« AnkstesnisTęsti »
sances la solution de la question Crétoise, son premier devoir a été de penser à sauvegarder la vie et les biens des habitants paisibles de l'île d'une irruption des forces Turques.
Cette mesure, qui lui était dictée par les circonstances, ne pouvait être réalisée que par le rassemblement des corps armés des Chrétiens dans des positions où, à cause de la concentration des forces Turques, le danger paraissait plus imminent. Il est vrai que cette mesure était elle-même une source de dangers de conflits, comme il arrive souvent lorsque des forces ennemies campent si près les unes des autres. Ce qui devait arriver arriva en effet le 14 du mois dernier d'autant plus facilement que les nôtres avaient été excités par des abus et des mauvais traitements suivis quelque fois des meurtres dont les Turcs s'étaient rendus coupables à Rethymo et ailleurs; mais l'Assemblée Générale, ayant considéré le conflit comme moins funeste des malheurs auxquels les Chrétiens auraient été exposés par suite de l'invasion de l'armée Turque, n'a pas hésité à prendre la mesure dont il s'agit. Et la preuve que le conflit a été provoqué par les raisons ci-dessus indiquées et nullement pour attaquer les Turcs se trouve en ce que ces derniers n'ont pas été attaqués lors de l'évacuation de Vamos, Frangocastello et Paléochoro.
L'Assemblée Générale avait espéré que le conflit du 14 Février n'avait exercé aucune influence sur la ligne de conduite qu'elle s'était tracée en rendant son décret accompagné d'un Memorandum dans l'attente de la décision des Grandes Puissances. La Proclamation de Costaki Pacha du 22 Février (v.s.), dont ci-joint copie, a augmenté nos espérances.
Mais vous voyez que cet espoir a été déçu par l'attitude prise dernièrement par le représentant de la Porte. L'attaque inattendue des forces Turques dans le but de chasser les nôtres de différents points, et surtout de la position importante du village d'Alikianou, ne laisse aucun doute que les mouvements militaires des Turcs sont faits dans l'intention d'envahir toutes les provinces.
En présence de la nouvelle tournure que semblent prendre aujourd'hui nos affaires, l'administration provisoire se voit forcée d'employer tous les moyens dont elle dispose afin de protéger le pays contre les mesures violentes du représentant de la Porte.
Nos corps armés, qui n'ont pas permis l'occupation d'Alikianou par les forces Turques, les ayant vivement repoussées le 14 de ce mois, se conduiront de même partout ailleurs.
Le peuple Crétois n'entend point céder aux Turcs des positions sûres, qui lui permettent d'envahir sa patrie, de la ruiner et de l'ensanglanter, ainsi qu'ils l'ont fait ici même en 1866, et tout récemment en Bulgarie, en Bosnie, en Epire, en Thessalie et dans différents autres points de l'Empire Ottomane. Il n'y a que 10 jours que 300 Turcs ont envahi les villages Castello, Vallamonero, et Ayo Andre de Rethymo, où ils ont commis beaucoup de méfaits jusqu'à ce que les notres se sont rassemblés pour les en chasser.
L'Administration Provisoire des Crétois est consternée pour les malheurs qui vont tomber à l'avenir sur les habitants Chrétiens et Turcs de l'île par suite de cette nouvelle situation, mais elle ne peut, par elle-même, prévenir ces malheurs, du moment que le représentant de la Sublime Porte agit de manière à pousser les choses aux extrèmes. Il n'y a donc que l'intervention immédiate des Grandes Puissances qui puisse sauver notre malheureuse patrie de nouveaux désastres et d'une nouvelle effusion de sang.
En conséquence de ce qui precède nous nous empressons d'implorer la haute intervention de votre respectable Gouvernement, ainsi que celle des autres Grandes Puissances, en faveur d'une mesure noble et humanitaire.
Dans l'espoir, M. le Consul, que vous voudrez bien transmettre cette humble requête au Gouvernement que vous représentez dignement dans ce pays, accompagnée de vos bienveillantes appréciations, nous avons l'honneur, &c.
Fré d'Apocorona, le 31 Mars, 1878.
Les Membres, (Signé)
Nous sommes informés qu'à la suite des derniers et tristes événements, plusieurs des habitants des districts de l'intérieur croyant qu'il n'y a pas de sécurité dans les routes, n'osent pas rentrer dans les villes et vaquer à leurs affaires. Or, comme le Gouvernement Général a surtout à cœur de garantir à tous les habitants, sans exception, la liberté de s'occuper de leurs affaires ainsi que d'apporter remède à leurs maux, il considère comme un devoir d'avertir tous ceux qui veulent rentrer dans les villes soit pour y vendre des produits, ou pour y acheter des provisions, ou autres choses nécessaires à la vie, soit pour toute autre affaire, qu'ils peuvent venir sans crainte ni entraves. Il croit en même temps un devoir d'assurer tous les habitants que pour que les choses reviennent au point où elles se trouvaient avant les derniers événements, il a pris toutes les mesures nécessaires pour la sécurité des routes et la sauvegarde des voyageurs.
Ainsi donc, non seulement ceux qui veulent venir dans les villes jouiront d'une grande sécurité, mais encore les familles qui seront réfugiées dans l'intérieur de l'île peuvent retourner sans crainte à leurs villages et occuper leurs maisons.
En publiant ce qui précède afin que les habitants en prennent connaissance, le Gouvernement Général les conseille d'une manière paternelle de reprendre leurs occupations et de fréquenter les villes sans crainte d'être inquiétés, car les autorités surveillent et protégeront la liberté individuelle et la sûreté de quiconque ne l'occupe que de ses affaires.
La Canée, le 22 Février, 1878.
Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.-(Received April 11.)
Canea, Crete, April 4, 1878.
A DESPATCH from Mr. Trifilli, Consular Agent at Rethymo, which I have this moment received, informs me that a band of 300 Mussulmans sallied forth from that town on the evening of the 2nd instant, headed by a notorious Chief named YeniZararki, and made for the district of Staghios Basilios, where they fell upon some peaceable villages and massacred the inhabitants. Fourteen Christians are said to have been killed in the village of Koksarré alone. They returned the next day to Rethymo, bringing with them 400 sheep and 70 beasts of burden. They seem to have met with some resistance, as three of the marauders were wounded. Another band of 250 went to the district of Milopotamos, likewise on a plundering expedition, but they are said to have suffered considerable loss.
In the present state of the country it is impossible to verify these accounts with any exactitude, and it is more than likely that the number of those said to have been massacred is over-stated; but, knowing the temper of those accused of these crimes, I have no difficulty in believing in the general truth of the statement, which has been confirmed besides from an independent source which I consider worthy of credit.
The gates of Rethymo are now closed against the Christian peasantry by order of the authorities. Costaki Pasha has always set his face against this measure, but it is probable that the newly-appointed Mutessarif of Rethymo, who is well reported of, has found himself forced to yield to local pressure.
From Candia, Mr. Vice-Consul Calecherinos reports a state of continual reprisals in that part of the country between the two hostile communities. The Mussulmans distinguish themselves, as usual, by defiling the village churches in the neighbourhood of Candia. A quarrel having occurred in the village of Aregienaki, in the district of Temenos hard by, in which a Mahomedan was wounded, an excited crowd assembled at one of the gates of the town to proceed to the scene; but, the Governor ordering the gates to be shut, the mob opposed the measure, and was obliged to be dispersed by the soldiers of the garrison. This incident serves to show that, had the troops in Rethymo done their duty, the disgraceful scenes recorded above could not have taken place.
I have, &c. (Signed)
THOMAS B. SANDWITH.
Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.-(Received April 18.)
Canea, Crete, April 7, 1878. DURING the last few days there has been a lull in the military movements in this neighbourhood. The Turkish troops have not advanced beyond the river which forms the boundary between the combatants, and as a natural consequence the insurgents have remained on the defensive. There are supposed to be about 4,000 of the latter under arms on the western frontier, where the late operations have taken place, and the military authorities talk of the ease with which they could drive them away. This they may undoubtedly do, but it is certain that two or three times that number would quickly muster to oppose the onward march of the troops, who would soon begin to find it a work of difficulty to keep up communications with their base of supplies. Apokorona, meanwhile, on the opposite side, is left unmolested by the Turks, and the Christians of those parts have full liberty of access to the
It is easy to see that Costaki Pasha is averse from pushing matters to extremities with the insurgents, and though he sometimes uses language inconsistent with that view, I conceive it is because it is his policy to humour the Mussulmans, who regard his prudent conduct as indicative of a leaning towards his fellowChristians.
His Excellency's greatest anxiety is how to find means for feeding the large destitute Moslem population which crowd the three garrison towns of Candia, Canea, and Rethymo, where 60,000 Moslems are collected, more than half of them refugees from the interior. Their condition is becoming more and more desperate every day. The Vali has at length succeeded in obtaining the consent of the Porte to distribute 125 quarters of wheat, part of a cargo sent for the supply of the troops, among these starving creatures, and this wheat he has prudently bartered for twice that quantity of barley, which will be served out to the most indigent. His Excellency is apprehensive lest the presence in our midst of this mass of destitution should lead to grave disturbances, and if the Porte could be induced to send a cargo or two of barley to feed its faminestricken subjects, it would tend to ward off the most threatening form of danger. The Moslems of Rethymo, in organizing raids for the purpose of carrying off sheep, are mainly impelled thereto by the cravings of hunger, and large allowance ought in fairness to be made for human nature exposed to such extremes of misery. With regard to the alleged massacre of Christians at the village of Koxara, or Doxara, mentioned in my last despatch, I yesterday telegraphed to the Consular Agent in Rethymo to ask for further information, and he replied that the person he had sent to the spot to make inquiries had not yet returned. The Vali, whom I interrogated on the subject a day or two ago, declared that he had no knowledge of murderings, but only of the robbery of sheep. On this subject I shall doubtless have further information hereafter.
I have, &c. (Signed)
THOMAS B. SANDWITH.
P.S.-April 8. A slight skirmish seems to have taken place at Alikianu last
T. B. S.
Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.—(Received April 18.)
My Lord, Canea, Crete, April 8, 1878. THE newly-appointed Provisional Government has sought to justify its creation by organizing a police and establishing Courts of Law, where summary justice is dealt out. The Christians of the district of Selino have appointed a special police force for watching over the property and growing crops of the absent Mussulman owners, and they have, for greater security, carried off the doors and windows of those houses which escaped the pillage of the zaptiés in the early days of the exodus. These they have stored in places of safety, and duly catalogued, and they declare it to be their intention to restore them to their owners at the final pacification, if no proof be forthcoming of their complicity in the destruction of the Christian villages round Canea. Similarly
their crops will be garnered and restored to them, on their paying the cost of watching and the general working expenses. It seems almost too much to expect that, with anarchy stalking abroad, this equitable programme can be carried out. I have little doubt that we should hear more of the faults of the Christians, and less of their virtues, if their hereditary enemies had remained among them. But while I am disposed to receive these glowing reports with caution, there is the clearest evidence that their conduct towards the Moslem refugees has been marked, on the whole, by moderation and justice. A proof of their desire to conform to civilized usages has lately come under my own notice, which I think it a duty to put on record. When the steam ship Assyrian," belonging to Messrs. Leyland and Co., of Liverpool, ran on some rocks in Selino, in the early part of last month, the leading Chief of that neighbourhood immediately placed a guard of ten men to guard the cargo, and he acquainted me with his having done so. Although it was well-known that there were 800 sacks of flour, besides other provisions, in the hold, the guardians continued to keep a strict watch for twenty days to the entire satisfaction of the master of the vessel. Eventually the whole was swallowed up by the sea, and the ship became a total wreck. Their conduct is the more praiseworthy because there was no established Government on the spot to enforce the law, and, as your Lordship is aware, the entire population is suffering dire distress from the want of wholesome food, bread having become an article of diet within the reach of very few.
I have, &c.
Mr. Layard to the Marquis of Salisbury.- (Received April 19.)
My Lord, Constantinople, April 9, 1878. CONSUL SANDWITH, besides writing to me directly with reference to the affairs of Crete, sends me, I believe, copies of his despatches to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on this subject. I have not thought it necessary to inform Lord Derby on every occasion that I have taken action on Mr. Sandwith's communications. I may state generally that I have never failed to bring to the notice of the Porte the statements they contained when they related to the government of the island, or to the conduct of the authorities, and to urge upon the Turkish Ministers, in the strongest terms, the necessity of restraining the license of the irregular troops and of the Mussulman population, of affording the fullest protection to the Christians, and of making such reforms in the administration as they are entitled to demand, and which are necessary for the security of their lives and property. I have pointed out, at the same time, that in the interest of Turkey herself the largest and most liberal concessions should be made to the Christian population. It was mainly through my representations that Costaki Pasha (Adossides), a Christian Cretan gentleman, who had been pointed out to me by Mr. Sandwith as the person best qualified to deal with the grievances of the Christians, was sent to Crete as a Commissioner to inquire into and report upon the subject, and was subsequently appointed Governor-General of the Island. I have done my best to support him here, and to urge upon the Porte the expediency of acting at once and resolutely upon his recommendations.
I will not venture to say that had the Greeks allowed Costaki Pasha's mission fair play, and had not intrigued to make it a failure, it would have been entirely successful in conciliating the Christian population, in removing the differences that existed between them and the Mussulmans, and in restoring peace and tranquillity to the island; but I cannot but believe, putting aside the statements of the Porte, which some may consider one-sided and untrustworthy, and judging from Mr. Sandwith's reports alone, that Costaki Pasha would have been able to do much in these directions. According to Mr. Sandwith, it is not the desire of the Christians of Crete, certainly of a large majority of them, that the island should be annexed to Greece. They would have been satisfied, at one time, with the loyal execution by the Porte, with certain amendments, of the Organic Law which had been conceded to them. They may now require a more complete "autonomy," whilst still remaining a part of the Turkish Empire. They would, according to Mr. Sandwith, who appears to be a very impartial and intelligent observer, prefer an arrangement of this nature to a connec
tion with Greece, which they do not think would contribute to their well-being, prosperity, and real liberty.
It would appear to have been the object of the Greeks not only to cause trouble and difficulties to the Porte by bringing about an insurrection in the island, but to drive the Christian population into making a demand for annexation to Greece. Armed bands, money, and munitions of war have been freely allowed to leave Greece for Crete, and the general direction of the insurrection has been in Greek hands. The facts upon which I found this statement have been fully set forth by Mr. Sandwith in his despatches, and cannot, I fear, admit of question.
In his despatch of the 1st instant, addressed to your Lordship, Mr. Sandwith complains of the conduct of Osman Pasha. He will be removed, and is to be replaced, I believe, by Salih Pasha, of whom I have a good report, and who will be accompanied by an English officer, Colonel Briscowe, who holds an appointment in the Turkish gendarmerie.
I have done my best to induce the Porte to govern Crete with justice, and to perform scrupulously its engagements to the Christian population. It must be confessed, in justice to the Turkish Ministers, that I have found them ready to listen to my representations; and, although, as usual, somewhat late, to take such measures as are necessary to remove the grievances of the Christians. They not unjustly or unreasonably complain that all their efforts to improve the condition of the island and its administration, and to carry out the Organic Law, have been frustrated by the persistent intrigues of the Greeks. It may remain for Her Majesty's Government, in concert with other European Powers, to recommend the form of government which should hereafter be imposed upon the island to secure complete protection and good government to its Christian, as well as its Mussulman, inhabitants. I would venture to express my hope that the wishes of the population themselves may be impartially ascertained, and that they may not be forced into any political combination which may tend to interfere with their liberties, and may not contribute to their general welfare and prosperity.
I have, &c.
Consul Sandwith to the Earl of Derby.-(Received April 24.)
My Lord, Canea, Crete, April 13, 1878. THERE has been more desultory fighting during the week which has just elapsed, without anybody professing to know for certain what was its object, or who were the aggressors. The soldiers have been but little concerned in these trifling encounters, which are carried on between the so-called Bashi-Bazouks and the insurgents. Their only result is to beget a great deal of hate and ill-feeling between the combatants, which it is their true interest to prevent. I entertain great hopes that Nejib Pasha, who, Mr. Layard informs me, has just been appointed to the chief command in Crete, in the room of Osman Nouri Pasha, will keep a firm hand on the irregular troops, whose deeds bring such digrace on the Ottoman arms.
Costaki Pasha returned yesterday from a visit to Rethymo, Candia, and Sitia, the latter place being at the extreme east of Crete, and is the only district where Christian and Mussulman continue to live together, unconcerned at what is passing further west. His Excellency confirms what I have all along asserted, that the bulk of the population is totally averse from insurrectionary projects, and desires nothing so ardently as to be able to return to their usual occupations, but at the same time he acknowledges that they are bent on obtaining a radical reform of the administration. They are too practical a people, if not subjected to pressure from without, to reject reasonable terms of accommodation for the sake of the dream of annexation to Greece, which they would gladly see realized indeed, but are not disposed to fight for. They see with dismay that another calamity is in store for them, from the threatened failure of the grain crops, owing to long-continued drought, no rain having fallen for nearly six weeks. Neither is there any alleviation in the sufferings of the Moslem fugitives in the garrison towns. Those sufferings, indeed, must continue to increase in intensity while the present situation lasts, and may give rise to serious outbreaks of disorder unless the Porte is advised to afford the people relief in the shape of a free distribution