Kharberd (Խարբերդ) is a city in Western Armenia (modern Turkey). Next to it is a Turkish city founded in 1834 under the name of Mamuretü’l-Aziz (El-Aziz), which is now called Elazığ and is the capital of the Elazığ province. The city has many different names.
The Armenian and Byzantine authors called it Kharberd or Karberd (Քարբերդ or Կարբերդ), Karput (Քարփութ), Harput. The Arabs called it Isn-Ziak.
Kharberd is still partially inhabited, but due to the hilly, high terrain and difficulties with water, most of its past population moved to Elazig.
At the end of the 19th century, most of the city’s residents were Armenians, but during the massacres in 1895-96, several thousand Armenians were killed. Besides, 1 thousand Armenians were forcibly converted to Islam.
Despite this, by the beginning of World War I, there still were many Armenians in Kharberd (about 6,000 of the 15,000 population, or 40%), of which more than 4,000 were killed in 1915, 1000 were converted to Islam, and another 1000 escaped to the nearby Beirut.
The deportation and massacres of the Armenian population in Kharberd and the surrounding areas were carried out according to a prepared plan. First, men were arrested, including intellectuals and well-known Armenians of the city. After several days, they were tortured in an attempt to pull out an admission of an uprising, which has been allegedly prepared by local the Armenians.
Ruth Parmeli, an eyewitness of those events, an American missionary, and a teacher at the Euphrates College, wrote, “When the Turkish government began implementing a plan to eliminate the Armenian people, their first strike was directed at educated and influential members of society.
In May 1915, famous people were arrested in Kharberd, including clergymen, traders, and 5 professors of the Euphrates College. They were subjected to brutal torture so they would confess to their secret plans and resources.”
The report of US Consul in Kharberd Leslie Davis sent to the US ambassador in Constantinople Henry Morgenthau on July 11, 1915, stated, “In recent weeks, thousands of men have been arrested and sent to prison. With each hundred people, they would be sent out. The first caravan set off at night on June 23rd.
Among the forcibly deported were the teachers of the American college “Euphrates”, influential Armenians, and the bishop of the Armenian Church of Kharberd.”