Distinction Between The Guilty and The Innocent

The Armenian figures who were arrested on April 24, 1915 were under then circumstances either the active members or the leaders of the Armenian Committees that were plotting against the Ottoman Empire.

It is a striking fact that there were former and new Armenian members of the Ottoman Parliament among those who were banished from the capital, Istanbul, upon a security decision taken by the Government, as well as those who directly collaborated with Russian forces at the Caucasus Front.

Some of the said members of the Ottoman Parliament, along with the volunteers accompanying them, joined the Russian forces at the Caucasus Front just at the outset of the Great War.

As those people were in direct collaboration with the Russian forces they could not have been arrested.

If they had been in Istanbul on April 24, 1915, they would most probably have been charged with treason due to their activities against the Ottoman Empire and punished in the most severe way possible.

This procedure is a quite legal, and usual one.

In all the states, the perpetrators of such acts have always been punished accrding to the law.

The values at the beginning of the 20th century and those at the threshold of the 21st century may differ in certain aspects. Nevertheless, “not the opposition to war” but “the high treason in the war”, especially “fighting in the enemy lines” is deemed as an act requiring the heaviest punishment in all the states even today.

Other Armenian members of the Parliament, who did not engage in the military activities organized by the Armenian Committees, continued their duties during the Great War.

The minutes of the Ottoman Parliament are the most obvious proof of this practice.

The same policy was also applied without any reservation in the Ottoman civilian, judicial, financial, and military bureaucracy – with some exceptions.

The directions that the Ottoman government sent to the governors and the district officials prove the sensitivity in making distinction between the guilty and the innocent.

At this point, I would like to commemorate the brave Armenian and Christian medical staff, doctors and pharmacists who served in the Ottoman Army, and lost their lives in the battles at various fronts, or who died of typhus and other epidemics along with the Muslim doctors.

Of the 163 Ottoman medical staff died at the Caucasus Front during the Great War, 124 were Muslim, 19 Greek, 17 Armenian, and 3 were of Jewish origin.

Today, the names of all those personnel are inscribed on the left marble wall of the Gülhane Military Medical Faculty in Ankara.

The loyal Ottoman Christian citizens in the Ottoman Army fulfilled their military service with self-sacrifice.

The Ottoman War Ministry awarded those heroes with medals and decorations.

The list of the Armenian (and Christian) officers who were holding highly critical and secret positions in the Ottoman Army Headquarters and at the fronts in 1917 is an undeniable evidence of the distinction between the guilty and the innocent.

———- c —– d ———-

Ottoman Army Headquarters

2nd Division

June 28, 1917                                                                (Message)

To: Office of Personnel Affairs

I hereby request the list of the Ottoman-Armenian soldiers who are appointed as translators, because of their anguage abilities, along with their positions.

———- c —– d ———-

Ministry of War

Office of Personnel Affairs

Foreign Affairs Branch


To: General Headquarters 2nd Division

In reply to the note dated July 2, 1917, numbered 43155

Please find attached is the list of the Ottoman-Armenian soldiers who are appointed as translators, because of their language abilities, along with their positions.

July 24, 1917

The issues pertaining the Armenians

ought to be restricted through strict instructions

———- c —– d ———-

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