A Letter From City Of Van - 1903

Printed in Droshag, official voice of ARF

January 22, 1903

On 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.

After 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.


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.

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