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Mesajgönderen TurkmenCopur » 30 Nis 2011, 16:09

THE MUSLIM REFUGEES

The deaths of Muslims, like the deaths of Armenians in the same period, came primarily while they were refugees. There are few descriptions of the well-being of the eastern Anatolian and Caucasian refugees, whether Muslim or Armenian, but one can assume their condition to have been worse than that of refugees in Europe and western Anatolia in the same period. During World War I, there were no established refugee camps for the Muslim refugees of the east. The government Refugee Commission did what it could to offer succor to the refugees, but how much could a government that could not even clothe its own soldiers do for a million refugees? Moreover, the refugees from the east moved through the worst terrain in Anatolia. The region contained neither adequate roads nor railroads. Many areas that received refugees could only be reached by horseback and pack animals. Even had food been available, transportation conditions would have insured that little of it reached the refugees.

By looking at a map of Anatolia and considering the economic state of its regions, one can see that the refugees from Van, Erzurum, or Bitlis would have been forced to make long journeys before they found adequate transportation facilities, large population centers, or fertile fields. For most, such journeys were impossible.

On the eastern Anatolia front in World War I and then later during the Turco-Armenian War there was such a mass of peoples on the move that contemporary accounts give the impression that the peoples of eastern Anatolia and the southern Caucasus were all refugees. While this is an exaggeration, it is not a gross exaggeration. The majority of eastern Anatolians, both Muslims and Christians, either died or were forced from their homes.

REFUGEES FROM THE SOUTHERN CAUCASUS

An unknown number of Muslims from Russian Transcaucasia must have left the area during World War I to join the Ottoman armies or simply to escape the Russians. It is known that the Russians attempted to clear frontier districts of Muslims at the beginning of the war and some Muslims must have fled south at that time. The main Muslim migration, however, came after the Russian Revolution had destroyed Imperial Russia. Muslims fled as a result of persecution in the Armenian Republic. They also fled from Armenian-Turkish conflicts in the Caucasus and internal conflicts among the Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijan Republics. Few Muslim refugees were soldiers; most were Turkish refugees who had not participated in the wars.

Muslim refugees who fled the Caucasus proper usually fled first to Kars Province. There they were often attacked once again by Armenian (and occasionally Greek) bands. The most usual form of attack was plundering; all the cows and moveable property was taken from the refugees and they were then left to starve to death. At Sarikamş, the Muslims were killed after the plunder had been taken.

The procedures necessary to ascertain the number of Muslim refugees from the Russian Empire are complicated and the answers tentative. Unless Muslim refugees from Russia passed through Istanbul, as few did, they were not enumerated. Refugees from the Russian Caucasus travelled during wartime, across unchecked borders, and settled where they could. There were no governmental agencies able to count or to assist them.

Because the number of refugees into eastern Anatolia is such a matter of estimation, and because the numbers of refugees were so great, the following evaluation consciously underestimates their number. Whenever a choice between a high or a low number of refugees has been available, the lower has been chosen. Therefore, the results of the following should be understood to be the lower limit of the numbers of Muslim refugees from the Russian Empire. The actual numbers were surely greater. Also, in most cases one can only estimate surviving refugees who settled in Turkey -- a much smaller number than those who set out. Those refugees who went from Erivan and nearby areas cannot be satisfactorily estimated.

The majority of Muslim refugees from Russia settled in the area of the Turkish Republic that had been part of Russia from 1878 to 1921. This area, the Russian guberniia of Kars, was the postwar Turkish-ruled area closest to the refugees' original homes and had much available land due to wartime mortality and Armenian out-migration. In 1897, the Russian census listed 76,521 Muslim males in Kars province, a corrected population of 153,042 Muslims of both sexes. Projected to 1914, at the beginning of World War I, the Muslim population was 194,628. It is impossible to ascertain the exact number of Kars Muslims who died in the 1915-1921 wars, because massive migration confuses the picture. However, one can safely assume that the mortality in Kars was as bad as anywhere in the war zone, since Kars was on the invasion lines of the Russians, the Armenians, and the Ottomans. If one assumes that mortality of native Muslims in Kars was as bad as that seen in Van Vilâyeti, where the wartime experience was similar, 74,000 native Muslims would have survived to 1922. If one assumes the mortality to have been the same as in Erzurum Vilâyeti, 134,000 would have survived to 1922.
In the 1927 Turkish census, there were 340,399 Muslims recorded in the area that had been the Russian Kars Guberniia.

TABLE 16. REFUGEES IN THE KARS AREA.

Muslims in Kars* in 1922317,703
Native Muslim Survivors from 1914 to 1922-73,959
Refugees243,744

* The provinces of Kars and Artvin (less Yusufeli) and the kazas of Oltu, Kulp, and Iğdir.

Projected back to 1922, this means that approximately 318,000 Muslims were in the area in 1922. Between 74,000 and 134,000 of these, or a mean estimate of 104,000, were natives, leaving 218,000 to be counted as in-migrants? 204 These 218,000 could theoretically have been migrants from areas other than Russia. However, the difficulties of living in Kars and the presence of abundant land in the rest of Anatolia makes such internal migration extremely unlikely. In fact, many of the refugees from Russia did not remain in Kars, but went on to other regions in Anatolia.

Many migrated and settled in a wide region bounded by the provinces of Samsun on the west and Van and Bitlis on the south. In these provinces, the Turks registered in the 1927 Turkish Census 14,480 people as having been born in Russia. Based on the experience of under-registration of the foreign-born in other provinces, it seems likely that those who were registered were only half of the actual number of refugees. Applying that admittedly inexact standard to these figures doubles the recorded Muslim refugees from Russia to the Kars area to 28,960.

TABLE 17. SURVIVING MUSLIM REFUGEES FROM THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE IN NORTHEASTERN AND EASTERN ANATOLIA IN 1922.

In the Kars region 243,744
In other provinces 206 28,960
Total 272,704


The enumeration of refugees in Table 17 differs from the estimates of refugees made for other areas of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. The figures here are of refugees who survived the war period, i.e., those who lived to be counted in the census. If the refugees from Russia had been counted when they left their homes, their numbers would have been considerably greater. The extremely conservative assumption that one-third of all Muslim refugees from the Caucasus, approximately 135,000, died would leave an initial refugee migration of more than 400,000.

Kaynakça
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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