The archives of the Independence Courts are not opened yet. Therefore our knowledge in respect to these "courts" is almost next to nothing. However we are able to obtain information from some memories; such as Ahmet Emin Yalman's, Zekeriya Sertel's, Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın's... and by reading between the lines of serial articles which blame the accused in the media which is the voice of the party in power in all periods, and from the writings of people who accused in these courts. Since the writings written in relation to the "Court" are also devoted to legalization of these "penal institutions" they do not also have any objective character. I saw this clearly in my research with respect to the Independence Courts. 

In this article the activities in the west Pontos region of the private penal institutions under the name of this "court" was focused. Articles in relation to Pontos in Turkish are very limited and prejudiced. Without the exception of a few articles, they are in the direction of assimilation policy of the official ideology and they do not bear any different characteristic from the propaganda brochure of the official ideology. The whole content consists of a repetition of dissertations in the propaganda book titled ‘The Pontus Issue' which was published by the Printing House of The Press and Intelligence in 1922 by grounding on the Turkish Official Dissertation which came until today starting from the things told in The Speech in 1927 by Mustafa Kemal. The book which was published by the General Staff with the preface of General Atıf Erçıkan who is the son of Cafer from Ebulhindi who played an important role in the genocide of 1915, starts with not so important information such as "The Pontos Kingdom never became independent, it tried to continue its existence by paying tax to Seljuks and Mongols respectively and then by giving girls in marriage to Turkmen lords".

In the beginning just like every Ottoman element, the Pontic Greeks also attached notable importance to the Constitution and they constructed a monument at a place called Constitution Square which expressed their hopes for the Constitution, and a commitment to the ideal of being Ottoman. The monument is now at the Archeological Museum of Samsun - today on this square Kazım Pasha Elementary School rises.

 

 

The idea of independence began while Turkification was happening at full speed, after hope ended for the constitution, and after the beginning of the Genocide period. On the base of the monument which was built in July of 1908, the monument which expresses respect for the constitution, the following statement was included: 

IN MEMORY OF THE PROCLAMATION OF THE CONSTITUTION JULY 1908 WITHIN THE DAYS OF SULTAN ABDÜL HAMİT II KHAN.

In Ottoman it reads as follows: 

Kanun-ı Esasi Meydanı ruhü'l-akvam-ı evvel ..................... İlan-ı saadetin hatırasıdır ...... sene 1324 [1908]


Researcher Vlasis Ağcidis summarizes in short the events and the transformation as follows:
"The reason the events occurred in that period is the assimilation and extermination program of the physical existence of the Christian peoples in the Empire which was designed to homogenize Anatolia in the congress of the Committee of Union and Progress in the year of 1911 in Thessaloniki . Up until then, Anatolian Greeks supported Ottoman reforms and put support behind the common Ottoman dream of all the people of the empire. This dream, which was democrat, was relocating the human rights of the citizens to its center and thus was terminating the religious and ethnic discrimination and oppression. However this dream which was started with the Tanzimat (reorganization of the Ottoman Empire) as an Ottoman perestroika, was deflated by the nationalist ostracization and by deciding on the destruction of the Ottoman society which was multicultural and multi-ethnic. As Celal Bayar said in his book titled "I wrote too, Introduction to the National Struggle" the Young Turks considered the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire as "the tumors in the body" or "the internal tumors" with reference to Eşref Kuşçubaşı.

The applied oppression, exiling and massacres during the 1st World War in Pontos, is commonly present during the armistice period after the war. The armistice did not bring a change with regards to Pontos. The boredoms continue also after the war. A systematic violence which is implemented by lame Osman's gang in the region is in question. "Julian Gillespie who visited Ankara unofficially on behalf of America in the last period of the year 1921 and in the earlier period of the year 1922 sent a letter dated 10th of January 1922 to Admiral Bristol from Ankara. In the letter he writes the following;

"The government officials which I spoke to, told me that the gang of Osman Aga was getting out of hand from time to time but the government was working hard to bring those gangs under control." Of course these words consist of a diplomatic lie which was told at that moment in order to avoid the problems which had arisen from the actions of Osman Aga. The official opinion on this subject of the institute of official history of the state (Turkish Historical Society) which means the official opinion of the state is interesting; the actions of Osman Aga are not part of the policy of the Ankara government:
"The role played by the gang of Osman Aga in Anatolia in the war between Turks and Greeks and during the suppression of the revolt of Koçgiri and Pontus, and the strict methods which were applied by them, can't be explained either by "Osman Aga was acting independently of Ankara" or by "Osman Aga was acting in accordance with the instructions taken from Ankara". The issue takes place somewhere in the middle of these two marginal assertions." Osman Aga will come to the region later, more equipped and as the commander of the 46th regiment. Also his advancement after that to the command of guard regiment validates this opinion. This shows that the actions of Osman Aga granted the approval of the Ankara government.

The difficulties in the Pontos region was expressed in a declaration presented to the Peace Conference of 1919 in Paris with the following words: "Since the Armistice, in spite of the guarantee of the Ottoman government, persecutions and provocations in the Black Sea coasts still continue. Muslim people are being armed, while the Christians are armless. After the armistice, only in the coastal towns, trustworthiness was given back. Turks who realized that the murders went unpunished started robbing and killing again. Thus insecurity spread to the coastal cities. The Turkish national gangs are being constituted on all sides. The Greeks which escaped from Turkey after the war and during the war could not return to their old homelands; they started to go to Russia again. They preferred the Bolshevik revolution and its management instead of Turks' massacre; we are waiting your help".

Mustafa Kemal mentions the Pontos problem on 24th of April 1920 in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey during the long speech (Nutuk); where he indicates the following; "The idea of the Constitution of The Pontos State which is administrated by the committees in Istanbul and Athens which oversee the sovereignty of the Greeks and slavery of the Muslim element, wildly wrapped the imagination of the Ottoman Greeks who live in the Black Sea coasts and partially in the towns in the north of Amasya and Tokat". Thereafter he points out the following necessity; "It is necessary to incorporate under a larger command the forces which were appointed to solve the security problem in the middle of Anatolia" and under this direction, the establishment of the Central Army under the command of Sakallı (Bearded) Nurettin was decided. Also, the 47th Infantry Regiment which was organized in Giresun, the honorary commander of which was Osman Aga (Topal (lame)) is taken into the organization of the Central Army afterwards. This regiment passed to Samsun with the Ümit ship on the date of 16th April 1921 and it is armed there again from the depot of the 15th Division. With the regiment a battery with four artilleries was brought to Samsun.

The resistance groups in the west Pontos region were self defensive organizations, but they did involve an independent Pontos idea . They formed for the protection and security of the villagers whoreturned to the region after the war. When the oppression is decreased and became systematical, these groups also will be organized and will unite under a command and thus will try to resist.

Sakallı (Bearded) Nurettin, commander of the Central Army started his operations immediately: "The council of ministers' decree is published on the date of 9th February 1921 in order to take the priests of Istanbul and Izmir out of the borders since they poison the people in respect to thought. Also Eftimos, the deputy metropolitan bishop of Samsun, Platon Metnoz, the archpriest at this time, were brought to the Independence court. With a joint resolution taken by the Command of the Central Army and Independence Court on the date of 3rd February 1921, taking legal proceedings against the ones who were interested in the Pontos issue by means of arresting commenced. In the meantime the American College in Merzifon is raided by the military authorities; the American education commission is taken out of the country." This measure is reported to Admiral Bristol who is the American representative by Ahmet Muhtar, the foreign minister in Istanbul. Naturally Bristol did not protest.

In the secret letter of Sezai, the governor of Canik Sanjak with bears the inscription "to the high authority of the ministry of interior", number 287, dated 31stof March 1921, information in relation to these arrests are provided:

Appendix for the code dated and numbered as 30th March 1921. Pandeli and Elomis, Kozme who are Greek teachers, Çolak (one armed) Yakof who is the officer of REJI company, Kosti the clerk of the metropolitan bishop, Kostantin the son of Terzibaşı, Arslanoğlu Istavri the receiver, Dimitri the son of Yanko who manage the institution of training club of Greek Youth of Kadikoy were brought into the Independence court of Amasya for investigation by document and by my writing, numbered as 206 and dated as 19.2.1921... It is informed in writing to the commandership of the Central Army that in order to deepen and extend the investigation of the aforementioned persons who are in prison today in Amasya, and in order to request explanation from Eftimos, the clerk of metropolitan bishop the necessary persons must be ordered accordingly. Kindly submitted for your information

It is understood from the letter dated as 22.11.1921 which is sent by Tevfik Hadi [Baysal], the chief of police to Canik governorship that the case file was prepared by the police: ... "We received the information of guns which are hidden in the house of Todor the son of Papas in Kadikoy of Samsun, after the search made formally a money receipt with the Pontos seal and emblem was found, as a result of investigation of this receipt, we found that an institution was established without permission after the truce by the members who are Yakof the son of one armed, Kostt the son of Şeref who is the clerk of the metropolitan bishop, İkolonos the rude, Kaya Adakoydis the son of Murat, İkonomidis, Mum Boyacıoğlu, Yuvani the son of Sllvos, Dimitri the son of the barber, Yorgoda Kostitos, Kompomidi Hambo, Yuri Katros, Kosti Royanaki Lefteryadi under the presidency of Pandeli Valolis who is a teacher in the Greek school which consisted of 217 persons. On the surface the institution was formed of a gymnasium, theatre, music and social branches which is called the training club of Greek Youth and these persons collected a lot of money and this receipt is the receipt of moneys collected from the Greeks.... The things written in the letter which was withheld by the censor committee and which was written in relation to money collection for the Greek Immigrant Commission in the Patriarchate in İstanbul from the Greek Immigrant Commission of Samsun strengthen my belief in relation to obtaining of documents which belong to Pontos Society Organization in case of a search and investigation in the metropolitan area thus the explanation of the situation was submitted then arrestment of the persons who constituted the Greek Immigrant Commission, search and investigation and their dispatch with the documents to the Independence Court was ordered with the encoded telegram of the ministry of interior dated as 1st February 1921 and numbered as 1146-424 and a search was realized in the metropolitan area. Documents which are in 24 pieces of envelopes and 3 sets of investigation documents and other documents written in the attached list which was obtained from the search of the metropolitan area which was sent to the Independence Court was submitted with the letter dated 17.5.1921 and numbered 524. Then the judgments were performed of the presidents of the centre of the Pontos Organization and other active members and members sent to Amasya and members of the center of Samsun of the Pontos Organization and persons who have connections with this centre and other persons with the evidences brought from Amasya and later on the legal requirements were fulfilled. A copy of the originals of the regulations with their accessories which sent to the Independence court and a copy of the correspondences and a copy of the records and information in relation to the obtained amount of the money spent by the center of Samsun which were collected on behalf of the Pontos Center of Samsun are presented as attached. Kindly submitted for your information

While the military operations continue in Pontos by the Central Army and its reserve Topal (Lame) Osman, the arrested people are subjected to the constituted "Court". "The military operations are conducted on one hand and judicial proceedings against persons who composed the Pontos organization and who caused so much atrocity and destruction are initiated on the other and the arrested persons were sent to the Independence Court of The Region of Samsun in Amasya which is composed of the elected members of the Grand National Assembly and they were consigned. The subject Court who started its mission in August of the year 1921 dealt with the judgments of Pontos idea supporters in Merzifon, Samsun, Trabzon, Giresun, Ünye, Ordu and other places on different dates and thus they fulfilled the necessities of the right and justice for the accused persons. By saying the following examples were provided in relation to the accusations. "We present the part of the punitive causes of a set of the Independence court's decisions in relation to the Pontos idea supporters below for your information." However in the disclosed official documents there is not much information in relation to imposed penalties. We understand from the decisions made that Muslims who did not obey the orders given were also executed in these courts beside the Christians.

After the beginning of arrests and judgments of leaders, exiles started with the order dated 19.6.1921 and numbered 2245 by Sakallı (bearded) Nurettin who is the commander of the Central army. The Pontos people are sent forth to death marches for the second time: The Greeks who can use arms and who are sent to inner regions from the coastal sanjaks will be carried to Erganimadeni, Malatya, Maraş sanjaks and to Gürün and Darende districts from Sivas and they will be housed in those areas. I will announce destinations of each group separately. "The persons who can use arms" means males in the age group of 15-50. We leave the exiles to another detailed writing and we settle here to indicate the government order only.

Some of them will be sent to the labor battalions. With the order dated 12.1.1921 and numbered 2082 by Sakallı (bearded) Nurettin, rough measures were put into force in relation to the Labor Battalions: For the ones who will go to the Amasya labor battalion; the ones who will come from the Ordu Sanjak will gather in Şarkikarahisar and the ones who will be sent from Samsun sanjak will gather in Amasya... Sending and carriage of the persons and individuals who will be sent either to south sanjaks for settling or labor battalions will be conducted and practiced with great speed and dense activity and Head of the secretariat of Samsun and Governorship of Ordu will inform the result of the operations to Ordu with their morning and night reports. I inform you that the officers of district branch and military branch who do not work day and night and who behave loosely and who do not appreciate the extraordinary importance of the work will be punished... For the ones who flee from the places they are sent to, and the ones who accept these fugitives and protect them among the Christians which will be sent, the necessity of sending then to faraway countries will be felt and further legal investigation will be performed on them, this situation will be informed and explained properly to the necessary persons in sanjaks of Ca-nik, Ordu, Amasya, Şarkikarahisar, Tokat and especially to the Christian people.

In order to get an idea in relation to the labor battalions, let's release some information with respect to these:

The labor battalion of Havza: 17 safeguards, 326 non-Muslims, The labor battalion of Merzifon: 28 safeguards, 321 non-Muslims, The labor battalion of Tokat: 15 safeguards, 122 non-Muslims, The labor battalion of Çorum: 30 safe guards, 404 non-Muslims, The labor battalion of Sivas: 22 safeguards, 414 non-Muslims, The labor battalion of Samsun: 30 safeguards, 185 non-Muslims.

Numbers were given to these battalions and the number starts from 8 and ends with 13, so other labor battalions are in question. The book by Elias Venezis titled "Number 31328" is a true story which describes the Labor Battalions. I believe the number 31328 which was given to Venezis composes an idea about the magnitude and extensiveness of the execution. Also the self-life story of Lazaros K. Aşıkoğlu which is titled Kilaman is another description of the days passed in the labor battalions and exiles.

Don't think that those who were exiled reached the designated places. Even in the official documents it is stated and documented that the victims could not pass even the province borders. In the letter dated 2.6.1921 which was sent to the Commandership of The Central Army with the signs of Sezai, the Samsun governor and İsmail, the division commander it is informed that exiled persons were attacked at Kavak. Also the attempts of the victim salvation movements of Pontos resistance troops to save the exiled persons were also recorded in the official documents.

According to an American document dated 19th October 1921 more than 60 Greeks were judged and condemned to death, and their death sentences executed. In addition to these, 44 Ottoman Greeks were sentenced to long term condemnation. Deputy Patrick Dorotheos wrote a letter to Admiral Bristol because of these death sentences which condemned the death sentences. Deputy Patrick Dorotheos in his this letter asserts that these death sentences are the evidence of the systematic works done by Turks of extermination of Christians in the East Black Sea Region.

In a telegram sent by the members of the Greek Committee of National Defense in Istanbul to Rumbold, the English High Commissioner, members stated that they held a meeting on the 6th October 1921 and the government of Ankara executed the Greeks in Samsun, Giresun, Bafra, Amasya and Ordu and they protested this situation. And the Committee accused The Ankara Government of trying to exterminate the entire Greek population. Because of this the big states had to intervene in the situation.

Admiral Bristol sent a telegram to the American ministry of foreign affairs on 19th October 1921 in relation to these executions and sentence penalties, and wrote the following: The Greeks started a propaganda activity shortly after the armistice in the Black Sea in order to establish a Greek state, and these activities were fostered by Venizelos and the Greek Government and the Greeks who were sentenced to penalty took a part in these kinds of activities. He tells that he thinks a few innocent people could be punished with the criminals. This situation of hurting these innocent persons among the criminals is an "inevitable" conclusion of the occupation of Anatolia by the Greeks as per Bristol.

The Entente States were contented with unwilling protest against the implementations. "Horace Rumbold and the other allied high commissioners in Istanbul sent a protest telegram to the Government of Ankara in relation to forced migration and executions in the east Black Sea. However besides that in the meeting of Rumbold with Dorotheos, the deputy Patriarch on the date of 6th October, Rumbold stated that the reasons of the massacre claims forwarded to the English Government by both sides during the Turk - Greek war in Anatolia was the on-going war at that time. If a peace settlement between the Government of Ankara and Greece can be signed such massacres (abç) would be ended." "The Entente States were not staying back for making efforts to nullify the measures taken. Thus hanging of the instigators of The Greek Pontos with the decision of the Independence Court and forced migration of most of them to the interior of Anatolia was answered with protest notes of the representatives of the Entente States in Istanbul. The ministry of the foreign affairs of the National Government is comfortable in the responsive note given against this on the date of 15th September 1921. In any case the implementations were informed to Admiral Bristol before by the Government of Ankara.

The meeting of Deputy Patrick with Rumbold is also interesting: "Rumbold tells that in his meeting on 14th of October with deputy Patrick, the deputy Patrick told me that the Ankara Government was realizing mass executions in Samsun and he asked me if it was possible for the English to end this situation and then he got up from his chair and kneeled down and he melted into tears. Rumbold could cool down the deputy Patrick by giving him his word for realizing the necessary meetings with the Ankara government. Later on Rumbold informed that in his meeting with Mr. Hamit , the authorized person of the Ankara Government in Istanbul he had information about these executions. Mr Hamid told that persons who were sentenced to death penalty were in separatist activity and they cooperated with the Grecian Forces. These persons were judged in the constituted courts and they were sentenced to death.

Eventually killing of 11.188 persons in Pontos was disclosed in the official documents and the rest were exiled under the name of excambium thus Pontoses were scratched from their historical lands.
When we set our eyes on the judgments of the official penal institution called Independence Courts in Amasya, we see Lakovos Kulehoris. In this section we will give a place to Lakovos Kulehoris's memoires which were written by him in 1990 who saved his life was with 7,5 years of penalty after judgment in this court. The memoires of Kulehoris provide us with first hand information in relation to arrests and judgments. The also include both Young Turk periods. Now let's read the story of Kulehoris:


Pseudo Judgments of Amasya

"Certainly a lot of documents were written in relation to persecutions applied to the Greeks of Pontos. I am 95 years old and I also want to contribute to these memories: I recognize these persecutions closely. I lived the life in exile twice and I was closed in prisons. I was sentenced to 7,5 years of penalty and imprisoned by the Independence court which was constituted by Mustafa Kemal Pasha. [As we mentioned above, it is written in the official propaganda book that the decision was taken in common in the Independence court and Command of the Central Army.]

These persecutions can be divided into two periods. The first period is the persecution period during the 1st World War and the second period is the persecution period during the Turkish - Greek war of Asia Minor. Within the first period two monsters were ruling Turkey, Enver Pasha and Talat Pasha and within the second period the ruler was Mustafa Kemal who later got the name of Atatürk . Within the first period white death marches and military courts played an important part. Within the second period during the Asia Minor War, exiles once again and Independence Courts which were constituted by Mustafa Kemal were on the stage.

76 years passed after the first persecution period and 70 years past after the persecutions in the second one. I suffered and am continuously suffering in my soul because of the occurred executions and exiles during all these years. Slaughtering of these patriot men up to the present gives me deep since I lived with most of them during the exiles and in the prisons. I believe that bones of these men are still shivering and screaming just like the orphan children and grandchildren of them. All these things pushed me to write these lines as a helpless village teacher, as a human being although I am not an historian for the memory of these victims and in order to make a Mevlid (an Islamic memorial ceremony) for them. I assume this as a mission for these victims. In my advanced age I suffer endlessly with these memories. I wrote these expressions which I made in order to ease my pain. At the same time I also write in order to escape from the pursuit of the bones of my unburied ancestors.

I will try to be as objective (and neutral) as possible during the expression of these persecutions. Let's go to the year of 1914. It was noon in the month of May. I was going to secondary school as second grade. Platon Ayvatcidis, the deputy bishop of the metropolitan came to the school and told us the followings: Kids, the schools are being closed at the behest of the patriarchate since the Young Turks are persecuting The West Anatolian Greeks. We cried and left the school. The day after that day we saw that mourn was started in the church of Hagia Triada (The Cathedral of Samsun) with black fabrics on the doors of the church. This protest of the Patriarchate in the year of 1914 frightened the local Greek administrators in the upper districts of Samsun. Observer groups were established against a massacre which might be performed by Turks. These were observing the upper vicinities of Samsun. Stilianos Kosmidis was leading them who had the nickname of İstil Aga later. This person had the first guerilla groups constituted during the 1st World War.

In the month of September the schools were opened again however because of mobilization and economic restrictions and lack of class for me I could not continue to the school. At that point persecutions started. We can provide the date of May 1914 as the starting date of the persecutions; since in the year of 1915, 1,5 million Armenians were massacred. The program of the Young Turks was the extermination of all minorities. However in 1908 the same young Turks, appeared as the progressive Turks and thus they announced the constitution by using the words of freedom, equality and justice as in the French Revolution of 1789. Turks were speaking the words of freedom, justice, equality and fraternity. Unfortunately we, the Greeks believed in these words and it seems like we comprehended these as Cheerful Bible Readings. We believed that we would live in a good condition. However we were living in a good condition in the period of Hamit. The Young Turks expelled Hamit and they replaced him with Reşat. Their program was extermination of the minorities.

Exiles were started from Kadıköy of Samsun in 1916. People of Kadıköy have become the target of the Young Turks since during the proclamation of the Constitutional Period in 1908, the local Greeks ruined by throwing rocks at the police station and this was a wrong attitude. At the same time, there was a strike organized by the workers at German-French REJI Company which was the tobacco monopoly by the proclamation of the Constitutional Period before trade unions were not formed. During the strike the workers had stolen the tobacco leaves for themselves. Because the Young Turks had remembered that issue, on 17th December 1916, Tuesday, the second day of birthday of Jesus Christ and during the Agios Stefanos holiday during the police forces had blockaded the Kadıköy district and gathered us in the town square at the noon time and lead us in ranks to İlias village by walking. The soldiers had met us there and forced us to start walking at night. We had reached Çorum which was our exile place after five days of walking.

This exile had continued till 1918. I could escape from there secretly with my sisters. My mother was freed from the exile since she was at the village. Only half of the exiles could return after the proclamation of the Armistice at the end of 1918. The half who could not return had died due to poverty, typhus fever and cruelties during the exile. In fact not even half of the exiles returned. Since there weren't enough men in the Greek community at that time, I was assigned to the executive board under the presidency of Polivios Raptarhis of the community by Metropolitan Bishop Karavangelis. I undertook the secretary member duty. We could gather as much as possible and opened our school by finding a Priest from Kavak and two women teachers. Those were the primary exiles.

Now let's have a look at the second period of exile. In the summer of 1920, many Greeks from Samsun who had economic power had escaped to Istanbul which was in the hands of international forces due to their fears when M. Kemal had captured the power in the Central Anatolian region. Among those people, there was a man named Kalliadis who was originally from the Thrace and was working with me at the REJI Company as a cashier. This person went to the ferry port to bid farewell to his family but he escaped to Istanbul by boarding the ferry by not informing the company. The director Yordan Totomanidis had become very angry when he learnt about it. However those escapers had anticipated that what would happen in some way. The director of REJI Company, Yordan Totomanidis was a very honest and patriotic person and had good relations with Metropolitan Bishop Karavangelis. This fact must have been known by the Turks. In the autumn of 1920, M. Kemal invited Totomanidis to Ankara in order to make a search of the tobacco factories. The REJI Company was providing whole tobacco products of Turkey. The eastern cities were purchasing tobacco from Samsun and the western cities from Izmir which was under the direction of the Greeks. And the Macedonian region got service from Kırbaşı factory in Istanbul. Because Totomanidis had suspicions of weird events, he sent Makezi who was originally Italian and the controller of the REJI Company to Ankara. However M. Kemal asked for Totomanidis and returned the Italian back and then Totomanidis gathered us for a meeting. The workers of the REJI Company were mostly Greek, Armenian and Jewish and only watchmen were Turks. Totomanidis told us by saying farewell that: I don't know whether I can return or not but I have a request for you to please conduct the factory faithfully and efficiently. One month later we have heard that Totomanidis was assassinated cruelly by Topal Osman who was the man of M. Kemal.

What have been told above were the first phases of the second cruelty period. In 1921, a policeman came to my home and took me to the central police station of Samsun. The members of the executive board of the music club ORFEAS were also there. We were in total six people including the president, the teacher Valiuli and the cashier. The activities of this music club consisted of two periods. The first one was the period of which Ahileas Atakidis was the president between 1908 when was founded and first world war. At that time I was not a member since I was around 13-14 years old. The second period started in 1919 when it was founded again with my initiative and finalized on the 8th of January with the closure of the club and our arrest. The crime imputed was the unauthorized activity of the club and reestablishment of the club. They kept us two months in jail and then sent us to Amasya. Mustafa Kemal had founded the independence courts by eliminating his opponents who are pro-Sultan and dominating Anatolia. At the same period the exiles started.

We stayed in Amasya for 5-6 months and we were put on trial at the military court. In our pleas we said that the club had its authorization and we have only started the activities again. First the president Valiauli was questioned and I found him at a corner as doubled up situation. And then I was asked by the chief judge that: What would you say, if I show you a document saying that we are intending a guerrilla war? And I replied with repartee saying that hang me if there is such document. I was so sure and I continued saying that our intent was to protect from crime and all the documents are in your hands. Then they showed me the document. The document was stamped and looked real. The signature belonged to Macedonian warrior general Yorgo Conto having a nickname of Varda and the following was written: The guns will be disembarked close to the lighthouse the city with a ship and according to this, the clubs and youth branches must be organized as we did in Macedonia. I started breaking out in a cold sweat when I read the document. However when I saw that the date of the document 1908 or 1909, I gave sigh of relief and said that: Gentlemen the date of the document is that and because I knew that the first period's president Ahileas Atakidis escaped to Istanbul at that time, I said that I don't know how this document is founded because it belongs to that period. In 1909 Karavangelis left Macedonia and became metropolitan bishop of Amasya and maybe he had a relation with the general Conto. I cannot say that the document was real or not. At the end of the trial; I, Valiauli and Serefo were sentenced to 7.5 years of prison and the other two members and the cashier were sentenced to 5 years of prison.
5-6 months soon after that trial, all notable Pontos Greek persons of Samsun and Bafra regions had been brought to Amasya. They were 89 persons in total and most of them were doctors, lawyers and pharmacists. There were also merchants among them. Any of them knew the reason of arrest. They learnt from us where they had been brought. After that, Turk Ankara regime gathered all male population of Samsun in three large groups and exiled them. Two groups were attacked by the men of Topal Osman on the way. Most of them were massacred or injured. Slightly injured ones were brought to Amasya prisons and other Greek prisoners cured them. One of those groups there was Alkiviadis Raptarhis and he committed suicide with a poison of which he brought with himself by taking advantage of disorder. After male population of Samsun had been exterminated, the gang of Topal Osman started to burn out the surrounding villages which were suspected of helping the guerrillas. At the beginning of September 1921, 89 detainees together with us (eventhough court decision was finalized) were taken to the court. We as the executive board members of ORFEAS were seized with fear. At the last moment, Professor Papamarkos was taken to the court and was hanged at the end of the trial. Since we have leant that the trial would be done on Monday, we had performed a holy Sunday ceremony. We had all holy wine and bread. Archpriest Platon Ayvazidis appealed for mercy from God for all of us.

Let's have a look at the trial process of people from Bafra and Samsun. The first day the names of the accused were read. The second day the accusation was read. The attributed crime was: to aim to establish the Pontos state and the evidence were the Metropolitan documents and the document founded at the ORFEAS Club that was previously mentioned.

The documents of Metropolitan were read and in my opinion they were not containing any serious crimes. At the end, the deceased Platon Ayvazidis asked for permission to speak saying that if there is one guilty, he would be himself and he is representing the Metropolitan Bishop Yermanos Karavangelis who is in Istanbul. Actually the representative of Amasya Metropolitan Bishop was Bafra Bishop Zilon but this spiritual leader died because the aggravated circumstances of Amasya prison and he was buried in Amasya. Karavangelis was very patriotic but he was lack of diplomatic and political discourse. He had repelled the Governor of Samsun badly who came to welcome him together with Samsun community when he returned back from Istanbul in 1920. This was an incorrect attitude for a Metropolitan bishop like throwing rocks at the police station in Kadıköy in 1908 as we mentioned previously.

On the third day the decision was announced. 69 of the 95 accused persons were condemned to death and the remaining 26 persons including the executive board members were sentenced to 15-20 years of prison. We were sentenced to the same as before. After the decision was announced, Yorgo Yelkencioğlu who was a very respectable and serious man stood up by saying: SHAME ON YOUR JUSTICE! when he heard that he was being sentenced to death with his brother Platon Yelkencioğlu.
Among 69 persons sentenced to death there were three doctors and one pharmacist - officers from the Greek Army brought from the western front. One of them Pelopidas Epifanidis from upper regions of Samsun gave me his wallet, watch and wedding ring without saying anything but with anger and determination when he heard the decision. Two days after the execution day, I realized that the wallet was given to Pelopidas by another man who had been sentenced to death and believed that Pelopidas would not been executed since he was an officer. That man who was working for the REJI Company requested from Pelopidas to send a quite amount of money in the wallet to his son in exile. Their fate was that both of them were among 69 persons who were executed.

The trial of 3 persons from Trebizond who were conducted an investigation followed the trial of persons from Samsun and Bafra. They were a member of parliament Kofidis, rich man Aleksi Aktritidis and a journalist Niko Kapetanidis who was publishing "Epohi (Epoch)" newspaper in Trebizond. Niko was very brave and impassioned patriotic man. When the 69 were being taking to execution, we were very emotional mood whereas Kapetanidis was saying that unfortunately I am missing this national fair! Trebizond lost only those three men because many notable persons of the city had gone together with the Russians when they were falling back in 1917. Later the trial of notable persons of Ak-dağ-maden and the priest firstly was held. Only priest Vasil Felekis survived among them and he became a teacher in Macedonia when he had arrived in Greece. Before those trials leading to mass executions, parents originally from Samsun, two students and one teacher from the Merzifon College and a barber were executed without knowing why they were put on trial.

After we had stayed at the Erzincan prison close to the Euphrates River for 40 months, they took us to the Trebizond prison together with 26 prisoners from different prisons. The Mixed Population Exchange Commission came there and we have been embarked on a ship named KAVALA. The ship stopped by at Samsun and refugees were taken. The population exchange had commenced already. The refugees were landed in Kavala and Thessaloniki. It was May when we arrived in Greece.

Here those are my sufferings."

The Pontos people, by means of judicial or extrajudicial execution, have been wiped off their historical lands.

 

References

1.  Sait Çetinoğlu, the Independence Courts, the Official Ideology Dictionary, Ed. Fikret Başkaya, Free University Publications, within 2007.
2.  Ayşe Hür, The Unofficial History of Pontus, www.taraf.com.tr/ayse-hur/makale-pontusun-gayri-resmi-tarihi.htm
3. The History of the War of Independence volume IV, The Riots in the Independence War 1919-1921 The Print house of The General Staff 1974 page 282
4.  In the issue dated as 3rd November 1911 of the London Times Newspaper it is stated under the heading of "The Young Turks and their Program" that this congress goes on and that the forced Ottomanization of all peoples was decided certainly. The realization of this would be done by the armament of the Muslims. In the publication of the newspaper some of the things said in the Congress are as follows: "...Turkey first of all is a Muslim country... There is no trust in Christians therefore any other religious propaganda must be suppressed... These groups always struggled in order to collapse the new regimen [young Turks]... organizing the minorities, ensuring their autonomy and ensure their participation to the police is not possible and they can preserve their religions however they must change their languages. Gaining sovereignty for the Turkish language is one of the main elements of the Muslim sovereignty..."
The followings are written in the issue dated as 10th July 1910 of the newspaper of "Nea Alitheia" which is published in Greek in Thessaloniki: "What can we say about our Greeks. The words became meaningless in order to describe everyday oppressions full of this much violence. You are exterminating us. We are unable to find words in order to explain the destructions happened within the last two years. Why are we exposed to all these oppressions? We were promised that no one would be exposed to injustice. Nevertheless legislations which close our churches, schools and graveyards were voted. You are taking things which belong to us and giving them to others. You are imprisoning our priests and teachers. You are beating the citizens and screams and elegies are heard everywhere."

5.  Vlasis Ağcidis, From Samsun to Srebrenica www.mesop.net/osd/?app=izctrl&archiv=220&izseq...artid...
6.  The documents in relation to Topal Osman Aga (The Lame Osman) are still in the dark. Even a few documents which were made public document the applied violence and oppression: In the official letter dated as 4th September 335 from Giresun of the civil inspector for the home office the followings were written:

"to the dignitary of ministry of interior
It was understood that Osman Aga, the mayor of Giresun, committed the crime of official misconduct by means of starting to collect ten liras per mensem of municipality tax from the cinema of Madam Pavlidi without notice and the act of the parliament, on this basis district governorship of Giresun was authorized for juristical act against him, it is informed that the copy of the result was sent as attached" BOA. DH.UMVM 92/74
A second document also shows the violence of the head of the gangs: "To the district governorship of Giresun, "It is informed that this Osman Aga had himself elected mayor of Giresun and thus he besieged the house of monsieur kostantinides who is one of the respected persons of the town and he demanded eighteen thousand liras and he threatened monsieur kostantinides to burn his house and to abduct three daughters of konstantinides in case of refusal of this demand" BOA. DH. KMS 44/10, in another document, the commissariat of Beyoğlu talks about Osman Aga as "The Head of the Gangs". BOA DH.KMS 50/2
The wrinkles of the Topal (Lame) Osman is informed to the province of Trabzon as articled with also the sign of Fehmi, the regiment clerk: "to the province of Trabzon, the two letters which were sent to the ministry with the sign of Fehmi, the regiment clerk, which contain articles in relation to official misconduct of Topal (Lame) Osman Aga, the mayor of the district governorship of Giresun were sent to the higher office identically, please do the necessary research for these two letters and send the document in the envelop back by executing the necessary processes." BOA. DH.KSM 51/1-4
Rıza Nur quotes in his memories that Topal (lame) Osman told him the followings; ‘Sir, yes, i collect money however i did not get a grain of a Muslim. All of these i got are the goods of the giaours. In my head there are thousands of insects. These are blood shedders, bandits. I collect them and combat with the enemy otherwise they ramble on the mountains and damage the people. They ask for food, clothes and pocket money... These Greeks are doing lots of bad things to us. It is halal to get their money and lives...". Rıza Nur who is the minister of health of the mentioned period and the negotiator of Lausanne approves the acts of Topal Osman and encourages him. Dr Rıza Nur, My Life and Memories Volume 3 mark 1992, pages 163-164.
Osman Aga is free to act and he continues to advance and he exterminates everything in Pontos.
7.  Bestami S. Bilgiç, The Greeks of The East Black Sea The Rebellion and Immigration (1919-1923) THS, 2011, pages 108-109,
8.  Bestami S. Bilgiç, The Greeks of The East Black Sea... page 119
9.  The History of the War of Independence volume IV, The Riots in the Independence War 1919-1921 The Print house of The General Staff 1974 page 284
10.  "The main mission of Mustafa Kemal who stepped on to Samsun on May 19, 1919 with the role of 9th Army Inspector is to prevent these clashes which endanger the armistice. According to H.İ. Dinamo who told this period in his novel named as "The Holy Rebellion", ‘Mustafa Kemal negotiated with Topal (lame) Osman Aga who is one of the famous roughnecks of the region as soon as he comes to the basin and he left salvation from the Pontus trouble to the experienced hands of Topal (lame) Osman'. Topal Osman told him that ‘Don't worry Pasha. I will give these Greeks of Pontos such incense, all of them will be choked in the caves like wasps'. Topal Osman was sought during those dates by the court martial of Istanbul because of his crimes in the Armenian Massacres. Probably the arrest warrant for Osman Aga was removed with the request of Mustafa Kemal on the date of July 1919 by Sultan Vahdettin and Topal Osman started the work of cleansing the Greeks of Pontos in the Trabzon region in spite of the objections of local administrators such as tenant of Giresun and Cemal Azmi who is the governor of Trabzon." Ayşe Hür, The Unofficial History of Pontus
11.  Konstanidis in Marseille who is the former mayor of Giresun sends a telegram to Leon Trotsky, the Russian Foreign Affairs Commissar and he puts in words this independence thought: "Our congress that was realized in Pont-Euxien (Black Sea) and its vicinity which convened in Marseille with the participation of the representatives who live in United States of America, Swiss, England, Greece, Egypt and other countries and who were authorized with the organization work of the Pontos works desires to constitute a republic within the region between the Russian border and Sinop since this region can not enter into the domination of the Turks after evacuation by Russians and in order to realize this mission we ask you to involve violently and we would like to present our thanks in advance. Chairman Konstantinidis on behalf of Pontos Congress" After Konstantidis the mayoralty of Giresun is grabbed by Topal (Lame) Osman Aga and with the systematical oppression massacres are started.
12.  For more information, Ragıp Zarakolu, Sait Çetinoğlu, Teofanis Malkidis, THE GREEK GENOCIDE: THE MASS CRIME IN PONTUS, Pontian Club of Kavala Prefecture 2011, Sait Çetinoğlu The Pontos Independence Movement and Pontos Genocide www.armenieninfo.net, Ayşe Hür: The Unofficial History of Pontus, http://www.taraf.com.tr/ayse-hur/makale-pontusun-gayri-resmi-tarihi.htm
13.  The History of the War of Independence volume IV, The Riots in the Independence War 1919-1921 The Print house of The General Staff 1974 page 292
14.  The Pontus Issue, The Press and Intelligence Printing House Ankara 1922 Facsimile, prepared by Yılmaz Kurt for publication, The Printing House of The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) 1995, page 378.
15.  The Pontus Issue... pages 379-380
16.  The Pontos Issue... pages 381-383
17.  Since the Independence Court of Samsun which began duty later on the month August of the year 1921 also continued its activities in Amasya regularly, its name in the official documents is written mostly as the Independence Court of Amasya. It is indicated that the Independence Court of Sivas worked in Amasya in general therefore this court is known as the Independence Court of Amasya.
18.  The Pontos Issue... page 390
19.  The arrested persons were judged in the Independence Court of Amasya. When the penalties given by this court are observed it is seen that 199 Greeks were punished because they implicated to the Pontos issue, 7 Greeks were punished because they spied, 4 Greeks were punished because they did not accept the military service, 42 Greeks and 1 Muslim were punished because they helped the bandits, 15 Greeks were punished because they protected the bandits, 100 Greeks and 10 Muslims were punished because they escaped from the military service, 4 Greeks were punished because of banditry, 39 Greeks were punished because they participated to the Pontos gangs. And also one person was punished because of the the crime of "kidnapping the Greek Women who were subjected to sending". The religious belonging of this person was not indicated. However if a Greek was punished because of a crime, this was indicated. If the person who was punished because of the crime of kidnapping the Greek Women who were subjected to sending, he would be indicated. Therefore this person must be Muslim. Bestami S. Bilgiç, The Greeks of The East Black Sea The Rebellion and Immigration (1919-1923) THS, 2011, pages 108 -109,
20.  The Pontos Issue... page 396
21.  The Pontos Issue... pages 398-399
22.  ATASE Archive Folder 1124, File 18, Index 137. Adopted by Mustafa Balcıoğlu, Two Revolts Koçgiri and Pontos , A Pasha, Pasha Nurettin, Babil Pub. 2003 ... page 36
23.  This treatise of Venezis the master of the Modern Greek Literature is being prepared for publication by International Belge Publishing.
24.  Kilaman, The memories of a Greek who comes from Anatolia, Lazaros K. Aşıkoğlu, International Belge Publishing, 2010
25.  The Pontos Issue... page 405
26.  From Bristol to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 19th October 1921, NARA767.68/155,
27.  From the Deputy Patrick to Bristol, 24th October 1921, NARA767.68/155,
28.  From The Greek National Defense Committee in Istanbul to Rumbold, 10th October 1921, F0371/6534,
29.  Bestami S. Bilgiç, The Greeks of The East Black Sea The Rebellion and Immigration (1919-1923) THS, 2011, pages 108 - 109
30.  From Rumbold to Curzon, 15th October 1921, inclusive of Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, First Series, Vol. XVII, page 441.
31.  I underlined it, It is worthy of consideration that the things done in Pontos are valuated as Massacre in the publication of THS the official organ of T.R.
32.  Bestami S. Bilgiç, The Greeks of The East Black Sea, pages 111
33.  The History of the War of Independence volume IV, The Riots in the Independence War 1919-1921 The Print house of The General Staff 1974 page 293
34.  From Rumbold to Curzon, 15th October 1921, inclusive of Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, First Series, Vol. XVII, pages 440-442.
35.  The agent of the Ankara Government in Istanbul (Abdül) Hamid Hasancan
36.  From Rumbold to Curzon, 15th October 1921, inclusive of Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, First Series, Vol. XVII, page 441.
37.  The History of the War of Independence volume IV, The Riots in the Independence War page 294
38.  Lakovos Kulehoris, Samsun and Its Sufferings, The Printing House of Kirikakidi Brothers, Thessaloniki 1991

      
      

 

     

 

     

 

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