Tsherkess Reshid Bey, a Deputy, and his brothers Edhem Bey and Tewfik Bey joined the founders of the organisation
Tsherkess Reshid Bey, a Deputy, and his brothers Edhem Bey and Tewfik Bey joined the founders of the organisation. We must suppose that this happened when these gentlemen were travelling between Yosgad and Angora. The troops belonging to Edhem Bey and Tewfik Bey practically formed the nucleus of the “Green” Army, With this introductory description, I would like to inform this High Assembly about some of the acts and undertakings of Tsherkess Edhem Bey and his brothers which first began to attract my attention.
Tsherkess Edhem Bey had rendered certain services with the national force by successes they had gained when pursuing Ansawur and later on during the revolt at Duzje, and again when he was called to Angora for the purpose of being sent to Yosgad, where he was received by nearly everybody with feelings of respect and esteem. There were certainly some people who exaggerated their praise. To judge from the attitude which Edhem Bey and his brothers assumed later on, these manifestations had had the result of turning their heads and making them conceited, which led them to entertaining certain illusions. V/hen they were occupied in suppressing the revolt at Yosgad, Edhem Bey and one of his brothers, Tewfik Bey, did not hesitate to take up an aggressive and offensive attitude towards all the officers commanding the regular and national troops, whether they were in the neighbourhood or far away, and without paying any attention to their rank and position. These leaders, most of whom knew very little about the character and importance of Edhem Bey, avoided quarrelling with him in any way, being well aware that the country was in a state of war and bearing in mind the services he had rendered of which they had been informed in exaggerated terms. This led to Edhem Bey and his brother Tewfik Bey becoming bolder than ever, and they began to imagine that no other officer or leader in the Turkish Army could compare with them in importance; they regarded themselves as heroes standing above all the others, and they began to express this idea in conversation with everybody. They ordered the Governors to obey them and accompanied these orders by threats of death if they were not attended to. Edhem Bey tried to enforce his will in Angora and on the Government of Angora. In his opinion the revolt at Yosgad was the result of the bad ad ministration of the Governor of Angora to whom Yosgad was subject, and, consequently, he resolved to make use of the same method of punishment which he had inflicted upon the other originators of the revolt, namely, to hang this official on the spot. The Governor in question whom he commanded to come to Yosgad was Yahia Galib Bey, who had rendered, and still continued to do so, extraordinary services in a remarkable spirit of self-sacrifice throughout the course of our national activities. These services were fully acknowledged by us, and we knew how useful and necessary this man was to us. Edhem Bey thought that if he could compel us to hand such a personality
26* over to him he would gain the greatest influence. Naturally, we could not sacrifice Yahia Galib, and refused to do so. Edhem Bey and his brothers could not insist on their claims. We heard that Edhem Bey had said at Yosgad and particularly before the deputies : “On my return to Angora I shall order the President of the Grand National Assembly to be hanged in front of the building.” (Suleiman Sini Bey, Deputy for Yosgad, was one of those who heard these provocative words.) In spite of this information which we received, we preferred to act in such a manner that would ensure these brothers being usefully employed. Consequently, we treated them with for bearance. When they left Yosgad we sent them, via Angora, to the district of Kutachia. Reserving the right of reverting to this question, I shall now proceed to my main subject the “Green Army/
I have referred to the organisations of the “Green Army” having been formed in my name. A man whom I personally knew wrote to me from Malatia, where Nasim Nasmi Bey had been sent on a mission from Erzerum, and informed me that efforts were being made to extend the organisation of the “Green Army” in a manner that would surely be very satisfactory to me. This letter called my attention to the question, and I made inquiries about this secret Society and came to the conclusion that in its present form it was of an injurious character.
I contemplated the question of dissolving it and spoke to comrades whom I knew on the subject. I explained my opinion to them and they did what was necessary. Hakki Behidj Bey, the general secretary, declared, however, that my intention of dissolving the Society would be unacceptable and could not be carried out. I replied that I had a perfect right to dissolve it.
He took up a strange attitude and repeated that it would be im possible to dissolve it, because the position of the Society was stronger and more important than we could expect and that its founders had made a mutual promise to hold out to the end and not abandon their aims.
Events showed that, in spite of our efforts, we did not succeed in completely stopping the activity of this secret Society, to which the brothers Reshid, Edhem and Tewfik as leaders of it belonged.
They continued their activity, but henceforward in a spirit that was absolutely hostile and reactionary. They made propaganda in an aggressive tone for their opinions and aims in a newspaper called “Jeni-Dunia,” which they published at Eski-Shehr. In what now seems to me to be its proper sequence, I will tell you something about our Eastern front, but I must first give you an introduction to it by recording one incident that had taken place previously.
Djelaleddin Arif Bey, Vice-president of the first Grand National Assembly, obtained two months 5 leave with the consent of the Assem bly that was granted on the 15^ August, 1920. In applying for leave, he stated that he was suffering from headache brought on by over- exertion of the brain. He intended while he was away to inspect his electoral district, which he had not visited for a long time.
Djelaleddin Arif Bey begged me privately to allow Hussein Avni Bey, Deputy for Erzerum, to accompany him. Hussein Avni Bey had no apparent reason for applying to the Assembly to grant him leave. I had to entrust him with a special mission. On the i8 th August I asked the Assembly for permission to do so and they gave their consent.
When Djelaleddin Arif Bey and Hussein Avni Bey arrived at Erzerum the former sent me three telegrams in cipher that were dated the io th , 15 th and the i6 th September, 1920.
Judging from these telegrams the inhabitants of Erzerum were in a great state of excitement and unrest. Then he said that as soon as they had learned that Djelaleddin had left Angora for Erzerum they waited till he should arrive. As for the cause of all their excite ment, it seemed that it was in connection with the Army ordnance stores, the loss of some rifles and ammunition and the unsatisfactory way in which they had been distributed.
Djelaleddin Arif Bey demanded that something should be done immediately for the punishment and transfer of certain officials. Colonel Kiasim Bey (now Kiasirn Pasha, Governor of Smyrna), who was Acting Governor of Erzerum, was the first of those officials who should be punished or transferred.
As a result of the negotiations he carried on with the population and the decision arrived at, Djelaleddin Arif Bey proposed to entrust the post of Governor of Erzerum to Nasim Bey, formerly Governor of Adana, to inform him of this via Trebizond, and according to the wish of the people to appoint an acting governor until Nasim Bey arrived. He further informed me that unless the growing excitement of the population was appeased by a speedy and favourable reply, we might expect serious consequences from the feeling that prevailed.
In this last telegram he said: “As Angora has not taken any notice of the complaints that we have sent, the question will take such a turn that all confidence in Angora will be lost.” Apparently there was a great amount of neglect and terrible abuses going on in our Eastern Army. This neglect seemed to have assumed such proportions that it interfered with the patriotism of the people, and this had caused a great deal of excitement. Never theless, it is evident that neither the acting governor nor the officer commanding the Army Corps had a very clear idea about this growing excitement which it was impossible to allay.
Not one of all the persons interested and those in the town who had official duties to attend to had noticed it; no one had come for ward to warn the Government, but when the population learned that Djelaleddin Arif Bey and Hussein Avni Bey had left for Erzerum the former on leave on account of over-exertion of the brain and the other sent on a special mission by me their excitement and all the unrest had suddenly stopped. When, however, the two deputies arrived the excitement broke out again!
To tell you the truth it was impossible for me to believe this news. It seemed to me very significant that Djelaleddin Arif Bey and Hussein Avni Bey had arranged to travel together, and this caused me some wonderment. This feeling was particularly supported by the fact that the proposal to appoint a governor in agreement with the population emanated from Djelaleddin Arif, who was a Professor of Law and a well-known lawyer, and who, after having been President of the Chamber of Deputies in Constantinople, had become Vice- president of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
On the i6 tl1 September I wired the Vice-president of the Grand National Assembly at Erzerum to the following effect : “Your telegram has been read before the Council of Ministers; we are in correspondence on this question with the officer commanding at the front.” I asked the Commandant at the Eastern front for information and his opinion in respect to the communications from Djelaleddin Arif Bey, which I transmitted to him in a summarised form.
On the 19 th September I received a telegram from Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, commanding the Eastern forces; it was dated the 14 th September and he had sent it off before mine had reached him. After the opening words, “I propose and submit to your approval that Djelaleddin Arif Bey shall be appointed Governor of the Eastern Provinces, in which shall be comprised the Provinces of Lasistan, Trebizond, Erzerum, Erzinjan, Van, Beyazid and such other districts as the High Assembly may consider appropriate to be added to these districts,” this telegram contained the following observa tions: “In the event of this proposal being accepted and agreed to, and setting aside the advantage which lies in the fact that both duties, the military as well as the civil, will receive greater attention and will be treated as they deserve, another person will be present here as the representative of the nation to discuss, whenever necessary, im portant questions and take any steps that would become urgently necessary. I trust that what I have said will be taken into consider ation by the Grand National Assembly with the attention due to this matter, and I beg that Your Excellency will do me the kindness of exerting your influence to this effect. The question has been dis cussed in its main points with Djelaleddin Arif Bey, who has given his consent, but the decision will naturally depend on the National Assembly.”
Djelaleddin Arif Bey, speaking about the abuses in the Army and of the appointment of the Governor of Erzerum with the approval of the people, and declaring that distrust would arise unless an im mediate answer were given, actually has an interview with the officer commanding the forces and induces him to propose that he should be appointed Governor of the Eastern Provinces with very wide powers. And apparently this Army commander knows nothing about Djelaleddin Arif Bey s complaints, which, as a matter of fact, are aimed at himself!
It is difficult to gather any other impression that there was a conspiracy going on with a certain aim in view and at the same time a network of intrigue.
In Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha s reply on the iS 111 September to my telegram of the i6 th , he said: The messages from Djelaleddin Arif Bey are based on malicious gossip which has been disseminated by some persons for the sole purpose of getting rid of Colonel Kiasim Bey, the Acting Governor of Erzerum. Unfortunately I believe that the excitement of the people and the appointment of a governor who shall be chosen by the people only means that Djelaleddin Arif Bey has chosen a wrong road. The fact that the complaint in question has not been directed personally to myself who possesses universal confidence and is greatly honoured by high and low, I may say, in the whole of the East, affords a reason for believing that those who are intriguing well know that they have little chance of success.
“Djelaleddin Arif Bey has proposed to me that I shall remove Colonel Kiasim Bey from Erzerum by depriving him of his position as Acting Governor and temporary commander of the Army Corps. I replied that if he would personally accept these appointments temporarily, Kiasim Bey would be relieved of them by the order of the Ministry of the Interior.
“I believe that the position of Djelaleddin Arif Bey at Erzerum, he being here in no official capacity, may injure his authority. It is absolutely necessary for him to be appointed Acting Governor of Erzerum as soon as possible, so that he can bring this matter which he has undertaken to a happy issue without any interference.
” If you think proper, you could later on appoint him to be Inspector and Governor of the Eastern Provinces. In any case I do not share his view that the excitement he mentions was only held back until his arrival. I believe that these statements are the exaggeration of an individual who met with a good reception.”
In the reply that I sent to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha to his two telegrams of the 14 th and i8 th September I quoted a clause of the Act of the 5 th September, 1920, which provides that “the same person cannot hold the position of a member of the Grand National Assembly and be an official of the State at the same time. 5 I added: “The appointment of Djelaleddin as Governor of Erzerum is out of the question unless he resigns his position as a deputy. His appoint ment to the governorship of this Province could only be proposed to the Council of Ministers.”
However, on the i8 th September, the date of Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha s last telegram, the anticipated attitude had already been adopted at Erzerum in contradiction to the stipulations of the Act to which we referred in our communication of the 20 th September. I was informed of this illegal procedure in a telegram from Djelaleddin Arif Bey, who was at that time Minister of Justice in New Turkey. He had drafted it on the i8th September, and I received it on the 21 st . This telegram from the Minister of Justice, who had meanwhile appointed himself Acting Governor of Erzerum, read as follows: Erzerum, iS 111 September, 1928. To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha, President of
the Grand National Assembly.
After having received Your Excellency s telegram, through Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, I had a long conversation with him on the question we had laid before you. The Pasha will not recognise the seriousness of the matter. Persons under his command are in every way protected. In order to calm public opinion as quickly as possible, I beg you to appoint Galib Bey, commanding the 9 th Division, to conduct a serious inquiry into the scandal about the arms and ammunition and the events at Kilisse, and to hand the guilty persons over to justice. As it is necessary to re-examine the payments of the Army accounts, I urge Your Excellency to institute an inspection of the accounts by an official to be sent here. A letter which I have just received from Kiasim Pasha informs me that Colonel Kiasim Bey had resolved unconditionally to resign his office as acting governor, but that he has changed his intention and has stated in writing that he will hand over these duties to myself or to some person appointed by the Ministry of the Interior. As it is inadvisable and even dangerous to leave the Colonel in his present position, I have found myself com pelled personally to take over the position of Governor for several days while I am awaiting orders from the Ministry of the Interior, so that I can avoid the outbreak of disorder in the country under the present difficult conditions. I beg you to entrust our comrade Hussein Avni Bey with the position of acting governor, which would be in accord with the wishes of the people of Erzerum. As these proposals are fitted to calm public opinion, I am leaving it to Your Excellency to do what you consider necessary. Djelaleddin Arif,
Minister of Justice.
This procedure and these communications from Djelaleddin Arif Bey, Vice-president of the Grand National Assembly and Minister of Justice, began to assume the character in our eyes of a problem that could not easily be solved.
The situation was both grave and difficult, but in my opinion not on account of the secret aims considered to have been achieved by the friends of Djelaleddin Arif Bey with whom he had been work ing, nor on account of the attitude they had adopted with this end in view, nor the accomplished fact they thought they had created.
Those who believe that men who have passed most of their days on the field of battle and have hurled themselves into the vortex of revolt and revolution could show any hesitation or fear when the ques tion of adopting and carrying through counter-measures which un foreseen events of this kind demand, are undoubtedly in error.
The situation was indeed serious and grave, because at this mo ment we had decided to attack Armenia on our Eastern front. We were engaged in making preparations and taking dispositions for this purpose. The officer commanding the Eastern front had already received the necessary orders. The Minister of Justice in the National Government who was immediately behind the army which was des tined to proceed in an easterly direction and who apparently was 4io
engaged in discovering thefts committed in this army and proving that the members of it were rogues, found that the only thing to be done was to appoint himself unlawfully the Acting Governor of this Province.
The officer commanding at the front, who had left Erzerum and gone to his headquarters, wrote on the 22 nd September: “The pro posal I formerly made about Djelaleddin Arif Bey s appointment as Governor of the Eastern Provinces had been suggested to me, and I believed it was a sincere idea. As I have since learned the actual facts of the case through Djelaleddin Arif Bey s actions, I beg to inform Your Excellency that naturally I withdraw my proposal.”
Kiasim Kara Bekir, Commanding the forces on the Eastern Front.
On the same day, that is to say, the 22 nd September, I received a telegram from the Vice-president of the Grand National Assembly, who had assumed the office of Acting Governor of Erzerum. In this telegram he said: The abuses regarding arms and ammunition, as well as food supplies and the abandoned goods, the unlimited illegal requisitions, the acts of violence and violation of personal rights contrary to law, have deeply offended the people. We arrived here at the moment when Erzerum, under the influence of despair and distrust, had gone so far as to contemplate the necessity of governing itself as the only means of protection.
“Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha s attitude was still less in accord with the interests of the country. For this reason the population insisted on putting a speedy end to the abuses which were being perpetrated openly and bringing the guilty ones to justice. In agreement with Kiasim Pasha, the people have demanded that immediate steps should be taken to inspire confidence, and have appealed to me personally to take over the office of governor temporarily.
“I have begged you to entrust Hussein Avni Bey with this office. I beg you to inform the deputy Hussein Avni Bey, who possesses the confidence of the country because he is regarded as one of themselves, of his appointment within the next twenty-four hours.” (Document 258.)
We had ourselves advocated the principle of the government of the people by the people; but we had never anticipated that every province or every district should individually constitute a separate administration. In the early days of the Grand National Assembly we had clearly defined our aims. These had been approved of and formulated in such a manner by the Grand National Assembly that this Areopagus was the only place in which the national will to be master of the destiny of our country found its expression. Could the methods which such a personality, who was one of the leaders of this Assembly and at the same time their Minister of Justice, was allowed to adopt for the purpose of dis covering illegal acts committed in the Army and elsewhere and of delivering their perpetrators to justice, consist in the fact that he allowed himself to be taken in tow by some stupid persons and assume a rebellious attitude to which my fellow-citizens at Erzerum true patriots as I know them to be would never have given their consent?
He demanded that Hussein Avni Bey should be appointed acting governor within twenty-four hours. Was there any sense in this ultimatum?
Djelaleddin Arif Bey made the same proposal to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, and it is reported that the latter replied: “Hussein Avni Bey is a man of moderate ability and has never held any public appointment ; he entertained his fellow officers as a comedian on the stage when he was a lieutenant in the reserve. To make this man into a temporary governor would mean to burlesque the office.”
I replied to Djelaleddin Arif Bey s ultimatum in these words:
Telegram in cipher. To be delivered immediately. No. 388.
Angora, 23 rd September, 1920.
To Djelaleddin Arif Bey, Minister of Justice, Erzerum.
Reply to your telegram in cipher of the 22 nd September, 1920.
I wrote to tell you that I had taken your first telegram into serious
consideration and had entered into correspondence about it with the
officer commanding the Eastern .
It is quite natural that the command should act as the situation demanded.
Your proposals and actions, which are inappropriate and unlawful and which you continue to persist in, have caused great astonishment to the Council of Ministers. The necessary communications have been made by the Ministries of the Interior and of National Defence to the competent authorities. It is imperative that you should return to Angora immediately and explain your actions to the Council of Ministers, which they feel they must request you to do, and, if necessary, to the Grand National Assembly.
Mustapha Kemal, President of the Grand National Assembly. Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha sent this telegram in cipher on the 22 nd September: “I am now perfectly certain that Djelaleddin Arif Bey and some ambitious men had worked out a neat little programme with the idea of snatching up appointments and honours while he was still at Angora.
“Thus, for instance, Hussein Avni Bey was chosen to become Governor of Erzerum; Djelaleddin Arif Bey, Governor-General of the Eastern Provinces. Either Djelaleddin Arif Bey is used as a puppet, or the other man, about whom I have not yet formed a clear opinion but who may be very intelligent, is acting entirely for his own benefit. The fact that he had written to you about Halid Bey without pre viously consulting me and his obstinacy on the question of Hussein Avni Bey in my opinion bears this out. As Halid Bey is not in very friendly relations with Colonel Kiasim Bey, he can easily be induced to come to a decision that is not favourable to him. In this way, Hussein Avni Bey would make an excellent tool as governor. Those who have heard that Hussein Avni Bey has been proposed as acting governor have been astounded and disgusted about it. Allow me to inform you shortly of the fact that Midhat Bey, who has recently been appointed Director of Public Instruction and who is a brother of Nedjati Bey, Deputy for Erzerum, regards Bolshevism as a spring board for those incapable people in the country who never succeed in getting a position for themselves.
“Among those who are only looking after their own interests this person is conspicuous. Having found that I am not favourably inclined towards popular government, I believe that he entered into correspondance with Djelaleddin Arif Bey and Hussein Avni Bey and that the whole matter was settled and approved of long My telegram of the 22 nd September in which Djelaleddin Arif Bey was invited to return to Angora was answered on the 24 th – September in violent language. It was addressed to the President of the Grand National Assembly, and added to it was the remark: “To be read before the Council of Ministers in the Grand National Assembly.” Taking the two words “inappropriate” and “unlawful” in my telegram as being specially important, Djelaleddin Arif Bey explains each of his actions and proposals at Erzerum. He defends himself by asking: “Is this inappropriate? Is this unlawful?”
As we had learned from information in our possession what these actions of Djelaleddin Arif Bey were, it was not difficult to discover which of them was unlawful and inappropriate. After saying: “I did not expect the Council of Ministers could conceive the idea that I would make an unlawful and inappropriate proposal/ he continued to argue that he was convinced that there were comrades among us who will find that his complaints were fully justified. Then he advanced the real principle he had in his mind, namely, that unless a man was on the same plane as himself and was his comrade he could not possibly form a true estimate of his abilities.
Djelaleddin Arif Bey informed us that he could not return to Angora until he had visited his electoral district.
I had also informed the Government in Stambul from Erzerum that I was unable to return to Stambul. If the place where and the person from whom the invitation had been made were this same, it could have been assumed that in this case there had been a strange repetition of my conduct, but as the conditions were altogether diffe rent, it was impossible for me to believe that the heroic inhabitants of Erzerum who, in reply to the invitation from Stambul, had opened their loyal arms to me would abuse their sincerity.
Even the telegram I received on the 28 th September signed by fifty of the inhabitants, with officials among them, who came forward on behalf of the citizens of Erzerum, could not shake my conviction. It is true that the telegram was in very strong language and showed a revolutionary character; but all the signatures were those of officials in the provinces which Djelaleddin Arif Bey administered temporarily as governor.
And did not the particular fact that among the signatories there was a man who was a member of the Court of Appeal who had been appointed Director of Police temporarily by Djelaleddin Arif Bey, help to enable us to see through the exceedingly low mentality that had inspired this telegram? We soon discovered that it was the result of a plot of some person who had gathered around Midhat Bey, the Director of Public Instruction.
Djelaleddin Arif Bey, in having supported by a telegram from Tewfik, who was President of the Central Committee at Erzerum, in which the words occurred, “we formally demand that you will act according to the communication sent by Djelaleddin Arif Bey,” wanted to achieve certain results by correspondence in cipher with Angora which would inform him of the impression he had made there.
Here is some the correspondence that passed: Ministry of Public Instruction, Angora.
Erzerum, 21 st September, 1920 To Nedjati Bey, Deputy for Erzerum.
It would be advisable if possible to take the necessary steps for the appointment of Dr. Salim Bey, physician, as Director of Public Health. The former proposals for this appointment cannot be accepted seriously.
We request that our salaries shall be increased and the accounts transmitted to the Agricultural Bank. We have written to the As sembly. (Hussein Avni.) Midhat
Director of Public Instruction. Another letter:
Erzerum, 22 nd September, 1920. Ministry of Public Instruction.
To Riza Nur Bey Effendi.
What result has been reached hitherto on the questions about which I have written to you?
What has happened about these questions in the Council of Mini- ters? I beg you to give me this information. I embrace you fratern ally. (Djelaleddin Aril) Midhat,
Director of Public Instruction. A further letter:-
Very urgent and pressing. Erzerum, 25 th September, 1920.
To the Ministry of Public Instruction, Angora.
For Riza Nur Bey and Nedjati Bey.