Two historical documents about Hamshen

  • by Western Armenia, January 29, 2024 in Patrimony

Two historical documents on Hamshen

Two documents contain very important information about Hamshen  and Hamshen Armenians were found by researcher Erol Ketenji in the Ottoman archives of the Prime Minister's Office in Istanbul.

The one  of the documents was written  on June 1,1913. This document was sent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the Ottoman General Staff of the given period, in which is mentioned that the inhabitants of some villages located in the Hamshen region, villages whose names are given one by one, under the name "Hamshen" are Muslims who converted from Armenians.

And in 1913 the other document, dated June 1, is an official letter from the Ministry of the Interior to the Trabzon Governorate. It is mentioned in this writing, that the population of the villages mentioned one by one in the first document, although they are Armenians in origin, have changed their  religion. 

The main  goal of these two writings is to prevent Hamshen Armenians from being deceived by missionaries due to their naivety and illiteracy.

Armenologist Haykazun Avrtsyan commented on the documents. And the historian Taner Akcham referred to the famous "secrets" regarding Hamshen Armenians. Both Taner Akcham and Hamshen researcher Erol Ketenji noted how important the aforementioned documents are in terms of understanding the history and culture of the people of the region.

Text one.

"Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Document number: 388

Date of preparation:June 3,1913

Date of purification:June 4,1913

To the Government  of Trabzon."

The villages of Zurpij (Yoldere), Arvala (Eshmekaya, Chimenli), Hayki, Zargina (Guneshli), Garchi (Hendek), which are Armenian by origin, but have converted to religion and are located on the sides of Khopa's border battalion known as "Hamshen", may succumb to the deceptions of missionaries due to naivety and illiteracy.  Local authorities should enlighten Hamshen residents and show them the right path.

Presidency of the General Staff,

Fourth branch 321, Constantinople

The topic is about the population of the villages in the border battalion of Khopa.

To the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

It is confidential.

"Dear statesman, the population of Zurpiji (Yoldere), Arvala (Eshmekaya, Chimenli), Chavushlu, Hayki, Zargina (Guneshli), Garji (Hendek) villages of the Khopa border battalion in the Khopa province under the province of Trabzon is known as Hamshen and consists of one of the Armenian Muslim converts  the rest of the population is made up of Muslim lasers. Since the Hamshenzi are naive and ignorant, any missionary can successfully operate there.

That is why the need for our local authorities to warn and guide the population is extremely important

That importance was emphasized in a paragraph of the report belonging to the Khopa battalion of the border commissariat with Russia. And we consider this issue to be important, and we find it necessary to be done in that direction."

On June , 1913

Advisor on behalf of the Minister of Defense.


As a result of the undermining of this state policy towards many national minorities in Turkey, today many citizens of the country have had the opportunity to speak about their national identity, albeit cautiously or hesitantly so far.

In this context, the situation of the Hamshen residents is somewhat advantageously different. It is true that they never considered themselves Turks, but the main mass, under the influence of fear or other factors, also did not speak loudly about their Armenian identity.

Today, new researches are emerging on the history, culture, language and identity of Hamshen Armenians, which are certainly further substantiated by the existence of historical-archival documents.

In this regard, the presented document acquires an important scientific-evidential significance, especially because,

1. Denies the claims of today's Turkish authorities and the "scientists" directed by them that the Hemshils are not of Armenian origin.

2. The idea that, "Since the Hamshen people are naive and ignorant, any missionary can successfully operate there" is particularly noteworthy.

It is clear that the border guard services are worried about contacts between Hamshensi and Armenians from other regions of Armenia, which, as it should be assumed, have been quite active, otherwise they would not have become a cause for concern for the authorities. 

This is also evidenced by the fact that "Armenian by origin, but converted to religion and known as Hamshen, on the sides of the border battalion of Khopa", as stated in the document, there are also Muslim lazers who do not differ from the Hamshens in terms of literacy, but on the occasion of which, however, there is no mention of the danger of falling under the influence of missionaries. about It is not difficult to assume that under the name "missionary" the author of the document means Armenians.

3. Another important conclusion from the document is that even after 200 years, the authorities were afraid that the forcibly Islamized Hamshen Armenians could return to their Armenian identity and the religion of their ancestors.

4. And, finally, the document provides an unequivocal answer to a very important question. who, when and why started falsifying the history of Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians? It is clearly stated about it. "The local authorities should enlighten Hamshen residents and show them the right path. Our Ministry of Defense informed us about this need.

Researcher Erol Ketenji. "Muslim Armenian" reality

These documents that emerged regarding the origin of the Hamshen people, one of the peoples who were forced to hide their identities as a result of the dictatorial practices of the Ittihadists, almost declaring war against Allah, ignoring the peoples and their languages, are of great importance. These documents show us once again that nothing can remain a secret until the end. As a member of a family that migrated from that region, I already knew about that fact inside.

Many Hamshen residents have at least doubts about this issue. Both genetic studies and the language used by the people of the region have brought this reality back to the agenda in recent years.

However, these documents we have published today put an end to that debate. In today's sense, in the secret correspondence between the Ottoman General Staff and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, it is openly shown that the population of Hamshen is "Muslim Armenian". This issue has ceased to be a topic of discussion and has gained such a clarity that does not give rise to any doubts.

On the one hand, this fact showed us that from now on, Armenians do not have to define themselves only by their Christian identity, and on the other hand, it presented to the population of Anatolia the reality that just as they can be Kurdish, Georgian, Circassian or Albanian Muslims, they can also be Armenian Muslim brothers. :

Taner Akcham. Famous "secrets"

Historian Taner Akcham wrote for the readers of "Akos" what these two documents found by researcher Erol Ketenji in the Ottoman archives of the Prime Minister's Office reminded him of.

There are many famous "secrets" among Armenians.

Happy memory Hrant (referring to Dinkin-Akunky ed.) loved to share those "secrets" with us. When emphasizing that every Armenian is aware of these secrets, he shared them with us, laughing, noticing the surprise caused in us.

We all knew that the Hamshen people were Armenians, but when he mentioned their famous people, we were all amazed. Later, I also began to become a first-hand witness to some of these "secrets."

Now, although those documents found by Erol Ketenji in the Ottoman archive record excessively well-known facts, that is not the point. As is known, very often they say: "where is the document, the document?"... Here is the document for you.

It doesn't matter how the people of Hamshen feel - Muslim, Armenian, Turkish. They double the beauty of this country.

Original source: "Akos" weekly newspaper

Translated by Meline Anumyan