News and its Official Retraction in 1914

Gagik Aghbalyan

Printed in a May 1914 issue of Azatamart (Freedom Fight) published in Istanbul is a retraction from which one can get a picture of the sensational news of the time, what sources journalists used, and who was the refuting party.

In one of its issues, the newspaper had reported that a three-person gang had attacked a wedding party, kidnapped the groom and tortured him in the woods, and the bride, becoming ill from fear, died.

The paper published the story citing the municipal authorities of Samsun. Refuting the incident was the press control board, citing in part the meeting of elders of the village of Kyoklig.

The retraction text is as follows:

Retraction from Press Control Board

Yesterday we received the following official letter from the Press Control Board:

“Written in your paper’s April 13 issue is [the news] that during an Armenian wedding in the village of Kyoklig a three-person gang attacked the wedding procession, kidnapped the groom to the woods and tortured him, and that the bride, becoming ill from fear, died.

“Samsun’s government was asked for information regarding this.

“In the provided reply, it says that in the village of Kyoklig there was no incident of attacking a wedding procession or kidnapping and torturing a person in the woods. Only two months earlier, a person by the name of Suleman from the village of Tagh Kyu met people bringing a bride to the same village, who asked a person by the name of Tahmaz oğlu if Cherenik was there. The person named Suleman had a debt to recover from him, but Cherenik replied that he didn’t have money at that time and handed his pistol as collateral.

“The groom wasn’t among the wedding party at the time, and the bride, becoming ill afterwards, died, which was confirmed by the information provided at the meeting of village elders.

“This is the reality on the basis of which we are rushing to correct and retract your statement.”

Not ruled out is that what actually happened was another Armenian-Turkish incident, or Turks harassing Armenians. In any case, Azatamart was found to be impartial and published also the official retraction.

Gagik Aghbalyan

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