July 21, 1915
The Secretary of State,
I have the honor to transmit herewith two copies of a report received from the American Consul General at Beirut relative to what has been going on in the Zeitoon region of Asiatic Turkey.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(signed) [U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry] Morgenthau
Enclosure: Two copies dated June 20.
A BRIEF STATEMENT OF THE PRESENT SITUATION OF THE
ARMENIAN EXILES IN THIS REGION, JUNE 20, 1915.
The deportation began some six weeks ago, with 180 families from Zeitoon; since which time, all the inhabitants of that place and its neighboring villages have been deported: also most of the Christians in Albustan, many from Hadgin, Sis, Kars Pasar, Hassan Beyli and Deort Yol.
The numbers involved are approximately, to date, 26,500. Of these about 5,000 have been sent to the Konieh region, 5,500 are in Aleppo and surrounding towns and villages; and the remainder are in Der Zor, Racca, and various places in Mesopotamia, even as far as the neighborhood of Bagdad.
The process is still going on, and there is no telling how far it may be carried, the orders already issued will bring the number in this region up to 32,000, and there have been as yet none exiled from Aintab, and very few from Marash and Oorfah. The following is the text of the Government order covering the case. Art. 2nd. “The Commanders of the Army, of independent army corps and of divisions may, in case of military necessity and in case they suspect espionage or treason, send away, either or in mass, the inhabitants of villages and towns, and install them in other places.”
The orders of Commanders may have been reasonably humane, but the execution of them has been for the most part unnecessarily harsh, and in many cases accompanied by horrible brutality to women and children, to the sick and the aged. Whole villages were deported at an hours notice, with no opportunity to prepare for the journey, not even in some cases to gather together the scattered members of the family, so that little children were left behind. At the mountain village of Geben the women were at the wash tub, and were compelled to leave their wet clothes in the water, and take the road barefooted and half clad just as they were. In some cases they were able to carry part of their scanty household furniture, or implements of agriculture, but for the most part they were neither to carry anything nor to sell it, even where there was time to do so.
In Hadgin well to do people, who had prepared food and bedding for the road, were obliged to leave it in the street, and afterward suffered greatly from hunger.
In many cases the men were (those of military age were nearly all in the army) bound tightly together with ropes or chains. Women with little children in their arms, or in the last days of pregnancy were driven along under the whip like cattle. Three different cases came under my knowledge where the woman was delivered on the road, and because her brutal driver hurried her along she died of hemorrhage. I also know of one case where the gendarme in charge was a humane man, and allowed the poor woman several hours rest and then procured a wagon for her to ride in. Some women became so completely worn out and hopeless that they left their infants beside the road. Many women and girls have been outraged. At one place the commander of the gendarmerie openly told the men to whom he consigned a large company, that they were at liberty to do what they choose with the women and girls.
As to subsistence, there has been a great difference in different places. In some places the Government has fed them, in some places it has permitted the inhabitants to feed them. In some places it has neither fed them nor permitted others to do so. There has been much hunger, thirst and sickness and some real starvation, and death.
These people are being scattered in small units, three or four families in a place, among a population of different race and religion, and speaking a different language. I speak of them as being composed of families, but four fifths of them are women and children, and what men there are are for the most part old or incompetent.
If a means is not found to aid them through the next few months, until they get established in their new surroundings, two thirds or three fourths of them will die of starvation and disease.