Straight out of the mouths
of Armenians and their supporters, from whom the following A. P. report relied
completely upon, we learn that the Armenians had engaged in a treacherous
revolt against their Ottoman nation. Note usage of such words as revolt,
rebellion, and revolutionaries.
The following appeared in the July 14, 1915 issue of the Dallas News.
Thanks to Gokalp for the article, and to Serdar for having transcribed it.
CITY OF VAN FREE OF TURKS AT LAST
THEIR SIX-HUNDRED YEAR REIGN IN ARMENIAN TOWN AT END FOR PRESENT AT LEAST.
STORY OF THE REVOLT
Question Now Whether Van is to be considered Independent or Annexed by Russia
Correspondence of the Associated Press
Van, Turkish Armenia, June 18. —The 600 -year reign of the Turk has been brought to an
end, for the present at least, in both the town and the vilayet of Van. It is no longer
strictly correct to date this correspondence as coming from Turkish Armenia, at the same
time it is a question whether Van may yet be considered an independent State or whether it
will be annexed to Russia. A foundation of Armenian autonomy  has been laid, however, by the naming of one of the Armenian leaders,
Aram, who was a former supervisor of schools, as civil Governor and the establishment of a
provisional administration. 
The vilayet of Van has an area of about 15,000 square miles with a population of several
hundred thousand. The story of the revolt, by which Turkey has lost control of the ancient
region, has not hitherto been told with much fullness. In the midst of a racial war, with
its innumerable massacres and scattered disorders, it was impossible to gather a
comprehensive view of the situation, and even now the story of the [burghers'] fight for
freedom must be discounted by the possibility of the Turks” return — although that is
regarded as remote.
Origin of Revolt
The origin of the revolt, of course, is found in the hereditary discord between the
races and religions of Van, but the uprising of the Armenians was more specifically
due to the conduct of Jevdett Bey, the Turkish Governor General of the vilayet of
Van in demanding Armenian recruits to the Turkish cause and in the severe measures
he took when these recruits were not forthcoming. 
During the Turkish mobilization, the Armenians were singled out to do menial work
and were not well fed, disarmed , they were
exposed to the fury of their hereditary enemies, the Turks and Kurds, and so
uprising became inevitable, although it was sought neither by the revolutionary
leaders nor by prudent Turks. Even Jevdett Bey, who is a brother-in-law of Enver
Pasha, the Minister of War, seemed at first disposed to peace. He consulted the Armenian leaders frequently and they trusted his
professed sincerity, but when he returned from the Turkish front, early in the
spring, he suddenly demanded 3,000 additional Armenian recruits. The men were
promised, but perhaps not sincerely.
Trouble first arose between the sturdy Armenian mountaineers of Shadach and their Kurdish
neighbors. Jevdett Bey then said that if the Armenians of Van stirred he would make an end
of the race throughout the Empire. T here was
shortly war between Armenian and Kurdish villagers in all parts of Turkish Armenia, mutual
pillage and massacre, though the Armenians then suffered incomperatively more than the
Kurds. The Armenian leaders counseled patience and submission and Jevdett Bey persuaded
Ishkan and three other revolutionists to undertake a peace mission to Shadakh. On the way
they were treacherously murdered, by order of Jevdett Bey, as the Armenians assert.
On April 16, Jevdett summoned Vremyan, another Armenian leader, for a conference and
bundled him off to Constantinople. Aram barely escaped seizure. The Armenians, now aware
of Jevdett’s hostile intentions, declared their inability to supply 3,000 recruits, but
offered 100 and gradual payment of exemption charges for the remainder.
Jevdett Was Obdurate
Dr. C. D.Ussher and E. A. Yarrow of the American mission, accepted the [futile]
office of intercessors. Jevdett was obdurate; he would put down rebellion at all
costs, first at Shadakh and then at Van. He tried to force the missionaries to
accept a Turkish garrison of fifty soldiers or to give him a written release from
responsibility for their safety. They managed the ticklish problem cleverly; when
they gave their final answer that the guard might be sent, though it would
precipitate war, the Armenians had so far organized their forces that the road from
the Turkish camp to the mission was cut off.
Hostilities began April 20 at dawn. Rifle and
cannon fire was opened from five strong positions on the old town or business center
and on the Armenian residence quarter, called the Gardens, as every house is partly
surrounded by vineyards and orchards. By evening houses were on fire in all
directions. Fifteen Armenian riflemen, reinforced at times by 1,500 youths armed
with pistols or hand grenades, manned eighty barricaded houses, connected by
trenches and mud walls. 
Their Own Munitions
Ammunition was scarce, but Prof. Menassian Efendi, head of the normal School and a
graduate of Yale’s Sheffield School of Science, cleverly transformed such
chemicals as were at hand and manufactured smokeless and black powder, while
mechanics turned brass cartridge shells. The Armenian laboratories soon were issuing
2,000 cartridges daily, besides hand grenades. Before the end of the siege they made
three brass mortars effective at 1,000 yards. Menassians boys’ band heartened
fighters with continuous music. Women and children carried ammunition and food and
water. Fourteen-year-old Neville Ussher and his recently organized boy scouts did
heroic service in extinguishing fires, reporting and carrying sick and wounded and
enforcing sanitary regulations among 4,000 Armenian refugees, who were now
overcrowding the mission.
Jevdett, now throwing off the mask of friendship he had worn, for he had known Dr. Ussher from childhood, threatened
bombardment in case a single shot were fired from Armenian trenches near but outside
the mission. Dr. Ussher answered that the missionaries could bear no responsibility
for acts of individuals beyond their control. Meantime the American missionaries
were caring for Turkish as well as Armenian sick and wounded, and as the only
practical administrators in Van had organized sanitation, soup kitchens and
distribution of bread for the 25,000 refugees who flocked or were driven into Van
from villages. The Armenians organized a city government, with Mayor, courts and
police, and kept better order.
All the American missionaries worked ceaselessly and effectively. Miss Carolise Sillman
organized and took charge of a hospital annexed for cases of measles. Miss Gertrude Rogers
and Miss Elizabeth Ussher helped Miss Bond, superintendent of the hospital, where there
were always 1500 patients for a fifty-patient capacity. Mr Yarrow discharged a multitude
of administrative duties assisted by Mrs. Yarrow and Mrs. J.C. Raynolds, the veteran of
the station, having lived there forty-four years without slackening energy or enthusiasm.
Besides these there were, as sharers of the dangers and [spoils?] of the siege the eight
children of the Usshers and Yarrows and Miss Knapp, a visitor from the Bitlis Misson.
In spite of day and night bombardment from the imposing Fortress Rock, an isolated
[?rising?] sheer from the flat plain immediately adjoining the old town, the handful of
Armenians remaining there cut off from their fellows by the intervening Turkish gardens,
shortly captured some of the fortified government buildings in their midst. Thirteen
thousand cannon balls or shells were thrown from the fortress into the old town, but
mainly fell harmlessly into mud walls, only three lives lost from the cannonade there.
Excited to New Fury
At the end of two weeks a runner from Ardetch, the second town of the vilayet,
brought news that the Governor had butchered all the male and many of the female
inhabitants, and he alone had escaped to tell the story. He had passed a night under a heap of corpses, he declared, and
his story excited the Armenians to a new fury.
Provisions and ammunition were running low when the end came with dramatic
suddenness On May 15 and 16 all the vessels in the harbor sailed across the Lake of
Van with families of Turks and, to mask the coming Turkish retreat, a more furious
cannonade was begun; the Armenian mission at last became the target. In two days,
half a hundred shells fell in the compound, one little Armenian girl being killed.
Altogether 12,000 shells or cannon balls had been fired into the Armenian garden or
residence city. At sunset May 16 the large barracks from which an unobstructed fire
had been trained on the American mission, disgorged its garrison, who were seen to
ride away across the farther hills. The Armenians rushed the last position of the
Turks including the barracks and set them afire, killing most of the feeble remnant
Night of Rejoicing
There followed a wild night of frenzied rejoicing and incendiarism. The old town and the
Turkish garden city went up in smoke. Half of Van, one of the prettiest cities of Asia,
became a ruin. To make matters worse, Aram, appointed temporary Governor, allowed the
cutting of shade trees in the Turkish quarter, partly for spite and partly to raise
The splendidly equipped Turkish hospital was plundered of its invaluable medicines before
the missionaries, whose medical supplies were nearly exhausted, reached it. They
extinguished three incendiary fires started in the hospital.
The Armenians claimed to have had ample provocation for reprisals, the Kurds having
committed nameless atrocities and the Turks having executed160 Armenian prisoners, of whom
80 were sick or wounded, before they retired, shooting, besides all the Armenian
conscripts in their ranks. The Turks left their own sick and wounded in terrible straits.
Seventeen were rescued alive by the Armenians. The survivors declared they had had neither
food nor water for four days. Scores were dead in their beds, largely of neglect.
The explanation of the Turkish retreat came on May 18 in the person of Vartan and 3.000
Armenian volunteers, followed by a Russian detachment.
Realizing that revenge must have its limits, both Armenian and Russian commanders
delivered Kurdish women and children to the missionaries to the number of a
thousand. The missionaries, however, were without proper medicines or food and were
unable to give these refugees the care they required. Diseases have been raging in their narrow quarters.
The defense of the Armenian residence quarter was directed mainly by Armenak
Yekarian, a noted partisan. To the correspondent of the Associated Press he related
some of the incidents of the struggle. Early in the siege the Turks fired 110 cannon
shot or shells at a position held by five Armenians. One was killed and another one
was wounded. Three survivors and eight more riflemen took a house held by 220 Turks,
killing at least six.
One of the most menacing of the Turkish positions was a barracks in the edge of the
Armenian residence quarter. It was held by 120 Turks. Armenian sappers mined and
dynamited it and the fleeing garrison left twelve charred corpses.
Jevdett Bey then sent ?00 men against an Armenian line held by forty-four riflemen.
After a three hours’ fight the Turks retreated, leaving thirty-five dead on the
field. The Armenians here lost one killed and two wounded.
The Turks had twelve cannon, about half of modern construction. Two of the old
smooth bores exploded. The waste of Turkish ammunition contrasted strikingly in the
prudence of the Armenians. It is estimated that half a million rifle shots were
fired into the gardens in a single day.
What the Armenian revolutionary leaders will do with their opportunity remains to be
seen. Grave errors have been committed. Some, not Aram, it is believed, have engaged
almost openly in the pillage of Armenian merchants, of the stocks that were saved
from the business center, and villagers of their remaining flocks. There is also murmuring among the democrats, who supplied half
the fighting corps, but have not been allowed any influence in the administration.
Coming from a month's wandering over snow-bound passes with Russian armies, the
Associated Press correspondent rejoicing exceedingly at the sight of the American
flag, hospitably displayed to guide him into the town, and was enveloped in the
peace of the hospitable missionary homes. One Armenian refugee remarked that it was
her third escape into the same premises, from massacre. Not a year has passed
without disquieting rumors or their realization.
But the missionaries have steadily pursed their work. Though they have guarded their
neutrality and have helped all classes, there is some rejoicing now that the reign
of the Turks is at an end. They are taking no sides for or against Russian
annexation, which many Armenians prefer to autonomy; they say it will suffice if the
Turk does not return to sow discord between the races and the religions of Van.
1. The Armenians had always enjoyed an autonomy,
albeit an "internal" one, as Richard Hovannisian instructs us.
2. A mid-1915 French newspaper reported: "At the
beginning of this war, Aram took up arms and became the head of the insurgents of
Van." Aram Manoukian was not engaged in "self-defense," but fired the
first shot; he was a great traitor to his Ottoman nation. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau
believed Aram's forces numbered the higher end of 10,000-25,000, while the Armenian-sympathizing Rafael de Nogales, who
faced off against the Van Armenians, vouched for 30,000-35,000, versus 12,000 Turks.
3. Naturally this account must make villains of the
Turks and their "severe measures," but note the utter absurdity. When a nation
is at war and particularly in desperate need of manpower to stave off invading superpowers
bent on the nation's extinction, it is not as though the citizens of that nation would
have the right to consider conscription as a "choice." From the war's outset, Ottoman-Armenians had joined
their nation's enemies; their treacherous intention was clear, and that was to fight
against their nation. Jevdet Bey was acting in self-defense. On April 24, the
Armenians' celebrated "Date of Doom," it was Jevdet Bey who was considering a
"deportation"... of Turks and
Muslims whose lives the murderous Armenians were imperiling.
4. Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army were
treated no differently than Turkish
soldiers, who were no less unfed. The reason why the Armenian soldiers were disarmed is
that too many were acting treacherously and could not be trusted. The last thing the
government wished was not to be able to make use of desperately-needed soldiers that were
already trained and equipped.
5. Note how the lies of Armenian propaganda become
unraveled even in a partisan article such as this. Despite efforts to make Jevdet into a
monster (Peter Balakian tells us his hobby was to
nail horseshoes onto Armenian feet), of course Jevdet was friendly and would have
"consulted the Armenian leaders frequently and they trusted his professed
sincerity"; it was only after the Armenians' treachery became too blatant to ignore
did Jevdet perform his duty and try to defend his people and territory.
6. How could Jevdet have made "an end of the
[Armenian] race throughout the Empire" if his authority extended only to Van? If this
threat was not made publicly, it's curious where the Armenian who provided this alleged
statement might have heard it from.
7. The stupidities abound. Practically all
able-bodied Muslim men in the area were away trying to defend the empire from mortal enemy
Russia, poised at the gates, particularly after the army in the east was decimated in
Sarikamish, no thanks to treacherous Armenians. The traitorous Armenian men, either having
deserted or having avoided conscription were behind in huge numbers, massacring the
Muslims. Yet here we are told the Armenians, those eternal victims, still suffered "incomparatively"
more. And just as we're trying to recover from that fearsome lack of logic, we're told
Jevdet arranged for four Armenians to talk sense into their fellow revolutionists, to try
and get their dangerous behavior under control. Then, for no reason whatsoever, he
arranges for their murder. It seems even the reporter realized the stink, and made sure to
remind his readers these stories derived from the assertions of Armenians."
8. If Jevdet was "obdurate" in trying to
put down a rebellion during dangerous wartime, then Jevdet was doing nothing less than his
job... much as the article tries to make it seem as though he were a brute. And do we need
further confirmation as to how much these missionaries were in total cahoots with their
beloved Armenians? The reason why they found the protection of a Turkish guard
objectionable was because they did not want the authorities to be near the subversive
activities the Armenians were up to, with the cooperation of the missionaries.
9. The "hostilities" had actually begun
earlier than April 20th. They were merely heating up by this point, playing a good part in
the government's decision to arrest the ringleaders of the rebellion in Istanbul four days
later, marking the beginning of the "genocide."
10. 1,500 youths is nothing less than a small
army. If we are to take that word literally, we'd need to assume many were
"kids"; a dangerous component of the
Armenian community, necesitating their inclusion in the "deportation."
11. Now doesn't that take the cake. The two-faced
Armenians switch gears from "friend" to enemy as soon as they smell blood, and
when Jevdet responds to this threat as he was duty-bound to do, suddenly his previous
friendliness must be described as a "mask."
12. The accent here is on the word,
"story." Such stories of hearsay from inventive Armenians were, as a rule,
accepted as fact.
13. We're meant to get the idea that the Turks
were so cruel, they neglected their own. Recruiting genocide-speak, was such neglect a
result of "intent"? Or is it possible manpower and resources were severely
limited? Whatever the reason, the "genocide"-busting conclusion is this: If the
Turks couldn't take care of their own, why should Armenians have received special
14. Note the double standard, compared with
Footnote 13 above. Suddenly, the neglect of Muslims under missionary care is presented as
a "couldn't be helped" case. It's interesting to contemplate who might have
received preferential treatment with the limited provisions on hand... Armenians, or
Muslim Kurds? Since that one is a no-brainer, here is another point to ponder: precisely
how limited was this revenge by Armenians? Since the mass killings had barely begun, of
course that is another no-brainer. Finally, since the Armenians fired the first shot, how
could their murders of Muslims be justified as a revenge mode?
15. Armenian battle stories must always be
presented with limited losses for the Armenians and overwhelming losses for the Turks.
16. Business as usual for the Dashnaks and other
revolutionary leaders, criminally exploiting their own. These were the gangsters the
Armenian community put their trust in, only to see the terrorists destroy the Armenians'
cushy, prosperous lives. Since Armenians are not "man" enough to take
responsibility for their decisions, when they lost their gamble and were faced with ruin,
they immorally had to make a "genocide" out of these events.
17. Yes, those missionaries were certainly known
for their "neutrality," all
right. And how interesting that the Armenians preferred Russian dominance over
independence. They must have been very happy when they would get their wish some six years
later, enslaved over the next sixty years, with that warm and cuddly, fair Russian treatment.