ARMENIAN REVOLTS AND MASSACRES

In the period that followed the Berlin Treaty, the Armenian issue developed in two directions, The first is the interventions made by the Western powers in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire, and the second is the clandestine organisation and rearmament of Anatolian, Syrian and Thracian Armenians in various parts of Anatolia, particularly in Eastern Anatolia and Cilicia.

 The initial provocations started coming from Russia. This attitude induced the British and French Governments to display a greater interest toward Armenians. British Consulates mushroomed in Eastern Anatolia and large numbers of Protestant missionaries were dispatched to this region.

 As a result of these activities, several Armenian committees were formed in Eastern Anatolia from 1880 onward. These committees that remained at local level failed and withered away in time because the Armenians who lived in welfare and did not have any complaints against the Ottoman Empire were not interested in the committees.

 When the plans to make the Ottoman Armenians revolt against the State through the committees failed, the Russian Armenians were encouraged to set up such committees out of the Ottoman Empire. Hinchak was founded in Geneva in 1887, with socialist tendencies and moderately militant ideas and Tashnak was established in Tbilisi in 1887, with extremist, terrorist and revolutionary attitudes favouring armed struggle and full independence. The goal imposed on these committees were the “salvation of Anatolian land and Ottoman Armenians”.

 The revolt attempts launched by the Hinchaks that extended its organisation into Istanbul and aimed at provoking the Ottoman Armenians by drawing the Western attentions on the issue, were followed by those of the Tashnaks. The common features of the both groups were the fact that they were planned and oriented by the committees that came to the Ottoman Empire from abroad and that they were largely supported by the missionaries spread all over Anatolia.

 The first revolt broke out in Erzurum in 1890, followed by the Kumkapi demonstration in the same year. These revolts were followed by 1892 and 1893 Kayseri, Yozgat, Çorum and Merzifon incidents, 1894 Sasun revolt, 1894 Sublime Porte demonstration and Zeytun mutiny, 1896 Van revolt and the occupation of Ottoman Bank the same year, the second Sasun Revolt in 1903, the 1905 attempt to kill Emperor Abdulhamid and the Adana revolt in 1909.

 By far the greatest damage given to Turks by the Armenians were the massacres perpetrated during World War I. During this period, the Armenians acted as spies for the Russians, evaded the mobilisation orders by hiding, and those that were in the Ottoman army collectively committed high treason by joining the Russian forces taking their arms with them.. The Armenian gangs that had already started attacks on the Turkish villages, with the start of the war massacred, among others, the entire women, children and the aged inhabitants of Zeve village of Van Province.

 The quelling of these revolts by the Ottoman army was presented to the world as a massacre of Armenians by the Moslems and thus the issue acquired a larger international dimension. In fact, the British and Russian diplomatic reports of the time state that the goals of Armenian revolutionists were to create social chaos against which the Ottoman army would react and to thereby ensure the intervention of Western powers in the situation. It seems that these goals were reached and the diplomatic and consular representations of the Western States, with the assistance of Christian missionaries spread all over Anatolia, played a major role in the transmission of the Armenian propaganda to the Western public opinion.

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