A Century Later, 1.5 Million Murdered Armenian Christians

Feb. 28, 2019 (The Bridgehead) – The January sun was shining on Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square as I walked by small piles of scrabbling pigeons, passed the gleaming white Obelisk of Theodosius, and headed through the metal detector that guards the door of the Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum. It is a long building of rose-colored brick and stone, fronted by a row of high arched doorways lined with black bars and clusters of green bushes and the occasional palm tree. It is built on the remains of the ancient Roman hippodrome, restored centuries later by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent as a gift to his grand vizier and childhood friend, Pargali Ibrahim Pasha. The vizier, unfortunately, was strangled in 1536 when the sultan’s wife decided his influence posed too much of a threat to her own and persuaded her husband to have him killed.

But it was not this morbid history that I came here to explore. I have been researching the Armenian Genocide for some time, and I was searching for the one building in Istanbul that each historical account pinpoints as hosting the first Armenian intellectuals arrested on Red Sunday, the day now recognized as the opening act of the genocide that would consume 1.5 million souls: 90% of Turkey’s Armenian population. It began on April 24, 1915 when Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha gave the fateful order and hundreds of Armenians were hunted down throughout the city. It was intended as a “decapitation strike” to devastate the Armenian leadership with a single blow.

Beginning at 8 pm. and stretching through to the wee morning hours of April 25, Constantinople’s Armenian clergymen, doctors, journalists, lawyers, teachers, and politicians were jerked from their beds, dragged from their homes, and…

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