The annual convention of the Armenian Evangelical Union of Cilicia was to take place during the week of April 11, 1909, in Adana. Pastors and delegates from various churches set out for Adana on April 12, not knowing that they and their many friends were to be martyred. On the dawn of April 13, 1909, the massacre of the Armenian Evangelical leadership took place. Armenian Evangelical lay and clergy leaders were brutally murdered at the following four locations: Osmaniye, Chayer Aghzu, Hamidiye and Sigh Getchid.
Below are the names of those ministers and the churches they served, as well as the sites where the massacres took place:
At Osmaniye (in the Armenian Evangelical Church).—
Prof. Sarkis Levonian—Prof. at the Central Turkey College, Aintab;
Rev. Giragos Zhamgochian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Severek;
Rev. Nazareth Heghinian—Pastor, ThirdArmenian Evang. Church, Marash;
Rev. Zakaria Bedrosian— Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Garmouch;
Rev. Nerses Kuyumjian— Pastor,Armenian Evang. Church,Adiaman;
Rev. Setrak Ekmekjian—Pastor, First Armenian Evang. Church, Urfa;
Rev. Jirjis Shemmas—Pastor, Assyrian Evang. Church, Urfa.
At Chayir Aghzu (between the towns of Hamidiye and Osmaniye).—
Rev. Hagop Koundakjian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church,Hasan Beyli;
Rev. Stepan Hovhanessian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Kharne;
Rev. Garabed Kupelian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Osmaniye;
Rev. Takvor Hagopian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Baghche.
Rev. Markar Kaloustian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Hamidiye;
Rev. Hovagim Kayahian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Albustan.
At Sigh Gechid (near Sis).—
Rev. Hagop Albarian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Geben;
Rev. Levon Soghovmeyan—Pastor, Second Armenian Evang. Church, Hadjin;
Rev. Asadour Topalian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Fekke;
Rev. Melidon Malian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Sis;
Rev. Ardashes Boyajian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Shar;
Rev. Samule Bedrossian—Pastor, Armenian Evang. Church, Fekke.
Along with the martyred Armenian Evangelical pastors, two American missionaries, Rev. Daniel Rogers and Rev. Henry Maurer, as well as 13 lay delegates (nine men and four women) were martyred.
The Adana Massacre proved to be a rehearsal for measuring the depth of Turkish animosity in the Ottoman Empire toward the Armenians. It also became a prelude to the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide.
One of the survivors of the Adana Massacre, who miraculously survived this calamity, was the Rev. Hampartzoum Ashjian (1863-1938), the Pastor of the Armenian Evang. Church in Adana. He played a very important role in the aftermath of the Massacre. He served as a catalyst to bring together the leaders of the various Christian communities, as well as becoming the spokesman of the Armenian community. Immediately after the great tragedy, an Inter-Church Council was formed to deal with this catastrophe. Rev. Ashjian served as the Executive Secretary of the Council. He conducted extensive correspondence with the local and central government officials as well as its chief spokesman.
Ten months of intensive work—complaints, negotiations and demands—paid off. The Governor of the Province of Adana, Jemal Bey, organized a Reconciliation Banquet on February 5, 1910, which was attended by more than 400 Turkish officials and Christian notables.
During the banquet, many speeches were made by government officials and Christian community leaders. The last speaker was Rev. Ashjian. Outraged at the terrible Massacre and carnage, and filled with a passion to cry against the Turkish iniquitous injustice being perpetrated against Armenians and other Christian minorities, he boldly made a historic speech, excerpts of which follow:
“ … trusting your eminent forgiveness, I would like to make a few requests and demands. First, we beg of our government to abstain from condemning a whole race on account of a few ignorant people. Second, we beg of Muslim compatriots not to seek their gain in the loss of others. Because of the catastrophe of Adana, we, Christians, were humiliated... Do you think this misfortune elevated our compatriots?…They fell, too… in character and moral point of view. Third, we demand from our Muslim compatriots justice and rectitude…One more word, Muslim compatriots, trust us, we sincerely love this country… Don’t torment us so much… Don’t hurt this race which has no other protector than God. Lest the patience of God be ended and His wrath be poured on this country… If you love your country, your government, your God, put an end to such conducts…let us commit no foolishness which may cause the weakening of this homeland and nation” (Rev.H.Ashjian, The Catastrophe of Adana [New York, 1950], pp. 108-112, in Armenian.
By Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian
Source: FORUM, March, 09