Just as we were leaving Sivas for Amasia
Just as we were leaving Sivas for Amasia, a rather regrettable incident occurred in this town. I think I ought to tell you something about it.
On our arrival at Amasia, we heard that the members of the “Liberal Understanding together with some foreigners, were carrying on intrigues which practically amounted to treason. I immediately spread this news by sending out a circular note. I also heard at Sivas that they intended to send a telegram to the Sultan about myself, but I did not believe it. However, I felt sure that the watchfulness of our comrades on the Representative Committee, the officers at our headquarters, the Valis and others, would undoubtedly prevent it.
But it appears that three persons, Sheikh Redsheb and his two companions, Ahmed Kemal and Djelal by name, through the good services of a telegraph operator who was one of their adherents, had discovered a way to send the telegram they wanted to transmit.
The following telegram addressed to Salih Pasha was actually brought to ns from the Telegraph Office at Amasia:
K. 8216613 Sivas, i8 th October, 1919.
To His Excellency Salih Pasha, Minister of Marine. To His Excellency Nadji Bey, A.D.C. to His Imperial
In the interest of the country and the nation we beg you to do us the favour of coming to the chief town in the vilayet, so that you may understand the actual conditions that have been prevailing in our country for several months and obtain a clear view of the state of affairs.
For the same reason we beg you to come to the telegraph in
strument. Redsheb Kiamil, of the tribe of the
Shemseddin Sivassi. Sareli Sade Djelal.
The original bears 160 seals of mullahs, notables, merchants and working men. j^ Sade Ahmed Kemal. For my part, I received the following telegram on the xg ilQ – October,
To Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Amasia.
Our people cannot consider that the existing discord has been allayed until they have received from Salih Pasha himself or some other trustworthy person a statement as to what the Padishah and the Government think about the matter. Therefore, we have the honour to inform you that you are facing a difficult alternative.
Redsheb Kiamil, of the tribe
Shemseddin Sivassi. Sareli Sade Djelal. Ilias Sade Ahmed Kemal.
While we were energetically trying to enlighten the country and to show the people how it could be saved, our enemies succeeded in corrupting some of the people who were in a position to aid them in all directions in the criminal execution of their nefarious designs even in the town of Sivas, where we had our headquarters and in every way were complete masters. The relaxation of their watch- fulness by the leaders at Sivas, after my departure and in spite of all my warnings, can only be regarded as a typical instance of the negligence which was in some degree almost universally apparent.
On the 19 th October, our colleagues at Sivas dispatched the following telegram, which was signed by the Representative Com mittee.
To His Excellency Mustapha Pasha, Amasia.
The following is the complete text of the telegram which Sheikh Redsheb and his companions have just this moment handed in at the Telegraph Office for transmission. Kemal Bey, Major in the Artillery, is attending to the matter.
Then followed a copy of the telegram I have mentioned.
On the same day the Director of Telegraphs at Sivas sent me this message :
To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
I have the honour to forward you the telegram signed by Redsheb, of the tribe of the Shemseddin Sivassi, Ilias Sade Ahmed Kemal and Sareli Sade Djelal. These telegrams were brought here at night and were sent off by our officials under threats. Undoubtedly everybody has the right to send telegrams, under certain conditions. But, nevertheless, no person whatsoever has the power to force his way into the telegraph room and intimidate and threaten officials while they are performing their official duties. It is surely an unlawful proceeding to act in such a manner as to injure the authority and dignity of the Government. I have brought this matter to the know ledge of the Vilayet. I have the honour to inform Your Excellency about it also as you are engaged in securing order in the country.
I beg Your Excellency to receive the expression of my deep esteem. 19^ October, 1919. Lutfi, Chief Director.
To the Director of the Chief Telegraph Office in Con stantinople.
Any person who intercepts telegrams sent by people with the request that they may be forwarded to high quarters in the interests of the nation and the country, is a traitor to his religion and to the State. Such act might easily lead to bloodshed. We are determined that our message shall be delivered to His Majesty. We await your reply. 2l6
To the General Secretary of the Imperial Court.
“For the sake of the country and the nation we are waiting at the instrument for the reply to the petition which we had the honour of presenting to His Majesty the Caliph, through the general secretary of the Imperial Court.
“Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Chairman of the Congress which has been held in our district of Sivas under the title of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia,” by circulating the report that he is provided with letters from Your Majesty, and with the aid of a small number of followers who are endeavouring to conceal their criminal actions in the country, tries to proclaim himself the representative of the will of the nation.
“Actuated by our religious duty, however, we are in every way subject and entirely devoted to our glorious Caliph and our dearly loved Sovereign. We have been informed that Salih Pasha, Minister of Marine, and Nadji Bey Effendi, Your Majesty s A.D.C., had been sent to Sivas. We have been unable to obtain a reply to the telegram we had addressed to you, signed by 2,000 mullahs, notables and working men praying you to alleviate the indignation felt by the people. We pray Your Majesty, urgently and respectfully, to send this Commission to Sivas, in order that they may personally convince themselves of the actual state of affairs prevailing here.
We have the honour to be at all times, Your Majesty s devoted and obedient servants.”
Our enemies attributed a really important part to Sheikh Redsheb.
In a letter to Mr. Frew, the English clergyman, on the 24 th October of which I shall speak at the proper time when I am referring to the documents Said Molla asked: “What do you think about the incident at Sivas?” He added: “There is something wrong here with the organisation, but it will gradually improve.”
It was surely significant that the dispatch of the telegram could be accompanied by threats, trying to prove that all the inhabitants of Sivas were in a state of revolt against the chairman of a body that had been speaking everywhere about the unity and concord of the nation and the outspread of the national organisation. A body which, acting on the unanimous desire of the people with the support of national and military organisations, had overthrown the Cabinet and which at that very moment was about to enter into negotiations with the delegates of the present Government, having on that same day started from Sivas for this purpose. Even if the population of Sivas itself, in the midst of whom the Representative Committee was established, showed such an antag onistic attitude, it was indeed difficult to prove that the whole nation shared the same feeling and opinion.
Would it not clearly show the weakness of the support behind this body that so feebly represented the people and behind its chairman?
You can imagine how important our enemies regarded this voice from Sivas and how it helped them.
When Salih Pasha arrived at Amasia I had the telegram that had arrived for him handed to him. But I demanded that Sheikh Redsheb and his companions should be punished by the Government, and on the ig th October I asked the members of the Representative Committee at Sivas the following questions:
1. Have you seen the telegram addressed to the Imperial Palace, signed by Sheikh Redsheb, Ahmed Kemal and Djelal?
2. Is there no officer in charge of the Telegraph Office?
3. How can such impertinence be possible when you are all there at Sivas?
This seems all the more impossible as you are so well aware of all the plans and intentions of these idiots. We had heard here that they had prepared a telegram signed by these three people to be sent to Salih Pasha and Nadji Pasha. Did you not hear anything about it?
4. Has my circular note which I issued yesterday regarding the criminal and subversive intrigues of members of the “Liberal Under standing” with foreigners reached you?
5. Why did not the telegraph officials, after having been threatened and intimidated, immediately inform the competent authorities, including the Vali, about it? How could the officer in charge be guilty of such carelessness and negligence?
6. What has been done about the communications from the Director of the Telegraph Office? Mustapha Kemal.
Having learned that the Vilayet had handed this matter over to the military authorities, I wrote to Seki Bey, Chief of the Staff of the Army Corps :
“Has this affair been handed over to the Army Corps because the Vilayet had exhausted every possible means to arrest and punish those who are guilty, or are the available means considered inadequate? Or, has the Vilayet hesitated to do anything against such impudence?
“It would be better not to do anything decisive until the matter has been cleared up/ 7 Mustapha Kemal. To those who were at Sivas I sent the Mowing orders:
1. The Telegraph Office is to be put completely under control. A detachment of troops under the command of an officer will be sta tioned there. Everything shall be done to prevent the possibility of traitors being allowed, as has happened in this instance, to take possession of the Telegraph Office, intimidate the officials, and stir the people up against national unity and disturb public order.
In such circumstances, wherever it may occur, arms are to be used without hesitation against any person who breaks the law and attacks the troops.
2. In accordance with the report of the Chief of Staff concerning the maintenance of order, necessary proceedings shall be taken without delay against all who are guilty of such careless acts, before they have time to escape, and the result must be communicated to us within two hours. It is a matter of regret that in this extraordinary case there was no one at Sivas who was willing to take the initiative and act immediately, instead of waiting for orders.
This order has been forwarded by Djemal Djahid Bey to the officer commanding the 5 th Division and the officer commanding the battalion belonging to the division at Sivas. I urgently request you to attend to this immediately.
3. You will continue to keep a strict watch. All those concerned will act promptly and with severity in maintaining order at Sivas.
I gave the following instructions privately to Osman Turan Bey and Redsheb Sushdi Bey:
“We have informed the competent authority what is to be done in the case of those who offer resistance to the national movement. It will be your duty to watch the situation carefully and see whether our orders are obeyed to the letter or not. In case of any negligence, you will interfere personally and arrest those who are under suspicion and restrain their accomplices. As the occasion may require, you will not hesitate to do anything you consider necessary against any person/ Mustapha Kemal.
After having told us of this incident in detail, Vali Reshid Pasha wrote to us on the 20 th October that “this incident, which might have led to further developments, has been checked and we may be sure that, owing to the quick and energetic dispositions that had been adopted, similar events would not occur again in future.” (Doc ument 161.)
You have naturally concluded that the Government did not punish Sheikh Redsheb and his accomplices. We shall witness later on many offences that were committed by this low and dishonourable Sheikh who had allowed himself to be made a tool of by the enemy this individual who signed himself “of the tribe of the Shemseddin Sivassi.”
The situation which had developed while we were still at Amasia was not marked alone by the incident at Sivas. Another similar occurrence took place in the district of Ada Basar. With your permis sion I will also say a few words about this.
A certain Talustan Bey, who haunted the country of Ak Jasi in the district of Ada Basar, and Bekir Bey, who had arrived with funds and instructions supplied from Stambul and who had promised to pay those who were willing to serve at the rate of thirty Turkish pounds to mounted men and fifteen Turkish pounds to those on foot, and, thirdly, Beslan, a tax-collector from the village of Awdjar near Sabandja, met and prepared an attack on a small place in Ada Basar at the head of a certain number of armed men, mounted and on foot, which they had recruited in the neighbourhood.
Tahir Bey, Kaimakam of Ada Basar, heard of it, ajid with a major, who had been sent from Ismidt with about twenty-five mounted men whom he succeeded in mustering, marched out to meet those who had planned to attack the town. The two bands met near the village of Latife. The attacking gang were asked what they wanted. They replied: “We want to go to the Telegraph Office at Ada Basar to find out whether His Majesty is alive or dead, and whether he is still seated on the glorious throne of the Caliph or not. We cannot acknowledge Mustapha Kemal Pasha as the successor of the Padishah . . .”
According to detailed reports which Tahir Bey made concerning this verbally to the Mutessarif of Ismidt, these individuals declared that they were in communication with influential persons in Constan tinople and that the Sultan was fully informed about their enterprise.
This occurs in the official report:
“Bekir declared to the men belonging to this gang that they had been granted by Stambul a limit of one week to finish this business, five days of which had already elapsed, and that as, therefore, only two days remained, they had to act promptly.” (Document 162.)
The commander of the division at Ismidt had to send a detachment to Ada Basar and All Fuad Pasha had also to dispatch sufficient troops to Duzje. 22O On the 23 rd October, we wrote to the commander of the division at Ismidt, informing him that Bekir had been sent by our enemies outside our movement and by the “Liberal Understanding/ 7 and urging him to suppress his revolutionary intrigues. On the same day I ordered Tahir Bey, Kaimakam of Ada Basar, directly “not to hesitate to take prompt and rigorous steps against Bekir and his gang, to render them harmless, and to inform us of the result.” (Document 163.)
In a telegram in cipher, dated the 23 rd October, we told Djemal Pasha, Minister of War, of the information we had gathered regarding the operation, the persons involved, and the characters of Bekir and his accomplices, and we added that in case the Imperial Government would not take adequate steps at the right time against revolutionary intrigues and operations of this kind, we would consider ourselves justified in resorting to the extremest measures as soon as the national organisations became involved in them. (Document 164.)
The national military detachment that had started from Ismidt and had obtained reinforcements en route, had succeeded in dispers ing the gang of miscreants, which meanwhile had been considerably reinforced and showed signs of being still more so. Bestan, the tax- collector, and his brother had been taken. Bekir, who had arrived a week earlier furnished with instructions and the necessary funds from Stambul, had taken to flight. This Bekir was formerly an officer who had been expelled from the army; he was a native of Manias. (Documents 165, 166.)
Then, in obedience to the orders we had given, the persecution began of an individual named Inglis Ibrahim, who was one of the originators of the movement at Ismidt, and sundry other men of a like description. (Documents 167, 168.)
On the 26 th October, I wrote to Djemal Pasha, Minister of War, from Amasia, informing him that on account of the steps that were taken on the spot Bekir s enterprise had been wrecked, that Bekir had fled, but, as in all probability he would return to Constantinople and continue his offensive activity, it would be necessary to keep a sharp eye on him and follow him. (Document 169.)
On the 27 th October we heard by telegram from Haidar Bey, Mutessarif of Bolu, that Bekir, accompanied by two officers and forty armed men, was engaged in inciting the inhabitants of the villages of Abasa against the national movement, that he was spending large sums of money with this object and that the report they had made to the Ministry concerning this had met with no response. (Document 170.) I cannot think that these warnings we sent to the Government with the intention of exposing their behaviour and requesting them to perform their duty could be regarded as interference with their affairs.
Considering the various schemes planned in Stambul under the eyes of the Government by our enemies at home and abroad and the Padishah knowing and, as far as we could see, approving of them, it was perfectly unjustifiable for us to wait until these machinations had been crowned with success, in the puerile hope that the Government would put a stop to them.
The news we received on the 20 th October, at the moment when we were opening our negotiations at Amasia, may be summarised thus :