Imagens da página

number and mischievous in our aims—now write to you the following, to explain to you from what evils Macedonia is really suffering, to show you what is the true remedy and the right path, and to save Europe from a number of vain efforts and avoidable difficulties.” The manifesto then proceeds to demonstrate that the efforts of the European Powers to introduce reforms into Macedonia had not only been attended with no success, but had made the condition of the country worse than it had been before their interference, and that all the so-called remedies that had so far been applied had been introduced by foreigners only, “who assumed an attitude of generosity,” and not by “Ottomans, who must know more about their own country than the foreigner does. “We are told that the object of European reforms is to insure the happiness of Macedonia, in answer to which we assert that Europe, in spite of all her efforts, has been unable to attain this object and never will attain it. . . . The intervention has been useless for Europeans, injurious to the Ottomans. The Great Powers themselves admit the failure of the measures adopted by them; and yet now, Europe, instead of honourably withdrawing from this business, is, so it appears, about to make Macedonia the arena of yet further experiments.” Then the manifesto, after discussing the new schemes proposed by the British and

Russian Governments, and showing how these, if carried out, would destroy the independence of an integral part of the Ottoman Government, declares that “We Mussulmans and Christians, united under the name of the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress, not influenced by national or religious fanaticism, are working together to deliver our country from foreign intervention, and to obtain our personal and political liberty from the existing Government. We positively assert that these plans of England and Russia would sever Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire. We therefore cannot accept these proposed measures, which would lead to the general ruin of the Empire, and are opposed to justice and civilisation. We are determined to employ all means to obtain our natural rights.” The manifesto points out that the purely selfish action of Bulgaria, Greece, and Servia, which for purposes of annexation sent their bands to murder and ravage in Macedonia, was the chief cause of the existing state of anarchy in the country; and it has a slap at our humanitarians, whose sole sympathy was with the Christians. As the first public declaration of the Committee this is an exceedingly interesting document. I need scarcely say that the Committee of Union and Progress did not receive a reply to its memorandum from any of the Great Powers. Cabinets cannot well recognise and hold com

munication with a revolutionary organisation whose aim it is to overthrow the Government of a friendly Power. Probably some of those to whom the manifesto was addressed read it with a contemptuous smile, little dreaming that within two months this band of unknown men would make itself the master of an Empire. One or two newspapers published brief summaries of the manifesto without comment, for the world did not take the Young Turkey party seriously until the revolution was an accomplished fact. On June 10—that is, a week or so after the Committee had issued this manifesto—King Edward VII met the Tsar at Reval, and shortly afterwards the details of the Anglo-Russian scheme for the pacification and better rule of Macedonia was communicated to the Powers. This forced the hands of the Committee; it was realised that the blow for Ottoman liberty must be struck soon, or it would be too late; but that which precipitated the movement, driving the Macedonian officers into an immediate revolt in self-defence, was the energetic action taken by the Palace spies at about this time. In the beginning of 1908 the Palace became alarmed by the reports that came from the Macedonian garrisons. It is true that up to that time the discontent of the troops had assumed no revolutionary character, and at the meetings which they held in all the military centres the men, while demanding their rights under the military code, their arrears of pay, their proper rations, and so forth, uttered no threats against the Government; but the discipline and organisation of the army had been destroyed, and a number of the reservists in Macedonia went so far as to refuse to obey the call for service in the Hedjaz. The Palace now learnt that a number of young officers were taking advantage of this disaffection of the rank and file to spread treasonable propaganda. The rapid progress of the Young Turkey movement, and the wide dissemination of its doctrines through the towns and villages by trusted emissaries, made it impossible to preserve a complete secrecy, and the creatures of the Palace, though they could not place their hands upon those who directed this movement, felt that they were in the presence of a great danger, all the more terrible on account of the mystery that enveloped it. So they laid their apprehensions before their ever-fearful master, with the result that it was decided to take steps to effectually stamp out the conspiracy. Espionage has ever been the favourite weapon of Abdul Hamid; so spies were now poured into Macedonia to worm out the secrets of the movement and discover the leaders, and of these spies many never returned to tell their tale. The Sultan also gave orders to the senior officers in Macedonia to find out all they could about the movement, to arrest suspected officers and send them to Constantinople, and to solemnly address the men concerning their duties, and especially impress it upon them that to withdraw their fidelity and obedience from the Caliph, “the Shadow of God,” “the Commander of the Faithful,” was regarded by the Moslem religion as the most heinous of sins. In March, a special Commission, under Mahir Pasha, was sent from Constantinople to Salonica to institute an inquisition, but despite numerous denunciations, perquisitions, arrests, and tortures, it collected little evidence, and entirely failed to get at the heart of the plot, for there were no traitors within that circle of devoted men. But the Commission was able to report to the Palace that there undoubtedly existed in Macedonia a powerful secret society dangerous to the régime, and that the Macedonian troops could not be relied upon to support the Government. The work of the Commission alarmed the Committee of Union and Progress, several of whose most useful members had been seized; and the young officers in the army who had been affiliated realised their danger, and came to the conclusion that it would be expedient to start the insurrection as soon as possible, before further arrests had seriously weakened their cause. Thus it happened that, quite a year

before the time originally contemplated by the

« AnteriorContinuar »