Encyclopedia >> Encyclopedia of Armenian Genocide >> Armenian Massacres in 1894-1896

 ARMENIAN MASSACRES IN 1894-96: massacres of Armenians in Western Armenia and in the Armenian populated settlements of the Ottoman Empire. The government of Sultan Abdul Hamid II organized massacres to suppress the Armenian national liberation movement and to eliminate the Armenian question. After the Russian-Turkish war in 1877-78, the question of Western Armenia and the Armenians stopped being the internal question of the Ottoman Empire and became the center of attention of European Empires and the means of suppressing the Ottoman Empire economically and politically. After the Congress of Berlin (1878) the situation of the Armenians in Western Armenia and in the Armenian populated settlements of the Ottoman Empire deteriorated despite the decision of Congress. The Ottoman Empire didn’t intend to realize the project of reforms in Western Armenia and it redoubled the national and economic suppresses. The massacres of Armenians became frequent. Not only the protests and applications of Armenians but also the reports of European diplomats in Turkey testified the heavy condition of Armenians (see “The Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire”).

In 1880s the crimes against the Armenians were strengthened in different places of Western Armenia and Turkey. The Turkish government forcibly removed Armenians from bordering places of Russia and populated those territories with the Kurds. The barbaric suppression of self-defense of Sasun in 1894 caused the protest of international progressive society. England, France and Russia developed the plan of Armenian reforms and gave it to the Turkish government on May 1895 which aimed at suppressing Turkey rather than improving the condition of Western Armenians. Realizing it and using the contradiction between Great States about the question of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II continued the policy of annihilation of the Armenians. On September 18, 1895 in the square of Bab Ali in Constantinople (Sublime Porte, The Hunchakians organized a peaceful demonstration to make Turkish government implement “May reforms”. 

The Turkish police, troops and the Turkish mob armed with batons attacked the demonstrators. On that day, 2000 Armenians were killed in Constantinople. The massacres of Constantinople were the signal of mass massacres of Armenians in provinces. On September 26 1895, the massacre took place in Trapizon, on September 30 in Baberd, on October 7-in Derjan, on October 9-in Yerznka, on October 10-in Charsanchag and Kghi, on October 13 in Baghesh and Gyumushkhane, on October 16 in Edessa and Shabin- Karahisar, on October  18 in Karin ,on October 26 in Kharberd, on October 27 in Akn on November  1 in Diarbekir, on November 3 in Marzvan, on November 12 in Sebastia, on November 28 in Zile, etc. The capture of the Ottoman Bank of August 14, 1896 caused new massacres in Constantinople. On August 14-16, more than 10.000 Armenians were killed. The Turkish regular forces, “Hamidiye” corps, police and the Turk and Kurd mob periodically carried out the Armenian massacres with a distinct plan and with sudden attacks.

In some places the Armenians organized self-defense battles. On October 1895, Zeytun rebelled (see the rebellions of Zeytun in 1877-78, 1895). On June 1896, when the Turkish regular forces, “Hamidiye” corps and mob attacked Van, Armenians headed by Mkrtich Avetisyan (Terlemezyan) and the others, succeeded in driving them away. As the attack of the new governing forces also was unsuccessful, the Turks bombed and burnt the city. The Armenians applied the interference of the English consulate and decided to stop resistance and to leave their homeland. The Turkish government promised to ensure their safe transition  to Persia, but on the road 8-10.000 Turk-Kurdish forces encircled 200 armed and 600 disarmed Armenians. Despite the 10-12-day heroic resistance, the majority of them were martyred (only 30-35 could survive. The Armenians heroically resisted also in Yedesia, Shabin-Karahisar, Malatya, Mush etc.). 

National heroes Kevork Chaush, Paramaz, Hrayr (Armenak Ghazaryan), Aghbyur Serob, Murad saved numerous villages and provinces from the massacre with their volunteer groups.

The massacres of 1894-96 are the most horrible crimes in world history. It is an act of Genocide as a result of which 300.000 Armenians were killed, 100.000 Armenians were forcibly Islamized, and 100.000 were deported to different countries. Many villages and cities of Western Armenia and Armenian populated settlements  of the Ottoman Empire became empty, the national and economic pressure on the Western part of the Armenian nation (people) strengthened.  

The European states, as usual, used the tragedy of Armenians and the Armenian question to strengthen their position in Turkey and did nothing to prevent the Genocide.

Germany strengthened its influence in Turkey. England improved its relationships with Turkey for regulating issues of Egypt and etc. and to the application of Armenians responded that “the English ships cannot rise the mountains of Armenia”. Official Russia by the political reasons remained indifferent to the Armenian massacres. France supported the idea of preservation of completeness of Turkey and its Minister of external affairs was awarded a medal for supporting the Turks. Only the progressive figures of time like Jean Jaures, Victor Berard, Anatole France, Johannes Lepsius, Henry Finnis Blosse Lynch and others protected rights of the Armenians condemning massacres and demanding from their governments to stop the Genocide.


Source-Encyclopedia “The Armenian question”, Yerevan, 1996.


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