Monday, April 24, 2006

Kemal Promises More Hangings of Political Antagonists in Turkey

Los Angeles Examiner
August 1, 1926

By Emile Hilderbrand

I shall not stop until every guilty person, no matter how high his rank, has been hung from the gallows as a grim warning to all incipient plotters against the security of the Turkish Republic. Since the very hour of its reincarnation in the rejuvenated body of the Republic, our nation has endured travails no other nation has ever experienced.

When we were fighting external enemies, or enemies whom we were certain were sympathetic with foreign intriguers, nearly all of the rank and file of our population were enthusiastically, even fanatically, united to deliver the nation from the multiple foreign yokes. But no sooner had the nation proved its worth to its foreign detractors than certain elements, bred in the old school of political intrigue, began to show their claws. We were face to face with a menace to the life of the republic from two elements.

One was the group who combined religious fanaticism and ignorance with political imbecility and who, in the past, under different Sultans had come to believe that the state was an organism to be exploited through debauchery, corruption and brazen bribery for personal ends. I put the ax in the dual root of this sinister and reprehensible theory of government by destroying the Khalif and the Sultan. I sent into exile the persons in whom this theory was personified. Large numbers, adherents of this school of politics, attempted to interpret any act as atheistic, and, under the aegis of religion, began to intrigue against the life of the republic.

Sixty Leaders Hang at Dawn

In several instances in the past when, in Kurdistan and other interior regions of Anatolia, they showed a disposition to challenge the will of the republic, I crushed them with an iron hand, and for example, had over sixty of their leaders hanged at dawn.

That element had its lesson and will not again attempt to measure swords with 'me.

The second element, I am now about to deal with ruthlessly, is the group of men who in the pre_republic days were known in the world as the Committee of the Union of the Young Turks. The ranks of this element were recruited from a questionable assortment of political adventurers, half_educated progressives and men of dissolute habits. In the days when we were battling against foes from within and without, this element joined us and fought in our ranks. Yet from the early days I had misgivings as to their motives. But I wished, hoped and then prayed that once our country was redeemed from the foreign yoke, this element would mend its methods and become infused with the seal of patriotism. I soon began to realize that my hopes were doomed to be disillusioned and my prayers were [not] to be answered. I patiently waited, keeping a sharp eye on their movements.

Seditious Movements Cloaked

They formed themselves into a political opposition. I do not pretend to be a dictator, bent to suppress sincere and honest political opposition, because a republic is a misnomer when it ceases to brook criticism. But when a group of dissolute, corrupt and unscrupulous political adventurers begin to organize seditious movements under the cloak of political opposition, it becomes the sacred duty of those who are in charge of the machinery of the government to suppress it and suppress it with an exemplary ruthlessness that will prevent the eventual shedding of rivers of blood.

I am about to show these plotters that the Republic of Turkey cannot be overthrown by murderers or through their murderous designs...

These left_overs from the former Young Turk Party, who should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian [Armenians] subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse, from their homes and massacred [Genocide], have been restive under the republican rule. They have hitherto lived on plunder, robbery and bribery and become inimical to any idea, or suggestion to enlist in useful labor and earn their living by the honest sweat of their brow.

Under the cloak of the opposition party, this element, who forced our country into the Great War against the will of the people, who caused the shedding of rivers of blood of the Turkish youth to satisfy the criminal ambition of Enver Pasha, has, in a cowardly fashion, intrigued against my life, as well as the lives of the members of my cabinet.

I would have more respect for them had they planned an armed revolution, taking the field in a manly fashion, to overthrow my government. But being conscious of the fact that they could not muster out even one regiment to give battle to the zealous adherents to, and upholders of, the glorious republic, they have resorted to beastial methods of assassination. They have hired murderers and even debauched women to commit their murderous acts.

In the middle of June last I had planned to make a tour of the country. My itinerary was published. A group of these assassins, placed on the route of procession, were to "rain" hand grenades at the automobiles which were to carry me and my staff.

They went even further and seduced a woman who had been for years identified with my cause and who had been my loyal political friend and on occasion, even adviser. They induced this woman to accept the reprehensible assignment to present me with a bouquet which concealed a bomb that would, on my receiving it, explode and obliterate everyone in sight. This ill_advised woman deserves pity, for she was made to believe that she would thus sacrifice her own life for the good of the fatherland. I was the enemy of the nation. She will be forgiven for her part in the plot, for she conscience_stricken, confessed to the proper authorities in time for me to cancel my intended tour.

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