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JOURNAL NUMBERS

Reflections of the Second Proclamation of the Ottoman Parliamentary System on Eastern Anatolia and Its Effect on the Armenian-Kurdish Relations

Fatih NAL*
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 10, Volume 4 - 2006

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Key Words: The Proclamation of the Ottoman Parliamentary system, Armenians, Kurds, Party of Union and Progress, Bedirhanl? Said, Mir Muhiy, Molla Selim, and Bitlis Rebellion

INTRODUCTION

The proclamation of the Ottoman Parliamentary system, in order to avoid disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and to prevent the desires of some ethnic groups to establish their own independent states via providing them with the rights of representation was not enough to connect the Muslims and non-Muslims components to state. The independence desires of the Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Armenians and that of some other ethnic groups have already shined on the first day of the convention of the Parliament, since they brought their ethnic programs to the agenda. Within this context Armenian wish to establish an independent Armenian state in Eastern Anatolia matured by the aid of the advantages of the proclamation of Ottoman parliamentary system; as a result, it happened to be a big problem for the Ottoman Empire. Spotlighting of the Armenian reforms has provided the Western states with necessary inputs as well as it made Muslim community feel anxious about it. It stimulated old hostilities. Sultan Abdulhamid, who made him called as “Father of the Kurds” and prevented the activities of the Armenian committees at Eastern provinces by the aid of the Hamidiye troops, which he established and generated as a security precaution against the Russian ambitions, caused an anxious anticipation at the Eastern provinces. The legitimacy problem of the Party of Union and Progress caused serious disturbances due to its policies with respect to some significant issues regarding Armenians.

I. OTTOMAN PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM AND EXPECTATIONS

The First Young Turk Congress, realized on 4 February 1902 as a result of internal and international attempts of Young Turks in order to return to a system based upon parliament and constitutional monarchy, is an important turning point. This congress, in which whole Ottoman elements were represented, has been the first significant sign of governmental polarizations that would also go on after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system. The two most significant actors of this polarization were Prince Sabahattin and Ahmet Riza. Principles of Prince Sabahattin called as ‘Private Enterprise and Decentralization’ (Te?ebbüs-ü ?ahsi ve Adem-i Merkeziyet) recognized every external intervention in order to realize a revolution for establishing constitutional monarchy as legitimate, and provided executive, judicial and fiscal autonomy via dividing different regions of state into special local administrations. Such an understanding impressed the representatives of the non-Muslims communities, who desired to have autonomy and independence afterwards. The representatives of the Tashnak committee, which was the strongest of the revolutionary Armenian committees, wanted to collaborate with the unionists and stood by their side. The other wing’s representative Ahmet R?za, on the other side, was objecting to violence and foreign intervention. According to Ahmet R?za, decentralization “was nothing but vending state to the foreigners”. Ahmet R?za used to believe that the structure of the Ottoman society composed by various ethnic groups should have been maintained within a modern and centralized state dominated by the Turkish element[2].

At the beginning of 1906, some activities were held to re-organize the Young Turk movement, which lost its action power as a result of the discrepancy mentioned above; accordingly, Prince Sabahattin was given the duty to lay a program. The segmentation within the Young Turk movement became definite after the insertion of the decentralization principle into the program by Prince Sabahattin. He established the ‘Private Enterprise and Decentralization Association’ (Te?ebbüs-ü ?ahsi ve Adem-i Merkeziyet Cemiyeti) in 1906. The charter of the association anticipated full and large-scaled rights in terms of provincial finance for general provincial assemblies, which would be organized with respect to the numerical proportion of each ethnic element composing the Ottoman society. Furthermore, the essence of the parliamentary election to be made out of the provincial assembly members was acknowledged[3].

While the arguments were intensifying within the Young Turk circles regarding both the administrative future of the Ottoman state and place of the ethnic components of the Empire within this administrative structure, some developments accelerating the parliamentary system were taking place. Osmanl? Hürriyet Cemiyeti (The Ottoman Liberty Association) was founded during a meeting, in which 10 people (most of them were the 3rd Army officers) participated at Mithat ?ükrü’s house on September 1906. It is interesting that the members of this committee are the masons. The association has united with the Party of Union and Progress on 27 December 1907[4]. 

Within the declaration after the Second Young Turk Congress, presided by the collective chairmanship of Ahmet R?za, Prince Sabahattin and Malumyan, it was expressed that the communities composing the Ottoman state had managed to unite and that they would insist on revolution until they reached their aim. The congress decided to have Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Albanian, Armenian, Bulgarian and Greek pamphlets printed and have them distributed among the peasants, civil servants, soldiers, officers and bureaucratic circles[5]. The hostility towards Abdülhamid had become such a blind fanaticism among the Young Turks that they could not see what kind of results would emerge out of their collaboration with the non-Muslim elements especially with the Armenians. As a result of these developments, Resneli Niyazi Bey had started a rebellion by the aid of his forces on 3 July 1908. When the Ottoman parliamentary system was proclaimed in Manast?r on 23 July, Abdulhamid had to accept this fait accompli on the night of 23/24 July.

Due to the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, it was obvious that a significant pleasure and peace ambience has been felt within the country, though it lasted short. It was deeply believed that the new regime would be the guarantee of the peace among the Ottoman peoples. The whole elements composing the Empire, Muslims and non-Muslims, were kissing and hugging each other on the streets and organizing smart ceremonies within which prays on behalf of the proclamation were made and swears for its protection took place. One of the dominant groups among the Armenians, as it had collaborated with the Young Turks some time before the proclamation and had spent so much money and effort for the realization of the revolution, was thinking that its political effect would grow. The Armenians, who had immigrated to the other countries during Abdülhamid era, started to return with victory expressions and they turned out to be Armenian nationalists after the proclamation. The Armenian rebels, who had returned, were welcomed by smart ceremonies. For committee members, who had been killed as a result of their revolutionary activities during Abdülhamid era, mourning was hold and sermons were given. The belief, that the new regime would be the guarantee among the Ottoman components, was refreshed[6].

Macedonian bands climbed down to the city and proclaimed that they would devote themselves to the order. Revolutionary Armenian associations have announced that they had stopped armed conflicts. Sabah Gülyan who was the Head of the Armenian H?nçak Committee and from Caucasian Armenians stated that “We, H?nçaks, will give up our revolutionary activities and try to promote our country with whole of our wealth” at Beyoglu Surp Yervartyun Church. Aknoni, who was the head of another Armenian revolutionary association called Tashnaksütyun, mentioned about their Armenian policy as such: “One of the most important duties of Tashnaksagans is to protect the Ottoman regime, serve for the integration of the Ottoman tribes, and collaborate with the Party of Union and Progress”.[7] Actually, Armenians viewed the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system as a steppingstone on the path to the independence. Maintenance of liberty atmosphere would provide favorable conditions that would enable them to reach their aims. However, the opportunities brought by the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system set them free, with respect to their target to reach the independent Armenia, by limiting legal margins and hiding behind these margins[8]. The Armenians, who were backed up by the Party of Union and Progress, was trying to set necessary conditions at the Eastern provinces by making use of this freedom. By this purpose, it was being mentioned that the Kurds, especially the Hamidiye troops, had been opposed to the Ottoman parliamentary system and had existed as a threat against the regime. Within the first article of the adopted resolution during the 5th general meeting of the Tashnak Association, it was stated “…residuals of the feudal landlords and privileged class, benefited from ancient regime, are looking forward to hold a counter operation as they view the Ottoman parliamentary system as a threat against their own wealth”. Within the 4th paragraph of the resolution it was written “talented organs of our association need to fight in every way and at every place, when necessitated, in order to defend the Ottoman parliamentary system against any possible attack”; they expressed that they would not allow such a counter operation[9]. Enmity of the Armenians to the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system and their will to make use of the new regime, as much as possible, for their independence were expressed by the declaration of “Free Armenia” messages from Istanbul Beyo?lu Theatre scenes, where the parliament which they had joined with 13 deputies, was opened. Their persistence in reaching their aims was confirmed by the Adana Rebellion during 31 March events.

The Party of Union and Progress, which thought itself as the symbol of justice in the perceptions of Armenians and Europeans as well as the supporter of unity of components (ittihad-? anas?r), has proved its attitude by making 47 Turks but only 1 Armenian hang up at divan-? harb-i örfi established after the rebellion[10]. This rebellion proved that the attitudes of the Armenians have never changed both before and after 1908.

Within the declaration submitted by the Tashnak Committee to 1910 Copenhagen Congress, phases such as “our activities are completely political and revolutionary. Our committee has its activities secretly at nights until 1908; exercises and armaments have been realized always at nights, committee members have tried not to be seen at around during daytimes. However, our activities go on apparently during daytime also at the sensitive regions of the Ottoman state nowadays. On the other side, we have well organized revolutionary guerillas at regions populated by Armenians”[11] manifests this reality. Committees such as Tashnak, H?nçak, Veragaz and some others, all of which proclaimed that they had given up their arms and tried to exercise a full effect on the Armenian community, started to get organized much more easily and open up branches all over the country as a result of the ambience of freedom. Within newspapers, books and magazines; they milled Ottoman-Turkish hostility and desired Armenian nationalism to be stimulated. Military and logistical trainings were held among the Armenians. Revolutionist teachers at schools taught hostility against the Turk in books which children were made read[12]. Armenian terrorist associations, which had turned to be nightmares of bipartisan Armenian community at Eastern Anatolia, were also ready to act in order to be fed by blood. Within 19 November 1910 report of Russian Consul at Bitlis, it was written that the Armenians, who did not act in accordance with the Tashnak committee’s orders, would be killed and these murders would be discharged on the Turks[13].

II. EASTERN ANATOLIAN PROGRAMS OF PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENTS

After the re-proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, the Party of Union and Progress started to look for ways in order to make principles such as freedom, equality and brotherhood, which were necessities of the Ottoman parliamentary system, applicable within the Eastern provinces in which especially Muslims and non-Muslims lived together (which happens to be the case in various places of Anatolia). It would not be so easy for the Young Turks, who had newly met political and governmental mechanisms, to make these different societies, which were pursuing hostile feelings among others, live together in brotherhood. Unique religious conservatism of the Eastern Anatolia would never adopt equality with non-Muslim components, which was a promise of the Ottoman parliamentary system. Moreover, Non-Muslim components have not had an effort such as being equal with the Muslims whom they found uncivilized when compared to themselves.

At Eastern provinces, where the Kurds and Armenians live together, the Ottoman parliamentary system was viewed anxiously by the Muslim components, on the other side; it was welcomed joyfully by the Armenians and other non-Muslim communities. Armenians have immediately recognized and owned the Ottoman parliamentary system that they view as a new opportunity in order to reach their dream of independent Armenia for which they had been struggling for a long time. By rebelling against the government at first opportunity due to the opportunities generated by the constitution, they aimed to gain an autonomous government and independency at the end as a result of a prospective intervention that would be held by Europe[14]. At the beginning, they took care of holding their activities more secretly and did not make the government realize them, by imitating as supporters of the Ottoman parliamentary system. The Armenians, by making use of this favorable ambiance, had a slander campaign started opposed to the Kurds leaving in the same region.

a. The Solution of Social Problems

Ottoman authorities started to organize some sets of regulations at Eastern Anatolia as an outcome of the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system. One of the reformist targets at Eastern Anatolia was to guarantee the recognition of the parliamentary system as the only authority by the community via neutralizing the effects of the powerful families and despotic landowners. Struggle against the privileged persons and groups at Eastern Anatolia and their destruction were among the responsibilities of the new Ottoman regime. Landowners, sheikhs, masters and tribe chiefs also existed within the Armenian and Nestorian communities, which were Eastern Christians. Problematic and hierarchical relations between the Kurdish landowners and ordinary peoples were also the case for the Armenian chiefs and ayans. For this reason, governments of this new regime had to pay attention not only on the feudal relations among the Muslims but also on that of among the non-Muslims.

The most mistreated part in the region was a mass of community called as ‘maraba’. The Muslim community, which did not have any tribal links, was under the oppression and exploitation of the masters and tribes. Not only the mass of Muslim community but also the non-Muslims and especially the Armenians, which were not connected to any revolutionary associations, were similarly under the oppression of their own chiefs. However, the Armenians were much luckier than the Kurds, since they had some institutions to appeal in order to discuss their problems when necessary. The association of Armenian representatives (murahhasahane) and patriarchate was closely dealing with their problems. They were able to make the foreign states know about their problems via these institutions. Direct protectorate of foreign countries over the Armenians forced the Ottoman parliamentary government to give priority to the problems of the Armenians rather than that of the Kurds in order to block these interventions accordingly[15].

The government was also trying not to be insensitive about social affairs of the Muslims. It was trying to cooperate with the local authorities within the region in order to hold radical reforms in a traditional manner which has accumulated for ages. However, equality, justice and liberty were not only too early for the Eastern communities to realize due to the conditions of the period but also a long lasting social program was being necessitated. By looking at the fact that this structure still prevails even at contemporary period, we can see how repressing and difficult the responsibility of the Party of Union and Progress. The tribal chiefs, landowners and some religious personalities, eventually, would not welcome their status being undermined. Reform in Eastern Anatolia meant for loss of impact of feudal fractions over the community, thus this would not be welcomed in a pleasant manner for sure. Suddenly, the local authorities that had not desired to loose their statuses became supporters of the Ottoman parliamentary system. Within the reports they declared to the government, they included pleasing information in accordance with such that the parliamentary system had given its fruits suddenly within the community and that the community has started to ignore the impact of tribal chiefs and landowners[16].

One of the first attempts of the governments of new regime to destroy the feudal structure within the Eastern provinces was the one against ?brahim Pasha, who had been the chief of Milli tribe, which was among the most powerful tribes in the region for a long time. This tribe, which was included within the Hamidiye troops, has caused anxiety and horror to be experienced at Diyarbak?r and region around by making irresponsibly use of opportunities and rights provided by the state. Although the state had disposed so much effort before the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system in order to destroy Ibrahim Pasha, it was the success of the parliamentary regime to end this problem once for all. Although The Party of Union and Progress could not break the existing social structure at once, it did notlet the emergence of new power circles in the region. Liberty atmosphere provided by the Ottoman parliamentary system was desired to be misused by the previous centers of power. The most apparent example of this was the struggle against Bedirhanl? tribe. As a matter of fact, the attempt of the Bedirhanl? family to redevelop old feudalism of Bedirhan Bey by through increasing their influences in the Eastern provinces (Cizre as centre) after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system[17], has had the priority among the issues with which the government had to deal immediately. Warnings made by the local administrations in accordance with Bedirhanl? attempt to undertake the influence discharged by Milli tribe chief ?brahim Pasha[18] were taken seriously and activities of Bedirhanl? tribe within the region were pursued critically. On the other side, especially religious authorities and the sheikhs had started to oppose against emergence of new power centers other than that of governmental authority and this was caused by concerns of classes, which thought that their interests had been threatened (not by the development of social consciousness due to the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system). Within their telegrams to the government, these religious authorities and sheikhs of Siirt region stated that the Bedirhanl? tribe and their father Bedirhan Bey had never been supported by the inhabitants of the region and that they had aimed to create a Kurdish problem[19].

Inability of the government to produce serious solutions for region’s social problems exacerbated the situation. The expectations of the community regarding the parliamentary system had not been satisfied. Territorial problems had not been overcome, essential attention had not been paid on education and activities of the Armenians within the region had not been prevented. All of these had increased the mistrust against Party of Union and Progress government. When gradually increasing Russian danger was added to this mistrust, ordinary peoples started to gravitate towards local power centers more. With this respect, Bedirhanl? tribe became a new source of hope for the community. They were also able to gain the confidence of Sincar Yezidi groups and the Kurdish landowners from ??rnak and Garzan[20].

Probably, the most important problem for the Party of Union and Progress was to provide the Muslims and non-Muslims living at the Eastern provinces with a reconciliation atmosphere. The government has tried to take care of this since the beginning. There are some significant indications about the success of the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system during its first two years at Eastern Anatolia. It has been thought that basic rights of everyone were protected through equality in front of law, treatments between Muslim and non-Muslim components were hold in accordance with neutrality principle and that these two policies ensured peace and order in the region. Accordingly, the dominant view in the region was that the prevalence of this attitude would result in better outcomes. In order to make this system more effective, local authorities should explain the benefits of the parliamentary system to the public and those disappointed ones should have been warmed up towards the statethorugh some presents and tips when necessary[21].

Defeats in the Balkan wars, Russian ambitions regarding the Straits and Eastern Anatolia and role of the Armenians within it have caused the old problems during Abdülhamid era to be resurfaced with the emergence of the Armenian reform as an agenda item. Numerous unquestioned problems, such as oppression of the Kurdish tribes on the Armenians, seizure by violence and murder, kidnapped girls, rapes, misuse of justice and forced changes of religion, came to the fore. Even at these years, when the Armenian associations increased their hostile attitudes, the government had tried to regulate relations between the Armenians and the Kurds and to ensure reconciliation among different communities living there. Some righteous Kurdish patriots, who tried to prevent the conflicts between the Armenians and the Kurds, in order to make others to view their interrelation as a model, were awarded[22].

b. The Settlement of the Territorial Disputes

One of the issues, with which the Party of Union of Progress dealt after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, was the territorial disputes between the Armenians and the Kurds. As known, some of the Armenians had immigrated to some other countries among which Russia had the priority after Sason Rebellion by signing a document stipulating that they would not return and selling their estates, goods and properties. One of the tests of the Ottoman parliamentary system, regarding the Armenian case, was recognition of the citizenships of the Armenians after they had turned back to the country and their allegations over estates and properties after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system. These territorial conflicts caused long lasting disturbances between old and new owners[23].

The Armenian Patriarch disposed great efforts for the immigrants in order to make them both gained their old estates and properties back and recognized as citizens by claiming that their immigration to Russia and the aforementioned documents were signed under compulsion. In fact, Armenians had either used some part of these estates without prior registration, or they had sold their registered estates without taking their real price into account while leaving the country. They blamed the Kurdish tribes for buying their estates with low prices or acquiring them by force. Besides this, they were planning to acquire new estates. They claimed that the lands with borders to their territories should have been given to them at the land distribution campaign that would be held by the government in order to make agriculturally inconvenient lands revitalized. If still unregistered, they claimed direct access to those places[24].

The Ottoman government had given the lands emptied by the Armenians to the Muslim immigrants in exchange of a document by the aid of the Commission of Settlement of the Immigrants (?skan-? Muhacirin Komisyonu) and the local administrations. This resulted in further disputes, the government accepted to pay cash for the territories, except for the ones occupied by the tribes, used by the Muslim inhabitants in order to please both the inhabitants and the Armenians. Regarding the Armenians’ estate and property trials, on the other hand, the registrations were investigated. However, no registrations were found proving that these estates belonged to the Armenians. The government advised the Armenians to follow their cases legally. Most of the people that Armenians had legally complained were members of local administrations. The continuous impact of these people on the local officers and the population triggered the Armenian objections. They manifested that they had not trusted the local courts.

The government referred these estate trials of the Armenians to the Ministry of Interior. The ministry started to work by demanding detailed reports regarding the issue from the provinces in which the estate disputes were prominent. In accordance with the reports, it was notified that, first of all, Mobile Delegation of Reconciliation Judges (Seyyar Hey’et-i Hakime-i Sulhiye), within which two tribal chiefs selected by governor or selected out of members of provincial court of first instance, an officer or instructor licensed by the taxation bureaus of the Land Registration Department (Tapu Sicil Muhaf?zl???), a minutes clerk and a clerk from the Land Registration Department would function, should have been established in order to get over the estate trials. It was stipulated that a court president or someone provincially selected out of the court of first instance would head this commission[25].

After negotiations and arguments had lasted for some time, the case was concluded by the explanatory document prepared by the Ministry of Interior. Accordingly, lands used by the immigrants placed there after the Armenians’ leave during Abdülhamid era was returned to their real owners as long as claimants showed reliable evidence, and the immigrants were shown other places. If the immigrant contributed something to the land by his own effort, cost of it was paid back to him as long as its cost was taken from the first owner. Furthermore, if any of the citizens within the region proved that his estate had been captured after the Sason rebellion, existing disposal documents and title deeds were being considered as null[26].

Attitudes of the government towards the estate cases resulted in intensive objections of deputies of the Eastern provinces. As an outcome of this case, a powerful reaction was generated against the Party of Union and Progress. However, the government that ignored those reactions chosen to apply the resolutions it adopted seriously, on the other hand, the Armenians had not found the resolutions adopted satisfactorily. For this reason, they called attentions of the European states on these resolutions on the one hand and tried to block the application of the resolution by lengthening the process and raising crisis on the other[27]. The estate trials showed that the actual problem of the Armenians was not economic. Another Armenian intention was to generate a gap between the Kurds and the state and as well as between the local administrations and the central government. This was the only way for them to build a ground for external intervention.

These resolutions adopted by the state regarding the estate cases evoked anger among the inhabitants and the tribes. Having lands, which they have been cropping and harvesting for 17-18 years, taken away suddenly was an economic blow as well as it offended their proud. Intense revenge and anger feelings among most of the aggrieved ones blistered day by day against the Party of Union and Progress. Some of them left the Ottoman territories and started to expect aid from Russia by taking refuge in Iranian territories which were under influence of Russia.

This attitude of the government has so much spoilt the Armenians that they started not to pay crop tax (a?ar) to the Kurdish tax collectors (iltizam) for their villages in following days. Besides, they caused numerous events to take place in some various places by attacking collectors who came to collect tax. This kind of local reactions resulted in nothing but escalation of the existing tension between the Kurds and the Armenians[28]. Although how to settle the estate dispute had been concluded by the state, its application was not so easy. This issue not only continued to be a significant problem for the Party of Union of Progress in the following years but it also could not stop continuation of the Armenians’ grievances under the protection of European states.

c. The Reformation of The Hamidiye Troops

Hamidiye troops, which were founded in order not only to maintain security of frontier tribes at Abdülhamid era but also to take the tribes under the control of state and to prevent harmful activities of the Armenian associations at the Eastern provinces, had always been criticized by the Young Turks. These troops, which had provided undeniable services for depriving revolutionist Armenians of reaching their targets, were continuously depicted as a matter of complaintby the Armenians before and after the Ottoman parliamentary system. These troops, which were devoted to Abdülhamid by heart, were seen as a subject of threat both by the Part of Union and Progress government and the revolutionist Armenians since the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system. For this reason, the government found it principally adequate to have these troops gradually disintegrated and to decrease their possible reactions to the reforms, which it wanted to hold within the region.

By acting in accordance with this purpose, the government had completed new organizational framework of the Hamidiye troops by 1910. Established commissions, by examining registration records of the troops, made ones whose military service age had come registered; made troops have their horses examined, gave new positions to notables of the tribe and name of these troops was changed as Tribe Troops (A?iret Alaylar?). By giving new flags and charters, it was tried to have them devoted to the new regime’s government[29]. However, these regulations were not enough to make negative impressions about the troops disappeared. Later, these forces, which were composed of 64 troops, reduced to 23-24 troops. However, the issue was extremely vulnerable. The tribes, which were kept outside or were not happy with the new regulations, might have constituted an element of threat. External agents might have stimulated a Kurdish attack against the Armenians by unfolding the old issues. The slightest stir was already enough for the Armenians to squall. Indeed, some of the Tribe Troops’ officers had a meeting in some villages of Bulan?k and Mu? in order to request modification of the decisions of the Commission of Order (Tensik Komisyonu) regarding “not to wear military clothes except duty times”[30]. The Armenians, who had learnt about this meeting and wanted to misuse it, made their local authorities awake. Theycame to the central office of the Party of Union and Progress and stated that the Kurdish chiefs had adopted resolutions, by meeting at various villages of Bulan?k and Mu?, against the Armenians and warned the government by claiming that the tribe chiefs Kurd Musa* and his brother Kas?m Bey had also participated in these meetings[31]. However, researches showed that the Kurds had not met against the Armenians and also that Kurd Musa and Kas?m Bey had not participated in those meetings[32]. The government did not neglect to adopt precautions in order to avoid the reforms regarding the tribe troops, which government tried to hold, from being sabotaged by the Armenians. Before the application of new arrangements, it had been decided that active and skillful commanders should have been appointed for each troop and deployment of infantry troops within regions, where these troops took place, was suggested[33]. Extension of these new regulations triggered disturbances among the tribes. Propaganda, concerning that the troops would be wiped made by the opponents of the Party of Union and Progress, manifested its impacts immediately and signs of disobedience and indiscipline were experienced[34]. Some part of the troops was kept out of staff by these new regulations. The government had taken care of connecting the most important tribe chiefs during this process to itself and worked for provision of the devotion of the tribes, which were inclined towards Russia. Some part of Zilanl? and Celali Tribes, as they were living in regions dominated by Russia and Iran, were included within these new arrangements[35].

The Tribe Troops, which were kept out of staff, were destitute of whole privileges they used to have. They protested the government by arranging various meetings. The government authorities were worried seriously as this attitude had been manifested by the tribes near to the Russian border[36]. In order to wipe the reactions intensified among the tribes at Karakilise, Van, Bitlis, Erci? and Beyaz?t regions, influential local religious authorities were made use of by the government in order to have these tribes advised by them.

Although the Party of Union and Progress, as it promised, reordered the Hamidiye Troops after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system; it could neither please the troops nor the Armenians who has been viewing the Tribe Troops as an element of threat against themselves and has been working for a long time to make them wiped. The troops’ reformation issue lengthened till the years after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system. At years, when the Armenian terror associations fronted against the Party of Union and Progress apparently and Russian threat grew up gradually, it is possible to say that the Party of Union and Progress, who realized the seriousness of the threat, could not wipe the troops out as a whole and delayed their disintegration. How much adequate this attitude was can be seen apparently when attention paid on the role of tribe troops while they were defending the country during the First World War.

III. THE PROPAGANDA AGAINST THE PROCLAMATION OF THE OTTOMAN PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM WITHIN THE REGION 

Armenians, who tried to abuse liberty, justice and equity slogans that became popular after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, had played the role of a privileged class within the Ottoman Empire. They started to demand that the equity principle of the Ottoman parliamentary administration should have been applied as soon as possible; Armenian officers should have been employed within governmental bureaus of Eastern provinces, murder and smuggling criminals should have been delivered to justice and judged justly, tribe chiefs and landowners should have been prevented from exhibiting attitudes that would offence villagers’ proud, Hamidiye troops’ members should not have been allowed to walk with their guns at villages and towns and conversion to Islam (ihtida) events should have been blocked. Armenians, who complaint about the local officers who were not pro-Armenian, not only pressed on the government regarding the issue of appointment of such people to other regions but also, , wanted to have the tribes loyal to the government deported. In order to get revenge of the past, they were trying to show the slightest activity of both government and tribes at Eastern Anatolia as if it had been a plot organized against them. Also the Party of Union and Progress shrank so much from the grievances of the Armenians that it interpreted any unpleasantness occurred at Eastern provinces as “game of sinister Armenians who try to invent complaints against the Kurds”.

The Armenians, who achieved psychological primacy at Eastern provinces after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system when compared to the Kurds, initiated a war of propaganda against the Kurdish religious authorities and notables. By showing the Kurds as if they had been the enemies of the Ottoman parliamentary system and criminal from state’s point of view, they tried to train inhabitants by governmental means and wipe obstacles on the way of independence by this way. It has been known that a significant opposition against the Party of Union and Progress starting from 1910s had been generated and that armed guerillas had emerged. From time to time, some of these groups tried to gather supporters through propaganda activities with the abuse of religion. These groups, which claimed that the government had been composed of atheists and masons, called the Kurds for an armed rebellion.

One of the names on the list of the Armenians, who made plot plans not only in order to get revenge from the ones that tried to prevent the activities of the Armenian committees at Abdülhamid era but also to have them removed from the region, was ?akir A?a, the chief of Giradi tribe. His nephew, Mir Muhiy, founded a guerilla band by protesting the coalescence between the government and the Armenians after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system and ran up the rebellion flag with hostility and revenge feelings. Firstly, he had killed 7 people at around Nürdüz and martyred two gendarmeries and one officer by struggling with the detachment that had been forwarded to follow him up. By the aid of Russian and Iranian officers, he had robbed a caravan at around Hamidiye and Nürdüz, and slaughtered a Nastorian and an Armenian[37]. After this event, ?itak Armenians, by applying the government, demanded for punishment of Mir Muhiy and his fellows and for removal of ?akir A?a from the region by claiming that he had helped and hided the guerillas[38]. The Armenians, by proposing that this was the requirement of the parliamentary governance, stated that all Armenians would emigrate if ?akir A?a were not removed[39]. ?akir A?a, who had worked against the activities of the Armenian committees on behalf of the state in Abdülhamid era and had maintained this devotion to the new regime founded after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, was a powerful and respectful tribe chief. Moreover, he was guiding and helping the military detachments established for the elimination of the guerilla bands around Nurdüz and ?itak regions. For this reason, these demands of the Armenians were kept waiting for some time. However after a while, 30 people (headed by Ahtamar Cathogigos) from the ?itak Armenians came to Van and spotlighted that the Armenians were oppressed by Mir Muhiy and this situation generated disturbances at ?itak and, by proposing that Mir Muhiy was encouraged by ?akir A?a, that Mir Muhiy should have been penalized. Upon these pressures, the government had to start judicial research about ?akir A?a[40]. Mir Muhiy, who had learnt about these complaints of the Armenians, attacked ?itak and Nurdüz regions with his fellows. Since the gendarmerie power was not sufficient in the region, one group out of cavalry troops constituted by ?eydan tribe, by paying attention on its eternal hostility with Mir Muhiy, was armed[41]. Besides military arrangements, in order to prevent impetuosity of tribes at the region, ?eyh Mehmet S?dd?k Efendi was employed to advice the tribes; as a result positive outcomes were achieved among the tribes[42]. Although military detachment had been activated, it had been ambushed by guerrilla bands at Zir River and its supplies and weapons had been seized by the guerrilla. While the Muslim officers within the military detachment were being set free, two private soldiers who was determined to be Armenian were released after being tortured[43]; this situation is important that it confirms that the main target of the guerrillas were the Armenians. The case has been concluded as Mir Muhiy’s was murdered[44] by Kurt Bey (from his tribe) after some time.

Attitude of the Party of Union and Progress towards the Armenians had caused some of the inhabitants of the region to oppose to the government. The estate cases played an important role for the deterioration of social relations at Eastern Anatolia.

Those, who were mistreated by the government’s attitude regarding the estate trials, have started to hold activities against the Party of Union and Progress since 1910. One of these is Said, who is the son of Eyüphan from famous Bedirhanl? family. According to a letter written by him, it is understood that he was protesting the Party of Union and Progress government for collaborating with the Armenians and expressing that the liberty promised by the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system was only for the Armenians. Said, who claimed that the partnership with the Christians on the Ottoman property was against Islamic laws (?eriat), and this was unacceptable for the Muslims; believed that he had no option other than and armed rebellion. The most efficient method, in order to make the tribes rebel, was abuse of religious feelings. Those distributed declarations have deepened the mistrust among the Eastern tribes, which had strong religious feelings, towards the government. Said, in order to be able to pass Iran when necessary and have the support of the Iranian and Russian authorities, has held intensive campaigns against the Ottoman cavalry troops at around province Van. One of his fellows caught had a letter with him and Said writes there “…a telegram reached us ordering the pronunciation of the names of Enver and Niyazi in place of the rightly guarded caliphs. The people refused it. For now, silence…”[45] The possibility of the calls, welcomed by Haydaranl?, Takori, ?emsiki and Hasenanl? tribes, to cause a Kurdish rebellion has worried the government. Military precautions were adopted in Mahmudi province, where the threat of rebellion was the case. It was taken care of that the troops which would be directed against Said were chosen not among the Kurds, which respected Said. It was principally decided that the some polices, who were unknown to the people and who dressed accordingly, should have been employed, legal research about the ones that helped and hided Said should have been held, and that those tribes who did not support this rebellion should have been rewarded[46]. Although the government spotlighted its mercy, Said, who viewed most of the judges and officers as Armenian supporters, did not surrender[47]. Said’s reaction against the Armenians increased when he learnt that they damaged his fields, goods and properties. When he realized that he was not able to punish the Armenians via the government, he tended towards the Armenian authorities. In his letter of complaint to the Van Armenian Delegation Assembly, he threatened by expressing that he would kill one Armenian for each of his fields if they went on performing in same way[48].

The delegation, which principally used to use these kinds of cases as trump, by declaring the case to the patriarchate, proposed that the Armenians had been attacked by the Kurds, the churches had been fired and the metropolit had been assassinated. It demanded from the government to stop the Kurdish oppression[49]. Said’s attitude towards the Armenians was also announced by the Petersburg Telegram Agency and the Kurdish oppression on the Armenians was declared to the world public opinion[50]. The claims regarding the murder of the metropolit and the firing of the churches have been realized to be untrue by the research of the Ministry of Interior[51]. Said, who escaped to the Iranian lands as a result of the government’s military precautions, by accepting the protection of Bedirhanl? Abdürrezzak, who dreamed of founding a Kurdish state by the support of Russians, was made use of against the Ottoman Armenians by the Russian councils and the secret agents[52].

Bedirhanl? Abdürrezzak had been involved in the murder of former mayor R?dvan Pa?a before the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system and had been exiled to Tripoli. Although he had been forgiven after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, he started to oppose the Party of Union and Progress after some time. At that time, he had escaped to Russia by the help of Russian envoy and, as a result of Russian instructions; he had started activities at South Azerbaijan regions inhabited by the Kurds. Abdurrezzak, who said “Know that, by the abandonment of an Islamic state against which cruel operations are observed, being sheltered by another state, even if it is not Islamic, is agreeable according to the Islamic law” [53] and blamed the ones governing the Ottoman state for being atheist and infidel, was inviting the Kurdish landowners and tribe chiefs to “struggle against the infidel representatives, who had betrayed Islam, by their wares and souls”. He was attracting those who opposed the Party of Union and Progress by the aid of his religious speeches. He used these groups, which he had organized together with the Russian consuls, against the Ottoman state. Çerkov, the consul of Hoy, encouraged the Kurdish rebels under his protection to invade the villages by stating that “On the Ottoman territory, kill the Armenian, Muslim, Nestorian, officer, official, whoever he is and fire and destroy. Only by this way can the Kurdish state emerge”[54]. To conclude, Said had been used by the Russians until he was murdered by one of his fellows at 1914 summer.

d. The Precautions Taken by the Government

Among the governmental precautions for the prevention of the propaganda against Party of Union and Progress advisory commissions have the priority. This time, the government had replied the tribes and the people with some activities that would satisfy their religious feelings. Effective commissions had been established in order to advice the regions with intensive propagandas and the tribes whose disobedience was experienced. Most of the ones selected for these commissions had important roles in the social life of the inhabitants of Eastern Anatolia. Nak?ibendi sheiks, because of their popularity among the Kurds, were being assigned. These people were extremely respected within the community. By paying attention on the conditions of the period, the advices of these commissions were about following issues:

- To encourage the Kurds for worship.
- Not to violate the rights of the others and refrain from lying.
- To pay attention on marriage and divorcement issues.
- To obey the government.
- To remove the hostilities between the tribes and the non-Muslim inhabitants of the region
- Not to pay attention to the external provocations and inducements.
- To inform about the necessity regarding Islamic manner of respecting the rights of non-Muslim neighbors and citizens and the importance of taking care of their rights more than theirs.
- To enlighten the community about the divine origin of the Ottoman parliamentary system and its legitimacy and its being the guarantor of the national progress[55].

Besides religious duties, also the advices regarding the reconciliation among the non-Muslims and the respect to the reciprocal rights were quite significant. It had been targeted to remove the sufferings of the community by the advices in accordance with that the Ottoman parliamentary system was not against Islam, in fact, it was a requirement of Islam. Telling the preachers forwarded to the tribes to preach in accordance with increasing tribes’ devotion to the government and to get on well especially with the Armenians are among the persistently highlighted issues[56].

It had been concluded that military precautions at Eastern provinces should have been increased, the police stations should have been established at critical locations and they should have become widespread, the committees should have been forwarded to the regions for the solution of the unconcluded estate trials, the officials that would be appointed to the Eastern provinces should have been selected from those knowing about the local structure and attention should have been paid on administering non-Muslim citizens with equality and the operations regarding the regulation and the reformation of the Tribe Troops that caused the Armenian complaints should have been implemented. Furthermore, in order to avoid girls’ kidnapping, which resulted in Armenian complaints, it had been decided to increase the legal penalty of this crime. In order to avoid religion conversion trials, at least in order to avoid the Armenians complaints about this issue, conversion age was raised to 20 from 15 and for the Armenians, who chose Islam, in order to have the conversion operation realized, the requirement to have their identity cards and domicile documents with them had been necessitated[57].

IV. THE REACTIONS AGAINST THE OTTOMAN PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM – THE ARMENIAN REFORMATION – THE REBELLIONS

The Ottoman parliamentary system’s loss of large territories during the Tripoli and Balkan Wars has encouraged the independence movements of some elements of the Ottoman society. The separatist activities, which have been executed secretly by the components that seemed to be devoted to being Ottoman up to that time, started to surface. For the first time, the Tashnaks, within their newspapers, started to provoke the Armenian soldiers at the Ottoman army for deserting the army. The H?nçak Congress, met at Constanta, mentioned within their protocol that the Party of Union and Progress administration had not been so much different from the previous Ottoman administration and the party had been protecting the Turkish bureaucracy[58]. The Armenian associations, by taking the Balkan Wars as opportunity, has united by leaving the disputes among them aside and forwarded committees, by inventing the problem of Eastern provinces reformation, to the European centers[59]. Upon the unexpected defeat of the Ottoman armies at the Balkan War, the armistice was signed on 3 December 1912 and the Conference of Ambassadors was convened in London on 17 December as for making the preparatory work of the prospective peace treaty. In accordance with the resolution adopted by the Armenians at the conference in Tbilisi on 7 October 1912, Bogos Nubar Pa?a, who worked for the Armenians’ independence, has carried the Armenian reformation to international level by participating in the Conference of the Ambassadors met in London on 17 December 1912[60].

The idea of retrieving independence and of being separated from the Ottoman state was much stronger than any time before. The Armenians, on the one hand, was attracting the attention of the Western states towards this way and, on the other, believed that Russia would come soon and occupy Van, Bitlis and Erzurum. In order to accelerate this, they were in pursuit of organizing rebellions that would set the background for such an intervention. For this purpose, they were working in order to be able to make the Kurds attack on them. Conservative and religious segments, as they did not trust the Party of Union and Progress government that they have always viewed suspiciously, has started to be clamped together around the powerful authorities of the region as a result of the Armenian effusiveness and the Russian threat. Within the report, dated 24 December 1912, forwarded by the Russian consul in Bitlis to the Russian ambassador in Istanbul, it has been expressed that “As the disturbance among the Muslims are growing, the Armenians are busy with planning to share the properties and estates of the Muslims that will leave the region after the Russian occupation”[61]. The Tashnak Committee played a vital role at such activities of the Armenians. It was trying to generate conflicts between the Armenians and Muslims and, by making use of an event that was likely to happen at around Bitlis, which was one of the places in which the Armenian reactions against the system had intensified, would ensure the Russian intervention and the occupation of Russian forces. The Armenian H?nçak and Sahamanas Taragan committees have also intensified their preparations for a rebellion at Bitlis. They have started to organize small-scaled attacks on the Kurds by forming armed guerillas. These committees were forcing the inhabitants for changing their nationalities. Hundreds of nationality conversion applications with seals and signatures, organized by the committees via justifying that they were subject to the Kurdish cruelty, to the Russian Consulate in Bitlis took place[62].

In 1913, when the Armenian reformation case constituted one of the most vital current agenda items of the international bureaucracy, the Western states, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other, have started to submit reformation projects. The reformation arguments were prolonged as a result of the German intervention, besides Russia and Britain, in accordance with its own interests. As a result, the reflection of the reformation proposals, which were negotiated among these states, has gradually increased the tensions against the government at the Eastern provinces.

On 30 June 1913, as a result of Russian suggestion and the positive attitude of France, a Conference of Ambassadors was convened in order to negotiate the Eastern Anatolian reformation. The reform proposal was prepared by the chief translator of the Russian Embassy, Mandelstam, as “based upon 1895 Armenian reformation and 1880 Draft Laws on the European Provinces of the Empire”. The Ottoman government also submitted its own reform proposal to the commission. Eastern Anatolian Reformation Commission, which met again on 3 July 1913, decided the Russian project to be adopted. As an outcome of the German representative’s intervention, an agreement could not be achieved. On 23 September 1913, as a result of the German and Russian representatives’ agreement, a common project of reformation was agreed on. According to this agreement, Eastern Anatolian provinces would be divided into two segments; among those who were advised by the Great Powers a general inspector would be appointed by the Ottoman government for five years; the judges and officials appointed by them would be submitted to the approval of the Sultan; an assembly to be constituted by Muslim and non-Muslim members with equal number of representatives would be established and the Great Powers would be given the right to inspect the reformation process[63]. Within the framework of these principals, Russian and German ambassadors started to negotiate with the Ottoman government. Although, by objecting to the project, the Ottoman government searched for the support of the England and France, it could not obtain a satisfying reply from these countries that recognized the Russian-German project. The Ottoman government approved this project on 8 February with some slight changes at the end. Furthermore, disintegration of the Hamidiye troops, usage of local languages and the proportional election of the members (nisbi aza) for the administrative assemblies were included within the accepted reformations[64].

These processes meant for the Muslims in the Ottoman Empire an opportunity for the Armenians to establish their own independent states. Hostility and hatred, evolved against the Party of Union and Progress, reached its peak. These developments, which happened to be intolerable for the Muslim Kurdish community, have activated the Russian Consulate that was looking forward to start the Kurdish-Armenian conflict. The consul, by suggesting that the Ottoman government tolerated the Armenians and neglected the Muslims, has induced the Kurds to rebel[65]. Actually, the target of the Russians was not making the Armenians achieve their independence but reaching the Mediterranean Sea over Alexandria Gulf by dominating the region. Even though the regions inhabited by the Armenians could not be made integrated directly to Russia, an autonomous Armenia, which would be founded by the Russian power, would make Russian ambitions much easier to be achieved. According to the German ambassador in Istanbul, the country, which caused the Armenian demands to grow, was Russia[66]. The politics of Russia, since 1910, was really within this framework. The most apparent proof of this was that, on one hand, Russia encouraged the Armenians to achieve their independence, whereas on the other hand, she promised Kurdish rebels for establishing Kurdistan. Actually, Russians concerned neither Armenians nor Kurds in a real sense. It was “Armenia without the Armenians” desire and proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Labonovrostovski, which was summarizing whole Russian effort[67].

V. BITLIS REBELLION / MOLLA SELIM REBELLION
 
The most serious reaction against the developments after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system and especially against the Armenian reformation was from Bitlis and its environs, the regions in which religion and tribes were the most effective. The gradually increasing anxiety and hostility among the Muslim community, which we mentioned above, has activated Molla Selim who had power at the center of Bitlis and at Hizan.

Molla Selim, who contacted tribe chiefs, landowners and religious authorities, by coming to Istanbul at 1913, when the Armenian reformation was experiencing its most intense times within the international diplomacy, had closely followed the developments at governmental center. He turned back to Bitlis after he had made long lasted negotiations in Istanbul with the son of Ubeydullah, (who was a powerful sheikh at Hakkari and around) Seyyid Abdulkadir, who was also among the prominent notables among the Kurds who opposed the Party of Union and Progress[68]. Although he had applied Said Nursi, who was in Istanbul at these times, and asked for help, he was not replied positively. Said Nursi told about this demand in his work ?ualar later on as: “Just before the World War I, when I was in Van, some religious and faithful people came and told that, “some commanders are atheist, come and accompany us, we will rebel against these chiefs”. I also said that,” their atheism and atrocities are for themselves; the army cannot be accounted by this. This Ottoman army has, may be, a hundred thousand of Muslim saints. I do not use my sword against this army and I don’t join you”.

Sheikh Selim has been supported by some tribes especially from centre of Bitlis and from Hizan. Although the tribes of the province of Van had been called by the other leaders of the rebellion, Seyyid Ali*, his brother Sheikh ?ehabettin and the other sheikhs, full participation could not been achieved[69].

Some researchers have claimed that the Armenians also participated in the rebel. There are existing allegations regarding that Molla Selim had established close relations in 1913 with the prominent representatives of the Armenian movement, even applied the Armenian patriarch by a letter and informed about “the rebels were only against the Young Turks” and that he had wanted the Armenians to support the rebellion. It was also argued that the Armenians had supported the Kurds at the rebellion[70]. It is proposed that only Seyyid Ali had accepted the partnership of the Armenians and the Kurds during the rebellion preparations, requested the Tashnaks to have a negotiation and forwarded Molla Selim to the Surp Garabet monastery near Mu?. Accordingly, Molla Selim had negotiated with the priest Vartan Vartabet, who was the member of the Daron Tashnak Central Committee, and the Kurdish-Armenian partnership had been realized[71].

These preparations of the Kurds, which had evolved against the government, were being closely followed by the authorities. Local administrators sent an advisory commission constituted by the clergies and notables to Molla Selim in order to convince him by giving him some privileges[72]. On the other hand, it had not been neglected to take military precautions[73]. In spite of the precautions taken, the rebellion erupted, which was headed by Molla Selim, Seyyid Ali and Sheikh ?ehabettin, had been oppressed in a short time due to the readiness of the military forces and thanks to their immediate action. Although the rebels had managed to occupy some part of Bitlis, the rebellion was oppressed in a short time as a result of the arrival military forces at the city.

It has been known that the Armenians supported the Ottoman army against the rebels during Bitlis rebellion. The Azadamart newspaper has written that[74]: During the first Kurdish attack to Bitlis, several Armenian soldiers went forward by saying “we are the bodyguards and will stand at the front”. Upon one Turkish sergeant’s following them, the condition strengthened the morale of the soldiers and they protected this bodyguard detachment against the two sides of the butchers till the end and four Armenian soldiers were killed during the conflict.

Some of the researchers claim that a volunteer Armenian group was organized during the rebellion and that, by making use of the rebellion, these took their revenges from the ones that had tortured the Armenians[75]; and also that ?hsan Pa?a, who had been appointed for suppressing the rebellion, applied Mu? Armenian leader and demanded for an organization of an armed detachment in order to participate in the incursion against the Kurds[76].

After the rebellion had been suppressed, some of the rebels, who escaped to the outside of the city by groups, were taken under the military pursuance whereas some others was caught and executed by martial courts (Divan-? Harp) constituted in Bitlis. The execution of Seyyid Ali, who was liked and respected by the community, has caused agitation among the community and this tension was kept for a long time after the execution[77]. Some of the rebels, whose crimes had been approved, were exiled to Medina and, by allocating them a reasonable amount of daily allowance, the Medina Protectorate was notified to take care of their protection[78]. After the rebellion had been suppressed, the government unseated some state officials, who abused their tasks; and tried to warm Kurds’ hearts up towards the government via money and various gifts[79]. The notables of the region, who supported the military forces by not failing to be devoted to the government during the suppression of the rebellion, were complimented by various marks and gifts[80]. The chief of the rebellion, Molla Selim, has sheltered the Russian consulate. The government tried hard in order to take Molla Selim back from the Russian consulate. It had requested legal investigations regarding that whether he had participated in the Armenian case, murdered someone or involved in seizure by violence[81]. Gossips regarding that Molla Selim deserted from the consulate had been circulated. However, Molla Selim could not be taken back despite whole efforts[82].

Molla Selim’s sheltering in the Russian Consulate showed that Russia had a role in the emergence of the rebellion. Indeed, it has been known that Russia was trying to generate chaos and rebellions by provoking the Kurds and the Armenians at Eastern Anatolia since 1912. This attitude of the Russians, which became apparent by this rebellion, found repercussions all over the world. At this period, the perception (dominating within the European public opinion) that the Kurds tortured the Armenians and the Ottoman state behaved yieldingly regarding the Armenian reformation issue has started to get lost. The Svenska Dagbilet bulletin, which was published in Stockholm just after the rebellion and known for its Ottoman opposition, must have reflected the regional reality of the Swedish general inspector appointed to the region on its government because it wrote as “Ottoman state aims to reform the Kurds, who are used to live lawlessly and Russia tries to prevent this”[83]. 

The reflection of the Kurdish rebellion at Bitlis on the Turkish and world public opinion has benefited the Armenians so much at this period. The Armenians, by reactivating, has gone on with their complaints regarding that they had been subjected to the Kurdish cruelty[84]. However, the rebellion protected its characteristic of being carried to political platforms. Indeed, it had been brought in front of the Turkish representatives while Musul issue was being negotiated at Lausanne.  Lord Curzon had pointed out to Bitlis rebellion as an indicator of that the Kurds were not happy with Turkish administration[85].

CONCLUSION

Within the works regarding the Armenian question; while the emergence of this problem, its abuse by the foreign states, activities of the Armenian committees and the rebellions they had initiated were not mentioned, the international community focused on the relocation. When the Armenian question is viewed as a whole, it can seen that the attitude of the Party of Union and Progress towards the Armenians and the Armenian question before and after the first years of the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system is eventually different from its attitude at the years at which the World War I started; and the reasons caused the relocation were significant. For a better understanding of the attitude of the Armenians at the process during which their disloyalty (which resulted in relocation) against the Ottoman state was at peak, the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system years, expectations of the non-Muslims in general and that of the Armenians in particular, their preparations for independence, the political maneuvers of the Party of Union and Progress up to and before the Balkan wars and the years between 1912-1914 during which the fate of East Anatolia was determined has to be investigated well. The union of components (ittihad-? anas?r), which were seen as a salvation recipe together with the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, had been realized to be a utopia in a short time and it has been known that it had been persistently pursued by the Party of Union and Progress because of the non-existence of another option. This is why the government provided the non-Muslim components, which had a strong desire for independence, with privileges beyond the equality.

The proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system had been viewed as the incorporation of the Armenians within the state governance and preparations for the independent Armenia in following years by the Muslim inhabitants of Eastern Anatolia, when the Armenian reformation gained an international dimension. The attempts of the Armenians in order to wipe the obstacles on the way to the independence of the Armenians and to the transformation of Eastern provinces into an Armenian country had caused the Muslim inhabitants’ reactions. The attempts of Russia, which made the Straits and Eastern provinces as targets of its external policy, to use the Armenians and some part of the unpleasant Kurds as a tool in order to realize these targets, raised the tension at Eastern Anatolia. Bitlis rebellion raised by the Kurds and the rebellions, which were raised by the Armenians at the beginning of the First World War in various parts of Anatolia, are the outcomes of this tension.


[1] Assoc. Prof. Dr., 19 May?s University, Ordu Faculty of Science and Letters, Department of History
[2] Tar?k Zafer Tunaya, Türkiye’de Siyasal Partiler, (Istanbul: 1984), p. 21; Sina Ak?in, Jöntürkler ve ?ttihat ve Terakki, (?stanbul: 1987), p. 57.
[3] Ak?in, op.cit., p. 47-48.
[4] Tunaya, op.cit., p. 21-22; Ak?in, op.cit., p.  60-63.
[5] Ak?in, op. cit., pp.65-68.
[6] Mehmet Kas?m, Talat Pa?an?n An?lar?, (?stanbul: 1986), p. 59.
[7] ?smet Parmaks?z, Ermeni Komitelerinin ?htilal Hareketleri ve Besledikleri Emeller, (Ankara: 1981), pp. 33-34.
[8] Garo Sasuni, Kürt Ulusal Hareketleri ve 15. Yüzy?ldan Günümüze Ermeni-Kürt ?li?kileri, translated by Bedros Zartaryan-Memo Yetkin, (?stanbul: 1992), p. 143.
[9] Sasuni, op. cit.., p.145-146.
[10] Y?lmaz Öztuna, “Ermeni Sorununun Olu?tu?u Siyasal Ortam”, Osmanl?’n?n Son Döneminde Ermeniler, (Ankara: 2002), p.58. Talat and Cemal Pashas (among the most influential names of the Union of Progress Party), who tried to please Westerns and executed Muslim Turkish community for this purpose and thought that they would stop the revolutionary movements of the Armenians by pulling them into the legitimate political environment, would later loose their lives one day in a foreign country with Armenian bullets.  
[11] Dikran Kevorkyan, “Ermeni Meselesinde Tehcire Amil Olan Sebepler”, Tarih Boyunca Türklerin Ermeni Toplumu ?le ?li?kileri Sempozyumu, (Ankara: 1985), p.299; Belgelerle Ermeni Sorunu, Gnkur. Bas?mevi, (Ankara: 1983), p.152.
[12] Parmaks?z, op. cit, p.35-42.
[13] Belgelerle Ermeni Sorunu, op.cit., p.152.
[14]Kas?m op.cit., p.24.
[15] Ba?bakanl?k Osmanl? Ar?ivleri (BOA), Dahiliye (DH), Siyasi (SYS), 23-1, Lef 135-146. Bitlis Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 15 Mart 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 15 March 1911 sent from Bitlis Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[16] BOA, DH. SYS., 23/1, Lef 112/2-4. Erzurum Vilayeti’nin 1 Mart 1911 Tarihli Mütalaa. (Opinion about Erzurum Province dated 1 March 1911).
[17] BOA, DH. SYS., 24/2-1, Lef 11-12.Diyarbak?r Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 1 Mart 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat; (Official letter dated 1 March 1911 sent from Erzurum province to the Ministry of Interior) BOA, DH. SYS., 24/2-2, Lef 48. Kürdistan Muhabirinden “Gayet Ehemmiyetli Bir Mektup” Ba?l???yla Siirt’ten Gönderilen Mehmet ?mzal? 28 May?s 1911 Tarihli Bend. (The Document dated 28 May 1911 signed by Mehmet and sent by the Reporter of Kurdistan titled  “Quite Important Letter” from Siirt).
[18] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-2, Lef 54. Mamuret-el Aziz Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 1 A?ustos 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 1 August 1911 sent from Mamuret-el Aziz province to the Ministry of Interior).
[19] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-4, Lef 47-49. Bitlis Vali Vekili Ulvi’nin 9 ?ubat 1912 Tarihli Telgrafnamesi (Telegram of Bitlis Deputy -Governor dated 9 February 1912).
[20] BOA, DH.SYS., 100/4, Lef 61. Diyarbak?r Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 19 Ocak 1913 Tarihli ?ifretelgrafname (Cyphered telegram dated 19 January 1913 sent from Diyarbak?r Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[21] BOA, DH.SYS., 23-1, Lef 135-146. Bitlis Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 15 Mart 1911 Tarihli Mütalaa. (Opinion from  Bitlis Province to The Ministry of Interior dated  15 March 1911).
[22] BOA. Bab-? Ali Evrak Odas? (BEO), 314602. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Sadarete Gönderilen 10 Temmuz 1913 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 10 July 1913 sent by the Ministry of Interior to the Prime Ministry).
[23] BOA, DH.SYS., 23-1/Lef 130-134. Bitlis Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 22 Kas?m 1910 Tarihli Rapor. (Report dated 22 November 1910 sent from Bitlis Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[24] Cezmi Eraslan, ‘I. Sasun ?syan? Sonras?nda Osmanl? Devleti’nin Kar??la?t??? Problemler’, (Kafkas Ara?t?rmalar? II, ?stanbul 1996, pp. 88-90).
[25] BOA, DH.SYS, 23-1/Lef 120-129. Bitlis Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 8 Kas?m 1910 Tarihli Rapor. (Report dated 8 November 1910 sent from Bitlis Province to the Ministry of Interior). Within the report, a proposal with 22 paragraphs was submitted in order to solve the estate trials.
[26] Eraslan, op. cit., p.92.
[27]Kas?m, op.cit., p. 65-66.
[28] BOA, BEO., 309426. Sadaretten Adliye, Mezahip ve Hariciye Nezaretlerine Gönderilen 21 Aral?k 1912 Tarihli Tahrirat.  (Official letter dated 21 December 1912 sent from the Prime Ministry to the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Religious Sects.)
[29] Bayram Kodaman, Sultan II. Abdülhamid Devri Do?u Anadolu Politikas?, (Ankara: 1987), p.62-62.
[30] BOA, DH.SYS., 71/1, Lef 2. Bitlis Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 2 Nisan 1911 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 2 April 1911 sent from Bitlis Province to the Ministry of Interior).
* Kurd Musa Bey, who prevented the activities of a priest called Bogos Natyan that aimed to make the Armenians rebel at Mu? and around, was slandered by the Armenians of Bitlis region between 1889-1890 and was introduced as an Armenian enemy by various newspapers and institutions abroad. Government made this issue that was misused enough by foreign states ended by deporting Musa Bey to Medina. Musa Bey, who turned back to Bitlis after the proclamation of the Ottoman parliamentary system, could not rescue from being the target of the Armenians once more. For detailed information about Musa Bey event see., Fatih Ünal, “Ermeni Olaylar?ndan Bir Safha;Kürt Musa Bey Olay?”, (Kafkas Ara?t?rmalar? II, ?stanbul, 1996, p.51-64).
[31]BOA, DH.SYS, 71/1, Lef 9. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 27 Mart 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. . (Official letter dated 27 March 1911 sent from Erzurum Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[32] BOA, DH.SYS, 71/1, Lef 5. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 9 Nisan 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 9 April 1911 sent from Erzurum Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[33] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-4, Lef 114/1-2. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 19 Mart 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat (Official letter dated 19 March 1911 sent from Erzurum Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[34] BOA, DH.SYS., 23/1, Lef 45. Harbiye Nezareti Süvari Dairesi Taraf?ndan Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 21 Kas?m 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 21 November 1911 sent from Cavalry Bureau of The Ministry of War to the Ministry of Interior).
[35] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-3, Lef 33-35. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 6 Aral?k 1911 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 6 December 1911 sent from Erzurum Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[36] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-3, Lef 37-38. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 16 Aral?k 1911 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 16 December 1911 sent from Erzurum Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[37] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 91. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 24 Haziran 1910 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 24 June 1910 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[38] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 103. ?itak Ahalisi Taraf?ndan Sadarete Çekilen 12 Kas?m 1910 Tarihli Telgraf. (Telegram dated 12 November 1910 sent by ?itak inhabitants to the Prime Ministry).
[39] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 105. ?itak Ahalisinden Sadarete, Suretleri Meclis-i Ayan ve Meclis-i Mebusan Riyasetlerine Yaz?lan 3 Ocak 1911 Tarihli Telgraf Sureti. (Copy of the telegram dated 3 January 1911 written by ?itak inhabitants to the Prime Ministry, Meclis-i Ayan and Meclis-i Mebusan). 
[40] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 136. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 22 Haziran 1911 Tarihli Telgraf. (Telegram dated 22 June 1911 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[41]BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 29. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 8 Temmuz 1911 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 8 July 1911 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[42] BOA, DH.SYS.,7/2-1, Lef 24. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 8 Temmuz 1911 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 8 July 1911 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[43] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 19-21. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 26 A?ustos 1911 tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 26 August 1911 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[44] Süleyman Sabri Pa?a, Van Tarihi ve Kürt Türkleri Hakk?nda ?ncelemeler, prepared by Gamze Gayeo?lu, (Ankara: 1982), p. 45.
[45] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-4, Lef 114/1-2. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 19 Mart 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 19 March 1911 sent from Erzurum Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[46] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 80-84. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 20 Mart 1911 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 20 March 1911 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[47] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-3, Lef 104-105. Said’in Mektubunun Sureti. (Copy Of Said’s Letter).
[48] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 142. Eyüphanbeyzade Said Taraf?ndan Van Murahhasahane Meclisi’ne Gönderilen 13 Eylül 1911 Tarihli Mektup Sureti. (Copy of the latter dated 13 September 1911 sent by Eyüphanzade Said To the Van Armenian Delegation Assembly).
[49] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-1, Lef 141. Ermeni Patrikhanesi’nden Adliye ve Mezahip Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 16 Eylül 1911 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 16 September 1911 sent from the Armanian Patriarchate to theMinistry of Justice and Religious Sects).
[50] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-2, Lef 92.
[51] BOA, DH.SYS., 7/2-2, Lef 92.
[52] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-3, Lef 68. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 17 ?ubat 1912 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 17 February 1912 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
[53] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-4, Lef 113. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 22 Nisan 1912 Tarihli Arz. (The official demand dated 22 April 1912 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[54] BOA, BEO., 322594. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 6 Temmuz 1914 Tarihli ?ifre. (The Code dated 6 July 1914 sent from Van Province to The Ministry of Interior).
[55] BOA, DH.SYS., 24/2-4, Lef 61. Kürtlere nasihat etmesi için görevlendirilen ?eyh Hac? Mehmet Efendi’ye takdim edilen program. (Program presented to Sheikh Hac? Mehmet Efendi, who was assigned to advice the Kurds).
[56] BOA.DH.SYS., 23-12, Lef 2. Erzurum Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 10 Haziran 1913 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 10 June 1912 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior). Among the sheikhs of Nak?ibendiye/Halidi tribe, which was respected by Kurds, Sheikh Hac? Yusuf Efendi from Mu?, had been forwarded to the H?n?s and Pasinler region.
[57] Ahmet Halaço?lu, “Türk-Ermeni ?li?kilerinin Genel De?erlendirmesi ve Ermeni ?ikayetleri Hakk?nda Bir Belge”, (Yeni Türkiye, Ermeni Sorunu Özel Say?s? I, No. 37, Ocak-?ubat 2001, p.449-454).
[58] Parmaks?z, op.cit., p .51.
[59] Ibid., p .56.
[60] Ercüment Kuran, “Ermeni Meselesinin Milletleraras? Boyutu”, Osmanl?’dan Günümüze Ermeni Sorunu, (Ankara: 2001), p.116.
[61] Parmaks?z, op.cit., p.59.
[62]Ibid., p. 60-61.
[63] Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, Türk ?nk?lab? Tarihi, Vol. II, (Ankara: 1983), pp. 145-146.
[64] Akdes Nimet Kurat, Türkiye ve Rusya, (Ankara: 1990), p. 208-209.
[65] Halil Mente?e’nin An?lar?, (?stanbul: 1986), p.176.
[66] Y.H.Bayur, op.cit. , p. 98.
[67] Kuran, op. cit. ., p.116.
[68] BOA, DH.Kalem-i Mahsus (KMS), 16/30, Lef 3.Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 18 Mart 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 18 March 1914 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
* It is known that Seyyid Ali was the father of Selahaddin Inan (Member of Parliament from the Democrat Party) and the grandfather of Kamuran Inan. See, Naci Kutlay, ?ttihat Terakki ve Kürtler, (Ankara: 1992), p.169-170.
[69] BOA, DH.KMS., 16/30, Lef 3. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 18 Mart 1914  Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 18 March 1914 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[70] Celile Celil, XIX. Yüzy?l Osmanl? ?mparatorlu?unda Kürtler, Transl. Mehmet Demir, (Ankara: 1992), p.201-214.
[71] Garo Sasuni, op.cit.,, p.156-157. About that the Kurds and the Armenians have acted together at the rebellion,  see, Vedat ?adillili, Türkiyede Kürtçülük Hareketleri ve ?syanlar? I, (Ankara: 1980), p. 35.
[72] BOA, DH.KMS., 16/30, Lef 4.Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 19 Mart 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 18 March 1914 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[73] BOA, DH. ?ifre (?FR), 39/7. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Gönderilen 14 Mart 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 18 March 1914 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[74] BOA,DH.?FR., 20/104. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Gönderilen 28 Nisan 1914 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 28 April 1914 sent from the Ministry of Interior to the Bitlis Province).
[75] Garo Sasuni, op. cit., p.158.
[76] Celile Celil, op. cit., p.208.
[77] BOA, DH, ?FR., 42/194. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Gönderilen 5 Temmuz 1914 Tarihli ?ifre.(Code dated 5 July 1914 sent from the Ministry of Interior to the Bitlis Province). The mournings on the name of Seyyid Ali and Sheikh ?ehabettin has been released at Roja Nu, the newspaper published in 1943 at Beirut.  See, Naci Kutlay, op.cit., p.164.
[78] BOA, DH.?FR., 42/102. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Medine Muhaf?zl???’na Gönderilen 22 Haziran 1914 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 22 Haziran 1914 sent from the Ministry of Interior to the Medina Protectorate). As well as the rebels, who deserted at the beginning of the First World War because of their affiliation to the rebellion, was caught up and forwarded to the war, the criminals and the disinterested ones at Medina, Sivas, Ankara, Bitlis and other places were forgiven by thinking that this would effect the Islamic body positively.  See., BOA, BEO., 324157. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Sadarete Gönderilen 10 Kas?m 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat; BOA, DH.?FR., 47/190.
[79] BOA, DH.KMS., 19/27, Lef2. Van Vilayeti’nden Dahiliye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 1 Nisan 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 1 April 1914 sent from Van Province to the Ministry of Interior).
[80] BOA, DH.KMS., 21/55, Lef 3/1. Hasan Fehmi Taraf?ndan Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Çekilen 16 May?s 1914 Tarihli Telgraf. (Telegram dated 16 May 1914 sent by Hasan Fehmi to the Bitlis Province).
[81] BOA, DH.?FR., 40/18. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Gönderilen 16 Nisan 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat.
(Official letter dated 16 April 1914 sent from the Ministry of Interior to Bitlis Province).
[82] BOA, DH.?FR., 40/78. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Gönderilen 23 Nisan 1914 Tarihli Tahrirat. (Official letter dated 23 April 1914 sent from the Ministry of Interior to Bitlis Province) It is expressed that Molla Selim was executed by being taken back from the Russian consulate and told the following to Duran Bey, who would be the member of parliament representing Erzurum later “…Turks! Execute me if you will. However, are not you ashamed of the administration within your state? You have given this much places, you have donated so much places to this and that. You know how to administrate at the time. You do not tell that we are defective with this. What is its disadvantage? What happens in case of you give Bitlis to us? ”. Hasan Y?ld?z, Sevr-Lozan-Musul Üçgeninde Kürdistan, Koral Yay?nlar?, (?stanbul: 1991), p.139-140.
[83] BOA, DH.KMS., 3/35, Lef 19. Stockholm Sefaret-i Seniyyesinden Hariciye Nezareti’ne Gönderilen 7 Nisan 1914 Tarihli Suret. (Copy dated 7 April 1914 sent from Stockholm Embassy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
[84] BOA, DH.?FR., 40/121. Dahiliye Nezareti’nden Bitlis Vilayeti’ne Gönderilen 30 Nisan 1914 Tarihli ?ifre. (Code dated 30 April 1914 sent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Bitlis Province).
[85] Hasan Y?ld?z,op.cit., pp.138-139.

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* - fatihunal@yahoo.com
- Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 10, Volume 4 - 2006
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