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Narrative Construction in the 1895 Massacres in Harput:
The Coming and Disappearance of the Kurds

Les recompositions du récit des massacres de Harput en 1895 : l’élément kurde, entre irruption et disparition
Ali Sipahi
p. 63-95

Résumés

Cet article plaide pour un renouvellement de l’étude des massacres de 1894-1896 perpétrés contre les Arméniens de l’Empire ottoman, à travers un recours à la micro-histoire et le cas particulier des événements survenus à Harput (Kharpert) le 11 novembre 1895. Des travaux historiques ont déjà tenté d’expliquer les causes de ces événements et d’en identifier les responsables, mais ils n’ont pas questionné leur dimension collective. L’analyse et la comparaison des récits rédigés avant, pendant et après l’événement, rendent compte de l’évolution radicale de sa représentation. Il ressort de cette étude que, d’une part, les habitants de Harput ne s’attendaient pas aux massacres qui se sont produits dans le centre-ville, et que, d’autre part, les troubles furent perçus comme une invasion de la ville par les membres de tribus kurdes, avant que la thèse d’une révolte arménienne ne soit finalement substituée à cette perception initiale.

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  • 1 G. Le Bon, 1926 [1896]; S. Moscovici, 1986.
  • 2 G. Rudé, 1964; E.P. Thompson, 1971. See also R. Darnton, 1984.
  • 3 R.S. de la Roche, 1996, p. 99.

1Collective violence has always been a rocky terrain for historians since the ordinary members of a crowd rarely leave personal accounts of what they did during the event and why. Detective work by the historian might shed light on the structural reasons behind the event and even permit identification of the individuals in charge, but how innumerable people acted in a collective way in the absence of military organization and strict orders will still complicate historical analysis. Early scholarship on crowd behavior, inspired by Gustave Le Bon’s work, taught us the importance of propaganda and rumors to mobilize crowds but fell short due to its prejudice against mass movements and their supposedly irrational character.1 Later research inspired by the works of George Rudé and Edward P. Thompson, on the other hand, rightfully explained crowd action as a rational response of common people to social, economic, and political oppression, yet its positive evaluation of the masses made the latter approach mostly remain silent on violence and on crowds composed of superior groups and classes.2 Yet, as de la Roche reminded us, we need to treat violence against social inferiors or weaker groups as objectively as we treat violence against social superiors.3

  • 4 N.Z. Davis, 1973; V. Das, 1985, 1987. For more recent work, see S.J. Tambiah, 1996; L. Dubois, 2004
  • 5 Apart from the studies on the Armenian Genocide, see U. Makdisi, 2000; E. Aykut, 2011.

2Historical ethnography of collective violence, pioneered by historians such as Natalie Zemon Davis and anthropologists such as Veena Das, has the merit of facing the dark side of the crowds without giving up making sense of their actions.4 Ethnographic sensitivity in analyzing historical events of collective violence invites the historian to illuminate the meaning of those events from the contemporaries’ point of view. Agents in the crowd and observers, even though they perceived their own world better than any future researcher, were no less lost in the ocean of rumors and narratives. They, too, strove to construe the surrounding events and to reach a lay theory about what had happened after the fact. Thus, it is fruitful for the historian to isolate the narratives created before, during, and after an event of collective violence in order to reconstruct how it was experienced and how it was later theorized by various agents. This article focuses on the pogroms against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the autumn of 1895 and analyzes how that event was narrated by observers in one particular locality, Harput. This case study will contribute to the growing literature on collective violence in the empire.5

  • 6 For a literature review, see J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 97-100. R.H. Kévorkian, 2013, p. 53-57, accepts (...)
  • 7 The pioneering work that deconstructed the provocation thesis was R. Melson, 1982. For recent contr (...)
  • 8 J. Verheij, 2012a.
  • 9 For a summary of the arguments of various scholars, see E. Gölbaşı, 2015a and R.G. Suny, 2015.

3Until recently, the 1895-96 Massacres had been subsumed under the shadow of Armenian Genocide (1915) studies without devoting much scholarly attention to the unique characteristics of those events. Two opposing sides of the genocide debate conditioned the interpretation of the massacres, either trivializing and misrepresenting them as a regional conflict between Kurds and Armenians provoked by the Armenian revolutionary organizations, or conversely, presenting them as the outcome of a diabolical plan of the sultan or the Sublime Port and eventually as a first step on the way to genocide.6 Fortunately, recent studies based on primary sources have begun debunking the widespread myths about the event. Regarding the former approach, scholars have concluded that in most places where massacres were carried out there was no provocative act on the part of Armenian revolutionary organizations whatsoever; on the contrary, the massacres more likely occurred in the absence of such organizations. Moreover, even when the very existence and scattered activities of the revolutionaries provoked the Muslims, the scope of collective violence was far from being morally justifiable or even theoretically explicable.7 In addition, as the case of Diyarbekir most notably attests, the massacres did not always involve Kurdish bands or the Hamidiye Cavalries but were also organized by urban Muslim notables with the backing of local authorities.8 Regarding the latter approach, even though the government put all the blame on Armenians following the massacres, historians have failed to prove that the sultan or the central government planned or even supported the atrocities. Furthermore, the teleological view that directly connects the massacres to the genocide misses completely the different natures of the two events and wrongly implies an uninterrupted escalation of violence over two decades.9

  • 10 M. van Bruinessen, 2015, p. 199-302; M. Eppel, 2008; T. Hofmann and G. Koutcharian, 1986.
  • 11 J. Klein, 2011; M. Russo, 2001; S. Duguid, 1973.
  • 12 S. Astourian, 2011, p. 62.
  • 13 For the most comprehensive literature reviews on the Armenian land problem, see S. Astourian, 2011, (...)

4Recent work on the 1895-96 Massacres thus refuses to be confined by this binary opposition and rather proposes new perspectives, two of which have been especially promising: a focus on the land problem and on emotions. Scholars who emphasize the importance of changes in property relations suggest that the Armenian-Muslim relationship assumed a new form in the course of the nineteenth century due to the centralization policy of the Ottoman government and the simultaneous process of commodification in land. In a nutshell, from the 1830s on, the Ottoman army intervened in the hitherto semi-autonomous eastern provinces governed by Kurdish emirates. As a result of the decades-long armed conflict, the emirate system was dissolved, which left behind a power vacuum to be filled by Kurdish semi-nomadic tribes and chieftains.10 The rise of sheikhs and the increase in the Islamic tone in daily politics, on the one hand, and the mafia-like terror and plunder by the tribal structures that had newly gained power, on the other hand, created oppressive conditions for the Armenian peasants in the region: double-taxation, land usurpation, and pauperization. In addition, during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II, the collaboration between the state and the tribes reached its climax and gave birth to Hamidiye Regiments composed of local tribal militia commissioned by and named after the sultan.11 Stephan Astourian referred to the process from the 1860s on of “the expropriation of the Armenian peasantry” as the precipitating factor in the massacres.12 Hence, the events in 1895, and particularly the role of Muslim landowners and Kurdish tribesmen in the massacres, take on meaning within the context of shifting power relations and the concomitant land problem in the eastern provinces.13

  • 14 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 90-91. See S. Astourian, 2011, for the Adana case.
  • 15 R.G. Suny, 2011a and 2011b. See R. Melson, 1982, p. 503-509, for an early work that makes mention o (...)
  • 16 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 91.
  • 17 H-L. Kieser, 2014.
  • 18 E. Hartmann, 2013, p. 184.
  • 19 U.Ü. Üngör and M. Polatel, 2011, p. 22.

5Since these instances of collective violence differ from bureaucratically administered violence with respect to the question of the agency of the perpetrators, scholars have also investigated the field of collective sentiments and subjective perception. Historians have reached a consensus that the economic and political empowerment of the Christian urban middle classes brought about collective resentment amongst Muslim notables. First, while the conditions in Armenian villages worsened, the social and material life of Christians in towns steadily improved in the second half of the century thanks to capitalist expansion.14 Even though the Armenian new rich was a very small minority of Armenian society, they were the most visible segment of it. Second, the Reform Edict of 1856 and the Berlin Congress of 1878 proclaimed and internationally promoted the idea that Christians and Muslims of the empire were completely equal before the law and government. When equality was not realized in practice, the Armenian revolutionary organizations pushed for reforms and brought the issue to the international arena in the 1880s and 1890s. Last but not least, the Armenian middle classes underwent a cultural renaissance in which the social distance between them and their Muslim neighbors greatly increased with respect to their educational level, connection with the modern West, and European bourgeois habits. As a consequence, Muslim notables and ordinary men cultivated what Ronald Suny called an “affective disposition” against the Armenians.15 Verheij argued that this “fear factor” was a crucial component of the Muslims’ collective assaults during the 1895 Massacres since “Many Muslims viewed the ‘rise of the Christians’ in the cities with apprehension and jealousy. […] Every small change in a Christian’s behavior became a possible source of irritation […].”16 Hans-Lukas Kieser also puts special emphasis on the fear factor to conceptualize anti-Armenian violence,17 which was, as Elke Hartmann has pointed out, fear from the side with relative strength.18 Mehmet Polatel and Uğur Ümit Üngör also mention the “widespread resentment and jealousy among the Turks” that was prevalent in the wake of the Genocide.19

  • 20 Mamuretülaziz, no. 21, 4 March 1884.
  • 21 A. Sipahi, 2015.

6Harput is a promising case to explore further the influence of the rising nomadic tribes on cities and the collective sentiments that were at work during the massacres. The Harput province was at the invisible border of Kurdistan and served as the command outpost for the imperial army in its expeditions against the Kurdish emirates in the 1830s-1840s. After the center of conflict shifted east, such as to the Diyarbekir province, the notables of Harput drew upon the Harput province’s earlier bureaucratic privilege and extended the city by creating a suburb called Mezre for administrative elites and mostly Armenian merchants. From the 1860s to the 1890s, this new downtown stood out with its distinctive symbiosis of Muslim and Armenian elite classes. According to official statistics, 40 percent of the population of the old town (5,125 of 12,974) and 80 percent of the new government suburb (2,126 of 2,674) were non-Muslims (mostly Armenians).20 In the same period, the cosmopolitan character of Harput was strengthened by the presence of a huge American missionary compound and one of their most important educational complexes, which included the famous Euphrates College, in the old town. In other words, Harput of the late nineteenth century attracted attention as a small enclave of modernity in the east.21 As a province that was in proximity to, but also outside of, the Kurdish power domain, and as a city that welcomed the Armenian regional elites, the case of Harput enriches our understanding of the 1895 Massacres.

  • 22 J. Verheij, 2012a; E. Gölbaşı, this issue.
  • 23 S. Deringil, 2009; R.G. Suny, 2015, p. 121-122; B. Jafarian, 1989, p. 45-46; J. Salt, 1993, p. 96-9 (...)
  • 24 İ. Sunguroğlu, 1958, p. 158-159.
  • 25 H-L. Kieser, 2005, p. 284-291.

7This article contributes to the literature on the 1895 Massacres in two main respects. First, it provides a detailed microstudy of the events in the city of Harput. Microstudies, such as those on the Diyarbekir and Sivas cases, complete and complicate the general picture by highlighting local variations;22 however, no study of Harput yet exists. The scholarship on Armenian history, on the massacres, and on the missionaries has made only passing reference to the massacres in Harput.23 İshak Sunguroğlu’s four-volume history of Harput devoted one page to the event, in which he depicted his childhood recollections of it.24 The most detailed account of the Harput case can be found in a section of Kieser’s work on the eastern provinces and the missionaries, which naturally is not based on exhaustive research on the massacres.25 This article seeks to fill this gap in the literature. The analysis is based on the documents that were penned by individuals who had first-hand experience of the event in Harput; hence, it presents a cross-reading of the Ottoman official correspondence, unpublished letters of American missionaries and – to a limited extent – the reports published in the Armenian press. The article shows that the Harput case differs from other well-known cases because of the pivotal role played by the outsider Kurdish tribesmen.

8Second, the article presents a methodological contribution by paying close attention to the chronology of narrative construction about the massacres. The narratives produced before, during, and after the event are isolated and compared in order to reveal a fundamental change in how the event was described. To begin with, over the months before the massacres in Harput, a massive attack to the city center was not expected although the residents were well aware of the ongoing anti-Armenian violence in other regions. Contrary to the assumptions of the current historiography, the event was surprising – even for the missionaries, who were very sensitive to official and unofficial activities against the Christians. More importantly, the Harput case shows that the reports written after the fact, which are frequently used by historians, completely diverge from the reports dispatched during the event. While we see the classic “provocation thesis” in the reports composed afterwards, that thesis is nearly absent in the telegraphs and letters written out at the time of the pogroms. Although officials criminalized Armenians to a certain degree, the entire conversation during the event was focused on the invasion of Harput by the Kurdish tribesmen, without any substantial argument about Armenian provocation. However, later reports not only placed sole blame on Armenians, but even more conspicuously, they erased in toto the Kurdish invasion from the picture. Furthermore, the same discursive shift occurred also in the narratives of the Armenians and the missionaries. They, too, left out the Kurdish invasion from their later narratives and framed the event as a provocation by – this time – the government or the “Turks.” Hence, this article challenges the widespread assumption that the provocation theory as a discourse existed from the very beginning and that it was under the monopoly of the Turkish officials; neither was correct for Harput.

Rumors of Violence in Harput

9This section analyzes the perception of increasing violence against Armenian villagers in the eastern provinces in 1895 relying on the records of American missionaries and the local government in Harput. It will show that, prior to the massacre in the city in November, Harput residents thought it unlikely that such violence would unfold in Harput even though the news of violence from the surrounding countryside was abundant. Contrary to teleological historical accounts, therefore, what became clear signs for later generations did not necessarily carry the same meaning for contemporaries. In Harput, daily life continued until the last day because, first, the cities were apparently thought to be immune to such barbarism and, second, the source of violence was vague and hard to pinpoint by city dwellers. In fact, as the constant use of ambivalent references to “Kurds” also suggests, the residents (Armenians and Muslims alike) of the city were fairly ignorant of and alienated from the countryside.

  • 26 Letter from O.P. Allen to J.L. Barton, Van, April 30, 1895, the archives of the American Board of C (...)
  • 27 Letter from C.E. Bush to J.L. Barton, Bizmishen, April 30, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 696. Underlines exist (...)

10In the months following the Sassoun Massacre (August-September 1894), the number of reports of assaults by “Kurds” against Armenians unprecedentedly increased, so much so that missionary Orson P. Allen, who had been serving in Harput for thirty-eight years, wrote in a letter from Van in April 1895: “I am almost weary with chronicling daily events. There is tragic sameness to them all. Day after day the pitiful story is told over and over again of pillage, burning, torture, murder, violence, rape, abduction, confiscation, desecration of churches &c.”26 Van was a stronghold of the Armenian revolutionary movement and was surrounded by Kurdish villages, whereas the Harput region had been, up to that point in time, relatively distant from the most grievous armed conflicts. However, rumors had begun to circulate. On the same day as Allen’s, another missionary, Carrie E. Bush, ended her otherwise conventional letter from the Bizmishen village of Harput with the short note: “It is said that 200 Koords were coming against the village to destroy all, but a postaji [postman] met them persuaded them to turn back, f[or] fear of the government. It is said to be well known that T’s [Turks] say, ‘You think that other gov’ment_ will make you __; the minute it is done we will rise & __.’ I have thought, for a long time that this might be. Is anyone providing any protection against such a day?”27

  • 28 R.G. Suny, 2015, p. 116.
  • 29 For a critique of the representation of Kurds in Armenian writing in the 1860s, see D. Derderian, 2 (...)

11Who these “Kurds” were is a question never answered by the sources of this article; in fact, this homogenizing representation is shared by all accounts, in Turkish, English, and Armenian. As Suny pointed out, “The designation “Kurds” was reserved for the nomads and tribesmen in the countryside.”28 For the settled inhabitants of the villages and towns, nomadic tribes were simply dangerous outsider mobs, who, as mentioned above, had begun to control the region through ravaging thanks to the backing of the central government. As a result, referring to nomadic tribes as “Kurds” signified cultural backwardness and uncivilized manners in the writings of the period.29 Moreover, the lack of details about “Kurds” even in the internal dispatches of the local government of Harput shows that they were not only prejudiced but also honestly ignorant about the tribal structure outside the towns. We need further research on the countryside of Harput to put flesh on the bones of “Kurds,” which is beyond the scope of this article.

  • 30 Herman N. Barnum (Auburn, NY, 1826 - Harput, 1910), who served in Harput for fifty years and died t (...)
  • 31 Diyab Ağa (1852-1934) was one of the most powerful and controversial figures of Dersim. In the Repu (...)
  • 32 Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (Ottoman Prime Ministry Archives) [abbreviated BOA], Y.A.HUS, 329/139, 2 (...)

12In the local discourse, there was a clear separation between the rumors about the Kurdish threat from outside and the news about resident Muslims’ plans to attack the Christians in town. Historians tend to blur the distinction and even assume prearranged collaboration between resident Muslims and the Kurdish invaders. However, those two phenomena were beyond comparison for the locals. Sectarian violence was a familiar and relatively minor event while the tribal invasion was new and terrifying for all city-dwellers. For instance, it was the end of May when Herman N. Barnum30 and the Armenian envoy (murahhas) visited the governor (vali) to inform him of the rumors that the Muslims of Çemişgezek planned to massacre the Armenians. Reportedly, these Muslims had come to see Salim Bey, a prominent man in the city, to get permission to launch attacks but he turned them down; nevertheless, Diyab Ağa from Dersim declared the support of the Kurds and called for massacring the Armenians.31 Accordingly, words were circulating that on bayram (the Eid - June 4-7, 1895) Muslims would attack Armenians in the city. For the governor Mehmed Şerif Rauf Pasha this was a baseless rumor, since its source was just a letter received by Barnum. The Pasha assured the government authorities that the rumors were groundless but he nevertheless took the necessary precautions.32

  • 33 Letter from O.P. Allen to J.L. Barton, Harpoot, July 24, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.
  • 34 It is unfortunate that the classic source by Nalbandian has a mistake regarding the Rumi/Gregorian (...)
  • 35 Ali Emiri Efendi was appointed as the treasurer (defterdar) of Mamuretülaziz in July 1895. In Septe (...)
  • 36 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 675/2, 10 October 1895.

13Even though nothing happened during the Eid, the circulation of rumors created anxiety if not panic. Allen took note in July that “there is a feverish excitement among the people to know what is to be done”33 during the irritating wait regarding the fate of the reforms in the eastern provinces that were being pressed by the European powers and the Armenian political organizations but deferred by the Ottoman government. Finally, on September 30, thousands of Armenians poured into the streets of Istanbul to protest the government’s reluctance to initiate the promised reforms.34 The march of the protesters from the patriarchate to the government to submit a list of demands prepared by the Hnchak Party was, however, stopped by the police and violent clashes ensued. Although some of the revolutionaries resisted, many demonstrators were subjected to arbitrary brutality. Especially in the following days, pogroms took place in residential neighborhoods across the entire city against Armenian people. In response to the anxiety of the central government about possible repercussions of these events in the eastern provinces, Ali Emiri Efendi, the acting governor of Mamuretülaziz,35 wrote on October 10 that no incident had yet taken place in Harput. However, he warned, if these events caused by the “light-brained (sebükmeğazâne) behaviors of Armenian riff raff (ayaktakımı)” in Istanbul could not be stopped, they would naturally spread to the provinces. Therefore, he suggested that the soldiers parade in Harput once or twice a week, accompanied by the military band, as a demonstration of power to insiders and outsiders.36

  • 37 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 721/4, 16 October 1895.
  • 38 A. Karaca, 1993, p. 52-55.
  • 39 S. Narzakian, 1995.

14Soon enough, on October 16, the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army (serasker) circulated more precautionary measures for the Eastern provinces and, most importantly, ordered the call-up of the reserves under arms against a probable Armenian rebellion.37 On October 20, the Ottoman government finally accepted a Reform Bill that promised to undertake at least some of the reforms proposed by the Armenian political parties and the European states.38 The news rapidly spread to the provinces. Sarkis Narzakian, a native of the Garmari village of Çemişgezek, makes mention in his memoir of the moment in Aleppo when he opened the pages of the Armenian newspaper Punch (meaning: bunch) that he received from Istanbul by post and first read about the Bill. Delighted and excited by what he saw on the first page, he ran to his friends to share the news. In a week, however, massacres began one after another across the entire Ottoman East.39

  • 40 A. Emiri, 1992, p. 11-12.
  • 41 BOA, HR.SYS, 2812/2, 24 October 1895. Missionary C. F. Gates’ later account of the event is in harm (...)

15The news of the Reform Bill triggered the massacres in all of the eastern provinces. Yet again, we need to distinguish between local sectarian violence and the tribal invasion. The first incident in Harput took place on the 24th of October, a Thursday. When the acting governor, Ali Emiri, was informed that Armenians had closed their shops out of fear (vehm), he at once sent the colonel to the town center and summoned the leading members of the ulema (Islamic clergy) as well as Hacı Hurşid Efendi, H. N. Barnum – whom Ali Emiri highly respected40 – and some other notables. They were to assure Armenians and Muslims that there was nothing to fear under the rule of the sultan and that harmony should not be disturbed “under the influence of lusts and passions of only a few light-brained people” (yalnız bazı sebükmeğazın heva-u-hevesine etba). Their efforts were successful and the shops were re-opened in an hour without any further disquiet.41 Local incidents were under control but the same was not true for the situation in the countryside.

  • 42 BOA, DH.EO, 290/42, 3 November 1895.

16On November 3rd, Sunday, Ali Emiri was still confident about the order of things in the city; in his report of that day, he treated the recent attack of “Kurdish bandits of Dersim” on some neighboring villages as a trivial incident.42 But the very next day, on Monday the 4th, Caleb Frank Gates, the president of Euphrates College, described the rather apprehensive atmosphere in the city in the following words:

  • 43 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 4, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

The whole country seems to be in state of upheaval. There is some kind of trouble going on at Diarbekir. It is said to be from Koords, and it has been going on for three days as nearly as we can learn. There has also been trouble at Bitlis, and in many other places. Of course all kinds of rumors are rife, we make it a point to believe only those which are authenticated. Our school is still open though the number in attendance is few. The whole city is tossed with apprehension, expecting an attack from the Koords. Some say the Koords have government sanction, others that the Turks in the city are in league with them etc. A few soldiers parade the quarter, but I do not suppose they would amount to much in the case of an actual attack.43

  • 44 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.
  • 45 Letter from C.F. Gates to J. Smith, Harpoot, November 6, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.
  • 46 Letter from O.P. Allen to “dear Brothers …,” Harpoot, November 14, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.
  • 47 Gates most probably meant Beyzade by “Bey Oglon”. Beyzade Hacı Ali Rıza Efendi was one of the most (...)
  • 48 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

17Soon after Gates wrote these lines, later in the day, the news reached the city that a big crowd of Kurds had crossed the Euphrates River, the natural border between Dersim and Mamuretülaziz (Harput) provinces, which lay only four hours north of the city of Harput. It was heard that the assailants had already plundered two Armenian villages on the way and were headed towards the city. All inhabitants in Harput were now “in a state of terror and upheaval;”44 “the shops in the city were closed … The people were in hourly expectation of an attack.”45 The government was alarmed, too. Armenians’ closing their shops and retreating to their homes aroused suspicion and paranoia among Muslims who were jittery and too ready to attack the Armenians. In order to abate this tension inside the city, Ali Emiri collaborated once again with Muslim notables and with Barnum. “The strongest assurances were given by government officials and leading Turks of the city” to appease both sides. Finally, Armenians were convinced to re-open their shops and to resume their daily activity.46 Gates gave credit to three people for preventing a probable clash: Ali Emiri, Barnum, and Beyzade.47 Later in the week, Gates heard Muslims talking about this incident on Monday; they said that if the shops had been kept closed for just another two hours, very serious events would have erupted.48

  • 49 Gates wrote: “When soldiers began to fire upon the Koords, it is said, the latter called out to the (...)
  • 50 BOA, DH.EO, 290/40, 5 November 1895. This account of Ali Emiri is in concordance with Gates’ above (...)
  • 51 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.
  • 52 Letter from C.F. Gates to J. Smith, Harpoot, November 6, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

18Military precautions were still being taken against the imminent Kurdish invasion. The military commander made a call to people living in the gardens and farms surrounding the city to move into the city center. Troops were immediately dispatched to the north to stop the devastating influx of the Kurds. To the surprise of the Kurds, the army really fought against them and drove them back.49 The following day, on Tuesday, they eventually managed to make these 300-400 well-armed Kurds retreat to the other side of the Euphrates, leaving behind 700 head of livestock they had seized from the villages.50 This good news quelled the anxiety and tension in the city. That day, Gates recorded: “I think the worst is over here. The Koords have been driven across the river. There is an ugly element in the city, but the authorities seem vigilant and they give every assurance of their earnestness in desiring to keep order.”51 Next day, he repeated these words in another letter, with a small addition: “unless something unforeseen occurs I think the worst is over here.”52

19We know that it occurred but it is important to emphasize that the upcoming invasion of the city was “unforeseen” even after all the news of violence. In the autumn of 1895, local anti-Armenian violence and the regional Kurdish invasion were understood as two related but distinct events. The former did not surprise anybody and was perhaps tolerated by many Muslims and officials, while the latter was an unprecedented threat to the city. Conflating these two phenomena resulted in the trivialization of the Kurdish invasion in the existing historiography.

Kurdish Invasion of the Harput Plain

  • 53 “Namag Malatiaye,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 5/114, 1 May 1896, p. 73-74. The author gave the date of the ini (...)
  • 54 “Malatiayi Tebky,” Hnchag, v. 9, no. 3, 15 February 1896, p. 22-23. Similarly, the author of this l (...)
  • 55 BOA, DH.EO, 290/48, 5 November 1895.
  • 56 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.
  • 57 “Malatiayi Tebky.” In his letter on Thursday, Gates also confirms that the armed conflict lasted th (...)

20The capital was saved but the same was far from true for the other parts of the province. Armenian villages were the most exposed targets; day after day refugees from plundered villages poured into the city of Harput in desperation, with horrible stories to tell. The small towns, too, were vulnerable given the weakness and/or the reluctance of the local army forces. The day Harput got away with the Kurdish threat (Monday, Nov. 4), the neighboring town of Malatya turned into a battleground. According to one narrative, the tension between Turks and Armenians in the city had risen on Friday upon rumors of plans to attack Armenians after the Friday prayer. Armenians closed their shops and retreated to their homes until Monday, when the onslaught commenced with the killing of Garabed from Agn by Hacı Muhammed who were summoned by the government.53 Another letter from the town, however, emphasized the unexpected invasion of Kurds from Akçadağ on Monday. In the morning, they raided the marketplace; later, they attacked the Armenian neighborhoods.54 On Tuesday, the governor of Malatya reported to Harput that all measures were being taken to prevent unrest (şuriş) inside the city, including the recruitment of 200 reserves,55 but still there was no sufficient force to cope with 2000 Kurds.56 However, Armenians got organized in some neighborhoods, especially in the Noraşen Church, and fought back until Thursday night, turning the invasion into a four-day battle. The massacre ended after the government forces finally intervened.57

  • 58 “Arapgir – I,” Troshag, no. 6, 20 February 1896, p. 47; “Arapgir – II,” Troshag, no. 7, 1 March 189 (...)
  • 59 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 7 November 1895; A.MKT.MHM, 657/17, 7 November 1895.
  • 60 “Godoradzner – Agn,” Troshag, no. 21, 15 December 1895, p. 6; “Godoradzner – Aghyni yev Shrchagayk, (...)
  • 61 “Namagk Hayapnag Kavarneren – Agnen,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 1/110, 15 January 1896, p. 9.
  • 62 “Namag Arapgeru Shepig Kiughen,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 4/113, 1 April 1896, p. 52-53.
  • 63 “Agn Kaghaki Godoradzy,” Troshag, no. 26, 15 November 1896, p. 194-95. Hayk’s November and December (...)

21On Wednesday of the same week (Nov. 6), Arapgir, too, was invaded by thousands of Kurds from Dersim, Akçadağ, and even from further regions. They were joined by Turks from Arapgir’s close-by towns. The assailants spread “like an ant colony” into the streets of the city and began plundering all the shops and houses of Armenians, destroying everything inside and carrying the valuables to the outskirts of the city. Like in all the other massacre areas, they set all houses on fire, as part of the material destruction of Armenian life. The pillagers, described as wild-eyed and frantic (moleknel), assaulted and stripped women to find jewelry and to dishonor them, and they killed men at random. Terror seems to have lasted more than a few days; in the end, perhaps when the official forces took over the city, many surviving men of the Armenian community were imprisoned.58 On those same days, Peri was also surrounded and besieged by thousands of Kurdish bandits. The officials confessed on Thursday (Nov. 7) that the army had not been able to suppress the assaults in the last four days and could only protect the government buildings. Kurdish chiefs were promised official titles with triple, quadruple wages to end the invasion, but they were still leading the bandits, who reportedly did not distinguish between Muslims and Christians. Moreover, the bandits were heading for Harput.59 Similar scenes of atrocity were seen in the surrounding villages and towns of the city of Eğin (Agn),60 even though the city itself was spared upon the payment of a considerable ransom.61 We know that some people in the desolated villages of Arapgir took refuge in Eğin.62 A year later, during the massacres of September 1896, however, Eğin was to be specifically targeted as an act of revenge for the previous year’s omission.63

  • 64 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.
  • 65 Krikor Yağcıyan was among the notables of the city. According to the official gazette, he was the t (...)
  • 66 BOA, DH.EO, 290/27, 7 November 1895.
  • 67 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

22In Harput, the news about the Kurdish invasion of the greater province – the stories that “pen cannot portray,” as Gates wrote64 – were followed by reports from close-in suburbs about conflicts between resident Muslims and Armenians. The anxious waiting for the outcome of the invasion had put an extreme strain on urban communal relations and dominated daily conversations in the city, which served to amplify rumors and reinforce panic. Some local Muslim groups began harassing and attacking Armenians in the streets. In Kesrik, for example, an armed conflict erupted between some Muslims and a group of Armenians who had gathered in the house of the prominent Krikor Yağcıyan.65 Soldiers and even the reserves were sent to the suburb and the conflict was quelled. Two people were injured. Yağcıyan was arrested but, Ali Emiri noted, he was too drunk to give testimony when he was brought to the government in the evening.66 This incident among the locals made Gates write that same day: “Now it is the Turks who are doing the work and they are worse than the Koords.”67

  • 68 For a detailed account of the events in Diyarbekir on November 1, Friday, see J. Verheij, 2012a.
  • 69 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 638/34, 8 November 1895.
  • 70 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 8, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

23This seemingly small event made the Armenians of Harput close their shops again. Ali Emiri was perhaps even more alarmed this time, because the next day was a Friday (Nov. 8) and in many other cities, like Diyarbekir the week before, violence had tended to rise right after the Friday prayers in the mosques.68 In his “very urgent” telegram to Istanbul, he complained about Armenian noxiousness (muzırrat) – by which he meant their closing the shops – that brought about a general indignation among the Muslims. The city itself had to be protected by soldiers because Harput had a big Armenian community with arms and in case the Armenians were to attack, the Muslims of the city would not hesitate severely to retaliate. However, there were not enough soldiers in the city because they had been dispersed to various places in the vicinity where plundering and disorderliness (iğtişâşât) were ongoing.69 Fortunately, Ali Emiri’s fears did not come true; Harput got through this second crisis, too. The notables gave assurances to Armenians and convinced them to re-open their shops. Indeed, nothing happened after the Friday prayers. Gates took note: “Today in the mosques and churches the people are being exhorted to open their shops and keep the peace. We are all well.”70

  • 71 “Kharpert,” Troshag, no. 1, 1 January 1896, p. 6-7.
  • 72 Letter by Annie T. Allen to J. Smith, Harpoot, February 4, 1896, ABCFM, Reel 695.

24But the Kurdish invasion of the greater Harput plain did not stop. The city of Harput was gradually being surrounded by invaded, plundered, and burned villages and towns. The coming storm was no longer hearsay; it was visible to the eyes of people in Harput, which commanded the plain from above. The entire lowland was covered by burning zones so much so that the smoke befogged the earth.71 Through a window of the missionaries’ relatively isolated, gorgeous campus on the south-west side of the city, Annie Allen, the daughter of the Allen family, saw on Saturday (the 9th) smoke rising from a nearby village: “with the spy glass [we] could see the crowds of people rushing along the road toward the city.” In the evening, they stayed on the roof and watched the burning villages: “we could see smoke rising from one and another village […], the sight was a weird one as the […] flames would burst out suddenly the blackness of the night. There was a certain wild fascination in watching the scene which one could scarcely resist.”72

  • 73 Ibid.
  • 74 “Official Control of the Destruction of Mission Buildings at Harpoot,” [December 1895], ABCFM, Reel (...)
  • 75 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 10 November 1895.
  • 76 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/18, 10 November 1895.
  • 77 In the following days, the commander-in-chief of the imperial army kept dealing with the question o (...)
  • 78 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/18, 10 November 1895.

25Not surprisingly, on Sunday morning, Harput was on full alert. During the day, at some point a rumor that “They are coming!” caused panic (“terror stricken to my heart,” wrote Annie Allen), but apparently it was a false alarm. The entire day the missionaries watched the plain below and the road coming up to the city.73 And in the meantime, they were trying to calm down both communities in the town. They even handed over their five revolvers to the Colonel in order to appease the Muslims’ paranoia that missionaries would supply weapons to Armenians. Upon this gesture, the Colonel “replied that he would be cut in pieces before any harm should come to them.”74 On this long Sunday, nothing happened in the upper-town but the inner conflict in the suburb of Kesrik, where the shooting affair had taken place on Thursday, continued with a fire in the town. According to Şükrü Bey, the acting inspector, it was the Armenians who started the fire,75 whereas Ali Emiri connected it to the arrival of Kurdish bandits. He sent some notables and some members of the ulema (Islamic clergy) to alleviate the disorder, but he confessed in his report to Istanbul that this time they could not succeed. If the situation was not going to change, he added, the officers might have to resort to armed intervention.76 The replies from Istanbul were very short and concise: the provincial governments would be held responsible for the Kurds’ depredations because they failed to call all reserves to arms on time;77 and it should be clearly announced to the rebels that those who stood against the state would face a far greater response by the state.78

The Event: Monday, November 11

26The people of Harput woke up on Monday to hear that the worst was, finally, happening. The city was surrounded by thousands of Kurds who were determined to enter the city. Ali Emiri’s “very urgent” telegram in the morning was a testimony of paralysis in the local government; it was wired to Istanbul from a provincial capital city that was basically under siege by insurgents. This time, they had really come! Ali Emiri reported that notables, representatives of established families and religious leaders were sent to the rebels to explain that only the state had the right to establish order and that the sultan had given no permission for their actions. The crowd at first retreated upon such persuasive talk, but then came back to the perimeter of the city. It would be gravely dangerous to use guns against such a big crowd; thus, everybody was waiting.

  • 79 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/19, 11 November 1895.
  • 80 “Kharpert Kavari Hayots Aghersakirn ar Sr. Badriark Hayrn,” Hayk, v. 5, no. 20/107, 15 November 189 (...)

27The rebellious crowd had a message, though. When asked what they wanted from the people of Harput, they complained about the Armenians being protected by the government: Even ten-year-old kids were called Bey or Ağa, and despite these comforts they still demanded autonomy and ever more privileges; they sent revolutionaries (fedai) everywhere to destroy humanity; and in Zeytun and other places they had already wrecked the Muslims. In sum, the Kurds said, they, as subjects of the sultan, could not help attacking these infidel Armenians. The notables tried to explain that this idea that Armenians were to get more privileges was an Armenian plot to discomfit the government, but in vain. Kurds responded – according to the words of the governor – with “meaningless” words like “No, no! This is God’s order, there is no other way.”79 This artless talk of the invaders was in accordance with the plain-spokenness of ordinary Turks in the city reported in a petition sent from Harput Armenians to the Patriarch more than a month before. Contrary to the sneaky attitudes of the government, they wrote, vulgar people in the street openly said that it was necessary to kill Armenians in order to protect their country from European intervention.80

  • 81 Letter from O.P. Allen to “dear Brothers …,” Harpoot, November 14, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.
  • 82 He later wrote about the so-called defense of the city by the soldiers: “… all a sham, a well under (...)

28The nervous standstill did not last long. The crowd began to enter the city. It was followed by sounds of gunshots from the inner city, causing great panic among the Christians. Some rushed to seek shelter in the homes of friendly Muslims and in the missionary compound, while some others fled to take refuge with the government. When the soldiers arrived in Harput, the Kurds were initially dispersed. The missionaries were watching the manoeuvres of the soldiers and the invaders from the window. They saw how two cannons were deployed by the soldiers at the hill and how the attacking crowd regrouped just below the city’s entrance on the slope between Harput and the plains: “The horsemen and footmen came together in a body not more than 100 yards from the cannon. We watched these movements narrowly with field glasses, and at first were not a little puzzled to know what it all meant.”81 In the meantime, some prominent members of Harput’s Turkish community arrived, too. They approached the soldiers and then headed towards the threatening crowd, possibly in order to persuade them to retreat. However, the anxious waiting of the observers turned into a state of perplexity when they saw the cannon being turned away from the crowd. The consequent march of “the marauding rabble” into the city was followed by gun shots and cannon shots but, Allen wrote, the fact that almost no damage was done to the assailants indicated that they were not really aiming. This was “the farce of defending the city.”82

  • 83 Letter from O.P. Allen to “dear Brothers …,” Harpoot, November 14, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695. Lepsius, (...)

29In the following hours, the city’s Christian neighborhoods were ravaged. The buildings of the missionaries, which sheltered the Americans, the native pupils of the boarding schools, and the Armenian refugee families (450 people in total), were physically threatened, too. The doors of the college were forced open; relatively unprotected houses and school buildings were plundered and set afire. Allen and the other missionaries were even shot at unsuccessfully during their escape into the main building. After all managed to take shelter in the relatively safest College building, the soldiers came and suggested that they leave the building and go to the governor’s place in the lower-town where they would be given protection. Barnum turned down the suggestion with a strict “No!” on the basis that the security powers had not protected them before, when they should have and could have. The officer replied “What could I do against 15,000 Koords!” but the missionaries had reasons to believe that the government had a hand in what was going on. Over the next days, they were told that Mirliva (Brigadier General) Mustafa Naim Paşa, the military governor of the province, was actually the wirepuller.83

  • 84 BOA, DH.MKT, 2071/60, 11 November 1895.
  • 85 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 14-16 November 1895; A.MKT.MHM, 657/20, 12 November 1895.

30In the meantime, Ali Emiri was urgently corresponding with Istanbul. He boldly wrote that he would continue to act in the name of the absent governor only if he was granted the right to use arms against the invading Dersim Kurds.84 The imperial center’s response is not known, but the very next day, on Tuesday, Ali Emiri was reprimanded on the grounds that the disturbances had been allowed to happen in the first place due to his weak measures. He was summarily dismissed and Ali Rıza Pasha, the sub-provincial governor (mutasarrıf) of Malatya, was hurried to Harput as the new acting governor of the province.85

  • 86 Further research on sources in the Armenian language may shed light on these details.
  • 87 BOA, Y.PRK.UM, 33/83, 12 November 1895.
  • 88 “Kharpert,” Troshag, no. 1, 1 January 1896, p. 6-7.

31Neither in the Ottoman documents, nor in missionaries’ or Armenians’ letters, is there a detailed account of what happened in the Armenian neighborhoods on this long Monday.86 From Ali Emiri’s Tuesday report we know that fires in the city could not be controlled until morning, although the unrest (şuriş) had been suppressed earlier. Officially, 27 Armenians, 9 Assyrians and 8-10 Kurds were killed; more than 100 Armenian houses and 4 Muslim houses were burnt along with one church and four Protestant school buildings.87 According to an Armenian’s letter, too, the city of Harput “got off relatively lightly” compared to completely desolated villages and towns in its environs; only around 100 Armenians were killed and 150 injured. Moreover, Commander Mustafa Pasha was said to prevent the crowd from entering the elite suburb of Mezre, where the government members as well as many rich Armenian and some Muslim families lived.88

  • 89 BOA, Y.PRK.UM, 33/83, 12 November 1895; Y.PRK.ASK, 108/47, 13 November 1895.
  • 90 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/25, 13 November 1895. Although we do not know who they were, Ali Rıza Pasha’s s (...)
  • 91 Later, on November 28, Ali Rıza Pasha complained again about the absence of the new governor (Rauf (...)
  • 92 A dialogue between Ali Rıza Pasha and the center reveals another instance where the locality pushed (...)
  • 93 BOA, Y.A.HUS, 339/25, 16 November 1895.

32On Tuesday morning, 2,000-3,000 Kurds surrounded the city again, but this time the officials’ efforts worked and they turned back without causing any more harm. On Wednesday, Commander Mustafa Pasha wrote, the Kurds eventually retreated to the other bank of the Euphrates. The officials now focused on re-establishing order in the city. The Armenians whose houses were burnt were placed in Muslim homes and in an evacuated khan. And, 7,000-8,000 refugees who had fled the plundered and burned villages were sent back home.89 On the other hand, as a result of criminal proceedings, 98 people ended up being arrested and imprisoned in the barracks on Wednesday.90 Ali Rıza Pasha also warned Istanbul that although for the time being the events had faded away, the Kurds of the region had become accustomed to plundering and no assurance could be given that they would not rise again, considering their susceptibility to the Armenians’ vicious ideas (muzır fikirleri). Nevertheless, his demand for the declaration of martial law was turned down by the center.91 The local commanders were to focus on the recruitment of new privates, on regular patrols inside and outside the city, and on establishing command posts at strategic points.92 Besides the military measures, of course, official permission was given to the local government to “reward” some tribal leaders with cash (4,500 lira had already been paid; 15,000 lira was authorized to be given), perhaps to keep them away from the cities.93

Kurds Disappearing

  • 94 Brigade General (later Field Marshall) Abdullah Paşa (Kölemen) (1846-1937) was the head of one of t (...)
  • 95 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/46, 6 December 1895.

33So far we have listened to the story of what happened in the city of Harput in the first two weeks of November 1895 as narrated by its witnesses during or in the immediate aftermath of the event. It is thought-provoking to look at the official Turkish narrative that was constructed in the subsequent months and compare it to the story above. The first detailed report of the events based on an on-site investigation was prepared by Sami Bey, a member of the Council of State, and Abdullah Pasha, the second divisional general (ikinci ferik) of the Ottoman army.94 The importance of this document lies not in the information it provides about the massacres but in its relatively impartial tone. The committee was travelling across a northeast-southwest axis from Sivas to Diyarbekir, passing through Mamuretülaziz. When they left Sivas behind and arrived in Malatya, according to the report, the entire atmosphere changed. During the investigations, (Muslim) people in Sivas province had shown anxiety regarding their responsibility in the events and feared being prosecuted. In Mamuretülaziz, on the other hand, the people blamed Armenians for the events. Here, Muslims were of the opinion that they were already entitled to discipline and punish (tedib and tenkil) the Armenians.95

  • 96 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/46, 9 December 1895.

34The authors of the report were clearly surprised by the conviction among the Harput people about the Muslim right to take action against Armenians. Upon hearing such words, the committee began explaining to Kurds, to tribes, and to villagers on the road that only the government was entitled to punish wrong-doers and that any kind of civil participation would be considered rebellious. In addition, they recommended to the Porte that “people with such ideas” be kept where they were and prevented from moving anywhere else. The report caused an immediate reaction from Istanbul. A telegram sent to the governor in Harput referred to the statements in the report and asked whether it was true that, despite repeated contrary orders, some people still thought that bringing the (Armenian) bandits into line was in their hands. The dispatch ended with: “this should never happen!”96

  • 97 In the 1890s, Müşir Mehmed Zeki Pasha was the commander-in-chief of the Fourth Army (Eastern Army) (...)
  • 98 BOA, Y.PRK.ASK, 109/61, 17 January 1896.

35This surprise about Muslim assuredness in the first report was soon to melt away. Field Marshal (müşir) Mehmed Zeki Pasha, perhaps the most powerful person in the entire Ottoman East,97 wrote his version of the events on January 10, 1896, in an encrypted letter to the center. This account constitutes a watershed in the narratives of the event, since it was the first version of what we today call the “provocation thesis:” In a nutshell, the Armenian plotters (erbâb-ı mefsedet) provoked and seduced the entire Armenian community with the idea of achieving autonomy and, for that, of inviting foreign intervention. They attacked the mosques and in some places the government buildings; as a result, disorder (şûriş) arose in the towns and the cities. On the one hand, naive Armenian people were seduced by the plotters’ provocation; and on the other, rumors about new privileges given to the Armenian community affected and disappointed Muslims very deeply (pek fena tesir eylediğinden). Consequently, disorder spread to ordinary people and to the villages, too. Nonetheless, thanks to the efforts of the government soldiers, the disorder was finally quelled.98

  • 99 E. Gölbaşı, 2015b; J. Verheij, 2012b.
  • 100 J. Klein, 2011, p. 51, 185.

36Zeki Pasha’s report was the first of its kind. Today, the same story is repeated in uncritical accounts despite the fact that, at least in Harput, it had literally nothing to do with reality, as the detailed account in this article shows. The fact that Zeki Pasha put all the blame on Armenian shoulders is not news for us since critical scholarship has already deconstructed the untenable logic and challenged the unfounded claims of the provocation theory. But there is something more important in this report, something that is today repeated even in some critical scholarship, something not invented but forgotten: there was no mention of Kurds in his account, not even once. Zeki Pasha’s silence about the Kurds may be attributed to the fact that he was the chief executive of the Hamidiye Light Cavalry project, and we might conclude that Hamidiyes’ complicity was covered up. Yet, recent studies have debunked the myth that Hamidiyes were the chief force behind the 1894-1896 Massacres; their effect and participation in the events were much more limited than assumed.99 Moreover, there was no Hamidiye Cavalry in Dersim and perhaps very few in the greater Harput region.100 Above all, what Zeki Pasha’s report left out was not Kurdish complicity; rather, the Kurdish uprising disappeared from the scene in toto.

  • 101 BOA, Y.PRK.ASK, 109/69, 25 January 1896.

37A week after Zeki Pasha’s report, the above-mentioned Abdullah Pasha prepared his 15-page report, perhaps the most detailed account of the events.101 In sharp contrast to his earlier dispatch, dated December 6, this long report followed, even expounded upon Zeki Pasha’s provocation thesis. After deconstructing the religious hatred argument by referring to 600 years of coexistence and to Islam’s peculiar characteristics that prohibit any kind of bigotry, he found the real reason behind the events in the idea of independence imbued to Armenian zealots by the Treaty of Berlin (1878) regarding the need for reforms in the Eastern provinces. However, since Armenians were disproportionally weaker than Muslims in terms of quantity and power, they tried to turn circumstances to their advantage by a principle they invented, which is “taking advantage of defeat” (mağlûbiyetden istifâde), namely the plan of making themselves a target of Muslim violence by provoking them. Perhaps they were promised from abroad that their sacrifices in this way would not be in vain.

38Abdullah Pasha’s second report had sections for each province and the way he managed to shift the focus from Kurdish rebellion to Armenian plots in the Harput section was quite outrageous: He confined his narrative to the incident in Kesrik on Thursday, November 7, and he remained completely silent about the main events of Monday the 11th. As mentioned before, the acting governor Ali Emiri had recounted the Kesrik event as a relatively insignificant conflict caused by some drunken Armenians. According to the present account, however, gunshots from the house of Krikor Yağcıyan injured three Muslim notables. Given that Armenians in Harput had closed their shops without any reason a few days prior, and given the grave influence of Armenian disturbances on public opinion, Muslims reacted to the incident in a spirit of self-defense, which left three Armenians killed. Having heard the incident, Kurds gathered around, and in Hüseynik a few of them as well as an officer were killed by Armenian bullets. As a result, Kurds got agitated, but thanks to the deployment of the imperial troops, a probable disturbance was successfully prevented.

39To give Abdullah Pasha his due, he did mention Kurds in this account, but only as a reactive group who came upon the local incidents. However, it was clear from all sources without exception that local incidents among resident Muslims and Armenians postdated the Kurdish invasion of the plains. By focusing on the Kesrik affair, Abdullah Pasha did not simply distort history but completely wiped out the Monday invasion from the official narrative. Zeki Pasha’s and Abdullah Pasha’s reports not only blamed the Armenians for their misery but also effaced the Kurdish uprising from history. Today’s critical scholarship has so far faced up to the former, but not the latter.

*

  • 102 E. Gölbaşı, 2015b.
  • 103 J. Jongerden, 2012, p. 81-82.
  • 104 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 133-138.

40The involvement of Kurds in the 1895 Massacres is an intricate matter for historians. The organized character of the event clearly refutes the argument that Armenians were victims of spontaneous conflicts between Kurds and Armenians. Such arguments have been asserted by Genocide denialists, too, to whitewash the Turkish population and officials in 1915; racist stereotypes of Kurds in Turkey nurture such view. The alternative explanation has focused on the infamous Hamidiye Cavalries and emphasized the role of the Ottoman government, in particular the military command, in arming and mobilizing the Kurdish tribesmen against Christians in 1895. However, even though it still is a valid argument for some localities (like Mardin), not all cases confirm the involvement of the Hamidiyes.102 In fact, Joost Jongerden’s study on Diyarbekir suggests the opposite, namely the protective role of Milli İbrahim Pasha’s Hamidiye regiment.103 Verheij’s detailed research on the massacres in Diyarbekir corroborates the absence of widespread involvement of the Hamidiyes although non-Hamidiye Kurdish tribes played the leading role in violence in the countryside. However, the latter did not take part in the massacre in the city proper, which was organized by the urban Muslim elite.104

  • 105 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 105.
  • 106 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 108-9.
  • 107 E. Gölbaşı, this issue.

41Nevertheless, even when the chief instigators can be identified in a particular locale, whether the Hamidiye Cavalries or the urban Muslim notables or the local government, the aspect of collective violence in the event should not be overlooked. Even in the Diyarbekir case, where “there was no significant participation of Kurds from outside the town,”105 Verheij stated that 2,500 Kurds surrounded the city. They were not allowed in on the day of the massacres; however, several times over the course of the following months, armed Kurds actually managed to enter the city and scattered in the streets and spread terror to Christians despite the presence of Abdullah Pasha and military commander Ziya Pasha in town.106 It cannot be denied that, as Gölbaşı pointed out, by inculpating the “savage” Kurds, the official reports “discursively transfer[red] responsibility from the authorities and the wider Muslim crowds who had participated in the mass murder and the looting to the ‘simple,’ ‘ignorant’ segments of the population.”107 Yet, his account on Sivas also admits that the event in Merzifon started with an unexpected raid by outsider Muslims including Kurds. In other words, in all cases, and notably in Harput, in the core of the events of 1895 was the invasion of villages and towns by Kurdish tribesmen. The fact that urban notables or government officials overlooked, supported, instigated, or even organized the massacres in different places does not exclude and should not trivialize or shadow the greater invasion.

42Collective action is admittedly difficult to grasp for historians; thus, we are inclined to clean up the chaotic picture and identify the “real” perpetrators behind the scene. We are not alone; the narrators of the Harput massacre did the same. After the event, American missionaries put the blame on “Turks” of the city and the local military authorities personified by Mustafa Naim Pasha. They represented the invasion as a “sham” and the invaders as “pseudo-Kurds.” Armenian commentators and the later Armenian historiography, by contrast, hold the central government responsible, taking the invasion as a centrally administered assault. Finally, Ottoman officials put forward the now well-known provocation theory and incriminated the Armenians for the calamity they went through. Hence, all theories that are discussed today by historians were available in the aftermath of the massacres. Yet, as I show in this article, none was the dominant narrative for any of the three parties during the massacres. All of the accounts penned in November 1895 testify that the event was perceived as a Kurdish invasion. Soon after, however, Kurds disappeared from all narratives in toto.

  • 108 In Harput, the plunder went so aggressive that the invaders could not carry everything they looted (...)

43Narratives concocted after the event should not make us lose our grasp of the fact that the event itself was unexpected and the way it happened was surprising. Thousands of Kurds living in the mountainous countryside literally poured down into the plains, invaded the villages and towns, plundered anything they found, and destroyed everything that belonged to urban life even when no material gain was involved.108 In Ali Emiri’s telegrams, there was a clear separation between local incidents of sectarian violence (between resident Turks and Armenians) and the invasion of towns by outsider Kurds. According to him, the former was caused by foolish Armenians who provoked the Muslims, but it was not difficult to suppress such instances. The real event, and the real threat, was the approach of the Kurds. This was an extraordinary moment when the periphery rose against the center, sans-culottes aimed at the heart of high culture, mountaineers challenged urbanites. If we are to talk about the “fear factor” during the Harput massacres, it was the fear of the outsider Kurds, which was shared by most residents, not only Armenians.

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Note de fin

1 G. Le Bon, 1926 [1896]; S. Moscovici, 1986.

2 G. Rudé, 1964; E.P. Thompson, 1971. See also R. Darnton, 1984.

3 R.S. de la Roche, 1996, p. 99.

4 N.Z. Davis, 1973; V. Das, 1985, 1987. For more recent work, see S.J. Tambiah, 1996; L. Dubois, 2004.

5 Apart from the studies on the Armenian Genocide, see U. Makdisi, 2000; E. Aykut, 2011.

6 For a literature review, see J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 97-100. R.H. Kévorkian, 2013, p. 53-57, accepts the argument that the massacres were centrally administered.

7 The pioneering work that deconstructed the provocation thesis was R. Melson, 1982. For recent contributions, see G.J. Libaridian, 2011; R.G. Suny, 2011a; M.L. Anderson, 2015; and, E. Gölbaşı, this issue.

8 J. Verheij, 2012a.

9 For a summary of the arguments of various scholars, see E. Gölbaşı, 2015a and R.G. Suny, 2015.

10 M. van Bruinessen, 2015, p. 199-302; M. Eppel, 2008; T. Hofmann and G. Koutcharian, 1986.

11 J. Klein, 2011; M. Russo, 2001; S. Duguid, 1973.

12 S. Astourian, 2011, p. 62.

13 For the most comprehensive literature reviews on the Armenian land problem, see S. Astourian, 2011, and U.Ü. Üngör and M. Polatel, 2011. For the relationship between the government’s tax policies and the Armenian question, see N. Özbek, 2012. For land grabbing and its importance in the Sassoun Massacre, see M. Polatel, 2015. For the crucial role of the Muslim landowner class in the massacres in Diyarbekir, see J. Verheij, 2012a.

14 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 90-91. See S. Astourian, 2011, for the Adana case.

15 R.G. Suny, 2011a and 2011b. See R. Melson, 1982, p. 503-509, for an early work that makes mention of the resentment among the Muslims.

16 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 91.

17 H-L. Kieser, 2014.

18 E. Hartmann, 2013, p. 184.

19 U.Ü. Üngör and M. Polatel, 2011, p. 22.

20 Mamuretülaziz, no. 21, 4 March 1884.

21 A. Sipahi, 2015.

22 J. Verheij, 2012a; E. Gölbaşı, this issue.

23 S. Deringil, 2009; R.G. Suny, 2015, p. 121-122; B. Jafarian, 1989, p. 45-46; J. Salt, 1993, p. 96-99; C.J. Walker, 1990, p. 161; J.L. Grabill, 1971, p. 42-44; J.D. Harris and H.B. Harris, 1897, p. 141-162; Turkey, no. 2, 1896, p. 123-147, 189-191, 206, 215, 241, 325.

24 İ. Sunguroğlu, 1958, p. 158-159.

25 H-L. Kieser, 2005, p. 284-291.

26 Letter from O.P. Allen to J.L. Barton, Van, April 30, 1895, the archives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission [abbreviated ABCFM], Reel 695. Nothing could better express the archival experience of the historian of violence than “tragic sameness.”

27 Letter from C.E. Bush to J.L. Barton, Bizmishen, April 30, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 696. Underlines exist in the original letter.

28 R.G. Suny, 2015, p. 116.

29 For a critique of the representation of Kurds in Armenian writing in the 1860s, see D. Derderian, 2015. Reid pointed out a similar stereotypical understanding of Kurds in the 1890s’ publications: J.J. Reid, 1988, p. 14-15. For a critique of homogenization of “Armenians” or “Kurds” as if there was no class and status differences within the communities, see Y.T. Cora, 2015; T. Hofmann and G. Koutcharian, 1986, p. 22.

30 Herman N. Barnum (Auburn, NY, 1826 - Harput, 1910), who served in Harput for fifty years and died there, was the only Harput missionary who was fluent in Turkish. He was the representative of the missionary community in the eyes of the government, a well-respected one. He always participated in the local notables’ official and unofficial meetings. Few Americans became integrated into Ottoman society to the degree Barnum did.

31 Diyab Ağa (1852-1934) was one of the most powerful and controversial figures of Dersim. In the Republican times, he collaborated with the national government. During the deportations in 1915, it is reported that he actually helped the Armenians. For more information, see A. Yarman, 2010, p. 465. According to the 1910 report of the Armenian Patriarchate about the seized property of Armenians, Diyab Ağa, the grandson of Kahraman Ağa from Ulak tribe, seized by force the Surp Nişan Monastery with its 1000 dönüm land in Çemişgezek and secured an official deed from the government. Deghegakir Hoghayin Kravmants Hantsnajoghovoy, 1910, p. 5; Anadolunun Mahal-i Muhtelifesinde ve Arazi-i Magsube Hakkında Ermeni Patrikhanesince Teşekkül Eden Komisyon-i Mahsus Tarafından Tanzim Olunan Raporun Suret-i Tercümesi, 1327, p. 9.

32 Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (Ottoman Prime Ministry Archives) [abbreviated BOA], Y.A.HUS, 329/139, 2 June 1895. The fact that two different Raufs served as the governor of Mamuretülaziz one after another causes confusions, especially because the position-shift occurred right before the massacres. Mehmed Şerif Rauf Pasha (1838-1923) served as the governor of Mamuretülaziz first in 1892 for six months, and then in 1895 for nine months until he was appointed as the governor of Erzurum in September 1895 (where he stayed uninterrupted six years). On November 1, 1895, [Mustafa] Rauf Bey, the mutasarrıf of Dedeağaç, was assigned as the new governor of Mamuretülaziz where he arrived only after the events of November 11. He served here for eight years until 1903. S. Kuneralp, 1999, p. 35, 104, 117. For the former, namely about Mehmed Şerif Rauf Pasha, Chambers wrote: “In 1895 the civil administrator, the vali, of Erzroom, was a man with a sincere desire to do his work well. The massacre was carried out by the military authorities apparently over the heads of the civil administration.” W.N. Chambers, 1928, p. 88.

33 Letter from O.P. Allen to J.L. Barton, Harpoot, July 24, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.

34 It is unfortunate that the classic source by Nalbandian has a mistake regarding the Rumi/Gregorian dates. Although she generally gave both dates, like 18/30 September 1895, at one point she wrote that “the demonstration took place on Monday, September 18, 1895;” however, the demonstration took place on September 18, 1311, or September 30, 1895, Monday. Recently, Der Matossian repeated the same mistake. L. Nalbandian, 1949, p. 34; 1963, p. 124; B. Der Matossian, 2014, p. 13.

35 Ali Emiri Efendi was appointed as the treasurer (defterdar) of Mamuretülaziz in July 1895. In September, he was assigned as the treasurer of Erzurum. Nevertheless, he did not leave Harput perhaps because the governor Mehmed Şerif Rauf Pasha was also appointed to Erzurum and Mamuretülaziz was left now without a governor. Only on November 1, the new governor Rauf Bey was ordered to govern the province, and the same day Ali Emiri was ordered to stay in Harput as the acting-governor until the new governor arrived. BOA, I.ML, 15/1313, 1 July 1895; BEO, 649/48666, 4 July 1895; A.MKT.MHM, 720/9, 11 September 1895; I.DH, 1327/1313, 19 October 1895; A.MKT.MHM, 657/5, 1 November 1895.

36 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 675/2, 10 October 1895.

37 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 721/4, 16 October 1895.

38 A. Karaca, 1993, p. 52-55.

39 S. Narzakian, 1995.

40 A. Emiri, 1992, p. 11-12.

41 BOA, HR.SYS, 2812/2, 24 October 1895. Missionary C. F. Gates’ later account of the event is in harmony with Ali Emiri’s account: “Some ten days ago there was much unrest in the city because of apprehension that the Turks were about to attack the Christians. The authorities showed much earnestness and ability in coping with that trouble, and tranquility was restored.” Letter from C.F. Gates to J. Smith, Harpoot, November 6, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

42 BOA, DH.EO, 290/42, 3 November 1895.

43 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 4, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

44 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

45 Letter from C.F. Gates to J. Smith, Harpoot, November 6, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

46 Letter from O.P. Allen to “dear Brothers …,” Harpoot, November 14, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.

47 Gates most probably meant Beyzade by “Bey Oglon”. Beyzade Hacı Ali Rıza Efendi was one of the most prominent figures for the Muslim community of Harput. İ. Sunguroğlu, 1959, p. 110-115.

48 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

49 Gates wrote: “When soldiers began to fire upon the Koords, it is said, the latter called out to them: –Why do you fire on us? You summoned us.’” Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

50 BOA, DH.EO, 290/40, 5 November 1895. This account of Ali Emiri is in concordance with Gates’ above referred accounts of the events on Monday and Tuesday.

51 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

52 Letter from C.F. Gates to J. Smith, Harpoot, November 6, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

53 “Namag Malatiaye,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 5/114, 1 May 1896, p. 73-74. The author gave the date of the initial event as October 20, Friday, but he most probably referred to Rumi calendar since its Gregorian equivalent, Nov. 1, is in perfect harmony with other sources and is really a Friday.

54 “Malatiayi Tebky,” Hnchag, v. 9, no. 3, 15 February 1896, p. 22-23. Similarly, the author of this letter from Malatya, named Aniga, wrote that the attacks started on October 22-23, 1895, a Monday morning; however, he most probably meant its Gregorian equivalent, November 3-4, which is in perfect harmony with other sources, November 4 being a Monday.

55 BOA, DH.EO, 290/48, 5 November 1895.

56 Letter from C.F. Gates to W.W. Peet, Harpoot, November 5, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 700.

57 “Malatiayi Tebky.” In his letter on Thursday, Gates also confirms that the armed conflict lasted the entire week in the Armenian neighborhoods. Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

58 “Arapgir – I,” Troshag, no. 6, 20 February 1896, p. 47; “Arapgir – II,” Troshag, no. 7, 1 March 1896, p. 54-55. The same letter was also published here: “Namag Arapgiren – Arapgiri Averumn,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 3/112, 1 March 1896, p. 36-39. Again, the author gave the date as October 25, Wednesday, which should be November 6, a Wednesday, in Gregorian calendar.

59 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 7 November 1895; A.MKT.MHM, 657/17, 7 November 1895.

60 “Godoradzner – Agn,” Troshag, no. 21, 15 December 1895, p. 6; “Godoradzner – Aghyni yev Shrchagayk,” Troshag, no. 8, 10 March 1896, p. 62-63.

61 “Namagk Hayapnag Kavarneren – Agnen,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 1/110, 15 January 1896, p. 9.

62 “Namag Arapgeru Shepig Kiughen,” Hayk, v. 6, no. 4/113, 1 April 1896, p. 52-53.

63 “Agn Kaghaki Godoradzy,” Troshag, no. 26, 15 November 1896, p. 194-95. Hayk’s November and December 1896 issues were almost exclusively devoted to the Eğin Massacre: Hayk, v. 6, no. 11/1120, 1 November 1896; Hayk, v. 6, no. 12/121, 1 December 1896, p. 178-184.

64 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

65 Krikor Yağcıyan was among the notables of the city. According to the official gazette, he was the tax-farmer of Alpavut village and he had managed to raise the amount of tax from 60,558 para in 1882 to 77,743 para in 1883, namely 28 percent (celebrated as the 7th best score). Mamuretülaziz, no. 19, 20 February 1884. In another record, he was among the signees of a public refutation against an article published in an Istanbul paper criticizing the mayor, Reşid Efendi, and the secretary of provincial council, Süleyman Efendi. In this open letter signed by more than one hundred Muslim and Christian notables of the city, Yağcıyan Ohan from the Esteemed (muteberandan), Yağcıyan Krikor from the Esteemed, and Yağcıyan Krikor exist among the signatures. Mamuretülaziz, no. 51, 5 October 1884; no. 52, 12 October 1884. In 1906, another member of the same family, Medzig Yağcıyan, was one of the seven members of the Armenian political council (meclis-i siyasi) of Harput. 1902 Intartsag Oratsuyts - S. Prgcyan Hivantanotsi, 2012, p. 411.

66 BOA, DH.EO, 290/27, 7 November 1895.

67 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 7, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

68 For a detailed account of the events in Diyarbekir on November 1, Friday, see J. Verheij, 2012a.

69 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 638/34, 8 November 1895.

70 Letter from C.F. Gates to Moore, Harpoot, November 8, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 694.

71 “Kharpert,” Troshag, no. 1, 1 January 1896, p. 6-7.

72 Letter by Annie T. Allen to J. Smith, Harpoot, February 4, 1896, ABCFM, Reel 695.

73 Ibid.

74 “Official Control of the Destruction of Mission Buildings at Harpoot,” [December 1895], ABCFM, Reel 694. In a later letter by Barnum, those who had promised protection by saying “unless we were cut in pieces…” were Mustafa Naim Pasha, Brigadier General-Commander of the Army division in the district, and Shukri Bey, the Colonel who was in charge of the defense of the city. Letter from H.N. Barnum to Smith, Harpoot, January 23, 1896, ABCFM, Reel 696.

75 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 10 November 1895.

76 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/18, 10 November 1895.

77 In the following days, the commander-in-chief of the imperial army kept dealing with the question of reserves, asking detailed information from the provinces, especially implicating Harput government for being slow on call-up. BOA, DH.EO, 290/99, 13 November 1895.

78 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/18, 10 November 1895.

79 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/19, 11 November 1895.

80 “Kharpert Kavari Hayots Aghersakirn ar Sr. Badriark Hayrn,” Hayk, v. 5, no. 20/107, 15 November 1895, p. 285-86. The petition was dated 21 September 1895; if we assume that it was dated according to Rumi calendar, its correct date should be 2 October 1895.

81 Letter from O.P. Allen to “dear Brothers …,” Harpoot, November 14, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.

82 He later wrote about the so-called defense of the city by the soldiers: “… all a sham, a well understood arrangement on both sides, to give an appearance of defending the city.” He also reported that many “pseudo-Koords” from the city and close-by towns joined the assailants. Letter from O.P. Allen to H.O. Dwight, Harpoot, November 26, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695.

83 Letter from O.P. Allen to “dear Brothers …,” Harpoot, November 14, 1895, ABCFM, Reel 695. Lepsius, too, put the responsibility of the massacres on Mustafa Pasha. J. Lepsius, 1897, p. 53.

84 BOA, DH.MKT, 2071/60, 11 November 1895.

85 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 14-16 November 1895; A.MKT.MHM, 657/20, 12 November 1895.

86 Further research on sources in the Armenian language may shed light on these details.

87 BOA, Y.PRK.UM, 33/83, 12 November 1895.

88 “Kharpert,” Troshag, no. 1, 1 January 1896, p. 6-7.

89 BOA, Y.PRK.UM, 33/83, 12 November 1895; Y.PRK.ASK, 108/47, 13 November 1895.

90 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/25, 13 November 1895. Although we do not know who they were, Ali Rıza Pasha’s suggestion that they be released one by one and made to explain the power of the state to their fellow people implies that they were people spontaneously arrested by the soldiers in the middle of the events. BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/16, 16 November 1895.

91 Later, on November 28, Ali Rıza Pasha complained again about the absence of the new governor (Rauf Bey) and, like Ali Emiri, asked to be vested with more authority, if the new governor’s arrival was to be further delayed. BOA, DH.EO, 292/59, 28 November 1895.

92 A dialogue between Ali Rıza Pasha and the center reveals another instance where the locality pushed for declaring state of exception and the center resisted. Apparently, 100 privates were “temporarily” enrolled upon grave need and allocation for payments and sustenance was demanded; however, the center opposed the idea of “temporary soldiers” and ordered again the call-up of all reserves. Ali Rıza Pasha nonetheless insisted since the Kurdish danger was still present and, at the end of the day, more soldiers needed to be able to recruit the reserves. Eventually, the center accepted to authorize the allocation. BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/39, 13 November - 15 December 1895.

93 BOA, Y.A.HUS, 339/25, 16 November 1895.

94 Brigade General (later Field Marshall) Abdullah Paşa (Kölemen) (1846-1937) was the head of one of two high-level commissions delegated by Sultan Abdülhamid to the eastern provinces to restore order. He arrived in Diyarbekir on December 17, 1895, and stayed there until April 1896. The foreign consuls in Diyarbekir had a positive relationship with Abdullah Paşa. The French Vice-Consul, Gustave Meyrier, reported on his valuable efforts against the Governor Enis Paşa, who was implicated as one of chief instigators of the massacres. As Verheij showed, the consular reports from Diyarbekir did not create a negative picture of the central state; they rather regarded the envoys like Abdullah Paşa as honorable statesmen. J. Verheij, 2012b, p. 109, 130-133. After the Diyarbekir mission, Abdullah Paşa was appointed to Musul as a temporary acting-governor. After 1908, he was going to be the commander-in-chief of the Fourth Army in the eastern provinces, and then, of the West Anatolian Army. In 1918, for little more than one month only, he served as the Minister of War.

95 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/46, 6 December 1895.

96 BOA, A.MKT.MHM, 657/46, 9 December 1895.

97 In the 1890s, Müşir Mehmed Zeki Pasha was the commander-in-chief of the Fourth Army (Eastern Army) and the top commander and one of the founding fathers of the Hamidiye Light Cavalry. His rapid ascension to the highest military rank made a foreign observer comment on him as “by far the most powerful in influence throughout this part of the Turkish Empire.” Quoted in J. Klein, 2011, p. 76.

98 BOA, Y.PRK.ASK, 109/61, 17 January 1896.

99 E. Gölbaşı, 2015b; J. Verheij, 2012b.

100 J. Klein, 2011, p. 51, 185.

101 BOA, Y.PRK.ASK, 109/69, 25 January 1896.

102 E. Gölbaşı, 2015b.

103 J. Jongerden, 2012, p. 81-82.

104 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 133-138.

105 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 105.

106 J. Verheij, 2012a, p. 108-9.

107 E. Gölbaşı, this issue.

108 In Harput, the plunder went so aggressive that the invaders could not carry everything they looted and had to sell things cheaply before they left. “Kharpert,” Troshag, no. 1, 1 January 1896, p. 6-7. Göçek argues that the 1894-1896 massacres were primarily acts of physical harm. It is certainly true for Istanbul and for many other towns in the east that violence was directed against Armenian lives. Yet, I reach the conclusion that in the event in Harput material harm was the primary form of violence. F.M. Göçek, 2014, p. 15-16.

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Ali Sipahi, « Narrative Construction in the 1895 Massacres in Harput:
The Coming and Disappearance of the Kurds
 », Études arméniennes contemporaines, 10 | 2018, 63-95.

Référence électronique

Ali Sipahi, « Narrative Construction in the 1895 Massacres in Harput:
The Coming and Disappearance of the Kurds
 », Études arméniennes contemporaines [En ligne], 10 | 2018, mis en ligne le 10 septembre 2018, consulté le 21 septembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/eac/1391 ; DOI : 10.4000/eac.1391

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Ali Sipahi

Özyeğin University

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Bibliothèque Nubar de l’UGAB

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