Emre Gul / World Bulletin / History
During World War I, it was said that the Armenian Tashnak and Hinchak committees were receiving help from the European governments as well as from Russia to create chaos in the Anatolian lands. They were also given weapons and creating plans to take over. These Armenians, that were trying to create an “Independent Armenia”, lived as Ottoman citizens for years with Muslims. Therefore, this created a distinction between the Armenians that were loyal and accepted to live under the Ottoman circumstances. This period was full of riots by the Armenians, thus developed feelings of hatred between the Armenians and the Ottoman Muslims.
With the start of the war, the Armenian committees that had weapons began to put their plans into effect. Places such as Zeytun, Bitlis, Sivas and Van were searched, resulting in the finding of bombs and guns. These committees carried out massacres and after the Ottomans gave them a span of nine months to change their ways, the time had come for the Ottoman army to take serious precautions against the Armenians. These circumstances were putting the Ottoman army in a very hard situation because it started to affect the level of trust countries that surrounded the Anatolian lands felt for the Ottomans, including the Caucasus, Iran, Sinai, Syria and Palestine.
Every year on a specific day the Armenians commemorate the massacre that took place. After the commemoration on April 26, 2,345 people were arrested by the supreme military command armed forces. The government ordered for people that were non-Muslim to give all their weapons to the armed forces. This was so the Muslims wouldn’t be unguarded towards the Armenians that owned weapons. However, after the Ottomans were defeated in the Sarikamis facade, the Armenians got support from the Russians by receiving weapons from them, as well as advice from the German general of staff. Naziri Talat Pasha wrote an article saying that the Armenian riots and massacres would not take place; then took all the responsibility and started the deportation of the Armenians.
The governors of Van, Bitlis and Erzurum, along with the help of the third and fourth army generals, commanded that neighborhoods that had a higher population of Armenians started the deportation of them towards the south. While the governors where taking action on the Armenians, Russia, France and Britain sent out a false statement on May 24, saying that the Armenians weren’t causing any chaos and that they were the ones being killed.
“People who go against the decisions that are made by the government will be taken by soldiers during the time span of the war.” This law was made and enforced for the Anatolian government to start the deportation of the Armenians. Regulations such as places, where they were going to be deported to, how they were going to be deported, people who were going to have a hard time with the deportation, the amount of people that were going to be deported, what was going to be done to the possessions left over, and how they were going to be deported in the most safe manner, were published. Armenians that were sick and blind, Catholic-Protestant, Armenians who didn’t pose a threat to the safety and protection of the country, soldiers and their families, merchants, some expert workers and employees, and Armenian officers were taken into consideration due to their loyalty and weren’t deported. Along with these people, orphans, widows and Armenian senators and their families were not deported either.
While the deportation took place, people who went against the rules and commands and people who attacked the Armenians were fined with several punishments including execution. Mutual pain, death and disputes that took place, agreements that were made about the Ottoman lands during the world war, and western countries that used the Armenian cruelty to their own benefits were studied by J. Mayeski who was in charge of the consulate of Russia in the city of Rize. He published a book in 1914 named “Statistics of the Army in Bitlis and Van” in which he stated: The brutalities that are taking place are not done by the Turks but done by the Christians that are living there, the Armenians. Turkish people doing such cruel acts is a political lie. It’s hard to convince people that follow the media in Europe because the scripts that are published by people who see the truth taking place isn’t convincing to them. Therefore the Muslims are blamed for the bad doings of the Armenians. In 1918 pictures and documents of Armenians killing the people of Erzincan, Erzurum and Van along with other countries in the east, and the killing of Kazim Karabekir Pasha were published.
There were innocent Ottoman Armenians who had to be deported because of the riots by the Armenian mobs and committees which took place in the east and in the southeast. During the hardship of World War I, some Armenians died and were killed during the deportation that lasted for a year and a half. Talat Pasha was blamed the most for the deaths in 1918:
He stated, “…The Ottoman government has never acted upon a given decision in any of these once before. The liability of the events which occurred, before all, belongs to matters which are inflicted by actions that cannot be tolerated. There is no doubt that not all Armenians are responsible for all of this. However, in the midst of a battle capable of determining the fate of the government, we could not have tolerated the infringement of free movement of troops and revolt which put the government and millitary’s safety in danger. What I mean to say is that relocation was made in an organised manner only to the extent of compulsion. In many places, since a long time, enmity had accumulated and herewith came an outburst which in return led to misuse we did not desire. Many civil servants overstepped their limits by showing cruelty and violence. In many places, a number of innocent people became sacrificial in an unjust manner. This, I will admit.” According to some writers and their opinions, "Union and development’s relocation plan was a part of the Turkification of Anatolia," and was also opposed by some. One of which was a leading figure in our literature, Suleyman Nazif’s brother and once governor of Kutahya at the time, Faik Ali Ozansoy. When he was appointed for the second time as governor of Kutahya on the 11th of January 1915, he did not allow for Armenians to be relocated.
“Before the forceful deportation law was enforced, his brother Suleyman Nazif himself warned Faik Ali Ozansoy that he wouldn’t tolerate any of the chaos and cruelty that the Armenians were causing and that he wouldn’t allow this to besmirch his family’s name. Then Faik Ali spoke with the leaders of Kutahya and wanted a detailed report about what they thought about the Armenians. The administrator of Kutahya hid all the scripts that stated that the Armenians were innocent, because the leaders and the administrator himself wanted the Armenians to be deported. After Faik Ali Ozansoy heard such wants from them he took out the signed contracts about how the Armenians that were living there were innocent and stated: “Until now these Armenians were good, trustworthy people, your telling me they’re traitors now? If you signed these papers and are not following what you agreed with, then this is against the law, but if you’re going to cast aspirations on these people then that is just remorseless” then he dismissed them. Despite the conversations that had taken place with Faik Ali, the leaders of Kutahya spoke with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Talat Pasha, who also wanted the deportation to take place. Faik Ali took out all the proof he had to prove that the Armenians that were living in there were innocent, after Talat Pasha wanted to enforce the law being made about deporting the Armenians. Faik Ali stated that he will withdraw from his position if they did enforce this law and after he had threatened them to leave, Talat Pasha took a step back and cancelled the deportation.
İslam Ahalinin Duçar oldukları Mezalim Hakkında Vesaika Müstenid Malumat, İstanbul, 1918.
Kazım Karabekir, Soykırım Yalanı-Ermeni Mezalimi, (Haz. Ömer Hakan Özalp), İstanbul, 2005
Selçuk Erez-Mehmet Saray(Tertip Komitesi), Süleyman Beyoğlu, 1915 Tehciri Ve Soykırımı İddiaları, Uluslararası Türk-Ermeni İlişkileri Sempozyumu-Bildiriler 21-25 Mayıs, İstanbul, 2001.
Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü, Osmanlı Belgelerinde Ermeniler (1915-1920),Ankara, 1995.
Sinan Çiftçi, Bir Devlet Adamı Olarak Faik Ali Ozansoy, A.Ü, Türkiyat Araştırmaları Enstitüsü Dergisi, sayı 50, Erzurum, 2013.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Mayıs 2014, 12:38