Suggesting that we should ourselves go to Constantinople
We have seen that in his first telegram to Fuad Pasha, Kerim Pasha, of imperishable memory, spoke of a meeting between high per sonalities in Constantinople and the leaders of the national movement at some place to be mutually agreed upon. Another proposal of a similar kind, suggesting that we should ourselves go to Constantinople, had previously emanated from Trebizond.
Let me speak about this, just for a moment.
On the i8 th and ig th September, Galib Bey, Vali of Trebizond, was travelling in Ardassa. His intention was to meet Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, who was also travelling there for the same purpose. On the 19 th , we telegraphed to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha on the subject. A telegram that came from Trebizond the day before was the ostensible pretext for this communication. It ran as follows:
“We cannot accept Art. 6, because it is against the interests of the nation. (This article relates to the order given to break off all communication with Constantinople.)
“In regard to the question of laying our complaints before the Sultan, we think this could be done by sending a delegation to Con stantinople/ 1 (Document 114.)
Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha then told me in detail about his tele graphic conversation with the Vali. The Vali expressed certain views in the form of questions, which Kiasim Bekir Pasha had answered in a fitting manner.
“At last,” the telegram said, “the Vali has proposed to send a delegation, which he offered to accompany personally, for the purpose of laying the petition at the foot of the throne. So he said; but he immediately abandoned this idea.”
It was then proposed to send a delegation with Seki Bey, the deputy for Gumushhane, who is well informed about the opinions prevailing in the Palace.
Strangely enough, two days later, on the 21 st September, a tele gram in cipher from Halid Bey, Deputy-Governor of Torul, also suggested that a delegation should be sent.
Referring to Seki Bey s declarations, he said in his telegram that it would be a good thing, so as not to drive the Sultan who was the victim of groundless fears into the arms of foreign countries and Fend Pasha, to send a secret deputation to Constantinople, and that, from what he had heard from Seki Bey 5 he himself and the Deputy Servet Bey would willingly join this deputation. (Document 116.)
In my reply, on the 22 nd September, I told Halid Bey that it would not be wise to send a delegation as he proposed with Seki Bey and Servet Bey.
Halid Bey telegraphed to me on the night of the 24 th that he felt obliged to send Galib Bey, Vali of Trebizond, the founder of the opposition who had appeared there during the night of the 24 t]1 Sep tember, under escort to Erzerum, as he had not obeyed an order of the Army Corps and the Vali of Erzerum to go there. (Document 117.) By a strange coincidence, the first telegram sent by the late Kerim Pasha, in which he offered his services as mediator, was sent on the day following the arrest of the Vali of Trebizond, that is to say, the 25 th September. It was the same day that the Vali Seki Bey, Servet Bey and others whom they had won over as their followers, had tried to prevent the rupture with Constantinople and had failed in the same way as their plan to go there secretly as delegates had also failed.
It was only in the night of the 27 th September that they felt it necessary to appeal to us.
As can be seen from the correspondence that we received, a telegram came on the 27 th September from Kiasim Kara BekLr Pasha, in which he told us that the Vali Galib Bey, who had arrived at Er- zerum, had spoken to him again about sending a deputation to Con stantinople. The Pasha telegraphed to me to ask my opinion about it.
In my reply on the 28 th September I said:
“Will you be good enough to refer to the quotation from the correspondence with Kerim Pasha and tell me whether in your opinion the proposed step is advisable or not. If, however, we decide that it will be necessary, I beg you under no condition to let the Vali of Trebizond join the national movement, because there is no dif ference between him and Aadil Bey, the Minister of the Interior, in their hostility to it.” (Document 118.)
In his reply on the 30 th September, Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, recognised the justice of my remarks “with regard to the refusal to allow the Vali to join the deputation,” and he reported at the same time that the situation in the district of Trebizond had been improving for a long time, as we had anticipated it would. (Document 119.)
In connection with these last statements, I would like to shed a little light on another incident. Vali Galib Bey, Seki Bey and Ferid Pasha were in constant touch with one another. There is no doubt that these gentlemen, who wanted to form part of the deputation to be sent to Constantinople, had no desire to further the national cause, but rather to inform those who held high authority in Con stantinople about the situation and advise them what to do and give them new instructions. In fact, Seki Bey, who went later on to Constantinople, was sent back with special instructions about the formation of counter-organisations in the districts of Trebizond and Gumushhane. He was also promised money and ammunition when he returned there. I had him arrested at Ineboli and escorted to Angora. He admitted everything I have been telling you. He added, however, that he had been misled in Constantinople and that he
ii* intended so he said to hand over to me all the money and arms he might receive.
Can we imagine that anybody, then or now, would be so foolish as to believe his statements? Nevertheless, in consideration of the part he took in the Erzerum Congress I set him free and merely gave him some advice and warning.
We sent Said Pasha, who had been appointed to the command of the Army Corps at Konia by the Government, back to Constan tinople on the 30** September. Then, thanks to the steps we had undertaken, with the help of XX to Army Corps and the II th Division at Nigdeh, we succeeded in parrying the first blow Djemal Bey, Vali of Konia, had prepared at Boskir before his flight, and thereby frustrated the designs of Constantinople.
Towards the end of September, the national organisations we were trying to form in the districts of Eregli, Bolu, Ada Basar and Ismidt began to show extreme restlessness. The leaders of these organisations reported that were ready to march on Constantinople if the Cabinet persisted in its stubbornness,
In a circular letter we informed the whole of the country, naturally including Constantinople, about this on the 28 *& September.
But on the 2 nd October, we found ourselves face to face with a new difficulty at Ismidt that might be described as a reactionary movement. The Mutessarif of the town at that time was a certain Suad Bey.
We asked hirri to come to the telegraph instrument, and inquired whether he had received all the messages we had sent recently and whether he had done everything that he had been instructed to do.
The Mutessarif replied:
“I have received your messages. To prevent dissention and unrest, I have considered it very advisable to allow the people complete freedom, and have listened to what they had to say.
” Unsatisfactory rumours have been circulated in the town.
“The inhabitants have decided to demand explanations from the Representative Committee, and wish to be informed as clearly as possible whether there is any intention of reviving the Unionist Government in its old form or not,
“Being a more impartial man than anyone else, it is my duty to maintain order and security. I do not consider it right to drive others into ventures the end of which cannot be seen, whatever their object or personal interest may be. i65
“My wide experience leads me to believe in moderation and caution.” (Document 120.)
I give you my answer verbatim:
Sivas, 2 nd October, 1919. To Suad Bey. (Reply)
Your most important duty is to prevent the existence of the slightest difference of opinion or confusion in the minds of the people.
This was precisely the object of my special request to you.
We have no longer any doubt whatever that in the very clear manifestos and letters we have already published and will yet publish, whether addressed to Your Excellency or a number of people at Ismidt or to the whole world, we have made it evident, even to our most malicious enemies, how perfectly justified are the aims and character of our national organisation and our national movement. We can no longer allow that our resolutions shall be accepted under the influence of harangues that are nothing but stump orations to the rebels.
Moreover, if the people want information, why do they not turn directly to us and learn the facts.
It seems that Your Excellency prefers to remain neutral.
But if you want to do your duty you cannot remain neutral, for if you pretend to remain neutral towards the legitimate movement of the nation you are merely a tool in the hands of Ferid Pasha s Cabinet, which, on account of its treason, is an unlawful body that is not recognised by us.
You are in the position to judge from our actions that we do not belong to those nonentities who trouble their heads about the revival of Unionism.
I declare to you quite sincerely, and at the same time most em phatically, that if you have no more confidence in Ferid Pasha s Cabinet you must tell the Minister of the Interior so.
But if, in opposition to the considered judgment and wish of the nation, you continue to put your trust in this Cabinet, you must immediately resign your office and go to Constantinople, so that the loyal inhabitants of Ismidt may act in complete freedom to carry out the legitimate intentions of the nation.
I believe conscienciously that it is my duty to warn you frankly that, if you do not choose one or the other of these two alternatives, you will yourself be responsible for whatever may result from your conduct, and you will personally have to bear this responsibility.
Mustapha Kemal, In the name of the Representative Committee.
His reply began : “Listen to me calmly, Your Excellency ; I have not expressed myself properly. There cannot be any doubt about the pure and legitimate character of your aim.” And he ended with these words: “Give me till the hour of prayer of Friday. You look askant at me, although I have so often attacked Fend Pasha with my pen.” (Document 121.)
In answer to this, I told him that we would wait till the time he mentioned, and added:
“You are quite wrong in imagining that I am looking askant at you, because the judgment we shall form about you without hurting our conscience will depend entirely on actual events that may occur/ (Document 121.)
At that time, Colonel Assim Bey was commanding the Division at Ismidt.
I was at the telegraph instrument for several days sending messages to him, but failed to get any reply to them.
On the 2 Bd October I told him to come to the telegraph instrument, and I had a conversation with him.
I told him that: “I am certain the Cabinet will soon be overthrown, if it has not been so already. Therefore, the nation is imbued with a firm determination to hesitate no longer.” Then I informed him that I was waiting for his final opinion and decision. (Document 123.)
The actual meaning to be gleaned from Assim Bey s reply, which was full of long explanations and excuses, may be summarised thus : The reason why he had not replied to me was that he was himself waiting for an answer from the Commander of his Army Corps in Constantinople to his request for orders, and that he would decide definitely on the following day at the hour of Friday prayer. (Doc ument 125.)
We then gave him special advice and encouragement and, among other things, I told him that Ferid Pasha would probably resign on the following day. I asked whether in this event he would send messages to the Sultan (and, if the new Cabinet had already been formed, to its new head) to the effect that the Cabinet must comprise impartial men who are loyally devoted to the desires of the nation; further, that it is confidently expected that these hopes will be realised. I ended:
“Furthermore, as we shall have to work together with the new Cabinet for a considerable time, I beg you to go on with your organising work and pay particular attention to the questions I have just put before you and which are based on the resolutions arrived at by the Representative Committee/ (Document 126.)
While I was sending this to Assim Bey on 2 nd October at 3.40 p. m. an unsigned telegram arrived. It ran :
cc Your Excellency, I have just heard from confidential friends, and it appears also in all the evening papers, that Fend Pasha is reported to have resigned for reasons of health. It is said that Tewfik Pasha has been entrusted with the formation of a new Cabinet.
“Rumours were in circulation about this during the morning, but the news was not confirmed then. Now at this very moment it is officially confirmed/
I inquired who was sending me this telegram, but the message continued :
“We, the telegraph operators of Angora, send our respects to His Excellency the Pasha, We congratulate him on having suceeded in overthrowing the Cabinet that was a scourge to the nation. Will you communicate this to him.”
The telegraph line was interrupted.
It was true that Fend Pasha s Cabinet had been overthrown, but it was not Tewfik Pasha who was to form the new Cabinet; it was Ali Riza Pasha, a General commanding a Division and a Senator.
Let me take this opportunity to tell you that the unselfish service that all the telegraphists placed at the disposal of our national move ment and our operations will hold a high place in the history of our nation. It is my pleasing duty on this occasion to thank them publicly for their services.