These events are known by the Armenians as the "Great Massacres". The Armenians believed the Hamidian measures showed the extension of the Turkish state to do a systematic policy of murder and plunder against a small population. The Armenian revolutionary groups started around the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1878 and grew with the first introduction of Article 166 of the Ottoman Penal code 166, and the raid of Erzerum Cathedral.
Article 166 was meant to control the possession of arms, but it was used to target Armenians by not letting them possess arms. Local Kurdish tribes were armed to attack the defenseless[source?] Armenian population. Some diplomats said that the aim of these groups was to commit massacres so as to show counter-measures, and to invite "foreign powers to intervene," as Istanbul's British Ambassador Sir Philip Currie seen in March 1894.[source?] Even some Turkish authors admit the that this was just a pretext for the massacres.[source?]
|“||In the following months, systematic pogroms swept over every district of Turkish Armenia. The slaughter of between 100,000 and 200,000 Armenians, forced conversion of scores of villages, the looting and burning of hundreds of settlements, and the coerced flight into exile of thousands of Armenians became Abdul-Hamid's actual response to European meddling.” ||”|
- Hovannisian, p.17