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Home Page / Documentation / Testimonies / Testimony: Sophia Stambolidou
Greek Genocide 1914-23

Testimony: Forrest D. Yowell

I have been Director of American relief work in Harpoot since October. I was arrested
March 5 for reasons which the Turkish officials refused to divulge and forcibly deported
from the country, preceded by my three chief assistants, who were informally notified
that unless they left the country they would be forcibly deported. We were nearly two
months reaching Constantinople.
All the twenty American relief workers in the Harpoot district have been consistently
treated by the Turkish officials with the utmost discourtesy and injustice despite the fact
that they were doing a large relief work for Moslem orphans and refugees as well as for
Christians. Our 200-bed hospital was operated virtually under the orders of the Turks.
The Armenians in this district are now in a state of virtual slavery. They are not permitted
to travel even within the country, and they are absolutely forbidden to leave the country.
Since I have been in Harpoot I have been compelled to return $75,000 to people in
America who had forwarded it to pay the traveling expenses of relatives desiring to leave
the country.
All the property of Armenians who died in the deportations has been confiscated by the
Turks. Armenians have no rights in the courts. A recent Turkish law prevents and
Armenians from inheriting property except from a father or brother; all other properties
go to the Government. If the rightful heirs are deported to any other district they are
prevented from taking possession by the law which forbids them to travel.
Armenian men and boys are thrown into jail without any reason except to extort money.
Armenian women today are being forced into Moslem homes without the right of appeal
to any tribunal. The Turkish official, who are six months behind in their salaries, state
frankly that the only way they can get money is by blackmailing Armenians.
The condition of the Greek minorities is even worse than that of the Armenians. The
sufferings of the Greeks deported from the districts behind the battle front are terrible and
still continue. These deportees began to reach Harpoot before my arrival in October. Of
30,000 who left Sivas 5,000 died before reaching Harpoot. One of the American relief
workers saw 5,000 bodies on the road to Harpoot. Two thousand died on the roads east of
The Near East Relief has been giving aid to these refugees at stations located along the
road from Sivas to Diarbekir. No American is permitted east of Diarbekir. All along the
route the Turks are permitted to visit the refugee groups and select women and girls
whom they desire for any purpose.
The deportations are still in progress. If American aid is withdrawn, all will perish. Their
whole route today is strewn with the bodies of dead, being consumed by dogs, wolves
and vultures. The Turks make no effort to bury these dead, and the deportees are
permitted to do so. The chief causes of death are starvation, dysentery and typhus.
The Turkish authorities frankly state their deliberate intention to exterminate the Greeks,
and all their actions support these statements.
At the present time fresh deportations and outrages are starting in all parts of Asia Minor,
from the northern seaports to the southern districts.