Part four: eastern and southern provinces of Erzurum vilayet


Gegham M. Badalyan

Keywords – Basen,­Tortum,­Nariman,­Hınıs,­Kehi,­sanjak­of­Bayazet,­Bayazet­city,­Artsap,­Bagavan,­Karakilisa,­Alashkert,­Dutagh-Antab.

Continuing the series devoted to historical geography and demography of Western Armenia, we present to the reader the eastern and southern provinces of Erzurum vilayet – Basen, Tortum, Nariman or Mamrvan, Hınıs, Kehi (all in the central sanjak of Erzurum), as well as the town of Bayazet and the homonymous province, Diadin, Karakilisa , Alashkert and Dutah or Antab (all as part of the 3rd sanjak of the province – Bajazet). Armenians were driven away from some of the aforementioned provinces almost entirely. The persecution of the Armenian population began during the Ottoman-Persian wars in the 16-17 centuries. Only Shah Abbas I organized in 1604-1605 the migration of Armenians in many eastern provinces of Western Armenia, including in all administrative units, which are discussed in this article: About 60,000 people were expelled in the Ararat region, and then driven away to the depth of the Persian Empire. This process continued in the 18th century and in the first 30 years of the 19th century. Nevertheless, the process of the expulsion of Armenians from their historical homeland has reached truly catastrophic levels after the conquest of the Eastern Armenia from the Russian Empire. All three Russian-Turkish wars of the 19th century (18281829, 1854-1856 and 1877-1878) have had terrible consequences for those regions. Among these violent expulsions stands out particularly the big migration of Western Armenians in the period of 1829-1830, when only from sanjak Bajazet more than 2,500 families have been displaced mainly in Sevan basin, as well as in Surmalu, in eastern Chirac and other eastern provinces, as a result of which, Bajazet and many other villages and settlements were emptied. The demographic situation has changed to the detriment of Armenians also in Basen, Tekman (at the beginning of the 20th century was the northern part of the province Ķinis) in Tortum and Nariman-Mamrvan. It is in those times that ethno-demographic picture of Central Armenia was completely distorted. Immediately after the forced relocation of Armenians, Kurdish tribes began to settle in areas, which was strongly encouraged by the Turkish authorities and marked the beginning of a gradual “kurdization” of Western Armenia. As a result of such relocations, the Armenians, and, naturally, their ratio has been declining. In addition, in 1877 the city of Bajazet and many villages of the sanjak have been attacked by Kurdish brigands of fanatical Sheikh Jalaleddin, who was supported by the Turkish military authorities. During the robbery, the local Armenian population was almost completely destroyed (number of victims exceeded 2200). In fact, this should be considered as a precedent of the Armenian Genocide committed in 1890 by the bloody Sultan Abdul-Hamid II. However, among those provinces there are also some, where in spite of the Turkish policy of destruction, Armenian population could preserve their ethnic Armenian territory and numerical superiority until the Genocide. We are talking primarily about Hınıs and Kehi. The Armenian population of Basen was also quite significant

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