Captain Emory Niles and Mr. Arthur Sutherland

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August 22, 2008


Van Rebellion, took place after the outbreak of World War I. By February of 1915 Muslims in mixed villages were fleeing to be among other Muslims. Armenians did the same. The confrontation was no longer one of Ottoman forces against Russian forces and their Armenian partisans; “[i]t had become a general war between the Muslims and the Armenians.” It raged first outside of the city an then, by late April 1915, in the city itself.

The Armenians, well armed, though without artillery, determinedly held their ground within the city center throughout the fiercest fighting, earning the upper hand by May 17, at which point they burned the Muslim quarter of the city and massacred those Muslims who had not fled. On May 20, they handed the city over to the Russian Army. The Russians rewarded the rebels by installing the rebel leader, Aram Manukian, as governor of the Russian Province of Van, which was short-lived, as Ottoman forces retook the city ten weeks later, leading to reprisals by Muslims against Armenians, who now were in flight toward the retreating Russian lines. Van was to change hands yet several more times during the ensuing weeks before Russian forces established firm control over the area in late September. This time, however, the Russians remained in charge, appointed a military governor, and disarmed local Armenian “volunteers.” Van’s fate changed yet again when the Russian Army decamped to join in the Russian Revolution. Armenians were left in control of the region and formed a government, which even issued its own currency. Despite an influx of returning Armenian refugees, the military strength of the Armenians had waned and Ottoman forces finally reclaimed the city of Van in April of 1918. When an American survey mission led by Captain Emery Niles toured the area in 1919, they beheld a depopulated, utterly devastated region.
Mavi Boncuk |

Captain Emory Niles and Mr. Arthur Sutherland were Americans ordered by the United States Government (in 1919) to investigate the situation in eastern Anatolia. Their report was to be used as the basis for granting relief aid to the Armenians by the American Committee for Near East Relief. The following is an excerpt from their report:

“In the entire region from Bitlis through Van to Bayezit we were informed that the damage and destruction had been done by the Armenians, who, after the Russians retired, remained in occupation of the country and who, when the Turkish army advanced, destroyed everything belonging to the Musulmans. Moreover, the Armenians are accused of having committed murder, rape arson and horrible atrocities of every description upon the Musulman population. At first we were most incredulous of these stories, but we finally came to believe them, since the testimony was absolutely unanimous and was corroborated by material evidence. For instance, the only quarters left at all intact in the cities of Bitlis and Van are the Armenian quarters, as was evidenced by churches and inscriptions on the houses, while the Musulman quarters were completely destroyed. Villages said to have been Armenian were still standing whereas Musulman villages were completely destroyed” [U.S. 867.00/1005].

For a complete copy of the report, see: | or click

Mavi Boncuk

Cornucopia of Ottomania and Turcomania | Contact:mailmaviboncuk(at)

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