Last autumn, when the Supreme Macedonian Committee was vested with power by the delegates of the Second Macedonian Congress, it was fully aware of the whole responsibility of the task it was taking upon itself. Placed at the head of the Macedonian cause of liberation after the treacherous suppression of the uprising last year, the Committee could not but realize that its most important duty was to put an end to the disgraceful exploitation of this sacred cause by giving it the scope and independence it has always deserved.
Having thus sized up the situation, from the very first days of its existence, the Committee undertook a series of actions to test the hopes which we had in the Bulgarian government and to drain to the dregs the endless Promises of the Sublime Porte. After five long painful months the Committee is now in a position to declare before the whole world that all these hopes and Promises have proved completely vain. And they proved vain in a way that waves no room for any future illusions and compels the Congress to raise its voice in a formal and public protest.
But before expressing its protest, the Committee feels that it is incumbent upon it to tell the story of all the attempts by which it strove to wring, by peaceful means, a possible improvement of the lot of the population in Macedonia and the district of Odrin. This edifying story should become generally known not only in order to reveal the bottomless political cynicism of the Sublime Porte whenever it has concerned itself with the betterment of the unbearable conditions of its Christian subjects, but also in order to pass judgement on the unpardonable weakness of the Bulgarian government reflected in I this sad story. Furthermore, making this disgraceful story public will help open the eyes of all those who innocently believed in Turkey's intentions to introduce reforms and, by dispelling their unjustified expectations, will perhaps convince them of the necessity to exercise real pressure on Turkey.
Already in the
end of January, the Supreme Macedonian Committee was informed that the
Bulgarian Prime Minister, Dr K. Stoilov, during his stay in
agreed to four reforms proposed by the Sublime Porte for the
Macedonia. As soon as it became familiar with the 'reforms', the
disowned the reforms through the press, and hastened to inform the
government that these 'reforms' were so insignificant that there could
question of their acceptance. Asked by the Bulgarian government, as
well as by
other political factors, to formulate the measures that could pacify
for the time being, the Committee immediately set about drafting the
for reforms, which are attached to the present circular letter. Upon
its proposals, the Committee took the opportunity of emphasizing that
were the minimal reforms that Turkey must introduce in order to restore
and order in its European possessions and to avoid further violation of
and 62 of the
But while awaiting the proclamation of these reforms, the Committee was surprised by the treacherous negotiations carried out in Constantinople last March for the lifting of the notorious schism and the removal of the Bulgarian Exarchate from the Turkish capital. Due to the resistance that Macedonia herself put up to this most vital question of church independence, the negotiations were postponed for more favourable circumstances without being permanently broken off. The treachery instigated by Turkey was a serious symptom that the Sublime Porte was not thinking of introducing any real reforms at all in Turkey's European possessions and that its only object in this respect was to lull the consciousness of her Christian subjects with half-measures and empty promises. Not long after this, there came the Sultan's famous irade of reforms, which completely dispelled all doubts as to the revolting obstinacy of Turkey over the granting of any rights to her rayah.
The above-mentioned irade has already been published in the newspapers, and now everyone can easily convince himself of the failure of the reforms it contains. Leaving on one side the universal conviction that even these crippled reforms will not be put into practice, or if they are, it will be in the course of many years to come, the Supreme Macedonian Committee cannot but state here that ever since the memorable year of 1839, when the famous Hatti-Sherif was issued, there has not been any firman of reforms which has not given more rights to the rayah than the Sultan's last irade. This circumstance in itself suffices to convince everyone that the reforms announced lately represent an unheard-of mockery of the sufferings and lack of rights of the Christian peoples in Turkey.
In view of all this, the Supreme Macedonian Committee considers it its duty to oppose the introduction of these insignificant reforms with indignation and to express its deep regret that the Bulgarian government could agree to measures that cannot improve the terrible conditions in Macedonia and thus cannot calm the unrest among the population there.
At the same time, the Supreme Macedonian Committee cannot refrain from declaring to all who show concern for the misfortune of the rayah in Turkey that the Committee is firmly determined to cease all further negotiations over any reforms that Turkey promises, and to concentrate its efforts on winning political autonomy for all the peoples in Macedonia and in the Odrin region, established and guaranteed by the Great Powers.
The Supreme Macedonian Committee is firmly convinced that its efforts will find sympathy and support not only among the Macedonians themselves, not only among the free Bulgarians, not only among the states which consider that they have brothers in race in these Turkish provinces, but of all freedom-loving and civilized peoples.
Chairman of the Supreme Macedonian Committee:
Nikolaev, General of the Reserve
Secretary: T. Karayovov
1. The present Soloun, Bitolya and Skopje vilayets should be merged into one vilayet with Soloun as its centre within the following boundaries:
The boundary lines of this vilayet should start from the Serbian frontier opposite Vranya, and run along the north-western boundary between the districts of Preshovo, Koumanovo, Kachanik and Tetovo, merge with Karadag ridge and from mount Lyubotrun along the ridge of Shar mountain to Korab – the highest peak of Deshat, and then down the river Veleshtitsa, on which the big village of Radomir is situated.down to the place where the river empties into the Tsurni Drin; from there it should go along the same river up to the village of Ndret, and from thence along the western boundaries between the districts of Ohrid and Korcha up to the Gramos Peak, down the boundary between the districts of Kostour, Kailyare, Voden and Karaferia, up to the place where the boundary of the last district is intersected by the river Bistritsa; from this point it should go along this river down to the Aegean Sea, and, then, turning to the east, along the coast and encircling Chalcidice Peninsula, until it reaches the mouth of the river Mesta; from here it should run northwest along the same river to the place where the tributary on which the village of Radibosht is situated empties into it and further along this river to the frontiers with Eastern Roumelia, from where it will merge with the frontiers of the Bulgarian and Serbian kingdoms.
2. A person with strong sense of justice and tolerance and belonging to the predominating nationality in the vilayet should be appointed vali with a five-year term.
N. B. The appointment to this post of either Prince Aleko Bogoridi or Gavril Krustevich Pasha, who have always distinguished themselves, with their exceptional qualities as high officials in the Ottoman Empire, would best suit and satisfy the Christian population in the vilayet.
3. The vali should govern the vilayet with the help of a vilayet assembly, which should be elected from among the population strictly observing the rights of the minority groups and which should settle all questions concerning the internal administration of the vilayet.
4. The individual and his abode should be equally inviolable for all residents of the vilayet. There should be no censorship of the press.
5. All officials in the vilayet should belong to the nationality which is in the majority in the region in which they are appointed. The high officials should be appointed by His Majesty the Sultan at the suggestion of the vali, while the rest - by the vali himself.
6. The language of the nationalities constituting the majorities in the vilayet should be recognized as official languages, side by side with Turkish in all vilayet institutions, and the administrative units should be left to choose one of these languages in their official intercourse.
7. The educational matters of the Christian nationalities should be left in charge of the respective school organizations.
8. For the maintenance of peace and order in the vilayet a gendarmerie should be formed on the basis of the recruiting system and directly subordinated to the vali. The gendarmerie and its officers should belong to the local nationalities, which should be represented according to their number and should not exceed 1% of the local male population. The high officials should be appointed by His Majesty the Sultan, while the others - directly by the vali himself.
9. The budget and the taxes in the vilayet should be determined by the vilayet assembly. Twenty-five per cent of the income should be invested in the State Treasury, while the rest should be used to meet the local needs of the vilayet.10. When the vali is appointed there should also be appointed an ad hoc commission, on which the local nationalities should be adequately represented and which, under the chairmanship of the vali, should elaborate the details of the above reforms.
11. A general amnesty should be given to all political prisoners, whether sentenced or not, as well as to all those who are suspected of being unreliable and who are abroad.
12. Similar reforms should be introduced into the vilayet of Odrin.
to 'Note on
the Reforms which must be introduced in
To point 1. The territorial distribution not only is not at variance with previous Turkish legislative enactments of the same kind, but, in its essential features, it represents merely a restoration of the administrative divisions in Macedonia on the eve of the last Russian-Turkish war. It fully covers the natural boundaries of Macedonia from the geographical, ethnographical and economic points of view and is in compliance with the opinion predominant at the Constantinople Conference of 1876 (see IIe Protocol, Seance du 16/28 decembre 1876) also with the spirit of the Berlin Congress (cf. XIII minutes of the Berlin Congress), the spirit that has always motivated the actions of the European diplomacy whenever the peaceful solution of the Eastern problem has been discussed.
To point 2. This point coincides completely with the proposals of the Constantinople Conference of 1876 (cf. Reglement Organique de la Bulgarie, paragraph 1 and 6 of art. 4) as well as with the Bill of Reforms for Turkey drawn up by the Eastern-Roumelian European Committee in 1880 (cf. Loi des Vilayets de la Turquie d'Europe, titre I, art. 21 et titre II, art. 27, paragraph 3).
To point 3. This point completely coincides with the proposals of the Constantinople Conference (cf. ibidem art. 4, paragraph 7-17) as well as with the proposals of the EREC (ibidem, titre IV, art. 82).
To point 4. This point completely coincides with the proposals of the EREC (ibidem, titre I, art. 4, II, 15, 19).
To point 5. This point completely coincides with the proposals of the Constantinople Conference (ibidem, art.3) and corresponds to the proposals of the EREC (ibidem, titre I, art. 21, paragraph 2 et titre XVI; art. 293).
To point 6. This point completely coincides with the proposals of the Constantinople Conference (ibidem, art. 7, al. 5) and with the spirit of the proposals of the EREC (ibidem, titre. I, art. 22).
To point 7.
This point completely coincides with art. I of 'The bill of education' in
To point 8. This point completely coincides with the proposals of the Constantinople Conference (ibidem, art. 8, al. 3) and with the spirit of the proposals of the EREC (ibidem, titre XVII, art. 305, 307 et 310).
To point 9. This point corresponds to the proposals of the Constantinople
Conference (ibidem, art. 5, al. 11).
point 10. This point completely coincides with paragraph 3 ot art. 23
To point 11. This point corresponds to the proposals of the Constantinople Conference (ibidem, art. 9).
point 12. This point completely coincides with Paragraph 2 ot art. 23 of the
On March 26, 1892 I filed a request to the Minister of the Interior with which I had enclosed the documents, which were then required, demanding as an old veteran of our national movements for the liberation of our country to be granted some land by the state as well as the necessary means for its cultivation.
The esteemed Ministry, having ascertained from the documents enclosed that my late father Priest Stoyan and I had taken an active part, arms in hand, in the nation-wide movement against the Turkish authorities before the liberation of the Bulgarian Principality, and taking into consideration my sufferings and hardships, as well as those of our entire family and our complete material impoverishment and misery, condescended to grant my request and the state granted me 3 hectares of land on the territory, belonging to the village of Konyavo, Kyustendil county ...
Koukoush (Hissar district, the Soloun vilayet)
For several days now, the population has been very agitated. I had just returned from my farm, when, on the following day I saw arriving in our town from Soloun that same Montenegrin, named Yovan Yovichovich, whom the authorities investigating the murder of the teacher Ganov1 had clearly proved to have been one of the leaders of the murder. Before the day was out, he had twice been to see the kaimakam (district governor - Ed. Note). They also called one or two Bulgarians, who had property in Koukoush, and on the next day he opened a Serbian school in one of the houses. Once the word got around, all of the more prominent citizens got together and decided to complain both to the kaimakam and to the vali in Soloun about the opening, in a purely Bulgarian town like Koukoush, where there is not a single Serbian to swear by, of a Serbian school with the sole aim of causing unrest and dissension among the quiet and industrious population. In the meantime, all the local elders came and took it upon themselves to fulfil this just duty to the population and to present personally the two written requests in the proper places. The kaimakam, however, who had already given his assent for the opening of the Serbian school in Koukoush, did not wish to pay any attention to the request which we presented to him through the elders. The Soloun vali, on the other hand, forwarded the request to the kaimakam for his consideration. And, thus, our measures, in spite of all the trust we had in the justice of the authorities, remained fruitless, and the population began to get uneasy and express its disgust. The Montenegrin Yovichovich, who was at the same time sent as a teacher, opened the school in the Bulgarian house, and started enticing Bulgarian children in the streets, promising to give them twenty pari (Bulgarian coins - Tr. note) a day and various candies. In seven days he managed to gather only ten children, and they were from the poorest families in the town. At that point, our citizens, who were shocked by the unlawful acts and distorted agitations of the Serbian teacher, decided to make a more impressive step. This is what everybody, altogether, did: infuriated, they attacked the Serbian school, caught the teacher, the Montenegrin Yovichovich, and, after taking his revolver, which he had aimed at them, they thrashed him, broke the doors and the windows of the school, and told the owner of the house, where the Serbian school was housed, that it would be burnt down if he continued to let it for the purposes of Serbian propaganda. After that, the kaimakam sent his men to arrest five of those who had taken part in the fight. On the next day the number of those arrested grew to thirty, and the newcomers entered the prison with songs and enthusiasm. The kaimakam immediately telegraphed the news to the vali. But apparently the vali, instead of solving the problem once and for all, by driving out the Montenegrin agitator, thought it more diplomatic to convince the Serbians in Soloun to send a few more people there. And indeed, another two Montenegrins came two days later to help the teacher Yovichovich. One of them was Nikola Babakovich, who had also taken part in the murder of Ganov and who had only recently been released from prison. Special police officers from Soloun also arrived to investigate the case. At the preliminary investigations all the prisoners sincerely and openly declared that, with most of the people, they had gone to the Serbian school to drive out the Montenegrin teacher Yovichovich, who, since he had arrived in Koukoush had been behaving in a provocative manner towards the population and had been using all possible means for distortion and for stirring up trouble.
Thus, for example, when the citizens told him not to take their children from the streets into his Serbian school, not to give them 20 pari a day and not to feed them with candies, etc., in order to attract them and corrupt them, and to refrain from stirring up trouble through bribery, he answered arrogantly that he was not afraid of anybody, since he had one revolver on his right side, and another on his left, and that Koukoush was a Serbian town and would again become such, and, for this reason, the hopes of the people in Macedonia, who, he said, were Serbians, should turn to Serbia.
In reply to this language, all the prisoners declared that we, Bulgarians, had not been able to endure this any longer, and had been driven into doing what we had now been arrested for. When the police officers from Soloun saw the resolve of the citizens of Koukoush, and reasoning that their demands were just, since the kaimakam had himself given them reason to lose patience, they had reported something - quite what I don't know - to the Soloun vali, and four days later a new kaimakam was sent to our town. He summoned all the more prominent citizens, greeted them on behalf of the vali, and asked them to explain the incident involving the Montenegrin Serbian teacher. The notables told him that they regretted what had happened, but they also remarked that it was not difficult, from the very first day the school was opened, to anticipate such a development. They also reminded him that the city elders, after they had seen and heard the criminal and provocative actions of Yovichovich, had presented a request, complaining and warning the authorities about the bitter consequences that could ensue, but the latter had paid no attention to them. The population then grew impatient and the commune was no longer able to influence them.
We believe that the Sultan's government will understand the justice of the Bulgarians' request and will satisfy them.
The Sofia Commissariat has reported that Grouev, under the pretext of inspecting the Bulgarian schools in the district of Soloun, goes everywhere and that his actions should be closely watched. At the same time the Commissioner proposes Georgi Voivoda, who was tried and sentenced in Skopje and who was not included in the last amnesty, be amnestied provided he promises to disclose revolutionary secrets.
His Majesty orders the Sublime Porte to consider the proposition of the Commissioner and to report its opinion to His Majesty.
The undersigned Bulgarians (the first from Shtip, the second from Kratovo) have just returned from Bodrum, where Yossif Daskalov, Peter Poparsov, M. Razvigorov, D. Miraschiev, A. Georgiev, A. Kostov, A. Lazov, Danail Velkov, Iliya Atanassov and Father Kozma, the Abbot of the Lesnovo Monastery, have been exiled.
In Asia, in the bosom of our tyrant, there is a wild place called Bodrum, which, to the south-west, borders on a sea, and, to the north-east, is surrounded by high mountains. In that barren, rocky and sparsely populated land, there is a fortress, surrounded by high stone walls. Here is where our worthy sons are living! It was with great trepidation that we approached the ugly facade of the fortress, which boasted, as it were, that it held our dear children within its cold stone walls. The profound silence inside and outside the fortress filled our hearts with sadness and our eyes with tears. After long pleading, an order was given to let our patriots out to see us. In the tomb-like stillness, a great noise was made by the rattling chains. It was then that we beheld a bunch of people that tottered along, led by a man covered in a black tattered cassock. We recognized the reeling black figure of Father Kozma, the Abbot of the Lesnovo Monastery, and his group of disciples, who had chosen the way of Christ, our rebels, not by their faces, but by the few words they said in Bulgarian. They came towards us calmly, but their faces were withered and we lost heart and burst out sobbing. Then the unfortunate martyrs smiled at us in order to console us. It was a smile not caused by joy, but by suffering, and by the rueful realization that their appearance had brought on our sorrow and our sobbing.
What a mournful spectacle! Half-naked and clad in tatters, these Macedonian lions told us about the suffering they had gone through and about the barbarous tortures (the vice, the splinters, the hot eggs under the armpits, the gallows, and the red-hot irons under the armpits and in the mouth) as they stamped the earth with their feet. But that was not stamping, but the thumping of dry legs! Their heart-rending voices were hollow, despite their efforts to speak more loudly and forcefully, and sounded more like the voice of a man drowning in the depths of the sea, becoming fainter and fainter, stifled, as it was, by the waves of salty water.
These martyrs, far away from their own beds and their own country, imprisoned in that wild land and in a hole walled in on all sides, walk about naked and barefoot, they are in chains and suffer so many privations! They are almost starving! Bread and leeks is their daily food! Appalling! All these privations were recounted with such accuracy, and in such a low and quiet voice, that we were filled with even greater emotion, and, after the sobbing we had been trying to contain for a long time, we could no longer hold back our tears which had hardly stopped. Woe! Had Nero himself seen and heard all this, he would have been moved! Even his callous heart would have been moved by this piteous sight, by the woeful tale of their sufferings and privations! Miraculously. however, their spirit had not been completely broken! 'We are dying for the people, and we are suffering for freedom!' they told us. Yes, they were suffering for the freedom of the unhappy Macedonian Bulgarians! All praise and honour to them and to all like them! But what about their comrades, those Macedonians who have not sent them either money or letters, who have not even made inquiries with the government of their torturers? Well, we don't know!
Those peerless fighters for freedom, comparable with Vassil Levski, these great organizers, far away from their own people in that deathly silence (where they can hear neither about the result of what they have sown, nor about the latest actions), forsaken and abandoned in dire need, starved and unclothed as they are, even they will, after some time, weaken in spirit completely, and will decay in that dark, dank and tomb-like dungeon! Being aware of this pitiful end, they implore everyone who can do anything for their release, or, if not for their complete freedom, at least for their transfer to Rhodes Island with the following words: 'If we are deprived of all human pleasures, in a word, of human life, does it mean that we have to be forgotten?!'
Most Esteemed Mr Agent,
Have pity, pity on these young martyrs! Take a look at them, too, and please assist in the fulfilment of their desire which is to seek the petition they have made here, to find out and inform them about the term of their exile, to work for their speedy release, and, for the time being, to do something at all costs for their transfer to Rhodes Island.
These martyrs nurse great hopes in the gracious and generous Bulgarian government, of which you are a representative here. And why should they not do so, since their actions clearly show that they have cherished the idea of the united Bulgaria of yore, an idea shared by all Bulgarians? Their idea is the Golden Age, i.e. to have Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia form another Simeon Kingdom and attain bliss for all Bulgarians. Is this not the idea of every Bulgarian, be he a free man or a slave? Yes, it is! The Bulgarian government itself proved this some 2-3 years ago by interceding with the Sultan for the reprieve of the rebels. This fills these martyrs for the happiness of Bulgarians with great hopes that the government of our free Bulgarians will obtain their freedom from the Sultan.
We also believe in this, and we remain greatly respectful to the Bulgarian government and its local representative, its Diplomatic Agent.
Father of the martyr M. Razvigorov: Spiro Stoloyan
The martyr's brother-in-law Yossif Daskalov;
Kostadin M. Boyadjiov
I have received all the letters sent by you and through you. Let us not allow the splits and splintering to frighten us. It is, indeed, a pity, but what can we do, since we are Bulgarians and all suffer from one common disease. If this disease had not been present in our ancestors, from whom we inherited it, they would have never fallen under the sceptre of the Turkish Sultan. It is our duty, of course, not to succumb to this illness, but can we make the others do the same? Besides, we have borrowed some other diseases from the Greeks, one of which is - the number of head equals the number of captains. This damned kudos! Everyone wants to shine, but does not know how deceptive glamour is. Alas for those over whose suffering these comedies are being played out.
As for the spring, there is practically nothing definite yet, which is very sad, but I believe that everything will soon become clear.
I expect to receive money to buy Crimean-type rifle cartridges, so that there will be no need to change them for Manlicher type.
Our brothers from Pernik want a revolver, but have not thought of sending money, as if I had it in my pocket. As for the Martini-type rifle, for which I received two Turkish liras, I should like to consult you: should I get it here, or will you buy it from there? If you have one of our own, it would be well if you send it to them.
Tell my brother to write home.
P.S. Those enclosed here are for Pernik, one of which is for Diko from whom we got a telegram yesterday from Rila. See if he is still there so that it be sent to him there. I shall write to Pernik that they will get the Martini rifle, but, as for the revolver, when they send the money.
The vali of Kosovo reports that most of the priests and the teachers in the vilayet are members of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. Last year Manov and Matov2 were expelled from the vilayet because their membership of the Committee was proved beyond dispute. Recently, the dismissal of the teacher... was demanded because he had attempted to extort money from a grocer in Shtip.
greatest protectors of such teachers are the Bulgarian bishop and the
commercial agent, Rizov, who during his last stay in
His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, to whose knowledge this was brought, ordered that the necessary measures be taken to remove both the bishop and the commercial agent from Skopje.
Enclosed I have the honour to send you the request made by a woman living in the village of Bogoumila (Veles district), Mrs. Dzouna Poparsova, asking you to intercede with the Sublime Porte for the transfer of her son Peter Poparsov - sentenced by the Military Commission to an imprisonment term of 101 years in chains, in connection with the notorious Vinitsa affair - to the islands, intended for exiles, where one could live the life of an exile, but not decay in the dank vaults of the dungeons of the Bodrum fortress.
I also enclose a copy of a letter from the selfsame Peter Poparsov and from his two comrades (also sentenced to be chained) Mishe Razvigorov and Alexander Kotsov, addressed to the local Austrian Consul, in which, in addition to describing their difficult plight, they are asking for his assistance in having them transferred to an island together with those comrades of theirs who have received lighter sentences.
In the first lines (N. No. from 1-10) of the list, which I send to you today, together with my confidential letter No. 330, you will find the names of all those unfortunates who, far from their native land, bitterly lament the cruel fate of their youth. If there is no pardon by the 19th of August, I, too, implore you, Mr Minister, for your immediate intercession, so that the hard and wretched life of these young unfortunates will be, at least, slightly alleviated.
Please accept, Mr Minister, etc.
Enclosed, please find:
To the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion in Sofia
In all the letters sent so far, my son Peter Poparsov, banished a year ago to Bodrum (Asia Minor) - Klirek cezasi (penal servitude for 101 years) as a result of the notorious Vinitsa affair, has bitterly complained of the prison, the damp and of the brutal attitude of the prisoners (people of another faith) and of the prison guards towards him and his comrades Mishe Razvigorov and Alexander Kotsov. His plight and that of his two other comrades who are serving the same sentence will become even worse and more terrible after their other comrades, who have lighter sentences, have been transferred, as a result of the concern shown by the prison authorities to some island where they would be able to live more freely as well as to work. Judging by these letters, I can see that a great many unfortunates have become the victims of the damp, lack of exercise and of the brutality of common criminals and prison guards.
As a mother, I can feel it most powerfully, and I have a presentiment of all the horror and destruction awaiting my son and me. I would have been glad for him to die anywhere but at Bodrum, where he can only count his days until his death. If my son has to die because of an offense which has never been proved, he should do so instantaneously, and not in this slow and inhuman manner. Finally, even if he is in prison, he should not be denied those comforts, which no matter how small they are, are considered to be an expression of great mercy.
I appeal to you for these things as a Bulgarian, I appeal to your patriotism and your feelings, Mr Minister. I shall consider it an act of mercy if you would have the kindness to take the necessary steps where needed, so that if they would not release them, they would at least transfer my son and his two fellow-sufferers to some island where they would have the freedom to live and work, and be able to breathe fresh air and eat a piece of clean bread, enough to sustain their strength and their hopes. Only God and you can intercede for all unfortunates and this part of the homeland in which you take much greater interest than in many other national interests.
Hoping that my request will evoke your patriotic sentiments and your attention, etc.
To His Excellency, the General Consul of Austro-Hungary in Skopje
The prison administration, and especially the District Governor, have themselves helped our comrades to be transferred from the prison, according to their sentences, to some of the islands for exiles because here they are being unjustly treated and mostly because they cannot guarantee their lives in the prison, where we are being subjected to the brutality of the a'most savage prisoners, and to all the misfortunes caused by them, and which corrupt both spirit and body. Therefore, we the undersigned, who are forced to remain in the prison under the sentences which have been passed without a trial, will either be once again exposed to danger, or will be saved, if our life sentences are changed to sentences of exile, through your intercession with His Imperial Majesty the Sultan. For this reason, we address our petition to Your Excellency, in the hope that you will do everything in your power so that our problem, together with that of our comrades, will be discussed in Constantinople. Emploring you for this, we remain respectfully yours,
... Macedonia has a population of c. 1,850,000, of whom 750,000 are Moslems, 50,000 are Jews and the rest are Christians. The Moslems who live in the Western and Northern provinces are Albanians, and those in the south and the east, the sea coast, the towns and the other small settlements are mostly Greeks. The rural population is made up of Bulgarians and, in the mountain regions and mostly in the west, Wallachians; the rest are gypsies and other nationalities. Therefore, there are five major nationalities in Macedonia: Turks, Albanians, Bulgarians, Greeks and Wallachians. Though in certain regions some of these nationalities are predominant, there is no place populated by one nationality alone. As a rule, representatives of two, three or more nationalities live side by side: in the north and the west - Albanians and Bulgarians, in the centre - Turks, Bulgarians and a comparatively small number of Wallachians and Greeks, in the south-west - Turks, Greeks and Wallachians, along the coast - Turks and Greeks, and in the east - Turks, Greeks and Bulgarians. In Soloun, Bitolya and the other towns there are also a few Jews and some other nationalities. The people of each nationality speak their own language, while Turkish is understood by all (Vol. VI, p. 4116).
... Ohrid - centre of a district, subordinated to the sandjak and the Bitolya vilayet; situated on the north-eastern shore of the lake of the same name. The town is situated at the foot of a hill, jutting out into the lake. On top of the hill there is a fortress. The town has a population of 16,000, 6 mosques, 4 churches, 1 junior high school, several primary Moslem schools, one Christian school and a clock tower. The town's population speaks Albanian, Turkish and Bulgarian ... (Vol. II p. 1066).
... Bitolya. The central town of a vilayet, with a population of 31,347. There are 24 mosques, 5 churches, 9 Turkish theological schools, schools for small children and a military school, Turkish junior high schools for girls and for boys, 6 primary schools and a class school for the Bulgarians, the Greeks and the Wallachians, junior high schools for Catholic and Protestant missionaries, 2 large barracks, a military hospital, 2,482 shops and markets, 14 inns, 7 baths, 1 clock tower. The casa of Bitolya has a population of 161,863.
... Skopje. More than half of the population are Moslems and the rest are Bulgarians and Greeks. The Moslem population is concentrated on the Skopje and Koumanovo side and is made up of Turks and Albanians. Almost the entire population knows Turkish. Bulgarian is spoken in 7 districts and 5 villages -sub-districts. The districts are: Skopje, Koumanovo, Kratovo, Palanka, Kochani, Shtip and Radovishte ... (Vol. II, p. 933-934)
It is in the vilayet, sandjak and district of Bitolya, 30 km
Bitolya, on the eastern shore of the northern part of
... Veles. It is situated in the vilayet and sandjak of Soloun ... the centre of the district. Has a population of 16,279, 9 mosques, 7 Moslem monasteries, 3 churches, one monastery, 1 junior high school, 3 primary schools. 3 primary Turkish schools, 3 primary Bulgarian schools, 2 primary Greek schools, 32 inns, 1 bath, 20 mills, 9 factories for cotton, sesame, woollen braiding, etc...
The Veles district includes the two village sub-districts Bogomil and Nikodim with 91 villages and a population of 50,515: 17,153 Moslems, 32,353 Bulgarians, 588 Gypsies, 417 Greeks and 5 Jews ... (Vol. V, p. 3905).
... Prespa. A village sub-district in the district, sandjak and vilayet of Bitolya... The village sub-district includes 30 villages with a population of 8,581, mostly farmers made up of Bulgarians, the Moslems being Albanians. In the village sub-district there are 5 mosques and 5 schools ... (Vol. II, p. 1497).
A district in north-eastern
Today the Bulgarians inhabit the Balkan Peninsula to the south of the
Danube, ancient Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, i.e. Bulgaria, Eastern
parts of the Odrin, Soloun, Kossovo and Bitolya vilayets. Part of them
The recently bought
3) Pavel Genadiev and the heads of the frontier posts should be informed about the above distribution.
4) To appoint as heads of the frontier posts:
For South Bulgaria - Pavel Genadiev; for the region of Doupnitsa — Nikola Maleshevski; and for the region of Kyustendil - Nikola Zografov2; these heads will be responsible for all the frontier arms depots and the needs of these depots.
5) The heads of the frontier arms depots must refer directly to the leaders of the regions about all matters concerning their duty, and only in emergencies and for urgent matters, shall they refer directly to the Committee.
May 1st, 1900. Absent: Bozoukov and Dr. Shopov. Present are also Colonel Tsonchev, Lieutenant-colonels Nikolov and Yankov, lieutenant Garoufalov and Atanas Mourdjev. The following resolutions were adopted:
1) After long and thorough discussions concerning the activities of the Supreme Macedonian Committee, on the one hand, and the Central Committee in Turkey, on the other, for the better coordination of the actions of the two committees the following resolutions were adopted:
a) To suggest to the Central Committee that it accept as members two representatives of the Supreme Macedonian Committee in whom the latter has full confidence.
b) After the said two members have been accepted by the Central Committee, the Supreme Macedonian Committee in its present composition will become a branch of the Central Committee, and the latter will have the decisive word in all the matters concerning the common cause.
c) To suggest to the Central Committee that it accept men, preferably with military qualifications, sent from here to serve as leaders of regions.
d) All the persons sent by the Supreme Macedonian Committee to the interior, either as members of the Central Committee, or leaders of the regions, or ordinary workers must take an oath, according to the Rules of the Internal Organization, and they will be guided in their activities by the same Rules, thus becoming completely and entirely faithful to the Internal Organization and cutting off all contacts with Bulgaria, on matters that concern the Cause, except in cases when there is a special directive from the Central Committee.
e) To suggest to the Central Committee that all private correspondence in connection with the Cause, both from members of the Central Committee or leaders of the regions to any one in Bulgaria, and from members of the Supreme Macedonian Committee to anyone in Macedonia and the region of Odrin, be stopped.
f) Whatever the circumstances, the members here of the present Supreme Macedonian Committee and all the comrades attached to it will remain forever inseparably linked with the Internal Organization.
g) These minutes invalidate all the letters hitherto exchanged between the Committees in relation to the settlement of their relations.
May 19th, 1900. Absent: Bozoukov, Dr. Shopov and Sarakinov. The following resolutions were adopted:
1. Since for the success of the cause, it is of primary necessity that the Organization have at its disposal a large sum of money and since the best and most appropriate way to obtain it is to commit a robbery or something of that sort, after thorough discussion and after all the chances of success had been taken into account, and after the question had been considered from every point of view, finally the plan suggested by Delchev was accepted, - namely to kidnap the child of Geshev (a millionaire in Sofia) and, if the kidnapping was successful, to demand (as ransom for the child) a million and a half gold levs from Geshev.
For the carrying out of this enterprise the following are responsible:
Sarafov - to rent a house where the child will be kept, Davidov - to buy a phaeton and find a reliable driver, Delchev - for the kidnapping of the child, and Gyorcheto - to find a way of getting the money from Geshev.
September 20th, 1900. Absent: Sarakinov, Minkov and Gyorche Petrov. The following resolutions were adopted:
1) We are informed that the agent in Syar2 has reported to the Bulgarian government that things in Melnik are not going well and that the leader of that post is not acting cautiously; a certain Greek was indicated who seems to know the secrets of the Organization in this area. The agent in Bitolya also informs the Bulgarian government about the lack of precaution in the conduct of affairs on the part of the local leaders. The above-mentioned facts are to be reported to the Central Committee for their information and so that the necessary measures can be taken.
September 25th, 1900. Absent: Sarakinov, Minkov and Gyorche Petrov. 1 The following resolutions were adopted:
1) To send
100 gold levs to Simeon Radev3 in
2) To send money to Simeon Radev for L'Effort.
3) To send 150 levs to Maleshevski.
4) To send 6000 levs to the Central Committee for the purchase of materials.
5) On the basis of the oral declarations by the leaders in Odrin, it was decided not to send a small detachment of revolutionaries to the region of Odrin, because; they fear that its untimely arrival may have dangerous consequences for the Cause in that region. And this should be brought to the notice of the Central Committee.
6) To send a letter to the Central Committee, informing them that Dimiter Stoyanov, a good worker for the Cause and one in whom they can have full confidence, has been appointed headmaster of the high-school in Bitolya.
October 3rd, 1900. Absent: Minkov, Sarakinov and Gyorche Petrov. The following resolutions were adopted:
inform the Central Committee about the tunnelling activity in Soloun4. To inform them also about the conversation
2) Maleshevski to write to Mehomia7 to arrange for people in Eleshnitsa to receive the guns from Batak. Also to ask Razlog to send him a receipt in the name of the brothers Ivanov, for the 100 'Schneider' rifles which they gave as a present.
Two events, each more fatal than the other for the cause of liberation, are simultaneously inflicting heavy wounds on our Organization - one of them from within and the other from the outside - and making the situation more delicate than it has ever been before. We consider that, under the present circumstances, we are doing a service and filling a gap in our work by sending this circular letter, in which some light is thrown on these events and the measures we consider it necessary to take.
First - Through affairs, both big and small, the Turkish government is keeping us constantly on the alert and the population in a state of uncertainty. Obviously unsatisfied with the barbarities hitherto committed against our brothers - both members of the committees and peaceful citizens, indiscriminately, the Sultan has decided to pacify the country at all costs by crushing the revolutionary movement with a single blow. The ruthless Hamid considers that now is the most convenient time to deliver this long-prepared blow. The winter ensures him against internal armed resistance on the part of the population against the cruelties of the Sultan's butchers, while the favourable disposition of his fellow-tyrants - the European Masters - protects him from external complications. The declarations of the heartless diplomats in Constantinople in favour of crushing the revolutionary movement, have served him as a signal, and some trivial accidents in different parts of our long-suffering country have given him a pretext. In the final analysis, there is today in progress in our country a terrible pogrom, which is especially violent in these places (the Salonica district) where the Turks have noticed greater activity of late. At a general order from Constantinople, and following a plan prepared in advance, the Turkish authorities throughout the country are taking simultaneously measures in pursuit of the following three aims:
1) To arrest all the more active, wide-awake and courageous Bulgarians, about whom there is information, or suspicions, or about whom it can be simply assumed that they are able to inspire and lead the people; and by means of their confessions, or intercepted documents or other committee papers, which have come into their hands as a result of searches, to grasp all the threads of the revolutionary organization, and to behead it so as to crush it immediately.
2) To ruin materially and morally kill the rural population as the more defenseless, and to frighten and terrorize the town population, thus leaving no soil for the growth of the revolutionary movement in the country, in the event of those leaders, who manage to escape from their hands, or others coming from outside, trying to revive it and to continue working.
3) The towns and the villages, and even the forests and the fields, will be caught in an iron ring so that any public activity on the part of the Bulgarians will become impossible.
I am writing on behalf of my comrades, and, first of all, I would like to ask you, on their behalf, to excuse us for addressing you. We are addressing you because those whom we approached before, and who could help us and whose duty it was to help us, did not do so.
We are all Bulgarians from the so-called Stara-Hapsanya, all imprisoned almost at the same time and charged with political offences. When we were first imprisoned in the Kurshumli-Han, the Turkish prisoners greeted us with curses and insults and, on the very first day, began to maltreat us. The prison management not only did not punish them but gave them to understand that they approved of their actions. The chief warder, the warder and the gaoler, who could understand better the nature of the offences with which we were charged, had even better grounds to hate us and did not miss any chance of giving vent to their hatred. This attitude went so far that a plot was conceived against the lives of several of us, and the authorities could not have failed to know about it. On May 11 of this year, the prisoners attacked us without any provocation on our part; we were attacked with earthen-ware jugs full of water, braziers, logs and knives provided by those who were supposed to ensure order and peace in the prison. If we had not managed to retreat hastily to our cells, at least half of us would have been killed on the spot. The attackers broke the doors of two of the cells and 25 of us were beaten to death. All this happened before the eyes of the chief warder, the warder and the gaoler, who did nothing to protect us.
The prison authorities realized that it had not acted wisely, and that there were other, more reliable ways of attaining their objectives without implicating themselves; we were transferred from Kurshumli-Han under the pretext of punishing us, as we were blamed for the disturbance; we were locked up in a former stable, which is so dark that, even during the day, we have to keep the lamp on; the room is so humid that the straw-mats we lie on have to be changed every week because they rot away under our bodies and get mouldy from the excessive dampness; the air is so suffocating that we ourselves cannot account for our having survived till now. Just to be able to visualize more vividly the place that we inhabit, dear Sir, suffice it to mention that several horses died here from suffocation and that a special veterinary commission declared the place unfit for horses; only in the course of one month 19 wretched Bulgarians from the village of Lipovik, Radovishka county, died here. We were thrown in this dungeon not because the government could not find another place, but because, as I already mentioned, they wanted to punish us, and not only to punish us, but also to take revenge; their purpose: the moisture, the darkness and the poisonous air are supposed to achieve what the Turkish prisoners in Kurshumli-Han did not manage to do. I have exaggerated nothing - according to the government, we deserve to be put to death and, as this cannot be done lawfully, because the death sentence cannot be given for crimes which have not been proved and, moreover, capital punishment has been suspended, the government tried to use the Turkish prisoners and, after the failure of this attempt, they put us into a dungeon where the conditions are such that we are sure to die, and, to ensure that this plan will succeed, we are allowed out of our dungeon for only 2 out of every 24 hours.
Under these conditions, our death is quite certain, but it will still take some time, and the furious hatred of our malefactors makes them impatient, besides we are complaining all the time of the conditions and are insisting on being transferred to another prison. We have been so insistent in pestering the prison management, that they have had to order a wooden floor to be built in our dungeon. We also never forget that the authorities can again use the Turkish prisoners against us. Even though it was established by the court that on May 11 we were battered by 25 of the Turks in the prison, and that a few of us were about to be murdered; though the court had heard at least 15 reports by two surgeons on the extent and the gravity of our wounds, it sentenced the 25 only to one week's imprisonment, and, when we protested against the sentence, the judge flew into a rage and answered literally: 'You were the ones to provoke them, and even if one of you had been murdered, I could not give them a bigger sentence, not only because they are criminals, but also because it is a basic principle of the penal law that one prison term is not given on top of another!' Or, to put it differently, the judge encouraged the criminals to go ahead and kill us, by telling them in advance that they would not be given a more severe punishment; they, for their part, started to swear and threaten us, as soon as we left the courtroom. A few days later, several of the murderers and a few of those who had taken the most active part in the beating up on May 11 and who hated us most ferociously, were transferred from Kurshumli-Han to our prison. They all have knives; all the time they are swearing at us, and are insulting most infamously everything that we hold precious and sacred; now they are openly threatening to kill us all very soon. We told the prison authorities that either they or we should be transferred to another prison, but no action has been taken on our request; we complained to the local attorney and even to Vali-Pasha himself, but nothing has happened. After that, though we were sure that one day we would be killed, we stopped complaining, because we saw that our complaints fell on deaf ears and only humiliated us.
We had decided not to make any more representations on our own behalf, but we could not restrain ourselves. The day before yesterday, on the 22nd of this month, when we were going out of our cell, in the presence of the chief warder, we were met by the same Turkish prisoners, with swear words and a savage insults against our people; our protests were greeted by the chief warder, with similar foul language and insults. Then we all went back to our cell and decided not to go out and not to accept the bread they give us, so as to make the government shift us to another prison, or to die. We have decided to hold out to the end; our feelings are so lofty and sacred that we would rather die than put up with their insults.
Accept our assurances of deepest respect for you,
(for the whole group)
It is in the air that there will be an uprising in spring and although one should not pay serious attention to the rumours which always start anew towards the end of the winter, one must admit, however, that the situation here becomes tenser every year and that a revolt is becoming increasingly probable. It is difficult to foresee exactly in which part of Macedonia a Bulgarian uprising can be most expected. It can be only noted that, at present, the committees are concentrating their efforts along a line, beginning from the Bulgarian frontier and winding through the whole central part of Macedonia, crossing almost all the mountainous and wooded areas of Shtip, Veles, Prilep, Bitolya and Kostour.
There can be no doubt that the committees are now better prepared for an uprising than they were this time last year. Do they want one? There are signs that justify the probability of such assumptions. These signs consist of increased mass propaganda on the part of the committees and a certain uneasiness on the part of the Turkish authorities. For the last month, the latter have been using the support of bashibazouks in their actions against the Bulgarians.
On January 26th, the vali of Bitolya, on being informed that many committee leaders had gathered in the village of Ekshisou, sent captain Riffat Bey with 100 horsemen to arrest the conspirators. But instead of going directly to Ekshisou, Riffat Bey went to the neighbouring villages to collect about 200 bashibazouks. The conspirators, warned of his arrival, managed to make their escape, but the population of the village paid dearly for it; they were beaten and cruelly tortured.
Having been summoned to help by the authorities themselves, the bashibazouks, considered themselves authorized, in their absence, as well, to continue the persecution of the Bulgarian agitators, all the more so because the Turkish police did not decline their services. After many houses in the villages of Egri, Boukri, Bareshani, Zhabani and Lagets had been searched, 31 Bulgarians were arrested.
Before the arrival of the zaptiehs and the Turkish officials, the population of the villages Zhabani and Bareshani were maltreated - first their hands and legs were bound and then they were flogged by the bashibazouks. A petition was sent from the village of Bareshani to the vali of Bitolya, but no action was taken. Several bazhibazouks from the Turkish village of Ostritsa are still in Bareshani and continue to search the houses there in front of the zaptiehs.
The Turks from
Resen (at 5 hours' distance to the north of Bitolya) are organizing an
anti-Bulgarian committee. Not very far from Resen along the shores of
The village of Crania is occupied by a detachment of bashibazouks, who like those in Bareshani, are acting independently - in the absence of the authorities and without orders from them. They beat their victims so cruelly that it took the wretched people two whole days to go from Crania to Nakolesti, a distance normally covered in a few hours.
Rumours of these cruelties spread through the villages and filled the population with horror. On the other hand, the committees, surprised by these outrages, seemed to have temporarily suspended their activities. Their actions so far were facilitated by the inertia of the Turkish police, who, to a greater or lesser extent, are bribed. But matters have been different since the arrival of the new vali - Eddip Pasha, who closely watches the chiefs of the police, and makes them pursue the members of the committees ruthlessly.
The activities of the committees are even more paralyzed by the war declared on them by the Greeks and the Graecomane Bulgarian notables, who, after finding that the authorities favour them, have started to inform against the Bulgarians everywhere. In Bitolya, the Greek authorities themselves are no longer shy about encouraging these denunciations, and are taking the side of the Turks against this same Christian population, whom they claim will one day be united with Greece.
But this weakening of the activities of the committees does not reassure the Turks in the least. They seem very uneasy. The great Turkish landlords, who at this time of the year usually visit their estates, do not dare leave Bitolya now. Even in the town itself there seems to exist a kind of terror. After 6 o'clock in the evening the market is closed and no one dares to go into the street without a lantern. And, even with lanterns, the citizens do not want to risk appearing in the streets at night.
The vali, whom I asked yesterday about the general situation in the district, told me that he was no longer worried because his subordinates were on the alert, but that this alertness was necessary because he had been informed that the committees intended to 'strike a heavy blow.' The Bulgarian committees in the district of Kroushevo (a small town, at eight hours' walk east of Bitola) seem to have taken a decision, two months ago, to kidnap and kill some of the consuls in Bitolya in order to force Europe to speak up about the Macedonian problem.
From information, obtained from other sources, it appeared that Sarafov was urging the so-called 'internal' Macedonian committees, who continue to acknowledge his supremacy, to begin actions in spring. The heads of the committees are themselves aware that the day is drawing near when they must take action, if they do not want to see their whole organization crushed. And, on the other hand, it is well-known that if the Macedonian Bulgarians take action without support from outside, they will soon be defeated. It is not clear whether the rebel detachments will be supported by the local population - however weak this support may be. Yet the heads of the committees are resolved to act. And if they do not succeed, as they believe, in drawing the whole country into the conflict, they will be able, perhaps, to increase the unrest and thus to provoke massacres.
This state of affairs worries many colleagues of mine. Deputations from the Bulgarian villages are constantly flooding into the Russian consulate, around which the Turkish police is constantly keeping a strict watch.
The Greeks insist that severe measures be taken against the Bulgarians.
Serbian propaganda, on the contrary, is not unfriendly towards the Bulgarians. To deputations from the Serbian villages in the vilayet1, arriving to ask for his advice, the Serbian consul recommends them not to join the Bulgarian armed detachments, but always to maintain strict neutrality towards them, and even to help them when they are obliged to flee from Turkish pursuit.
This behaviour of the Serbian consul seems very prudent, in my opinion. Serbian propaganda which is very weak and insufficiently organized in these parts, would have compromised itself unnecessarily, if it were to follow the example of the Bulgarians. And it is clear, on the other hand, that if they turned against the Bulgarian revolutionary movement here, the Serbs would lose the sympathies of the local people, who are not so much patriots as eager to escape from their present miserable situation, and, for this reason, they will gladly welcome any liberator, no matter who he is.
Executing the most high command of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, the Special Commission of the Sublime Porte was called to discuss and adopt the necessary measures on the basis of the report, submitted by the Police Commissary of the vilayet of Kosovo - Dervish effendi.
The Commission regards as very appropriate the measures, recommended in the said report for the complete irradication of the Bulgarian committees, which indisputably exist in the vilayets of Odrin, Soloun, Bitolya and Skopje. In the first place, the population must be induced to surrender its arms voluntarily and must be promised that no sanctions will be taken against it in such case; secondly, rewards should be promised to all who indicate where arms are concealed; thirdly, the military or gendarme detachment authorized to discover hidden arms should not be maintained at the expense of the villages and must not indulge in any illegal or improper proceedings; fourthly, the officials authorized to search for weapons must not obstruct the functions of other officials and must nowhere use improper or offensive expressions.
It must be explained to the naive and ignorant peasants in comprehensible language what is bad and what is good and they must be persuaded to surrender their weapons voluntarily, by explaining to them that in such cases there will be no punishment.
Even those who have used their weapons should be considered as having repented and should not be punished in the event of their surrendering them. Persons in whose houses concealed arms are discovered should be handed over to the courts to receive the punishment they deserve. If anyone tries to take food from the peasants without paying for it, he should be punished without delay as an example to the others. The respective officials and leaders should advise the peasants in a polite and delicate manner to surrender their arms, and should not use abusing language and threats. All necessary measures should be taken to prevent malefactors from disturbing or causing any evil to the Christians.
As for those who distribute weapons because the latter come from Bulgaria, it must be impressed upon the forest guards and the village watchmen, who are subordinated to the police, that they should inform the nearest military authorities about whatever they hear; moreover, the forest guards and village watchmen should be predominantly Moslems.
Since all mayors and village elders are also subordinated to the police, it must be impressed upon them, too, that they must do their duties conscientiously, because otherwise they will be held responsible.
Since many will be tempted by the money rewards and will give information based only on suspicion, attention should be paid only to reliable and well-checked reports.
Since all the above suggestions are found to be appropriate, the Commission approves and adopts them, adding only that in all purely Bulgarian villages, gendarmes should be stationed permanently and, in addition, military detachments should constantly inspect such villages.
On the front page of our newspaper stands the motto of the famous British statesman Gladstone: 'Macedonia for the Macedonians'. For many years now the term 'Autonomy for Macedonia' has been constantly repeated. In this we decern the symptoms of that new international status of Macedonia so desired by many. This new status of Macedonia, for which our newspaper fights, and for the achievement of which the Macedonian slave is so feverishly preparing himself, conceals a political doctrine, hitherto seen only in distant perspective, and vaguely formulated in the principle of autonomy.
This doctrine is the political separationism to which the following lines are devoted.
The very term which forms the title of our article means a tendency to separate a part from the whole. This part is no other than Macedonia and the whole may be the idea of Greater Bulgaria, or Greater Serbia, or Greater Greece. This definition would not be complete if we - the protagonists of liberty and culture - did not add that we can admit neither our own denationalization, nor the denationalization of other peoples by us. For us language, expressed in nationality, is one of the most powerful means of achieving progress and culture. Proceeding from this premise and convinced that the majority of the Christian population of Macedonia is Bulgarian, we reject even the slightest hint about national separationism of any kind. Such an aim would be contrary both to the understanding of the majority of the Macedonian population and to the idea of liberty and culture. And what is more: such an aim would be quite immoral.
Hence, the majority of the Macedonian population has been and will be Bulgarian, but, as such, it wishes to receive its liberty by being organized politically as an autonomous region, separate from the Bulgarian Principality. Such is the doctrine of the political separations.
This doctrine is the natural consequence of iron logic both in the past and the present: it represents a humanitarian principle, which does not hinder the rights of the others and sanctifies the right of the minorities to live and develop with their own language and nationality; it is in conformity with the present international law regarding Turkey and the European balance of power; finally this doctrine contains within itself the germ of the lofty ideal of the 'Balkan nations - the ideal of Balkan confederation.
Bound in the most terrible chains of slavery, forged by the Congress of Berlin, Macedonia, in its struggle to break these chains, is in great danger of falling victim to greater or smaller countries. And in this danger Macedonia cannot find help or support from any of its patrons. The small states of the Balkan Peninsula, unaware of their own impotence to solve this problem of European significance, are exerting themselves to create circumstances which would enable them in the future to expand their territories by means of partitioning Macedonia. Thus, for 15 years already, Serbia has been spending its state resources on creating proselytes where it has no compatriots. The Greeks, relying on the privileges enjoyed by their Patriarchate and supported, because they are the minority, by the Turkish authorities, continue their efforts to retain those Bulgarians who have remained in their ranks, in order to pass them off as Greeks. The affair over the ordaining of the Archimandrite Phirmilian, begun but still not concluded, the protests of the population in the diocese of Skopje, the complete lack of enthusiasm on the part of the local population for this ordaining, the unceasing support of two diplomatic services - the Russian and the Serbian - and finally the activities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople over this problem - all this presents valuable evidence of the intentions of the Serbs and the Greeks towards Macedonia. Even the Bulgarian Principality, where the idea of the autonomy is deeply rooted, has more than once speculated with unhappy Macedonia in favour of some ephemeral interests which pushed the idea of the liberation of Macedonia into the background. Perceiving the harm which the small Balkan states are doing to Macedonian freedom, and conscious of the utter impossibility of realizing the idea of Greater Bulgaria, the Macedonian population long ago ceased to believe in the ideal of San Stefano, which is today an empty phrase even for its own creators - the Russians. Above these small states, there are others, bigger and more powerful, anticipating the pleasure of devouring the whole Balkan Peninsula, including Macedonia.
This is the iron logic of the past and the present, which led the common sense of the Macedonian population build upon San Stefano Bulgaria the idea of political separationism from that same Bulgaria.
As for the future advantages of this doctrine, they are more than one and of no small significance, either.
In the first place, we shall mention the guarantee which the minorities would have for the preservation of their language and nationality. The greatest guarantee for this will be the majority on which the liberty of Macedonia will be built. The Bulgarian people can be proud of their tolerance because, while Romanians, Serbs and Greeks are using various means to stifle other nationalities, in the capital of Bulgaria Wallachian schools have been built without let or hindrance for the numerous Wallachians who are still Turkish subjects, and a Greek church - for the small Greek minority. And throughout the Bulgarian Principality, the Turkish mosques and schools receive support from the state, and the Greek bishops, priests and teachers freely preach the idea of Hellenism. To this first guarantee, originating in the character of the Bulgarian people, can be added another, which will further strengthen the first, namely, the character of an autonomous administration which will rely on the majority, but which will be created for all the nationalities, with special guarantees for the minorities.
in one political unit, the different nationalities in Macedonia can
even now the important role of an autonomous Macedonia in the future of
Balkan Peninsula. The present aspirations of the small Balkan states
territorial expansion at the expense of
From the point of view of contemporary international law, the idea of political separationism is the only expedient idea. Its realization would preserve the European balance of power and the fiction of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Finally, the realization of this idea would mean the implementation at long last of an international act by which Europe signed one of its obligations towards the Christians in Turkey.
The Bulgarians from the Principality — if there are still any who dream of Bulgaria of San Stefano - have no reason to be dissatisfied with the political separationism of the Macedonian population. In spite of all the harm which the dream of a Bulgaria of San Stefano may bring both now and in the future in spite of all the advantages which the political separationism promises, there is one essential and significant consequence from this doctrine, namely, the preservation of the Bulgarian people whole, undivided and united through its spiritual culture, even though politically separated. Without this political separationism, the spiritual integrity of the Bulgarian nationality seems impossible. It is in the interests of the Bulgarian Principality not only to support this idea, but to continue to work for its realization.
As for the other small Balkan states: Romania, Serbia and Greece, we consider that, if their policy is based not on egotistic motives, but on the broader idea of a Balkan confederation, and if they sincerely believe that the majority of the population in Macedonia is of their kin, nothing would be more imperative for them than to support autonomy and political separationism.
This is the political separationism, for the realization of which the population of Macedonia is preparing to lead a desperate struggle, and to which we openly adhere. These are the advantages which it will inevitably bring to the Balkan peoples and to the Bulgarian nation. And these advantages are, as we believe, of such a character, that, owing to their vital significance, political separationism will overcome all impediments and will become a real factor both in the Balkans and in Europe.
Under No 138 I have the honour to send you a receipt from the Bulgarians imprisoned in the Bodrum fortress for the sum of 513.50 (five-hundred and thirteen leva and fifty stotinki) which was forwarded to them.
The remainder of the sum enclosed in your letter of April 5 of this year is being kept in the safe of our diplomatic mission here, pending the receipt of the other sum of 500 leva, which is to come from Bourgas, and of which mention is also made in your letter of April 5, so that our mission will be able to send both sums - the one for the Bulgarians imprisoned in the Beaz fortress and the one for those in Akia - simultaneously and with the same expenses.
I have the honour to request Your Excellency to issue instructions for dispatching the above-mentioned sum of 500 gold leva to our diplomatic mission as soon as possible.
I remain. Your Excellency, your obedient and humble servant.
The undersigned acknowledge the receipt of the sum of five hundred and thirteen gold leva (513.50 lv) through the Bulgarian Diplomatic Mission in Constantinople, as aid from the Macedonian and Odrin students at the University of Sofia, to be distributed among our comrades - Bulgarian political prisoners in the Bodrum fortress.
The Macedonian Congress opened last Sunday.1 The Government exercised its authority in order to keep the proceedings on a peaceful basis and to prevent their degenerating into revolutionary demonstrations. All government officials were warned not to take part in the Congress as delegates, under the pain of instant dismissal.
The very first sessions of the Congress revealed the deep antagonism which existed between the partisansof the present Committee and those of Boris Sarafov. The Committee managed to elect a Bureau faithful to it, but with a small majority. It refused to admit to the Congress 33 delegates elected by local organizations not acknowledged by it. Those delegates were immediately gathered together by Boris Sarafov, and they took a decision to protest and to be present at the sessions of the Congress in spite of the fact that they were not admitted.
This morning's newspapers report these misunderstandings, and advise the delegates to resolve their differences. It is certain that if this discord continues, the committees will soon be weakened and their cause in Macedonia - compromised.
The Committee recently published a brochure2, copies of which were sent to all diplomatic agencies, and which contains an account of the situation in Macedonia and the programme of reforms suggested by the Committee. This programme can be summarized thus: 'Macedonia for the Macedonians'. It is clear from this that what the Committee wants is: 'Macedonia for the Bulgarians'. But, knowing that the Bulgarians are the majority in this region, the Committee does not recommend an urgent division, as the Greeks and the Serbs do. It is not afraid of a period of autonomy for Macedonia, which will enable the Bulgarian nationality there to strengthen its position, and which will be merely a step on the way to union with Bulgaria.
The third element necessary for the materialization of our desires is the existence of a compact and culturally competent mass of people, who could serve as the basis of administration. This seems to be the most important element of that very complex problem called the 'Macedonian question.'
The theory of public law offers instructive lessons in connection with the question examined. There is no state without a nation. A government is established for it and on its behalf. Modern states, based on one nation, are far from being purely homogeneous ethnic units. There are even states where, thanks to historical circumstances, the government relies on, and is concentrated in, a minority. There are other states, made up of several ethnic groups united by their cultural and economic needs into one political whole. Therefore, it is evident that an ethnic or a political entity supporting the government is a necessary condition for the existence of any state.
Macedonia, which aspires to have a government of its own, does it have an ethnic or political entity — a cultural whole capable of maintaining a government?
It is true that our country, as regards population, is not in itself a perfect ethnic whole free of all foreign elements. Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, Wallachians have lived there from time immemorial. In recent times, the political interests of neighbouring and distant Slav states have aimed at creating one particular nationality - the Serbian, by reducing the numbers of and weakening another Slav nation - the Bulgarian.
Macedonia, as the last remnant of Turkish power in Europe, and bordering on all Balkan states, is serving as the arena for terrible struggles which conceal the political expansion of this or that state. The struggles are being waged with violence and passion. These sentiments, when transferred to the local population, transform it into mutual irreconcilable enemies. And mind you, these enemies are the sons of one and the same land, victims of one and the same tyranny. It is useless to say that these struggles hamper Macedonian freedom, because, in fact, our country today is like the child who was brought for Solomon's judgement; the pretended; the pretended mother wanted the child divided, while the true mother insisted only on preserving him alive. Many of these elements are not used to consider Macedonia as their homeland, capable of a political life of its own: They have their eyes turned to the free states of their nationality, with which they wish to make one political whole. For a number of reasons, this quite natural desire cannot be satisfied. Today, however, incited from outside, feeling their weakness as regards their numbers, these elements refuse outright to acknowledge the impossibility of their dreams and the salutary nature of the principle of an autonomous government. We say 'outright', because, for some time now, since a revolutionary organization was set up in Macedonia, supported mainly by Bulgarian elements, the consciousness for unity of fate in the other nationalities is beginning to awaken, though it is still rather weak. Thanks to this consciousness, some non-Bulgarian and non-Slav elements already form part of the revolutionary organization. This is a reassuring fact for the present and a good omen for the future.
The answer to the question we formulated in the beginning can be derived from what had been said so far about the conduct of the different ethnic groups in Macedonia. Macedonia has one element, which, in its numbers and culture, is in a position to maintain one government. This is undoubtedly the Bulgarian element. Of 2.25 million citizens, more than 1.25 million are Bulgarians. Second come the Turks, a great many of whom will leave the country in the event of there being a Christian autonomous government, as they have done in all the regions where the Crescent has given way to the Cross. This certain future act will increase still further the proportion of the Bulgarian element. If the numerical superiority of the Bulgarian element is ensured, then as regards culture, it is second to none of its rivals. Thanks to the half a century of educational work and to the political struggles, Macedonia has an intelligentsia which is the greatest bogy for Turkish tyranny, which has taken trade in its hands and given a respectable large number of talents who have risen to honourable heights in the public and political life of the Principality.
Such an element as the Bulgarian, fully aware of its might, cannot neglect its duty. Filled with the desire to serve as the basis of peaceful and successful development, the Bulgarian element of Macedonia is also strongly willing to guarantee the equality of the remaining elements, which are a minority. This is imperative, not only as a duty, but also because of the recognized need to iron out the existing animosity, the presence of which will hamper the normal government of the country.
If this element exists, it is the obligation of all who hold Macedonia's freedom dear to contribute to its preservation and consolidation. Every action which aims at foiling this cause is contrary to this freedom and therefore harmful to it. Unfortunately, however, such is the case with the artificially maintained Greek and Serbian propaganda. Their harmful influence on the prospects for Macedonian freedom has a twofold effect. Each is trying to ruin one whole entity, without which a Christian government of our country is inconceivable, and, secondly, they have drawn off part of our forces for the in ternecine struggle. One cannot but regret that there are states, such as Russia, which systematically maintain this disunity of forces so disastrous for the freedom of Christians in the Balkan Peninsula and for the future of Slavdom. The new fact, however, which we mentioned above, i.e. the participation of some non-Bulgarian and non-Slav elements in the revolutionary organization, is of a kind which can reduce the undesirable consequences of the struggles now underway, and strengthen the hopes of mutual respect and joint work for the common cause.
These are the three main and necessary elements for the autonomy of Macedonia, which we have outlined in three consecutive numbers. In this country there exist all the conditions necessary for normal political life. It is our duty to advance and reinforce these conditions which exist in us, and to insist on the acceptance of those which will have to come from somewhere else. The aim of our articles was to point out both, as well as to indicate the conditions for their materialization. This we have done, as far as it was possible on the pages of a newspaper.
From the report of the vali of Bitolya to His Majesty the Sultan, it is clear that the majority of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia is infected with revolutionary ideas. That part of the population which is able to bear arms is already armed, others support it with money, still others serve as couriers and kalaouzy1. It is wrong to imagine that every larger armed detachment of rebels comes from Bulgaria, because the organization in the villages is very good, and it is not difficult for a leader arriving from Bulgaria to gather the number of armed people which he considers necessary. When the army starts to pursue such a gang, its members are usually informed by their agents in the towns and the villages, and they disperse to their homes and assume the appearance of peaceful and loyal subjects.
For this reason, it is necessary to build some karakoly2 in suitable places.
long silence on the events in the
But it is very difficult, not to say impossible, to confirm the validity of this information, because the local authorities still continue the suspension of all communications between Syar and Djoumaya-Balya, on the one hand, and the rebel areas, on the other. But, from the obvious lack of troop movements, it can be concluded that the situation really has improved and that the troops in action are sufficient to meet every eventuality.
It is beyond dispute that the recent incidents in the valley of Strouma considerably exceed in significance all others in Macedonia during the past few years. They exceed them in the size of the areas involved and in the number and the importance of the villages taking part in them, and also in the number of the Turkish troops that have had to take part in the operations. Obviously, the activities of only one Macedonian Committee in Bulgaria would not be sufficient to give rise to a movement on such a scale, if this action had not taken place in a locality already prepared for it by long and intense revolutionary activity, by the dissatisfaction of the population, and by the anarchy in the country.
Naturally, the severity of the season will soon compel the rebellious peasants to leave the mountains, and the detachments to be dissolved. For several months at least, while the winter lasts, the revolutionary movement will be at a standstill.
But what will happen in the spring? According to information from reliable sources, several detachments of Bulgarian rebels have compelled the population of several villages, which did not take part in the recent unrest, to swear that they will rise in spring. But I do not think that the unrest then will be more serious than it has been recently. The military forces which the Turkish authorities can put in action within a very short time are enough to crush every attempt at rebellion, and the Macedonian Bulgarians can scarcely have any illusions about that.
But this will not prevent them from risking, in ever larger numbers, both their own lives and those of their families, and their property, as they throw themselves into hopeless adventures.
It seems that there are only two ways of avoiding the consequences of this state of affairs.
Reprisals, degenerating into massacres would, of course, be the quickest means of achieving relative peace in Macedonia. It is not a secret to anyone that the loud feats of the rebels have provoked bitter hatred against the Bulgarians among the Turkish population, and many Turks are waiting only for a signal to do the Sultan a service and rid him of the troubles in the same way 'as it was done in Armenia'. This mood of the Turkish population is, perhaps, not the least evil created by the present situation.
But, because it is inconceivable to accept such a solution, it remains to be seen whether it would not be possible to change the conditions of life of the Macedonian Bulgarians sufficiently so as to make them turn their backs on agitations, which have not the slightest chance of success. It would not be difficult to try, at least as an experiment, to guarantee the security of the people and of their property. In my opinion, two practical reforms would be quite sufficient to achieve this result.
The critical situation of the Bulgarian peasant in Macedonia is well known, exposed, on the one hand, to all the violence of the rebel detachments and, on the other, to all the arbitrary actions of the Turkish gendarmes, badly recruited, irregularly paid and compelled 'to live at the expense of the local population'.
The organization of a gendarmerie, sufficient in number, well paid, consisting of well-selected people and commanded by excellent officers, would, it seems, be sufficient to impede the movement of the rebels, and to calm the peasants, who, when not afraid of violence, might even support the authorities.
Such a reform will be less expensive than the mobilization of the redif 2 and the movements of the troops, measures which the Turkish authorities seem to recourse to very often lately.
On the other hand, the abuse of power originating from the system of buying the right to collect tithes is well known. Almost in every case the rights to collect tithes are bought by influential beys, who take advantage of being the representatives of the government and get more money from the population on various pretexts. If one looks for proof of the importance of this problem, it can be found in the fact that the last two actions of the rebels started with the killing of the agents authorized to collect the tithes.
And, because in the greater part of Macedonia, the tithes are intended to serve as securities for the railways (Soloun-Bitolya and Soloun-Dedeagach), the revenues from their purchase are transferred to the Public Debt. A system of regulations obliging this administration to collect the revenues on an economic basis will be enough to put an end to this abuse of power which is often quite intolerable.
Undoubtedly there are other reasons which arm the Bulgarians against the Turkish domination: to those which provoked the uprisings in 1876, and since the time of the Berlin Treaty, should be added: the promised reforms, the implementation of which is not even mentioned, and, most important, the proximity of a frontier, beyond which their compatriots are their own masters, while, on this side of the frontier, they stand in the last rank of the Christian population.
The minimum reforms which I have indicated as feasible will not entirely reconcile the Bulgarians to Turkish domination. There can be no doubt that they will continue to look for measures, which by means of the electoral system will ensure them supremacy in the management of public affairs. I hasten to add, however, that it will not be safe at the present moment to create fresh causes for new clashes among populations, which are already so deeply split.
But, if by means of the reform of the gendarmerie and the system of tithe-collecting, minimum securities are guaranteed to the Macedonian population, it will not remain indifferent to such progress. Other important reforms, such as wider admission of Christians into magistrature and the administration, can be discussed later, at a more appropriate time. In this way, the leaders will be compelled to subordinate the realization of their political aspirations to the interests of the present.
On November 2, this year the Evdokya Charitable Organization asked me to take and distribute among the Macedonian refugees in the frontier villages of Doupnitsa district clothes and supplies which it had purchased out of its own funds. Having obtained the permission of my superiors, I set out to perform my mission. I thus visited Doupnitsa, Kocherinovo, Rila, Pastra, the Rila Monastery, the farm at the latter, and Orlitsa. After I had done my job at the above-mentioned places, I availed myself of the opportunity to learn from the: refugees themselves, or from the rebels who were returning from Macedonia, or from other people, details about what was happening on the other side of Rila, in the places from which the refugees had fled. As a result of my personal in quiry I established some facts which, considering that they would not be without interest to you, I have the honour to present to you as follows:
I saw Macedonian families which had recently fled from Turkish territories: First - in Doupnitsa about 200 people who were mostly from the villages of Pokrovnik, Moshtanets, Logodash, Padezh, Krudjevo, Dryanovo, Zheleznitsa, etc. (Djoumaya district), situated on the right bank of the River Strouma. From the same places, there were about 200 people scattered among the Bulgarian frontier villages of Dragodan, Bouranovo and Tekiya; these I had no time to visit.
Second - in the village of Rila, more than 200 people, who had come from the villages of Bistritsa, Surbinovo, Gradevo, Mechkoul, Kresna, Maroulevo, etc. (Djoumaya and Melnik district); third - in the villages of Pastra, Oriitsa and the Monastery farm about 250 people from the same villages; fourth -again from the same villages in Bozovaya, Padala, Stob, Poromino and Kocherinovo about 80-100 people. I must add that during my stay at the frontier, I saw new refugees arriving daily both in the Rila and Doupnitsa regions. Thus at present their total number certainly exceeds 1,000. Of all these, only the refugees who had come from the village of Bistritsa near the frontier had managed to take along with them some cattle and small farm animals. The rest, that is, the great majority, fled in haste and were urgently in need of clothes, underwear and food, especially the women and the children, most of whom were naked or in tatters, and presented a piteous sight.
The refugees had abandoned their homes in winter, because of the cruelties and atrocities committed lately by the Turkish regular troops and the Albanians, in particular. Atrocities and outrages of all kinds, but the most common and most unbearable, in the words of all the refugees, were the raping of women and girls, regardless of age, committed by the soldiers themselves and their officers, and, in many cases, in the presence of the victims' families. 'We can endure the Turks beating and maltreating us,' said the refugees who had left their villages and had never before met, 'but we cannot bear the raping, and this is one of the reasons for being forced to flee.'
How the actual flight took place can be seen from the narrative of several priests whose story is the same as that of all the other refugees.
At the end of last October there arrived a commission from the Strouma Farm, consisting of the governor of Djoumaya, the assistant of the cadi, and the whole council, toured the district trying to persuade the Bulgarian population to surrender their arms. It also summoned peasants from Pokrovnik and Moshtanets and, after having read to them a royal amnesty decree, took the seals of the villages and forced the peasants to take an oath in church, but did not succeed in extricating their guns away. After that they gave out an order to torture the village headman, Georgi Ivanov. After that some of the peasants surrendered 58 rifles. The commission left. Next came 50 soldiers who started the outrages, the cruelties and the raping. Later the soldiers also left, only to be replaced on October 30 by about 200 Albanian soldiers, who scared everybody in the region. At that point, the peasants, who realized that there was no way out, decided to run away. They gathered from the villages of Zheleznitsa Pokrovnik, Padezh, Krudzhievo, Dryanovo, Lisiya and all of them, women and children - 500-600 people, managed to reach the frontier where, however, they were stopped by Turkish guards. Some, out of fear, went back, others, up to 200 people, among whom 50-60 who were armed, surrounded the women and the children and went straight for the guards. The latter, after firing a few shots started to run and opened the road forthe refugees, who in this way, managed to arrive at the village of Dragodan, not far from Boboshevo on the eve of November 1. None of the refugees had managed to bring with them even the most essential winter clothes. It is important to mention that many women and the girls of many families crossed the border while their husbands and sons stayed behind.
According to the narratives of the refugees, confirmed by their priests, of whom I met ten, the Turks were committing unbelievable and monstrous tortures and sacrileges. It was not my intention to collect facts of this kind and, besides, to do so I should have remained there much longer, but, of the few examples noted by me au hasard, one can get an idea of the spirit, I'etat d'ame, of these who were suppressing the uprising.
Magda Velichkova from Padezh was raped by a Turkish captain. Georgi Ivanov and Georgi Petrev from Zheleznitsa were beaten with a wooden stick, pierced with bayonets, their heels cut and they died in the evening. Yana Shturbinska from Padezh was stabbed with a bayonet. Mite Trenev from Gradevo was hanged on November 2, without charge or trial, just because they found in his house a Turkish rifle like those that the Turks themselves often planted in the houses of the more prosperous Bulgarians, so that they could later misappropriate their possessions. Another one from Gradevets was beaten so cruelly that he died before the day was over. The priest Stefan Stoimenov from Padezh was forced to eat excrements in the presence of his family. About 14 beautiful girls from Bistritsa and other villages were brought in Djoumaya and sent to the harems. In Razlog they cut off the arms of one peasant in order to force him to tell where the rifles had been hidden, and he did. One captain was boasting in a cafe full of Turks in Djoumaya how he stripped the women naked, sat on their navels, and how he would ride them. He was also telling them how they would make the women pass in front of the soldiers naked and how they slapped them. Many women were being raped by about 20-30-40 soldiers. There were slain children, and desecrated churches; some even dug down 2 m deep in their search for arms. After the peasants had left, their villages were burnt down by the soldiers. People were hung head downward and underneath straw was set on fire, so that the corpses were completely roasted. The peasants' supplies, such as cheese, butter, wine, etc., were taken by the soldiers, and the rest were thrown away and soiled with the soldiers' excrements so that no one could use them afterwards.
In order to illustrate the fear of the refugees I will give the following example. On November 8 I went to the boarding house in Doupnitsa where a great many of the refugees were accommodated, so as to ask them together with the mayor and the Secretary of the District Chief about their needs. We were impressed by one of them whose nose and eyebrows were gashed and bleeding. Asked whether he had been tortured by the Turks, the people around him told us that the previous night he had jumped up in his sleep and shouted: 'Run, the Turks are coming!' Then he had thrown himself against a table and had broken his nose and his brow.
As regards the Uprising itself, I managed to learn from various sources (including Captain Stoyanov, whom I met in the village of Rila as he was coming down from the mountain with his detachment) that there were no armed detachments left in the Djoumaya and Melnik districts. Lieutenant Colonel Nikolov has been living in the Rila Mountain for a month now. But detachments which had returned because of lack of bullets and warm clothes, intended to go back to Macedonia to continue their movement throughout the winter. The population felt for them and helped them. For instance, near the village of Surbino, about 300-400 peasants joined the detachment of Stoyanov, but they started to run away when they saw that soldiers were constantly pouring in.
According to information conveyed by a person I knew, who had managed to escape from Djoumaya, it appears that at present there are in the district 8,000-9,000 Turkish soldiers, the majority of whom are scattered through the villages in groups of 100 to 200 people in order to 'sojourn' there, which actually means to kill. From that same person I also learned the important fact that the persecutions to which the Bulgarian population in the Djoumaya district were subjected had started mainly after Edhem Pasha, the former commander-in-chief of the Turkish Army in the Greek-Turkish war, passed through the town. Coming from Syar, he stayed in Djoumaya on October 24 and 25 and then went back to Syar. Until his arrival, the Turks had been somewhat confused and had not known what to do. Edhem Pasha gave orders for arms to be taken from the Bulgarian population, and then the soldiers scattered through the villages and started committing their atrocities everywhere. It was this fact which I tried to clarify since I considered it to be particularly important: in the foreign newspapers I had read just the opposite, namely that the mission of Edhem Pasha was, among other things, to instruct the military to refrain from violence against the population, so as not to provoke European public opinion. The facts, however, refute that appeasing piece of news circulated in Europe. As many as 500-600 rifles which had been hidden in the villages were brought to Djoumaya. From the beginning of the Uprising until the end of October, the number of the Turkish soldiers killed in the Djoumaya district amounted to 1,643. I feel obliged to note here the fact that the Turks were constantly bringing provisions and military supplies to Djoumaya.
In conclusion I cannot but mention, Mr. Minister, the complaints which I heard everywhere both from refugees and from good Macedonian patriots. They complained of the harm done to the Macedonian cause by the mutual persecutions between the two Macedonian organizations - the Mihailovski-Tsonchev Committee, on the one hand, and the Internal Organization on the other. These persecutions often led to mutual extermination, disgrace and surrender to the Turks. During my brief stay in the border villages, I had the opportunity to become personally convinced of this through two examples: on my arrival at the Rila Monastery on the 5th of this month I learned that a teacher from Macedonia, a courier of the Internal Organization, a very intelligent young man, as he appeared to me later, had been arrested there by the police as a spy as result of the plotting of several members of detachment belonging to the Mihailovski Committee. As a result of the intercession of several monks who knew him personally very well, the courier was released on the morning of November 6. The members of the detachment, however, asked the monks to chase him away from the Monastery, so that they could beat him to death somewhere in the forest.
The reverse side of the medal: On leaving Doupnitsa for Sofia on the 9th of this month, I caught up with a young man from Razlog, Georgi Gligorov, who was living in the village of Bansko. He had been wounded in the leg during a battle with the Turks. During our journey to Radomir, he told me that since he was one of the few men from Razlog, who had joined Tsonchev, and since it was the Internal Organization that was in charge of Razlog, he, being a courier of Tsonchev, had been twice shot at by the people of the Internal Organization with the intention of killing him.
Not wishing to comment on the above-mentioned facts, I cannot but note that as a result of the mass deportation of the Bulgarian population from the Djoumaya and Melnik districts and recently from Razlog, where the Turks have also begun to commit outrages on the population, serious harm is being inflicted on Bulgarian interests in those places. The same happened in 1879 when half of the population of Djoumaya moved to liberated Bulgaria and the previously Bulgarian character of the town is now changing to Greek-Wallachian.
Signed: S. Chaprashikov
The Committee was informed in advance about the arrival in Sofia of Count Lamsdorf 1, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Realizing the important political significance of his visit, the Committee duly took all necessary measures to be introduced to him. You have probably learned from the newspapers that, on the 15th of December about noon, the Committee in the person of its Chairman and Deputy-Chairman, had the honour to be introduced to Count Lamsdorf in the Russian Consulate, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Danev, and the Russian diplomatic agent Mr. Bakhmetiev. However, the Committee considers itself bound to inform its members of facts not published in the press.
Besides the representatives of the Committee two other groups — each of them separately - were also introduced to Count Lamsdorf: Dr. Miletich and Dr. Ivan Georgov, as representatives of the Macedonian and Adrianople immigrants in Sofia, and Dr. Hr. Tatarchev and Mr. Hristo Matov 2 as representatives of the Internal Organization.
The Committee, while refraining from announcing today the particulars of the conversation with the Russian Foreign Minister, are glad to inform you that its general impression of this meeting offers great hopes that our cause is not on the way to satisfactory development.
The aim which the Committee set itself at the meeting with Count Lamsdorf was to reveal to him the desperate and intolerable situation of our brothers in Turkey - a situation which is the cause of all the disasters and troubles - and to submit to him the demands which can lead to the pacification of the country.
Here are the demands:
'I. From the present vilayets of Soloun, Bitolya and Skopje a new Region shall be formed with Soloun as its centre.
frontier line of this Region shall begin from the Serbian frontier
of Vranya, along the north-west frontiers of the districts of Preshovo
and through the peak Lyubotrun, along the ridge of the Shar Mountain,
Korab, the highest mountain top of the Deshat Mountain, from where it
continue along the River Veleshtitsa, where the large village of
situated, to the place where this stream runs into the Tsarni Drin.
will follow this river, and opposite Debur, it will leave it and follow
Western border of the district of Ohrid to the spot where this district
river Devol and, following the river, it will reach the peak of Gramos.
there, along the southern borders of the districts of Kostour,
Karaferia to the place where the border of the last district crosses
Bistritsa and along it to the
II. A Christian who has never been connected with the Turkish administration shall be appointed as Governor General of this Region, with the approval of the Great Powers.
III. The Governor General shall govern the Region with the assistance of a Regional Assembly elected directly by the population with strict observation of the rights of minorities, and it shall decide all questions concerning the internal arrangement of the Region's administrative and financial affairs.
All the officials of the districts shall be appointed by the Governor General.
IV. To maintain peace and order in the Region there shall be a militia, organized on the principle of the recruiting system, and directly subordinated to the Governor General.
V. The languages of the principal nationalities of the Region, together with Turkish, shall be official in all district institutions; the administrative units shall have the right to choose one of them for its official communications.
VI. Full amnesty shall be given to all political prisoners, irrespective of whether they have been sentenced or not, as well as to all suspected of being untrustworthy, who were born there, but are at present abroad.
VII. These reforms shall be introduced by the European Commission with the support of international military forces under foreign control.
VIII. Similar reforms shall be introduced into the vilayet of Odrin which shall form a special Region.'
As you can see, the demands we have submitted this time are not the same as those worked out in 1896. In the preparation of these demands the Committee had two considerations in mind:
1) To present them in a briefer form, and 2) to demand essential things not mentioned in the first project; because the number of the victims sacrificed from 1896 till now, and especially the future threat which our Cause represents to peace, give us the right to increase our claims. With reference to the first consideration, while taking the draft of 1896 as a basis, the Committee grouped the essential and more homogenous points in fewer paragraphs; and some were abandoned entirely, because they arose from and were the natural consequences of the first. For this reason, articles 4, 7 and 9 and 10 of the old project were omitted. With reference to the second consideration, the Committee limited the power of the Sultan over the Region to the appointment of the Governor General - naturally, with the approval of the Great Powers. That is why the Governor General and the Regional Assembly become decisive factors: all officials without exception are appointed by the former and the latter decide all questions of an administrative and financial character (para.3). In addition, the Committee considered it necessary to shorten the frontier with the district of Korcha, which is populated chiefly with Albanians.
Circumstances gave me the opportunity to take a closer view of the activity of the local Macedonian committee of the so-called ‘Internal Revolutionary Organization’.And, considering it my task to report, as promptly as possible about its activities, I am informing you, relying on their piece-meal information about their preparations ...
In the whole region here (I mean not only the vilayet of Soloun), there is hardly any large settlement without a detachment of rebels. The members of these detachments are not known to the peasants. For this reason, the latter are in constant touch with them, and are under their influence and power to such an extent, that there are even cases when the peasants turn to the rebels, and, always successfully at that, for help in discovering those guilty of some crime or another... The Turks are also aware of the existence of these detachments, but they have not considered it necessary, until now, to take any decisive measures ...
I should add that the detachments led by committee members living in the bigger towns like Soloun, Bitolya.etc., had (and still have) strict orders to avoid, at all costs for the time being, any conflict with the police or military authorities, and merely to prepare the population to accept the idea of a general uprising at the first signal on the part of the higher leaders of the professed cause of liberation. The time for the rebellion is not fixed, although the increasing chaos in the administration of the provinces and the flagrant abuses of power on the part of the civil authorities and the Moslem beys, who enjoy their patronage, is beginning to oppress the Christian population beyond measure, and, after some incidental clashes between the rebels and the gendarmes, it is already fleeing to the mountains, sometimes even whole villages.
The military operations of armed rebel detachments coming from Bulgaria, the ruthless reprisals of the Turkish troops, the intervention of Russia, the reforms already proclaimed by the Sultan, as well as those which are still expected, all this, if it has not changed the activities of the local committees, has at least given them fresh impetus.
These committees, as it is well known, were and still are in conflict with the committees in Sofia, whom they accused of rashly proclaiming the unprepared uprising, which cost the population many unnecessary casualties. With the arrest of Tsonchev, Mihailovski and other leaders in Sofia, and the dissolution of the committees acting on the territory of the Principality, the revolutionaries here feel freer, but they themselves seem to have decided not to postpone the projected uprising, but merely to wait and see the results of the last, as they suppose, peaceful attempts of the Great Powers to alleviate the fate of the Christian population in Macedonia.
They have little belief in the success of these attempts, and for this reason, now, without fixing the time beforehand, they are preparing the population by all possible means to accept the idea that decisive actions will begin soon, and the rebel detachments are feverishly working to recruit to their ranks young Bulgarians and Christians in general. According to the information which I have, this recruiting is not without success, although they are fully convinced of the superiority of the enemy forces.
As for the other preparations, like collecting of clothes, shoes, food, and even bandages, I am no longer reporting them: the population has for a long time been compelled to pay taxes for these, both in kind and in money.
‘They will not allow the Turks to massacre us the way they did in Armenia...’ reason the local leaders of the revolutionary movement, 'and if we postpone the revolt indefinitely, we may cause the noise over the Macedonian problem to die down, and, by losing the solid ground on which circumstances have permitted us to stand, we may miss the most favourable moment for the complete liberation of the Macedonian Bulgarians from the Turks.’
The programme of the uprising, as far as I know, consists mainly of the transfer of all rebel detachments to the mountains, together with the whole popula tion of the settlement as far as possible, and simultaneous attacks by partisan detachments on gendarmes and troops in different places, at great distances from each other, to prevent co-ordinated operations by the troops scattered in strategic centres. Arms and ammunition will not be lacking, the committees declare.
Such are the plans of the local Macedonian committees. To what extent they will be able to realize them, in view of the measures taken by us, I do not venture to say positively. But I consider, without exaggerating the importance of the local revolutionary organization, that it can hardly be expected to collapse by peaceful means only. In recent years, it has taken deep root among the population, it has provoked the violent rage of the Moslem world against all Bulgarians; and it has greatly fanned the permanent hatred of the Greeks towards them. Thus, the Bulgarians will jump at the first opportunity and run the risk of fighting all the enemies armed against them and, above all, the Turkish authorities, who seem to be losing patience and to be in a very militant mood.
Besides, the presence at this moment, in the vilayet of Soloun, of Boris Sarafov and his assistant Delchev, who act in agreement with the local committee, as well as the expected influx of Bulgarian Macedonians from the Principality, may only complicate further the activities initiated to pacify the area.
There are no grounds to expect an uprising of the whole Bulgarian, much less the whole Christian, population of Macedonia, but it seems to me that we must expect simultaneous outbreaks in different parts of this vast region, as well as the possibility of bloody reprisals on the part of the Turkish authorities and population, not so much against the rebels themselves, as against their voluntary or forced concealers.
This is what the Turk said: ... 'The Bulgarian population in the vilayet does not understand the real situation in the least. It does not even know the latest declaration of the Russian Government. In spite of this declaration which proclaims that in the Balkan disorders not a single drop of Russian blood will be shed, the people blindly believe the priests, the teachers, and the other leaders of the Committee, that Russia is secretly supporting the Bulgarians ...'
In general, the leaders of the Bulgarian committees, and the whole population, following their example, are very mistrustful and skeptical as far as the reforms are concerned. The reorganization of the gendarmerie may serve as an example of this. To a total of 80-100 Christian zaptiehs, only 50 people were added. The latter include Greeks, Wallachians and very few Bulgarians. Undoubtedly, the Bulgarian communes are forbidding their members to enter Turkish service. Owing to the leadership of the Committee, it is they that are at the root of the disorders in Macedonia.
The former vali of the vilayet of Bitolya, when asked about the measures which should be adopted in order to limit the activities of the Bulgarian rebel detachments, recommended the following plan:
Instead of sending troops to different villages, thus giving reason for complaints on the part of the population, it is much more expedient to concentrate troops in the centres of the districts, in numbers depending on the significance of the districts themselves, but never less than a company of soldiers in one place. In districts where the population is predominantly Bulgarian, like those of Ohrid, Kichevo, Prilep and Lerin - strong detachments of troops should be concentrated. In addition, some detachments of gendarmes should make the rounds of the villages. It is preferable to have in each district centre at least a regiment. If the gendarmes are not sufficient, their number may be increased according to local needs.
His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, who was informed about this plan, ordered Your Highness to inform him of your opinion on this problem.
The office of the
myutesarif of Syar has announced that, according to a report by the
consul in the town,1 Bulgarian
revolutionaries intend to begin
a series of outrages in
It can be seen from this report that the Bulgarians intend to expand their revolutionary activities and, for this reason, it is necessary to take all possible preventive measures. After the above-mentioned report had been announced to H.M. the Sultan, he gave orders - because all the Bulgarians living in Constantinople belong to some guild or other - for the respective heads of the different guilds to be informed that they would be held responsible for all crimes committed by members of their guild.
Moreover, since it is impossible that the Bulgarian clergy do not know anything about the activities of the Bulgarians under their spiritual jurisdiction, it is natural that the Bulgarian Exarch should bear a certain responsibility for the actions of the Bulgarians. For this reason, he is to be summoned to the Great Vizirate and, after being informed about the disorders which have taken place in the districts of Soloun and Bitolya, and about the report of the myutesarif of Syar, he is to be told categorically that all these trouble-makers are under his spiritual authority.
Besides he should be informed about the captured arms in the church of the village of Gorno Brodi, and also, that, according to the confessions of the detained criminals, the Bulgarian teachers in the town of Syar and the Chairman of the church commune there are responsible for all incitement in the district of Syar.
After this the Exarch must be told most categorically that only those Bulgarians shall remain in Constantinople for whom he vouches and for whose behaviour he accepts responsibility - all the rest will be expelled from the capital. Moreover, he must present a list of the persons, who, in his opinion, should not remain in the capital. These persons are to be expelled from Constantinople within a day or two.
Monsieur le Ministre,
J'ai rendu compte au jour le jour, par le télégraphe, à Votre Excellence de la série d'attentats à la dynamite dont la ville de Salonique vient d'être le théâtre. Il est très difficile encore de démêler l'origine et la véritable portée de ces événements. Nous ne possédons pas jusqu'ici de données suffisantes pour résoudre ces questions essentielles. Les attentats sont-ils l'œuvre d'un groupe isolé de révolutionnaires à tendances anarchistes? Emanent-ils de l'un des deux grands comités (comité bulgare ou association intérieure) ou sont-ils le produit d'une entente entre ces comités, ou bien encore les comités ou l'un d'eux ont-ils sans les avoir conçus et dirigés, prêté la main à leur exécution?
Il serait également prématuré de chercher à déterminer les conséquences de ces attentats sur le développement ultérieur de la question bulgare-macédonienne.
Je me bornerai donc à reprendre l'exposé des faits déjà connus par mes télégrammes.
28 avril - à 11 heures 15 le vapeur des Messageries Maritimes le Guadalquivir sortant à peine du port était la première victime des révolutionnaires. J'ai fourni de longs détails sur cette catastrophe dans un rapport en date du 3 mai sous le timbre de la Sous-Direction des Affaires Consulaires. L'auteur de cet attentat, un Bulgare de Kustendil, nommé Georges Manasoff, porteur d'un Passeport bulgare régulièrement visé pour Varna, prenait le lendemain matin le train conventionnel, mais était arrêté à Uskub sur les indications fournies par équipage du Guadalquivir. Son procès commence aujourd'hui même devant la cour martiale instituée sous la présidence d'Edib Pacha.
Le même jour, à 9 heures du soir, un engin à la dynamite faisait explosion devant la machine de l'express de Constantinople au moment où le train entrait en ville: la détonation de l'engin avait été provoquée par un pétard employé dans le service du chemin de fer pour donner des signaux d'alarme. Une partie seulement de la dynamite avait fait explosion: le tout semblait avoir été installé par des mains assez inexpérimentées.
Le lendemain, le 29, vers 8 heures du soir, je me trouvais dans mon bureau avec mon chancelier M. Vernazza et M. Choublier qui était venu à Salonique pour affaires personnelles, lorsque la lumière du gaz s'éteignit tout à coup, plongeant la maison dans l'obscurité. Je regardai dans la rue: il en était de même. Quelques secondes après, plusieurs explosions se faisaient entendre, dont une extrêmement violente. Mon impression fut que l'on avait fait sauter l'usine à gaz, dirigée par un Français qui l'habite avec sa famille et, que, profitant de l'obscurité, des malfaiteurs jetaient des bombes en ville pour y semer la panique. M. Vernazza rentra chez lui à pied pour rassurer les siens. M. Choublier courut aux nouvelles pendant que j'essayais de rassurer ma famille et que je surveillais avec nos cavass les issues du Consulat, sachant que les révolutionnaires comptaient ne pas épargner les agents étrangers. Bientôt après arrivait votre commis expéditionnaire, M. Mallet; il se trouvait sur le quai dans un café en plein air lorsque le gaz s'y éteignit. - Aussitôt après, une bombe avait été jetée au milieu des consommateurs, tuant un garçon de l'établissement.
J'appris ensuite qu'un attentat semblable avait été commis un peu plus loin, à la terrasse d'une brasserie fréquentée comme la première exlusivement par des européens. Mais il n'y avait pas eu de victime.
Les nouvelles que rapporta M. Choublier n'étaient pas plus rassurantes: l'usine à gaz était intacte, mais on avait fait sauter la Banque Ottomane qui se trouvait en flammes. Dans le voisinage, des révolutionnaires jetaient des bombes sur la troupe.
Bientôt après, je me rendis chez le Valy avec deux collègues dont les habitations sont les plus voisines de la mienne, les Consuls Généraux d'Angleterre et d'Italie. Le Valy était déjà parti pour se rendre à la Banque Ottomane; nous allâmes l'y rejoindre. Mais en chemin sa voiture croisa la nôtre. Nous revînmes chez lui et rencontrâmes en route le Consul Général d'Autriche-Hongrie qui se joignit à nous.
La ville était alors presque entièrement dépourvue de troupes; toutes celles qu'on avait retenues pendant la semaine sainte orthodoxe avaient été expédiées sur Vérisovitch. L'autorité militaire ne disposait guère que de deux bataillons de nizams, de quelques cavaliers et d'un demi bataillon de redits de Prichtina, pillards incorrigibles qu'il importait avant tout de tenir consignés. Pendant que nous étions chez le Valy, on vint annoncer que deux bataillons de rédifs de Smyrne venaient d'arriver dans le port et allaient être immédiatement débarques. Le Valy nous assura que tout serait fait pour protéger nos nationaux; je lui indiquai ceux de nos établissements pour lesquels je demandai que des précautions spéciales fussent prises; il m'assura qu'il tiendrait compte de mes désirs. Le lendemain, je lui en adressai la liste par écrit. J'insistai également avec mes collègues pour que l'on évitât toute immixtion de la population dans la répression des troubles. Hassan Fehmi Pacha nous assura qu'il y avait prévu.
Revenu au Consulat vers minuit, j'y restai jusqu'à l'aube en raison de l'extrême difficulté de circuler en ville et du danger qui semblait toujours menacer nos habitations.
Au point du jour, je me procurai une voiture pour visiter nos établissements et me rendre compte des événements de la nuit. L'émotion avait été vive à notre hôpital qui n'est séparé de la Banque Ottomane que par une rue étroite. L'équipage du Guadalquivir qui s'y trouvait en subsistance avait combattu avec succès l'incendie de l'aile voisine de la Banque et sauvé ainsi notre établissement. Auprès de l'hôpital, entre le principal corps de bâtiment de la Banque dont il ne restait que des décombres fumants et la poste ottomane qui lui fait face, on apercevait de vastes mares de sang au milieu desquelles un cheval, les quatre pattes broyées, achevait d'expirer en balançant la tête. La veille au soir, au moment de l'extinction du gaz, quatre hommes étaient descendus de voiture devant la Banque. L'un deux avait déposé sur le guichet de la poste une bombe qu'un cavass avait ramassée ne sachant ce que c'était. Elle avait éclaté dans ses mains, le déchiquetant d'une manière affreuse. D'autres bombes avaient été jetées sur les soldats de garde devant la banque, quelques-unes lancées par les fenêtres de l'établissement. Un agent de police et un soldat avaient été, l'un grièvement blessé, l'autre tué sur le coup. Bientôt après se produisait l'explosion d'une puissante mine souterraine. Un des murs de la Banque s'était effondré sur le club allemand qui lui est adossé et sur la cour d'un des principaux hôtels de Salonique. La porte de la cour était tombée sur le Gérant du Consulat d'Allemagne qui, au moment de l'extinction du gaz, était sorti du club avec quelques autres personnes.
Les décombres du mur avaient tué sur le coup un de nos administrés, M. Otto Trumpler, Suisse protégé français, négociant très honorablement connu, marie et père de deux enfants, ainsi qu'un cordonnier italien, père de plusieurs enfants. On a relevé depuis sous les mêmes ruines le coprs d'un débitant de tabac, qui, au moment de l'explosion, fermait sa boutique située en face de la Banque. Plusieurs Allemands et Autrichiens furent blessés au même endroit, 1 un d'eux très grièvement. Dans la cour de l'hôtel où donne également l'habitation d'un tailleur italien, celui-ci était mortellement blessé, deux de ses enfants devaient aussi des blessures graves.
Un peu plus loin, dans le même quartier, deux jeunes gens réfugiés dans une maison contiguë à l'école allemande avaient soutenu un siège contre la Police et la troupe sur laquelle ils avaient jeté un grand nombre de bombes.
Plusieurs projectiles avaient été lancés dans la cour de l'école mais sans y j faire grands dégâts. L'un de ces jeunes gens s'était enfui, l'autre avait été tué. Son corps que l'on chargea devant moi sur une charrette était celui d'un jeune homme de 20 à 22 ans et portait des vêtements européens assez misérables: c'est le type commun des criminels qui furent arrêtés ou tués cette nuit ou le lendemain, porteurs de bombes ou de cartouches de dynamite.
En me dirigeant vers l'usine à gaz, je constatai la cause de l'obscurité subite dans laquelle la ville avait été plongée. Un engin avait entièrement brisé la conduite principale en un point où elle traverse un ravin sous un pont routier. Plus loin, j'aperçus des traces d'une explosion par laquelle on avait tenté sans succès d'incendier les dépôts de pétrole.
Pendant toute la nuit, on avait procédé à des arrestations et à des perquisitions; un certain nombre de malfaiteurs s'étaient défendus en jetant des bombes, d'autres avait été tués en s'enfuyant; d'autres, enfin, à ce qu'on me dit, avaient été tués après s'être livrés. Des luttes semblables eurent lieu jusque vers la fin de l'après-midi du 30. La dernière qui avait eu pour théâtre une maison voisine de l'établissement des sœurs n'avait pas manqué de provoquer une émotion assez vive chez nos religieuses et chez les marins du Guadalquivir qui se croyaient visés par les complices de l'incendiaire du navire.
J'avais rencontré pendant les courses faites en ville pendant cette journée une quinzaine au moins de charrettes de balayage portant à découvert de un à trois cadavres. J'avais donc lieu de craindre que la répression n'eut,au moins sur certains points, dégénéré en massacres. En rentrant vers 4 heures de l'hôpital, je trouvai chez moi un Français qui me raconta que trois fugitifs avaient été massacrés dans sa maison en présence de sa famille. Ci-inclus, Votre Excellence trouvera copie d'une lettre qu'il m'a adressée sur mon invitation pour confirmer les faits. Je le pris aussitôt en voiture avec moi ainsi qu'un Italien qui avait assisté à la même scène et les amenai au Conak. Au moment de mon arrivée, le Valy en sortait pour se rendre en ville; il avait déjà dans la matinée parcouru les quartiers les plus troublés de la ville, adressant de sa voiture découverte des allocutions au public pour le rassurer, disant que les troupes et la police suffisaient à maintenir l'ordre et que quiconque essaierait de se substituer à elles serait sévèrement puni. Les dispositions personnelles était donc excellentes, mais il importait de lui faire connaître sans retard que des abus avaient été commis. M. Hassan Fehmi Pacha me remercia de ma communication et me promit de renouveler aussitôt ses ordres de la manière la plus formelle et la plus sévère. J'ai su depuis par des personnes qui avait vu tuer dans la rue plusieurs prisonniers qu'un officier avait parcouru les rues vers 5 heures défendant formellement de tuer ou de frapper les personnes arrêtées et de faire usage des armes autrement que contre ceux qui se défendaient à l'aide d'armes ou de bombes. Cet ordre fut obéi et depuis lors il ne me semble pas s'être produit de scènes de massacre.
Il est très difficile d'être exactement fixé sur le nombre des Bulgares qui trouvé la mort dans la soirée du 29 et dans la journée du 30. Les appréciations varient de 35, chiffre donné par le Valy, à plus de trois cents minimum auquel il faudrait s'arrêter si l'on doit en croire plusieurs européens, pour la plupart Allemands et Autrichiens, qui habitent les quartiers ouest de la ville où réside la population bulgare. Le chiffre officiel de 35 à 40 qui est bien celui des inhumations faites au cimetière bulgare me paraît bien faible lorsque je me souviens avoir moi-même vu transporter au moins une vingtaine de cadavres. Des officiers parlent de 112 Bulgares tués, ce chiffre paraît assez vraisemblable, mais il est impossible de réunir à cet égard des données précises: on ignorera jusqu'après l'achèvement des procès en cours ce que sont devenues beaucoup de personnes arrêtées et, d'autre part, on sait qu'il était arrivé à Salonique au cours des deux ou trois derniers mois beaucoup de Bulgares de l'intérieur sans attaches dans la ville et dont personne sans doute ne remarquera la disparition. Il est certainement difficile de dire ce que sont devenus les corps qui n'ont pas été apportés aux cimetières, mais il semble probable que tous n'y ont pas été conduits. En voici un exemple: un Italien et un Allemand, qui en ont témoigné devant leurs Consulats ont vu des Albanais enfoncer la porte d'une église bulgare et massacrer un prêtre qui s'y trouvait. On m'assura qu'aucun cadavre de prêtre n'a été apporté au cimetière.
La répression des attentats du 29 a été, comme il fallait s'y attendre, l'occasion ou le prétexte d'un certain nombre d'actes criminels: un Grec, cavass de l'école commerciale française, Guiraud, aurait été la victime de l'un d'eux, si du moins le fait relaté dans la lettre ci-incluse que M. Guiraud m'a adressée est rigoureusement exact. J'ai remis copie de cette lettre au Gouverneur Général qui m'a promis de faire procéder à ce sujet à une enquête sévère.
Si regrettables que soient les excès constatés, on peut dire qu'ils ont été relativement rares et l'on doit se féliciter de ce qu'ils n'aient pas suivi en plus grand nombre les attentats commis par les criminels bulgares dans la soirée du 29 et la journée du 30. En règle générale, la population musulmane a été tenue à écart de la répression et la troupe a fait son devoir avec un sang-froid qui n'était pas sans mérite.
Sans doute cet heureux résultat est dû avant tout à des ordres envoyés de Constantinople où l'on doit comprendre quel profit aurait la Turquie à ne laisser mettre à sa charge aucune «atrocité» qui puisse contrebalancer dans l'opinion de l'Europe l'horreur inspirée par les attentats bulgares. Mais je dois rendre hommage aux efforts accomplis par notre Gouverneur Général en vue de tenir en mains la population musulmane. Son attitude a été aussi énergique que correcte et l'opinion publique considère que si de grands malheurs ont été évités on le doit a son influence personnelle et aux exemples de courage et de sang--froid qu'il a donnés en parcourant à maintes reprises en voiture découverte les quartiers troublés. Le corps des officiers a également fait preuve de discipline et de sang-froid et ne saurait être rendu responsable dans son ensemble de quelques excès inévitables dans de parailles circonstances.
Par contre on ne saurait trop blâmer l'incapacité qu'a témoignée la police de Salonique en y laissant préparer impunément les derniers attentats.
Un grand nombre de jeunes gens sans occupation connue s'étaient rendus en ville depuis quelques mois et l'on a découvert chez plusieurs d'entre eux des dépôts assez importants de dynamite et de bombes. La police ne semble s'être doutée de rien et une fois passée la semaine sainte orthodoxe pendant laquelle de grandes précautions avaient été prises, la garnison de Salonique avait été réduite à sa plus simple expression et les mesures de police suspendues ou sensiblement réduites.
L'ignorance de la police semble d'autant plus extraordinaire que c'est dans le voisinage de la Banque Ottomane, depuis longtemps désignée par le bruit public comme visée par les révolutionnaires, que se concentrait l'activité de ceux-ci. Nombre de personnes avaient remarqué les allées et venues de quelques jeunes gens inconnus qui prenaient leurs repas dans trois restaurants bulgares dont l'un faisait face à la Banque Ottomane. Le Directeur de l'Agence en avait été lui-même assez frappé pour avoir fait signaler le fait, dans la matinée du 29, au commissaire de police du quartier; il lui avait demandé de faire faire des perquisitions dans les hôtels et magasins du voisinage. Le commissaire avait répondu qu'il n'y avait à s'inquiéter de rien, la ville étant tranquille et la police bien faite.
Or, on a constaté dès le lendemain que la Banque avait été détruite par l'explosion d'une mine souterraine dont l'entrée se trouve dans la cave d'une boutique d'épicerie située presque en face de la Banque. Cette boutique avait été louée assez cher en septembre dernier par un Bulgare qui se faisait appeler Marco et qui avait fait alors un premier achat de 20 Ltq=420 francs de marchandises. Depuis lors, il n'avait plus rien fait venir. Des personnes inconnues venaient seules dans cette boutique et en sortaient avec des paquets enveloppés de papier qui contenaient les déblais des mines. Lorsqu'un client se présentait et que la marchandise qu'il demandait était épuisée, on le renvoyait au lendemain pour avoir le temps de retirer un arrivage qui se trouvait en douane. L'épicier avait payé d'avance plusieurs mensualités d'abonnement à la Compagnie des Eaux.
De la cave de cette boutique partait un tunnel d'un métré environ de hauteur, long de 13 mètres et allant aboutir sous l'angle des fondations de la Banque. Ci-inclus, Votre Excellence trouvera la reproduction d'un des plans de ce tunnel reproduits sur papier quadrillé et qui servaient aux ouvriers. On remarquera l'exactitude minutieuse des données rapportées sur ces plans. Il est à noter que les ouvriers disposaient d'un outillage complet, les tunnels étaient aérés par un grand soufflet de forge placé dans la cave. L'opinion générale à Salonique est que le faux épicier, qui était âgé d'une quarantaine d'années, devait être un officier du génie de l'armée bulgare. Il a disparu depuis l'explosion et il ne semble pas être au nombre des morts.
L'explosion de ce travail a été provoquée par une mèche de mine (cordon Bickfoord).
A un mètre environ de l'ouverture de ce tunnel, il en avait été creusé antérieurement un autre que l'on avait rebouché à l'aide des terres retirées du second, mais en y ménageant une étroite canalisation pour le passage de deux mèches semblables. L'extrémité cachetée de ces mèches était suspendue par une ficelle à une solive de la cave: mais les criminels, désirant sans doute que l'explosion de cet ouvrage ne se produisît qu'après celle de la Banque, au lieu d'y mettre le feu directement, s'étaient contentés d'allumer au-dessous des papiers imbibés de pétrole. Il est probable que la poussée d'air qui s'est produite par le tunnel incomplètement bouché de la première mine a éteint le feu de papiers et empêché que la catastrophe prît des proportions formidables. On s'occupe actuellement de rechercher le point d'aboutissement de ce travail.
Dans la boutique et dans la cave d'épicerie, quelques bouteilles se trouvent encore suspendues par des ficelles. On suppose qu'elles contiennent de la nitroglycérine: on attend pour les enlever la constitution d'une commission spéciale.
L'aveuglement de la police qui a permis que des travaux aussi importants fussent exécutés dans le voisinage immédiat de la Banque, que des quantités considérables de dynamite et de bombes fussent introduites ou fabriquées à Salonique, enfin que des personnes inconnues et suspectes pussent aller et venir inaperçues de ses seuls agents, paraît ici tellement extraordinaire que, dans l'opinion d'un grand nombre de personnes, il ne saurait s'expliquer que par un mot d'ordre l'invitant à fermer le? yeux jusqu'à ce que les Bulgares se fussent signalés par un coup d'éclat justifiant les répressions les plus sévères.
Je ne saurais croire pour ma part à un aussi dangereux machiavélisme de la part de l'autorité turque et j'ai la certitude que le Valy de Salonique, Hassan Fehmi Pacha, ne se serait jamais prêté en quelque mesure que ce soit à de semblables calculs. J'ai cru cependant devoir signaler ce bruit qui, peut-être sera accueilli par quelques journaux soit en Occident soit au moins dans la principauté bulgare.
Il suffit à mon sens, pour expliquer ces faits, de se référer à ce que l'on sait de la désorganisation qui règne dans les administrations ottomanes: lorsqu'il a été question, il y a quelques mois, de réorganiser la police et la gendarmerie, c’est, on s'en souvient, aux chefs mêmes de ces administrations qu'il a été fait appel. Après ce qui vient de se passer, c'est encore l'ancien chef de la police de Salonique qui préside à toutes les enquêtes dirigées contre les auteurs des attentats à la dynamite et contre leurs complices. On peut craindre que, dans de Pareilles conditions, ce que la police pourrait retrouver de perspicacité naturelle ne soit quelque peu entravé par le souci de dissimuler ses propres fautes.
Il y aurait sans doute beaucoup à dire sur le courage désespéré que les révolutionnaires bulgares ont apporté à l'accomplissement de leurs crimes: il est certainement difficile de lutter contre la résolution d'hommes qui ont fait le sacrifice de leur vie. On expliquerait ainsi qu'un attentat isolé ait pu être commis, mais non qu'il ait pu s'organiser un complot assez vaste, comprenant un assez grand nombre d'affiliés presque tous étrangers à la ville; et surtout rien n'excuse que l'on ait pu, à l'insu de la police, mettre en œuvre les moyens matériels qui ont été employés à Salonique dans les journées du 28, du 29 et du 30 avril.
Il reste à dire quelques mots des mesures de protection qui ont été prises à la suite de ces attentats: on avait annoncé la proclamation de l'état de siège Le Gouvernement s'en est tenu à édicter des mesures de police dont la principale consiste à interdire toute circulation dans la ville une heure après le coucher du soleil. C'est là une disposition gênante sans doute, mais amplement justifiée par les faits. L'institution d'une cour martiale à l'effet de juger promptement les auteurs des crimes anarchistes commis par les révolutionnaires bulgares me paraît également constituer une sauvegarde pour la population paisible de toute religion et nationalité. Elle enlève toute excuse aux exécutions sommaires auxquelles la force publique ou la population musulmane pourraient être tentées de se livrer.
La Cour Martiale siège à huit clos: Je viens cependant d'assister à l'une des premières séances: il s'agissait d'interroger des personnes de l'équipage du Guadalquivir et de les confronter avec l'auteur présumé de l'attentat commis sur ce navire. Ce tribunal extraordinaire m'a laissé, je dois le dire, une impression bien meilleure à tous égards que la cour criminelle à laquelle avait été confié, en 1900, le procès des révolutionnaires bulgares à Salonique.
En résumé, les mesures prises jusqu'ici pour arrêter à Salonique le cours des attentats paraissent bonnes et efficaces. La garnison suffisamment nombreuse se compose de rédifs d'Anatolie, soldats dont l'attitude est excellente.
On redoute encore que les criminels, associés aux auteurs des derniers attentats qui se tiennent encore cachés en ville attendent que la surveillance se relâche pour accomplir de nouveaux attentats pour lesquels ils auraient été designés, et la perspicacité que la police a témoignée jusqu'ici n'est guère faite pour rassurer contre ce danger, mais somme toute, la ville reviendrait assez vite a une vie normale si la situation de l'intérieur de la Macédoine n'apparaissait comme de plus en plus .inquiétante.
Veuillez agréer les assurances du respect avec lequel j'ai l'honneur d'être,
Monsieur le Ministre,
de votre Excellence
le très humble et très obéissant serviteur
There is no need to demonstrate the necessity for a country to know the exact number of its population. Even if the disorders in Roumelia had not happened, a census of the population of this region is necessary, and even obligatory under the present circumstances.
One of the chief obstacles to the taking of a census of the Moslem population is their custom of concealing the females. For this reason, some people suggest that only the male population should be recorded, but instead of that it would be better to explain clearly to the population the advantages of the census.
As far as the census of the Christian population is concerned, I do not agree with the supposition that this will be harmful to the state, because, from the information so far received, the Moslem population is greater than the Christian.
Besides, since the interests of the Greek population are contrary to the interests of the Bulgarians and the Serbs, we can rely on its faithfulness and loyalty; and, for this reason, it is in the interest of the country to increase the number of supporters of the Patriarchate because in this way the Bulgarians will remain in the minority.
The Serbian population has not so far shown any sign of unloyalty but, if in the future, it attempts to create disorder, this will not be dangerous because it is small in number and we can easily crush it.
The Wallachian population has not created any difficulties to the state up till now, and it is unlikely to yield to any foreign influence in the future.
As for the population in the vilayet of Skodra, it does not present any danger, since it is split into clans, and thus it can also be registered in its respective communes. Such small clans cannot undertake any dangerous actions, except in cases when they are incited or supported by a foreign power.
In addition to the above facts, I must also say that, in order to ensure the Proper taking of the census and to prevent any possibility of concealing or giving false information, severe punishments should be envisaged both for the guardians and the elders
In a telegram dated June 24, I informed Your Excellency of the most important impressions I obtained during my tour of the eastern parts of the Skopje vilayet. Now, forwarding to Your Excellency a general protocol, drawn up by myself and by the Austro-Hungarian Consul Para, I consider it my duty to offer my most detailed view of the general situation in the part of Macedonia we investigated, as well as to suggest some measures, which, if they cannot avert, will, at least, postpone the crisis.
As Your Excellency will be able to see from our protocol, the state of affairs in the eastern regions of the Skopje vilayet can be characterized in one single word: 'anarchy.' The Moslem population continues to regard the Christians as defenseless slaves whose life and property is completely at their mercy. For this reason every Bulgarian village is being kept in constant fear either by the population of the neighbouring Moslem villages, or, if it is a farm, by its brutal tyrant — the bey. The Moslem field guards, too, are usually tyrants, and in most cases, they have stayed in the Bulgarian villages, despite the appointment of Christian guards, who, under these conditions, naturally have no influence whatever, moreover, they do not have either identification signs or arms.
The local authorities are apparently not in the least influenced by the humane circular letters with which the Chief Inspector has been flooding them (these are actually his own words). The notorious expeditions to pursue rebels and to confiscate arms almost invariably turn into a march against the enemy who appears to be every Bulgarian peasant. Whether the village weapons are handed over or not is immaterial, in either case, men are beaten up, and sometimes subjected to most odious torture; women and daughters are very often raped, while property is invariably pillaged. Then the detachment withdraws taking along 'captives,' who are again subjected to so many cruel beatings on the way, that some of them die. Such a campaign naturally results in the flight of the peasants from their villages which have been violated, pillaged and turned into ashes, and in the intensification of revolutionary propaganda in the given area.
The population of the villages, as well as of the towns in the Skopje vilayet, however, does not suffer only from these periodical raids - it also has its own permanent tyrants. First of all, by this I mean the notorious ilave (reinforcements), secondly Albanian rediff (of the reserve). The ‘exploits’ of the Preshov reinforced battalion, long familiar to Your Excellency, have been described even more clearly in the protocol enclosed; the Langaz reinforced battalion in Koumanovo behaves no better, rivalling its predecessors in plunder and murders. As for the Albanian rediffs, suffice it to mention the battalion of the Gilyan regiment in Egri Palanka, which has been terrorizing the whole town; during our stay there, the atrocities perpetrated by that horde before our very eyes assumed such proportions that we had to ask Hilmi Pasha by telegram to move the battalion away from Palanka, now it is 'protecting' the safety of the citizens of Skopje. Ibrahim, the murderer of the late G.S. Shcherbin, served in that regiment.
It is necessary to note that the Turkish prosecution in Macedonia holds an extremely original view, whereby criminal offences are persecuted only when a complaint has been made by those that have suffered the offence. Therefore, the numerous crimes about which the citizens do not inform the authorities, either fearing the revenge of the Moslems, or out of shame (in cases of rape) go unpunished. The prisons have been packed not with criminals, but with people arrested on the basis of the most groundless information received, or simply suspected of being unreliable.
In general, one must confess that the provincial authorities are doing their best to incite the Bulgarian population against them. Thus, they have recently devised a way of exiling people to their places of birth. If, for instance, 'the suspect' was born in Veles but has been living for 30 years in Koumanovo, where he has raised a family and exercises a trade, he is called one fine day into the police station, and interned in his native place, sometimes without his family, which is left to die of starvation. By the way, as is well-known to Your Excellency, internment is Hilmi Pasha's favourite measure, who regards it as a remedy for all evils.
The questioning of the peasants working on the building of the road from Palanka to Koumanovo has made it quite clear that most elementary justice is being violated in the assignment of work; the peasants are almost always made to work three or four times longer than they should; they are torn away from their work in the fields in the most strenuous season. We also heard numerous complaints of the buying-out system. It is only to be regretted that Hilmi Pasha's rather rational project abolishing this system, has not been accepted by the Sublime Porte.
I consider it my duty to draw to Your Excellency's attention a draft of several measures which, in my view (shared by the Consul of Austro-Hungary) would for some time calm down the population of the Skopje vilayet.
I. The officials guilty of violence should be immediately dismissed and put on trial.
II. All ilavi and Albanian rediffs should be replaced by other more disciplined troops.
III. Soldiers should be court-martialled for murder, plunder and violence committed against peaceful citizens.
IV. The bashibazouks, i.e. private persons of Moslem origin, should be banned from taking part in operations against the rebels and they should be court martialled for participation in raids against Christian villages.
V. The peasants who have fled from their villages after the raids, should be allowed to return.
VI. Persons arrested on suspicion only, should be set free.
VII. The authorities should refrain from arbitrary arrests and internment.
VIII. Crimes should be investigated by the prosecution, regardless of the complaints from the victims.
IX. The commission, travelling to investigate an incident, should not plunder villagers. The expenses should be met by the treasury.
X. The Moslem field guards should ultimately disappear from Christian villages.
XI. Tithes should be collected according to Hilmi Pasha's project.
XII. The road duty of peasants should be regulated. In my opinion, if the Porte accepts all these points, one could rely on a certain improvement of the situation. But, as is well known, there is always a great discrepancy between words and deeds. During my tour of the Skopje vilayet, I became convinced that the old spirit of Moslem intolerance continues, as previously, to haunt the unhappy country, and does not permit the penetration of the beneficial breath of reforms.