THE TREATMENT OF ARMENIANS
in the ottoman empire
Contained in this book is a collection of 149 documents acquired from various sources
which chronical some of the events occuring in certain villages in turkey and NW Persia during the Armenian Genocide.
Document 9. in its entirety is presented below.
Letter, dated 3rd/16th August, 1915, conveyed beyond the ottoman frontier by an Armenian Refugee from Cilicia in the sole of her shoe.*
In haste and in secret I seize the opportunity of bringing to your ears the cry of agony which goes out from the survivors of the terrible crisis through which we are passing at this moment. They are exterminating our nation, mowing it down. Perhaps this will be the last cry from Armenia that you will hear; we have no longer the fear of death, we see it close at hand, this death of the whole people. We are waifs who cry for the lives of our brothers. These lines cannot describe our misery; it would need volumes of reports to do justice to that.
1.) At the present moment there are at ------ more than 10,000 deported women and children (among the latter one sees no boys above 11 years of age). They had been on the road for from three to five months; they have been plundered several times over, and have marched along naked and starving; the Government gave them bread – a few had it twice. It is said the number of these deported will reach 60, 000; they are so exhausted that they cannot stand upright; the majority have great sores on their feet, through having to march barefoot.
2.) An enquiry has proved that, out of 1,000 people who started, scarcely 400 reached ----. Out of the 600 to be accounted for, 380 men and boys above 11 years of age and 85 women, had been massacred or drowned out of sight of the towns, by the gendarmes who conducted them; 120 young women and girls and 40 boys had been carried off, with the results that one does not see a single pretty face among the survivors.
3.) But of these survivors, 60 percent are sick; they are to be sent in the immediate future to ------, where certain death awaits them. One cannot describe the ferocious treatment to which they are exposed; they had been on the road from three to five months; they had been plundered two, three, five, seven times; their underclothes even had been ransacked; so far from being given anything to eat, they had even been prevented from drinking water while they were passing a stream. Three-quarters of the young women and girls were abducted; the remainder were forced to lie with the gendarmes who conducted them. Thousand died under these outrages, and the survivors have stories to tell of refinements of outrage so disgusting that they pollute one’s ears.
4.) The massacres have been most violent in the eastern provinces, and the population has been deported wholesale towards the Hauran Dessert, Gereg and Mosul, where the victims are doomed to a death from natural causes more infallible the massacre. When one remembers that these people were leading a comfortable European life, one is forced to conclude they will never be able to survive in an alien and inhospitable climate, even if the knife and the bullet do not previously do their work.
My friends, I have not the time to tell you more; one may say with truth that not a single Armenian is left in Armenia; soon there will be none in Cilicia either. The Armenian, robbed of his life, his goods, his honor, conveys to you his last cry for help - help to save the lives of the survivors! Money to buy them bread! There is a rumor here that the government will allow the women and the children under seventeen years of age to leave the country. How are they to do it? Where are they to go? What ship is to take them? Who will provide the funds? From moment to moment we are waiting for relief, to stave off the death of a Nation. Be quick, never mind how; send us money, we have no means of communication.!
Send, through the agency of the American Government, money, money, money; the bearer of this letter deserves every reward; she will tell you all the details. Zohrab, Vartkes, Daghavarian and their five companions have been murdered by the gendarmes at Sheitan-Deré between Ourfa and Diyarbekir, where thousands of headless corpses make the passers-by shudder; the Euphrates bears down its stream thousands of corpses of men and women; photographs of this have been taken by the Europeans. Fifteen thousand Zeitoonlis have been exported to Der-el-Zor, where they are suffering the worst atrocities. Thousands of babies at the breast have been thrown into the river or abandoned by the wayside by their mother. The urgent need is money! Make it clear to the Armenian colony in America. Money! Money!
One thousand six hundred Armenians have had their throats cut in the prison at Diyarbekir. The Arashnort was mutilated, drenched with alcohol, and burnt alive in the prison yard, in the middle of a carousing crowd of gendarmes, who even accompanied the scene with music. The massacres at Beniani, Adiaman and Selefka have been carried out diabolically; there is not a single man left above the age of thirteen years; the girls have been outraged mercilessly; we have seen their mutilated corpses tied together in batches of four, eight or ten, and cast in the Euphrates. The majority had been mutilated in an indescribable manner.
The above facts have been gathered from official sources and eye witnesses.
The American Consul is able to arrange for the despatch of funds. We are unable to realise any of our property, either national or private, because it has all been confiscated by the government. The government has even confiscated the convents, churches and the schools. Black famine reigns in the town; we have 15,000 deported Armenians here, who have been sent on in batches to Arabia. The whole of Armenia is being cleared out.
I sign this letter with my blood.
*The author of the letter has been identified by an Armenian resident who recognized his handwriting.
Thank you to my dear cousin Margaret