From Kahramanmarash, we went out to discover Suleymanli, formerly Ze´toun. After 80 km of a very beautiful mountain road, into a magnificent but an almost desert landscape, we reached the high part of the valley.
There, several villages are dispersed at the feet of the tops. The principal village is former Ze´toun.
Between the old road and the village, the torrent digs a deep gorge; a rock on the top of the gorge offers a strategic position to keep an eye on those who arrive at the village. It is there that was built the Armenian fortress (Ermeni Kale). This configuration for a long time has protected the Armenians who, such AstÚrix, refused to be submitted to the Turkish invader and his Sultan. Today, there are no more Armenians in the area, but their history, perhaps badly known, seems still quite present in the spirit of the inhabitants. The monument for the gendarmes recalls them.
I received this translation from Kadir Polat:
"Armenian question, to be wanted to solve more according to economical
interests of world's capitalists than the real interests of Armenian Nation,
now has solved the most truly form with The Treaty of Kars (1). The friendly
connections of two hardworking peoples, that lived friendly for a long
centuries, was established again"
1 March 1922
Turkish Great Nation Assambly
3th year opening speech.
(1) The Treaty of Kars (city in Eastern Turkey) was a friendship treaty between Turkey and representatives of Bolshevist Russia, Soviet Armenia, Soviet Azerbaijan and Soviet Georgia (all of which formed part of the Soviet Union after the December 1922 Union Treaty). It was a successor treaty to the earlier Treaty of Moscow of March 1921. It was signed in Kars on October 23, 1921 and ratified in Yerevan on September 11, 1922.
I am A.Kadir POLAT
from Marache, live in Ankara
In 1915, there were 8000 inhabitants in Ze´toun and 17.000 in the villages on the surroundings. In 1919, 3000 Armenians had come to repopulate Ze´toun.
Here a short history of Ze´toun. We are in 1915...
There are two arrows planted ôin the living flesh of Turkish nationalismö: Ze´toun and Sassoun. The government cannot be allowed to again move troops to repress an Armenian ôrebellionö in these mountains which they know so well and where a handle of determined men can hold an army in failure. Whereas Sassoun is already weakened by the successive hamidian massacres, Ze´toun remains intact. It is true that the Armenians of Ze´toun sent in February 1915 an emissary to the viceroy of the Caucasus to propose to him to raise themselves against the Othoman government if one provides them with weapons and ammunition, but the Agreement which does not plan an unloading on the coast of Cilicie does not adopt this proposal and it is not very probable that it is there the mobile of the decision of Ittihad to strike Ze´toun first.
At the end of February, 32 young people from Ze´toun attack Turkish gendarmes who would have raped Armenian girls and they do kill 9 of them. Disowned by the population of Ze´toun which fears reprisals, they find refuge in a convent. They are there current incidents in this area, and the history of Ze´toun is summarized with this kind of conflicts. However, the government seizes the occasion to be done definitively with Ze´toun. On March 24, 500 Turkish soldiers go from Marache to Ze´toun. A Armenian delegation which accompanies them persuades Ze´toun people to help the soldiers to discover the insurgents, if not all the Armenian population of Cilicie will be held in charge for the murders. On March 25, the monastery of Sainte-Marie where the rebels barricaded themselves is attacked. There is then an astonishing fact which brings to think that the government tightens a trap to Ze´touniotes. Whereas 400 soldiers encircle 32 men, those manage all to flee with the favour of the night by killing 200 to 300 soldiers. On March 26 the monastery is burnt down, but it is empty. A few days after, the commander convenes 50 notable city for a discussion. They go without mistrust in the camp where they are arrested. On April 8, 60 families must leave without delay their residence. Day after day, the four districts of Ze´toun are emptied their inhabitants, the women and the children are separated from the men.
One month afterwards, there do not remain any more Armenians in Ze´toun and in the surrounding villages. The churches and the convents are plundered, the schools are transformed into barracks, the city is renamed Sule´manieh and is repopulated by mohadjir coming from Macedonia and arrived since March in Cilicie.
Yves Ternon - Les Arméniens - Seuil Points Histoire