Dear Helen Sheehan,
We are now visiting your art gallery, Families and Lost Scenes. A lace curtain which had seen better days is touching the heart of a woman… Black and white blurry visions of families from the past… We wonder where they are now… We truly hope they safely arrived at their destination… And that standalone backyard tree! The tree that you love most and you wish that it could utter words, is also beautiful. We also loved that tree standing out as the witness of the past.
We were also living there, slightly further down in eastern provinces when these pictures were taken. We are not sure if the tree could utter words, but today we are going to recall past events with our lost names and stories from Ottoman and Russian archives:
“I am the Turkish mother acknowledged in the document number 15; dated 17th June 1917 who helplessly screamed and got raped ruthlessly after her 16 year-old son was strangled to death.”
“I am the pregnant Turkish mother whose torso was ripped open by a dagger and whose unborn baby was taken out without compassion by her torso being cut with a dagger and whose baby`s head was cut off and was carried on a dagger after being told, “Aram Pasha wants kebab”…”
“I am the 16 year-old Turkish boy whose boyhood was chopped into pieces.”
I am the Turkish mother whose son mercilessly got strangled and who desperately screamed and got raped ruthlessly…
“We are hundreds of Turkish girls who were mercilessly raped!”
“I am 18 year-old Mehmet! Armenians chopped me into pieces as butchers do! They said; “We are going to make kebab for Cevdet Pasha!”
“We are the people who got murdered, buried and then taken out of their graves and whose coffins were filled with faeces.”
“We are deceased Turks who were acknowledged in the official Russian document number 31, dated 3rd March 1918 to be sent to London Times and other British newspapers via Muslim Outlook. Below are our stories…”
“We are innocent and oppressed Turks whom were shot in their heads, necks, hearts with the orders of General Antranik.”
“We are Turkish people who were put all together in wooden houses and burnt furiously.”
“We are male Turks from age 11 up to the very aged, who were lined up and were led with blows of whips, rifles outside the town and were massacred savagely. And we are the children and women of those men who were helplessly running about in town with our spirits in desolation. That night, blood congealed at the thought of horror of this night!”
“I am the baby in a wooden house whose head Armenians blew with a rifle to make me quiet! I fell on the floor. When my mother saw me in this condition, she began to sob. The Armenian guy slaughtered me with his bayonet and landed a blow on the head of my mummy and bayoneted her. Everywhere, even the walls were covered in blood.”
“I am the old Turkish grandma who got killed along with everyone and whose hand was cut off as they could not open my bracelet. They even cut my lifeless fingers to get my wedding ring. That was all I had in this world and was my wedding vow.”
“And we are the victims of all this terror, waiting for their turn in horror! Children, young girls, men, the aged and all. Can you hear our screams that echo through the seven skies?
“We are the witnesses of all these happenings! The Armenians set the town on fire; they also burned the houses of non-military character; they also burnt the house of American Consul, M. Stempleten. Now and then we heard gun shots; they completely massacred the remaining Turks before the arrival of the Turkish Army.”
“All roads leading from the gate of Kars to Hasan-Kale were covered with massacred Turkish bodies, torn dresses and the noses and the ears of a great part of bodies had been cut off!”
“I am the blind old man accompanied by a small boy. A soldier on horseback began to beat us; we wiped the blood off our faces without uttering a word!”
“We are Turks who were ordered to follow soldiers on horseback who seemed to be officers. The horseman in front of us made horses alternate between trotting and galloping; we had to imitate them. Those who were unable to do so were beaten; the horseman landed blows of rifle on our heads, made us pass through a group of carts. A Turk fell down. This did not please the horseman who went up to him, drew his sword and delivered a blow cutting his (Turkish) forehead and lips. The horseman shot him dead! Within five minutes there lay 40 warm dead bodies of the Turks on the side of our wagon. We are Turks who received shots by Armenians who were not content with their work.”
“We are Turkish girls and women who were drowned in the dirty water of a toilet’s pit. All our golden hair is laying on the surface. Our screams and cries have echoed through the seven skies. Can you hear us?
We have visited your gallery today. We, too, had our lace curtains which had seen better days… yet, we were not able to take their pictures…
We, Turks and Armenians, lived peacefully together with our nested cultures once upon a time. Those were the days when -Devlet-i Âliye- the Ottomans were powerful and in control. Long before the stirrings of the great states of the time. There were Hamparsum, Limoncuyan, tamburi Alexan Ağa, Nikoğos Ağa, Violonist Tatyos Efendi and many other musicians and artists, Armenian citizen of the empire were like our own people, grown under our roof, cultivated under our wings. Such as, Nikoğos Ağa, as a Christian was attending Mevlevi households and reciting rituals. You have mentioned establishing bridges, right! As you can see, we have established our bridges long time ago. They still exist! Yet, one needs to cross over these bridges with manners of sincerity!
That tree was there at that time. It will remember as the witness of past, for sure! We were also in that region, and we do remember as well; hundred thousands of Turks; babies, children, young and the aged! We are calling you among the old pages of the archives! Our cries and screams have echoed through the seven skies!
Can you hear us?
Muslim outlook; the official Russian document number 31, dated 3rd March 1918 sent to London Times and other British newspapers via Muslim Outlook, showing how Armenians tortured and massacred Turkish people after Russians invaded Erzurum.
2- Ottoman archive document showing how Russians and Armenians tortured and massacred Turkish people around Van, an eastern province.
From the gallery…
Muslims; women and children massacred by Armneians in Hasan-Kale.