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Day Trip: Bayburt deniestourism with its violent past

On 24 May came the fi rst attacks on the villages Aruk/Ariudzga (pop. 370), Chahmants (pop. 502), Malasa (pop. 380), Khayek (pop. 361), and Lipan. On 25 May, Tumel (pop. 204), Lesonk (pop. 981), and another ten or so villages were attacked; a total of 1,775 people were evacuated and led to the gorge of Hus/Khus. Here they were massacred, under Nusret’s and Necati’s direct supervision, by bands of çetes commanded by Huluki Hafi z Bey, Kasab Durak, Derviş Ağa, Kasab Ego, Attar Feyzi, and Laze Ilias. On 27 and 28 May 1915, the inhabitants of 24 more villages were evacuated and led in the direction of Hus/Khus, but were massacred further off, near the village of Yanbasdi.

According to the report of a survivor by the name of Mgrdich Muradian, the Turkish population of Bayburt was opposed to the deportation of the Armenians; the kaymakam is supposed to have had three Turks executed to bring people to reason.

The first caravan nevertheless left Bayburt on 4 June 1915, followed by a second caravan on 8 June and a third on 14 June. In all, some 3,000 people were deported. As early as 11 June, İsmail Ağa, İbrahim Bey, and Pirı Mehmed Necati Bey set about destroying the monasteries of Surp Kristapor in Bayburt and Surp Krikor in Lesonk, after plundering them. The aim was doubtless to gain possession of the monasteries’ treasures, but also to set in motion without delay the effort to wipe out all traces of the Armenians’ millennial presence in the region, especially the superb architectural monuments of the early Middle Ages.

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