Turkish colonel charmed by unwavering Armenian female fighters

The colonel of a Turkish army is charmed by the courage of Armenian women who fought alongside men as they defended Musa Ler during the Armenian Genocide.

This is what the late Artashes Balabanyan, who was one of the participants of the self-defense battle and taught at the Lyceum in Etchmiadzin after moving to Armenia, said during an audio recording with Sputnik Արմենիա.

According to him, the reason for the self-defense of the residents of Musa Ler is the city of Zeytun. The Armenians, whom Abdul Hamid had periodically massacred for 30 consecutive years, were persuaded by the local authorities that nothing would threaten them on the road. However, 7,000 people were killed on the road to the desert.

“Two people escaped from Zeytun by a miracle and talked about how the Turks had attacked and massacred them when they had left the villages,” Balabanyan said. A couple of days later, Antioch sent a letter to the residents of Musa Ler stating that the residents were instructed to leave their homes within seven days and, before leaving, provide descriptions of their properties in order to receive them upon their return.

According to Balabanyan, the letter called on the residents to “fully trust the authorities”. The Armenians commissioned one of their representatives to Antioch who was close with one of the local Turks, who reported that the “Damocles’ sword” was hanging over the Armenian people. “For a couple of days, they consulted and decided how they would act. They would either bow their heads to be massacred like sheep or take arms and fight,” Balabanyan said.

According to Balabanyan, the only issue left to solve was the issue of weapons. However, it turned out that in 1895 and in 1908 (the Young Turks organized a coup d’etat in that period), the Hunchak Armenians had secretly obtained weapons and hidden them. Only the spiritual leader and the head of one of the villages knew about that.

They climbed to a mountain and shared their duties. The youngest boys were left under women’s care, 10-13-year-old boys controlled the situation, while 14-16-year-olds were engaged in providing fighters with food and ammunition. More than 15 women fought along with the men, and one of them, who was in a blockade, admitted to the Turks that she had killed five Turks.

“Their commander told the soldiers the following: “If my troops fight like the Armenians, I will conquer the world”,” Balabanyan said.

The Armenians of Musa Ler retaliated when the Turkish army made five attacks. During the self-defense, they managed to send a letter to the French representation in Aleppo with the request for help and received it.

Later, he was often asked how a group of 600 villagers managed to win the 10,000-man Turkish army with an insufficient supply of arms and ammunition.

“We had climbed to the mountain with a crazy thought that we would either die with the arms in our hands or live in peace,” Balabanyan said.

The self-defense battles of the Armenians of Svedia (Suedia) on Musa Ler (near the Svedia town in Antioch province of Aleppo) took place during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. There were six Armenian villages around the mountain, including Kebusie, Vagif, Khdrbek, Yoghunoluk, Haji Habibli and Bitias, the residents of which (there were more than 6,000 residents) were involved in farming, silkworm keeping, beekeeping and had their schools and churches.

On the 53rd day of the blockade, 2 French military ships appeared and started bombarding the Turkish military positions. Later, the Armenians were informed that the French government had decided to transfer them to Port Said. On 13-15 September, the heroic defenders (nearly 4,000) were transferred to France (the “Joan D’Arc” and other ships headed towards Port Said where the Armenians of Egypt provided their assistance).

The heroic battle of Musa Ler is one of the brilliant episodes of the national and liberation movement of the Armenians. The heroic battle has been artistically presented in Werfel’s novel “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh”, which has been translated into many languages. After WWII, many Armenians of Musa Ler immigrated to Armenia and established the Musa Ler town (in the Etchmiadzin region) where there is a monument in honor of the defenders of Musa Ler.

Source: armeniasputnik.am

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