THE ISTANBUL POGROM

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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THE ISTANBUL POGROM
(September 6-7, 1955)

 

Nazi Germany had its state-sponsored Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night”) against its Jewish citizens in 1938, and the Turkish government repeated the feat against its Greek, Armenian, and Jewish citizens less than two decades later, on September 6-7, 1955. The riots were orchestrated by an array of Turkish security organizations, both official and clandestine, with the active participation of extreme nationalist groups shepherded by the governing Democratic Party (1950-1960) and government-controlled trade unions.

The process of Turkification that started at the turn of the twentieth century had entered the economic field after genocide and ethnic cleansing had been executed in 1915-1922, during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. The forcible population exchange between Turkey and Greece (1924) exempted the Greek population of Istanbul. In the Republican period, discriminatory policies against non-Muslim citizens included laws excluding non-Muslims from certain professions, campaigns to impose the Turkish language, the anti-Jewish pogrom in Eastern Thrace (1934), the Wealth Tax of 1942, and the recruitment of army work battalions during World War II. In a report on minorities, the Republican People’s Party (which ruled from 1923-1950) stated in 1946 that its goal was to leave no Greek in Istanbul by the 500th anniversary of its conquest (1953).‎

Turkish-Greek relations soured after 1953, when Greek Cypriots began their armed struggle for Enosis, the annexation of Cyprus—under British mandate—by Greece. Greece appealed to the United Nations to demand self-determination for Cyprus in 1954, while Great Britain wanted to solve the dispute without taking it to the U.N. Security Council, and leaned on Turkey to counter Greek claims.

An anti-Greek propaganda campaign started in 1955, with the main Turkish newspapers agitating public opinion along nationalist organizations. The British convened a tripartite conference in London with Turkey and Greece (August 29-September 6, 1955), which fell apart when news broke of the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Salonica (Greece), adjacent to the house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born.

The bombing was organized by the Turkish consulate with the ‎knowledge of the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry.‎ Oktay Engin, a university student in Salonica, carried out the explosion. He was arrested on September 18, but after his alibi the initial charge of executing the attack was dropped to incitement. After spending nine months in detention, he escaped to Turkey in September 1956, before the Greek courts sentenced him to three and a half years in prison. He would be later promoted by the Turkish Interior Ministry.‎

News reports of the bombing were first announced by radio in Istanbul in the early afternoon of September 6, and the daily İstanbul Ekspres, associated with the Democratic Party and the National Security Service, repeated them in print. The insinuations that the Greeks were behind the bombing became the trigger for a protest rally on the night of September 6 as cover to gather the rioters, most of who had been trucked into Istanbul in advance. The homes and workplaces of Greeks and other non-Muslim communities had been identified beforehand. Owners of Turkish shops had been told the day before to put Turkish flags on their windows; the shops without flags were destroyed or damaged. According to witnesses, the mob was furnished with a list of ‎addresses. ‎

The riots started in Taksim Square by 5 pm, and rippled out through Beyoğlu (Pera) during the evening, with smashing and looting of non-Muslim property. A correspondent for the French daily France-Soir wrote: “Everything happened as if the agitators had divided one by one the neighborhoods of the minorities, even the streets. I followed the arsonists for hours. When they arrived in front of a store, they asked for the owner. When the latter appeared, they asked: ‘Where’s your passport?’ If the owner of the passport was Greek, or even Armenian or Jewish, the looting started. Through the whole night, I heard from this frenzied mob a word that seemed to have been forgotten for a long time, giaour” (giaour “infidel”).

The police was ordered to hold a passive stance and leave the mob to roam the streets freely. The function of the Turkish militia and police was not to protect the lives and properties of the victims, but to preserve adjacent Turkish properties, except in a few cases where police officers prevented criminal activity. The fire brigade, whenever it reached a fire, claimed that it was unable to deal with it. According to a cable to the U.S. Department of State by the American consul general, “the destruction was ‎completely out of hand with no evidence of police or military attempts to control it. I ‎personally witnessed the looting of many shops while the police stood idly by or cheered on ‎the mob.”‎ The riot died down by midnight with the intervention of the army and the declaration of martial law.

On the morning of September 7, a mob overran the İzmir National Park, where an international exhibition was taking place, and burned the Greek pavilion. Next, it completely destroyed the church of Saint Fotini. The homes of the few Greek families and officers were then looted.

After the events, a total of 5,000 people were arrested, some nationalist leaders were taken to court, but nobody was convicted. There was an attempt to implicate Turkish Communists in the riots, which fired back. Attempt by Greece to bring the issue to the U.N. and NATO fizzled due to the lenient attitude of Great Britain and the United States towards Turkey within the context of the Cold War.

Estimations of victims are varied, with a number of 30 to 37 Greeks as most likely. Moreover, 32 Greeks were severely wounded. The mobs beat and injured many people, destroyed and vandalized cemeteries, dragging the dead in the streets. Some 200 Greek women were raped. It was also reported that Greek boys were raped and that a priest was burned alive. Many Greek men, including at least one priest, were ‎exposed to forced circumcision. ‎

The material damage was considerable, including 5,317 properties (4,214 homes, 1,004 businesses, 73 churches, 2 monasteries, 1 synagogue, and 26 schools). According to the Istanbul police, 3,836 Greek (2,572), Armenian (741), and Jewish (523) businesses were destroyed. The American consulate estimated that 88% of the businesses were non-Muslim (59% Greek, 17% Armenian, and 12% Jewish), as well as 92% of the homes (80% Greek, 9% Armenian, and 3% Jewish). ‎

Estimates of the economic cost of the damage varied from the Turkish government’s estimate of 69.5 million Turkish liras (equivalent to 24.8 million dollars) to the Greek government’s estimate of 500 million dollars. The Turkish government paid 60 million Turkish lira of restitution to those who registered their losses.

The pogrom greatly accelerated the emigration of Greeks and Armenians from Turkey. The Greek population of Istanbul decreased from 65,108 to 49,081 between 1955 and 1960. Overall, the Greek population of Turkey declined from 119,822 persons in 1927 to about 7,000 in 1978, and some 2,500 according to current estimates.

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By David Luhrssen

 

Dawn MacKeen Book Dawn Anahid MacKeen grew up hearing stories of her grandfather’s survival. Like many Armenians, Stepan Miskjian was marched into the desert under the brutal prodding of Turkish police with little hope of staying alive. But he eventually made his way to the New World after being sheltered by an Arab Muslim sheikh, a tribal leader in Syria who saved other Armenians as well.

MacKeen’s grandfather left behind a memoir of his experience that became the inspiration for her own journey. In 2007 MacKeen, a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Smart Money and elsewhere, set forth for Turkey and Syria to retrace her ancestor’s steps. The book that resulted from her journey, The Hundred-Year Walk, is a well-documented and written account of the Genocide and her grandfather’s quest to live. The New York Post called The Hundred-Year Walk a “must read.”

For its 2017 Culture Month event, St. John the Baptist Armenian Church will present Dawn Anahid MacKeen, 1:15 p.m., Sept. 17 at St. John’s Culture Hall. A light luncheon will be served before her talk begins. Admission is Free. General public is welcome.

SILVA KAPUTIKIAN

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Death of Silva Kaputikian
(August 25, 2006)

 SilvaKapoutikian

Silva Kaputikian was one of the most popular Armenian women writers of the twentieth century, as well as a long-time political activist.

 

She was born Sirvard Kaputikian in Yerevan on January 20, 1919. Her parents were survivors from Van. Her father Barunak (1888-1919), a teacher and member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, died of cholera three months before her birth. She was raised by her mother and grandmother. She published her first poem in 1933, when she had adopted the first name Silva, and she attended the Faculty of Armenian Philology at Yerevan State University from 1936 until her graduation in 1941. In the same year, she became a member of the Writers Union of Armenia. By that time, she had already married another poet who would become well-known, Hovhannes Shiraz (1915-1985). They would have a son, the prominent sculptor Ara Shiraz (1941-2014), and divorce later.

 

Kaputikian joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1945. In the same year, she published her first collection of poetry, With the Days. It included a poem, “Words to My Son,” that would make her famous as one of the most recognizable poems dedicated to the Armenian language and an assertion of national identity. From that very first book until the end of her life, her writing would focus around two subjects, national identity and lyric poetry, where she also reflected traces of her personal life.

 

She studied at the Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow (1949-1950). She established herself as a significant literary figure in Soviet Armenia by the 1950s. She was awarded the USSR State Prize in 1952. During sixty years of publishing activity, she authored over sixty books in Armenian, including poetry, travelogues, and essays, and several in Russian. Her works were translated into Russian by well known poets like Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, Bulat Okudjava, and others. She earned the title of Honored Cultural Worker of Soviet Armenia (1970) and Soviet Georgia (1982).

 

In the 1960s-1980s Silva Kaputikian traveled widely throughout Diaspora communities in the Middle East, North America, and South America. She published travel books about those visits, where she focused on Armenian history—with some one-sided views—and an optimistic picture of the future. Since the 1960s, she was an advocate of national causes. She was an active participant in the April 24, 1965, demonstrations on the fiftieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and later criticized the Communist Party for its failure to properly address the anniversary. For decades, she went on a tightrope between Armenian nationalism and Soviet internationalism, but was one of the most outspoken intellectuals on issues of public concern, from the genocide to Soviet language and nationalities policies to environmentalism. In early 1988 she was a member of the first Karabagh Committee, together with fellow writer Zori Balayan and activist Igor Muradyan, among others. In the same year she won the Armenian SSR State Prize.

 

She continued her literary and public activities in post-Soviet times. She was elected a full member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences in 1994. She became critical of the first two governments of independent Armenia, especially of President Robert Kocharian. She was awarded the Mesrop Mashdots Medal (1999) by the latter, but she returned it in 2004 after the violent crackdown on the opposition on April of that year.

 

Silva Kaputikian passed away in Yerevan on August 25, 2006, and was laid to rest in the Komitas Pantheon. In 2007 a school of Yerevan was named after her, and in 2009 a house-museum dedicated to her was opened. The street on which the museum is located (formerly known as Baghramian Lane 1) was renamed Kaputikian Street.

HAGOP VARTANIAN

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Birth of Hagop Vartovian
(August 18, 1830)

 

The foundation of Turkish theater is linked to a controversial name: Hagop Vartovian.

 

He was born as Hagop Gulluyan on August 18, 1830, in Constantinople. We know little about his first years, except that he went to school from 1846-1848. He debuted as an actor in May 1862, playing with the Oriental Theater in the last performance of their first season. He later moved to Smyrna, where he translated his last name into Armenian and turned it from Gulluyan into Vartovian (Turkish gülli/Armenian vartov “with rose(s)”). In 1862-1863 he acted and directed the Vaspurakan group, which played in Armenian, French, Turkish, and Greek. In 1867 he was back in Constantinople as director of the Asiatic Society group, and played Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s homonymous play, which marked the first time that the Bard entered the Western Armenian stage (after a performance in 1865 in the Mekhitarist school system without female characters). In 1869 the group was renamed Ottoman Theater, and it would cement Vartovian’s fame. In the same year, he premiered Vart and Shoushan, one of the plays of eighteen-year-old poet Bedros Tourian (1851-1872), who became one of his authors.

 

The great fire of Pera (nowadays Beyoglu) in May 1870 engulfed the entire district. Actress Azniv Hrachia, one of its witnesses, wrote in her memoirs: “The fire of Pera came suddenly; I cannot describe that terrible catastrophe, that horrible day as it was. I will just say that the entire neighborhood of Pera was in flames; the wealthy became poor, the mothers were left without children, and the children without mothers. There was not a single family with one or two members missing. Many families were found asphyxiated in the stone houses as a group. The fire did not only devour an infinite wealth, but also thousands of lives. Pera was in flames from fourteen sides, as if the fire was coming from the sky. Many people were burned in the streets.”

 

The fire destroyed all the theaters and decorations of Pera, as well as the dwellings of many actors and actresses. Only the group of Hagop Vartovian, which functioned in the neighborhood of Gedikpasha, was able to continue regular performances during the 1870-1871 season. In the same year, Vartovian ensured a ten-year permit from the Sultan, with the support of Prime Minister Ali Pasha, as the only theater allowed to present performances in Turkish. The group played in Scutari (Uskudar) in the summer, and it also had performances in Kadikoy and Pera. It had an eighty-people organization behind it, including actors, singers, and dancers, but also the auxiliary staff. The famous satirist Hagop Baronian wrote in a profile of Vartovian: “To say the truth, thanks to Vartovian’s tireless work our nation today has a theater. Once he organized the group, he hired translators and started to criticize the flaws of the nation with foreign plays, like that man who slaps a stranger and thinks to have stricken the son.”

 

The Ottoman Theater continued functioning until its dissolution in 1882. Vartovian had to sell everything to make a living and maintain his wife and three children. For a while, he was designated director of the court’s theater group. However, following the wishes of Sultan Abdul Hamid, he converted to Islam and adopted the name of Güllü Agop. He passed away on February 2, 1898, and was buried in the Yahya Efendi cemetery of Beshiktash

SHAHAN SHAHNOUR

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Birth of Shahan Shahnour

(August 3, 1903)

 

Shahan Shahnour

Shahan Shahnour

 

At the end of the 1920s, a group of young French Armenian writers started a movement towards the renewal of Armenian literature. The innovative works and theoretical writings of the so-called “Paris boys” would mark the beginning of Diasporan literature. One of the most famous names in that generation was Shahan Shahnour.

Born Shahnour Kerestejian in Scutari (Üsküdar), a district of Constantinople (Istanbul) on August 3, 1903, the future writer first attended the Semerjian School in Scutari, until 1916, and then the Berberian School. His pen name would become a combination of his first name and the first name of the Berberian School’s principal, the philosopher and educator Shahan Berberian (1891-1956).

He showed graphic talent and his first contributions to the Armenian press in Constantinople were drawings. He moved to Paris in 1923 and worked as a photographer. He followed courses at the Sorbonne from 1928-1932. He shocked the Armenian literary world with the publication of his first literary work, the novel Retreat without Song (Նահանջը առանց երգի), first in installments in the daily Haratch (1928-1929) and then as a book (1929). Branded as “the novel of the Diaspora,” it depicted the life of a group of Armenian immigrants in France and their process of assimilation and loss of identity. It was followed by a heated controversy concerning its ideological underpinnings, its denial of tradition, and various passages deemed as immoral for the standards of the time.

Shahnour became a leading member of the group of writers called “Menk” (“We”), which published the literary journal of the same name from 1931-1933, and published a collection of short stories in 1933, The Betrayal of the Resurrecting Gods (Յարալէզներու դաւաճանութիւնը). He would continue writing for the French Armenian press until the 1930s, and his essays did not lack polemical overtones.

However, health problems started in 1936 with the beginning of osteolysis (degeneration and destruction of bone tissue). The condition would take a turn for the worse after a botched surgery in 1939. For the next two decades, Shahnour, pretty much disabled, would wander through hospitals and shelters in different French cities, surviving with the help of a few Armenian and French friends. Finally, in 1959 he would find a safe place at the Armenian Home of Saint-Raphael, in the south of France, where he remained until the end of his life.

Despite his health issues, Shahnour continued writing. Although he abandoned Armenian literature for a while, he wrote poetry in French under the pseudonym of Armen Lubin that reflected his condition. His poetry, published in five collections from 1942-1957, earned him the praise of leading French writers and several literary prizes well into the 1960s. (A complete Armenian translation appeared in 2007.) He returned to Armenian letters in 1956 and forged a friendship with Arpik Missakian, publisher of Haratch, who would assist him for the rest of his life. Although his disability precluded him from writing literature, he focused on essay writing, and collected much of his old and new works in several collections: The Sunday Issue of My Newspaper (1958), A Couple of Red Notebooks (1967), The Open Register (1971), and The Fire at My Side (1973). The popularity brought by his old works continued alive with the readers until the end of his life and beyond; Retreat without Song would have four more editions between 1948 and 1994, and was posthumously translated into English (1981) and French (2009).

Shahnour’s life came to an end on August 20, 1974, in the hospital of Saint-Raphael. He was buried in the cemetery of Pere-Lachaise, in Paris, along Shavarsh Missakian, the founding publisher and editor of Haratch, the newspaper that had launched him to fame.

 

STEPANOS SIUNETSI

 

 

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Death of Stepanos Siunetsi
(July 21, 735)

 

Stepanos Siunetsi was a very prolific medieval author and translator, as well as an important figure of the Armenian Church.

He was the son of Sahak, a clergyman, and was probably born in 688. His father was an archpriest in Dvin, the capital of Armenia and seat of the Catholicosate, where Stepanos studied. Afterwards, he received his religious education first in the monastery of Makenetsots (province of Gegharkunik, near Lake Sevan) and then in the famous seminary of Siunik, directed by Movses Kertogh. He was consecrated archimandrite and replaced the latter as director of the seminary. A few years later, he returned to Dvin, where he continued his intellectual activities.

In 710 Stepanos traveled abroad to pursue what we would today call “graduate studies” in Athens and Constantinople, where he studied Greek and Latin literature, learned musical theory, and deepened his knowledge in theology and literary scholarship. He also produced translations from the works of several authors, such as Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite, Nemesius of Emesa, and Gregory of Nyssa.

Around 720 he returned to Armenia and settled in Dvin, where he continued his literary and ecclesiastic work. He wrote biblical commentaries and, above all, church hymns, which entered the Sharaknots (collection of hymns) of the Armenian Church and are praised for their musical quality and freshness. He also wrote a commentary of Dionysus Thrax’s Art of Grammar. During his preaching, he met Prince Sembat Bagratuni, a staunch defender of the resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, who quarreled with Stepanos and subjected him to persecution and death threats. The ecclesiastic escaped to Constantinople in disguise and found refuge near an Orthodox hermit to continue his theological and philosophical studies.

In 728 he went to Rome and brought the texts of several Fathers of the Church (Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Epiphanius of Cyprus) to Armenia. Catholicos David I received him with joy for this important discovery, which was coincidental with the death of Bishop Hovhan of Siunik. Stepanos was consecrated bishop and prelate of Siunik. Upon the request of the Catholicos, he wrote the work Commentary on the Four Evangelists, which is the only work of the old school of commentary of Siunik that has reached us in a twelfth-century manuscript discovered by Bishop Garegin Hovsepiants, future Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, in 1917.

Historian Stepanos Orbelian (thirteenth century) described Stepanos Siunetsi as a spiritual pastor of “sweet severity” and a careful guide, who both “nurtured the children with the milk of Christ” and “stroke the vicious ones like a sword.” Unfortunately, his severity towards the vicious ones cost him his life.

In 735 the prelate made a pastoral tour of the twelve districts of Siunik, where he redecorated the churches, preached the word of the Gospel and advised and punished sinful people. He visited the town of Moz in the valley of Yeghekis. He admonished  a woman of lewd behavior to repent, but she continued her indecent ways, and the bishop excommunicated her. Seeking revenge, the woman persuaded her lover to kill Stepanos while he slept. He was unable to carry it out, and the woman took the sword and killed Stepanos. The unfortunate ecclesiastic was buried in the church of St. Christopher.

According to Stepanos Orbelian, a strong earthquake hit the area for forty days in the same year, causing the death of some 10,000 people. Because of the lamentations of the population (symbolized by the interjection vay/վայ in Armenian), the region was said to have taken the name of Vayots Dzor (valley of the vays). The catastrophe was ascribed to a divine punishment for the tragic murder of Stepanos Siunetsi. His body was reburied in the monastery of Tanahat, where a small chapel was built over his tomb. In 1273-1279 the chapel was replaced by a magnificent church.

Stepanos’ sister, Sahakdukht, was also a teacher and the first Armenian female composer known as such. She renounced to worldly life and carried the life of a hermit in a cave at the gorge of Garni, near the ruins of the homonymous pagan temple. She taught children and composed church hymns.

KRIKOR ZOHRAB

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

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Birth of Krikor Zohrab
(June 26, 1861)

 

KrikorZohrab

Krikor Zohrab

Known as the “prince of the Armenian short novel,” he was also a skillful and highly regarded lawyer, as well as an experienced member of the Ottoman Parliament. His parliamentarian immunity, however, was violated to turn him into one of the victims of the first wave of arrests and killings of intellectuals that began on April 24, 1915.

 

Krikor Zohrab was born into a wealthy family in the district of Beshiktash (Constantinople) on June 26, 1861. He started his elementary studies at the local Makruhian School. In 1870 his father passed away and his mother remarried, this time to a noted lawyer. Zohrab’s family moved to Ortakeuy, where he and his brother Mihran continued their education at the local Tarkmanchats School. In 1876 he entered the Galatasaray Institute, sponsored by the French government, which was the only institution of higher education in the Ottoman Empire at the time. He graduated in 1880 with a degree in civil engineering, but rather than working in that field, he went to work in his stepfather’s law office, and entered the law section of the Galatasaray Institute, which was soon closed due to lack of Muslim students (it had 45 Armenian, 2 Muslim, 2 Jewish, and 3 Greek students). In 1882 he enrolled in a newly opened law school, the Imperial University of Jurisprudence, but left two years later without graduating. In 1884 he passed an exam in the city of Edirne and obtained the title of lawyer.

 

Zohrab had already entered the literary field in 1878, becoming a contributor to the daily Lrakir at the age of 17. In the 1880s he would become one of the prolific names in the literary movement of the time. In 1885 he was the publisher of the journal Yergrakount of the Asiatic Society, edited by the famous satirical writer Hagop Baronian. He published there his first novel, A Disappeared Generation, which he released in book format in 1887. He edited the literary journal Masis in 1892-1893, to which he also frequently contributed with novellas. He also wrote for the dailies Arevelk and Hairenik. He joined the trend of realism, propelled by French writers such as Guy de Maupassant and Émile Zola, and became the master of this current genre, which became the only one to be called “school” in Armenian literature. 

 

Zohrab married Clara Yazejian in 1888. They had four children: Levon, Dolores, Aram, and Hermine. Dolores Zohrab-Liebmann would later become a philanthropist in New York City. In 1891 he was elected delegate to the National Assembly, but his election was annulled in a session of the Assembly because he was not yet thirty years old.

 

He took a long break from literature in 1893-1898, which included the impact of the Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896, devoting himself to his profession. He was well known to foreign citizens living in Constantinople, because he often represented them in the first commercial court, due to his knowledge of French. He was also a translator and legal advisor to the Russian embassy in Constantinople, and managed cases for Russian citizens. He also had the right to freely travel in Europe.

 

Masis, now a daily, made a comeback in 1898, again edited by Zohrab, who returned to his literary endeavors, coupling them with his professional activities, where he had already acquired a prestigious name. However, in 1906, after he defended a Bulgarian revolutionary in a criminal case, accusing a Turkish official of torture, he was disbarred. He went to Paris, where he published a law monograph in French. He was planning to settle in Egypt with his family when the Young Turk coup d’état of 1908 and the restoration of the Ottoman Constitution changed his plans. He returned to Constantinople, where he was elected member of the Ottoman Parliament. He was known for his eloquent speeches.  He vehemently defended Armenian interests and rights. After the double Adana massacre of April 1909, he strongly criticized the Turkish authorities for their actions and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

 

To serve the Armenian cause, he wrote an influential paper in French called “La question arménienne à la lumière des documents” (The Armenian Question under the Light of Documents), published in 1913 under the pseudonym Marcel Leart in Paris. It dealt with many aspects of the hardships endured by the Armenian population and denounced the government’s inaction.

 

Also in 1909-1911 he gathered his novellas and short stories in three volumes, Life as It Is, Silent Pains, and Voices of Conscience. He also published Known Figures, portraits of contemporaries, and From the Traveler’s Journal, a series of travelogues.

 

Simultaneously with the Ottoman Parliament, Zohrab also became a member of the Armenian National Assembly. He raised the issue of reforms for the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which led to the signature of the Russo-Turkish agreement in January 1914, thwarted after the beginning of World War I.

 

After the wave of arrests of intellectuals on April 24 and the following days, Zohrab pleaded for the liberation of his compatriots and the cessation of the ongoing atrocities. He was personally acquainted and friends with many officials, including Ministry of Interior Talaat Pasha. However, his efforts were useless. Despite their parliamentary immunity, Zohrab and his colleague Vartkes Serengulian were both arrested on May 21, 1915, and dispatched to Diyarbakır for a purported trial by court martial. They were sent to Aleppo, where they remained for a few weeks, waiting for the result of attempts to have them sent back to Constantinople, to no avail. They were dispatched to Urfa, and killed in the outskirts of the town between July 15 and 20, 1915.

 

Krikor Zohrab’s memory as an outstanding writer and lawyer has remained alive for a century. His books have been widely published in popular and critical editions and his short stories have been included in many school textbooks. Most recently, on May 3, 2017, a plaque honoring him, in memory of the Armenian Genocide, was inaugurated at the School of Lawyers of the Appellate Court of Paris.

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