. An Armed Chief Commander is going to be elected in each city, every Armenian will carry out the orders of this Chief of Armed Forces, agents will be sent to whichever village will be attacked, fire will be started in various places at dawn, and bullets will be raining on the Turks who flee their homes in panic. This was their plan.
Armenians who could publish in their newspapers their belief that the Turks must be eradicated to achieve a peaceful existence on earth, became agents of atrocities that even the most fearsome and sadistic murderers could not imagine. Thus they prepared their end by earning the hatred of Turks who ran for reprisals.
Ottoman Government collected soldiers on July 21, 1914, and declared war on November 11th of the same year. Armenians of Zeitun did not miss this opportunity and while the government was busy with war preparations, they started their rebellion on August 17, 1914.
Armenian rebellions will not be described in this book. Only Van and Zeitun rebellions will be mentioned as samples to justify the relocation order of the Ottoman Government.
The first Armenian rebellion following the order to enlist men for the army started on August 17, 1914, in Zeitun, which is now the Suleymanli borough of Kahraman Maraş. Armenians stopped paying their taxes to the government following their call to arms. They ran away from serving the Ottoman Military and called the citizens to rebel against the government.
They held up young men on their way to enrol in the army and robbed them. Those coming from mountain villages were ambushed on the road and killed. They raided a group of 100 Andınır Turks on their way through Ferens on August 17th while the latter was returning home after being discharged from the army. They killed most of these Turks and stole their money. They opened fire on the gendarmerie who were trying to collect vehicles from the village. At the Kaymakampınarı site on the road to Maraş, they killed some of the Turkish civilians of Beşanlı village.
In order to ambush the ammunition which was going to be transferred from Maraş to the gendarmerie forces in Zeitun, they laid in ambush at the least known passages and out of place roads. When the ammunition safely arrived at its destination because of successful rerouting, they ambushed the gendarmerie forces on their return path and killed 6 of the group of 17 and heavily wounded the rest.
They attacked the gendarmerie patrolling Zeitun and the Maraş governor who was sent there to contain the unrest. They attacked the municipality, laid siege on government buildings and took over ammunition and weapons. They demanded the release of detained Armenians.
The government forces followed the rebels into the Tekiyye Monastery which is located up on a hill overseeing all of Zeitun. However, the rebels numbering 700-800 killed the governor of Maraş along with 25 gendarmerie soldiers and wounded the remaining 36. These armed bandits were able to run away using their location and nighttime conditions to their advantage. They killed any Turk along their way and set on fire barns, houses, and villages on their escape route.
In the villages of Dönekli, Akçarlı, Kümperli, Fatmalı, Hartalp, and Önek alone, 27 barns, 3 estate homes, and 62 houses were set ablaze. They also took with them the farm animals belonging to these village folks.
Upon following the bandits’ activities, it was discovered that these uprisings were staged to aid the British invasion forces. Melkom, one of the ringleaders of Zeitun confessed that “the leaders had taken orders to aid the British forces landing on the Mediterranean Coast from shores of Iskenderun”. It was understood that the planner and leader of this operation were the Hinchak Committee Chief Çakıroğlu Panos, his brother Yenidünya, Ağyaoğlu with his 4 sons, Solakoğlu Mesrop and Emanuel. They all belonged to the wealthiest families in town and they had been bestowed high compliments by the Sultanate prior to this event. The 61 bandits apprehended included the bishop as well. Some of their weapons turned out to be stolen from the Turkish Army.
Cemal Pasa also mentions in his memoirs that these uprisings were staged with the orders of the British and French Commanders. He writes; “It was obvious to the enemy commanders that uprisings in the area starting with Iskenderun coasts, Dörtyol, Musabba, Halep, Antep, Urfa, and Zeitun would insert a wedge between Syria and Anatolia. At a time when the Turkish armed forces were engaged in fierce battles in Canakkale, against the French and British forces, their commanders ordered the Armenians to start uprisings in these districts.”
When Bandits Took Over Van
At a time when Turkish Armed Forces were engaged in fierce battles in Canakkale, Armenians volunteered to collaborate with their enemies French and British on the South and obeyed the Russian army commanders in the East. It is understood from the telegraph sent to the Russian Ambassador by Temren, the Russian Council in Van, that planning of the Russian invasion started in 1908. Temren asks how he should explain the existence of Russian nationals among the 12 Armenian rebels caught in the underground water systems. The reply he received is not yet known to us.
Shortly afterwards, many adventurous Armenians posing as educators, priests, deputies, inspectors, etc. gathered in the Tashnak headquarters of Van, which the entire world knows is administered and manipulated by Russians.
The ringleaders were İşhan and Aram. Both of these adventurers were Caucasus Armenians. Aram Manukian was born in Şusta town of Caucasus. Upon graduating from Armenian elementary and middle schools, he settled in the mountains and adopted terrorist means. Because he had masterminded the murdering of Van Mayor Ali Riza Pasha by Alev Başyan in Batum, he was condemned to death. However, at the last minute, he benefited from the general amnesty declared to honour the declaration of First Meşrutiyet [Constitutional Government]. After being pardoned, he taught for a short while, but then retreated to the mountains.
İşhan, on the other hand, was condemned to death for crimes he committed in Russia. But, he saved his skin by escaping into Turkey.
After the declaration of the constitutional government by the Ottoman Empire, Van’s fate was left to these two. Two others who were not much different from this duo were the Van deputies in the Ottoman Assembly: Vremian and Papazian.
These ringleaders organized the Van rebellion on behalf of the Russians and closed down the religious seminary school located in the Akhdamar island of Van. They seized the seminary’s assets and assigned the Tashnak committee members to the remote villages as religious clergy. A terrorist like themselves named Yeznik was dressed as a minister and assigned to the post of Catogiggos’ assistant. A bloodthirsty a minister named Daniel who escaped from Istanbul since he had run into trouble with the security forces for organizing terrorist activities in Istanbul and various cities was assigned as an advisor to him.
Others who joined the team of terrorist ringleaders were; a rebel named Rafael from Iran who posed as an inspector of Armenian schools, inspector of another school named Serkis, and Vartan and Osep, ill-famed bandits of Van mountains from Karçıkan.
Even though these people were bandits, they found strong support. Their closest allies were the British, French, and Russian counsellors. Even İşhan, who was condemned to death in Russia, achieved Russian protection once he entered into Turkey. Most important strategies were being discussed at the Russian Councilors office with these ringleaders whose level of human abuse we explained above.
Atrocities started to occur in Van when these bandits became administrators of the Tashnak Committee.
Immediately following the mobilization of young men into the army, Armenians started to set on fire Turks’ homes. The waterworks were clogged with animal corpses, water fountains and wells were polluted with the same. In an effort to provoke the majority of the population in the city, church bells were ringing loudly during the call for the Muslim prayers. Oil lamps, which were lit on the top of minarets to inform Moslems when it was time to break their fast during Ramadan, were shot and extinguished. Muslims were unable to go to the Mosque of Kızılcami because they were gunned on their way as the road passed through an Armenian district. Eventually, the call to prayer was no longer chanted, and the mosque became desolate, so its name was changed to Mosque under captive. The situation in rural districts was more unbearable. A problem about the number of sheep turned into a riot in the Timar Township on February 14, 1915. The number of rebels exceeded one thousand at no time. Armenians armed with Russians pistols attacked the villages. They attacked the gendarmerie unit stationed at the Banat Village. The soldiers and their commander Captain Süleyman Efendi were killed.
Upon declaration of war, Russian soldiers along with Armenian volunteer battalions crossed the border into Turkish territory, and the local Armenians took up arms. They killed a few gendarmeries in the Havasor sub-district, and Governor Kadı Ismail Efendi in the District of Gevaş. They attacked police stations and cut telegraph lines on the Gevaş – Bitlis road. They rained bullets for 8 hours on the house, where the ruler of the sub-district Akan of Mush was staying with the gendarmeries accompanying him on their way to Kümes Village. Commander of Bitlis gendarmerie regiment along with his detachment was ambushed on their way to Hizan at the Karkar Valley. Many fell, during the fight that lasted 7 hours between the Turkish armed forces and Armenian bandits. In some districts, the revered township governors’ homes were set on fire.
The rebellion spread out all over Van when teacher Osep was captured in Şitak with a distribution list of weapons and caches enough to arm an army corps. Well organized and heavily armed Armenians who seemed to be applying a pre-determined plan started slaughtering Muslims.
They blocked roads to Van, in order to prevent aid from reaching there. General Mafolski summarizes how the Armenians devoured the small gendarmerie force stationed in Van, how the Turks formed the 5th Squadron under the leadership of Kazım Bey to send to Van, that this squadron blockaded the Armenians in the citadel and the city centre and how they came to the aid of Armenians as: “Upon hearing about the Van incident, it was decided to send General Turihin’s forces, later followed by General Nikolayef’s forces to aid the Armenians”.
During the uprising, the Ottoman Bank, Management of Public Debts of the Ottoman Empire, Post Office, and the Government Center were all blown up. Hamit Ağa Kışlası (army barracks) and Muslim quarters were set on fire. Russian, French hats and Ottoman-style fur caps with ‘Armenia is saved’ scribbled on them were found in trenches during the searches that followed. Armenians who massacred the Muslims of Mahmudiye converted the mosques into stables.
The District Governor informed the Central Government of the Armenian atrocities with a report dated March 15, 1915. Van Mayor Cevdet Bey’s report which was written 10 days later was more worrisome. Mayor Cevdet Bey reported on March 25, 1915, that the Armenians had undergone huge preparations to allow the Russian invasion of Van with great ease.
During this time, in Çölemerik, the Nasturians rebelled with Russian support. The limited number of Van gendarmerie forces was not sufficient to engulf the rebellion. Mayor Cevdet Bey had to retreat the night of May 16-17 under Armenian and Russian pressure. Armenians started slaughtering Muslims in the city of Van which was now invaded by Russia.
The German Ambassador Wangenheim explained the mayhem in his report to his Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 25, 1915; “Armenians have rebelled in Van, attacked the Muslim villages and the citadel. The Turkish forces stationed at the citadel lost 300 soldiers. As a result of street fights which lasted for days, the city is now under rebel hands. On May 17th, the city was invaded by Russians, Armenians have sided with the enemy and started slaughtering Muslims. Eighty thousand Muslims have started to run away towards Bitlis.
Armenians who went on a killing spree of Muslims in Van, set on fire the house districts and shopping areas to eliminate those who took shelter in their homes and workplaces. We learn that the city has been burning for 4 days from a report dated May 21, 1915.