Revealing Genocide Documents Found in Ottoman Archives

By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier, 13 August 2009
It is a known fact that numerous documents on the Armenian Genocide were either destroyed or hidden away by the Turkish government. Determined researchers, however, can still discover materials in the Ottoman archives that shed light on important events and personalities of that tragic period.

By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier, 13 August 2009
It is a known fact that numerous documents on the Armenian Genocide were either destroyed or hidden away by the Turkish government. Determined researchers, however, can still discover materials in the Ottoman archives that shed light on important events and personalities of that tragic period.
In recent years, the Turkish government has selectively published some of the more innocuous Ottoman documents, in order to counter criticism that it was concealing incriminating evidence on the Armenian Genocide. Millions of other documents, however, still remain inaccessible to the general public because researchers have to go to Istanbul and request a particular document by its file number, and pay a processing fee. Even if the documents are obtained, few people within and outside Turkey can read and comprehend them, as they are written in Ottoman Turkish and difficult to decipher Arabic script.
The California Courier was recently able to obtain from the Ottoman archives important documents regarding the tragic fate of prominent ARF (Dashnak) activist E. Agnouni, who was born around 1865 in Meghri, Armenia. He studied at the University of Geneva and was active in Armenian political movements in Georgia, Russia and France. In 1904, while in Paris, Agnouni supported the efforts of the Young Turk Party to overthrow Sultan Abdul Hamid. After returning to Constantinople (Istanbul), he actively participated in the Young Turk revolution of 1908. He then toured the Armenian communities of Europe and the United States. Agnouni was arrested in Istanbul on April 24, 1915 — along with hundreds of prominent Armenians — and subsequently murdered.
Prior to his arrest, Agnouni had written a heart-wrenching commentary, published in the April 16, 1915 issue of Asbarez, the Armenian language newspaper in Fresno. The article described disturbing scenes of Armenian soldiers fighting each other in the armies of their respective countries — Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In his article, Agnouni urged Armenian-Americans to come to the aid of their suffering compatriots back home.
Not surprisingly, the Ottoman government had kept track of Agnouni’s every move. This was evidenced by our recent discovery in the Istanbul archives of the Turkish translation of his 1915 article. The translator was an Armenian official named Artin who worked for the Turkish government as a "Censor of Armenian newspapers."
Censor Artin added the following revealing note: "This translated article belongs to E. Agnouni. He is a member of the Dashnak Party. His real name is Khachadour Maloumian. He is a citizen of Russia. He came to Istanbul during the war and until recently did not do any work other than carrying out propaganda for his party. During his residence here, he made one or two trips to Europe. He is part of the last group that was deported and exiled."
Bishop Krikoris Balakian, who was among those rounded up by the Turkish government on April 24, 1915, narrated the following bone-chilling episode about Agnouni’s arrest in his monumental two-volume memoir titled, "Hay Koghkota," (Armenian Golgotha). When Turkish police officers came to his house to arrest him, Agnouni asked in a state of shock: "Does Talat know about this?" Agnouni was completely dumb-founded when the officers showed him Talat’s signature on his arrest warrant. He asked: "I just had lunch with Talat — how come he did not say anything to me?"
Agnouni was stunned by his arrest because he could not believe that Talat would betray him after he had saved his life during the Young Turk revolution of 1908, by hiding him in his own home at the risk of his own life. According to Balakian, when Agnouni finally realized that he was being led to his death, he told his fellow prisoners: "I don’t regret dying, since I knew that death was inevitable. My only regret is that we were deceived by these Turkish villains." Balakian expressed his deep regret that Armenians who put their trust in Turks realized their mistake too late – only when they were on their way to their deaths!
Several new documents just obtained from the Ottoman archives reveal for the first time that the King of Spain made repeated efforts to obtain the release of Agnouni, Daniel Varoujan, Siamanto, and other prominent Armenians. It is not known what prompted the Spanish King to involve himself in such a humanitarian endeavor.
In two letters dated April 24, 1916, and May 10, 1916, Spain’s Amb. Julian del Arroyo wrote to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Halil Bey, advising him that His Majesty King Alfonso XIII was asking Sultan Mehmed V to spare the lives of the above named Armenian prisoners. Regrettably, unbeknown to the Spanish King, these Armenians had been killed long before his praiseworthy intervention.
Several recently obtained confidential memos between various Turkish officials indicate that Interior Minister Talat finally made up a fake story about the fate of these prominent Armenians. Talat wrote to Foreign Minister Halil Bey on July 25, 1916, asking him to advise the Spanish Ambassador that the Armenians in question, while being led to the Diyarbekir Military Court, had overcome their guards and escaped to Russia! Talat concealed the fact that the Armenian prisoners had been killed months before the Spanish King’s inquiry. This episode demonstrates that Talat was covering up his crimes as he was committing them!
Reading these newly discovered memos written by Turkish leaders leaves no doubt that the Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and executed. Minister of Interior Talat ordered the deportation and execution of Armenians and demanded detailed reports on their movements and conditions. In some instances, Talat personally wrote letters inquiring about the whereabouts of several prominent Armenians!
Despite all attempts to purge incriminating documents, ample evidence of Turkish complicity in the Armenian Genocide still remains in the Ottoman archives!
  1. It’s sheer carelessness

    It’s sheer carelessness, if not incompetence, by Turkish authorities that there are still Armenian Genocide-incriminating documents in Turkish government archives. The bums had 94 years to eliminate or doctor the evidence. How many more years do they require to finish the job? Bloody Ataturk, with his dreams of a "can -do" New Turkey, would be disappointed in his idolators.
  2. Questions regarding the Ottoman archives
    There are several questions to be answered :

    1. If Turks "cleansed" their archives, how come these new incriminating documents are found? Probably…another 94 years are needed to "purify" them, as Mr. Tutunjian suggests.
    2. Is it the sheer number of documents ?
    3. Is it the Ottoman script that eludes the modern Turks who use Latin alphabet and they can not read what they have?
    4. Who found these documents? Are they Armenian scholars?
    5. If so, how come Turks  permitted them to get into the Ottoman archives? It is known that Turks are very apt putting obstacles to those who are not of Turkish convictions.

    I am not questioning the validity of these documents, but it would be interesting to know "HOW" they came to light.


    1. The Ottoman archives

      1) The Ottoman archives are not thoroughly cleansed, despite the fact that the Turkish government has done its best to do so. Secondly, even though Turkish officials think that they have cleansed these archives, a diligent researcher can still find a lot of interesting and sometimes incriminating materials, as I have.
      2) Given the sheer volume of documents (probably in excess of one hundred million) makes it very difficult for the Turkish inspectors to review each scrap of paper in the archives. This is the reason for the lengthy delay in opening all of the archives and also the reason for finding sometimes overlooked tidbits of incriminating evidence.
      3) The Ottoman Turkish text and sometimes the illegible Arabic script make the documents in the Ottoman archives very difficult to read and understand.
      4) The Ottoman documents quoted in my column have been discovered through my own initiative. I prefer not to disclose the details.
      5) Some of the Ottoman archives are open now.

      Best regards,


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