Papers respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey0


Papers respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey

London, Printed by Harrison & Sons.

Sir H. Bulwer to Earl Russell. – (Received April 23)

Constantinople, April 12, 1864

My Lord,

The continued advances of the Russians in Circassia, and the ill-treatment experienced by the natives from Russian troops, have led to an almost complete emigration from the country: 25,000 have already reached Trebizond, and others are endeavouring to escape in small boats at every risk. The conglomeration of vast quantities of these people, who have no industrial habits, threatens the health and peace of any one locality, and the loss of life which is occasioned by their hazardous attempts to escape from their conquerors is shocking to humanity. The Turkish Government is therefore about sending vessels to Trebizond to remove the emigrants thence, and place them in different parts of the Empire; and it is also in negotiation with the Russian Chargé d'Affaires here, in order to be able to adopt some measures by which those unfortunate people, who, after the most heroic attempts in defending the country where they were born, are at last obliged to abandon it, may be able to seek asylum with safety in the Ottoman dominions.

I understand that the Russian Chargé d'Affaires has shown no difficulty, as far as he is concerned, in entering into arrangements with the Porte, and has applied to his Government for further instructions.

(Signed) Henry L. Bulwer

PS. – I may take this opportunity of transmitting to your Lordship a Petition which has been addressed to Her majesty the Queen by the Circassians, together with a translation of the same.

Petition

(Translation)

"Our most humble Petition to Her Magnificent Majesty the Queen and Emperor of England is to the effect that ---

It is now more than eighty years since the Russian Government is unlawfully striving to subdue and annex to its dominions Circassia, which since the creation of the world has been our home and our country. It slaughters like sheep the children, helpless women, and old men that fall into its hands. It rolls about their heads with the bayonet like melons, and there is no act of oppression or cruelty which is beyond the pale of civilization and humanity, and which defies description, that it has not committed. We have not, from father to son, at the cost of our lives and properties, refrained from opposing the tyrannical acts of that Government in defence of our country, which is dearer to us than our lives. But during the last year or two it has taken advantage of a famine caused by a drought with which the Almighty visited is, as well as by its own ravages, and it as occasioned us great distress by its severe attacks by sea and land. Many are the lives which have been lost in battle, from hunger in the mountains, from destitution on the sea-coast, and from want of skill at sea.

We therefore invoke the mediation and precious assistance of the British Government and people – the guardian of humanity and centre if justice – in order to repel the brutal attacks of the Russian Government on our country, and save our country and our nation together.

But if it is not possible to afford this help for the preservation of our country and race, then we pray to be afforded facilities for removing to a place of safety our helpless and miserable children and women that are perishing by the brutal attacks of the enemy as well as by the effects of famine; and if neither of these two requests are taken into consideration, and if in our helpless condition we are utterly annihilated notwithstanding our appeals to the mercy and grace of the Governments, then we shall not cease to invoke our right in the presence of the Lord of the Universe, of Him who has confided to your Majesty sovereignty, strength, and power for the purpose of protecting the weak."

"We beg your Excellency to be the medium of making known to the great British Government and to the glorious British nation our condition of helplessness and misery, and we have therefore ventured to present to your Excellency our most humble petition. A copy of it has been submitted to the Sultan's Government and to the Embassies of other Powers."

(Signed by the people of Circassia) 29 Sheval, 1280 (April 9, 1864)



Source:

Papers Respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey.

Presented to the House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, in pursuance of their Address dated June 6, 1864

London, Printed by Harrison and Sons. Pages 2 and 3.

Enclosed in Despatch No.3 From Sir Henry Bulwer to Earl Russell, Constantinople, April 12, 1864 (FO 881/1259)




Consul-General Murray to Earl Russell. – (Received May 17)

(Extract.)

Odessa, April 29, 1864.

My Lord,

I have the honour to report that information has reached me that Vardan and Sochyi have recently been occupied by the troops under the command of Major-General Heyman, who encountered no resistance. The mountaineers are in most distressing condition, and are emigrating to Turkey as fast as boats can be found to take them away.

Grants of land in the conquered districts will now be offrerd to such of the Azoff Cossacks as desire to settle in the South if the Caucasus, and every encouragement will be given them to do so.

His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Michael has recently made a tour of inspection in the South.

(Signed) E.C. Grenville Murray.


Source:

Papers respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey.

Presented to the House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, in pursuance of their Address dated June 6, 1864

London, Printed by Harrison and Sons. Page 4.




Consul Dickson to Earl Russell. – (Received May 17)

(Extract.)

Soukoum-Kalé, March 17, 1864.

I feel it is a painful duty to report a deed that has come to my knowledge, which has so exasperated the Circassians as to excite them to further resistance, however desperate their case may be.

A Russian detachment having captured the village of Toobeh on the Soobashi River, inhabited by about 100 Abadzekh, and after these had surrendered themselves prisoners, they were all massacred by the Russian troops. Among the victims were two women in an advanced state of pregnancy, and five children. The detachment is question belongs to Count Evdokimoff's army, and is said to have advanced from the Pshish valley.

As the Russian troops gain ground on the coast, the natives are not allowed to remain there on any terms, but are compelled either to transfer themselves to the plains of the Kouban or emigrate to Turkey.


Source:

Papers respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey.

Presented to the House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, in pursuance of their Address dated June 6, 1864

London, Printed by Harrison and Sons. Page 2.




Consul Dickson to Earl Russell. – (Received May 17)


(Extract.)

Soukoum-Kalé, April 13, 1864.

The Ubikh and Fighett tribes are fast embarking for Trebizond. In fact, after their land having been laid waste by fire and sword, emigration to Turkey is the only alternative allowed to those mountaineers who refuse to transfer themselves to the Kouban steppes and contribute periodically to the militia.

The condition of these poor people is described by eye-witnesses as most distressing. In the hurry of departure the overcrowding of boats is so little heeded as to lead to frequent disasters, while such of their horses and cattle as war and famine have spared are being sold for a few paper roubles.

In some instances the emigrants, sooner than see their weapons (may be heir-looms in the family for centuries) exchange hands with the enemy, have flung them into the sea.

With a view of introducing Russian colonization in the conquered districts the Government offer grants of land and other privileges to the Azoff Cossacks who may desire to settle there. Government employés indiscriminately, who may have served ten years in the Caucasus, will be entitled to claim an allotment if the land.


Source:

Papers respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey.

Presented to the House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, in pursuance of their Address dated June 6, 1864

London, Printed by Harrison and Sons. Page 3 and 4.



Consul-General Murray to Earl Russell. – (Received May 17)

(Extract.)

Odessa, April 29, 1864.

My Lord,

I have the honour to report that information has reached me that Vardan and Sochi have recently been occupied by the troops under the command of Major-General Heyman, who encountered no resistance. The mountaineers are in most distressing condition, and are emigrating to Turkey as fast as boats can be found to take them away.

Grants of land in the conquered districts will now be offrerd to such of the Azoff Cossacks as desire to settle in the South if the Caucasus, and every encouragement will be given them to do so.

His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Michael has recently made a tour of inspection in the South.

(Signed) E.C. Grenville Murray.


Source:

Papers respecting the Settlement of Circassian Emigrants in Turkey.

Presented to the House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, in pursuance of their Address dated June 6, 1864

London, Printed by Harrison and Sons. Page 4.



*****

A Petition from the Abkhazian refugees to Mukhlis Pasha, Governor of Trabzon
regarding the forcible detention of Abkhazians by the Russians


“We, the undersigned, address this our Petition to His Excellency Mukhlis Pasha, that it may be by him transmitted to the Government at Constantinople; in the view that suitable representations may thence be made to the Russian Government demanding the execution of the Convention made between the Russian Government and the Porte; and according to which Convention the Abkhasians, to the number of four thousand five hundred families were to be sent into Turkish territory. Now up to this moment only one thousand five hundred families have been so sent; the remainder have by the Russian Government been hindered from following. This conduct has occasioned intolerable misery; since in consequence of such division of families, and the retention of so many in Abkhasia, wives have in many instances been shipped off for Turkey while their husbands have been detained in Russia; mothers have been sent hither without their children, and children without their mothers, and the like.

Now since the Government of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan has been pleased to accept us, we have come hither, and we count for nothing the loss of our lands and of our goods; only this division and ruin of our families and this forced separation from our own children is more than we can bear. The Russians are over-powerful, and we are utterly disheartened.

We demand accordingly that the families and the individuals now kept behind, may be set at liberty to follow and rejoin their country-people and relatives.”

Signed Shereem Beg, Marshian and 23 other chiefs each by name 8th Rebia’-ul-Awwal, AH1284 (July 10 1867)

Enclosed in Despatch No.32 From Consul Palgrave to Lord Lyons, Trebizond, July 14, 1867 (FO 97/424)



*****

Report to the Board of Health of the Ottoman Empire, Samsun, May 20, 1864


“Gentlemen – I arrived at Samsun six days ago. No words are adequate to describe the situation in which I found the town and the unfortunate immigrants. Besides the Circassians (from 8,000 to 10,000) heaped up in the khans, the ruinous buildings, and stables of the city, upwards of 30,000 individuals, coming from the encampment at Irmak and Dervend, encumber the squares, obstruct the streets, invade enclosed grounds, penetrate everywhere, remain stationed there during the whole day, and retire only late after sunset. Everywhere you meet with the sick, the dying, and the dead; on the threshold of gates in front of shops, in the middle of streets, in the squares, in the gardens, at the foot of trees. Every dwelling, every corner of the streets, every spot occupied by the immigrants, has become a hotbed of infection. A warehouse on the sea-side, a few steps distant from the quarantine-office, hardly affording space enough for 30 persons, enclosed till the day before yesterday 207 individuals, all sick or dying. I undertook to empty this hotbed of pestilence. Even the porters refused to venture in the interior of this horrible hole, out of which, assisted by my worthy colleague Aly Effendy, I drew several corpses in a state of putrefaction. This fact may convey a faint idea of the deplorable state of the immigrants whom they have allowed to take up their abode in town. What I saw at Trebizond will not admit of comparison with the frightful spectacle which the town of Samsun exhibits.

The encampments present a picture hardly less revolting. From 40,000 to 50,000 individuals in the most absolute state of destitution, preyed upon by disease, decimated by death, are cast there without shelter, without bread, and without sepulture.

I found the Mutessarif dismayed, and altogether at a loss how to act in such an emergency. Atta Bey is without money and credit; he has not got enough to pay the men who remove the dead. In the market nothing is given him except for ready money, not even a few yards of longcloth for winding-sheets. There is no one to take care of the immigrants, no service organized for the burial of the dead, no horses, no carts, no boats, nothing.

I considered it essential at once to devise means to feed the immigrants, the greater number of whom had received nothing for several days. I had recourse to several corn-dealers, more especially to Mr. Serkiz Kirorkian. I put them in relation with the Mutessarif, and it is on the flour they supplied that we are living. Ismail Bey, whom I brought with me, takes care that 50 drachms of bread be given daily to each of the immigrants. I obtained, also, some Indian corn-flour, and it is out of these scanty means that we have been able to afford some relief to these 70,000 to 80,000 exiles.

My next care has been to organize a service for the removal of the dead. For this I had recourse to the chest of the quarantine office, wherein I found a few hundreds of piastres. I then took steps for the evacuation of the town, and the landing of the Circassians I had detained on board the 11 ships and the seven cutters lying in the harbour. All the 70 passengers were landed at Kumjuzah, a few miles distant from the town. To this place I sent 3,000 or 4,000 individuals I have during the last three days extracted from the dens they filled in the city. The evacuation is progressing, but the funds of the chest will soon have been exhausted.

The question which we have to deal with is absolute deficiency of money and of a police force. Government must make haste to send these pecuniary supplies, as well as a body of police, in order to avoid disturbances. There are at present here from 70,000 to 80,000 individuals without bread, and there is no one to keep them down in case of disorderly conduct. I wish it were possible that his Highness the Grand Vizier could come here and witness the spectacle which this ill-fated town and the encampments present.

I am fully aware that it is not easy for the Turkish Government to transport quickly elsewhere so large a population; but it is the Government alone that is able to come to the assistance of the Mutessarif, by sending him the sum necessary for the maintenance of the immigrants. With money the town and the Irmak will be evacuated; the immigrants may be kept in healthy camps either at Kumjuzah or Dervend; clothing, linen, soap will be readily purchased, supplies of provisions be secured. I once more repeat it, there are here between 70,000 and 80,000 immigrants. In a few days hence this number will be doubled. How is it expected that such a mass of men should be kept in order? How is it to be fed and provided for? This immigration thus left to itself is an actual calamity.

There are in the harbour from 10 to 20 large vessels, which I sought to employ in transporting about 10,000 Circassians to Bujuk Liman, at the mouth of the Bosphorus. Want of funds has obliged me to postpone their departure.

I conclude by stating that the Mutessarif is without any money. There are between 70,000 and 80,000 people needing their daily bread, and that if we had here an adequate supply of flour the number of ovens would be insufficient; we need biscuits. There are individuals who die from starvation, and the number of those who have been four days without receiving their rations is very large.”

The Sanitary Inspector on Service, Barozzi

Reproduced in ‘The Circassian Exodus’, The Times, June 13, 1864, page 10.

The full original papers in PDF can be downloaded by the link at the bottom of the page

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