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I plan to collect historical documents and articles by various authors in this blog, usually without comments. Opinions expressed within the articles belong to the authors and do not always coincide with those of mine.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Armenian Atrocities in Bitlis

Source: Justin McCarthy, Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922, The Darwin Press, 2nd Printing, 1996, pp. 191-192:

The Armenians of Bitlis rose against the Ottomans in February of 1916, immediately before the Russian advance to the city. The massacres of Muslims began then and continued until the first Russian occupation. In the city itself, Muslim men, women, and children were hunted down and killed in the streets. Villages were destroyed and the inhabitants massacred by Armenian guerrilla bands operating behind Ottoman lines. Others were destroyed by Armenian and Cossack bands operating as advance units of the invading Russian army. Special care seems to have been taken to kill agents of the Ottoman government who were caught in the city. The few Muslims who escaped from destroyed villages found it impossible to describe whether their attackers were Armenians from the Caucasus or Armenians from Anatolia -- there seeming to have been no distinction made either among the Armenians and Russians or among the Muslims.

When the Ottoman government briefly retook Bitlis, it sent an investigation team to detail the destruction. Armenians had destroyed or burned the Central Mosque, the Great Mosque, and 13 others, and had converted the mosque of Hatuniye into a stable. Three dervish convents were destroyed, four religious colleges, four holy tombs, along with schools, baths, and other buildings. The city's major public buildings, including police, gendarmerie, municipality, and provincial administrative buildings, were destroyed. All major bridges were torn down. The major commercial and military warehouses and depots were burnt. In short, almost everything of religious, civil, or military importance, along with most Muslim private houses, was destroyed.


In February of 1915, Armenians in the Bitlis and Van vilâyets began to attack Muslim villagers. Among numerous others, for example, they attacked the villages of Kayali (Mardin Sancaǧi), raping young women and killing villagers in the streets. They took prisoners from the village and killed them on the road, and did the same to a large number of refugees who were fleeing the area. Ottoman officials found 19 bodies in the ruins of the village of Avran in Bitlis Vilâyeti. The two villages of Merkehu and Iștucu in Van Vilâyeti reported the following statistics, which were probably typical of villages in the region:

Killed in the village of Merkehu: 41 men, 14 women
Killed after having been raped: 4 women
Killed in the village of Istucu: 7 men, 4 women
Raped, but left alive: 5 women
Wounded: 3 men, 2 women

Armenians in rural districts of Van Vilâyeti, such as Karçekan and Gevaș, revolted in December. All over eastern Anatolia, gendarmes were attacked by Armenian villagers and organized bands. Telegraph lines were cut, and Muslim villagers were terrorized.

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