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Remembering the Armenian Genocide

250 Adventists died as martyrs because they kept their Christian faith.

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

Bern, Switzerland.APD, Prof. D. Heinz, CD EUDNEWS.

"One hundred years ago, the Turk regime began to systematically kill the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire - an act of monstrous dimensions to which not only Armenians, but also Christians of Aramaic, Chaldean, Assyrian and Greek origins, fell victim, along with Catholics and Protestants. The goal was the creation of a new Turkish-Islamic nation.

Under the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the increasing massacres of Armenians and other Christians in the Ottoman Empire, since 1894, reached the highest level during the First World War with the deportation to the Syrian desert.

On April 24, 1915, by order of the young Turk government, Armenian intellectuals living in the former Ottoman capital, Istanbul / Constantinople, were arrested and killed. Between 1895 and 1922, more than 1.5 million Christians lost their lives in Asia. Until 1914, more than a quarter of the population of the Ottoman Empire pleaded for Christianity, whereas today there are only a few tens of thousands.

In 2015, Dr. Daniel Heinz, director of the Historical Archives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe, headquartered at the Theological College of Friedensau near Magdeburg, issued an article entitled "In the Valley of the Shadow of Death". In this article, featured in the October edition of Adventist Today (Adventisten Heute), Dr. Heinz wrote about the fate of the Adventist Church during the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. 

Since 1889, the Adventist Church has had only one missionary in the country. About 250 of the nearly 450 Adventists died, according to Heinz. Some might have fled to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, the Soviet Union or Greece. Only a few had managed to emigrate to the USA or France. After the genocide, just 100 Adventists remained in Turkey, mostly living in and around Istanbul, but most of them emigrated in the subsequent decades. The 250 Adventists died as martyrs because they kept their Christian faith.

From its beginning, the Adventist mission had been banned in the Ottoman Empire. Persecution and oppression of Adventists have always been on the empire's agenda. Dzadur G. Baharian, the co-founder and "father" of the Adventist Mission in the Ottoman Empire, had been detained approximately thirty times in the course of his 23-year mission service before he was martyred in July 1915.

He was killed by Kurdish militiamen after being asked to convert to Islam, which he refused to do. While his hands were clasped in prayer, he was shot.

According to Dr. Daniel Heinz, the most prominent Adventist victim of the genocide - after Dzadur Baharian - was Diran Tcherakian. The university lecturer, poet and teacher of the Armenian language was found with a paper in his hands. On the paper he had written the following: "And when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you, my God, are with me ... "(Psalm 23.4)."