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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1, ”Tyrkiet - Indre Forhold”. Pakke 1, til 31 Dec. 1916
Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 05/20/1916
Arrival of telegram: 05/28/1916
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 103
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 03/27/2012

The minister at Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)


Nr. 103
Constantinople, 20 May 1916.

Mr. Foreign Minister,

In my report No. LXXII [72] of 29 March this year I had the honor of referring to the arrest of the Arab Senator Abdul-Hamid Effendi Zuhraoui and of certain other Arabs who were once members, together with the abovementioned Senator, of a committee which approached the European Powers in order to achieve reforms in Syria and Arabia.

I am now informed that those Arabs who were arrested in the month of March together with a number of compatriots - 20 prominent Arabs and Syrians all in all - have been hanged in Damascus after having been convicted of high treason by the court-martial established by Djemal Pacha. The most well-known of the executed was, besides from Abdul-Hamid Effendi Zuhraoui, Chefik-el-Moayed, a former Deputy for Damascus who did, however, quickly become opposed to the Young Turks and became one of the leaders of the Liberal Entente. It was Chefik-el-Moayed who during a discussion in the Chamber about 4 years ago said: "I will never shake hands with a man like Taalat Bey." A couple of years ago Chefik withdrew from political life, and after that he lived in Damascus where he was highly regarded by the population.

In order to justify the executions, the government has published a statement in the Damascus press (in Constantinople the event is kept secret), wherein it is shown on the basis of certain documents found in the French consulate in Beyrouth [Beirut] that the executed once had approached France to gain support against the Young Turk government. These circles are even supposed to have asked the French Ambassador in Constantinople if France could give military support to an Arab uprising if such an event were to take place.

In any case, these events - which it is quite possible that the government knew about at the time, but did not dare to intervene to prevent from happening - date far back in time (probably from 1912-13), and at least from before the time when the Arab Delegates through a series of negotiations with Talaat Bey, etc., reached a temporary agreement in 1913 which was meant to cancel out all the previous events and which was sealed at a dinner party at Hotel Tokatlian in Pera, on which occasion a number of speeches were held by Arabs and Young Turks expressing sympathy, etc. Most of the most well-known of the now executed Arabs participated in the 1913 negotiations and in the said dinner where Talaat Bey showed them special courtesy.

It is also being reported now that Djemal Pacha has started to deport a number of intellectually significant Arabs and Syrians from Damascus and Beyrouth to the inner provinces of the Empire - approximately in the same way that the Armenians were removed in 1915, thereby opening the Armenian massacres.

It therefore looks like the government will use the favorable opportunity when it has the sufficient level of power to eradicate any possibility of a separatist Arab movement, and there are plenty of reasons to follow with interest the situation in Syria, where the dissatisfaction with Djemal Pacha's regime is already great.

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully

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