Armenian News Network / Groong


Armenian News Network / Groong
January 25, 2010

By Kay Mouradian, EdD

From the Morgenthau archives at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library

June 26, 1915

To the Secretary of State, Washington

Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith for the information of the Department copy of a letter received from the American Consul at Aleppo, dated June 14, 1915, relative to the Zeitoun-Marash situation, prepared by Rev. J.E. Merrill. I have the honor, etc. H. MORGENTHAU

The following statement regarding the Zeitoun-Marash situation rests on information of about May 21, when the writer was in Marash. Later information which has filtered in from other parts of the empire shows that this region has not been alone in its trials, but this fact does not make the situation any less serious.

Almost the entire population of Zeitoun had been deported at the above date, and the population of many of the surrounding villages. Bosnian Mohammedan immigrants were being sent to take their places.

It is true that Zeitoun had given great provocation to the government. It is said that there have been thirty seven previous attempts at rebellion, and this time the place was provisioned for one. Most of the people of the town, however, were submissive to the government this time and they tried to secure the submission of the outlaws, through unsuccessfully. Of the outlying villages only two gave willing assistance to the outlaws. Still, by threats, the outlaws could have secured support from any of the Armenian villages and from Zeitoun.

The outlaws have occasioned severe fighting and considerable losses to the Turkish army. In the affair at the monastery at Zeitoun, seventeen outlaws who remained in the building caused losses reported by the government as 101 killed and 110 wounded. Two of the outlaws were killed. These were decapitated by their comrades to prevent recognition. Afterward the outlaws took up a position on a very high, inaccessible rock, where the government could do nothing effective for their capture. The original number of the outlaws was only twenty five, but this number has been largely increased since the fighting and the deportations.

The orders for deportation were executed with very slight warning or with none at all, so that people were started on long journeys to unknown destinations without preparation and were caused much needless suffering. Such action may have been considered necessary to prevent flight, opposition or interference. The Marash police acknowledge that there have been cases of theft from the refugees, but there have been none of murder or of outrage. In the case of later parties, word has been given to the Christians in Marash in advance, so that help might be given, and there were orders to the Aintab government to render all needed assistance, but these orders became a dead letter after a few parties had passed. In Marash the children from the American orphanage in Zeitoun were turned over to the American orphanage and the preacher and teacher of the Protestant community were allowed to go free, because they were not natives of Zeitoun.

The government was unable to punish the outlaws who were guilty and took vengeance on defenseless men and on women and children. I have not heard of a single instance of attempted defiance of the orders for deportation in all the Zeitoun region. A few soldiers are sufficient to escort a large company of refugees. On the contrary, women and children have marched for hours, bare foot, babies on their mothers' backs have been crushed to death through the carelessness of soldiers, children have been thrown into the Jihon river by their parents, and it is reported by soldiers; the inhabitants of Bertis have waited for the companies of refugees and robbed them as they came along, without interference from the escorting soldiers, especially they have taken their animals; muleteers requisitioned to carry the loads of the refugees have been allowed by the escort to run away at night leaving the loads on the mountainside; sometimes they have taken the loads with them and complaints to higher officials have brought further trouble on the people; animals and provisions have been sold at ruinous prices or the people have not been allowed to attempt to sell them or they have found no buyers at any price as their enemies expected to take them without money, as soon as their owners had left; men of wealth were driven away from their homes almost penniless, not allowed even to get ready money which they had in hiding. On the road down from Marash to Aintab in the last three or four weeks, the treatment of refugees in some instances has been pitiful and a number of the women have been outraged by the soldiers of the escort. One woman gave birth to a child in a field outside Aintab, was compelled after two hours to mount a horse and move on. Word came back that both mother and child had died. Last week another woman gave birth to a child at the same place. A nurse from our hospital managed to get to her side to help her. The case was a hard one, with very profuse hemorrhage.

The nurse managed to get word to Dr. Hamilton, our woman physician to come down, but before she could arrive and before the third stage of labor had been completed, the woman and child were sent on. Both died during the day. In this party were six or seven other women expecting confinement. I will only mention the fact that women on foot are beaten with heavy sticks by soldiers.

Up to the present there has been no deportation from Marash beyond the seven or eight families to whom reference was made above. Aintab, June 14, 1915.

Professor Kay Mouradian is a health and physical education specialist
retired from the Los Angeles Community Colleges. Her publications
include Reflective Meditation: a Mind Calming Technique, A Guide for
Those Teaching Yoga in the Community Colleges, and she has also
contributed publications in several magazines and newspapers. Her
first novel, "A Gift In The Sunlight: An Armenian Story", now in its
second edition, was inspired by her mother's remarkable survival of
the Armenian Genocide.
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