During the night from Saturday to Sunday, 25th inst., and from Sunday to Monday, 26th inst., numerous arrests of Armenians have taken place here. Altogether around 500 persons from all classes of society are said to have been arrested, including doctors, journalists, authors, clergymen, also some deputies. The offices of the newspaper Azadamart, a body of the Dashnaktsutiun party, to which many of those arrested belong, were closed down by the authorities. During the following days, most of them were deported to the interior of Asia Minor.
There were all kinds of uncontrollable rumours going around in public concerning the reasons for these measures. Among other things, it was said that explosives, bombs and weapons had been discovered in Armenian houses and churches and that the Armenians had planned attacks on the Porte and other public buildings for the day of the Coronation festivities (27th inst.).
When the Armenian Patriarch asked the Grand Vizier and the Minister of the Interior about the reasons for these mass arrests, he received the reply that the organisation of the Armenian people in political parties could be used at the present time by individual, influential persons to disturb the public peace, and that it seemed to be in the interest of the welfare of the state to prevent such possibilities by removing the leading personalities from the capital.
The Minister of the Interior explained the following to the first dragoman:
The government had now decided to put an end to the present situation whereby each religious community made their own special “politics” and could found and maintain special political associations for this purpose. In Turkey, only one “Ottoman policy” was to be pursued in future.
Among the local Armenians there were a number of personalities who were politically not quite safe; these were, of course, to be found in particular among the members of the clubs and editorial offices. The fear that in case of an unfavourable change in the war, these elements could take the opportunity for stirring up trouble was not to be overlooked. The time seemed favourable for removing all these suspects from the capital. Many people would definitely be among the deportees who were by no means guilty. The government would not deny this and he – Talaat – would grant permission for these to return of his own accord and without needing any special intervention.
Talaat Bey declared that the claim that there was evidence available of a coup being planned for the day of the Coronation festivities was incorrect.
The events in Van and the recent attacks by the Russians on the Bosporus and by the united French and English troops on the Dardanelles would not be without influence on the decision of the government.