THE FIRST SWIMMERS FROM ADANA TO KYRENIA

Gibrahayer
Apr 1, 2009

THE 1909 ADANA MASSACRES

By Mihran Boyadjian - The Adana Massacres of 1909, whose 30,000 victims
are being commemorated on the centenary of their death this year,
are of special significance to the Armenians of Cyprus since a large
proportion of them are descendants of the 1915 Genocide survivors from
Adana who found refuge in Cyprus, and who still consider themselves
"Adanatsi". In Larnaca, the Armenian Church of St. Stephanos, built
in 1913, is dedicated to the 1909 victims.

Massacres of Armenians in Turkey were nothing new, in fact about
15 years earlier, the Hamidian Massacres of 1894-96 had claimed
tenfold that figure and had shown the lack of enthusiasm of the
European powers for taking any effective preventive action. It must
be mentioned however that the American Missions, whose members were
eyewitness to the events, saved countless lives through their valiant
efforts on the ground and their very effective fund-raising back home.

Earlier Massacres had been more local affairs, usually the result of
periodic Kurdish raids on helpless villages and small towns. Some were
opportunistic, "pacifying" operations by local governing pashas whose
main aim was to raise revenue by pillage and extortion to recoup the
large sums (some20would call them bribes), which they had to pay the
Porte to obtain their posts.

The Russian Empire, whose primary foreign policy objective was to
gain access to the Mediterranean through Ottoman territory, found a
convenient pretext for intervening in Ottoman affairs by assuming the
role of protector to the Christian population. The European powers,
led by Great Britain, fiercely opposed any Russian expansion into the
Mediterranean and wanted any pieces of the slowly collapsing Ottoman
Empire for themselves.

Hence they supported the Sultan.

The Armenians, caught in the middle, had great hopes on the con
stitutional changes forced on the reluctant Sultan by the European
powers.

However, these changes were on paper only and were largely ignored
by the Porte. It was in this context that Cyprus was ceded to Great
Britain in 1878 in return for promised British protection against
Russia.

Some time ago, I came across and purchased a letter written by the
Commissioner of Kyrenia of the time, W.N. Bolton, which reveals a
macabre link between Cyprus and the Adana Massacres of 1909. The
letter, written on cream coloured notepaper blind embossed with the
British coat of arms, is apparently in response to an enquiry by
Harry Lukach, Private Secretary to the Governor of Cyprus Hamilton
Goold-Adams. Today, he is better known as Sir Harry Luke, having
changed his surname to20Luke in 1919. Subsequently, he had a highly
successful career in the colonial service and authored numerous books
mainly on the Middle East where he served in Cyprus, Armenia (1920),
Jerusalem, Malta etc. His books are full of anecdotal material of his
experiences in the places he served in, and show his compassionate
interest in the people he came in contact with.

Kyrenia 30th January, 1912

Dear Lukach, I have just been looking up the inquests held in my
district in 1909 on unknown bodies washed up by the sea.

The first case was in the first week in May on the body of a man washed
ashore near Lapithos. This body was much decomposed but had two bullet
wounds one in the neck and one in the abdomen just above the groin.

The two next both males came ashore one at Ayios Ambrosios & one at
Ayios Epiktetos but I do not think there were any marks showing cause
of death. No 4 was the body of a little girl about 6 to 8 years her
head had been smashed in by some heavy weapon like a hammer or a pick.

As far as we could tell from their dress they were all Armenians. Dr.

Fuleihan now Ast D.M.O. Nicosia was the officer who examined the
bodies and might if you want it give you more information.

Besides these there were several bits on which I did not hold inquests.

And I also believe a very large number came ashore=2 0in the Carpas. I
cant write owing to gout which I am glad to say is getting better
but very slowly.

I sent you a wire about the Lapithos road on Saturday as Williams was
over in the P.W.D. Motor on Friday & told me it was quite passable
with care, since when they have been hard at work mending it so it
should be quite all right.

Yours Sincerely W.N.Bolton

It is interesting to note that the Adana Massacres started in early
April and bodies started to get washed up in Cyprus about a month
later.

Today the fiction being propagated by the Turkish state is that there
was no Genocide in 1915 and that deaths occurred on both sides as
a result of fighting between Armenians and Turks. They further claim
that the deportations, during which some "unfortunate" deaths occurred,
were necessary for the security of the Ottoman Empire.

They neglect to mention that most of the fit Armenian men, who had
been conscripted into the Ottoman Army in 1914, were later disarmed,
transferred to labor battalions, and subsequently executed.

The fighting claimed by the Turkish state only took place in a
few mountainous regions when the Ottoman army tried to enforce the
deportation orders of 1915. We see here another example of reversal
of facts employed by the Turkish state similar to that of claiming
the bodies of Armenian victims exhumed from mass20graves were those
of Turks killed by Armenians!

The final destination of the entire Armenian population of Anatolia,
consisting mostly of older men, women, and children, was the small
oasis town of Der Zor in the middle of the Syrian Desert! Very few
were fit or lucky enough to reach there. The majority were killed on
the way or died of thirst, starvation or exhaustion during the forced
marches, as was intended by the Ottoman government.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress