Keep your urges away, I won’t take the Turks as people as long as there is at least one among them who claims that there was no Armenian Genocide and that Armenians were simply resettled.
April 24, 1915, occupies a special place not only in the history of the Armenian Genocide but also in the history of the Armenian people as a whole. It was on this day in Constantinople that the mass arrests of the Armenian intellectual, religious, economic, and political elite began which led to the complete destruction of many prominent figures of Armenian culture.
The lists of people to be arrested included people of different political views and professions – writers, artists, musicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, journalists, businessmen, as well as political and religious leaders. The only thing that united them was nationality and position in society.
There were cases when those whom the police did not find at home came to the police themselves, wondering what the authorities suddenly needed them for. Arrested on April 24, Dr. Tigran Allahverdi, for example, was himself a member of the Young Turk party. He had repeatedly organized fundraising campaigns and had transferred large sums of money to the party cash desk.
Among those arrested was also professor Tiran Kelejyan who had been teaching in Turkish educational institutions all his life and publishing the Turkish-language newspaper “Sabah”.
Of the 291 prisoners of the camp, only 40 survived. Among these 40 was great Armenian composer and musicologist Komitas. According to rumors, after the arrest, he was allowed to return to Constantinople thanks to the personal intervention of Prince Majid whose wife had once been taught music by the composer.
However, the turmoil that Komitas experienced during his exile would give its fruit. Uncertainty about tomorrow, an atmosphere of constant fear that filled the city in those days, an involuntary feeling of guilt for his friends who remained in the camp to meet certain death, loneliness – all this soon caused mental illness in Komitas. Komitas would die in 1935 in Paris, having spent the last 19 years of his life in psychiatric clinics.
In just a few weeks in April 1915, around 800 prominent Armenians were arrested in Constantinople alone, of which only a few were still alive by the end of the summer.
The victims of the Young Turk terror were writers Daniel Varuzhan, Siamanto, Ruben Zardaryan, Ruben Sevak, Artashes Harutyunyan, Tlkatintsi, Yerukhan, Tigran Chekuryan, Levon Shant, and dozens of others. Later, parliamentarians from the Dashnaktsutyun party in the Ottoman parliament were arrested and killed as well – among them were Vardges, Hajak, writer and publicist Grigor Zohrab…
The Armenians who had put so many lives on the altar of the liberation of Turkey from the Sultan’s despotism were mercilessly destroyed by yesterday’s comrades in the revolutionary struggle.
“Thousands of clergymen perished in the flames of genocide, from ordinary priests to archbishops… Bishop Smbat Sahadetyan of Karin who was driven along with his congregation towards Mesopotamia was killed by robbers not far from Kamakh. Trebizond Archimandrite Gevorg Turyan exiled by the Karin Military Court was killed on the way… Archimandrite of Bayberd Anania Hazarapetyan was hanged by the decision of local authorities. Archimandrite of Mush Vartan Hakobyan died in prison, beaten with sticks. Archimandrite of Tigranakert Mkrtich Chlkhatyan died in torture…” the Patriarch of Western Armenians Archbishop Zaven told Archimandrite Vehuni, the head of the Diocese in America, on December 28, 1915.
The blow inflicted on the Armenian people by the Young Turkish regime in the spring-summer of 1915 turned out to be unprecedented in its destructiveness. And then, someone dares to convince us to live with them in peace and forgive them?