Definition And Purpose Of Relocation (Tehcir) Repercussions Abroad

The Arabic originated word “tehcir” means “emigration / immigration”, it definitely not means “deportation” or “exile”. Hence the law commonly known as the “Tehcir Law” is the same as “Temporary Law On The Military Measures To Be Taken For Those Who Resist The Governmental Acts And Supplementation’s.” The word used to explain the implementation in line with this law is “tenkil” in the Ottoman language and means “transport- not the equivalent of “deportation”, “exile” or “proscription” in Latin originated languages.

The immigration, which was started with the orders of Talaat Pasha, and approved by the Government and the Parliament as a measure against the Armenian riots and massacres, which had arisen in a number of places in the Country - pre - dominantly in Van province, was only implemented only in the regions in which such riots and massacres affected the security of the fronts directly. The first area was Erzurum, Van and Bitlis Vicinities which formed the rear part of the Caucasian - Iran Front; and the second was Mersin - Iskenderun Region which formed the rear part of the Sina Front. In both of these regions, Armenians had collaborated with the enemy and involved in activities to facilitate the enemy’s invasion.

Later, the scope of the immigration was widened in order to include the Armenians in the other provinces, who rioted, collaborated with the enemy and screened the activities of Armenian Gangs. Although the Catholic and Protestant Armenians were excluded from immigration at the beginning, later those whose harmful activities were observed, were also relocated.

Since 1915, numerous papers, reports, books, etc. were written and published about the immigration implementation. The Armenians, by using false documents have succeeded to deceit the World for a long time. The rumor about Armenian holocaust (!) which expressed at first as three hundred thousand and later increased to three million has no basis at all. In fact, although English and French authorities have extensively studied the Ottoman archives during their occupation in Istanbul have failed to find even a single document hinting about such holocaust.

Had the Ottoman State intended to make genocide on Armenians; could not they realize such an act at the places where the Armenians live? Why would it be necessary “to immigrate” them for such an intention? Why did they undertake the significant fiscal and material costs of their security, safety, health and food of the immigrating Armenians? During this immigration and re-settlement process which lasted approximately 1,5 year from May 1915 until October 1916, why would the central and local administrations take measures to ensure the lives and properties of Armenians in spite of the difficult war circumstances? In addition, would it be necessary to accept great administrative, military and financial burden —as if opening a new front- to protect and secure these people?

The answers to these questions shall be sufficient to understand the real intention of the Ottoman State. Also there is no logical explanation that why the Ottoman State suddenly changed its policy towards a community which had always been called as “millet-i sadika” (loyal people) due to their being really faithful to the Government. Hence the party whose attitude had changed was not the Ottoman Government, but the Armenians who were deceived by the independence promises of Russia and the Entente States.

In conclusion, it can be said that the Armenian Immigration which was a necessary measure to ensure the State Security and Safety is among one of the most
successful transportation and re-settlement processes; and has no intention whatsoever to annihilate Armenians.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gerekceler (1915), TTK Yayini, Ankara, 2001.

“Temporary Law on the Measures Implemented by the Military against those Opposing the Government Implementations at Wartime” also known as “Immigration Law-Tehcir Law” was resolved on 27 May 1915. (1) The Law was published in the Official Gazette of the time, Takvim-i Vekayi, on 1 June 1915 and came into force. (2)

Article 1 of the before mentioned temporary law authorizes, the commanders of the Army, Army-corps and Divisions to take military measures against those opposing government orders, country’s defense, and the protection of peace; and against those organizing armed attacks and resistance, and kill rebels during aggression and uprising in wartime. The second article authorizes the same commanders to transfer and resettle on a single basis or in mass, the people living in villages and towns who are found to be engaged in espionage or treason.

The properties owned by the Armenians subjected to immigration were protected under an order (3) dated 10 June 1915. “Commission on Abandoned Properties” comprising of a president and two members, one administrative and one financial, was established. These commissions are to determine Armenian properties in the villages and towns that are evacuated, and to keep detailed record books. One of the books is to be kept in the regional churches, one to be submitted to the regional administration, and one shall be kept by the commission. Non-durable goods and animal stock shall be auctioned and the money shall be kept. In location where a commission is not appointed, the provisions of the communiqué shall be enforced by the officers in the regions. Both the commission and the regional administrators shall be responsible for the protection of these properties until the Armenians return.

As it can be understood from the law dated 27 May 1915 and order dated 10 June 1915, the immigration implementation initiated by Talat Pasha and approved by the Parliament covers “the regions that threaten the security of the front directly”. The first of these regions includes the vicinities of Erzurum, Van and Bitlis, which constitute the background of Caucasian and Iranian fronts. The second region is provinces of Mersin-Iskenderun, which constitute the background of the Sinae front. Because, in these regions, Armenians were collaborating with the enemy and were engaged in activities facilitating the landing of the enemy forces.

However, the law regarding “the measures implemented by the military against those opposing the government implementations at wartime” is an authorizing law intended to protect the state and its legal order. One of the most important characteristics of this law is that “not a name of any ethnic group or community was mentioned nor even suggested in the text of the law”. The Ottoman citizens of Moslem, Greek and Armenian origin covered under this law were subjected to immigrate from their own place and resettle elsewhere. To regard this law as being directed against one particular ethnic group is an indication of a lack of information, or else, intentional behavior... (4)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gerekceler — Realities on the Armenian Immigration — (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara 2001.

1) Bayur, ibid., III/3, p.40; Gürün, ibid., 214.
2) Takvim-i Vekayi’, 18 Recep 1333/19 May 1331, 7th year, no:2189; Y.H. Bayur, ibid, III/3, p.30
3) ATBD, December 1982, ibid., no:81, document 1832
4) Yildirim, Dr. Hüsamettin, Ermeni Iddialari ve Gercekler — Armenian Claims and Realities- Ankara 2000, p. 21

Although the foreign observers, who were at the locations of relocation, wrote that the Ottoman Government’s performance was perfect and done with care in spite of war conditions, the western press preferred to mislead the events. Likewise, although Edward Natan, the consul of America in Mersin, reported that relocation has been carried out regularly, (1) the Ambassador of U.S.A. in Istanbul, Morgantau, has related the events in a completely opposite way to his country and the American press has used these events against Turks. According to the claims issued in the newspapers, Morgantau bribed the Ottoman Government and purchased some Armenians to send them to America; furthermore he has saved some English, Russian and French citizens in Istanbul. A Turkish citizen in U.S.A. reported all these lies and false information used by the press on September 14th 1915 (2).

In the frame of the reports of English consuls in Iran, claims such as killing of 1.000.000 Armenians was discussed in the English Parliament and the parliament decided to protest the Turkish Government. Furthermore, the “Blue Book” published about the Armenian events in England included news claiming that over a third of 1.800.000 Armenians claimed to exist in the Ottoman country were murdered. (3)

Against those ill — willed publications, some objective Western press members have reported that the events were falsely communicated on purpose. In an article issued in a Stockholm newspaper which uses the headline “Massacre in the Ottoman Province, Where the Armenians live”, the absurdity of such claims and the reasons for creating such false news were explained. (4)

The Ottoman Government has declared the English claims to be false on January 4th 1917 with the signature of the Undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (5) In the denial letter, it has been expressed that the Armenian population living in the Ottoman country has never reached 1.000.000, that this amount has decreased due to the migrations that took place before the war and the claims were denied. In the same document, it was pointed out that the Germans were held responsible for the murders of Armenians in an article of a certain issue of the “Times”.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.

1) See document 664.
2) See document 665
3) DH, EUM, 2nd Branch, File 1, document 23 (see document 668)
4) DH, EUM, 2nd Branch, File 1, document 76 (see document 669)
5) DH, EUM, 2nd Branch, File 1, document 23 (see document 668).


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