Sunday,24 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)
Sunday,24 February, 2019
Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Once upon a time

Yet testimonies live on...

In his Arabic-language book The Armenian Case and International Law, published in 1986, researcher Shavarsh Torigian reports the eyewitness account of Henry Morgenthau, the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, at the time of the Armenian Genocide in 1915:

“The circumstances of the war had given the Turkish government the opportunity, which it has long waited for, to tighten its grip on the Armenians. The Turkish government thus sent warnings to some of the Armenian leaders that if the Armenians gave minimal help to the Russians in their occupation of Turkey, they would extend punishment to the whole of the Armenian people.

“In the spring of 1914, the Turks put their plan to exterminate the Armenian people into effect. Moreover, they criticised their ancestors for not getting rid of the Christian peoples nor trying to convince them to convert to Islam. At that time, when the four major powers were in a war against Turkey, while the two others were allies with it, Turkey saw that the time was perfect to accomplish what had not been carried out by its ancestors in the 15th century. The Turkish government believed that if it accomplished its plan, the major powers would turn a blind eye to the crime it had committed, just as happened following the massacres of 1895 and 1896 when they did not blame it on the Sultan.

“The Turks had recruited all the strong young Armenian men without giving them any weapons. They used their weapons for offensive deeds, and they looted properties on the pretext of searching for weapons in the houses. They got everything that could be obtained from the Armenians in the army without paying for it in return.

“All Armenians were forced to leave their homes and were exiled in the desert, having to suffer pain on the roads without any supplies. The victims, among whom were intellectuals and women who belonged to well-off and noble families, had to go by foot and were attacked by gangs. The men were killed, and the women and girls were raped, while children were brutally thrown into the rivers or sold by their mothers to save them from starvation.

“These facts, mentioned in the reports received by the embassy from trustworthy witnesses, exceed the most virulent acts of violence and brutality ever seen before and are considered unprecedented in history.

Believing naively that such crimes could be repeated just as happened many centuries ago without being heard by the outside world, the Turkish authorities cut off all communications between the provinces and the capital. However, the information was secretly circulated by foreign consuls, missionaries, and travellers and even by the Turkish people themselves.”

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