63-To grant territorial compensation in Eastern Anatolia to the Armenians

To grant territorial compensation in Eastern Anatolia to the Armenians

It was, indeed, an astonishing and remarkable thing that a states man, a member of the Peace Commission, could commit himself to a statement that was practically a promise to grant territorial compensation in Eastern Anatolia to the Armenians.

In a telegram that I thought it right to send to His Excellency Tshuruk Sulu Mahmud Pasha on the 17 th November, I said that “the population of Eastern Anatolia were perfectly justified in feeling in censed and irritated at this phrase; that the nation, according to the decisions arrived at at the Erzerum and Sivas Congresses, had no idea of ceding an inch of their territory and had decided to defend their own rights, as already announced to the whole world, even if the Government should tamely submit to a shameful promise of this description/

I added that this decision of the nation was very well known to the honourable members of the Peace Commission and that they must follow it. (Document 196.) During our stay at Sivas, a great number of questions and incidents attracted our attention, and we were moved by force of circumstances to take certain steps within the national movement itself, as well as with reference to administrative, military and political affairs. It would take far too long to enter into them fully in detail. I shall only show you how forcibly the concatenation of facts influenced our actions.

It was very important to carry out the national organisations to the end. For this purpose, we took definite measures. Others had also to be taken to remove certain differences of opinion that had arisen concerning the elections.

Some of our Circassian compatriots at Marash had, as I have said already, sent a telegram on behalf of all the Circassians in that district to the French military commander at Aintab, requesting that the Governor of Djebeli Bereket should be sent to Marash. We expressed our regret to the Mutessarif of Marash that he had approved of such a step. We informed him that the notables of Marash were not to think of preparing a reception for him when he arrived at that town. We also called the attention of the Government to this matter.

Insecurity in the district of Bolu increased. Instructions about it were sent to Rushdi Bey, commanding the I st Division, who had succeeded Assim Bey in the command of Ismidt.

In a telegram in cipher from our organisation in Constantinople, dated 20 th – November and signed by Kara Vassif Bey and Colonel Shefket Bey, we were informed that “the Kaimakam of Gebse is hostile to the national forces. In order to minimise and counteract their authority he was considering how he could veil the misdeeds of Yahia Kapdan, who had committed all sorts of infamous crimes and was concocting further intrigues.” The necessity was emphasised that this Kaimakam should be removed. (Document 197.)

We sincerely shared this opinion and replied that they should secure his removal by applying to Djemal Pasha. (Document 198.)

This case of Yahia Kapdan marked one of the most important phases of the revolution and, being very instructive, I would like to give you some striking details about it.

As what I have already said undoubtedly proves, an essential part of the plan which our united enemies were endeavouring to carry through consisted in showing to the world by material proofs and facts that unrest was prevailing in the interior of the country and that the Christian elements were the object of constant attacks, pretend ing that all this was the work of the national forces. Imbued with this secret and insidious intention, they had begun, as we have seen, to organise bands and to incite them against the Christian population, so that later on the national forces would be charged with the crimes they had themselves committed. These enterprises, which had begun to spread all over the country, found a specially important field of activity in the districts of Bigha, Balikesri and, chiefly, Ismidt and Ada Basar, because they were near the capital and, therefore, were bound to attract attention.

As the consequence of this, which in some way showed dark malice, but otherwise, it must be admitted, considerable skill, we found ourselves placed in the necessity of exercising special initiative and of undertaking steps of a specific nature. For, the Government was openly attributing all these hostile intrigues to the national forces and, instead of taking energetic steps to stop them, they began to criticise and bring pressure on the Representative Committee and continually demanded that we should suppress the activity of these gangs and the crimes they committed. Besides, the Government had unfortunately succeeded in instilling their ideas and convictions on this question into the heads of the leaders of our organisations in Constantinople.

The arrangements we made to carry out our operations in the district of Ismidt, in the neighbourhood of Constantinople, consisted in organising armed national parties and, with the help of the military commanders and some trustworthy officers in this district, we perse cuted and annihilated these treacherous gangs.

The most important, and numerically the strongest, of the national parties that we could assemble for this purpose was commanded by a devoted patriot who was known by the name of Yahia Kapdan.

We first came into touch with the late Yahia in this way.

On a certain day, the operators at the Telegraph Office at Sivas told us that a very urgent telegram had been intercepted that is to say, had not been transmitted by Constantinople and that the contents of it were as follows :

To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Sivas.

“It is I, Yahia, who was recommended to you yesterday from Ismidt. I shall await your orders to-morrow evening at the Telegraph Office at Kushdshali.” (Kushdshali is a village between Scutari and Gebse.)

Yahia Kapdan had actually been recommended to us by our organisation at Ismidt.

On the 4 th October I received the following message from Kushd shali:

Important and very urgent.

His Excellency Mustapha Kemal, Sivas.

I am Yahia, who was recommended to you two days ago from Ismidt. In obedience to your orders, I have come to the instrument to receive your orders by telegram. To-inorrow evening, at latest, I shall be at the Telegraph Office at Kushdshali.

Yahia.

Yahia Kapdan had probably noticed that his message from Con stantinople had not been transmitted, and had sent the above telegram to the office at Kushdshali to be forwarded before he arrived there himself. (Document 199.) I gave the following order: (Document 200.)

4 th October. Through the Telegraph Office at Ismidt to Yahia Effendi at Kushdshali.

Do all you possibly can to raise a strong force in the district where you are. Keep in touch with us through Tahir Bey, the Kaimakam at Ada Basar. Meanwhile hold yourself in readiness.

Mustapha Kemal

President of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia.”

After Yahia Kapdan had received this order he raised the force I had requested him to do, and succeeded for several months to come in preventing the intrigues of the treacherous gangs in Constantinople and the neighbourhood.

Eventually, the Government in Constantinople had him assassin ated. Although the activity of Yahia Kapdan and his tragic death took place some months later, I feel, as I have already alluded to this affair, that I ought to give you all the particulars about it while I have the opportunity, so that I need not refer to it again.

On the 24 tb November, the following telegram came from the Telegraph Office at Kartal:

“We are compelled to hand Yahia Kapdan over to the Govern ment, because he has murdered an innocent man in the middle of the village, he has caused the mayor to be flogged in public and he has pillaged several villages. The Ministry of the Interior is following up this affair very energetically. We must hand Yahia Kapdan over to obviate the Government being driven into a difficult position. I am awaiting Your Excellency s orders here at the instrument.

Ahmed Nedjati, Major (Document 201) Chairman of the Representative Committee of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia.”

The chairmanship of the committee of our national organisations was seldom conferred on military officers and official persons.

Moreover, the chairman of a committee ought to have been in formed of and to have known all about our regulations, and that there was only one Representative Committee and not another in every town. After the receipt of this suspicious telegram, I telegraphed to the officer commanding the troops at Ismidt as follows :

In cipher. Urgent. Sivas 25^ November.

To Memed Rushdi Bey Effendi, Commanding the I st Di vision, Ismidt.

In a telegram from Nedjati Bey, who signs himself chairman of the Union for the Defence of the Rights at Kartal, we have been informed that he has to hand Yahia Kapdan over to the Government as he is accused of murder, of an assault on the mayor, and of pillaging villages. Further, that the Ministry of the Interior insists very energetically on this being done at once. In the critical times our country is now passing through, it cannot be tolerated that the person referred to shall be handed over to the Government, because he has distinguished himself by performing useful services from the very beginning of the national movement. I ask you, therefore, urgently to settle this affair on the spot and see that Yahia is delivered from legal persecution with the authority and in the name of the Govern ment. Give the necessary orders to Nedjati Bey at Kartal and report the result to me. Mustapha Kemal,

In the name of the Representative Committee.

On the 26 th November I received the following telegram from the office at Hereke:

I appeal to you urgently on behalf of the nation.

The abuses Major Nedjati Bey is guilty of dishonour the national forces in such days as these. I beg you immediately to institute an

k^ Yahia

Commanding the troops at Gebse.

The reply I received from the officer commanding the Division at Ismidt reads:

Ismidt 29 th November.

To the Commander of the III rd Army Corps, Sivas. Reply to the telegram of 25 th November. To the Chairman of the Representative Committee. From the inquiries I have made so far, it seems evident that Yahia has not committed any murder nor has he been guilty of an assault on the mayor. On the contrary, Major Nedjati Bey wants Kapdan out of the way, because he regards him as an obstacle stand ing in the way of his own personal ambition.

Just when they appealed to Your Excellency in a telegram, they had conspired to induce Yahia to go to them and to kill him; but he saw through their trap and did not fall into it. I am carrying on my inquiries in due course and shall immediately inform you of the result – Rushdi

Commanding the I st Division.

A few days later Rushdi Bey sent me the following supplementary information :

Ismidt 5 th December. To the Officer commanding the III rd Army Corps, Sivas.

For the Representative Committee.

Major Nedjati Bey, while carrying on his actual duties at the School of Musketry at Maltepe and assuming the title of chairman of the Union for the Defence of the Rights, is pillaging the district with gangs belonging to Kutshuk Arslan, the Albanian, which he has assembled round him and which he pretends are national forces. Nail Effendi, Captain in the Gendarmerie, is in collusion with him. I have no doubt at all about the truth of these statements.

This gang has been employed to perpetrate crimes, such as the assassination of the Greek watchman at Daridsha and robbing and assaulting a rich man named Stelianos crimes that have recently put the Government in difficulty. Considering that these offences are attributed to Yahia Kapdan, who has had nothing whatever to do with them, and that false evidence inculpating him has been sent both to you and the Government, we can only come to the conclusion that these two individuals, by carrying on their intrigues under the cover of the national forces, intend to create difficulties for the people and the Government, and meanwhile fill their own pockets. It is possible that they may also have some political object in view.

Yahia Kapdan, who up to the present moment has behaved very honourably, as he is accustomed to do, and has not taken part in any of these acts of violence, but, on the contrary, has prevented these gangs from committing crimes in the zone for which he is responsible, is now the object of official persecution by men who want to get rid of him either through the Government or otherwise by attacking him personally. Yesterday Yahia Kapdan came to see me and told me officially that his life is in danger, that he must get away from here, and that he would hand over the arms and ammunition in the posses sion of his men before he goes away.

I have given him the requisite advice and have sent him back to his duties, telling him that he is needed for further more important services in days to come.

The information I have received from the Kaimakam of Gebse, who is very well informed about everything that is going on, confirms what I have just reported in every particular. He is very much against Nedjati Efiendi and Nail Effendi, but has a high opinion of Yahia Kapdan.

Although I do not know with whom Nedjati Bey is in communi cation in Constantinople, it is rumoured that he receives money from time to time from some secret source or other. As they are staying in this district and as their weapons are stained with blood, Yahia Kapdan does not want to remain here any longer. Consequently, it seems necessary that Nedjati Effendi, who is an officer on the active list, should be transferred to another post and Nail Effendi to one in an opposite direction.

Personally, I cannot do anything in this matter, because these men are directly under the authority of Constantinople.

I appeal to you to do all you can to see that the necessary steps are taken. RusMij

Commanding the I st Division.

I sent a telegram to Djemal Pasha, the Minister of War, on the 8 th December, and in it I mentioned in detail the information that I had received from Rushdi Bey. (Document 202.)

On the same day the leaders of our organisation in Constantinople were informed about what was happening and the appeal we had sent to Djemal Pasha. We begged them to do all they could to further our appeal. (Document 203.)

Nineteen days later, on the 27 ^ December, a long telegram, with the ciphered signature of Vassif and the proper signature of Colonel Shefket Bey, contained this:

“. . . . the bands belonging to Yahia Kapdan and his associate Kara Arslan, as well as those of Sadik, specially infest the district of Alem Dagh and are the cause of a great deal of insecurity.”

After having enumerated some of the excesses attributed to Yahih

Kapdan, the telegram went on: ” they have compelled us to

take steps that will render these criminals harmless.” “The fact that Kutshuk Arslan s gang, with whom he has been on bad terms for some time, is welcome (?!), has moved him to veil his own criminal deeds in various ways.”

“Captain Nail is an enemy of Yahia s. With regard to Nedjati Bey, he was elected chairman by the Kasa of Kartal when the Government was overthrown, and he has broken off relations

with the chief authority in favour of the national forces. (?!)

He has effectively co-operated in the national organisation

For the purpose of preventing the raids on, and robberies of the Greeks of Yeni Keui, he has fitted out and led Kutshuk Arslan s gangs. …. You have provided him with relief funds yourself (?!).”

<c Yahia Kapdan …. proceeds in a way that prevents him from doing anything of importance. 3

“It is true that Major Nedjati is not skilful enough, but at the same time he does not deserve to be punished.”

“. . . . to put an end to the Greek and Armenian intrigues and to dismiss the Kaimakam of Gebse immediately from his office . . . .” (Document 204.)

There were many things in this information that were quite un known to me. For instance, I knew nothing about the existence of Kutshuk Arslan s gang, and still less that it was welcome. I have no recollection of ever having given money to this gang through Nedjati Bey.

On the other hand, we knew very well that Yahia Kapdan, in obedience to the orders we had given him, was actually engaged in suppressing enemy bands or, at any rate, preventing them from succeeding in carrying out the schemes of the enemies by molesting the Christian population.

I think that the documents I shall now show you will throw a % very lurid light on the real part played by the Kaimakam of Gebse.

I wrote again to Rushdi Bey, commanding a Division, on the 4 th January, and repeated to him accurately the information sent by Vassif Bey, begging him, as this information did not agree with the news he had personally sent me, to institute fresh inquiries through trustworthy persons and to inform me of the opinion he had come to. (Document 205.)

As I am anxious that you shall be fully informed, I must trouble you to listen to Rushdi Bey s reply. Command of the XX t]1 Army Corps. Duzje, 7 th January, 1920.

Reply to tlie ciphered telegram of January 4 th .

To the Chairman of the Representative Committee.

As different allegations had been advanced against Yahia Kapdan, I had repeatedly commissioned Captain Ali Agush Effendi to inquire into them and find out whether there was any truth in them. The result of all these researches has been entirely in his favour. It is quite possible that through ignorance he may have made some trifling mistakes with the idea of doing his best.

As regards the great and the little Arslan*) they are mainly robbers. Here is the answer verbatim that came from the Kaimakam of Gebse, to whom I had written in connection with this affair on I st December, 1919, No. 17.

There is no doubt that in his heart the Kaimakam is an enemy of the national organisations. Consequently, it is quite natural that he should be the first to complain about Yahia.

I was obliged to refer, at least in part, to the contents of the tele gram in question, and with the same confidence I showed the letter in question to Shefket Bey in Constantinople. If for reasons unknown to me Constantinople would do anything against Yahia, of course I would not be called upon to do anything.

Copy.

Reply to your esteemed letter of 20 th November, No. 53.

The statements made by Major Nedjati Bey, Chairman of the Union for the Defence of the Rights at Kartal, about a murder and certain acts of violence against the person of the mayor are inaccurate, because they gave no precise indications as to the date and the persons concerned. Burhaneddin Bey, the Mayor who was alleged to have been flogged, has stated officially in writing that he has not been the victim of an assault at the hands of Yahia Kapdan, nor has he addressed any complaint to me on the subject.

As far as the charge of murder is concerned, neither the Govern ment nor the judicial authorities have been consulted about any accusation of the kind. No order for the arrest of Yahia Kapdan has been issued. If the assassination of the two Greeks of Daridsha and the robbery and assault on Stelianos Tshorbadshi in the village of Pasha Keui at Kartal are what is referred to, everybody knows that

*) Kutshuk Arslan = Little Arslan; Kara Arslan = Black Arslan ; Bujuk Arslan = Great Arslan. these crimes were perpetrated by Kutshuk Arslan s bands, and that there has been a very bad feeling between them and Yahia Kapdan for a considerable time.

Some time ago, a gang, consisting of eighteen men, was under the protection of Captain Nail Effendi, but at present it is under the command of Major Nedjati Bey. It is rumoured that each of the man are paid 50 a month. Therefore, they are able to attend to their usual business, which consists chiefly in pillaging villages.

Major Nedjati Bey is an old schoolfellow of Captain Nail Bey s. About six weeks ago they met at a notorious feast that Ali Kapdan, a member of Kutshuk Arslan s gang, had arranged to celebrate his marriage. The expenses connected with the feast were defrayed from the money that had been robbed from Tshorbadshi, who had been kidnapped by Ali Kapdan. Later on, Nedjati Bey spent several nights at Nail Bey s house. They understand one another very well, because they share the same views. For a long time Nail Bey has been against Yahia Kapdan and when he was engaged in forming organisations here he did all he could to get him removed from my district.

The idea prevails here that these two crimes were committed with the intention of getting the national forces and Yahia Bey accused of them. It is quite evident and generally accepted that these crimes were committed by Kutshuk Arslan s gang in the district where they carry on their depredations.

Besides this, it is an undoubted fact that Nail Bey has been in correspondence with Constantinople, with the object of getting Hakki Bey recalled. He commands a Cavalry Division belonging to the Guard in Constantinople, which had been sent out to hunt this gang. Pretending that Hakki Bey is not wanted, it is through him that the matter has not been carried any further. If it is another murder that is referred to, precise details, with dates and names of the persons concerned, must be furnished.

On the day that the Greek watchman was murdered at Daridsha, the crime became known through the members of Kutshuk Arslan s gang, who were walking about openly in the bazaar discussing it.

As he was afraid of the consequences, Captain Nail had applied to be transferred to another post, and declared that he would not stay here any longer ; but the officers commanding the regiment and the other troops, as well as Major Nedjati Bey, who intervened, calmed him and promised that they would make it unpleasant for Yahia Kapdan with the help of Sirri Bey the delegate. They took his part in this way so that they could keep him here.

On Tuesday, the 25 tjl November, Nedjati Bey came back, and the captain persuaded him to his way of thinking and induced him to give false evidence against Yahia.

Then he tried to waylay him. He asked him by telephone to come to a certain place where Kutshuk Arslan J s gang were waiting in readiness in his house to throw themselves on him.

But he lacked the courage to carry out his plan no one knows why and he threw up the attempt when it was half completed. Meanwhile Nedjati Bey had to return to Kartal.

It is evident that Captain Nail Bey is continually at work concoct ing false evidence against Yahia Kapdan. Trying to lay traps for him by sometimes using Nedjati Bey s and at others Kutshuk Arslan s gang, the latter being his tool in affairs of this sort. Lastly, I have the honour to bring to your notice the fact that Yahia Kapdan will not allow the villagers to be pillaged or the Christians persecuted, as is being done by the gang of his adversary Kutshuk Arslan. When Bujuk Arslan Bey s gang, which is under his command, happens to do undesirable things he stops them immediately; he is actively engaged in maintaining order and security, so that he may further the national plans, which aim at the independence and salvation of our country. He had also previously done useful service by winning over Bujuk Arslan s gang and otaining their pardon from the Govern ment.

The accusations against Yahia may be traced to his having identified himself with the personal interests of the captain and to his having severely reproached him for the crimes committed by Kutshuk Arslan s gang, with which he is now credited, and screening the perpetrators of them Mehmed Nureddin,

Kaimakam of Gebse.

Rushdi,

Commanding the I st Division and the District of Bolu.

Before this information reached us, we received the following message :

“Yahia Kapdan has been surrounded at Tawshandshil by the military force that has been sent from Constantinople.”

When we received this message we asked the commander of the troops at Ismidt in a ciphered telegram, dated 7 ttx January, to account for this, and we waited at the instrument for his answer. We told him: “If this information is correct, let the commander of the troops know that we are aware of his having been sent from Constantinople, that Yahia Kapdan is our man, and that if he has done anything wrong we shall do all that is necessary, because we shall not allow him to be surrounded and arrested/ (Document 206.)

Two telegrams were sent on the 7 th January, which we only received on the 8 th .

One of them was signed by Fewsi Bey, temporarily commanding the I st Division at Ismidt. He said:

“A party consisting of two thousand men has landed at Tawshand- shil to-night and has surrounded Yahia Bey, commanding the national troops. Please tell us what we are to do/

The second message was from the actual commander of the division, who was at Duzje. Rushdi Bey reported to the same effect as Fewsi Bey had done. (Document 207.)

In Fewsi Bey s reply on 7 th January to our request for details that we had sent on the same date, he told us that Yahia Kapdan had not been made a prisoner up till then, that a meeting between the troops from Constantinople and our own would probably take place, and that orders must be given to the commander of this division.

At the same moment a telegram, dated the io tlx January, arrived from Djevad Bey, my aide-de-camp, who was then a deputy in Constantinople :

Harbie, io th January.

To the Command or the XX th Army Corps. To His Excellency Mustapha Pasha.

On the night of the 6 th January before daybreak the “Panderma,” with her lights covered, arrived at Hereke having on board four officers and fifty gendarmes under the command of Hilmi Bey, assistant of the Chief-in-Command of the Gendarmerie, and Nasmi Bey, commanding the Gendarmerie at Scutari, with ninety men of the battalion of Guards in Constantinople under the command of Captain Nahid Eff endi. They landed in the early hours of the morning at Hereke, and immediately marched to Tawshandshil, where they searched different houses.

The civil council declared emphatically that Yahia Kapdan had not been in the village during the last two days and that they had no idea where he was. It will not be possible to take Yahia alive. If he were killed, it would apparently be to the great advantage of the Greeks who dominate the Marmara coast and who are supplied daily with arms and ammunition by the English and French. At the same time, the corrupt people in Constantinople would be pleased. Another thing that would happen would be that a great number of gangs would be formed in the district of Ismidt, at Ada Basar and in Con stantinople, who would vie with one another in provoking unrest there in favour of our enemies, because his death would mean the end of the national forces commanded by Yahia.

Consequently, I beg your Excellency to give orders to the com petent authorities so that his Excellency Djemal Pasha can personally take this matter hi hand and that Yahia, hi accordance with my former communication, will be liberated under another name. (Djevad)

Djemal, Minister of War.

The fact that this telegram was ciphered according to the key used by the Minister of War and bore Djemal Pasha s signature, and that it contained the phrase “so that Djemal Pasha can personally take this matter in hand, etc. …” is worthy of particular notice. It means that Djemal Pasha ciphered Djevad Bey s message with his own key and had it transmitted with his signature, without having con sidered it necessary to read it over first. For it was Djemal Pasha himself who originally ordered the operations against Yahia.

If this had not been so, he surely would not have permitted the telegram to be send off in which I was begged to give the order so that Djemal Pasha could intervene to secure Yahia s liberation.

In the two telegrams from the acting commander of the Division at Ismidt, dated the 9 th and io th January, we were informed of the rumour that two skirmishes had taken place and that Yahia Kapdan had been killed. (Document 209.)

On the n tl1 January, I asked the temporary commander whether he had sent our message to the officer commanding the force that had been dispatched from Constantinople. (Document 210.)

Three days later, his report of the 14 th January told us that “my personal inquiries have resulted in … that no encounter has taken place; but Yahia, after surrendering, was killed outside the village with some sharp instrument; the fact that his head was cut off and cannot be found confirms this.” (Document 211.)

When we received this sad news we sent a telegram to our organi sation in Constantinople, through Colonel Shefket Bey, on the 20 ^Jan uary. It read:

“Will you be good enough to inform us what led the Government to send troops against Yahia Kapdan ; at the same time we want to know the names of the persons who are guilty of murdering him. It has been reported to us that he was killed deliberately after he had surrendered. Some of our loyal comrades in Constantinople demand to be furnished with details. I beg you to reply as soon as possible/

Mustapha Kemal, In the name of the Representative Committee.

In reply to a former message, we also received from Constantinople this telegram, dated 2i st January, which reached us a day later.

The Government have, nevertheless, demanded an inquiry to be instituted.for Yahya Kaptan

Beshiktash, 21 st January. To the Command of the XX th Army Corps, Angora.

To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha. Reply.

1. A trustworthy person who is on the spot states that, after he had been captured, Yahia Kapdan was escorted to the guard in the village. It is reported that about ten bandits fired on the escort on the way and that, in trying to escape, he was killed. The Government have, nevertheless, demanded an inquiry to be instituted.

2. The Government is said to have decided to arrest Yahia Kapdan, because he is accused of a number of offences that he is alleged to have committed under cover and on behalf of the national troops offences which are said to be generally known and confirmed by official and private inquiry. Our organisation had demanded that these per secutions should be stopped, and had offered in return to guarantee that Yahia would disappear for a time, that he would have nothing more to do with the national troops, that he would not commit any more acts of violence, and that he would discharge the deserters and gendarmes whom he had gathered around him. We had already made the necessary arrangements to this effect with the competent autho rities, and had even sent a special deputy for this purpose to Gebse.

Meanwhile, the Government had secretly sent troops, declaring that it was their intention to arrest Yahia Kapdan, the result of which has been as I have reported. Vassif

Commanding the fortress of Tshanak Kale. Shefket.

It was reported that fire had been opened in the neighbourhood while he was being escorted to the guard outside the village, and that he was trying to escape and had been killed in the attempt. We would have been very stupid if we had not understood at once that these expressions were similar to those commonly employed in cases of murderous attacks like this.

The statement that the Government, who co-operated with the leaders of our organisation in Constantinople and formed their decision jointly with the object of suppressing Yahia Kapdan, should suddenly and secretly have created an accomplished fact, is particularly worthy of notice. Men belonging to the Gendarmerie and a Guards battalion from Stambul are called out in Constantinople . . . and the leaders of our organisation, who pretend to be masters of the situation, do not know anything about it!

We demanded an explanation of this telegram from Constantinople.

Telegram in cipher. Angora, 22 nd January.

To Colonel Shefket Bey

Commanding the fortress at Tshanak Kale

Constantinople .

“A great number of people, especially in Constantinople, are following the account of Yahia Kapdan s assassination with the greatest interest and demand to be furnished with full particulars about it. So that we may know the truth, would you send us a reply urgently telling us what the offences were which you state are known everywhere/ Mustapha Kemal

In the name of the Representative Committee. (Signed) The acting Commander of the XX th Army Corps.

I hope I shall not be straining your patience too far if I quote verbatim the reply we received to our demand for details.

Beshiktash, 24 tlx January, 1920.

To the Commander of the XX th Army Corps, Angora. To be handed to His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Reply to the telegram of 22 nd January.

I. We have heard it rumoured that Yahia Kapdan was murdered after he had surrendered. We are making further inquiries and will inform you of the result.

These are the reasons advanced by the Government for the sup pression of Yahia Kapdan : 28l

2. He would listen to nobody, but publicly committed atrocities and robberies in the name of the national troops. For a long time he had been harbouring and concealing bandits; he had not obeyed orders that had been given him to go to any particular place.

Lastly, the complaints that had been sent to them from the villages and the surrounding country made it impossible for the Government to hold back any longer, so they made up their minds to take strenuous action against him without letting our organisation know anything

about it.

Vassif

Commanding the fortress of Tshanak Kale. Colonel Shefket.

It was altogether inexact to state, as was done in the second clause of this telegram, that Yahia Kapdan did not listen to anybody, and to give that as the reason for the action taken against him and his subsequent assassination. The deceased man listened to me and received orders from me, and acted upon them. I had not ordered him to recognise any other authority or any other person, nor to take orders from them. We ourselves desired that he would not obey any orders that came from the Minister of the Interior and Kemal Pasha, the traitor, or from the Commander of the Gendarmerie that were brought to him by any person coming from Constantinople. It was still more untrue that he committed robberies and brutalities in the name of the national troops; they were committed rather by nu merous gangs like that belonging to Kutshuk Arslan, that were formed, as documents in our possession prove beyond doubt, by traitors and enemies of the country. It is likewise reported by reliable persons who have been making inquiries, that Yahia devoted himself to circumventing these gangs in their lawless work.

I cannot proceed without mentioning a message that was tele graphed to us before this regrettable incident occurred, and which bore the joint signatures of the chairman of the Defence of the Rights and the Kaimakam of Gebse. It was to this effect:

“From information received by the people, it is evident that, on account of the slanderous statements made by certain individuals, Yahia Kapdan, commanding the national troops at Gebse, has now been surrounded at Tawshandshil by about two thousand men under the command of high officers who were sent from Constantinople last Tuesday evening, and he cannot escape. Your Excellency will understand how unjust such treatment is in the case of one who is doing so much good work for his country. We are waiting at the instrument, and beg you to let us know what can be done to save him.

Fewsi, Kaimakam

Hadshi Ali,

Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of the Rights.

Let me read you another message I received about the same affair from Sirri Bey, the deputy, who was working for the organisation of the national forces in the district of Ismidt.

Ismidt, II th January, 1920. To the Command of the XX th Army Corps. To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha.

1. The affair of Yahia Kapdan, about which we exchanged mes sages four days ago, has ended in his being assassinated, as you will surely have heard.

2. The idea that Yahia might possibly stand before the gates of Constantinople at the head of the organised troops must have put these persons, who are enemies of the national forces, into a state of terror. This is undoubtedly the reason for his removal having been decided upon.

3. This being the probable motive for the crime, the incident loses its local character and deserves to be taken into serious consideration by the Representative Committee.

4. Hikmet Bey, commanding the Gendarmerie, who never moves a finger and still less sends parties under his command to pursue the gangs that haunt the district of Ismidt, who considers the daily escape of prisoners in batches of fifteen to twenty at a time from the gaol, which is next door to his own house, as a common event of no importance, has shown himself remarkably active when there was the question of doing away with Yahia. Then he placed himself personally at the head of the detachment of gendarmes who had been called out.

At last he was successful in dealing this heavy blow against the national forces. Continuation follows.

Sirri, Deputy.

Fewsi Acting Commander of the I st Division. To the Command of the XX th Army Corps.

5. These districts will be alarmed at the national forces organised at Gebse losing their leader.

6. The murder of Yahia, who was known in this district as the support of the national troops, under such distressing conditions has naturally produced considerable confusion.

7. The removal of Yahia is regarded as evidence of the aggressive attitude which the Government intend to adopt in future towards the national forces.

8. Following these facts, the foreigners will undoubtedly assume that the national forces are unimportant in the eyes of the Govern ment and that the latter believe that they are in a position to play with them. In consequence of this, it is necessary to act promptly.

Sirri, Deputy.

Fewsi, Acting Commander of the I st Division.

To the Command of the XX th Army Corps. Continuation of the telegram in cipher, No. 68.

1. Unless a reliable man is appointed immediately to take command of the national troops at Gebse and the situation is made more satis factory, we must resign ourselves to the fact that throughout the whole of the Sanjak of Ismidt and Scutari there will not be a single man left who will declare himself to be an adherent of the national movement.

2. Hikmet Bey, commanding the Gendarmerie, must be dismissed from his post without further delay.

3. In order that the national forces in the Sanjak of Ismidt will be able to exist and be properly organised, Fewsi Bey, Lt. -Colonel on the active list, must be appointed commander of the Gendarmerie. I state emphatically that there is no other course possible.

Sirri, Deputy.

Fewsi, Acting Commander of the I st Division.

To the Commander of the XX th Army Corps.

Continuation of the telegram in cipher, No. 79.

i. The rumours that are being circulated to the effect that the national forces in Anatolia have fallen into disgrace, have given fresh encouragement to our adversaries through this regrettable incident. We must do all that we possibly can to prove that the energy and vital power we possessed hitherto have by no means deteriorated.

2. I think that His Excellency Ali Fuad Pasha ought to come here himself.

3. I feel obliged to repeat that the Sanjak of Ismidt must not be neglected and that something effectual must be done to show the interest we take in it. sirri? Deput y.

Fewsi, Acting Commander of the I st Division.

Rauf Bey, who was at that time in Constantinople, wrote me the following letter:

Constantinople, 1 9 th February, 1920.

To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha. It is understood here also that Yahia Kapdan has been assassinated. The Commandant of Constantinople has been ordered to take the affair in hand. A post-mortem examination of his body has been made. The Government have ordered that those who are guilty of this crime shall be brought to trial. Hussein Rauf.

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