English :: de en
Home: www.armenocide.net
Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1909-05-04-GB-001
Source: GB/FO 424/219/pages 87-92
Central register: 1909-A-17775
Edition: Adana 1909
Embassy/consular serial number:
Last updated: 10/22/2017

Sir G. Lowther to Sir Edward Grey


(Received May 11.)

(No. 324.)

Constantinople, May 4, 1909.


WITH reference to my despatch No. 321 of to-day’s date, I have the honour to transmit herewith a translation from the Turkish press of the debate which took place the Chamber of Deputies on the subject of the massacres at Adana.

It commenced with the reading of a despatch from the Vali, which gives a very partial and inexact account of the matter, stating, amongst other inaccuracies, that he the Military Commandant worked day and night to restore order. His conduct and his despatch were roughly handled by both Christian and Moslem Deputies, one member alone defending him. It was stated that the orders sent from the Ministry of the Interior were similar to those sent with such disastrous results during the 1895-6 massacres “Restore order”; and accordingly the Vice-Minister of the Interior, Adil Bey, who was responsible for the message, was summoned to attend the Chamber. In explaining the action taken by the Government he treated the whole matter very lightly as being one of small importance, and provoked a considerable amount of indignation amongst his hearers. The task of criticising his explanations fell to Zohrab Effendi, who is the most distinguished of the Armenian Deputies, and who pointed out the criminal carelessness of the authorities in not taking early and effective steps for checking the disorders.

As a result of the debate it was decided that a court-martial should be sent to Adana as soon as possible, and that the sum of £ T. 20,000 which had been voted for relief should only be regarded as an instalment.

There was a general tendency to regard the massacres as an outcome of the old regime, if not actually connected immediately with the reactionary movement at Constantinople and with direct Palace instigation.

I have, &c.
Inclosure in No. 84.

Summary of the Debate in the Chamber of Deputies on the Adana Massacres.


IT was resolved to print the following despatch from Jevad Bey, Vali of Adana, and distribute it to the Naval Committee:

"The disorders which broke out on the 1st (14th) April, at the chief town of this vilayet, between Armenians and Moslems lasted three days. The Commandant and myself worked day and night, and, in spite of the smallness of the military force and of other difficulties, order was re-established and lasted until yesterday afternoon, when reports of arms from the Armenian quarter were heard. The Moslem population became greatly excited and rushed the Government building. Soldiers were turned out and the quarter from which the reports came were put under guard, and then it was conclusively shown that the incident had been caused by some Armenian ‘fedais’ (i.e., men ready to sacrifice their lives). At night fire broke out in two places, and although efforts to extinguish them were made, complete success was impossible, owing to the disorder and to the inadequacy of the fire appliances. Yesterday morning a few regular battalions arrived and were split up into guards. Every possible military measure was taken, order has been restored, and foreign residents’ quarters, institutions, and property have been placed under protection. Disorder continues in some parts of the district and in Hajin, but the Sis battalion of Redifs was sent by forced marches to Hajin two days ago, and an Advisory Committee was dispatched, so it is expected that order will be restored there in a day or two. A battalion of regulars has been sent to Durt Yol, in the Sanjak of Jebel Bereket, to quell the disturbance there. It is clear that this force will serve to tranquillize both that district and those of Khassa and Islahie, and strict instructions on this point have also been sent wherever necessary. In carrying out measures, great difficulties have been caused by the excitement and violence with which the regrettable affair began, by the fact that at first there was only one regular battalion of about 300 men, because the few battalions of Redifs who have been put under arms were local men without order and without uniforms (clothes). The quieting in three days of the population of 50,000 or 60,000 engaged in civil war, by such measures as instructing the soldiers to use their weapons in case of resistance from any quarter and by sending an Advisory Committee, is due to nothing but the adoption of military measures. Hence it is evident that had the military force which had been repeatedly asked for been present at the beginning of the incident quiet could have been restored vet more quickly.

“Information on the subject will be sent frequently.

“Vali of Adana,
(Signed) “JEVAD.”

Dr. Arif Ismet Bey. These regrettable events show that we have not acted up to our professions of brotherhood and equality. No attention should be paid to the explanations of the Vali, for we are only too familiar with the excuse on the score of lack of troops. The authors of this outrage must be severely punished, and I think the Chamber should take a decision to that effect. A special Committee should be sent to investigate the matter, and the instigators should be so punished that it will be a warning to others. We have no faith in the Vali’s assertion that he took adequate measures.

Talaat Bey (presiding over the Chamber in the absence of Ahmed Riza). Every Member must share the feelings of Ismet Bey.

Vartkis Effendi. Jevad Bey’s telegram is false on its own showing. If the people took refuge in churches and schools and stayed there, how is it possible that some ‘fedais’ should appear five or six days later and fire arms? The same cursed hand can be seen at work here and there. Had the Salonica army been unsuccessful here there might have been other massacres. The National Assembly should now decide what measures are to be taken. Martial law should be proclaimed, and commissions should be sent from the Salonica army and from Parliament. The duty of the latter would be to confiscate the goods of the instigators of the recent outrage and to compensate the sufferers, to take away the property of those who took part in plundering, and, finally, to confiscate some of the property of Abdul Hamid and give it to the people, for his was the accursed hand at work.

Talaat Bey. Vartkis Effendi speaks of the Salonica army. The force that came here comprised the IInd and IIIrd Army Corps.

Jenany Bey. The Vali's telegram shows him to be implicated in the matter.

The following Takrir was read (the signatures were those of Vartakis, Dagavarian, Babikian, Ali Jenany, Hamparsoun, Boyadjian, Arif Hikmet, Ihsan, and Kigham):

“It appears that the disorder in the Adana Vilayet is breaking out again. As this is due to the fact that the instigators had not been punished, and that severe measures had not been adopted, we propose that the following steps be taken:

“1. The recent events being the result of the neglect of the Vali Jevad Bey and of the Mustechar (Under-Secretary) of the Ministry of the Interior, Adil Bey, to perform their duty, and of the actual participation of certain officials, these persons should be tried by court-martial.

“2. Places like Antioch and Zeitun in the Vilayet of Aleppo, where there had been signs of disturbance, should also be placed under martial law, and to insure the impartiality of the court-martial it should be appointed from here.

“3. To insure the safety of the Kassaba of Deurt Yol, which is now besieged and in danger, the necessary steps should be taken by telegraph.

“4. To save the unhappy sufferers from famine, and to provide them with shelter and food, the necessary sums should be granted, and the collection of funds locally being difficult, money should be sent at once from the capital.

“5. Mixed and impartial Commissions should be formed in each kasaba to restore the plundered goods to their owners, to assess the number and value of the buildings burned, to find out the number and the names of the dead, and to present a return to the Government.”

Muradian Effendi. In consequence of a telegram about the Vali of Adana, a visit was paid to the Mustechar, Adil Bey, who promised to see to the matter, but attached no importance to it. As the authorities were not punished after the first disturbance, a second broke out. The Vali appears to have acted in the same old way. He says in his telegram that he sent Redifs, but these Redifs attacked instead of defending the people. I trust that our proposals will be acted upon, since it is now seen that the Armenians are not the enemies of the nation and religion they were formerly considered. It has become evident that the statements of Valis who accuse the Armenians of evil are lies. Those who caused this disturbance at first molested foreigners, and the latter made complaints here, whereupon Adil Bey wrote: “Do not touch foreigners.”

Daghavarian Effendi. A telegram was written, saying: “Touch Armenians, but do not touch foreigners.”

Vartakis Effendi. The punishment of the prime movers in this affair being necessary, and it being clear from this painful incident that the Anatolian vilayets stand in need of reform, I propose that a Bill be discussed for the sending of a Commission of Investigation.

Ismaïl. Information should be considered true until proved to be false, especially when that information is sent by the Vali of a constitutional Government to the Public Assembly, if this information is declared to be false on the evidence of letters from that place, with what object were those letters written? Until this object is understood, they cannot be taken as legal evidence. To those who deduce the Vali’s gilt from his telegram, I reply that the telegram is a mere statement of events and does not incriminate the Vali. If the future proves his participation, he will naturally have to answer to the law. The matter should be considered calmly, and we should not be taken in by the speeches of Daghavarian Effendi and Vartakis Effendi. It is not true that Adil Bey said, “Touch the Armenians, but not foreigners.” The Army of Freedom guarded the Embassies, which act meant that the houses of other people did not need defending. Why this talk of bringing Adil Bey to justice for such a telegram? Then Vartakis Effendi says it is impossible that any Armenian “fedais” should have been out. Why is this impossible? His statement rests upon no argument whatever. These questions are questions of law. A Vali and a Mustechar cannot be tried merely upon a Takrir. The question of compensating sufferers from the goods of the instigators can be considered when the latter have been indicated. Nevertheless, I have no objection to the proclamation of martial law, and I agree to the proposal to send an impartial Committee from this Chamber.

Talaat Bey. Reminds the Chamber that it can decide to have an interpellation, and suggests that Members would like that interpellation soon.

Kosmidi Effendi. The Chamber of Deputies can do nothing but decide upon an interpellation, but, the matter being important, should sit as National Assembly. Had the decisions been adopted as extraordinary, it would have been better.

Vehty Effendi. Since martial law has been declared, this discussion is superfluous.

Daghavarian Effendi. According to my information men were sent two months ago to raise that disturbance which coincided with the disorders of the 31st March (13 th April) in Constantinople. As it was Armenians who suffered, how is it that the order given was not to-protect the people, but “protect the foreigners?”

Talaat Bey. I do not think that a conscientious official would simply say “protect the foreigners.”

Riza Tewfik Bey. There is great danger in the diversity of races and in the ignorance, if you will pardon the word, of the people. I am sure the reactionaries have been at work there stirring up strife. In Constantinople there are many workless. What a tool for reactionaries, or for some rich party which could buy their consciences at 5 piastres apiece! We ought to apply the Military Conscription Law. I know the Armenians would be “fedais” for freedom. We cannot accuse them of wishing to separate from us or of disputing with other nationalities.

Zohrab Effendi. (After thanking the previous speaker) I wish to draw your attention to the fact that the disturbances at Adana and Constantinople were simultaneous. While the Ottoman cause was in danger here we forebore to speak of Armenians, but now we can speak. There is not sufficient evidence to judge the matter fully. I saw the telegram from the Ministry of the Interior, of which complaint has been made, and its purport was in keeping with the traditions of the old régime. It did not say “Kill the Armenians,” but “Restore order.” The hon. Members know that that was the formula used under the despotic régime; formulas depend upon their interpretation, and it is certain that the phrase, “Keep order and protect the foreigners and banks in particular,” would be misunderstood there. The Vali’s having belonged to the Palace places a very serious construction upon the matter. Now, there are two points which call for immediate attention: In the first place order must be restored and adequate help sent - £ T. 20,000 should be voted; secondly, military law should be proclaimed, but as it would be useless to appoint officials from there, officers should be sent from here to form courts-martial.

Eumer Fevzi Effendi supports the two proposals.

The following Takrir from Zohrab was then read:

“I propose that (1) £ T. 20,000 should be sent to Adana and Aleppo as an earnest of help for the sufferers; (2) punishment should be meted out to officials, both high and low; (3) adequate forces should be sent to restore order.”

Talaat Bey. Puts the motion for an interpellation to the Chamber. It is passed.

Second Sitting.

The Minister of the Interior, Raouf Pasha, and the Mustechar Adil Bey present.

Talaat Bey. In accordance with your decision, the Minister of the Interior and the Mustechar have come. The Mustechar, being more conversant with the matter, will give his explanations; if necessary, his Excellency the Minister will follow.

Mustechar Adil Bey. (Speech in full.) The events at Adana are most regrettable, and those who caused them are accursed and hateful.

On the 1st (14th) April a telegram was received from the Vilayet of Adana announcing the breaking out of disorder and the appearance of plunderers. The necessary instructions were at once sent to the vilayet, their purpose being, “Turn out soldiers, gendarmes, police, whatever force you have, even the guards; give necessary instructions to both parties; restore absolute order. We will, moreover, write to the Ministry of War and the necessary military force will be sent. Until that time you must take all possible steps.” At the same time a despatch was sent to the Ministry of War asking that sufficient soldiers should be provided from the nearest point. On the two succeeding days the matter was followed up and instructions were continued. On the second Wednesday I asked Edhem Pasha, the Minister of War, at a Cabinet meeting whether the military force on the spot was sufficient or not, and received a negative answer. It was said that men would be sent from the IInd Army Corps district. As the news from the vilayet stated that two battalions would not be enough, I demanded that the Selefke Regiment should be sent also. It was replied that in that case there would be no need to send two battalions as well, but I said that both the two battalions and the Selefke Regiment should be sent. Unfortunately, for reasons such as the lack of steamers, the military arrived somewhat late, and the outbreak could not be prevented. If the Chamber wishes, I will read the telegram I wrote. A telegram was sent from the vilayet to the Ministry of Police. That is not in the dossier because (according to it) the vilayet appeared to be in its ordinary condition. It stated that the police were insufficient, and asked that an adequate police force should be sent. You know that a conflict was going on between Moslems and non-Moslems. Foreigners are impartial in such matters, so any attack on them would cause foreign intervention and political complications. The telegram does not easily lend itself to misinterpretation, but unfortunately it has been misconstrued.

In correspondence with the Commandant orders were given that guards composed of soldiers and gendarmes should be formed, that looting should be absolutely prevented, that the various classes of the population should not interfere with each other, and that special care should be taken of the Consulates and of foreign property. This was natural, and merely the Government’s duty. The Government has no cause for regret.

(Adil Bey then read some telegrams and Minutes dealing with the subject.)

On the second day of the events the matter was discussed at a Cabinet meeting. It was asked what gave rise to the incident, and I said that that would appear from the investigations of a Special Committee to be sent, and this idea was accepted. A special court-martial will be formed and sent, and offenders, whoever they may be, will he punished. It therefore appears to me unnecessary to discuss the question more deeply. The work of the Committee of Investigation will result in the punishment of the criminals, whoever they may be. A few days ago some members of the Armenian Assembly came and questioned the Grand Vizier. I read these telegrams, but they replied that the incident was not caused by the Armenians, there being very few Armenians there as compared with Moslems. I said that the information I had given founded on information I had received from the spot. There is no need to discuss the question on the basis of race. The real culprits must be sought out. There is no need of this dispute. A telegram has been sent authorizing the expenditure of the few piastres necessary to feed and house the sufferers. On receipt of an answer to a telegraphic inquiry I sent, a discussion will take place in the Cabinet, and if the future necessitates the expenditure of a few more piastres they will be spent. News was received from the scene of the occurrence, and was confirmed, that at the commencement a state of siege was proclaimed, but in a telegram received to-day the state of siege is mentioned as one of further necessary measures. The newly arrived Mutessarif either does not know about the state of siege or he has made a mistake. As to the number of deaths, the truth will transpire after local inquiries. We have received a telegram from Adana to-day saying that quiet has been restored there. I have sent this news for publication in the official “Takvim-i-Vikay”; as to the Committee of Inquiry the Grand Vizier says he has discussed it with Mahmoud Shevket Pasha and it has it has been resolved to send a Special Committee.

Zohrab Effendi. The Mustechar has simply read to us the statements of the Vali of Adana and the Mutessarif of Jebel Bereket, as though either of them could be considered trustworthy evidence. A few days ago we asked him the approximate number of killed and wounded, and this official, who is at the head of the Executive, could not tell us. Well, let me give you some information. According to a letter written by the brother of the (?) Consular dragoman [sic] at Mersina, the slaughtered Armenians number 20,000 or 30,000. Had this information come from an Armenian I would not have accepted it. If you want letters and telegrams from Armenians there are plenty. Letters arrived to-day say that there are no Armenians left there; no churches, no schools.

A few people who have come from that mad-house say that the massacres came from the Government - that the first slaughter was brought about by Government influence, and that the massacres took place to the cry of “Long live Sultan Hamid!” [At this point the speaker read a telegram which had been sent to the Members for Aleppo.] My object in saying this is to rebut with all my strength the calumny that the Armenians rebelled against the Ottoman rule.

During the general massacre that took place here some years ago I was sent to protect the Armenians left alive. It was said of the Armenians who took refuge that they had “fortified themselves,” and that is the meaning of the telegrams we have just read; but a man “takes refuge” in a church - he does not “fortify himself.”

Now, what is the position of the Vali, Jevad Bey? Here is a man who came from the Palace - that is to say, a man trained by a despot. The Members for Adana present have asked the Ministry of the Interior to change him. The French say that to govern means to discover the future. The Minister of the Interior here ought to have know­ledge of affairs; he did not have that knowledge. Well, let us excuse him; but when he did wake up he passed over the matter with a smile or two. Now, just see the neglect of the Vali, who simply said when the incident began that he needed a few police, and afterwards, when the disorders had spread in all directions, asked for soldiers to be sent! I cannot believe that there was good intention behind this carelessness; the events show neglect all along. First they want to send soldiers, and there are no steamers; then there are no arms. This question must be considered from the point of view of the public safety. The Mustechar speaks of a “state of prosperity,” but there is no prosperity there. All the people are dying, and the nation should be prepared to make any sacrifice to save them. Let some serious proposal be made to us here. It is not governing to say, “Maintain order.”

Mustechar. Zohrab Effendi says the reading of these telegrams was out of place. I read them in accordance with the decision of the Chamber; I have therefore no cause for regret.

Nazim Maziliah Effendi. If the measures taken consisted only in sending telegrams there is cause for regret.

Mustechar. The Ministry of the Interior had no magic army at hand. Instruc­tions were sent for all the available gendarmes and police to be turned out, and to send soldiers from the nearest point. What else could the Ministry do? Besides, I was not at the head of the Ministry of the Interior. On the outbreak of the affair the Govern­ment resigned. On the 1st (14th) April the Tewfik Pasha Cabinet was appointed. I saw my name in the list and at once resigned. Nevertheless, to prevent a crise ministérielle I carried on the work out of patriotism. I therefore fail to understand why I should be blamed.

There is no need to dwell on the question of nationality. Let the traitors be punished whoever they may be. If there is anything else we can do, let us do it. Money has been sent from here by telegraph, and orders have been given for money to be paid into the Finance Department there. It is evident that the attack is a personal one. I much regret this. (Applause.)

Vartakis Effendi. According to the Takrir, a Committee of Investigation is to be sent from the Chamber.

Artas Effendi proposes the discussion be closed.

As a result of the discussion it was decided that a court-martial should be sent as soon as possible, and that the sum granted should not be limited to £T.20,000.

Copyright © 1995-2018 Wolfgang & Sigrid Gust (Ed.): www.armenocide.net A Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in World War I. All rights reserved