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Assyrian Genocide – World History – Free PDF Download

BACKGROUND

  • The Assyrian population in the Ottoman Empire numbered about one million at the turn of the twentieth century and was largely concentrated in what is now Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
  • Violence directed against them prior to the First World War was not new. The Ottoman Empire began massacring Assyrians in the nineteenth century, a time of friendly relations between the Ottomans and the British.
  • In October 1914, the Ottoman Empire began deporting and massacring Assyrians and Armenians in Van.
  • BACKGROUND
  • After attacking Russian cities and declaring war on Britain and France, the Empire declared a holy war on Christians.
  • When the Assyrians did not collaborate with Russians, any plans to deport them were cancelled. Kaiser wrote that the massacres of Assyrians were apparently not a part of the official Ottoman policy and that the Assyrians were ordered to be treated differently from the Armenians.

GENOCIDE

  •  According to historian David Gaunt, a primary characteristic was the total targeting of the Assyrian population, including farming villages as well as rebelling mountain tribes.
  • The killing in rural regions was more extensive, while some survived the massacres in cities; Gaunt states that this indicates that a primary aim was the confiscation of land.
  • A German Consul reported in September 1915 that the adult Christians of Diyarbakır, Harput, Mardin, and Viranşehir had been targeted, and also mentioned an Ottoman reign of terror in Urhoy.

 GENOCIDE

  • While some Kurdish leaders tried to protect the population, they were unable to as the order had allegedly come from the government and such friendly acts were punished.
  • Figures by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate presented to the peace conference after the war state that 77,963 Assyrians were killed in 278 villages of the Diyarbekir province.
  • The same “butcher battalions” killed all the male Assyrian and Armenian population of Bitlis. They reportedly raped the women, and subsequently sold them or gave them as “gifts”There were later reports of the mass killing of hundreds of Assyrians in the same area, and women being forced into sexual slavery.

GENOCIDE

  • On March 3, 1918, the Ottoman army led by Kurdish soldiers assassinated one of the most important Assyrian leaders at the time.
  • This resulted in the retaliation of the Assyrians. Malik Khoshaba of the Tyari tribe, alongside Assyrian military leader Agha Petros led a successful attack against the Ottomans.
  • Assyrians were involved in a number of clashes in Turkey with Ottoman forces, including Kurds and Circassians loyal to the empire. When armed and in sufficient numbers they were able to defend themselves successfully.

GENOCIDE

  • The Ottoman Empire invaded northwestern Persia in 1914. Before the end of 1914, Turkish and Kurdish troops had successfully entered the villages in and around Urmia.
  • On February 21, 1915 the Turkish army in Urmia seized 61 leading Assyrians from the French missions as hostages, demanding large ransoms.
  • On February 25, 1915, Ottoman troops stormed their way into the villages of Gulpashan and Salamas. Almost the entire village of Golpashan, of a population of 2,500, were massacred.

BAQUBA CAMP

  • By mid-1918, the British army had convinced the Ottomans to let them have access to about 30,000 Assyrians from various parts of Persia.
  • The British decided to relocate all 30,000 from Persia to Baquba, northern Iraq, in the hope that this would prevent further massacres.
  • The transferring took just 25 days, but at least 7,000 of them had died during the trip.Some died of exposure, hunger or disease, other civilians fell prey to attacks from armed bands of Kurds and Arabs. At Baquba, Assyrians were forced to defend themselves from further Arab and Kurdish raids, which they were able to do successfully.

DEATH TOLL

  • Scholars have summarized events as follows: specific massacres included 25,000 Assyrians in Midyat, 21,000 in Jezira-ibn-Omar, 7,000 in Nisibis, 7,000 in Urfa, 7,000 in the Qudshanis region, 6,000 in Mardin, 5,000 in Diyarbekir, 4,000 in Adana, 4,000 in Brahimie, and 3,500 in Harput.
  • In its December 4, 1922, memorandum, the AssyroChaldean National Council stated that the total death toll was unknown. It estimated that about 275,000 “AssyroChaldeans” died between 1914 and 1918.
  • The population of the Assyrians of the Ottoman Empire and Persia was about 600,000 before the genocide, and was reduced by 275,000.

 

 

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