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Chronology of the Seyfo Genocide (1915-1923)
Prepared by Zinda Magazine



12 April

Mar Benyamin Shimmun is consecrated as the 117th Patriarch of the Church of the East.




Russian control Iranian Azerbaijan (Urmia).




In Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey) the Committee of Union and Progress leads a rebellion against Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II. The Comittee of Union and Progress (The Young Turks) is formed.

The Ottoman government declares Turkish as the only language allowed in schools.




In Iran Mohammad Shah is deposed; succeeded by his 12-years-old son Ahmad Shah. In Turkey, Sultan Abdul Hamid II is deposed by Young Turks; succeeded by his brother Mohammad V.

Germans and British officials discuss control of the Baghdad Railroad.




Russian troops enter northwest Iran.



29 January

In Turkey, the triumvirate of Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha heads the government.




British forces in Basra move to protect oil pipelines in Iran from Ottoman/German capture.


World War I begins

1 August

Germany declares war on Russia.

2 August

A secret treaty of alliance is signed between Turkey and Germany virtually placing the Turkish armed forces under German command.

3 August

The Turkish government sends sealed envelopes containing a general mobilization order to district and village councils, with the strict instructions that they were not to be opened until further notice. Two weeks later, with the approval of the Ittihad Committee, instructions are issued to open the envelopes.

18 August

Over one thousand Christian shops are destroyed in Diyarbakir.

30 October

Bashkala massacre of 50 Gawarnai Assyrians by Muslim mob.

2 November

Russia declares war on Turkey.

4 November

Fatwa for Jihad declared in Istanbul against Christians.

18 November

The Jihad Proclamation against Christians is read in all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire.


Year of the Sword (Seyfo - Sepah)


Turkish War Minister Enver Pasha is disastrously defeated in at the hands of Russian troops, marking a failure of his Pan-Turanian plans. The Turkish authorities decree the demobilization and disarmament of the Ottoman Christians. The Armenians are grouped into small work battalions used for garbage details and similar tasks. The Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army, under the pretext of work details, are marched and killed in cold blood or used for target practice.

26 February

Enver Pasha convenes 75 top ranking Ittihadists (unionists). This secret meeting finalizes the details of the plan to carry out a genocide of the Ottoman Christians. Evidence indicates that the decision to carry out the Seyfo Genocide was made some years earlier.


Turks arrest Mar Shimmunís brother, Hormiz, who was then murdered.

15 April

Order from the Committee on Union and Progress to rid eastern Turkey of Christians:  A secret decree is sent out by Talaat, Enver and Nazem to the local governments for the removal and extermination of the Ottoman Christians.

24 April

800 Armenian leaders, writers and intellectuals are arrested in Constantinople and murdered.

Ottoman Assyrians flee to Russia,Iran, Aleppo and Jerusalem in wake of the genocide. Local Muslims attack and kill Bishop Mar Dinkha and 60 men in Golpashan. 700,000 Assyrians, 1.5 Million Armenians, & 300,000 Pontic Greeks perish between 1915 and 1919.

24 May

Russians defeat Turks in Sarikamish, killing 70,000 Turkish soldiers. Russians re-occupy Urmia.

The governments of England, France and Russia jointly warn the Turkish government publicly that "They will hold personally responsible... all members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres".

26 June

The removal of the Christians of Kharput are commenced by the Turkish army.  Photocopy of the original deportation order (written in old Turkish with Arabic characters) is to be found in the Archives of the United States State Department in Washington, DC.

1 July

Christians are deported from Tur-Abdin, cities of Nisibin, Bitlis, Mardin..


Russians retreat again and 18,000 Assyrians & Armenians follow them into Russia.

12 December

Talaat, Minister of the Interior, sends a telegram to the Prefecture of Aleppo in Syria. He states that in view of the rather compassionate attitude of certain local chiefs with respect to the Christian orphans, the order is given that the orphans be sent away with the caravans, with the exception of the very young ones unable to remember the atrocities.

19 August

Deportation of Christians from Urhai (Urfa) in Tur-Abdin begins.




Beginning of Arab revolt against Ottoman Turks in Hijaz. Hussein proclaims himself King of the Arabs.

9 February

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson designates August 21 and August 22 for making contributions for the suffering Armenians.

7 March

Talaat, Minister of the Interior, sends a cable to the Aleppo Prefecture in Syria, ordering the extermination of children at military installations.


The Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain, France, and Russia to divide Ottoman Empire after WWI. Hussain is proclaimed king of Arabs.




Russian revolution leads to dissolution of Russian military in Iran.



8 January

President Wilsonís Declaration of Fourteen Points is published. The 12th Point extends promise to the Armenians of security of life and an unmolested opportunity for autonomous development.


Enver Pasha's troops enter Iran as all Assyrians join to defend themselves. Combined local Muslim & Turkish troops capture Urmia.

16 March

Kurdish chief, Simko, assassinates Mar Benyamin Shimmun in Salamas, Iran. Pillage of Assyrian villages in Iran and attempt to cleanse area of Christians begins. British truck fleeing Assyrians to refugee camps.

15 April

Mar Polous Shimmun is consecrated as the 118th Patriarch of the Church of the East in Urmia, Iran.
October 1918
Ottoman Empire disintegrates.

30 October

The Armistice of Moudros ends the war between the Allies and Turkey. Global estimates of the campaign of extermination: 1,500,000 Armenians, 750,000 Assyrians, 350,000 Pontic Greeks.




Treaty of Sevres officially ends the war between Allies and Turkey. League of Nations is formed. British use Assyrian refugees to enforce occupation of Mesopotamia. Assyrians are denied representation at Paris Peace Conference due to British. Under French protection, the Assyrian Protectorate in Jazirah (Khabour area of Syria) forms under Malik Kambar d-Malik Warda of Jelu.




Mar Polous Shimmun passes away in the Bakuba refugee camp in Iraq.

10 June

Treaty of Sevres is signed by Turkey. Provides for Kurds, Arabs, Armenians but not Assyrians. Formation of Mesopotamia as British mandate. Assyrians return to Hakkari but accept draft into British Levies to guard Mosul from Turks on promise of homeland.

20 June

Mar Shimmun Ishaya, 13, is consecrated as the 119th Patriarch of the Church of the East.

24 July

French forces occupy Damascus. The French Mandate over Syria begins.




Patriarchal family with British refuse French-backed offer to move Assyrians to Jazira, Syria. British use Assyrian Levies to guard Kirkuk oil fields. Kurdish Iraqi revolt under Sheikh Mahmud.

27 August

The British install Faisal as king of Iraq.




Mesopotamia officially becomes "Iraq". Treaty of Lausanne leaves Mosul issue for League of Nations to settle.




League of Nations assigns most of oil-rich Mosul Velayat to Iraq.




Kurdish uprising against Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The constitution of 1925 guarantees all minorities in Iraq equality before the law, including civil and political rights, and rights to practice their language and religion.




Turkey agrees to giving up Mosul after initial protest.

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