Horrors of Armenian Encampments -nyt191702a
Horrors of Armenian Encampments
(Published by New York Times Company, Times Square, New York)
CURRENT HISTORY MAGAZINE [FEB. 1917]
Horrors of Armenian Encampments
Story of an Eyewitness
THOUSANDS of exiles Armenians are held in Turkish prison camps in the Valley of the Euphrates and in Northern Arabia and Syria. The first neutral to visit these camps ( he is not an American) has written a report of what he saw and handed it to the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, which vouches for the reliability of the witness. The writer of the report says that he was permitted to visit the Armenian encampments all along the Euphrates, and was able to see and to gather data concerning the exiles.
"It is impossible," he writes, "to give an account of the impression of horror which me journey across the Armenian encampments scattered all along the Euphrates has given me, especially those on the right bank, between Meskene and Der-i-Zor. These can hardly be called encampments, because of the fact that the majority of these unfortunate people, brutally dragged out of their native land, torn from their homes and families, robbed of their effects upon their departure or en route, are penned up in the open like cattle, without shelter, almost no clothing, and irregularly fed with food altogether insufficient."
The writer says that the remnants of the Armenian nation disseminated along the Euphrates are composed of old men and women and children.
"Meskene, through its geographical position on the border between Syria and Mesopotamia," the writer continues, "is the natural point of concentration of deported Armenians coming from the vilayets of Anatilia and sent afterward all along the Euphrates. They arrive there by the thousands, but the majority leave their bones there. The impression which this immense and dismal plain of Meskene leaves is sad. This information was obtained on the spot, and permit me to state that nearly 60,000 Armenians are buries there, carried off by hunger, by privations of all sorts, by intestinal diseases and resultant typhus. As far as the eye can reach mounds are seen containing 200, or 300 corpses buries in the ground pell mell, women, children and old people belonging to different families. At present nearly 4,500 Armenians are kept between the town of Meskene and the Euphrates. These are but living phantoms.
"I saw under a tent of five or six square meters about 450 grams of bread a day. However, at time, and this is more often the case, they remain two days without eating anything them. This tent was sheltering 450 victims while I was passing through. Eight days afterward, upon my return, disease had carried off seventeen of them.
"About Herrera is a small place north of Meskene on the bank of the Euphrates. It is the worst part of the desert. On a small hill 200 meters from the river are confined 240 Armenians under the surveillance of two gendarmes."
Similar conditions of suffering were found at Hammam, where there were 1,600 Armenians; at Rekka, where there were encamped. In conclusion, the writer says.
"I believe there are some 15,000 Armenians scattered about all along the Euphrates between Meskene and Der-i-Zor, passing through Rekka. As I have already said, these unfortunate people, abandoned, ill-treated by the authorities, are gradually dying of starvation. Winter cold and dampness will add their victims to those of famine. I funds are not sent, these unfortunate people are doomed."
The London Times has received the personal narratives of two Mussulmans whose former official standing is known and those veracity has been tested by personal examination.
"In the month of August, 1915," relates one of these eye witnesses, "at about two hours from Zaart I saw masses of Armenian bodies piled up in two ravines. I estimated the number at about 15,000. I learned that the Armenian Bishop of Zaart was not killed with the others, but at his own request had been shot in a cave near by. On my way back from Zaart to Mush there were 500 Armenians herded together in a stable near Mush and locked in. Through an opening in the roof gendarmes threw flaming torches. I saw the flames and heard the screams of the victims, all of whom were burned alive.
"At Mush the streets were strewn with Armenian ventured out he was killed on the spot. Neither old, blind, nor sick was spared.
"On the way from Mush to Hanis I saw headless Armenian bodies at short intervals in the fields by the roadside. Between Hanis and Sherkiskeui I saw two ravines filled with Armenian corpses, mostly men. there were about 400 in each ravine."
The second eyewitness was stationed at Erzerum in April, 1915, when the order came from Constantinople that the Armenians should be deported to the interior. He says:
"At Kamach I saw in prison a Kurdish chieftain, Mursa Bey. I asked him why he was there. He said:
" 'I have killed 70,000 Armenians, and now they have arrested me for striking a gendarme.'
"He was afterward secretly executed."
This eyewitness says he saw no German officers actually connected with massacres, but that the German military authorities in Turkey knew of them and made no attempt to stop them.
A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922