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Kuzey Kafkasya ve Ermeni Faaliyetleri

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Kuzey Kafkasya ve Ermeni Faaliyetleri

Mesajgönderen TurkmenCopur » 30 Nis 2011, 15:50


The suffering of Armenians in the Caucasus during and immediately after World War I, particularly the suffering of Armenian refugees from Anatolia, is well-known and well-recorded. 141 Starvation and disease among them were great and mortality massive. The direct cause of mortality undoubtedly was the precipitous flight of Armenians from Ottoman armies at the end of the world war. To the toll of dead refugees must be added the deaths of Armenians caught by vengeful Ottoman soldiers or by Muslim villagers who had returned to their homes to find their Muslim brothers slaughtered. What is not generally known is the great suffering and loss of Turks and other Muslims of the region.

The history of Muslims in Caucasian Russia was closely tied to the political and military events that followed upon the Russian Revolution of 1917. The slaughter of Muslims within the borders of the Russian Empire began after the initial Ottoman invasion and defeat in the Kars region (1914-15). An example of the events was recorded in the district of Oltu (part of the Russian Empire since 1878). The Russians lost Oltu to the Ottomans in December of 1914, but soon retook it, in January of 1915. Attacks on Muslim villages followed, comparable to those occurring in eastern Anatolia. However, such slaughter was localized and generally kept in check by Russians in the borderlands. There is little evidence on the status of Muslims in Russian Transcaucasia in the quiet middle period of the war. They were surely more secure in 1916 than from 1917 to 1920.

In the spring of 1917, the Russian army was poised to complete its conquest of eastern Anatolia, ready to take Diyarbakir, Harput, and all the territories south to Iraq. However, the Russian February Revolution changed all campaign plans. Word of the revolution filtered through to the troops in Anatolia in spring, and no one, troops or officers, was willing to act before the new political situation was understood. Although Russian troops in Anatolia held on longer than those on the Russian western front, eventually they, too, began to desert en masse. After the Bolshevik Revolution (7 November 1917), there was no Russian army left. What remained were a few hundred Russian officers and the Caucasian troops, primarily Armenians. In theory, these were the troops of the newly founded Transcaucasian Federation, which included Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, but the three new republics soon separated and the soldiers became the army of the Armenian Republic.

The soldiers of the Armenian Republic and allied Armenian guerrilla bands faced an impossible prospect between 1917 and 1918. Without the Russians, the Armenians were militarily incapable of standing up to the Ottoman army. Moreover, the Armenians were forced to organize and protect a vast Armenian refugee migration from the Anatolian provinces. (After the events of the war, the Armenians of the regions of Anatolia previously conquered by Russia could rightfully expect deadly revenge from local Muslims and returning Muslim refugees.) Because of their weakened military state, the Armenians were forced to withdraw to Russian Armenia (the old Erivan Province) and surrounding areas. They resolved to ensure that at least one region would be Armenian -- ensured by massacring or forcing the migration of resident Muslims. To the west, a similar fate was to befall the Armenians of Azerbaijan, although to a far lesser degree. Refugees crossed the borders in both directions.

By 1919, the majority of Muslims who had resided in Erivan Guberniia (Province) had either died or had become refugees outside the boundaries of the Armenian Republic. These Muslims had not easily left their homes. Even though many had been expelled in the spring of 1918 (some as early as late 1914), some had returned to their homes several times in the hope that political events would become more settled. Upon each return, more Muslims were lost, and fewer of them remained to migrate yet again. Their farms were never returned to them. They were caught up in the last act of the great population exchange that had begun a century before. As Armenian refugees from Anatolia came into the Armenian Republic, they took the farms of the refugee Muslims. The Muslims in turn were either massacred or driven out to Anatolia or Azerbaijan. There were perhaps 150,000 surviving Muslim refugees from the Armenian Republic in September of 1919, and these were rapidly dying. Many of the survivors had in fact been forced to flee to whichever regions offered the most immediate refuge. These were often mountainous territories little able to sustain large numbers of refugees. For example, the survivors of 22 Muslim villages of Erivan Province fled to the plateaus of the Üçtepeler Mountains. It is not possible to trace the ultimate fate of these people, but it could not have been a happy one. The Muslims who had returned to their farms in the Novobayazit area were not heard from again. It was rumored that they were massacred. The few Muslims that survived within the Armenian Republic were often in worse shape than the refugees, and no hand was raised to help them. They had no food and no seed. Through numerous forced migrations they had lost everything.

In areas under the control of the Armenian government, the machinery of the state was brought to bear against Muslims. For instance, not only were taxes on Muslims arbitrarily raised beyond their ability to pay, but those who went to the Armenian gendarmerie to complain were never heard from again. When possible, Muslim villagers resisted, probably armed by the Ottomans. This was particularly true in Nahcivan (Nakhichevan) and in the area of the Russian Kars Province, where Muslim Turks were a majority. The resulting war in those regions added greatly to the casualties on both sides. Ottoman forces that invaded the Caucasus at the end of the war estimated that by May of 1918, 250 Muslim villages in the eastern Caucasus had been burnt down by Armenians.

Local Muslims in the Kars Province formed governmental bodies after the Ottoman defeat in World War I removed for a time the chance for protection afforded by Ottoman troops. These bodies made contact with the Turkish Nationalist forces that were organizing in northeastern Anatolia and provided the Nationalists with detailed lists of the destruction wrought in their region by the Armenian forces. One report from Kaǧzman, for example, listed more than 100 Muslim Turkish villages that had been destroyed by Armenians, along with estimates of the thousands who had been killed and the approximately 10,000 who were homeless.

The Ottoman Army Command in the east stated in May of 1918 that "the majority of the Muslim villages of Kars, Sarikamş, Erivan, Ahilkelek, and Kaǧzman have been destroyed by the Armenians." In their reports, they listed many villages by name (e.g., in one report, Tekueli, Haci Halil,Kalul, Harabe, Dagor, Milanli, Ketak, Alaca, Ilham, Dangal, Ararca, Mulabi, Morcahit, etc.) 151, or sometimes only stated the number of villages destroyed (e.g., "in April, 67 villages of Saragil District were razed to the ground").

Even the British, who were powerfully committed to the Armenian cause and the creation of an Armenian state, formally warned Armenians about massacres of Turks in "Armenia proper" and in Baku. They told the Armenians that they would lose world sympathy if such massacres went on.

Kitap: Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922
Yazar: Justin McCarthy
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Kayıt: 29 Eki 2010, 17:26

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