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  • Writer's pictureÇiğdem Sevimli

Gülo: The Story of a Resistance

"..I went home

I saw that gulo is not at home

I sat and cried

gulo, oh gulo…"

The above words belong to Lilit Pipoyan, who voiced the pain of the Armenian Gulizar, who was forcibly taken from her family in the 1890s and was abducted, years later, by feeling it in her heart and writing it down.

Gülizar was the nephew of Mihran, also known as Miro, who lived in the village of Khars (Güneyik) in Muş. Gülizar's grandfather, Egop, is an influential person loved and respected by the villagers.

When her granddaughter Gülizar is orphaned after the early death of her bride, the whole family raises her with great love.

At the time Gülizar was growing up, Armenians and Kurds were living together in the Muş-Bitlis region. Bitlis province was under the rule of Kurdish Mirza Beg. After his death, his son Musa Beg took over the administration, but this period, the new bey is remembered for his cruelty to the people. Especially to the Armenian residents…

The era of Musa beg marked the beginning of a milestone for the Armenians, who lived in peace with the Kurds until those days. By Begin's order, their weddings and houses are raided and their properties are plundered.

Musa Beg, who relied on the Turkish government of the time,

not only to rob them, but to do them unprecedented evil,

starts to play.

Hearing the beauty of Gülizar, who lives in the village of Khars, Beg wants her and sends her brother Perişan Xan to Egop's house to ask for Gülizar. However, the family informed Perişan Xan that they would not give Gülizar to Musa Beg, who was persecuting the Armenian people. This response touches the brain's pride and takes action to get what it wants, albeit by force.

In the spring of 1889, on the Monday night after Easter, when the lamps were extinguished in the village and everyone was getting ready to sleep, the dogs began to bark. When dozens of horses' footsteps and neighing sounds are added to the dog sounds, all the villagers get up from their beds and anxiously try to make sense of what is going on.

Musa Beg surrounded Miro's house with 150 of her men and kidnapped Gülizar by force.

Musa Beg enjoyed the privilege of marrying four women whom religion recognized as his right. Even when the sheikhs in the region said that the fifth of the four women was against religion and that he could not marry Gülizar, he did not want to give up and went in search of a legitimate cover in his own way. Thereupon, he marries Gülizar to his brother, Cezahir. Not content with that, he begins to put pressure on Gülizar to become a Muslim and to dress according to his own customs.

While all this is going on, Gülizar's family goes door to door to get their daughter back, and asks for help from one of the aghas, who can be described as a pillar of the deep state during the reign of Abdülhamit. With this channel to the Sultan, the family's request to file a lawsuit against Musa Beg is accepted.

The court decides to listen to Gülizar as well. If Gülizar says in court, "They forcibly abducted me, forcibly made me a Muslim", a decision will be made to return her to her family.

It was a resounding event in the region where Musa Beg forcibly abducted Gülizar, and as soon as this reality could be denied, Musa Beg was summoned to Istanbul for his trial.

This case is also seen as a symbol of the Ottoman oppression of Armenians, especially abroad, and many officials from different sectors came from abroad to watch the trial in order to write a report.

Except for Gulizar's abduction, Musa Beg

He will also be asked about the atrocities he committed against the Armenian people in the region, because many complaints were filed against the beginner and dozens of witnesses were lined up to testify to this.

It is one of the most frequently voiced claims that these atrocities of Musa Beg were known by the Ottoman government and especially supported by the Governor of Bitlis. For this reason, the court's conviction against Musa Beg will be a bad score for the Ottoman government's impression. Since there were also representatives of foreign governments who came to watch the hearing, such a decision would have resulted in the conclusion that the Ottoman Empire did not observe the rights of the peoples of the region, fell short in governing, or did not deliberately intervene in some issues.

When Gülizar was going to answer the judge's questions in the courtroom, she said, "To return to my father's house as I was the day I was kidnapped.

I want! Save me from this persecution!" She shouts that she will never be a Muslim and will live like an Armenian, throwing the covers she was forced into.

But this outcry will not affect the decision of the court. The government, which remained silent about Musa Beg's persecution, remained indifferent while judging him.

Gülizar is handed over to her family.

According to sources, again with the support of the Governor of Bitlis, Musa Beg returned to the country after a short time and was honored by Sultan Abdulhamid by being appointed as the head of one of the Hamidiye Regiments.

Gülizar's resistance had a lot of repercussions at that time. Many foreign delegations following the trial recorded in their reports that the Ottoman State's repression of the Kurds on the Armenians was state-sponsored.

As this case is not an ordinary judicial case, the political consequences of both Gülizar's struggle and the court's decision will be severe. When Musa Beg is acquitted in order not to give a bad image to the audience in the trial, the trust of the Armenian people in the Ottomans is damaged.When the belief that justice will not be manifested by the state began to prevail among Armenian citizens, it is claimed that because of these and similar reasons, Armenians started to show solidarity for political unity.

After the court, Gülizar married Keğam Der Garabedian in 1892 and settled in Istanbul, and they had two children. When her daughter Armenuhi settled in France, Gülizar went to live with her for a while, but when she did not want to live there, she returned to Istanbul and died in 1974.

The graves of Gülizar and his wife Keğam are located in the Şişli Armenian cemetery in the section reserved for the Armenians of Muş.

Her daughter, Armenuhi Kevonian, recorded and wrote down her life story before her mother died. She publishes her mother's life story as a book called "Gülizar Kara’s Wedding".

Although what happened to Gülizar does not surprise anyone today, she stands out as a very extraordinary and strong woman profile according to the conditions of her day.

In the Ottoman Empire of the 1800s, a young girl from the Armenian minority who was abducted and raped by the tyrant who took the power of the state behind her, was forced to change her religion, resisted all these, struggled by not accepting the persecution she went through, went to the courts all the way to Istanbul, appeared before the judge and shouting against tyranny by throwing the veil on her head, her rebellion against the Musas, who are the representation of force, her struggle

It is still one of the stories that women in the village of Khars tell their daughters today.

The fact that other Musas, who took the power of the state behind them, can still rape girls even after a hundred years, which unfortunately proves that the persecution continues with the same understanding in different bodies

“…your heart is scorching me,

gulo, oh gulo

gulo went home

I went where she took me...

...but she pretended like she didn't know me,

gulo, oh gulo…”

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