Saturday, 3 January 2015

Women Warriors in Western Armenia

It's a while since I've posted about women warriors, so here are two women from Western Armenia, in 1895.

They were fighting against the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid, who ruled their country as part of the Ottoman Empire. He blamed the Christian minority in Armenia for the woes of his declining empire - a typical example of scapegoating people who were not responsible for his problems.
The Sultan armed Kurdish bandits and gave them free rein to attack the Armenians, as well as using his regular army against the civilian population. Massacres took place in many places, including Constantinople, from 1894 to 1897, and the total number of dead has been estimated at between 80,000 to 300,000.
At the time, the massacres were widely reported around the world, and caused outrage in Europe and the United States. The Red Cross arrived to give humanitarian aid - this must be one of the first times this happened, as the Red Cross was founded in 1863, only 30 years earlier. They were mobilised during the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s, but I don't think they did much with civilians until the Armenian massacres.
So, when I first found this photo, I was expecting a fairly romantic tale of bandits - certainly not the mass slaughter that these women were actually fighting against.

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