Add comment June 15th, 2012 Headsman
On this date in 1915, twenty activists of the Armenian Hunchakian political party were publicly hanged in Istanbul’s Beyazit Square.
A couple of other very grainy (newspaper?) images are here.
These unfortunates had participated in a 1913 convention that resolved — secretly, so they thought — upon treating to a programme of political assassinations of the nationalist Young Turks then driving belligerent policy against Armenians.
Unfortunately for them, the Sublime Porte had sublime ears.* It pounced on the prospective terrorists at the first opportunity, and gave them a couple of years in a dungeon before a wartime show trial days just days after Armenian genocide had commenced.
Paramaz, who’s probably the most individually famous of the twenty, has a recently-erected monument in Meghri. He’s also credited with a movingly humane exchange with an Ottoman judge, each reflecting on their respective impasse vis-a-vis nationhood and self-determination.
“The attributes of history in our reality are arranged in such a way that what constitutes ‘patriotism’ for one is viewed as destructive treason by the other,” quoth the judge (!!!) to the defendants.
And thus the mutual relations between nations living together amount to the negation of international law and social concepts. Today is the last session of these trials … There was something unusual and unqualifiable in these trials. Unqualifiable because neither you nor us had enough wisdom to penetrate each other’s [worlds].
You cannot imagine, effendis, that it is with such grief that I will pronounce the depth of my conviction regarding the patriotism accumulated in you. What can be more heartbreaking tht warm blooded beings like you full of life have sacrificed logic to sentiments … What great deeds vigorous individuals like you could have accomplished, if the ideal of a common welfare had been pursued under one banner … What benefits could have been borne from a mutual understanding that eluded [us], the other end of which is sad and dark. You languished with the idea that you are struggling against injustice; while have felt, every minute, that the rules of the world are abasing higher tendencies under the weight of cruel necessities.
This reflection led Paramaz, who today is an Armenian national hero for his martyrdom at the Turks’ hands, to reciprocate:
I, who has never cried in my life … I am not ashamed to say that I was deeply moved by the sincerity of [the judge] Khurshid Bey’s speech … and I cried, I, Paramaz, because Khurshid Bey put his finger on the wound when he stated, ‘What good deed could have been accomplished …’ I cried because in those words I found the brilliance of truth.
[Yet] we would be asking the same question, and add, What was left that we did not do for the welfare of this country. We accepted such sacrifices, we spilled so much blood and spent so much energy to bring about the brotherhood of Armenians and Turks; we lived through such suffering to elevate each other through trust. And what did we see? Not only did you condemn our gigantic efforts to sterility but also consciously pursued our annihilation …
Gentlemen, judge people by their work, by their traditions, within the realm of their ideas. I am not a separatist from this country. On the contrary it is [this country] that is separating itself from me, being incapable of coming to terms with the ideas that inspire me.
(Both quotes are as cited by Gerald Libaridian’s chapter exploring the Hunchak party’s history and doctrine, from A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire.)
Mutual empathy notwithstanding, the end for these twenty was indeed sad and dark.
* An Armenian informant named Arshavir Sahagian attended the conference and finked out its design. He was killed for his troubles on December 25, 1919, according to Raymond Kevorkian.
On this day..
- 1967: Moustapha Lô, failed assassin - 2016
- 1899: John Headrick and Carroll Rice, Missourians - 2015
- Feast Day of St. Vitus - 2014
- 1920: Triple lynching in Duluth, Minnesota - 2013
- 1648: Margaret Jones, the first witch executed in Boston - 2011
- 2004: Benjamín Altamirano lynched - 2010
- 1389: Saint Tsar Lazar, after the Battle of Kosovo - 2009
- 1945: Anicento Martinez, an American rapist in England - 2008
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,History,Martyrs,Mass Executions,Power,Public Executions,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Revolutionaries,Terrorists,Treason,Turkey,Wartime Executions