Malta exiles

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Malta exiles (Turkish: Malta sürgünleri) (between March 1919 – October 1920) is the term for politicians, high-ranking soldiers (mainly), administrators and intellectuals of the Ottoman Empire who were sent into exile on Malta after the armistice of Mudros during the Occupation of Constantinople by the Allied forces. Malta exiles become inmates in a British prison where various Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) officials were held in the hopes that Malta Tribunals would be held at a future date.

These Ottoman politicians, generals, and intellectuals were taken out of Istanbul jails and deported to Malta, where they were held for some three years, while searches were made of archives in Constantinople, London, Paris and Washington to find proof of their guilt.[1] Cooperation of the Sultan was seen necessary to prevent a harsher peace settlement for the Ottoman Empire (partition of territories).

At that time Turkey had two competing governments in Constantinople and Ankara.The government in Constantinople supported the inquiries with more or less seriousness depending on the current government. While grand vizir Damad Ferid Pasha (4 March - 2 October 1919 and again 5 April - 21 October 1920) stood behind the prosecuting body the government of grand vizir Ahmed Riza Pasha (2 October 1919 - 2 March 1920) made barely a mention of the legal proceedings against the war criminals.[2] The trials helped the Liberal Union party to expel the Committee of Union and Progress from the political arena.[3]

The competing Ankara government was strictly opposed to trials against war criminals. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk reasoned about the detainees in Malta on the occasion of the congress in Sivas 4 September 1919: "...should any of the detainees either already brought or yet to be brought to Constantinople be executed, even at the order of the vile Constantinople government, we would seriously consider executing all British prisoners in our custody." From February 1921 the military court in Constantinople begun releasing prisoners without trials.[4]

Process of roundups[edit]

The first to be exiled was Ali İhsan Sâbis, the successful commander at the Iraq front during the First World War. Ali İhsan Sâbis organized mass killings of unarmed Christians soldiers in the Ottoman army as well as Christian civilians in the Iranian-Ottoman border region (Lake Urmiyeh). His orderly accompanied him to exile voluntarily. Both departed on 29 March 1919.

On 28 May 1919 was a large round-up of about thirty persons also covering, in absentia, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

On 2 June 1919 came the turn of the members of the Council of Kars (Kars Surası) The exiles from Kars to Malta comprised 11 persons, eight Turks, including the Republic's president İbrahim Aydın, two ethnic Greeks and one Russian, all members of the Council.

On 21 September 1919, a dozen personalities who had been in utmost prominence during the Second Constitutional Era in the Ottoman Empire were also exiled. The names included the former grand vizier Said Halim Pasha (who was at first sent to Moudros), his brother Abbas Halim Pasha, the writer-ideologue Ziya Gökalp and others.

Reasons for roundups[edit]

The 145 personalities arrested and exiled included people from with different backgrounds and causes. Some of the decisions for arrests involved personalities who were outside the reach of Allied authorities and were physically absent.

Some of the arrests were directly related to British policy between 1918–1920 to become an effective force in Caucasia. Besides the British military existence in the strategic points, it was necessary that 9th Ottoman Army was discharged/disarmed and the military and civil servants were to be taken away from their duties. Roundups connected to this policy were Yakup Sevki Subası (# 120), Mehmet Rıfat (# 129), Mürsel Bakû (# 137), from the 9th Army and Council of Kars of Provisional National Government of the Southwestern Caucasus (# 60-70).

Government[edit]

The party Committee of Union and Progress was in the government. There were Committee of Union and Progress secretary (#18) members (#40, #58, #75, #111)

House of Osman[edit]

There were members of the Ottoman Divan which was linked to dynasty; Vizier (#80), bookkeeper (#34).

Council of Kars[edit]

Members of the Council of Kars (Kars Surası) who had set up the South West Caucasian Republic (Cenubî Garbî Kafkas Hükümet-i Cumhuriyesi) in Kars following the departure of Ottoman troops from that city after the Armistice of Mudros. After the British occupation of Kars, the formation, in several stages and under successive names, of this short-lived republic, although viewed at first rather benignly by the British, had been discontinued abruptly in April 1919, and its prominent members were arrested, and sent to İstanbul and then to Malta, while the region of Kars was handed over to the First Republic of Armenia.

The resistance[edit]

Turkish National Movement was a threat to the allied administration. A large round-up of about thirty persons included, in absentia, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk or Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu. The trials had blurred the crime of participation in the National Movement with the crime of the genocide[5] and resulted in increasing support for Atatürk.

Outpost was mainly a resistance organization against the occupation forces. Most of the Outpost members belonged to or would in time turn to Turkish national movement. However, at the initial stage, or during the establishment of Turkish national movement Outpost members were not members of this movement. Outpost members were ideologically connected to the Sultan rather than a national movement.

Khilafat Movement[edit]

The Khilafat movement (1919-1924) was a political campaign launched mainly by Muslims in British India to influence the British government and to protect the Ottoman Empire during the aftermath of World War I. Maulana Mehmud Hasan was arrested in Makkah when details of Khilafat Movement leaked. He was imprisoned for more than three years before his release in 1920.

Aftermath[edit]

The exiled later returned to Turkey in stages during 1921–1922.

Exiles[edit]

The Malta exiles include the following people:

Name Roundup date Roundup ID Function in the Ottoman Empire Aftermath
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (in his absence) May 28, 1919
Ali Fethi Okyar May 28, 1919 26 80
Hasan Fehmi Bey May 28, 1919 26 88 Sinop deputy
Sükrü Kaya May 28, 1919 27 38 Civil inspector
Ahmet Ağaoğlu September 21, 1919 27 64 Kara Hisar-i Sâhib deputy, ideologue of the Committee of Union and Progress, author
Mahmud Kâmil Pasha September 21, 1919 27 58 Former Fifth Army commander
Ziya Gökalp September 21, 1919 27 59 Ergani-Maden deputy, ideologue of the Committee of Union and Progress,
Rauf Orbay March 22, 1920 27 76 Former Minister of Navy, Sivas deputy
Cevat Çobanlı March 22, 1920 27 73
Ali Çetinkaya 27 March 1920 27 87 Former Afyon deputy
Süleyman Nazif 27 March 1920 27 84 Former Musul and Baghdad governor
Abdülhalik Renda June 7, 1920 former Bitlis Governor
Kâzım Orbay Colonel, Enver Pasha's brother-in-law
Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu Journalist, owner of Yeni Gün newspaper

Further reading[edit]

  • Simsir, B. Malta Surgunleri (The Malta Exiles). Istanbul, 1976.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Klaus-Detlev Grothusen:"Türkei", Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985
  2. ^ Taner Akçam: A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, Metropolitan Books, New York 2006 ISBN 978-0-8050-7932-6, p. 296
  3. ^ Klaus-Detlev Grothusen:"Türkei", Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985, page 35
  4. ^ Taner Akçam: A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, Metropolitan Books, New York 2006 ISBN 978-0-8050-7932-6, p. 354
  5. ^ Taner Akçam: A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, Metropolitan Books, New York 2006 ISBN 978-0-8050-7932-6, p. 351

See also[edit]