Letters from city of Van,
Printed in Droshag, official voice of ARF
January 22, 1903
Saturday night of January 4, around 8:00 o’clock,
just when the boys had fallen asleep, hearing a
noise outside, Vartkes gets up and looking out the
window sees people hiding and waiting under the
trees in the garden. He calls to his friends “get up
guys, we are surrounded.” His friends jump up, half
way dressed run out to the garden, but notice that
there were more people on the roof of the
neighboring house. They turn around and run towards
the front street door, they open the door and begin
shooting, trying to get away from the house.
Vartkes and one of his friends get wounded in the
leg during the short fight.
Eventually they realize that it was impossible to
get away this way. They go back in hoping to run
away from the garden door, but the enemy had taken
the houses around there too. So they climb to the
roof trying to find a way to get away from there.
Unfortunately the house was a free standing building
and to get to the next building they had to jump
over a small street. The guys successfully jump
across, but Vartkes, being seriously wounded in the
leg, falls down to the street below while trying to
jump and passes out. The guys leave. No one knows
how much time passes, laying in that deaf street,
bleeding and weak. Vartkes regains consciousness
and drags himself into the garden of a neighboring
house. It was hard to persuade the homeowner, a half
crazy man, to consent to take him in and hide him.
Next morning, the police come around investigating
and following the blood stains on the snow trace him
straight to the house he was hiding in. The owner
cursing and shouting refuses to open the door.
Vartkes speaks with the police through the window
and listens to their sweet promises. At first he
refuses to surrender. But after cerebrating for a
while, acknowledging that in his weak condition it
was impossible to fight for a long time, besides it
could have very bad consequences on the
neighborhoods unprotected people, he tells the
homeowner to open the door.
The police, who were promising all kinds of safety,
rush in like mad dogs and attack the injured Vartkes,
beating him mercilessly. Afterwards throwing him on
the back of a man, they take his half dead body all
the way to the governor’s house and throw it on the
snow in front of the door. When police chief Husni
and his son arrive on the scene, they attack and
start beating the half dead body of Vartkes
viciously, until the governor, opening his window
yells at them.
“Imbecils, what do you want from the half dead man”
he shouts and orders them to bring the wounded
Vartkes into his house.
keeping him in the governor’s house for a day they
move him to the prison, where in an isolated room
they try to treat his wounds. They transport him
back and forth, for interrogation, in an ambulance.
They found two hand guns on him, a mouser and a
Smith and Wesson loaded with bullets.
Note: Vartkes was an Armenian
revolutionary that the Turkish government wanted
arrested. They bribed Khatchig Semerjian with 30
pieces of gold to betray his whereabouts. A few
days after the arrest, the dagger of justice found
its way to the traitor’s heart. He was stabbed
twelve times and shot with a bullet in the head.
Justice was done in the middle of the downtown, at
the center of four roads.