6/5/1916 Public executions in Beirut and Damascus

Ahmed Djemal Pasha is one of the three most powerful men in the Ottoman Empire. He is Turkey’s naval minister but it is as Ottoman proconsul in Syria that he wields powers of life and death over a vast territory stretching from the southern edge of Anatolia to the borders of Egypt. He strives to preserve a cosmetic distance from the extermination of the Armenians (for all that the final destinations of the deported Armenians are death camps in his territory) but he is not averse to the shedding of blood.

Arab nationalism has started to make inroads into Syria. Djemal fears that Arab nationalists are conspiring with the French and British enemies of the Ottoman Empire, lured by false promises that these powers will free Syria from Turkey. So he decides to show what happens to traitors. Today in Beirut and Damascus public executions take place of nationalists accused of intriguing with Turkeys’ enemies. The 21 victims are hanged in the central squares of the two cities. Many of them are from well-connected local families but they are strung up together with their fellows of more humble background.

That night in Damascus Djemal is fêted at a banquet held in his honour by the city’s leading citizens.

image source:

Executions (The Orange Room)

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