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Ermeni İhanetine Karşı Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun Cevabı

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Ermeni İhanetine Karşı Osmanlı İmparatorluğu'nun Cevabı

Mesajgönderen TurkmenCopur » 30 Nis 2011, 15:36

THE OTTOMAN RESPONSE

The Ottoman response to the Armenian Revolution was approximately the same as that taken by other twentieth-century governments faced with guerrilla war: isolate the guerrillas from local support by removing local supporters. The Ottomans knew that Armenian rebels were freely supported by Armenian villagers as well as by Armenians in the eastern cities that were home to leaders of their revolution. They, therefore, decided on radical action: forced migration of the Armenian population in actual or potential war zones. The first orders to that effect went out on 26 May 1915. The intention of the forced migration was to dilute the concentration of Armenians and keep them from war zones and important installations. Settlements were to be at least 25 kilometers from any railroad. After resettlement, no more than 10 percent of the population of any region was to be Armenian.

The intentions of Istanbul were clear -- to move and resettle Armenians peacefully. The only verifiable Ottoman documents on the subject indicate at least a formal concern for the Armenian migrants. Elaborate procedures were written in Istanbul and forwarded to the provinces. These covered the sale of refugee goods, the settling of refugees in economic positions similar to those they had left, instructions on health and sanitation, and the like. In short, all looked fine on paper.

Articles 1 and 3 of the Resettlement Regulations show where the problems arose:

Article 1. Arrangements for transportation of those to be transferred is the responsibility of local administrations.
Article 3. Protection of lives and properties of Armenians to be transferred en route to their new settlements, their board and lodging and their rest is the responsibility of local administrations en route. Civil servants in all echelons are responsible for any negligence in this regard.

The administrators who were expected to oversee a massive movement of peoples were in the midst of a guerrilla war with the Armenian revolutionaries and a conventional war with the Russians. They had only very small peace-keeping forces at their command. The gendarmerie units remaining behind were not sufficient to battle the revolutionaries, much less guard convoys of Armenian migrants. Ottoman officials in the east were thus left with the choice of sending off well-guarded convoys of Armenians or leaving the gendarmes in place to defend the Muslims (and themselves) in their jurisdictions. It is doubtful if many human beings would have taken any course of action but the one they took; they protected their own. They must have viewed it as folly to send off their gendarmes to defend Armenians and thus allow other Armenians to attack them.

The burden of defending Armenians should more properly have fallen on the central government, but the situation of the central government was the same as that of the local governments. To send regular army troops to defend Armenian convoys would have meant detaching them from the battle against the Russians or the battle against the Armenians. The central government had no intention of doing so and, indeed, it would not have been possible for them to do so. They could have been under no illusions as to what would happen to Muslims if an Armenian state were created. The Balkan Wars had taught them what to expect. The fate of Muslim refugees from Russian-conquered territories also held an obvious lesson. The quickest way to ensure that the same happened in eastern Anatolia was to lose the war; withdrawing troops from combat duties would have greatly increased the likelihood of losing.

To risk such a thing in order to defend Armenian migrants would have appeared the same sort of folly to the central government as sending off precious gendarmes to accompany Armenian deportees would have appeared to local officials.

Lack of proper security opened the way for subsequent events: Some Ottoman officials were venal and stole from those in their charge. Some officials, particularly those who were from Caucasian Muslim groups that had themselves recently suffered the same deprivations, undoubtedly saw the Armenian situation as a chance to even old scores. Local citizens amassed large sums dealing in the property, and misery, of Armenian migrants. These included Muslims and Greek Christians, of whom the latter bought up Armenian lands and property in Black Sea provinces. The greatest threat and cause of mortality to Armenians came from the nomadic tribes who raided Armenian convoys. The few gendarmes detailed to the convoys, for example, could not protect them from armed attacks by Kurds. While the tribes did not usually engage in the mass slaughter of Armenian migrants, they did kill large numbers of them and abducted their women. They probably caused the greatest mortality by stealing what the Armenians needed to subsist. Despite the regulations, little food was provided to the migrants, who were expected to feed themselves. But the tribes took their sustenance, and starvation was the result.

Some Ottoman officials themselves took part in the robbery of Armenians, sometimes even in the killing of Armenians. The Ottoman government recognized this and tried many Turks for actions against Armenians. Kamuran Gürün has found documents listing convictions of 1,397 persons for crimes against Armenians. Some were executed for their crimes. While it is doubtful if the actions of those officials could have been by themselves the major factor in Armenian mortality, it is also doubtful if officials later tried by their own government for crimes against Armenians could have cared much for Armenian welfare while in office.

The decision to force the Armenians to leave was sound in purely military terms, but it caused hardship and great mortality among them, and these were deplorable. Nevertheless, it did have the desired effect: Armenian revolutionary attacks dwindled in areas still occupied by the Ottoman government. Cut off from local support, the guerrillas could not function. Whether the decision was actually needed to affect the outcome of the war will never be known. In the end, Armenian deportations did reveal the Ottoman state as a failure in its ability to protect its own citizens-the most important aspect of any state. It was the weakness of the Ottoman state that forced it to choose between two groups of its citizens. The blame for the deaths of Armenians in the convoys must be shared by the Ottomans -- shared with the Armenian revolutionaries and their supporters and with the Russians.
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