1915. The turkish state had decided to exterminate all minorities. The government which was headed by the criminals Djemal, Talaat and Emver, under the advice of Germany, wanted to ged rid of all non Turkish populations. Assyrians couldn't be an exception.
January, 1915. Mussulmans attacked and plundered seventy of Urmia's villages. Many villagers were massacred in the plains. "There was absolutely no human power to protect these unhappy people from the savage onslaught of the invading hostile forces. It was an awful situation. At midnight the terrible exodus began; a concourse of 25,000 men, women, and children, Assyrians and Armenians, leaving cattle in the stables, all their household hoods and all the supply of food for winter, hurried, panic-stricken, on a long and painful journey to the Russian border, enduring the intense privations of a foot journey in the snow and mud, without any kind of preparation... It was a dreadful sight,...many of the old people and children died along the way." (The Death of a Nation, pp. 119-120)
German Missionaries had stated:
"The latest news is that four thousand Assyrians and one hundred Armenians have died of disease alone, at the mission, within the last five months. All villages in the surrounding district with two or three exceptions have been plundered and burnt; twenty thousand Christians have been slaughtered in Armenia and its environs. In Haftewan, a village of Salmas, 750 corpses without heads have been recovered from the wells and cisterns alone. Why? Because the commanding officer had put a price on every Christian head.... In Dilman crowds of Christians were thrown into prison and driven to accept Islam." (The Death of a Nation, pp. 126-127)
In Urfa (Edessa), the Assyrian inhabitants were ordered to surrender their weapons to the Ottomans and Kurds. Cognizant of their recent history, they refused to comply with the Ottoman demand. The Ottoman army, under the leadership of two German officers and armed with heavy artillery, attacked and destroyed the fort (Qalaa) and its Assyrian and Armenian inhabitants. Fortunately, few did survive when the attack ceased at the government's behest to pardon the Christians.
On 23 February 1915, more than sixty Assyrian notables were taken from the French mission and shot by Turkish troops. Among these was Mar Dinkha, a bishop of the Assyrian Church. "Here, then, in the ancient city of Tebarma, the scene of many previous martyrdoms, an Assyrian bishop is being led to be executed. He was not alone. He had a large company of his Christian brethren with him. What Mar Shimun Bar Sabaee, the first Assyrian Patriarch had done, during the persecution of Shapur the Magi, in the fourth century, was now to be gloriously repeated by another bishop of his church in the twentieth century. The Moslems had established a rule in asking of their victims to deny Christ and embrace Islam in order to save their lives. But weaker men and women than this body of prisoners had already chosen to be burned alive, and to be cut to pieces with aces, then deny their Redeemer! "Be brave, take courage, be patient, falter not, be firm and look up. In a few moments we will be with Christ!" With such words he encouraged his companions in bonds, till they reached the end of their fatal journey, where they were all shot to death. (The Flickering Light of Asia, pp.49-51.)
On 25 February 1915, Turkish and Kurdish troops attacked the village of Gulpashan, one of the most prosperous villages of Urmia. Almost all of the men ware shot, and most of the women were violated. March 5, 1915 About 800 Assyrians who remained in Salamas, most of whom were old people, with some of the poorer and younger women, were gathered together and killed. April, 1915 Massacre in Gawar and other districts in Turkey. The number of martyrs is unknown.
In Tel Mozilt the Turks attacked the 600 Assyrian homes in cooperation with neighboring Kurdish tribes. After capturing the city, they took all the men they found between the ages of 12 and 70, a total of 475, and imprisoned them. The next morning, the prisoners were taken out in rows of four and shot. After some arguments between the Kurds and the Turkish officials on what to do with the young boys and girls left behind, the army decided to slay them as well. Approximately 1,500 children, among them Reverend Gabrial (the red-bearded priest), were murdered. Agha Ayoob Hamzah personally butchered the Priest. (Gorgis, Deacon Asman Alkass,Jirah Fi Tarikh Al-syrian, Trans. Subhi Younan. 1980. pp. 24).
Djeudet Bey, Military Governor of Van, enetered Sairt with 8,000 soldiers whom he
himself called the "The Butchers' Battalion" (Kassab Tabouri), gave orders for the massacre of
the Assyrians. "The Chaldean-Assyrian diocese of Sairt comprises, exclusive of the
Chaldean-Assyrians of the town, more than thirty villages, not to count a large number of other
villages inhabited by Jacobite-Assyrians, of whose number we are ignorant. All these prosperous
villages were pillaged, looted and burned, those who dwelt therein being put the sword."
Eye-witness account of the Massacres: A certain Youssouf, son of Kas Chaya, during this time had concealed himself in the Chaldean Cathedral. Driven out by hunger, the unfortunate man left his hiding place one night and came to a house, where his sister Marian was. That very night band of persecutors arrived. We all fled to the roof in terror. Youssouf, fearing for his life, hid himself under a mattress. One of the brigands, who was following us upstairs, discovered Youssouf. He pulled him from under the mattress, threatening him with death. Youssouf bravely make the sign of the cross and cried aloud: "Jesus, into you hands I commit my soul." He asked to see his little nephew, an only son among seven sisters, kissed him tearfully and bade us farewell. With us there was also a boy of twelve, called Fardjalla, who had escaped death on the first day, and whom we had hidden with our men. Worn out by the excessive heat he had come out and joined us. He. too, was seized and began to cry, screaming: "Oh, they are going to kill me." His sister called out to him: "Do not be frightened, dear, you will be happy in Heaven." The scoundrels then took the two poor Assyrian boys outside the house, and shot them before its very door. (Shall This Nation Die? pp. 133).
On the 3rd day of March, 1918, the Patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimun sat in his carriage, and with a bodyguard of one hundred and fifty horsemen started for the headquarters of the Kurdish chieftain, Simkoo. He went to assure the notorious brigands that he could remain absolutely certain of the peaceful attitude of the Assyrians, provided his own men indulged no longer in deeds of violence and lawlessness. But was not this noble, brave and Christian attitude of a great Patriarch equivalent to the giving of bread to the dogs and the casting of pearls before the swine? The news of Mar Shimon's departure preceded him; and before his arrival, the great assassin, who could hardly believe the report, stationed seven hundred of his best marksmen in concealed and commanding positions, with the order to shoot simultaneously at the sight of the Patriarch, when he emerged from the house of their chieftain after the visit. No servant could have received his master with a great honor. The Patriarch was escorted into the house. Two of his bodyguard accompanied him within. The others remained outside. The apparent absence of the Kurds from environs of their chieftain's residence took the Assyrians off their guard. In the course of the friendly interview between the Patriarch and The Kurdish chief, one of the men who had accompanied Mar Shimon into the house, noticed from the window the presence of the concealed Kurds on the surrounding roofs. Realizing the full import of the situation, the attendant said to the Patriarch, in Assyrian: "My Lord, our end is certain, permit me to kill this dog (Simkoo) just to avenge The blood that will surely be shed." The Patriarch, with an incredulous smile, bade his attendant be calm. "My Lord," repeated the Assyrian guard, "they will surely kill us all, let me kill this dog, perhaps we can save your life!" The Patriarch restrained his attendant again. He arose to depart, accompanied By Simko to the door. The later shook the hand of his guest, and went back into the house. And just as Mar Shimon was seated in his carriage, surrounded by his bodyguard, the seven hundred Kurds fired, all simultaneously, into the group of their unsuspecting victims. Only six of these men escaped, with wounds in their bodies, to give the news of the tragedy, and tell the story of the Patriarch's assassination. (The Flickering Light of Asia. pp. 123-125).
Assyrian International News Agency