Krikor Zohrab, Lawyer, Writer, Ottoman Parliamentarian

Krikor Zohrab, Lawyer, Writer, Ottoman Parliamentarian

“Literature must speak of the people and serve the people.”

Who he was

As a lawyer, writer and member of parliament, Krikor Zohrab was an imposing and defiant voice of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire. 

Born in Istanbul to a wealthy family, Zohrab was widely respected during his lifetime. With an undefeated record, he was a highly sought-after lawyer and represented and defended both large companies and individuals falsely accused by the paranoid sultanate. He was known to be a powerful orator, impressing contemporaries and others in parliament, at court and during classes at the university, where he taught. 

He was a fierce defender of human rights and the innocent, taking cases and speaking out forcefully about injustices against Armenians and others. As a result of his forthrightness, he had to leave the Ottoman Empire for a time in the late 1890s to avoid persecution by the authorities. When he returned, Armenians nominated him to represent their community in the newly established parliament. Despite Turkish opposition, he became a member of parliament. 

He was exceptionally polymathic, a trait that manifested itself in his writing. Diverse in skill and able to move easily between fiction, essay and poetry, his written words reflected and enhanced the beliefs espoused by his oratory. But, the short story genre was where he shone brightest, and he came to be known as its master in modern Armenian literature. 

As a member of parliament, Zohrab furiously demanded that the arrests and atrocities that begun on April 24, 1915, be halted. His calls fell on deaf ears. He himself was arrested on May 21, 1915 and deported. The circumstances of his death are unclear, but he is believed to have been murdered somewhere in modern-day southeastern Turkey. 

Interesting fact

Zohrab had initially studied to become an engineer, but gave it up to pursue a legal education instead.

Learn more about him

The Poturli (short story) by Krikor Zohrab