16 December 2006

1306) The "Schizophrenic" N. Y. Times and the 1895 Armenian Riot


On Oct. 4, 1895, the doggedly Armenian-friendly New York Times published a presentation that first began with the typical propaganda, the weaknesses of which will happily be exposed below. Then, to the rare credit of the newspaper, a brilliant piece entitled "The Turk's Side of the Story" was allowed to see print. The arguments and facts were so thoroughly convincing, supported by testimony of those who would normally choose the Armenians' side, you would think the New York Times would have stopped and said, Hey! Wait a minute. Could it be possible the atrocity stories we are pushing here, as the countless ones we have pushed in the past, could be pure poppycock? No; of course, they did not. Why not?

The news events described are sometimes referred to as "The Babiali Demonstration" in Istanbul, and the respective section from "The Armenian File" has been included below, as a historical backdrop. Following that will be the disturbing postscript to these events.


The background story: There was an Armenian riot in Istanbul. We get indications that the Armenians who participated were very well armed, and, as usual, fired first (of course; their idea was to agitate). When the police were called in to control these mischief-makers, observe that the New York Times mainly tried to present the image of poor, innocent martyrs being "massacred."

The New York Times, Oct. 4, 1895

GRAND VIZIER OF TURKEY

The Unpopular Said Pasha to be Replaced by Kiamil Pasha.

SOFTAS ATTACKING THE ARMENIANS

Demonstration Before the Gates of the Palace Generally Condemned— Rioting Was Deliberate and Organized. .

LONDON-. Oct. 3.—A dispatch from Constantinople to the Central News says it is officially announced that Kiamil Pasha will replace Said Pasha as Grand Vizier.

A dispatch from Constantinople, under the date of Oct. 2. says:

" The rioting which prevailed here on Monday was renewed last evening, when the Softas chased and attacked with bludgeons every Armenian they met in the streets of the Stamboul quarter of the city, killing fifty of them during the night. The Softas also attacked a café in which there were twenty Armenians, and killed every one of them. Armenians are taking refuge in the churches. The clergy are untiring in their efforts to reassure them, and address the frightened Armenians almost continuously.

"The conduct of the Armenians in going armed to take part in the demonstration in front of the gates of the palace on Monday is generally condemned, and no doubt is now entertained that the rioting originated in an organized movement on the part of the Armenian Revolutionary Committee. The revolvers and knives taken from dead or living Armenians by the police were all of the same pattern."

The Daily News will to-morrow denounce what it terms the disgraceful attempt of one or two English journals to represent the Turk as a lamb and the Armenian as a wolf in this butchery, "which was a mere massacre [promising?] to [rank?] with some of the [histor?] [?es} of the Turkish capital." [1]



BERLIN, Oct. 33-- The Constantinople correspondent of The Tageblatt telegraphs that while the struggle between the Armenians and the police was the most violent, two dragomans from the British Embassy drove up and down in a carriage through the crowd.

It was universally remarked that the British Embassy was as splendidly informed of the happenings as were the police, who arrived on the scene at the same time as did the dragomans.

The correspondent adds that 1,500 entirely new revolvers, of English manufacture, all being of the same calibre, and a great number of cartridges were found on the prisoners and in the streets in which the rioting took place.[2]


STAMBOUL's REIGN OF TERROR

Kiamil Pasha's Appointment the Only Redeeming Feature.

LONDON, Oct. 3.-- The Standard will to-morrow publish a dispatch from Constantinople saying that on Wednesday a large number of shops were closed and the streets were patrolled by the police. The whole city is virtually in a state of siege.

The dispatch adds that a witness of the occurrence states that a respectable-looking Armenian was arrested by two gendarmes on Tuesday while walking in the Galata quarter. When he protested against being arrested, the gendarmes immediately ripped his body open with their swords. [3]

The Armenian Patriarch received a letter on Tuesday invading him to call upon the Government. The letter stated that none of his followers would be permitted to accompany him. The Patriarch therefore declined to accept the invitation, and remains at the patriarchate, where he Is shut in with several hundred armed Armenians.[4] The officials. visited the patriarchate and summoned its occupants to surrender, giving them until 3 o'clock this (Wednesday) afternoon to comply, after which time, if they did not surrender, the building would be stormed. The dispatch further says that at the time mentioned the police surrounded the building and prepared to carry out their threat to storm it.

Reviewing the incident, it appears that the police generally were not supplied with ball cartridges. They were instructed to use the flats of their swords and the butts of their rifles. Such provocation as they gave in the first instance was verbal. The Armenians fired first. With the exception of the massacre of the prisoners the most violence was committed by the Softas and the lowest class of Moslems, none of whom, however, appears to have been arrested or otherwise checked. [5] Doubtless the Armenians will be made to pay dearly for the outburst, but, having provoked reprisals, it will be difficult for the powers to intervene.

Great consternation prevails at the palace. The Sultan has not been in bed since Monday. It is felt that a crisis has arrived. No such terror has prevailed since the Greek revolution.

A later dispatch to The Standard says that the threat to storm the patriarchate has not yet been carried out. The church officials declare that they are not able to compel the refugees to leave the building, and the latter decline to leave their shelter. It is to be hoped that the police will not resort to force, as in that event a fearful massacre would inevitably result. The refugees are bundled together in the building with hardly standing room. They depend for food on such scraps as are brought to them. Seven corpses have been delivered from the patriarchate for burial.

A Constantinople dispatch which The Daily News will publish to-morrow says that the Government has issued a communication to the press stating that some assemblies of Armenians have been dispersed, adding that those resisted with arms the gendarmes and police. Naturally, they have been arrested, and will be tried and punished. The penalties incurred will be published in the newspapers.

The Standard will to-morrow say that the sole redeeming feature of the affair is the appointment, of Kiamil Pasha as Grand Vizier. He is one of the few Turkish officials having influence whom foreigners can regard with confidence. The paper again attacks the agitators who organized the armed procession, and says that these men are the worst enemies of the Christian population In Armenia.


ARMENIAN PRISONERS KILLED.

Turkish Charge the European Agitation with the Troubles.


CONSTANTINOPLE, Oct. 3.—The reports that Armenians who were arrested for taking part in Monday's and Tuesday's rioting were killed after being taken into custody have been confirmed. It is known to a certainty that five of the prisoners were so killed, and it would excite no surprise to hear that others met their death in the same manner. Eye witnesses of the rioting say that the Armenians did not discharge their firearms until Major Servat Bey ordered the police to fire upon them. [6]

Artin Pasha: A traitor?

Turkish officials view the troubles as being the direct outcome of the agitation In Europe, especially in Great Britain, in favor of the Armenians as against the Turks. The foreign diplomats here met to-day at the Austrian Embassy and held a conference on the situation.

The Armenians in the employ of the Porte, as soon as they realized the gravity of the emeute of their countrymen, fled from the city, being afraid that the Government should treat them as traitors. They all returned to-day, however, with the exception of Artym Pasha, Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, who is accused of being in sympathy with the Armenian aspirations.


THE TURK'S SIDE OF THE STORY.

Armenians, It Is Asserted, Have Plotted to Arouse Sympathy.

To the Editor of The New York Times:
Word has just reached here from Kara-Hissari-Charki that a band of Armenians attacked Nedjib Effendi. substitute to the Attorney General, when on his way to Sivas, accompanied by gendarmes and by Rami Effendi. chief of the correspondence at Tchoroun. Rami Effendi, as well as the gendarmes, were dangerously wounded, while Nedjib Effendi was carried to the woods and murdered.

It is by deeds similar to the above that Armenian revolutionists, according to their own admission, expect again to bring about very serious trouble in Asiatic Turkey. In addition to the above, it may perhaps be of interest to give also the following facts, taken out of many, and showing the criminal work of the Armenian revolutionary committees:

1. An Armenian priest suspected of spying was quite recently murdered at Scutari. Just opposite Constantinople, by Armenian agents of the revolutionary party.

2. Thirteen pupils of the American College at Marsovan, having been expelled last year because their fathers were suspected of being mixed up in the Armenian movement, suspicion has fallen on the college, and among the list of persons condemned by Ihe Armenian committee are five professors of the college, two being Americans.

3. An Armenian named Garabed Agha was assassinated at Marsovan, close to the church door, as he was going to attend early service. He was the chief man of the Protestant community, and Chairman of the Council of Thirty, which Is responsible for the peace of the city. It Was alleged that he had given the Government information in regard to the revolutionists. Commenting on the murder of Garabed Agha, the Rev. George E. White, an American missionary at the Congregational School at Marsovan, wrote as follows: "There are two parties of Armenians. Some say: ' We must be loyal to the Turkish Government. We cannot effect a revolution. We are too few,' Others say: 'We will assassinate and stir up until we overturn this Turkish Government.' [7]And these revolutionists are ready to kill any of their brother Armenians or missionaries who do not, help on the rebellion. They killed Garabed Agha because he would not help the rebellion."

4. The Rev. Dr. Dwight, a leading American missionary, made recently the following statement, which shows not only what Armenian agitation means, but also the praiseworthy efforts of some Turkish Governors tending to prevent the outbreak of a fresh Armenian revolt:

"More than a year ago,: said the Rev. Dr. Dwight, "sixteen persons at Marsovan received written notices that they would be killed unless they would co-operate with the Armenian revolutionists. President Tracy and Professor Riggs, of Marsovan college, were two of these. They had incurred the ill will of the revolutionists by refusing to receive in the college the sons of certain men suspected of being revolutionists. Garabed Agha and another man were two of the sixteen who received notice, and both were assassinated. A Turkish guard was furnished, at the request of Mr. Terrell, to protect the American families from the assassins. The local Governor informed the Armenians after the killing that he intended to arrest all suspected persons; that their object was to provoke Turkish vengeance in order to secure the sympathy and intervention of Christian Europe, but that they would not succeed, as he had caused to be preached in the mosques for months that such was their object, and that any Turk who killed a Christian would be the worst enemy of Islam."

5. The Rev. James I. Barton, one of the Secretaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, reported the following incident:

"At the graduation exercises at the American College at Karpoot, after the distribution of diplomas, it was Intended by the Faculty to have an address read thanking the Sultan, in the name of the people of Karpoot. The address was to have been read by an Armenian graduate. When the Armenians heard that the address was in their name, they protested and warned the student who was to read it that if he did so he would lose his life. This made him afraid, and he refused to deliver the address. At last the American missionaries prevailed upon an Armenian teacher, Nigoghoss Tcnekejian, to read it. When the day selected arrived, and as the teacher arose to speak, the populace began to sing the most radical of all Armenian revolutionary songs. The uproar was so great that the missionaries could not get the address read. The day following the incident, ten shots were fired into the house of the Armenian member of the college, and a placard placed on his door which read; "If you continue your present course, be sure your life will be taken away.'" [8]

Facts like the above have opened the eyes and aroused tho indignation of unprejudiced men of all countries. But no more able description of that feeling of indignation can be found than in the following passage of a fearless American newspaper, the perusal of which will surely give satisfaction to the sense of Justice of many impartial readers:

It appears that the Armenian conspirators are ready to threaten, or, if need be, to assassinate, all who refuse to join in their conspiracy, and that from this scheme of violence they exclude neither their own people nor the American missionaries who have gone to Asia Minor to labor for their advancement. They have already murdered a number of Armenians, many of them priests, and it is no longer a secret that they have threatened the lives of American missionaries whom they suspect of a lack of sympathy with their plans of bloodshed and disorder. The truth appears to be, as The Post has insisted all along, that the whole trouble is due to the Armenian incendiaries and to their programme of organized agitation. Thousands of intelligent and law-abiding Armenians dwell peacefully in Turkey, receiving the impartial protection of the law. They practically control the commerce of the country, they are bankers, merchants, professional men; they hold office under the Government, and are esteemed and respected accordingly. But these pestiferous firebrands — meaning the desperate criminals who make the trouble at home, and their accomplices in England and America who distort, and misrepresent the facts to prejudice the outside world against Turkey — these indefatigable criminals whom we are now beginning to see in their true colors, deserve no sympathy from civilized people anywhere, and should not longer be permitted to mislead honest men with their falsehoods and their impudent pretensions. But Turkey's detractors insist that there was a premeditated massacre at Sassoun. They willingly and intentionally leave aside the fact that the Armenian committees were the real instigators of a serious revolt there, which had to be put down by the Turkish Government. All Christian Governments, like Russia, England, and even the United States, surely had at times to employ brutal force In order to suppress disturbances and rebellion.[9]

When the great " de Maistre " was asked why he showed such an earnest opposition to the abolition of capital punishment, he answered by these words: "Que Messieurs les assassins commencent!" In the same way, let Armenian committees cease their criminal intrigues and assassinations; let them abandon revolt, and soon enough repression on the part of the Turkish Government will stop. What Armenians need most at the present moment is, we think, good advice. What they get Is, unfortunately, bad advice. We consider, for instance, as constituting very bad advice all the hatred, all the exaggerations, all the slanders that abound in the Rev. Frederick Davis Greene's pamphlet on Turkey. This agitator — for he is one — undertook the task of proving his story by so-called " genuine " testimony. —With that aim in view, he published in his pamphlet some anonymous letters, about which, however, he wrote in an "explanatory note" the following: "It must be borne in mind that no writer was an eyewitness of the actual massacre." "The letters have largely based on the testimony of refugees from that region, or of Kurds and soldiers who participated In the butchery, and who had no hesitation In speaking about the affair In public or private." It follows, therefore, that the testimony given us by Mr. Greene is a second-hand testimony, or rather solely an Armenian testimony, for only children could believe Mr. Greene's assertion that genuine Kurds and genuine Turkish soldiers gave to American missionaries the details that Armenian agitators and their friends were striving to obtain. As for Armenian testimony, in one of our previous letters we have already shown that according to the opinion of the best friends of the Armenians the latter cannot be believed "even on oath." [10]

It is time for us to give the exact description of the Sassoun revolt. Surely, Turkey does not deny that the repression had to be severe. It was in the nature of things and conditions. What she denies is that there has been any kind of premeditated massacre. All constituted governments had at times to suppress rebellions, certainly with a feeling of regret for the occurence, but also with a force proportioned to the deeds and plans of the revolutionists. Turkey, therefore, did it at Sasaoun like many other powers at other places. [11]
* * *
Constantinople, Sept. 15.


(Thanks to Gokalp.)
Holdwater's Notes


1. What have we learned? These Armenians were armed. They attacked the Muslims, in order to create a "massacre" story that would be published in the West, well assured that bigoted newspapers such as The New York Times would happily oblige. The Turks and Muslims on the streets did not have the firearms and the knives the Armenians possessed. They used as weapons what were on hand; sticks, rocks, "bludgeons." Some of these Muslims might have become enraged enough to have gone after innocent Armenians, which was the whole dastardly strategy of the Armenians. But when one is up against a well-armed Armenian mob, it becomes obvious instruments such as "bludgeons" would be used in self-defense, not as a means to massacre. Yet this despicable account attempts to present the picture it was the mad Turks who suddenly decided to go off and have a few Armenians for breakfast. And who were the "witnesses" who provided these details to English-speaking Westerners? Why, the Armenians, of course. Truly, truly disgraceful.

There might have been innocent Armenians caught in the crossfire who tried to find sanctuary in the church grounds, but you can bet the bulk was composed of the murderous Armenians who started the mess. That is not the impression we get from the story, however.

Note that there were two very rare publications in London presenting the story honorably. But when such rare stories of fairness and accuracy appeared, hateful Western bigots would not stand it, and immediately poised themselves for a rebuttal. In this instance, "The Daily News" was happily set to "denounce what it term[ed] the disgraceful attempt" of what was, after all, the truth.

2. 1,500 revolvers collected! Add to the amount that could not have been collected, and we are talking about an army of rebellious Armenians. (The testimonies from below estimate a minimum of 2,000.) This was a severe example of revolt.

This passage is most enlightening in that it was the dragomans (translators) of the British Embassy that went around gathering the news, to report back to the British as to what happened.... in whatever manner the Armenians chose. Naturally, whatever they said was accepted at face value by their co-religionist sympathizers. Isn't it unbelievable?

3. Who was this "witness of the occurrence"? It was an Armenian, of course, free to make up whatever story he chose. And certainly it suited these immoral "patriots" for Hai Tahd (the Armenian Cause) to claim "the gendarmes immediately ripped his body open with their swords." Perhaps a detail that was left out was that the "respectable-looking Armenian" pulled out one of those 1,500 revolvers on the gendarmes. Who knows? If the gendarmes were so kill-crazy, why didn't they also go after this Armenian witness, who survived to tell his tale?

4. And how did those Armenians come to be armed? Here is the confirmation that the poor, innocent Armenians who were holed up in the churches were mostly not innocent bystanders fearful of getting massacred by the Turkish hordes. But that is not the impression we are getting from these dishonest articles. This very one has as its headline, "REIGN OF TERROR." There was such a reign, of course, and it was on the part of the Armenians. Here, though, the culprits would be, as usual, the Turks.

5. The police refraining from shooting is also verified in the account by Nazim Pasha, as may be read below. Once again, the Armenians exercised their penchant for firing the first shot.

6. Note this account, which "confirms" that at least five prisoners were killed (once again, let us wonder who the source possibly could have been), directly contradicts what we were told a few paragraphs above. (Didn't the New York Times editors notice these discrepancies... on the very same page?) First, we are told what appears to have been the truth (verified by the accounts below; see French ambassador Cambon's statement), that the police were not generally provided with ammunition and were proceeding as gingerly as possible. Here we are told flat out that the police fired first. "Major Servat Bey," far from ordering his force to fire upon the Armenians, appears to have been the catalyst for what took place, when an Armenian shot and killed him. (See Nazim Bey report; the victim's correct name was Servet Bey.) The source of this dishonesty is identified as "Eye witnesses of the rioting." That would translate to "Armenians."

7. The third party of Armenian is conspicuously and sadly missing. That is the Armenian who would have said, "' We must be loyal to the government, because this is our government, representing our Ottoman nation, a nation that has allowed Armenians to live in freedom and to have prospered as never before in the history of the Armenians."

8. These are excellent accounts helping us to understand how loyal Ottoman-Armenians were forced to choose sides, ultimately allowing the entire community to become disloyal to their nation, particularly as "1915" rolled around. The testimony of Rev. James Barton is especially valuable because it comes from, well, Rev. James Barton.

9. Wow! This "fearless American newspaper" got everything right. (And such commentary required true courage, as the bigots would be all over such harbingers of truth, as in this contemporary example.) What a pity its identity was not revealed (why should such a pertinent detail have been kept hidden?), although we get the clue that it was "The Post." (Trouble is, there are so many "Posts.")

10. Bingo! (Unfortunately.)

11. Naturally, different rules apply to the other nations, in this racist and prejudiced, anti-Turkish world.


The Babiali demonstration


The following is from Kamuran Gurun's "The Armenian File," New York, 1985, pp. 142-147, providing historical backdrop for the news events provided by The New York Times accounts above.


In the years 1895-6, there were Armenian rebellions or attempts at rebellion in many provinces of Anatolia. Most of them lasted for one or two days; only the rebellion of Zeitun and the second rebellion at Sassun kept the Babiali busy for long. We shall leave these two rebellions to last, and first quickly examine the others. Although departing from chronological order, it is useful to examine first the Babiali demonstration, which can be considered the most important, owing to its repercussions. Nalbrandian writes:

In the Turkish capital there were two separate Hunchak committees. One was the Board of Directors; the other was the Executive Committee. The Board gave instructions for nearly all of the revolutionary activity in Turkey, with the knowledge and approval of the General Headquarters at Geneva. The Executive Committee of Constantinople directed the organizational work according to the instructions of the Board of Directors. The members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee did not know one another, but there was complete cooperation between them. This cooperation was achieved by having one man, called the Representative of the Two Committees, who acted as the intermediary between the two groups.

The Executive Committee, after receiving the order from the Board of Directors to organize the Demonstration of Bab Ali, chose three men to supervise the project. The leader was Karo Sahakian (Hevehili Karon). Patriarch Mattheos Ismirlian, hearing rumors of a demonstration, called Karo and asked if the rumors were true. lf there was to be a demonstration, the Patriarch insisted that it should be a peaceful one. Karo also wished a peaceful demonstration, but some members of the Committee did not agree; the matter was left to the Board of Directors, who decided that it should be peaceful.

Months of secret preparations ended on September 16/28,1895. On that day the Hunchaks presented a letter, written in French, to the foreign embassies and to the Turkish government. (82)

As can be seen, the Patriarch was aware of the matter from the beginning, as he knew the individual named Karo (and probably his position in the Hunchak Committee.)

This letter dated 28 September, signed by the Revolutionary Committee, stated that `The Armenians of Constantinople have decided to make shortly a demonstration, of a strictly peaceful character, in order to give expression to their wishes with regard to the reforms to be implemented in the Armenian provinces. As this shall not be an aggressive one, an intervention by the police or the Armed Forces to prevent it could create remarkably unfortunate results, and the responsibility will not fall on us.'

In this letter; two points call for attention. First, despite the fact that such demonstrations were forbidden in Istanbul, the Hunchaks submitted their decision, without even asking permission. Second, they declared beforehand that in the event of intervention, unfortunate results could occur.

The French Ambassador in Istanbul, Paul Cambon, summarized the development of the incident, in report No. 174 which he sent to his Ministry, dated 3 October:

. . . the origin of the September 30 bloody demonstration is now evident. In the beginning, the date of the demonstration had been established as September 22nd, but for various reasons, this was postponed to the later date.

On Saturday, September 28th, I received the letter which I have enclosed [the letter quoted above from the secret Istanbul Hunchak Committee. The Committee stated that they had decided to hold a peaceful demonstration, and declared beforehand that they would not be responsible for the results in the event of intervention. This letter was also sent to the other Embassies, the Ministry of Gendarmerie, and the office of the Attorney General.

The Ottoman Authorities did not rely upon this assurance and took dispositions to prevent the demonstration, in case of necessity with force. (The Ambassador's logic is interesting. He seems to think that it was necessary for the government to remain inactive, when it received the communication of this secret revolutionary committee.) On the morning of Monday, September 30th, I received a petition. The said demonstration had begun as I received the petition.

At nine a.m. a crowd including men, women, and children, went to the Armenian Patriarchate. It was the Epiphany day, and the Church was full of people, where, the day before, 5,000 people had been baptized, possibly in the desire to be killed in battle. The Patriarch, who was at his summer residence in Buyukdere, had returned the night before to Kumkapi when the event was announced. (We are informed by Nalbandian that the Patriarch had been told of the event much earlier.) The people demanded to see him. They told him the miserable condition of the Armenian nation. . . and announced their decision to give a petition to the Grand Vizier, as the reforms had not been implemented. The Patriarch tried to dissuade them, told them that he could give the petition himself, and asked that the crowd disperse. [We know that he wanted the demonstration to be peaceful.] The Armenians did not accept this. . . . They wanted the Patriarch to accompany them. Izmirlian tried to explain to them that this was not possible.

Meanwhile another group gathered in Sultanahmet at the beginning of a street going to the Babiali, and the crowd increased with Armenians coming from every direction.

In my telegrams Nos 128 and 131, I reported a march of 2,000 people. [The Ambassador's, telegram No. 131 is interesting. In that telegram he reports the march in the following manner: `The Kum Kapu group gathered behind the Patriarchate Church. The Sultanahmet group, which was approximately 2,000 people, marched to the Babiali between 10 and 11 p.m., led by a priest.' Is it possible to claim that the Patriarch could not control the priests?] In front of the iron door of the Babiali, an officer who was at the head of the gendarmes tried to stop them. The Armenians stated that they wanted to give a petition to the Grand Vizier, that they would give the petition and disperse if they were let alone. The officer told them that he would not permit their passage, and told them to disperse. As the Armenians refused, he ordered the gendarmes to disperse the crowd. However, after many demonstrators had been beaten with rifle-butts, an Armenian fired a shot and killed the officer. Your Excellency knows very well how demonstrations turn into armed confrontations. Soon, the dead and the wounded were piled around. (83)



Let us turn now to the observations of the British Ambassador:

As I telegraphed to your Lordship on the 30th ultimo, a communication bearing the seal of the `Hindchag', the Armenian Revolutionary Committee, was addressed to the Embassies on the 28th ultimo, stating that a strictly peaceful demonstration was about to be made by the Armenians in order to express their desire for reforms. . . . The demonstration took place on the 30th ultimo, but unhappily it had not the peaceful character attributed to it. The demonstrators were armed with pistols and knives of a uniform pattern which had no doubt been issued to them by the organizers of the movement.

There is good reason to suppose that the object of the `Hindchag' was to cause disorder and bloodshed with a view to inducing the Powers of Europe to intervene on behalf of the Armenians.

It is stated that 3,000 persons took the Sacrament in the various Armenian churches on the preceding Sunday in order to be prepared for death.

On the morning of the 30th ultimo, crowds of Armenians assembled in various quarters of the town, the largest assemblage being in the Armenian quarter of Koum Kapou. They proceeded towards the Porte in numbers, estimated by eyewitnesses at about 2,000, though this is probably an exaggeration.

The authorities appear to have taken some steps to organize a counterdemonstration, and it was observed that an unusual number of Softahs and other Turks armed with sticks were collected in the streets.

The police appear to have made some effort to induce the crowd to retire peaceably.

According to the statement made by the Minister of Police to one of the Dragomans of the Embassy, he deputed Server Bey, a Major in whom he had special confidence, to urge the crowd to disperse.

On their refusing to do so, and stating their intention of proceeding to the Porte, he ordered his men to drive back the crowd with the flat of their swords and the butt-end of their muskets. At the same time, two mounted gendarmes seized upon the leader of the procession, who carried the Memorial which it was intended to present to the Porte. Shots were then exchanged. (84)

In another telegram, the British Ambassador stated: `. . . Shots were exchanged, and the officer of the gendarmerie was killed. About fifteen gendarmes and sixty Armenians fell. The police then dispersed the Armenians, pursuing them and arresting large numbers. (85)

In another telegram he stated: `It appears that the police charged the Armenians and struck them with the butt of their muskets and fiat of their swords, and seized upon their leaders; but there seems no doubt that it was the Armenians who fired the first shot. (86)

We can read the government version in the report of Nazim Pasha, the Minister of Gendarmerie:

The Armenian organizations held a meeting on September 30th in the church of the Patriarchate. . . . It was investigated that they wanted to create an insurrection by attacking the Babiali, and obtain the intervention of Europe. The superintendent of the police, Husnu Bey, was sent to the Patriarchate and the situation was explained to the Patriarch.

The Patriarch said that there was not enough time, that the people were also desperate, that he could not be much help, and thus showed that although he was capable of preventing an attempt at revolution, he did not wish to prevent it.

Under these circumstances. . . we had recourse to preventive measures. . . . The Police and the Gendarmerie were given the order to refrain from force and shooting. . . that the crowd be dispersed without shedding blood. . . by the mounted gendarmes.

. . . . A group of individuals from the crowd of more than 1,000 who had gathered in the church went to the Patriarchate and spoke there, then they began walking armed with pistols and daggers. The crowd increased in number as they were joined in Divanyolou by companions coming from various quarters. . . . In spite of warnings made until the last moment, they did not hesitate to reply by firing shots. . . . They brutally killed Major Servet Bey, a member of the Istanbul Gendarme regiment in front of the people. Then they fired shots on the Muslim and Christian people they encountered, and on the gendarmes on duty, and wounded many individuals. (87)

As can be seen, these three versions are in agreement, the only exception being that the report of the Embassies does not mention the fact that the superintendent of police had gone to the Patriarch. There is no reason to doubt that he had.

As the Armenians fired shots and killed a few privates along with Server Bey, the police and the gendarmes opened fire. The Armenians then began to flee in various directions, and continued to fire shots indiscriminately on the people as they made their escape.

Incidents continued after 30 September. Armenians opened fire on the people collectively from the quarters they resided in. Incidents occurred in Chukur Cheshme, Kasimpasha, Karagumruk, Eyub, and Vanikeuy, and there were armed confrontations between Muslims and Armenians.

The Embassies' telegrams and the report of the Minister do not include the number of dead and wounded. If it is possible to believe Lepsius,172 Armenians died in this incident. Bliss gave the same figure. We have not found another figure anywhere else.

It can be assumed that the majority of the persons who died were killed, not during the incident, but during the confrontations between Muslims and Armenians which occurred after the incident. The incidents were suppressed by the army troops, as they took control of every quarter of the city.


The following statement was made by the German Ambassador, Saurma, in the report he sent to his Ministry, dated 6 October:

All the Armenian rebellion attempts here and there, are organized by the revolutionary committees. This is, in any case, recorded in their programme. However, the Turkish Government had to be prepared, and had to have prevented, by using the army troops, which have now occupied Istanbul, armed confrontations between the antagonistic demonstrators, as they occurred the last time.

Most of the Armenians here have not taken part in this.

Only a group of them, those who were scared by the revolutionary committees who took arms and money, participated in the demonstration.

For this reason, a very unfortunate panic occurred, and it can be assumed that the Committees will take advantage of it, and new excesses may be expected. (89)

It may well be that the German Ambassador was right to some extent, that the Government had to give orders to the troops beforehand. However, as the French Ambassador stated, mass psychology must be kept in mind. The Ambassador stated that the Government did not trust the assurance that this would be a strictly peaceful demonstration, and took measures to prevent it. However, it is apparent that the Government did not take adequate measures thinking that the Armenians would not attack with arms, that the demonstration would, after all, be held peacefully, and that it could easily be dispersed by mounted gendarmes. When events occurred contrary to these expectations, and the Muslims were agitated, it naturally took time to control every quarter of the city. Moreover, it is also apparent that Armenians again opened fire on the police from their hideouts. It is of course usual to attempt to arrest those who participate with arms in a demonstration by a revolutionary organization. The incidents caused by those who resisted the investigations led to the continuation of the confrontations.

The Babiali demonstration, having prepared the ground for concluding the joint attempt made by Britain, France, and Russia concerning the reforms after the Sassun rebellion, was hailed by the Hunchak Party as their own victory.


Footnotes:


82. Nalbandian (1963), p. 123
83. AAEF-CP-Turquie, Vol. 524, Folio 39 and the following.
84. F.O. 424/184, No. 36.
85. F.O. 424/184, No. 3.
86. F.O. 424/184, No. 5.
87. Hazinei Evrak, Carton 321, File 89, report dated September 21, 1311.
88. Johanees Lepsius, L'Arménie et L'Europe (Lausanne, 1896), pp. 243ff
89. Die Grosse Politik, Vol. X, No. 2428.


Postscript

The following appeared in the Lincoln Evening News, Oct. 11, 1895:

SULTAN'S ANSWER UNSATISFACTORY.

Blames the Armenians—Demands Withdrawal of the British Troops.

CONSTANTINOPLE. Oct. 11 —Late today it became known that the Turkish government had finally presented to the envoys of the six powers a reply to their collective note on the subject of the recent disturbances here. This reply, however, is not satisfactory to the ambassadors. The porte, in its answer, enumerates the measures taken to preserve order, and declared that the Mussulmans were not the aggressors in the recent rioting, but that on the contrary the Armenians killed inoffensive Mussulmans. The Turkish government admit that so soon as the Armenian refugees leave the churches in which they have sought refuge the normal aspect of the city will be restored. It denies ordering that no food be supplied the refugees in the churches, and urges the ambassadors to assist in the work of restoring order, claiming that Armenian conspirators are in league to cause fresh disturbances. The note concludes with the assertion that the government is about to open an inquiry into the recent rioting with the view of discovering the guilty parties.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the porte's reply, the ambassadors met today to consider what shall be done further.

The sultan continues to be greatly disturbed by the presence of the British fleet off the island of Lemnos, and has sent again to the ambassador of Great Britain to ask for their withdrawal.


Sultan Abdul Hamid was really caught between a rock and a hard place, was he not? (He was really "Abdul the Damned"; damned if he did, and damned if he didn't.) The "six ambassadors" cared neither for truth nor justice; they simply and insidiously had it in for the Ottoman Turks.

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