Even today I can throw no light on this dark incident
Gentlemen, even to-day I can throw no light on this dark incident. I am sorry I am unable to do so. From what I have said before, you know that at one time Refet Bey had been succeeded by Selaheddin Bey, who had arrived at Samsoon on an English ship and who had brought him an invitation to go to Constantinople. At that time he had preferred to resign so that he could return there, and mean while the Government in Stambul had issued an order that he was to be arrested, and myself at the same time, and that we were to be sent to Constantinople.
Those who understand anything about algebra will conceive it to be unpardonable that an unknown quantity should not be found when there were so many large known quantities available. Nevertheless,
I must confess my own incapability to do this.
It is true that Ali Riza Pasha s Cabinet had replaced Ferid Pasha s. But we all known that the means at hand for detecting and punishing the errors of the new Cabinet were identically the same.
Refet Pasha s weak and remarkable behaviour was responsible for the fact that no serious dispositions for defence could be established at the Aidin and Salihli fronts until a regular army had been formed.
Let us now return to the narrative of events from the place where we left off.
Djemal Pasha had not been able to grasp the meaning of a certain sentence in our telegram of the 5 th November, and asked us in a tele gram sent from the Head Office of the Sublime Porte to give him an explanation. He said:
“We cannot understand what you mean by: We think that we ought to draw your attention to certain acts of the Minister of the Interior which are calculated to create suspicion . We request you to give us a full detailed explanation of this sentence without delay/ (Document 190.)
We answered this short request in a rather exhaustive telegram, which I shall quote literally, although I am afraid I shall tax yuor patience by doing so.
In cipher. Sivas 12 th November, 1919
To His Excellency Djemal Pasha
Reply to telegram of 8 th November, No 8084.
Some of the actions and indications of the Minister of the Interior which are calculated to create suspicion and which we recollect at this moment are:
1. The most important civil officials of some of the vilayets, amongst them those of Angora, have been ordered to come to the telegraph instrument for the purpose of being interrogated in a threatening manner regarding an inquiry which was to be held con cerning certain acts directed against Ferid Pasha s Cabinet during the course of the national movement, the reasons that gave rise to the accusations and their relation to the law.
2. In a telegram in cipher, as though it was a very mysterious affair, the Vilayet of Sivas had been asked what had caused the death of the Mutessarif of Tokat, who had died in a natural way from an attack of typhoid fever, from which he had been suffering for a long time. 3- During the confidential conversation which the Minister of the Interior, accompanied by the Minister of Justice, had had with the national delegation that came from the Balikesri front, it was reported that the Minister of -Justice (in the presence of the members of this delegation) had asked whether there was any possible way for proceed ings to be taken against the leaders of the national movement!
4. Even at the present day the Minister retains Keshfi Bey, Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of the Interior, in his office, in spite of the fact that he was the evil genius and confidant in all the acts and machinations of Aadil Bey the former Minister, whose treason has been exposed by material proof, while his chief care as a true patriot when he took office should have been to dismiss him. On the advice of this same official, the Minister is still transferring other officials in his Department.
You will find it quite natural that officials appointed by such a chief do not exactly enjoy the confidence of the nation. All Ulvi Bey, the former Mutessarif of Kaisaria, for instance, who adopted an unfriendly attitude towards the national movement from the very beginning, and who, after having been suspended from his duties by the people, escaped arrest and banishment solely on account of his illness, notwithstanding his notorious inefficiency and inexperience in administration, was given an appointment at Burdur. Edhem Bey, also, who had been sent back to Constantinople, because of his in capacity and the impossibility of allowing him to remain in the Sanjak of Djanik, has been appointed to Menteshe.
Moreover, Djavid Bey, the former Mutessarif of Nigdeh who had recently been brought to Sivas, has been appointed Mutessarif of Aidin; and, lastly, the Mutessarif of Antalia, one of Djemal Bey s creatures, the traitor who was formerly Vali of Konia, still remains at his post, in spite of the repeated applications and remonstrance of the people.
5. The management of a Department, equally as important as that of any other, has been given to an Armenian.
6. No alteration has been made in the control of the Press and the Agency service.
7. It is well known that the unity of the nation is the only power by which the fate of the nation can be secured, and it is the national organisation alone that can maintain this unity.
Those who are endeavouring to compromise the sacred cause of upholding this unity and this organisation a cause whose aim is the safeguarding of the country from disintegration and partition, and the security of the independence of the State and Nation are the mali cious politicians who are the agitators in Constantinople.
They can only be rendered innocuous by stern and efficacious measures being taken against them. The first way to bring about this result is to confide the Direction of the Police to a man who shall be selected from among honourable, patriotic and competent persons who have the courage to act on their own initiative. Your Excellency is well aware, however, that the present Director of Police is the chief support and a strong partisan of the old Cabinet that is accused of treason and of their creatures. As can be seen, on the other hand, from the letters written by Said Molla to Mr. Frew, the English clergyman, the official in question is a supporter and a refuge of the opposition, that is to say, of the enemies of the nation. His Excellency Salih Pasha also acknowledged this fact at Amasia. In other words, this means that the Minister of the Interior not only has no scruples about confiding the destiny of the country and the nation to the hands of such a man, but he may even think that there is an advantage in doing so.
As for Kemal Pasha, the Commander of the Gendarmerie, consider ing beyond all doubt that he is as dangerous to the national movement as he is to yourself, can it be believed that his retention at his post is due to the good will of the Minister of the Interior?
Mustapha Kemal In the name of the Representative Committee.
The telegram from the Minister of War, dated g th November, is also very interesting. In this telegram Djemal Pasha expresses the ideas of the Cabinet by emphasising these points :
1. The elections must take place in a lawful and proper manner.
2. The Chamber of Deputies shall meet in Constantinople.
3. The communications sent to you hitherto by the Government, to the effect that you are prohibited from interfering in the affairs of the State on behalf of the national organisation, are hereby officially confirmed.
4. It is clearly evident that the demands expressed by you in a number of your telegrams have given the impression that you are assuming authority.
5. The Government have no intention of abandoning the neutrality announced in their manifesto, and, therefore, cannot exercise any pressure on persons whose opinions differ from those held by the national organisation, nor can they punish them. This telegram concluded with the following threat:
“If the present situation continues for a moment longer, the Ministerial Council will certainly resign.” (Document 191.)
These statements revealed the true state of affairs. The Cabinet did not care to admit that among those who held convictions that were antagonistic to the national organisation were the enemies of the country and the nation ; they made no distinction between the national organisation and those traitorous organisations that had been formed by our enemies between Ali Kemal or Said Molla and ourselves. The incidents at Ada Basar, at Karadsha Bey, at Boskir and Ansawur were not regarded by them as crimes.
After having emphasised these points in our reply to Djemal Pasha, we added a few words that we thought would have the effect of draw ing out the Government s intentions:
“Judging from what you say, the Imperial Government consider the national organisation as unnecessary. If this is so and if you are strong enough to save the country without any support from the na tional organisation, we asked you to say so frankly, and then we can do all that is necessary to put matters straight between us. ” (Document 192.)
It was only on the 28 th November, that is to say, eighteen days after he sent it off, that I received the letter which Djemal Pasha had specially sent to me at Sivas on the 10 th November, in which he had returned to all the questions upon which we had been corresponding, summarising them and commenting on them.
Speaking, among other things, about the deputies meeting else where than in Constantinople, he wrote:
“It is evident that the Padishah will refuse to give his consent to the Assembly meeting in those circumstances. The Americans have hinted have even expressly stated that attacks on the Chamber of Deputies by the Allied troops might be to the advantage of the Empire, but they did not believe that this would be at all possible.” Then he told us, as though we did not know it already, that “the fat-heads among the officials who are not inspired by the spirit and sentiments that guide the national movement, put their trust in the armies of the occupation:” and he added that “the majority of the members of the former Cabinet are included in this category.” To illustrate this contention by a typical example, he quoted the instance when the Director of Police, who was clearly included, was superseded.
And after administering a reproof that was intended for us, he said: “The Cabinet have planned to do a great deal, but they cannot depend upon the strength of the forces on which they rely and hesitate to act boldly/ He continued: “And I am not exaggerating when I say that the Minister of the Interior is the first to speak of relying on these forces, namely, the nation/ 1
Djemal Pasha, after having signed this letter, added a postscript (also signed), of which I will quote a few words:
“The opposition and the foreigners are determined to prevent the Chamber being opened. If the Representative Committee perseveres in its opposition by continuing to make difficulties about the place of its meeting, all that we can do is to trust in God/ (Document 193.)
Comment on the logic, the judgment and the truth of the views expressed in this letter, as well as his remarks in general, is quite superfluous.
I shall confine myself to quoting a paragraph of the lengthy reply to this letter that we sent on the 28 th November. It ran thus:
“We cannot treat the arguments seriously which, from your point of view, would result in shaking confidence in the strength on which the Imperial Government leans for support in such an important crisis/
Damad Sherif Pasha, Minister of the Interior, did other things to destroy national unity and drive the nation into a state of passive resistance against the culpable efforts that were still being made and which were multiplying. We observed that he induced other Departments to adopt similar tactics.
Here is an example:
There was a Cadi at Eski-Shehr, named Hamdi Effendi. As he could not remain there on account of his opposition to the national forces, he went to Stambul without any intention of returning. This Cadi was now sent back to Eski-Shehr and was reinstated by the new Cabinet. The Mutessarif appealed to the Minister of Justice and demanded his recall; he received no rely to his appeal. The Mutessarif and the officer commanding the zone of Eski-Shehr sent us a report on this state of affairs, and added: “If the Ministry con tinues to ignore our request, we shall feel ourselves obliged to remove this person. Please be good enough to let us know what we are to do/
We replied : “If you are unable to convince the Imperial Govern- men t who have promised to conform to the national aspirations and who in accordance with this promise enjoy the complete support of the national organisation of the necessity for the removal of this Cadi, it is evident that the only thing left for you to do will be to turn him out/ The number of officials appointed in Constantinople and sent back, as this Cadi was, was naturally very considerable.
The first paragraph of a telegram, dated 24 th November, in which Djemal Pasha, the Minister of War, explained to us the viewpoint of the Cabinet on questions of this kind, stated that, “the internal and external affairs of the State do not permit of any foreign inter ference.” (Document 194.)
We sent a detailed answer on the 27 th November:
“Although we recognise, in principle, that the leadership of the home and diplomatic affairs of the State does not permit of any inter ference from abroad, it is, under the abnormal conditions in which we are now living, very natural and legitimate that the nation cannot allow any event or act that could injure national unity to weaken (consciously or unconsciously) the national organisations, whose duty is to safeguard the destiny of the country and the nation.” And the telegram ended with these words: “The Representative Committee
has remained faithful to the obligations it has pledged itself to fulfil
but provided, nevertheless, that those obligations will be mutual. . . . The Government have hitherto failed to fulfil any of the obligations drawn up and signed by Salih Pasha, and if reasons that they could not control have hindered them from doing so, they have kept us in ignorance of them.” (Document 195.)
You will see clearly from the evidence I will now lay before you, what little justification All Riza s Cabinet had to criticise us, and how careless they were in the choice of the expressions they used.