1915: March 25: Massacre at Urumiah: 200 Assyrians Burned in Church - Orthodox Bishop Hanged - Refugees Executed
Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 at 09:29 AM UTC
STARS AND STRIPES HALT
TIFLIS, Wednesday, March 21, via Petrograd, March 25 — Telegram and letters reaching here from Urumiah, in northwestern Turkey, describe the situation of the American Presbyterian mission stationed there as desperate. Turkish regular troops and Kurds are persecuting and massacring Assyrian Christians.
Harry P. Packard, the doctor of the missionary station at Urumiah of the board of foreign missions of the Presbyterian church, risked his life in a successful effort to prevent a frightful massacre at Georgtapa, where 3,000 Assyrians made their last stand. They had fought for three days and all their ammunition was gone. At this juncture Dr. Packard unfurled an American flag and advanced between the lines. His act resulted in the saving of all but 200 of the Assyrians who had been burned in a church.
Fifteen thousand Assyrian Christians have taken refuge under the protection of the American mission section, while 2000 are at the French mission. A dispatch received at Tiflis from Urumiah yesterday declared that 70 Turkish regular troops had entered the mission, hanged the orthodox bishop, Mar Elia, and four orthodox clergymen and beat and insulted a missionary named Allen. Shortly before the 60 refugees had been dragged from the French mission and executed in spite of the tearful pleas of the nuns.
At Gulpashan the Kurds were particularly cruel. This was the last of a total of 103 Assyrian villages to hold out and it was occupied a month ago. The Kurds ordered all the Assyrian males into the streets, tied them in groups of five, marched them to the graveyard and killed them barbarously to the last boy. Girl babies and older women were then executed with great atrocity while the younger women were carried away as slaves.
20,000 Dead or Missing
As a result of the war, 12,000 Assyrians are taking refuge in the Caucasus, some 17,000 are described as in imminent danger at the Urumiah mission while 20,000 are dead or missing. Furthermore much property has been destroyed.
The Assyrians fought their assailants bravely and as long as they had ammunition they were victorious.
The missionaries are untiring in their efforts to help the people and they are spending much money to better the conditions.