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Moslems themselves, obeying the orders of the Committee, refrained from any aggressive actions; all the Moslem bands that were in the hills were dissolved, the men who composed them returning to their villages. Niazi made it clear to all adherents of the Committee that it was above all things necessary for the success of the cause that the Moslems should carefully avoid any conflict, whether with Christian bands or Government troops, and that they should act strictly on the defensive until the Committee gave the word for the general insurrection. Niazi thus succeeded, whithersoever hewandered over the Balkans, in winning over the Mussulman landowners and peasantry, and many of the Government officials, to the revolutionary cause ; and, in the meanwhile, by manifestoes and letters he sought to gain the confidence and support of the Bulgarian element in the population. Notwithstanding the never-ceasing warfare between them in Macedonia, the Turks and the brave and manly Bulgarians were more in touch with each other than with any of the other races in the Balkan Peninsula. The Turks had often protected and were soon again to protect the Bulgarian exarchists against the fanatical persecutions of the Greeks. It was, therefore, natural that Niazi should seek the co-operation of the Bulgarians before approaching the other Christian
peoples of European Turkey.
There are many Bulgarian villages scattered over the region in which Niazi was at work, and their inhabitants at first regarded with some anxiety the change that had come over the Moslem population, which for several years had appeared listless and devoid of hope, not having the separatist aspirations which buoyed up the spirits of the Christians, but now had suddenly become cheerful and alert, as if looking forward to some great and happy change. Suspicious at first, the Bulgarians at last came to realise that whatever sentiment was stirring the Moslems, it had nothing to do with anti-Christian feeling, and was not antagonistic to themselves.
On July 6, Niazi issued his important manifesto to the Bulgarians. He proclaimed to them that the time had come to strike a blow at the evils that had been destroying the fatherland for years, for the Despotism was ever becoming more intolerable. He put all the blame on the Government; but pointed out that the Christian Ottomans had taken a wrong road, while seeking a better state of things. They had heeded the false advice of the surrounding small states, Bulgaria, Servia and Greece, which had promised to free Macedonia, but were really working for their own ends, their one aim being to seize the country and enslave its people. “These little Powers have sown hatred and dissension among us, and have deluged the fatherland with blood.” He assured them that “if these little Powers should work on thus for another thirty years they would not attain their purpose. The fatherland is, and ever shall be, ours.” He then went on to explain that the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress, consisting of army officers, civil officials, townsmen and peasants, all honourable men, had been formed with the object of establishing a system of government that would give liberty and justice, without distinction of creed or race, to all Ottomans, so that they might live in peace and happiness in their common fatherland. Then he spoke of his band of armed fedais, whose mission it was to propagate these principles in the towns and villages, and to bring about the co-operation of all elements of the population in putting a stop to the internal dissensions and civil warfare that were hastening the Empire to its ruin. He called upon the leaders to dissolve these mischievous bands, to join his own band, and work for Ottoman liberty and justice, instead of for Bulgaria and the other little Powers. Severe punishment would be dealt out to such bands as did not come in, and if any village gave encouragement to the bands after this warning, its head man would be executed. They were all Ottomans, and they must all co-operate to establish the Constitution which gave equality and liberty, and protected each creed and race and language.
This manifesto produced a wonderful effect. The Bulgarian inhabitants knew that Niazi Bey was not speaking idle words, and threatening to do things that he could not carry out. They realised that if it came to civil war the Committee of Union and Progress would have practically the entire Moslem population of Macedonia and Albania on its side. Moreover, they knew enough of Niazi to feel that he was quite sincere in his declarations and promises, and many of them had observed with amazed admiration the just and honourable conduct of his band of sedais. Here was the Turkish officer who, for five years, had been vigorously hunting down the Bulgarian bands, now speaking to them as fellow-countrymen and brethren | Hitherto, they argued, they had paid heavy taxes to a Government that had given no account of how the money was spent, and treated them as dogs; but now a new rule was asserting itself, under which they began to see justice and the prospect of being treated as human beings.
So within a few days of the issue of his manifesto, Niazi received intelligence to the effect that the Bulgarians of Resna, Ochrida, Persepe, and other districts, had held meetings at which it had been decided that “it would be an honour to serve with their lives and property this band which had such high aims.” Cherchis
himself, too, with his comrades, desired to effect a union with the Committee of Union and Progress. On July 9, Niazi, thinking that the time was ripe, for the first time brought his band into a purely Bulgarian village. This was the large village of Velijon, containing three hundred and fifty houses. It is situated on a hillside, with a great forest behind it sloping up steeply to the wild and lofty ridges of the Balkan range, and for its strategic advantages it had been selected as one of the most important supply bases for the Bulgarian bands. As Niazi's vanguard entered the village the inhabitants took alarm, closed their shops, and shut themselves up within their houses; but after Niazi, coming in with the rest of his band, had summoned the Elective Council, and explained matters, the fears of the villagers disappeared; and friendly relations were soon established by the kindly and courteous officers and Moslem notables who composed the bulk of this remarkable band. The end of it was that the priest, the Elective Council, and all the other inhabitants of the village placed their hands upon the Holy Gospels and took the oath of fidelity to the Committee, undertaking to carry out all its orders and render armed assistance to the cause when called upon to do so. When the band marched out of the village in the cool of the evening the friendly Christians accompanied the