Natanian, a 'thought criminal' in 19th Century

Arsen Yarman who prepared for edition the impressions and observations of the opposing and critic clergyman Boghos Natanian, related with Sivas, Amasya and Tokat[i] by the end of 1870s, enriching them with the travel notes of another religious, Karekin Servantsiants who visited the region at the same years, together with important photos, notes and explanations pertaining to the relevant period, through his long

foreword of nearly 150 pages deserving to be a separate volume, offers a contribution beyond historical and cultural clarifications, to make more understandable for today's readers the reports written by Natanian and Servantsiants.

Because of Natanian's writings, "the priest's life ended in tears and misery like the metaphor he used to title his book"[ii].

He was forgotten, even his biography remained almost wiped out, but Arsen Yarman brought his words to light years later to present them as a comprehensive resource for 20th century historians. Years later the heroic Armenian who ended his life by a tragic death in exile where he was sent to lower his voice, reaches us. Arsen Yarman who offers Natanian's work of 200 pages to readers with a supplement of 350 pages summarizes his study as follows: "I felt much consideration to see such a beautiful narration in so few pages and I decided to edit his work in whole without shortening it and indicate Boghos Natanian as the writer of the book and me as the editor."[iii]

The presentation, through a summary of the history of the relevant period, focuses specially on the years 1876-1878 as the turning points of the Armenian question, besides the reforms converting the armenian population, their importance and meaning as regards the said population and the narration of the historical process of the Armenian question as well. Arsen Yarman briefly says: "To show in which conditions Boghos Natanian took up his pen, we tried to touch to the important turning points of the historical process embracing the 19th Century from end to end and to explain the influences of the related process on the Ottoman society."

Reminding not to disregard the internal dynamics while looking over the modernization movements in the Empire as from Tanzimat and Islahat, Arsen Yarman draws our attention to the contribution of the Armenians representing the most considerable elements of these dynamics. Although the main objective of the reforms was the strengthening of the Empire and to establish the loyalty of its subjects to the central administration, due to the nature of the reforms themselves the Ottoman bureaucracy would sooner or later encounter the issue of Muslim-non Muslim equality...Because the new administration model foresees assemblies despite certain limits, and laic practices. The steps taken following the firmans of 1839 and 1856 introduced the concepts of a secular state and citizenship to the Ottoman political life ...Trying to settle and strengthen the understanding of "Ottomanism" was one of the essential objectives of the related reforms. It goes without saying that such an approach has to find solutions to this or that extent for the question of political representation. For it is indispensable to attribute certain rights to subjects whose loyalty is required.

Parallel with the reforms within the framework of the centralisation of the empire, a firman issued at the beginning of 1840, concerning the provincial officials, envisages the establishment of admistrative councils in all the states and the major districts of the Empire. It seems that a balance is observed between state officials and local people while forming the said councils...However we cannot say that this experience was much successful as a whole. It is not also easy to say that the elected representatives really represent the people. Local councils with representatives so elected are far from taking steps to ease life in the provinces. The revolts of peasants which took place in Anatolia and Rumelia in the years 1840 and 1841, reflect this failure and this disappointment. They all began as resistance to high taxations and gave birth to different consequences...Such revolts occurred in Anatolia are soon suppressed and had not considerable effects. As for the rebellions in Rumelia following the proclamation of Tanzimat, their nature changed easily and the demonstrations against taxes are immediately transformed into a nationalistic rebellion. The truth of the matter is that in Anatolia, christian villages like for instance the Meşeli of Konya which rejects to pay the jizyah do not lack too, but those could not acquire a religious or nationalistic characteristic. In Anatolia, contrary to Rumelia, there are not any movements of separatistic and nationalistic features.

The reforms brought by Tanzimat and Islahat aiming at the strengthening of the State experienced many problems in the functioning of provincial councils whereas they wanted to apply the principle of the equality between its Muslim and non-Muslim subjects... At the meetings of provincial (vilayat) councils christian members faced the insults and the belittlement of Muslim members. The equality principle of Tanzimat gave birth to discussions in vilayat councils too as it did among the people. The fatwa of the sheriff of Mecca and the ulama around him accusing of "kufr" the bureaucracy of Tanzimat seems to have found a public equivalent. What happened in Tripoli, represents an interesting example of public reaction. Relying on the proclamation of Tanzimat, a group of christians carrying in the market a corpse on their shoulders instead of a donkey as they did before, are attacked by some Muslims. Such an attack cannot be said to be much amazing, although not an admissible behaviour. In any case what happened afterwards forms the interesting part of the story.

Looking over the complaint registrations (şikâyet defterleri) of that time we would find funny and interesting events. We understand from a petition written to vizierate on 14 January 1841 that metropolitans and kodjabashis elected to the councils of the country complain to The Sublime Porte about other members' insults and careless behaviours that they encounter whenever they present and express an issue. The Council of State Meclis-i Ahkâm-ı Adliye, handled the matter and warned that such behaviours must end and Muslim members be more respectful in all the states (eyalat).

The spread of secular education and lifestyle within the process of Tanzimat modifies the relation between Christian churches and their communities. The most visible appearance of the westernization process from the Armenian community's point of view is that it forces the clergymen and amiras to share their sovereignty with newly strengthened classes...The westernization process of the 19th Century obliged not only those amiras but also Armenians' highest religious institutions to share their power with the middle and upper bourgeoisie.

The laicization of the armenian population constitutes also a model for other populations. Armenians, in a sense, proved themselves to be the pioneers of the secularization of the Ottoman society. The Armenian patriarch's civil authority is highly limited with the Firman of the Tanzimat (Reorganization) and his traditional privileges with religious issues. However, even that limitation is not very strong and encounters a continual erosion.

The Firman of Islahat (Reforms) strongly defends the principle of political representation punily mentioned in the Firman of Tanzimat. It made possible, first of all, the non-Muslims' participation to the processes of preparation and acceptance of laws, by envisaging their membership of the Council of State, Meclis- Vala-yı Ahkâm-ı Adliye. As the non-Muslims appointed to the membership of the related council generally come from the notorious christian families already in close relationship with the Sublime Porte, to what extent they represent their communities remains controversial.

Nevertheless, the institutionalization of the representation in such an important organism is a crucial development deserving not to be overlooked. Secondly, the Firman of Islahat, envisaged the formation by a fair election of the provincial and municipal councils founded by the Firman of Tanzimat, and their reorganization in order to enable the representation of Muslims and non-Muslims at reasonable rates. Thirdly, it also ensured the limitation of clergymen's authorities in the organization of non-Muslim communities, and the participation of civil representatives to the councils of these communities...One can easily perceive behind all these steps the traces of the search of Europeans for some legal guarantees in a country where they would increase their economic investments...This firman defines the concrete steps needing to be taken for the realization of the reforms already promised like the establishment of mixed courts, the annulment of non-Muslims' payment of jizyah, the recruitment of non-Muslims, the prohibition of expressions offending them, the acceptance of their testimony in the courts and every witness's taking an oath according to his religion...Thus it has become the target of many critiques: it is claimed that granting privileges to non-Muslims, in contradiction with the Ottoman sovereignity would not ensure the sympathie and would provoke conflicts between the Muslims and non-Muslims. In fact rebellions occurred in Syria, Jeddah and Lebanon; the assassination of the French and the British consuls following the Muslims' attack on Christians invited the intervention of those countries and the independence of the Ottoman territory is infringed. As for the rebellion in Lebanon, it ended by signing a regulation, nizamname. Through the Lebanese nizamname acted in 1861, Lebanon became an autonomous state headed by a christian governor.

The Firman of Islahat motivated the non-Muslim communities to take crucial steps in the fields of religion and law, made their internal stability greatly alter and be rebuilt. The relevant process will evolve into a new era[iv] with the Armenian National Constitution and will likewise feed the Empire's constitutional process. After the proclamation of the related firman, the Armenian community particularly took, without wasting time, the necessary steps to compose a constitutional text. Armenians attained an almost parliament-like administration mechanism under the Ottoman sovereignty once the Regulation (Nizamname-i Millet-i Ermeniyan), prepared by the Armenian community shortly after the proclamation of the firman was approved by the Ottoman government on 17 March 1863. This regulation shows on one hand the evolution of the modern representation thought in the Armenian community and the reinforcement of the nationalistic comprehension by accelerating the development of this thought on the other hand.

The emerging of a strong middle class and an intelligentsia following with curiosity the democratic bourgeois revolution in the world, impressed by the liberal ideas, shook the amiras and the traditional power balances. A growing number of young armenians began to study in Europe as from the beginning of the 19th Century. Each of them would greatly contribute to the modernization and the acquaintanceship of the Armenian population with the constitutional process.

The Constitution of 1863 is a fundamental text like Basque fueros, anew and radically regulating the Armenian population's institutional structure and the relations of the institutions with each other. We cannot consider it to be a classical constitution, for it includes provisions as regards the social structure of a community in a state and not the state itself. However when we consider the logic of preparation, the terminology, the fact that it clearly defines the fields of activity and the responsibilities of the Armenian population's governing bodies and the individual rights and duties, we can easily attribute the characteristics of a constitution. This text, intending the domination of the mentality that stipulates the representation and election principles and the responsibility of the executive councils, led to a large extent to the modification of the Armenian population's internal relations. The experience of many problems during the application of the constitution and the differences in interpreting the power limits of the institutions caused handicaps.

The Armenian National Constitution became a very important stage as to the strengthening of the constitutional governance in the community and inspired the other commuinities too. The related constitution that ruled between 1869 and 1891 without any tangible problem became practically inoperative after 1891, though not officially suspended by the governement, when the development of the national consciousness in the Armenian community caused an increasing tension within the central structure of the Ottoman state.

Arsen Yarman stresses the leading role of the Armenian National Constitution and its contribution to the Ottoman constitutional process. Although the Armenians in the provinces were not aware of the rights the Armenian National Constitution, with Natanian's words the ‘law' granted to them, the step taken by this constitution is highly important. Furthermore, the approach dominating the relevant text cannot be solely limited with the internal regulations of the Armenian community...More important is the methods inspired by the Armenian National Constitution of 1863, for the arrangement of provinces the Ottoman state made and finally for the Constitution, Kanun-ı Esasi proclaimed in 1876.

This impression beside that of the text itself proves important also from the point of view that Armenian intellectuals took place among the authors of the Kanun-i Esasi of 1876. Another indicator of the Armenian Constitution's effect on the Kanun-i Esasi proclaimed on 23 December 1876 is that some of the authors of the related Ottoman text were also the persons who prepared the Armenian National Constitution: "A direct armenian influence is exercised by the armenian members of the Ottoman constitutional committees. Krikor Odyan, the undersecretary of Justice Vahan Effendi (Hovhannes Vahanyan) and the member of State Council, Şura-i Devlet, Tchamitch Effendi (Hovhannes Tchamitch) acted as the members of the first ottoman committee. Odyan, one of the principal architects of the Armenian Constitution, Mithat Pasha's close friend and his counselor for many years, was among the most effective members of the committee.

The Armenian National Constitution has effects beyond being the source of inspiration of the constitutional text. The parallelism of provincial regulations, vilayat nizamnameleri, of 1864 and 1867 with the Armenian National Constitution proclaimed a few years ago, may be explained by the search of an institutional basis for the principle of representation... The nizamnames of 1864 and 1867, unite in a sense, the principle of representation and the election process. Thus they can be considered with this aspect as being the first steps tending towards a national assembly...We know that Namık Kemal indicated the Christian councils as examples of a national assembly.

Even if the fate of Kanun-ı Esasi is the same with that of Armenian National Constitution, we cannot underestimate the effects of the latter. Even if the related text is never read in later years, it has been the main source of inspiration for the freedom movements in the Ottoman geography. In one respect, the re-entry into force of Kanun-ı Esasi is perceived as a panacea. This should be the reason of the common enthusiasm of subjects of every nationality upon the announcement of the second Constitution, II. Meşrutiyet. The reality is that the deputies of the assembly of 1877 have not come to power following a new general election; they entered the said assembly by granting deputy attributes to the members of the provincial administrative councils, who were regarded as already elected....Among 99 deputies elected for the assembly in 1877 33 were non-Muslims, indicating a rate of one third applied in principle for the representation of non-Muslims[v]...It is wrong to say that this ethnic difference provoked a conflict or made the assembly's integrative role grow difficult. First of all, no one can argue that national claims are expressed in the related assembly nor talk about a solidarity and a tendency to act together of its non-Muslim members. It has not been clearly and definitely put forward until today any organic connection of any member, with several nationalistic associations and movements. On the contrary, we can find many examples of loyalty. "In any case, the emerging nationalists of the Ottoman territory, at the very beginning, suggest confederative programs. While the leaders of the first period of Balkan nationalism like Korias, Velestinlis and Levski whom we can define as being the founders of the said nationalism, wanted to found a state on the basis of national sovereignty, they never envisaged a monarchical state, an ethnically homogeneous population. These leaders dreamed of a multi-ethnic republic integrating the local Muslims as perfect citizens[vi].

A writer who interprets the new stipulations and the functioning of the Armenian National Constitution which is one of the most advanced political texts, states that the representation and the democratization level of those days could not be yet reached after so many years: "When we look at the nizamnames which the Armenians had after the proclamation of Tanzimat, in other words the constitutions that rearranges the community's socioeconomic life, we see that although nearly one hundred and fifty years passed, Armenians have developed and executed a far more democratic structure with higher representation ability, compared with today's communication system. These constitutions aiming at the separation of civil and spiritual fields from each other caused serious frictions like today's disagreements, but they could be applied despite handicaps. Mixed and civil assemblies regulating the civil life are founded thanks to these nizamnames. That is to say, an administrative and representative structure we could not have today was built[vii]."

Natanian, sent to the provinces, commissioned for the examination of the applications under the Armenian Constitution, presents a detailed and courageous report regarding his observations. Boghos Natanian began writing his work published in 1977, in the early months of 1876. He draws also attention to the difficulties the Armenian people faces, while he defines the handicaps of the related applications. Moreover, he bravely emphasizes the internal and external communitywide factors of those difficulties. He will have no fear to criticise whomever lives in injustice, whomever spreads inequity. He makes in this regard no concession to nobody and no distinction between the patriarchate, the church administrators, the notables and the Ottoman Government. Natanian does not connect the domination of the inequity and oppression to the neglectfulness of the official authorities or the local bullies' cruelties only. He does not also hesitate to shoot critical arrows to the armenians who do not refrain from exploiting their own brothers, in cooperation with local authorities, or the Armenian religious and administratrive institutions who, with various concerns, keep silent against the exploiters. For, more than a clergyman, Natanian feels himself tied to the reform and modernization process to an unexpected extent and proves quite sincere in his belief...But the more the belief in reforms is high the more the anger and the disillusionment of giving up said reforms is high too.

Finally, the reports he has written will please nobody and he will be sent to exile where a tragic end waits for him.

At the beginning, Natanian is hopeful enough to expect Abdulhamid II to change Armenians' ill fortune into good luck...However things developped in a quite different sense. As Natanian says, Armenians' "misfortune" went on during the long period of hamidian despotism and the relation between the Ottoman government and the Armenian community became extremely strained. This strained relation grew worse as from 1880s and the level of violence reached its peak in the events of 1895-1896 and continued until the deportations of the First World War..

The new era starting from the late 1870s appears to be a time where the ottoman Armenians are deprived of peace and security. An armenian from Sivrihisar hosting a british traveler, Henry C. Barkley, in the late 1870s gives the latter an ironic definition of peace: "Our host told us that Armenians get on well with Turks, ‘We are not like Bulgarians or Christians. We do nothing when one robs us, say nothing when one beats us. So, we ensure peace' says he."...That policy will lead to many tragic consequences because of the despotism gradually deepened by Abdul Hamid II after the second half of 1890s.

Natanian, expects Abdul Hamid II whom he qualify as "glorious and charitable Sultan" to give an end to the oppression and persecutions endured by the Armenians. However, he witnessed that the related reforms did not persevere under his rule and he was sentenced to exile due to his harsh critiques he wrote in his treatise. Boghos Natanian's personal life story has shared the fate of that increasing demand of freedom in the Ottoman society in the second half of the19th Century. The demand for freedom and prosperity has soon found an echo in the Armenian community and the belief is spread that the new sultan would bring a more free and egalitarian order. Essentially when we think about Armenians' contributions in the Empire's efforts of reformation to expand the freedoms, the rise of this belief in the Armenian community too is not deemed surprising. Moreover we can say that the strengthening of a middle class influenced by new ideas and experiences like the regulation of 1863, Nizamname, make the Armenian community acquire a more dynamic and critical look as regards rights and freedoms. These transformations experienced by the Armenian community in the 19th Century played an important role in Boghos Natanian's having this much a critical look in search of equality and freedom despite that he was a clergyman.

In his report Natanian describes in detail the history, the geography, the demography, the economic status and the human relations of Sivas.

Apart, he does not refrain from showing the way gently while he expresses his critiques. "I wrote these lines not to complain about my respectable brothers in the priesthood, but to publicly express the pain in my heart. Because, I know that each monastery of this kind could be a source of public improvements, innovation and knowledge for the people of the region, provided they are well administered."

Natanian draws the cultural portrait of the places he visited and examined carefully. We know that a newspaper is published in Sivas at those times. "Vartanian is conducting the editions of a provincial turkish paper named Sivas." He informs us of the presence of the armenian nomads. "There is a nomadic household."

While he describes the city's economic structure he draws attention to the role of the Armenians in that structure too."The number of riches and traders in the city is not much and they particularly are Armenians". He is also closely interested with the region's economic structure and relations and makes descriptions in detail. We notice his detailed manner of telling when he talks about the structure of the craft and the trade of Sivas: "There are as many as thirty crafts in Sivas at the hands of Armenians in the main. The big markets in the city comprise many shops selling lots of goods. The number of shops some large some small is over 1200 and the majority of craftsmen and particularly the main part of the traders are Armenians. There is a small market, ‘Sıbaha', also called Bezesten, comprising thirty roofed shops made of stone. The market has three large gates the first one facing East, the second West and the third South. There are forty-seven inns some large some small. One of them belongs to the Armenians. It is called Millet Hanı, ‘the Inn of the Nation', made of wood and has thirty rooms. Apart that, a land is purchased to build a school on, paying 40.000 piasters." He also details the division of labor between them: "Peasants would experience great difficulty in terms of money and clothing, in the absence of the merchants and artisans of the city. Townspeople, likewise would suffer from food scarcity in the absence of the peasants. They are bound to each other by parallel and indivisible interests and remain in mutual need. Villages are shared out by the artisans of the city. Some townsmen got a share of twenty villages, some thirty. Thus, every year when autumn comes, they give clothings to the villagers without asking them for money. Then, in summer they go to the villages to get oil, sheep, cheese, wheat, butter, etc. in return. So the villagers and the townsmen pay back their reciprocal debts. And this is a good tradition from the old Armenia, which is practiced until today."

Natanian gives also his opinions on the economic future of the relevant region: "A sugar factory would well be a significant source of income."

When he talks about the cultural assets of the churches and their preservation: "The monastery has a very rich library with 296 printed books and more than 47 manuscripts which have never been brought to light." He draws attention to the educational activities of the churches: "The main church possesses five schools for boys and girls." He explains the detailed program of ‘Tarkmantchats School's curriculum to enable us to have an idea on these institutions: "‘Tarkmantchats' is the biggest school of the city, a two-story building made of wood. Two hundred students study in the upper story. Hundred of them learn linguistics, divided into eleven classes. In other words, they are educated on grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, mathematics, Christianity, history of Religion, Armenian history, Turkish and French. As one can notice the school has a rich curriculum." Speaking of yet another school's female students: "Some of the girls learn grammar, mathetmatics, national history, Christianity whereas the remaining ones are simply taught to read." Armenian girls seem to be a lot luckier than Muslim girls of that period.

Meanwhile he expresses a critique of his related with them: "I want to make a little critique about the students I mentioned above. The habitants of Sivas who started action feeling the absence of a school for girls, must, if possible, pay attention that the girls' dresses be simple too. They must try to embellish the inside rather than the outside."

He points out the magnificence of religious buildings beside the deprivation of certain schools too, while he underlines the importance of the latters: "Children are sitting down on the earth due to the lack of benches. There is a magnificent building apart that one, constructed of wood for the spirituals."

He speaks about the confiscation of the assets of the places of worship because of the inability to protect them: "There should be once a big garden outside the walls of the church, but the Turks have seized it by force and it is now their possession."

He relates the charitable foundations with praise, giving examples of their activities: "Here the Armenians really deserve being praised and shown as models to the others, for, because of their love for the nation, they founded many associations for the benefit of our community ."

Natanian draws a detailed profile while talking about the other populations beside the Armenians: "There is a separate quarter of Rums consisting of forty households. That makes on an average a population of more than two hundred people. The poors and the artisans make the majority. There are only a few merchants among them. They have a church, a priest named Andon and a school where reading lessons are given. They completely lost their native language, the majority speaks Turkish. They hold good relations with the Armenians as they are a little population." He talks also in detail about catholic and protestant Armenians. As we understand thanks to Natanian, those non-Muslim populations attach so much importance to education, even in the smallest settlements schools with rich curriculums take absolutely place next to the church notwithstanding a small number of students. In case they have no teacher, a priest takes the education in charge. Besides, he gives a good example of what could be realised when the possibility arises. He draws attention to the young people practicing the teacher's profession in their villages, once they trained themselves and became experienced appreciating the related possibility: "Teachers of Armenian in this school are the devoted students trained by Chrisdosdour Effendi, the teacher of Galata Bazar School in İstanbul. These children were previously working as porters in the capital."

When he speaks of Armenians' relations with the Muslim population, he often judge in a negative way. He refers to the oppression and the discrimination executed by the Muslim population: "As for the Muslim population, they count more than five thousand households. Apart, some thirty gypsies take part in the population too. There are more than twenty-five thousand Muslims on average. They seem to be on friendly terms with the Armenians but they secretly consider them as being their rivals and do not like them. When all the kids big and little see a priest in the street they shout in unison "Monk oshosh!". Adults have the habit of calling Armenians "giaour", infidel. The hatred reached such a high degree, for instance if a Turk thinks that the good purchased by an Armenian in the market is necessary for him too, he does not allow the Armenian to take it. Even he purchases the related good at a lower price, thus causing a kind of injustice; he often insults when the occasion arises, torments or attacks the Armenian. Let us also say that they fear the local administrator, but it's no use, they bother the people every day. Armenians are afraid of acquiring property. Even if some of them have properties, they are few. Because they seized by violence lots of goods from the Armenians and use them today with pleasure..." He cares about the smallest detail: "The bother Turkish women cause is that they do not want to take a bath together with the Armenian women, claiming they are abominable in regard to a Muslim. In eight baths, the Armenian women are alloved to wash themselves on special days only, namely on Saturday and Tuesday afternoons."

Natanian, enumerates examples of emigrations due to the oppressions. When the torments in Sivas start bothering the Armenians, the habitants, specially the peasants of Bardizag, unable to withstand the persecutions left their village for foreign lands. Where they emigrated is most probably Bardizag [Bahçecik] near İzmit. Bardizag[viii], obtains its name from those emigrants.

People changed their religion as a consequence of pressures: "Once the number of Armenians in this village reached four hundred, but they, albeit unwillingly, adopted Islam because of the persecutions. Now, there remains only forty-eight armenian households." People in Sivas and Armenia are hospitable, but they do not get anything in return: "Hospitality is an ancient tradition all over both in Sivas and Armenia. The doors always ready to receive guests, they welcome all passengers to their houses without discrimination. They duly respect and feed them. But unfortunately the poor Armenians are not rewarded for their respects."

When he relates the Muslim schools, he mentions the low level of education, how the schools treat the education and the instruction indifferently and regrets all the money spent by the state. He criticizes the behavior of Muslim students towards the Armenian children, emphasizes the discrimination: "A very large number of students are educated here, but to tell the truth, instead of being duly educated and instructed, they learn to act in the market and the streets in a manner unsuitable for students. And they hostilely behave towards the Armenian children...What a shame for the money spent by the state!"

He also reproaches God while he stresses the bad destiny, the injustices and the abandonment endured by his people: "As if God wants to look at this unfortunate people, with indifferent eyes."

He will mention the insensibility of the administration with the following words: "The governor called Behram Pasha made build a stone arch on this excursion spot and passing this sweet water flowing through the trees at a quarter distance, by the said arch, brought it to the city to distribute it to the houses of the Turkish notables...As for the Armenians, nothing at all."

When Natanian makes the evaluation at the end of his study, he underlines the darkling political situation of the Armenian people that became captive, humiliated by the oppressions: "The political situation of the provincial Armenians too is not bright. One understands much better as he advances towards the interior of the provinces, the ignorance of the people as regards the law, that they know neither to insist on their rights nor to defend them. As a result of this the Armenian gets coward, becomes a slave, silently submits to pillages, acts as an instrument and captive of persons holding the authority."

We could not help but think while writing these lines: how and with which words Natanian would have expressed Armenian people's tragic end if he had witnessed all those things which happened to the Armenians in the following years.

This is Natanian's fourth report. He will continue to write reports although they are not paid attention to. He will hardly finish one more report, the fifth which will prepare the tragic end of this courageous and intelligent clergyman: death in exile!

The person who caused Natanian's punishment is familiar too. The Kurdish Moussa Beg, arrests Natanian charging him with encouragement of the Armenian nation to rebel against the Ottoman government and delivers him to the sanjak of Muş.[ix] Haji Moussa Beg is a man involved in the Armenian genocide up to his neck[x]. He takes place in the list of Patriarch Zaven Effendi, entitled Exterminators. Although he did not participate to the congresses of Erzurum and Sivas, he is appointed to the membership of the Representative Committee, Heyet-i Temsiliye, to emphasize his importance and also pecuniarily rewarded with gold[xi] and Money.[xii]

[i] Bogos Natanyan, Sivas 1877. Editor: Arsen Yarman, Birzamanlar Publishing, 2008 560 p.

[ii] Sivas Tarihinin Bilinmeyenleri (The Unknowns of the History of Sivas), AGOS, No. 628, April 11, 2008.

[iii] Sivas Tarihinin Bilinmeyenleri (The Unknowns of the History of Sivas), AGOS, No. 628, April 11, 2008.

[iv] In this paper the term Constitution is particularly used for defining the regulations, Nizamnames.

leading constitutional texts and qualified as rights. They must not be perceived as a concession given by the Sultan. The texts concerning the internal functioning of the Armenian community are arranged by the Armenians themselves. The representatives of the Armenian community themselves put in order these documents and presented them for approval following the due explanation. For this reason, we can say, these regulations represent the equivalent of the historical fueros of the Basque nation. All the nizamnames can be found in Murat Bebiroğlu's study who collected them all. Cf. Murat Bebiroğlu, Osmanlı Devletinde Gayrimüslim Nizamnameleri (The Regulations of non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire), Ed. Cahit Külekçi, 2008.

[v] There is no exact figure with regard to the number of the members of the Parliament. The rate 1/3 seems to be observed

although each researcher gives a different number.


Fikret Adanir; Bulgaristan, Yunanistan ve Türkiye Üçgeninde Ulus İnşası ve Nüfus Değişimi. Türkiye'de Etnik
Çatışma (The Building of Nation within the Triangle of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and the Population Change.
Ethnic Conflict in Turkey). Collected by E.J. Zürcher, İletişim Publishing, 2005, p. 25.

[vii] Markar Esayan; Temsil Edilmek ya da

Edilmemek (To be represented or not), Agos, No. 637, June 13, 2008.

[viii] Unfortunately, they are not allowed to live there too.

[ix] Musa Şaşmaz; Kürt Musa Bey Olayı (The Kurdish Moussa Beg Incident), Kitabevi, 2004. p. 49-50.

[x] For detailed information on the role of Haji Moussa in the Armenian Genocide cf. Recep Maraşlı, Ermeni Ulusal Demokratik

Hareketi ve 1915 Soykırımı (The Armenian Democratic National Movement and the Genocide of 1915), Peri Publishing, Ed.
Ahmet Önal, 2008, p. 280-294.

[xi]The Decree No. 975, dd. 28 June 1921 concerning the "rewarding of Haji

Moussa Beg, nicknamed ‘Kurdish', with 50 golds", BCA.
30.18.1. / 3.26.6.

[xii]The Decree No. 1059/232-5, dd. 10 July 1921 concerning the "transfer to ‘Kurdish' Haji Moussa Beg, of 1000 Liras in total, through the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Interior " BCA. / 3.30.10.

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