31 March Incident

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The Committee of Union and Progress's "Army of Action" entering Istanbul to regain power from the organizers of the countercoup.

The 31 March Incident (Turkish: 31 Mart Vakası or 31 Mart Olayı or 31 Mart Hadisesi or 31 Mart İsyanı) was a 1909 rebellion of conservative reactionaries in Constantinople against the restoration of the constitutional system that had taken place in 1908 through the Young Turk Revolution. It took place on 13 April 1909 (31 March on the Rumi calendar in use at the time in the Ottoman Empire for official timekeeping), and was a culmination of the stirring Ottoman countercoup of 1909. The countercoup attempted to put an end to the nascent Second Constitutional Era in the Ottoman Empire and to the newly established influence of the Committee of Union and Progress, in order to re-affirm the position of the Sultan (at the time Abdul Hamid II) as absolute monarch.

Soon after the countercoup, however, the Committee of Union and Progress organized the Army of Action (Turkish: Hareket Ordusu) and regained control from the reactionaries.


The counter-coup, instigated among some parts of the army in a large part by a certain Cypriot Islamic extremist[1] Dervish Vahdeti, reigned supreme in Constantinople for a few days.

On the other hand, some Turkish writers have accused the British, led by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice (1865–1939), as the hidden hand behind this reactionary religious uprising. The British government had already supported actions against constitutionalists in an attempt to mute the effect of increasing German sympathizers in Ottoman Empire since the 1880s.[2] Also according to these sources, this counter-coup was made against the Committee of Union and Progress's Selanik branch, which outmatched the British sympathizer Bitola Branch.

Dervish Vahdeti and supporters were put down by the Hareket Ordusu ("Army of Action"), constituted in urgency with troops stationed in the Balkans and which rapidly departed from Salonica, commanded by Mahmud Shevket Pasha. Among the officers who entered the capital was Mustafa Kemal.[3]

A few weeks after the re-establishment of order, Sultan Abdul Hamid II himself was deposed and sent to exile in Salonica, and replaced by his brother Mehmed V Reşad.


The incident led to a change of Grand Vizier, and Ahmed Tevfik Pasha assumed the position.


In memorial of the 74 soldiers killed in action during this event, the Monument of Liberty (Ottoman Turkish: Abide-i Hürriyet) was erected 1911 in Şişli district of Istanbul.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Şeriatçı bir ayaklanma (A fundamentalist uprising) by Sina Akşin with particular emphasis on British involvement.