This rare photo was taken in 1915/1916 in the surroundings of Ras al-Ayn; a Syrian locality, where the Armenian deportees from the Western Armenia and other places of the Ottoman Empire have been settled. The photo was taken secretly from the second floor of a building near the refugee camp. Probably the photographer tried to be unnoticed realizing that he/she could be severely punished by the Ottoman censorship law, which banned taking photo of the caravans of the deported Armenians and the refugee’s concentration camps.
During the years of the Genocide the Arabian village of Ras al-Ayn; located on Euphrates, became the cantered refugee camp of the deported Armenians from Sebastia, Diyarbakir and Kharberd, and from Constantinople and Cilicia afterwards. According to the eye witnesses, 500-600 people died daily of cold, hunger or epidemics. In 4 months 3-14 thousand people passed away in Ras al-Ayn, for which the local governor asked not to stop the replacement of the Armenian deportees in that locality.
The first massacre of the Armenians in Ras al-Ayn was organized by Jevdet bey the former governor of Van. In February 1916 he was appointed as the governor of Adana arrives in Ras al-Ayn and orders to exterminate 50 000 Armenians living in tents. The governor, who disobeyed, was dismissed from post, and his successor continued the deportation and the massacres.
Almost 70 000 Armenians were killed in Ras al-Ayn and the surrounding areas.
S. Nazif, governor of Baghdad, who witnessed in Ras al-Ayn the violence towards Armenians in Ras al-Ayn had wrote: “The extermination of the Armenian people will become the darkest page of Turkey’s history.”
“I do not believe there has ever been a massacre in the history of the world so general and thorough as that which is now being perpetrated in this region or that a more fiendish, diabolical scheme has ever been conceived by the mind of man.”
US Consulate in Kharberd
From “100 Photographic Stories of the Armenian Genocide” book.