The Massacres

• Following the Russo-Turkish War in 1878 the Ottoman
Government was supposed to institute reforms to make life
better for Armenians
• European governments were supposed to make sure the
reforms were implemented – they lost interest in the
“Armenian Question”
• Armenian revolutionary groups were formed to help bring
about these reforms
• The largest and most influential of these groups were the
Armenagans (1885), Hunchakians (1888) and the
Tashnagtsagans (1890)
• He was the Sultan of Turkey from 1876 to
• During his reign, Turkey lost control of
Roumania, Serbia, Montenegro, Egypt,
Sudan, Cyprus, Crete, Kars and Ardahan,
• It was at this time that Turkey began being referred to as the
“Sick Man of Europe”
• He was called the “Bloody Sultan” for what would be known as
the Hamidian Massacres, his answer to the Armenian
• As Armenians began to press for reforms, the Sultan feared
that they would break away from the Empire
• In 1890, the Sultan formed the Hamideye, a cavalry
composed primarily of Kurds modeled after the Russian
• They were generally used to harass and attack the Armenian
population and did what they wanted
• In order to insure that the Armenians are too weak to
rebel, the Sultan increases the taxes levied against the
• Hamideye and other Kurdish bandits are encouraged
to burn Armenian fields, destroy stored grain and hay,
and steal livestock
• When Armenians don’t have the
money to pay taxes, their homes
are looted and burned, sometimes
they are killed or kidnapped
• Attacks begin in Sassoun in August, news does not
reach outside world until late September
• Sep 26, 1894 - attacks reported in Dalvorik
• Oct 31, 1894 – Reports of 6000 killed in Sassoun, 27
villages destroyed
• Other areas are also subject to minor attacks
• The European governments protest and the massacre
subsides by winter
• Oct 1-2, 1895 – Thousands massacred in Bolis in
response to the Bab Ali demonstration by the
• Oct 5, 1895 – over 2000 killed in Trebizond
• Massacres then spread to Erzerum, Erzingan,
Baiboort, Sepastia, Marsovan, Gesaria, Kharpert, Bitlis,
Dikranagert, Malatia, Marash, Aintab, Urfa and other
• Jun 3, 1896 – The Defense of Van begins
• Haji Agha, a Muslim,
reportedly stood guard
at an Aintab hospital,
to protect it from an
massacre in 1895
• As word of the massacres spread,
of Van decided to defend themselves
the Armenians
• Led by Armenagan, Hunchaks and
Tashnags, the people held out over a
week against the Turkish Army,
Hamideye, and Kurds
• The Europeans intervened, and 1000 Armenian defenders
agreed to leave Van and go to Persia under protection of the
Turkish Army
• On the way, the Turks allowed the Mazrig Kurds to kill almost all
of the Armenian Fedayees
• Over 20,000 Armenians in Van were then massacred
• In 1897, the massacres came to an end. Along with the
killing, many Armenians starved to death during the
harsh winters of 1895-96
• The Sultan was satisfied that the Armenian Question
had finally been resolved
• The European Powers did nothing to protect the
Armenians from massacre
• The Russians, who 20 years before had gone to war
with Turkey and freed Kars and Ardahan, under the
pretext of helping the Armenians, were focused on their
expansion to the east
• The Hamidian Massacres from 1894-96, and the harsh
conditions which preceded them, caused many
Armenians to flee to other countries, including the US
• The Hamidian Massacres caused Americans to learn
about Armenia, and many influential Americans took up
the cause, including
• Clara Barton founder of the American Red Cross
• Julia Ward Howe, author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
• Diplomats, prominent writers, governors, etc
• Set the stage for the Armenian Genocide 20 years later

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