TURKISH PERSECUTION OF GREEKS
Asburton Guardian, Vol XXIII, Issue 8870
22 June 1914.
A touch of grim irony appears in Turkey's preparations for the expected war with Greece over the Aegean Islands. Money must be raised to buy and equip a fleet, and as many wealthy Greek merchants are living in Turkey, they are being made to contribute heavily for the war on their homelands. In the case of the poorer Greeks, we read, a simpler course is followed, the Turks take everything they have and advising them to go home. A few months ago Turkey bought a Dreadnought that was building for Brazil. Greece followed by acquiring a cruiser building for China, and a few days ago ordered a 24,000-ton battleship of a French company, to be delivered in 1916. These preparations show what eventualities the two Governments have in view. The position of things is even worse in Thrace, where the war made its saddest havoc. The Greek editor in the Turkish capital gives a touching and pathetic account of the scenes through which he passed, and the following details help us to realise how terrible were the ravages of the late struggle, whose spoils the Turk is now trying to seize:- Our information regarding the persecution of Greeks in Turkey (says the "Literary Digest") is taken from the "Ekklesiastike Aletheia," a Greek organ published in Constantinople, which says:-
The news arriving from the provinces of Asia Minor and Thrace continues to paint in darkest colours the status of our compatriots, the destruction and almost the radical extermination of whom forms the fair goal of endevours of certain patriots in these latter days, who wish to show their patriotic zeal. Their aim is clear: it is to weaken the Greek Orthodox element and compel the Greeks to emigrate. The means used differ in Asia and Europe according to the situation. In Asia Minor, where the Greek population holds the threads of the economic life and grows by trading, they are trying to strike at the very source of its social existence by proclaiming against it a most inhuman boycott and compelling it to furnish contributions far beyond its means for the Ottoman fleet. The bigoted outrcry against our commercial class is heard everywhere; and the Press sounds the tocsin against those who are presented as plotting against their Moslem neighbours. Persons of the lowest sort are gathered and set against Greek shops, and these insult the guileless Moslems who trade with them, threatening them with all sorts of evils if they do not cut off all relations with the Greeks. And the astonishing thing is that the local authorities in some places look on heedless at what is done or contest themselves with the platonic assurances that things will quieten down, or with saying they are not suitable; while in many others they take share in this business and even head the movement."
The position of things is even worse in Thrace, where the war made its saddest havoc. The Greek editor in the Turkish capital gives a touching and pathetic account of the scenes through which he passed, and the following details help us to realise how terrible were the ravages of the late struggle, whose spoils the Turk is now trying to seize:-
"In Eastern Thrace, where, because of the catastrophes of the war, there is no business life, the destructive contest is carried on in a brief fashion by the simpler method of merely stealing the belongings of the Greeks, who are bluntly told without circumlocution that their only hope of safety lies in leaving their homes. Moslem refugees are being settled in Greek Orthodox villages; they drive out the owners from their houses and fields and take possession of these, steal their belongings, and strip them in every possible way. Furthermore, the compulsory collections for the fleet, carried on beyond all limit - for from one poor village of 30 houses they gathered 60 liras - the beatings, ill-treatment of every sort, false accusations and imprisonments of the leading men so as to frighten the rest, and the altogether atrocious action of the lesser government officials are all signs of this same situation; and there is also the chronic question of amnesty, with its accompanying daily imprisonments and releases and second imprisonments and transfers from prison to prison."