Part six: The northern, eastern and western provinces of Bitlis vilayet
Gegham M. Badalyan
Key words – Bulanukh, St. Daniel Monastery, Liz melikate, Yondzhalu melikate, Manazkert, Vardo, Datvan-Rahva, Genji, Chapaghdzhur, self-defense of the Upper Bulanukh.
We would like to present to the reader’s attention the following districts of 3 sanjaks of Bitlis Vilayet – Bulanukh, Manazkert, Vardo (Mush sanjak), Khlat or Akhlat with a small district – Datvan Rahva (Bitlis central sanjak), Genji, Chapaghdzhur (Genji sanjak). These administrative units occupied the northern, eastern and western parts of the vilayet. Among the most Armenian-populated areas of Western Armenia were Bulanukh and Khlat (with Datvan). In these administrative units the Armenian population was overwhelming until 1915, particularly in the first two districts – 65-68%, and in the group of Datvan villages – 90%. The number of the Armenian population in other districts has declined due to well-known circumstances, although here, too, on the eve of the First World War one could still find many “islands” of the Armenian population. Genji and Chapaghdzhur sanjaks and Vardo village especially suffered from ethnic cleansing resulting from regular devastating battles that were motivated by Kurdish elders in the 18-19 centuries and were accompanied by mass penetration of new tribes. In the 30-40-ies of the 19th century the Turkish government was deliberately populating by Kurds most of the land abandoned by the Armenians, and the 60-70-ies of the same century they were joined by the Caucasian mountaineers and some Turkic-speaking ethnic groups. As a result of such a policy at the end of the 19th century the districts of Manazkert, Vardo, Genji and Chapaghdzhur significantly lost their national character, becoming areas mainly populated by alien tribes.