Finally, they advised us “not to come to Constantinople until peace had been signed
Here are some of the facts:
Our organisations in Stambul stated in the reply they sent us on the 20 th October to our question of the 13 th of the same month, “that they were convinced, and could not see that there was any danger in their doing so, that the Chamber of Deputies ought to meet in Constantinople; that, as anything the Entente Powers were to do against the Chamber itself would produce the worst impression on the opinion of the world, the possibility of this happening need not be thought of for a moment.” They further added that “only in the event of the legislature attempting to exceed their present powers would His Majesty decide to dissolve the Chamber; that the opposition had taken up a dangerous attitude, and that the Entente Powers were taking advantage of it and found courage enough to attack persons like Your Excellency.”
Finally, they advised us “not to come to Constantinople until Peace had been signed, and not to stand for election as deputies.” (Documents 178, 179.)
In the telegram we received on the 30 th October from the Con stantinople Branch of our organisations, signed by Kara Wassif Bey under a pseudonym and Shefket Bey in his real name, the views of the members of our organisation and those of many others were confirmed.
The first paragraph of this telegram read as follows :
“I have had an opportunity of talking to Ahmed Izzet Pasha, the Grand Vizier, the Minister of War, the Chief of the General Staff, the Minister of Public Works, Essad Pasha, the oculist, who shows remarkable fidelity to our principles and commands great influence, and, sometimes at their request and sometimes as the opportunity offered, to Reuf Ahmed Bey and certain others. All of them agreed unanimously to the following:
“i. It is absolutely necessary that the Chamber of Deputies shall meet in Constantinople. But we ourselves must not go to Constanti nople. The Grand Vizier has promised that when the foreign countries have given their consent, the Chamber shall be allowed to pass its resolutions without interference. But as it would be impossible to obtain guarantees with regard to ourselves, we were given to under stand that we must stand on a higher plane in the general devotion of the people, either by considering ourselves absent on leave if we happened to be deputies, or simply by not becoming deputies/
Paragraph B contained some items that were completely new to us:
“After all, in the treaty to be drawn up the Government will be forced to accept proportional representation, based on the rights of the minorities. Because, it is anticipated in certain quarters that the Chamber will be dissolved and new elections will take place in which the minorities will be able to vote.”
In Paragraph C of the same document this phrase occurs: “Surely the Government is actuated by good-will and is quite disinterested.”
The second article gave us the impression of a confused and disjointed mentality that seemed quite incomprehensible to us. The desire was expressed that some Socialists, or members more or less associated with the “Liberal Understanding/ should be elected.
The third article suggested that the Government should not be led into difficulties.
The fourth article inspired these ideas:
“I should like to win over to our cause all those who might injure us, by giving them every possible assurance and guarantee. I am advised on every side to proceed on lines that would be agreeable to, for instance, Refi Djevad, the Socialists, etc.” (Document 180.)
The replies we sent on the I st and 4 th – November to our organi sations in Constantinople contained our criticism and views in detail. We explained, among other things, that “the meeting of the deputies in Constantinople would give rise to doubts in many minds, and the people consider that it would be exceedingly dangerous.”
We summarised the remarks that we made to the Government through Salih Pasha. We tried to prove that “the danger supposed to threaten us personally was fictitious, because the same thing might apply to all the other representatives of the nation;” and we added, “that we demanded, if they really insisted on our remaining merely onlookers, that they would be good enough to let us know why they think that such a course would be necessary.” (Document 181.)
Here is an extract from a telegram we sent to Kara Wassif Bey:
“His Excellency Ahmed Izzet Pasha originally feared that the national movement might lead to sanguinary conflicts in Constan tinople. So that we can follow his advice, it is of the greatest im portance that we should first know whether he has changed his mind on the subject. As for His Excellency Djemal Pasha, you will probably know that he, also, is in state of hesitation and indecision. Abuk Pasha, too, is in the same quandary. I cannot be sure about Essad Pasha the oculist. Some people seem to think that this man is exceedingly narrow-minded and that he only thirsts for honour and glory. In short, we have come to the conclusion that those men, whatever may be their rank, whose determination and views are at all doubtful and whose judgment is influenced by pressure exerted by our opponents in Constantinople, must be watched/
After having reconsidered and calculated the doubts and dangers that threaten our selection of the place for Parliament to meet at, we explained “that what astounded us most was the question as to how the Government, giving proof that they were powerless to guarantee the safety of two or three specially prominent persons, could expect to protect the other deputies. The conviction that gradually forced itself upon us was, unfortunately, to the effect that it was not so much the foreigners as the leaders of the present Government, and certain others, who had such extraordinary mis givings about our being present/
We observed that, “it must appear to be quite natural that we did not want the Chamber of Deputies to meet in a centre where the dissolution of Parliament was^already being anticipated in case that it were decided to adopt proportional representation/ We added that, “we could not understand what was meant by the hint about the disinterestedness on the part of the Government/ 1
Were we to understand that it was their intention to abandon us in our difficult circumstances? And, answering one of their sug gestions, we said that “the fear that the opposition might come into power is not to the point : it is quite impossible for us to deny our principles on account of any such fear as that/ (Document 182.)
From this interchange of opinions and their causes, we can easily arrive at the conclusion that the leaders of our organisations in Constantinople were influenced by the views expressed by the Ministers and others, and had merely become their mouthpieces.
Here is another telegram in cipher sent on the 6 th November, signed by Djemal Pasha, Minister of War, and Kara Wassif Bey, which contains nothing but suggestions.
Touching the place where the Assembly was to meet, we read the following :
“First of all, there are political objections and, secondly, ad ministrative misgivings ; thus it is impossible that the meeting
Necessity is of far greater importance than sentiment. … Be good enough to tell the Government as soon as possible that you agree with them.”
This meant that a sort of pressure was being put upon us. After that came a promise of happy events : “We shall soon send you some good news by Riza Bey, the Japanese.” This was intended to mean that we had almost succeeded in winning the “Sulh-i-Selamet” (Peace and Salvation) Party, as well as the “MflU-turk” Party to our side. We are destroying our “Milli-Ahrar”; the national Congress will at last come to reason. The good news they were so anxious to send us concerned nothing but matters of trivial importance. (Document 183.)
On the 7 th November, I wrote to Kara Wassif Bey, asking him to come to Sivas immediately.
In his telegram of the ig th November he told us what he thought about it:
“Whom would Anatolia accept as their leader incase the Assembly, which would be in accord with the national forces, assumed a ostileattitude towards the Padishah? Would Anatolia submit to the national forces? … It is, therefore, a patriotic duty to abandon the idea of allowing the Chamber to meet in Anatolia . . . .” (Do cument 184.)
It might become very dangerous if we decided arbitrarily on this question of the meeting place and allow the nation and the deputies elected by them to carry out that decision. Therefore, I saw myself confronted with the inevitable necessity of most carefully and attentively studying the ideas and feelings of the people, of drawing my own conclusion from the actual desire of the nation and, then, of coming to a practical decision on the result.
I set to work to study the public opinion in different ways, by corresponding, as you already know, with the leading personalities in Constantinople. It was also essential for me to know the standpoint of the Army, so that I could feel sure that they would help me in carrying out my decision as to what was best to be done.
For this purpose, on the 2g t]1 October I ordered the commanders of the XV**, XX tfa , XII th and III rd Army Corps to meet me at Sivas. I wrote to the officer commanding the Army Corps at Diarbekr, to Djafer Tayar Bey, commanding the Army Corps at Adrianople, to Yussuf Izzet Pasha at Brusa, to Kiasim Pasha at Balikesri, and to Bekir Sami Bey at Brusa, telling them that it was not on account of the distance and their special position that I invited them, but that I wanted to keep them well informed about the decisions we had arrived at. (Documents 185, 186.)
Of all those whom I had invited, Salaheddin Bey, who was already at Sivas, Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, who came from Erzeram, Ali Fuad Pasha from Angora and Shemseddin Bey, who represented the officer commanding the Army Corps at Konia and had personally to decide upon certain important matters concerning the front, met at Sivas. Those who attended the conference, which began on the i6 th November, were members of the Representative Committee, some people who were not members but whose collaboration was useful to us, and the commanding officers I have mentioned.